Wise and knowing old women narrate that once, during the days of the Auspicious Fair at the Noble Village of Mehrauli around the sky-touching portal of the shrine of Khvajah Qutb sahib, Wazir Khanam and her father were on their way back to Delhi from the Fair. Evening had broken out in the sky. All those on the road were in a hurry to reach home. For, in those days, the ruins of the Hauz-e-Shamsi had been clandestinely adopted by some Pandari rebels as their hideout. Grabbing opportune moments, they preyed on the travellers of the night on that road. So everyone was trying their best to get quickly past the environs of the Hauz-e Shamsi and the Hauz-e Khas. AN axle of the light two-bullock cart in which Wazir and her father were travelling was worn out to start with, and had deteriorated further over the journey. It was feared that the axle could break if the cart was driven faster. The bullock cart was moving at a gentle pace and had been overtaken by everyone else on the road: bullock carts, palanquins, tom johns. Those who rode elephants, dromedaries, buggies or horse had easily overtaken all others and had disappeared quickly from sight and sound.
– from The Mirror of Beauty, by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
One morning in the predawn Loreen roused Fan from her spot next to a sweaty-headed slumbering Star and ordered her to pack a bag. They were going to go with Quig on a trip for a couple of nights. Loreen didn't have to explain what was happening – she'd outlined the possibility several days before – but the reason for her presence was a mystery. Fan had no choice, so she didn't ask any questions and simply readied her few things. Within the hour the three of them were in a newer SUV kicking up a storm of dust on the road that led down to the bottom of the hill. The weather had been hot and dry for a long time but now it seemed a genuine drought had descended upon the Smokes. The rains came infrequently, and when they did come, they were brief. The streams had all but disappeared and the level of the two wells of the compound had dropped below a meter and the men were arguing about where they ought to dig a third. Cold Pond, where Fan swam with Sewey and Eli, was plagued with spongy islands of bright green algae, and even after the water drawn from it was boiled, the essence of something reptilian or freshly born of the mud stuck to the tongue in an undying time.
– from On Such a Full Sea, by Chang-rae Lee
She was the first to arrive where it seemed the wind no longer exhaled. Several miles from town, the trees had entangled one another. Their branches grew toward the ground, burying the leaves in the soil to blind their eyes so the sun would not promise them tomorrow with its rays. It was only the path that was reluctant to cloak its surface completely with grasses, as though it anticipated it would soon end its starvation for the warmth of bare feet that gave it life.
The long and winding paths were spoken of as "snakes" that one walked upon to encounter life or to arrive at the places where life lived. Like snakes, the paths were now ready to shed their old skins for new ones, and such occurrences take time with the necessary interruptions. Today, her feet began one of those interruptions. It may be that those whose years have many seasons are always the first to rekindle their broken friendship with the land, or it may just have happened this way.
– from Radiance of Tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah
Which of these passages most interest you and why? Are there any that would put you off of wanting to read the book from which they came?