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The Ganges is teeming; Gayle can hear it, blocks away from the hotel balcony. She wonders where the dolphins go, if any are left–it’s so filthy, so crowded.

“It’s so crowded,” she says aloud, as Raman comes up behind her with coffee. “How could it have happened in this?”

“It wasn’t always so crowded,” he says mildly.

“No,” she says.

“What happened here?” He sips. “Or would you rather be cryptic?”

“Not cryptic,” she says. “Cyphered. Somebody invented cypher here–cypher from ziphirium, from sifr, from sunya…”

His forehead wrinkles. “‘Nothing?'”

“Yes,” she says. “This is where they invented nothing.”