by Claudia Rey
I’m sitting in my accountant’s waiting room, ready to discuss my yearly income tax. Nothing could be less inspiring. And while waiting, I look at the carpet on the floor and loose myself in its colours. The carpet has a lozenge in the centre, surrounded by arabesques: stylized red flowers,
Paisley leafs, smaller oval patterns in gold and cream and blue. And there’s a landscape in the lozenge, trees and a tiny river, a couple of goats grazing, birds in the sky, white cotton clouds. All is simple and sort of rough, as if drawn by a kid. And yet life looks so easy in this idyllic peace… I close my eyes.
When I re-open them I don’t recognize anything around me. Where are the Van Gogh print, the console, the shrieking phones, the wheezing printer? Where does this cold breeze come from, and the smell of burnt wood? Where on earth am I?
“Afghanistan” says a voice. “Near
I turn around. No one.
“Here on your left” says the voice.
And there, sure enough, there are the river and the trees, and one of the goats looking at me with wise, round eyes. A peculiar kind of goat: dark, corkscrew-like horns and long whitish fur.
“You can talk!” I say stupidly.
“Of course I can. In a dream everything is possible.”
“But… but I understand you! And you’re an Afghan goat!”
”You’re dreaming” repeats the animal. “And besides I am not a simple goat” it adds proudly. “I’m a markhor. I eat snakes. I’m special.”
A talking, snake-eating goat. Disquieting. I must be dreaming for sure.
“Would you like a sip of water?” asks the goat. “It’s very clear and cold, it comes from that mountain over there.”
A goat with manners. Heavens. I look at my suit, at my high heels. I can’t see myself kneeling on the bank to drink directly from the river. “Hum, maybe… but how can I…?”
“Oh. Sorry, I don’t have anything for you to drink from. But I could ask my shepherd, he certainly has a water-bag”
A water-bag made with goatskin, I thing with a shiver. I shake my head. “Never mind. I have to go back anyway.” If I can go back, that is.
The goat laughs. “Don’t you like it here? Why should you go back? And to where?”
“Well, back home!” I say. I probably sound like a frightened baby.
“Are you really sure?” is the wry answer.
Is this crazy animal going to keep me here forever? I think in a fit of panic. I shake my head again, violently. And all of a sudden a gust of wind ruffles the trees and the goat’s fur and my hair… and I find myself in the waiting room again.
Safe. What a relief. And what an absurd daydream. I must be really tired – or really concerned about my income.
“Ms. F. can receive you now” says the secretary. Then she looks curiously at me. “Is it very windy outside?”
“Windy? No, not at all. Why are you asking?”
“Well, excuse me, but… you are not so well groomed as usual, and there are some strange leaves in your hair.”