Saturday, January 8, 2022

the last book I ever read (Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, excerpt twelve)

from Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature:

There was more frenzy on the plane itself, with arguments over seats and luggage space. The boarding cards showed every passenger’s seat reservation, so it could only be a habituated fear of being short-changed and screwed by officials that prompted the anxiety, though perhaps some of the more obstinate contestants were in it just for the love of hassle. The staff of the Kenya Airways flight kept well out of it for a while, then moved in with ruthless courtesy and managed to get everyone seated in a little less than half an hour. I found myself in a middle seat with a beautiful Indian woman on the window side of me and a plump man in his sixties (I’d guess) in the aisle seat. When I sat down next to the man, he gave me a long, unwelcoming stare, and punished me throughout the flight by releasing a series of foul-smelling farts. After a while I could see them coming. He would make a small shuffling movement, and that would be the signal that something was on the way. It seemed that every small adjustment he made to his body released poisonous fumes. As you may imagine, life became ever harder after he had had his airline meal. I learnt to respect that man’s quiet assurance over the next seven hours.

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