Paul Theroux’s Dream-like Description in “Fong and the Indians”

Here’s a paragraph taken from Paul Theroux’s “Fong and the Indians,” found almost at the end of the book. In here, the author describes what kind of fortune will be handed over to Fong, as he proceeded to narrate Fong’s  dream that night. Fong’s been swindled by an Indian businessman to buy a huge shipment of canned milk to sell in his store. And nothing much of the stuff gets sold until towards the end. Get hold of the book, and read it as your time will allow you. It can surely remind anyone fascinated on dreams, about the role of dreams in our imagination, that they happen for specific but unclear purposes. Even in books, mostly in stories, dreams are used as tools to convey messages not far from what may happen in actual life. Read on, and figure out what will happen to Fong — (that stereotyped Chinaman engaged in retail in East Africa in the 60s, and being outmaneuvered by the Indians, of India-variety).

Fong knelt in the darkness of the back room and said a prayer. Soo wheezed; outside, wild dogs were upsetting the trash cans and snarling. On the eaves bats squeaked like rusty wheels. Fong made the sign of the cross and then found his mat where he  lay on his back, his hands folded across his chest, his face turned straight up. Just before he wen to sleep, Fong had several lucid thoughts, captions vivid enough to be dreams, but not grotesque, not peopled by demons in pursuit. Here he was in a foreign country, on a reed mat littered with uncomfortable with dirt grains; he had lost his trade and had learned a new one, an uncomfortable, uncertain profession. But it had not been a plot against him, this was accident, not design. He was alive and old, with healthy children and a store full of merchandise which would be sold if God willed the derailment. He was an immigrant, a stranger, and yet had been treated no differently from anyone else. For this he was grateful. He had not been harmed,  although he knew he was outnumbered by the Africans and outfoxed by the Indians. By nature men were different (the Chinese were the easiest of all to understand), but however much the differences created upset or alarm, still there could not be deliberate evil, for the man was good. And it was sometimes a discomfort, though seldom a misfortune, to be far from home.”

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