A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016

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Hazel Hall – Australia

A Snort of Dust

It's a dingy cafe with good food. Along the wall is a faded display of possibilities: thali, dosa, veg biryani, samosa, chicken tikka.

A coloured photograph of a garlanded swami also hangs on the wall near a battered electric fan. It's whirring away strangely, but we're glad of the breeze. We watch particles of dust swirl in the air as it turns. They look strangely beautiful in the one shaft of light from the cafe door. You stifle a sneeze. The larger ceiling fans look as if they have not been in use for a long time.

A thin young man in a pair of ill fitting jeans with the crotch somewhere near his knees is pacing up and down the shop, cigarette in one hand. Fumes waft around our table.

The couple near us is about to leave. But the boy hesitates. His partner moves back quickly to join him. They huddle with the thin man for a while, backs to us, murmuring in low voices. The fan has ceased functioning. Now we're sweating in stifling heat.

After they've left, we rummage for money.

β€œIs there anything else I can help you with?”, asks the thin man in excellent English. Declining politely, we venture out into an onslaught of beggars.

home sweet home . . .
among the rubble
a snort of dust

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