I sat behind a blotchy curtain in the coach while the rest took photographs of the former leader’s car parked on a marble floor in a woodenesque-walled bunker.
He’d had his people axe the spies in the panelling and taken to conducting business in the aviary. Then changed his mind and had the birds stuffed.
Thus began the covert replacement of the palace with a copy of the palace, the leader with another, half again taller, with more pronounced features, who, seen from the distance of the people, would look more like himself, humble without risk of assassination.
Yesterday, a man strode across the field he was ploughing to push the translator out of the way and tell me directly something that could have been this:
Behind his house the ground sloped upwards. Since the rice had run out, his wife had picked and boiled all the grass to a height she was too weak to climb past. In his arms, she had spoken of the leader. She had wondered if he fetched his own grass, or had people to do that for him.