Saturday, July 03, 2010

Cigarette Papers (Zig-Zags)

‘I’d like some cigarette papers.’
‘What colour? There’s blue and yellow.’
‘What’s the difference?’
‘There’s no difference. They’re the same.’
‘If they’re the same, why are they different colours?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t smoke. Here. Take the yellow.’
‘I want the blue.’
‘Okay, have the blue.’
‘The yellows are rice paper and the blues are slow-burning.’
‘It doesn’t make any difference to me. I don’t smoke.’
‘Well it says so on the packet.’
‘Well I wouldn’t know. I can’t read or write.’
‘You can’t read or write? Why not?’
‘I don’t know. I never learnt.’
‘Where are you from?’
‘No you’re not.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because of your pierced nose, your skin colour and the dress you’re wearing. Are you Hindu?’
‘No, I’m Muslim.’
‘You’re Muslim? Salaam Waleykoom.’
‘You’re not Muslim. Are you from India?’
I was going to say she was beautiful, but didn’t. She looked in her forties, plump with strands of grey hair. Maybe she was Muslim.
‘Okay, well, goodbye.’
‘Thank you. Goodbye.’

(New Zealand, 1998)

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