04 - 04

کتاب: واشینگتون سیاه / فصل 35

04 - 04

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  • زمان مطالعه 2 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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4

THE MANSERVANT HAD GOT the name wrong: it was the Abolitionist Society for the Betterment and Integration of Former Slaves. And on the morning we were to visit its offices, the octopus fell sick.

She was a new and unknown genus, and we were thrilled to be able to name her, and to put her on display in all her rareness. But she was growing sicker with the days, more lethargic, so that death even seemed a possibility. When I circulated her waters, she no longer playfully grasped the stick. I lowered fresh prawns into her tank by the cords of their seed-like eyes; I might have been placing rocks in there, for all her interest. She lay curled in a pale ball in the corner, one arm tepidly fingering the surface.

As I stared into the makeshift tank, watching her, a strangeness came over me: I began to feel that everything I put my hand to ended just this way, in ashes. I had been a slave, I had been a fugitive, I had been extravagantly abandoned in the Arctic as though trapped in some strange primal dream, and I had survived it only to let the best of my creations be taken from me, the gallery of aquatic life. And I felt then a sudden urge to reject it, to cast all of this away, as if the great effort it was taking, and the knowledge that it would never in the end be mine, obliterated its worth. I looked at the octopus, and I saw not the miraculous animal but my own slow, relentless extinction.

Tanna was staring at me; I had missed something.

She gestured again at the tank. “What do you suppose ails her?”

I squatted down, studying the softly boiling form behind the distorted glass. “God forbid she’s been exposed to copper in her water,” I murmured, feeling still unsettled, not quite in my skin. “We’ll get to the bottom of it.”

But I stared at the grey knot of her body, and was convinced of nothing.

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