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I said: “Sometimes I dream of a wife and kids and a home. And I hope this dream comes true.”

He said: “You’re crazy. You’ll slowly turn into a tired, bored worm that can’t escape from its steel cage. The sea is the only thing that makes me happy. Will you travel with me tonight?”

I lifted my glass again to my mouth. The liquid stung my throat, and I laughed sarcastically at my imaginations – the miserable looking man was still sitting at his table drinking and staring into space, laughing his laugh, more depressing than crying, and I was still stuck to my chair – I had not left it even for a second.

The bar was closing its doors, and I had to leave. The pale hour was approaching like a sharp knife slowly penetrating my flesh. The harshest of the sick hours draws nigh, while the street brings back its staggering drunk. Listen, you drunkard, to the long, joyful, trembling whistle coming from the mouth of the young man who is walking in front of you with a firm step filled with surprising vigour. Perhaps he is a happy person. You, also, were like him years ago. You had a girl, a city of joy and pleasure. You had her purple lips opening to your parched desert the secret of treasures to ignite the fire sleeping in your blood. You had her breasts, the ice that contains the heat of a summer sun. You had her eyes, with their mysterious secrets. You had her black hair, the dark cloud flowing down over her shoulders with enchanting sadness. You had a girl, a city of joy and pleasure. Stolen from you. Here you are now, a drunk on a desolate street – a pile of mud, a cloud with no rain. Alone like a mangy stray in the market, living like a mangy stray in the market. You’ll get up in the morning at a certain time. You’ll stretch lazily and yawn. You’ll wash your face and comb your hair and get dressed. You’ll spit like a sloppy old man and walk in a street bathed in the sunlight of a new day. Then the factory buries you, swallowing you into its vicious belly. Exhaustion exhaustion exhaustion. Can you forget the smell of the worker’s flesh that burned when the molten steel fell on him, pouring out of the crucible that fell suddenly from the hands that were carrying it? That smell is the entire world. Why are you alive, drunkard? Why don’t I die? What would I do if I ruled cities of gold? If a woman loved me, what would I do? I think that I would stare at the shine of my new shoes and say wearily: “Oh, everything is meaningless and stupid.”

I will die. One step forward, and I escape from the fatigue of the

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 63

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