side, somehow she is.
We keep our pact. I begin two years of glorious illiteracy—a period,
I subsequently realize, of which I have almost total recall: for the world
around me is my only book. I learn about herbs and herbal medicine,
plant myths, river myths, thievery, stories about the guardian demiurges
round about. Their life-size sculptures stand at the threshold to each
village, facing north, whence come all calamities.
Sudalaimadan is the most powerful. He has a high hat like a Christian
archbishop, a fierce black moustache, bulging eyes; and he