Grey Dust Covers the Eyelids *
A Naguib Mahfouz character arrives in Havana on a Turkish Airlines flight. He had escaped Cairo three months earlier and bounced around until he landed in Istanbul, where he was able to find work as a bellboy in The Seagull’s Nest hotel in the ancient part of the city. It was a three-story house with four rooms per floor. Lacking an elevator, the man – skinny, with a turbulent gaze matched by a discerning tongue – had to carry the luggage up a narrow and badly illuminated stairway, which multiplied the demands on his body. He felt safe at first, far away from where he had presumably committed the crime that had sent him into exile. He tolerated the excessive labor in silence, knowing that such was the lot of an undocumented immigrant.