Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Kasbah


The double doors to the forecourt are twenty feet high.  A giant negro slave opens the lock with a key a foot long and sets his shoulder to the iron-bossed wood; the door gives way reluctantly, inch by inch, creaking and rasping upon rusty hinges.  A kestrel hawk, disturbed from its nest in the wall above, flies out scolding with sharp staccato cries.  The surface of the courtyard is an uneven rubble, sloping sharply to the left, down to the curtain wall, where row upon row of dark doorways lead to the stable quarters. Above them are castellated look-out posts facing the Jebel Ghat.  There is sheep dung scattered among the rubble, and the reddish curling horn of a Moroccan ram.  To the right rises the whole mass of the Kasbah, tower and rooftop; ill-ordered, ill-planned, but majestic in its proliferation and complete absence of symmetry.  There are three colours only – whitewash, red stone, or clay and brilliant green roof tiles.  Above these the ever-present birds of prey, the vultures, ravens, and kites, weave slow and intricate patterns upon the hard blue sky.  There is no sound but their calling and the clacking bills of the storks which nest on every tower.

- from Lords of the Atlas by Gavin Maxwell