You know how, when you're engrossed in a book you're reading or otherwise concentrating ferociously on something, everything else gets blocked out? All other thoughts, feelings, sensations, discomforts and other distractions recede so far to the back of your mind that you are no longer aware of them.
But occasionally they will intrude and creep in through the cracks of your attention. This is an okay novel I'm reading, and the author obviously knows a lot at first hand about Afghanistan in general and in particular Kabul, a place to which, if I had any doubts before, I now most certainly do not ever want to go. But I think because I was getting more and more irritated by the author's naive, unthinking American chauvinism -- well yes of course Kabul would be a better place if only we were all wearing our jeans and our Nikes -- my subconscious was allowing a sound to creep in.
At first I was only very dimly aware of it, far in the background. It was only a soft sound. It was a kind of bubbling noise. Maybe the bloke next door was giving the ancient outboard motor on his ancient boat an airing, as he does from time to time? No, too soft, and also no stink of diesel. Maybe the bloke on the other side of the bloke next door on the other side was revving his motorbike? No that's not right either. Some sort of faint underground rumbling from the ancient plumbing? No surprises there, if so, but no. Perhaps the hot water service has exploded again and what I can hear is bubbling and spluttering like last time, which means if I go out to the kitchen I'll see water running down the walls and two grand going down the drain. Nope, that's not right either.
Then a little, smoky shadow shifted at my feet.
It was purring.
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