lawrence durrell ustad'in balthazar'in "mental wrongdoing"ini anlattigi romani. sizler icin arakladigim alinti icun:
"the desert," said narouz. "by the way, will you ride out with me to the tents of abu kar to-morrow? i have been promised an arab and i want to break it myself. it would make a pleasant excursion." nessim was at once delighted at the prospect. "yes" he said. "but early, " said narouz, "and we can pass the olive plantation for you to see what progress we're making. will you? please do! . . . oh, nessim! i wish you stayed here. your place is here."
nessim as always was beginning to wish the same. that night they dined in the old-fashioned way--so different from the impertinent luxury of alexandrian forms--each taking his napkin from the table and proceeding to the yard for the elaborate handwashing ceremony. . . . at last, when sweetmeats and fruit had been served, they returned once more to where the waiting servants stood and washed their hands again.
. . . smoking materials had been set out . . . [h]e sat with his chin in his hand wondering how he could impart his news, . . . and whether he should be frank about his motives in choosing for a wife a woman who was of a different faith from his own [justine is jewish. eds.]. the night was hot and still, and the scent of magnolia blossom came up to the balcony in little drifts and eddies of air which made the candles flutter and dance; he was gnawed by irresolution.
. . . the little viol scribbled its complaints upon the text reaching back into their childhood. and now suddenly the singer burst into the passionate pilgrim song which expresses so marvellously the moslem's longing for mecca and his adoration of the prophet--and the melody fluttered inside the brothers' hearts, imprisoned like a bird with beating wings. narouz, though a copt, was repeating "all-ah, all-ah! in a rapture of praise.
. . . as he stood in the doorway, nessim said impulsively: "narouz--i've something to tell you. . . . but it will keep until to-morrow. we shall be alone, shan't we?" narouz nodded and smiled. "the desert is such torture for them that i always send them back at the fringe, the servants."
"yes." nessim well knew that egyptians believe the desert to be an emptiness populated entirely by the spirits of demons and other grotesque visitants from eblis, the moslem satan.
nessim slept and awoke to find his brother, fully dressed, standing beside his bed with coffee and cigarettes.
. . . narouz led now, . . . for the whole land existed in his mind like the most detailed map by a master cartographer. he carried it always in his head like a battle-plan, knowing the age of every tree, the poundage of every well's water, the drift of sand to an inch. he was possessed by it.
. . . nessim watched him idly as he turned the bag over to tip its contents into the dank waters of the river. but he was not prepared to see a shrunken human head, lips drawn back over yellow teeth, eyes squinting inwards upon each other. . . . narouz turned his brilliant eyes upon his brother for a moment: "more troubles with bedouin labour could have cost us a thousand trees next year. it was too much of a risk to take. besides, he was going to poison me."
. . . [a]t last they were on the edge of the desert. . . they rubbed a little chalk under each of their eyelids with a finger against the glare--as they had always done, even as children; and each tied a cloth around his head in bedouin fashion.
and then: the first pure draughts of desert air, and the nakedness of space, pure as a theorem, stretching away into the sky drenched in all its own silence and majesty, untenanted except by such figures as the imagination of man has invented to people landscapes which are inimical to his passions and whose purity flays the mind.
narouz gave a shout and the horses, suddenly awoken and filled with a sense of new freedom and space around them, started their peculiar tearing plunging gallop across the dunes, manes and tassels tossing, saddles creaking. they raced like this for many minutes, nessim giggling with excitement and joy. it was so long since he had ridden at this wild gallop.
. . . how did one come to forget the greatest of one's experiences? . . . he was irradiated by the visions of his inner eye and followed narouz blindly.
. . . narouz started a slow tacking path, questing about for the ancient caravan route--the masrab which would take them to the quasur es atash (castles of the thirsty) where the sheik's men were due to meet them before noon. . . . once nessim too had known these highways by heart . . . which steered the fortunes of men . . . taking spices and stuffs from one part of africa to another or affording to the pious their only means of reaching the holy city. he was suddenly jealous of his brother's familiarity with the desert they had once equally owned.
. . . [o]ut of the trembling pearly edges of the sky there swam slowly a high cluster of reddish basalt blocks, carved in the vague semblance (like a face in the fire) of a sphinx tortured by thirst . . . rode into the embrace of arms like dry sticks and the thorny clicking of an unfamiliar arabic in which narouz did all the talking and explaining.
nessim waited, feeling suddenly like a european. . . . he surprised himself by seeking in his own mind the memory of a painting by bonnard or a poem by blake. . . . the great corded muscles of [narouz's] hairy body were tense with pride, for he, a city-bred alexandrian--almost a despised nasrany--could out-shoot, out-talk and out-gallop any of them. . . . [t]hese delightful desert folk were automata. . . . [he] wondered where the british had found the substance of their myths about the desert arab. the fierce banality of their lives was so narrow, so regulated. . . . he watched his brother handle them . . . as a showman handles dancing fleas.
. . . they rested for at least an hour, for the heat of the day was full, in that brown darkness. narouz lay snoring upon the cushions . . . the magnificent set of white teeth showing through the pink rent in his upper lip. . . . [t]he headmen of the tribe called noiselessly, taking off their shoes at the entrance of the tent, to enter and kiss nessim's hand. each uttered the single word of welcome "mabubbah" in a whisper.
. . . "now for the colt." . . . nessim was glad to recline and watch his brother moving quickly across the dazzle of sand towards a group of colts which had been driven up for him to examine.
they played gracefully and innocently, the tossing of their heads and manes seeming to him "like the surf of the june sea" as the proverb has it. narouz stopped keenly as he neared them, watching. then he shouted something and a man raced out to him with a bridle and bit. "the white one" he cried hoarsely and the sheik's sons shouted a response which nessim did not catch. narouz turned again, and softly with a queer ducking discretion, slipped in among the young creatures and almost before one could think was astride a white colt after having bridled it with a single almost invisible gesture.
the mythical creature stood quite still, its eyes wide and lustrous as if fully to comprehend this tremendous new intelligence of a rider upon its back, then a slow shudder rippled through its flesh--the tides of the panic which always greets such a collision of human and animal worlds. horse and rider stood as if posing for a statue, buried in thought.
now the animal suddenly gave a low whistling cry of fear, shook itself and completed a dozen curious arching jumps, stiffly as a mechanical toy, coming down savagely on its forelegs each time with the downthrust. this did not dislodge narouz, who only leaned forward and growled something in its ear that drove it frantic for it now set off at a ragged plunging tossing canter, turning and curvetting and ducking. they made a slow irregular circle around the tents until at last they came back to where the crowd of arabs stood at the doorway of the main tent, watching silently. and now the poor creature, as if aware that some great portion of its real life--its childhood perhaps--was irrevocably over, gave another low whistling groan and broke suddenly into the long tireless flying gallop of its breed, away across the dunes with its rider secured to it by the powerful scissors of his legs--firm as a figure held by ringbolts--diminishing rapidly in size until both were lost to sight. a great cry of approval went up from the tents and nessim accepted, besides the curd cheese and coffee, the compliments which were his brother's due.
two hours later narouz brought her back, glistening with sweat, dejected, staggering, with only enough fight in her to blow dejectedly and stamp, conquered. but he himself was deliriously exhausted, dazed as if he had ridden through an oven, while his bloodshot eyes and drawn twitching face testified to the severity of the fight. the endearments he uttered to the horse came from between parched and cracked lips. but he was happy underneath it all--indeed radiant--as he croaked for water and begged leave of half an hour's rest before they should set out once more on the homeward journey. nothing could finally tire that powerful body--not even the orgasm he had experienced in long savage battle. but closing his eyes now as he felt the water pouring over his head . . . his mind was a jumble of sharp stabbing colours and apprehensions--and he, lightheaded with joy, . . . as unsubstantial as a rainbow.