Friday, 7 September 2007

Caught in the Tide

The guy two cars ahead of us swerved and then suddenly there was an old man in the road, bewildered and scared. The car in front jinked left, right, left. The old man moved, too, but in the same direction each time, a macabre mirror-dance with an inevitable finale.
He held up his hands in supplication, or perhaps negation. The car hit him and then he was high in the air, a ridiculous flight.
He landed on the tarmac beside us, then was behind as we juddered to a halt. I got out of the car. The old man was sitting in the road, his bloody head in his hands, but I was transfixed by the realisation that there was little I could do, here in the middle of the dusty road off the Alex highway. There were men running everywhere and a group of four grasped the pitiful frame as I stood, useless and bewildered. He was stiff and stayed in his sitting position as they lifted him. I had seen this rigor before, a dead old beggar being hefted out of the gutter of the covered souk in Halab. Sometimes Cairo reminds me of Halab in its relentless, remorseless movement of people and goods in the pursuit of marginal gain. And this old man reminded me of that old man, a victim of the tide.
His sandals were still in the road, being run over by passing cars, lorries and buses packed with curious faces pressed to the windows. The driver and I both darted into the traffic to get them back, I saw the old man’s keys, two of them tied together on a keyring with a see-through plastic die on the fob and scooped them up. I handed the keys to one of the bystanders huddled around the old man, sitting by the road in his dusty kandoura, a horrific wound in his forehead where he’d smashed it into the corner of the car window, I remember thinking stupidly how there was remarkably little blood, although his face was streaked with red. They were giving him water and then a traffic cop turned up.
There was nothing more we could do, so we drove off: three silent people in a car together with nothing to say.


Keefieboy said...

Hi Alexander, can u send me your email address? To keefieboy[at]gmail[dot]com. Muchas gracias.

Alexander said...

Done! :)

halfmanhalfbeer said...

Alexander: you write well. In fact, you write bloody well. Liked this post a lot.

Doffs hat


Alexander said...

Blushes. Tks 1mn HMHB.

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