ImageMy watch tells me it has been one hour since my departure from Songyuan. I am tired, but sleeping here would be impossible. Billows of smoke swirl around my head before forcing their way into my recalcitrant nostrils. Every 5 minutes, a new cigarette is lit. I am reflecting on my time spent in this country up to the present, and it occurs to me that I have been engulfed by the smoke from the first. I have been unable to extricate myself from it since it devoured me whole just two months before. What’s this? I can feel someone’s  fingers deliberately manipulating the hairs of my head! Standing over me is a rather short, corpulent man who appears to be in his thirties. He is of a sarcastic turn, I can see this in his eyes and in his wry smile. He looks at me thoughtfully for some moments and then utters the expected, “hello.” I can tell by his accent that he can’t speak much English. I return the salutation, and he laughs, quite pleased. I can’t decide if he wants to strike up a conversation or observe me as if I were a flatworm in a petri dish. He offers me a cigarette, to which I decline. He stares at me for a few moments more, extinguishes his cigarette, and returns to his seat.


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