>We shuffle down together, our feet bathed in chiffon tape. Down white hallways and into white corners. You have your hand around my shoulder, but it seems to have no weight. I ask you if it’s all going well so far, and you nod your head. That smile, lifting up your cheeks, like all that matters in the world, and whatever’s beyond it, is my concern. Whatsoever is beyond it, you say, correcting me gently.

Grammar is strange here, I say.

Maybe just old fashioned, you reply.

And what’s all this, I ask, waving my hands around my head.

You mean the atmosphere? Mostly nitrogen.

No, I say. This music.

Ah, that’s Beethoven. Fifth Symphony. A great work.

Beethoven ended up here?

Most Hindus do.

I’m about to speak, when I realise I don’t have to. I laugh, and you dip your hat to me. Because you have a hat, all of a sudden. And so do I.

Very nice, I say.

And you reply, That’s nothing, really. Not in the scheme of things.



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