Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Walk Like An Egyptian

There are two ways he saw of doing things. He always did the other.

A tall, man in long trousers and a slack shirt around his shoulders. His sleeves were halfrolled up, half rolling down. Long since forgotten the need to tidy, or the consciousness. He walked alone. It could be a street, stuffed with vendors and fumes and commuters in black overcoats. It could be a garden-path, trees with branches sagging under the weight of birds and fruit, cobblestones clicking to his tune. It could be a long, straight road, in the middle of a nowhere, shimmering at the horizon as a truck came hurtling down carrying smells of refuse and tonnes of goods. He thought it was an alley, dark with only television lights from buildings above and the burning flame of someone's cigarette at the end.

Sometimes he thought it could be a plank, and his arms instinctively went behind his back, and he took every step measured, feeling the gentle pressure beneath his feet and the arch of his sole. He was confused, often, at such times - wondering which one he wanted it to be.

He was an observer of humanity, he had decided. A long time ago, when nothing else seemed to work. He watched them stride furiously to their workplaces. Come back out in the evening. Go home, slowly and ponderously. The hawkers in the streets ran up for a quick sale. The urchins needed their money, hopping on little feet with outstretched, dirty hands. He could see as just a strange show.

He would walk on from there. In the mornings, women came out to balconies to dry clothes, flicking them sharply in the wind, sending sharp drops of water down onto his face. They would go back in to their kitchens and fumes of food and spice.

He was a traveller, he decided finally. He would like to see places and their buildings. Every place had different trees, different clothes and languages. People put on newer things, striking the eyes, and danced differently. He walked past factories and mills, belching smokes all day and drunken rabble outside at night. He walked through villages and country inns, the sight of mud and people being tossed out late at night in senseless carousal. He watched the people rush by highway roads in buses and in cars. So eager to get from one place to another. But so stonefaced all the way, checking for luggage and keys. People traveled in packs, and liked it, he did not understand. So he thought no more of it.

He listened to people, when they spoke - trying to identify more than accent, trying to look inside for worry and anxieties. He disliked happy people, they were too obviously sad and lonely. He sat in bars and heard the depressed people instead. Talking about children and mortgages. He thought he learned from them, their manners and angers.

He decided he wanted to die, one day. He was tired of monotony. And there was so much more to see, on the other side. He had read the stories, heard the tales and the incantations in the desert. His spirit would see the rest of the world, and he would learn. He wanted, above all, to remain free. To not feel a hunger or a thirst, and so not be stopped as he wandered.

He told someone this, the only words he said. And shocked him. Why, what good could it
do? Why do you want to end it?

A love of death, my friend, is a very advanced case of wanderlust.

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