Thursday, August 28, 2008

Iqbal Al-Qazwini - _Zubaida's Window: A Novel of Iraqi Exile_ (61)

"She searches for a place to sit, but finds none until someone leaves, when she rushes to the cold wooden bench and breathes in relief. She produces a small book from her purse, opens it, and tries to read. The letters dance over the lines at first, then slip over the space of the glossy white paper, leaping eventually to the platform, and running to hide in the empty Coca-Cola cans scattered here and there. Some letters climb onto the heads and shoulders of passengers; others squeeze between the small bags and luggage. Zubaida observes the small black creatures without surprise, as they make fun of her, cackling away and filling the platform with a hubbub that no one hears. She is used to this game. For years now, Zubaida has thought that this is their revenge against her, for these crooked, twisted shapes have experienced her lack of seriousness and her inability to concentrate. Perhaps they have realized that Zubaida has been captivated by a fever to travel, that the idea of departure has enveloped her being and crippled her. Still, it is a fever that has transformed her into a creature who resembles a suitcase ready to be shipped inside a train or on a ship for a distant destination. In reality, she has not left this city for ages and feels incapable of deciphering the secret of her phenomenal patience."

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