inspired by random and some not-so-random events and people in my life

Monday, May 01, 2006

Strangely Quiet

It was a strange dream.

I was travelling alone on a bus, like a Greyhound coach. It was late, way past midnight. Other than an occasional murmur, my fellow passengers were quiet. Through the rain-speckled bus window, I could see the shuttered shopfronts of what looked like the centre of a small town. The bus wound its way through the silent streets before finally pulling up outside a darkened office in a narrow lane.

Silently, everyone disembarked, and within minutes, had scattered in various directions. I grabbed my duffle bag from the coach’s belly and trudged down the lane towards the main road. There was a light drizzle. The tarmac was glistening in the light from the streetlamps. At the end of the lane, there was a police cordon. The policeman on duty waved me past, uninterested.

It was as if I had arrived in an unfamiliar town and was at a loose end. I saw a group of four people who had been on the bus. Judging from the muted chatter and soft laughter, the four, three men and one woman, seemed to be friends. I trailed them to a late-night pub, and walked in behind them.

At this point, the dream morphed. I was no longer in the dream myself. I felt like I was watching a movie. I felt like a voyeur. The group stayed in the pub for an hour or so, before two of the men got up from their bar stools and left. The remaining man and woman who appeared to be a couple remained seated. They were deep in conversation, although it was mostly the woman who did the talking. She appeared to ask him a series of questions, in urgent whispers. He kept quiet, until, finally, she lapsed into silence too. Pause. In tacit agreement, the two got up and walked out the door, leaving their drinks sitting half-drunk on the bar counter.

Outside the pub, the couple acted out a mini-drama. She tried to leave, in tears. He threw his cigarette on the ground and grabbed her arm. They scuffled for a moment, before he let her go. He watched her receding back for a while, before turning to go too.

Fast forward. Change perspective. I am reading the newspapers. A report catches my eye - suicide bombing at a late-night party, hosted in some posh downtown residence. The perpetrator was a man. The twist in the story? A woman had rushed into the party, seconds before the explosives went off. The woman was his wife.


5 hours.
It was more than that.
It was priority.
It was primacy.
The import was not lost.
And so the tables are turned.

Clean Cut (Not)

Cuts like a knife?
Only one with a jagged edge
That rips to leave
A myriad of tears