260. “If you knew what is was like to be another person, then how could you possibly do something which would cause pain? The problem, though, was that there seemed to be people in whom that imaginative part was just missing. It could be that they were born that way – with something missing from their brains – or it could be that they became like that because they were never taught by their parents to sympathise with others.”
263. “The Morning After Coffee Bar was different from the mass-produced coffee bars that had mushroomed on every street almost everywhere, a development which presaged the flattening effects of globalisation; the spreading, under a cheerful banner, of a sameness that threatened to weaken and destroy all sense of place.”
272. “Plenty of people were writing novels; in fact, if one did a survey in the street, half of Edinburgh was writing a novel, and this meant that there really weren’t enough characters to go round. Unless, of course, one wrote about people who were themselves writing novels. And what would the novels that these fictional characters were writing be about? Well, they would be novels about people writing novels.”
273. “People talk of the wrench of parting, and that, he felt, was exactly what it was. Take a metal object off a magnet and one would experience that – there was the draw, the tug, the flow of the bond even through the air, and then the sudden detaching as separation occurred. That was what it was like. That was human parting. You felt it; you felt the separation, just as you would feel the rending of tissue being pulled apart.”
279. “There were few other passengers: a man in an overcoat, his head sunk against his chest; a couple with arms around each other, impervious to their surroundings; and a teenage boy with a black scarf wound round his neck, Zorro-style. Isabel smiled to herself: a microcosm of our condition, she thought. Loneliness and despair; love and its self-absorption; and sixteen, which was a state all its own.”
280. “She had never been able to tolerate dishonesty, which she thought threatened the very heart of relationships between people. If you could not count on other people to mean what they said, or to do what they said they would do, then life could become utterly unpredictable. The fact that we could trust one another made it possible to undertake the simple tasks of life.”
283. “And she lowered her eyes at the gentle reproach, for she had learned her lesson, even if there would be occasional, but only very occasional, relapses; for none of us is perfect, except, of course, the ones we love, the things of home, our much appreciated dogs and cats, our favourites of one sort or another.”
289. “None of us knows how we will cope with snakes until the moment arises, and then most of us find out that we do not do it very well. Snakes were one of the tests which life sent for us, and there was no telling how we might respond until the moment arrived. Snakes and men. These were the things sent to try women, and the outcome was not always what we might want it to be.”
297. “Mrs. Moffat had taken her hand, for comfort, and they had sat there in silence for a while. Sometimes it seemed as if the world itself was broken, that there was something wrong with all of us, something broken in such a way that it might not be put together again; but the holding of hands, human hand in human hand, could help, could make the world seem less broken.”
298. “It was a good place to sit, and listen, under a sky that had seen so much and heard so much that one more wicked deed would surely make no difference. Sins, thought Mma Ramotswe, are darker and more powerful when contemplated within confining walls. Out in the open, under such a sky as this, misdeeds were reduced to their natural proportions – small, mean things that could be faced quite openly, sorted, and folded away.”
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