I can’t say if this entire scene is a memory of a dream, I really can’t say, but sitting in that vaporous classroom in Calcutta, reading lines from the Sakuntala, I remember someone, I can’t remember who, said that tragedies didn’t exist in ancient Sanskrit texts, that it was an imported concept, that whatever died had another life awaiting it : after death, there is the inevitable return.

Standing in front of a mirror strewn with gold jewelry in Jaisalmer, which once belonged to a rich woman (the mirror, not the city : but perhaps the city too), I took my own photograph in which I appear almost ghostlike, as if witnessing my own memory of myself, and even though I once said that everything in that photograph belonged to that unknown woman except the reflection, I am now not sure that it is mine, or mine alone. Alone in a café, with a glass of beer – sometimes I drink beer, even though I never like it – I’d found an old mottled copy of the Rubaiyats of Omar Khayyam on the table.

The ancients called this the mortal world, that life on this planet was nothing but a punishment : but, my dear, how can I believe it to be true after looking at your eyes – whose colour always changes from Payne’s grey to Roman silver when reading poetry. That sometimes on full moon nights, pining for you, the shimmering gold of Jaisalmer, for a moment, looks almost like Bleu de France.

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