Molitor had the best competitive swimming club in Paris. Therewere two pools, an indoor and an outdoor. Both were as bigas small oceans. The indoor pool always had two lanesreserved for
swimmers who wanted to do lengths. The waterwas so clean and clear you could have used it to make yourmorning coffee. Wooden changing cabins, blue and white,surrounded the pool
on two floors. You could look down andsee everyone and everything. The porters who marked yourcabin door with chalk to show that it was occupied werelimping old men, friendly in an ill-
tempered way. No amount ofshouting and tomfoolery ever ruffled them. The showers gushedhot, soothing water. There was a steam room and an exerciseroom. The outside pool
became a skating rink in winter. Therewas a bar, a cafeteria, a large sunning deck, even two smallbeaches with real sand. Every bit of tile, brass and woodgleamed. It was – it was…”It was
the only pool that made Mamaji fall silent, hismemory making too many lengths to mention.
Mamaji remembered, Father dreamed.
That is how I got my name when I entered this world, alast, welcome addition to my family, three years after Ravi:
Piscine Molitor Patel.
Thistle had warned him that might happen. “I sewed it up the best I could,” she’d said, “but you need to rest and let it mend, or the flesh will tear open again.”
Thistle had been the last of his companions, a spearwife tough as an old root, warty, windburnt, and wrinkled. The others had deserted them along the way. One by one they fell behind or
forged ahead, making for their old villages, or the Milkwater, or Hardhome, or a lonely death in the woods. Varamyr did not know, and could not care. I should