From: V. S. Naipaul, The Mimic Men

Monday, 4 November 2019 13:30

They talk of the light of the tropics and southern Spain. But there is no light like that of the temperate zone. It was a light which gave solidity to everything and drew colour out from the heart of objects. To me, from the tropics, where night succeeded day abruptly, dusk was new and enchanting. I would sit in Lieni’s basement room, in the clutter, and study the light, not willing to risk losing any gradation in that change. Light was slowly withdrawn; a blueness remained, which deepened, so that before the electric lights began to make their effect the world seemed wholly aqueous, and we might have been at the bottom of the ocean. Then at night the sky was low; you walked as though under a canopy; and all the city’s artificial lights, their glow seemingly trapped, burned intensely; and sometimes the wet streets threw up their own glitter.

 Here was the city, the world. I waited for the flowering to come to me. The trams on the Embankment sparked blue. The river was edged and pierced with reflections of light, blue, and red and yellow. Excitement! Its heart must have lain somewhere. But the god of the city was elusive.