He sat down at his desk to write a piece of aching, breaking beauty. Something lyrical. After an hour, he had managed one sentence. One sentence. He looked at the words, at the graphite on the thin, blue line on his paper. Ugly. Yes, that was the word. He read the five words again, this time trying to make sense of the substance, now that he had dealt with what he considered to be its form. The same adjective came to mind and stayed there, like flies hovering over jalebis in the dingy halwai shops on the busy streets. Here he was, reacting to the moral situation that his words had created with an aesthetic judgment. Exactly what Kundera had accused his less competent translators of being unable to understand. Yet, thinking about Kundera left him ashamed, aware of the reflection of his own incompetence that stood out like little warts in the unforgiving mirror that was literary legacy. He sat there for hours, tapping his red and black pencil on his desk, and considered the consequences of what sometimes he thought of as his vocation, and sometimes as his affectation. No, he did not lose track of time. For him, time was real, a presence that was both burden and gift. As real as the taste of blood, blood that was in turn both burden and gift.