21 (our lane is tortuous)

OUR LANE is tortuous, as if, ages ago, she started in quest of her goal, vacillated right and left, and remained bewildered for ever.

        Above in the air, between her buildings, hangs like a ribbon a strip torn out of space: she calls it her sister of the blue town.

        She sees the sun only for a few moments at mid-day, and asks herself in wise doubt, 'Is it real?'

        In June rain sometimes shades her band of daylight as with pencil hatchings. The path grows slippery with mud, and umbrellas collide. Sudden jets of water from spouts overhead splash on her startled pavement. In her dismay, she takes it for the jest of an unmannerly scheme of creation.

        The spring breeze, gone astray in her coil of contortions, stumbles like a drunken vagabond against angle and corner, filling the dusty air with scraps of paper and rag. 'What fury of foolishness! Are the Gods gone mad?' she exclaims in indignation.

        But the daily refuse from the houses on both sides-scales of fish mixed with ashes, vegetable peelings, rotten fruit, and dead rats-never rouse her to question, 'Why should these things be?'

        She accepts every stone of her paving. But from between their chinks sometimes a blade of grass peeps up. That baffles her. How can solid facts permit such intrusion?

        On a morning when at the touch of autumn light her houses wake up into beauty from their foul dreams, she whispers to herself, 'There is a limitless wonder somewhere beyond these buildings.'

But the hours pass on; the households are astir; the maid strolls back from the market, swinging her right arm and with the left clasping the basket of provisions to her side; the air grows thick with the smell and smoke of kitchens. It again becomes clear to our Lane that the real and normal consist solely of herself, her houses, and their muck-heaps.





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