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hand, and set to staring at my surroundings. My gaze settled on a miserable looking man sitting at a nearby table. He was nursing his drink, taking a tiny sip from time to time then staring into space. Suddenly he’d burst into a laugh more depressing than any sobbing could be. I felt a strange fear when my eyes met his submissive look. He’s smiling at me. I’m going to get up and talk to him.

I said: “I’m a poor worker. I don’t smile.”

He said: “I am a day textile vendor, and an adventurous sailor at night.”

I said: “I love the sea. It’s big and mysterious.”

Front cover of The Neighing of the White Horse

He said: “After midnight, when I surrender my head to my pillow, my ship sails away. Ahhh – there is nothing in the world more beautiful than the sea and travelling and constant movement. The sails flutter, you stand ramrod straight, head high, the wet wind teases your hair, the smell of salt and the roar of the waves, penetrate the deepest part of your being. You’ll laugh with wild pleasure when all sadness is left behind you. Soon you will reach a port you have never set foot in. There you will meet strangers. You’ll sit in a bar slowly sipping a stiff drink. You’ll listen to wonderous music, which will recreate you anew and give you back your stolen childhood. Maybe you’ll dance with a girl, maddening desire neighing in the depths of her big eyes . Ahhh – How incredible is the new and unknown!”

I said: “Travelling frightens me. I love my city madly. And once I almost cried when I caught a whiff of an unfamiliar scent wafting from a street during a downpour that was drenching its buildings and pavements and trees.”

He said: “Only idiots prefer quiet.”

62 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015

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