The Old Beggar

In the beginning, the old beggar welcomed the visits. They brought him star maps, atlases, and charts. There were always new lands, new worlds, new comets and new stars, which they would explain to him. The beggar could travel vast distances without leaving the shade of his favourite tree. The visitors also liked to hear of his years of walking from peak to peak, chewing his coca leaves, leading his herds, and making sure the villagers scattered in the high country had enough to eat. One hundred years of life had passed, and he could walk no more. Memorizing as much as he could, he daydreamed of other worlds. Our world is a view of other worlds, he often whispered. Later, the visitors became more intolerant and belligerent. It was no longer an exhibit of the worlds beyond, but an interrogation, a list of everything the beggar did not know, and he felt as if he never had time to ask a question, argue, or share something of his past. The visitors were a black cloud. They collected around him like flies on a loaf of bread. One day, he asked them to leave. You are blocking my view, he said. I want to see my mountains and my llamas.

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