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PN Review 276
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This report is taken from PN Review 167, Volume 32 Number 3, January - February 2006.

The Pigeon Wars of Damascus (5) Marius Kociejowski


Abed didn't show up at the agreed time. Whatever the vagaries of his nature, and they were multiple, at least he'd always kept his appointments. It was a point of honour with him and so, most unusually for this part of the world, where Arabic Time is at odds with World Time, he was always (if reluctantly) punctual. The morning light, it was true, was too harsh for him. This year, with my having no particular object in mind and also because he needed to rally himself, I'd let the sun reach its zenith before disturbing him. Abed required a less demanding régime. I wouldn't oblige him to translate, or pester him with enquiries, or drag him where he didn't want to be. The régime was, in fact, mostly his. Each evening, at the same restaurant, at the same hour, he always ordered the same - chicken and rice. Would you like to know the Arabic for chicken and rice? (Yes, it was the same eating-house, with the same menu and probably the same prices, although my petty crook of ten years before was nowhere in evidence.) Abed would always order a double portion of pick-les. And then he would eat half of mine. It was hard to disengage Abed from certain routines and even harder to get him onto productive ones. Our days were spent journeying, not as we had always done, over the mind's hills, plains and estuaries, ...

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