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He stopped walking and I saw his eyes change from grey to brown. Heroes of the war were granted the ability to change the colour of their eyes, to cure wounds. He said, 'I'm sorry. I forgot you still needed to eat every day'.
We sat under a tree, in the shadows. He gave me four dates. He took them out of his pocket. I ate three and was too full to eat the fourth. I offered it to him. He shook his head. He only needed to eat every two or three days. It was my youth that made me hungry.
'In the old days it was illegal to marry girls as young as you'. He laughed out loud.
'I don't know what's so funny'. I dug my fingers into the damp soil. I accidentally overturned a snail and apologized. The snail said, 'You didn't break my shell. My shell is pink like your nails'.
The shadow of the tree lengthened over us. When I stood up, my shadow too was equal to my height. The call to prayer came hushed from the snail, muted from the tree, clear and familiar in his voice. Because there was no water to wash, we pressed our palms against the mountain rocks. We rubbed our faces and our arms. He took his miswak from his pocket and rubbed his teeth. He said, 'In the old days there were parts of the world where only animals prayed, birds and stones, particles of water and dust. No one could hear them. We were all deaf and busy.' He looked sad when he said that, sadder than I had ever seen him before, his eyes tired, the miswak held still in his hand.
I said, 'The old world's passed now. It's over'.
He looked through me and said, 'But days rotate. Days rotate'. I thought of the Freedom Lovers, their slogans and edgy ways.
He put the miswak back in his pocket and we began to pray. The ground was cool and wet. Afterwards I wiped mud off his forehead and mine. This made us laugh and we went on climbing.
Steep steps and miles of rough ground. The wind whizzed in my ears. Fatigue. At times my blood burned, at times I was numb, his hand pulling me as if I was walking in my sleep. I said, 'Carry me', he said, 'No'. I said, 'Carry me', he said, 'No'.
So I bit his hand, scrunched hair and bone until his eyes turned from brown to blue. He said, 'Empty yourself, you will feel lighter'.
I shouted, 'There is nothing in me anymore'.
'That's not true', he said. We kept on climbing.
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