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This report is taken from PN Review 153, Volume 30 Number 1, September - October 2003.

The Man on the Train from Galle Marius Kociejowski
Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness.
       Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


Our train from Galle to Colombo was just about to depart when a man in his fifties, wearing a sports jacket and flannels, with a large shaven head and olive-coloured skin pocked all over like an avocado's, got on and sat down in the seat diagonally opposite mine. The two soldiers accompanying him gave a smart salute, which he wearily returned, and then took their positions at either end of the carriage. They propped their guns, which already, with their heavy wooden butts and lengthy barrels, seemed like armoury from another age, against the connecting doors of the train. The guns might have been, for all they cared, umbrellas or garden rakes. I hoped a sudden jolt would not result in their discharge. Almost immediately the train began to move. The soldiers lit up cigarettes. The man in civvies I recognised from the day before, when I had seen him on Unawatuna Beach, a few miles out of Galle. Sprawled he was and alone, on the dark band of wet sand just where the waves broke against the shore. With each breaker he would roll once, like a beached whale, a single arm extended in a straight line. ...


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