4

Interrupted by an intercomís blinking purple light, the drone of its low-pitched hum like a call to instincts 'base' (as in 'fundamental'; to be beckoned by His Highness ought not to be termed degrading), Nana caps her pen, inserts it into the kidskin sheath that abuts her journalís spineóhidebound covers locking, with a "click," as belt and buckle mateóthen stows her private thoughts inside the jaws of a snow-leopard throw rug.

It is dawn (the hour of dew and piss-proud expectations) when often she is summoned to:

rise,

proceed like a sleepwalker (clad in the Varanasi silk of her pale grey negligee),

brave the alpine chill (upon leaving her balmy quarters),

skirt the compoundís courtyard (via its cloister and vine-bound colonnade),

pass by chambers of former favourites on tiptoe (lest envious hearts awaken),

exit under an archway (tile exchanged for rain-worn cobblestone),

wend her way through a garden (forever in bloom by virtue of perennials),

enter an aviaryís vestibule (one of two with inner-outer gates),

delight in trills of birdsong (en route to the opposite portal),

where a second pair of gates conveys her (prettily serenaded) to her appointed assignation.

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