‘On the topic of dogs, a passing priest once pressed me quite fervently on the subject of my own mortality. He was very concerned about preserving the nature of my immortal essence. “Grandson,” said I, “I am old and my bones are sopping with death already. Why should I care?” He went on to describe in great detail the rituals that could be undertaken to guard one’s soul against degradation and ensure smooth passage to the next realm.

“Do you perform these rites every day?” I asked him, trying to humor him. “Of course, auntie,” said the priest, “Every morning before I wake fully I perform my rites, then four more times a day before rest. It keeps me in good health and spirits, knowing that my death will be a golden door to paradise.”

“Four times a day?” I said, incredulous. “Of course,” said the priest, “Don’t you think about dying, auntie? You should be worried, at your age.”

“Do you think about dying?” I asked him. “How about before sleep?”

“Yes,” he said, seeing that I was clearly straining his good nature. “How about when you bathe?” I asked him. He thought a moment. “Well, sometimes,” he replied. “How about when you shit?” I said. “Never,” he said brusquely.

“Not even once?”

“Well maybe once, but I don’t see the point! Who knows?” he said, clearly seeking to draw away from me and peddle his wares onto more the more gullible trash that populated the gutter. “A dog has more sense than you,” I said to him, and thumbed at a lazy mutt that was picking through the market. “He doesn’t think of death at all. Not when he sleeps, not when he bathes, and certainly not when he shits.”

“And I supposed there’s a point,” said the priest.

“You and he will both die,” I pointed out to him. “The four great elements of your bodies will collapse one into the other and you will both become no more substantial than a fart.” I should mention at this time in my life I had very little patience for rhetoric.

The priest spat on me later. I didn’t mind.’

-Meti, of the Yellow City