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jasmine and lemon and myrtle blossom. That revived him somewhat. The gentle lapping of the glistening water crept into his ears, hearing it like a muffled sorrowful complaint.

He reached the main square of the city and paused for a few moments, unsure of where to go next. He took off down a side street with tram tracks embedded in its stone surface. On either side were stores with their iron railings drawn shut. Wooden poles had been spaced at distances along the street and from them hung electric lights that gave off a dim light.

Front cover of Spring in the Ashes

The soldier proceeded carefully along the middle of the tram tracks. Now he was the tram itself. It made him feel a bit happier. He was the tram swaying its way slowly along the tracks. It all reminded him of when he was young; he used to ride the train,

stand by one of the windows, and stare at the green fields and villages as they flashed by, while the wind blew his soft blond hair all over his forehead.

And now he was an express tram, drunk. He started running in time in between the tram tracks, tottering as he went and feeling happier by the minute. He imitated a tram by making a harsh clanking noise: Tam, tam, tam.

He kept running until he grew tired and then stopped, out of breath. He looked around him. To his right he could make out a dark alley with a solitary electric light visible at the other end. Instructions warned foreign soldiers against going into city alleys alone at night. He himself had a sense that some unidentified danger was lurking there just waiting for him to arrive. However, some obscure urge kept egging him on, telling him to defy the danger and confront it. He walked into the empty alley singing in coarse, staccato bursts of sound. Eventually he reached the other end of the alley where the electric light was. One of the big, old city gates was

142 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015

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