Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It stripped them of everything

He wondered what made people so attached to their new lives of spinning in orbit around the queue, unable to venture beyond it. People hadn't been idiots before they came to the Gate with their paperwork. There were women and men, young and old people, professionals and the working class. No section of society was missing, even the poorest of the poor were there, not separated from the rich by any means. Everyone was on equal ground. But they all had the same look about them, the same lethargy. Now they were even all starting to think the same way.

He had expected there to be exceptions, that someone among them would come out in support of the Riffraff, or even sympathize with their call to resist this absurd and ceaseless situation — but no one did. The queue was like a magnet. It drew people toward it, then held them captive as individuals and in their little groups, and it stripped them of everything, even the sense that their previous lives had been stolen from them. He, too, had been affected — he knew it in his heart. Otherwise, he would have still had his rebellious streak, and would have told everyone in the queue to advance, promising them that if everyone took just a single step, that single step alone could destroy the Gate's walls and shake off this stagnation. But the queue's magnet held him captive. Maybe he'd convinced himself that he was helping Yehya by staying in the queue, but the truth was he couldn't leave it; his body came and went, but his will was trapped here.
— from The Queue, by Basma Abdel Aziz.

What makes people idiots? What traps people's souls?

For Reading Across Borders Book Club, Wednesday, November 22, at 7, at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly.

No comments: