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Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi


Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

Author:Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


A few days later, Ludo Bembo returned. When he asked me what I had been up to, I told him, without an ounce of resentment, that I had spent my days reading, walking, transcribing my father’s transcriptions, filling the pages of my notebook with the blood of literature, and then convalescing, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the company of that groggy, volatile bird, Taüt. I also told him that I had tried to get in touch with Quim Monzó, which was only half true. I had made an unresolved attempt at tracking the man down. To what end, I don’t know. I suppose I had a vague feeling that my time in his stuffed dwelling was running out, that things were coming to a head.

I had unearthed what I had come to unearth in Barcelona. After all, by mourning my father’s death, I had discovered the residue of my mother. I had used my consciousness to unreel the yarn of time. This experience signaled to me that the void and its characteristic emptiness had been there all along—a latent condition—which had, upon my parents’ deaths, suddenly become manifest. So I had sunk as deep as I could into the portion of the void of exile that corresponded to Barcelona, the City of Bombs, the Rose of Fire. Where, I wondered, as I looked Ludo up and down, was I going to go next?

“That’s excellent news,” Ludo said with a distracted air. He was sitting across from me, drumming his fingers on the dining table. What part of what I had shared was excellent? I wondered, scrutinizing him up and down. There was something different about him. He was leaning back in his chair very casually. He looked older, more self-possessed, consolidated in a way I hadn’t seen before. He was wearing a short-sleeve button-down shirt beneath his cardigan. I could see the crease of the sleeve under the wool every time he flexed his arms. Until then, he had always worn full-length sleeves. Anything else he considered improper. This sudden change was a red flag. No doubt about it. And, in fact, there was not just one but two red flags: to begin with, his typically rigid and outmoded choice in fashion and, to end with, the fact that he had suddenly broken that very same dress code. I moved from the dining-room table to the recamier to get a better look at him. I took note of the fact that he had zoned out halfway through my answer and of the carefree body language he had adopted—clear signs that he was, and continued to be, a compartmentalized man, a man whose head had been subdivided into casket-size boxes. In fact, I thought, intellectually speaking, he had regressed. A man living in exile, but who is afraid to walk to the edge of the abyss and peer into it, runs the risk of playing into the hand of the imperialists and the colonizers because he is cut off from his wounds and his ill-fated peers.



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