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Chapter 89
Everything suffered. Everything became sun-bleached andweather-beaten. The lifeboat, the raft until it was lost, thetarpaulin, the stills, the rain catchers, the plastic bags, the lines,the blankets, the net – all became worn, stretched, slack,cracked, dried, rotted, torn, discoloured. What was orangebecame whitish orange. What was smooth became rough. Whatwas rough became smooth. What was sharp became blunt.
What was whole became tattered. Rubbing fish skins and turtlefat on things, as I did, greasing them a little, made nodifference. The salt went on eating everything with its millionhungry mouths. As for the sun, it roasted everything. It keptRichard Parker in partial subjugation. It picked skeletons cleanand fired them to a gleaming white. It burned off my clothesand would have burned off my skin, dark though it was, had Inot protected it beneath blankets and propped-up turtle shells.
When the heat was unbearable I took a bucket and pouredsea water on myself; sometimes the water was so warm it feltlike syrup. The sun also took care of all smells. I don'tremember any smells. Or only the smell of the spent hand-flareshells. They smelled like cumin, did I mention that? I don'teven remember what Richard Parker smelled like.
We perished away. It happened slowly, so that I didn't noticeit all the time. But I noticed it regularly. We were twoemaciated mammals, parched and starving. Richard Parker's furlost its lustre, and some of it even fell away from his shouldersand haunches. He lost a lot of weight, became a skeleton in anoversized bag of faded fur. I, too, withered away, themoist-ness sucked out of me, my bones showing plainlythrough my thin flesh.
I began to imitate Richard Parker in sleeping an incrediblenumber of hours. It wasn't proper sleep, but a state ofsemi-consciousness in which daydreams and reality were nearlyindistinguishable. I made much use of m............
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