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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trace

She turned to go
but tripped on a pebble
she hobbled her way
past buses and trains
but no one saw where she went
or when she came

There was no seat
in the occupied carriages
amidst the whistle blows and the chugging engines
a reverie enveloped her amidst a strange silence

In the falling shadows surfaced
tales of old
memories and familiar figures
laughter and song
kisses and warm embraces

The sun has disappeared
behind clouds
as the train pulls away
so do her thoughts
her determination
willing her to keep moving

Must she stay
Should she leave

Ticket in hand
She wrestles with dilemmas
bigger than the station she stands in
larger than the life
she has to give

She walks
retracing her tracks
into a door
into a space
only she knows
and there she replaces
the hopes of better things elsewhere
with a newfound love
for her makeshift home

Edible feelings

"Write about a food that gives you a specific emotional response."
 - From The One Minute Writer

*     *     *

Food doesn't really elicit much of a response from me. That's because I don't really live to eat. I guess the only time I have a huge reaction whilst eating a particular food is when it really tastes bad. Smells are important, though. If something smells really tantalising, the chances are I am more likely to think it tastes great and derive great satisfaction from eating it. Even when maybe, it might not be that fantastic after all.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Crossed paths - The beginning

Sharifah sunk into a corner at the end of the dingy toilet. The stench was overwhelming, but she did not care. Having to enter into more than 20 different toilets in a day - and for reasons other than to relieve yourself - made you immune to the worst of smells. In fact, if she concentrated hard enough, sometimes it felt as though she couldn't really smell anything foul at all.

The horrid sights that she had to endure were far worse. The bloody trails left by some primitively raised girl who had no sense to clean up after her own mess when experiencing that inconvenient time of the month. The toiletbowl that got clogged because somebody just didn't get it that if a dozen wads of tissue were already embedded in there, it probably meant the flushing mechanism was out of order.

It was hard to be imaginative in an environment as demoralising as these public toilets. The best she could do to console herself was to think about how clean and lovely and sweet smelling it would be when she was through cleaning the entire place.

She rose to her feet slowly. Picking up the mop that was leaning on the nearby wall, she got to work.

*     *     *

"Oh this is just great, isn't it," Jasmine muttered as she threw up her hands in frustration at the impossible traffic line up in front of her. Glancing at the clock on her dashboard, she inhaled deeply in an attempt to calm herself down.

She was already half an hour late. And at the rate the traffic is moving currently, she was bound to arrive there in an hour, if not two.

Shoving a hand into her pocket, Jasmine fished out her mobile phone and dialled a number.

"Hi, Mr Toh, I am so very sorry... yes, I will be rather late. The traffic today... horrible... I can't even see the reason for this hold up. If you could be so kind, do you mind postponing our appointment to maybe, 2pm? I think it's better if you had time for lunch first anyway. This will probably be a long discussion. Really sorry... yes, I did bring the documents this time... don't worry... I'll call you again you when I reach. Yes. Thank you. Bye."

Jasmine groaned and she dropped the phone into the passenger seat beside her. The cars in front were beginning to inch their way forward now. Perhaps there was hope of arriving much earlier than she had expected.

From the corner of her eye, she caught sight of some vehicles turning off into another route on the left side of the road. She stopped to ponder for awhile.

A shortcut, perhaps?

Bulldozing her way across two lanes jam packed with cars, she managed to squeeze into the leftmost lane just in time to make the turning. With a grin and a sigh of relief, Jasmine felt much better now. She revved up the car engine and zoomed down the rather empty road before her.

Unexpectedly, a speeding car came careening from some location on her right. Without enough time to digest the gravity of her surroundings, she only briefly caught a glimpse of the car before it collided with hers, sending her skidding off the road and tumbling down... down... down the hill...

*     *     *

Sharifah sighed happily at the sight of the perfectly clean toilet.

'All in a day's work' she thought to herself, and spun around in front of the full length mirror. Some days she felt quite Cinderella-ish and today was one of those days. If only her Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming would hurry up and make an appearance. The days were many and tiring and she could feel herself getting too old for fairytales already.

"Tengok apa tu?" Came an all too familiar booming voice.
(translated to English as "What are you looking at?")

Sharifah turned around to see the awfully displeased face of Aneera, her supervisor.

"Suka-suka kau ya, bazir masa cam ni. Sepatutnya siap setengah jam sebelum ni. Terasa macam Kak Neera nak potong gaji Sharifah ya..."
(translated: "Do as you like, would you, waste time like this. You should've completed this task half an hour ago. I feel quite inclined to give you a pay cut this month, Sharifah.")

Sharifah's lower lip quivered, and she shook her head vehemently.

"Jangan, Kak Neera. Minta maaf, saya ni bukan main-main, saya hanya-"
(translated: "Please don't sister Neera. I'm sorry, I wasn't fooling around, I just-")

Aneera took no heed of her words at all, and merely stormed out of the toilet, letting the door slam hard after her.

*     *    *

"So, do you want to trade places?" Jasmine's voice rang out loud in the eerily silent corridor in which they stood.

"Tak faham lah, Cik..." Sharifah whined and screwed up her face in displeasure.
(translated: "I don't understand what you're saying, Miss...")

"Nak tukar tempat dengan saya, tak?"
(translated: "Do you want to swap places with me or not?")

Sharifah wasn't sure she fully comprehended what this strange, tall, immaculately dressed woman before her was talking about, but she figured, whatever it was that they were exchanging, anything that this woman had to trade with her would definitely be much better than whatever she owned right now.

Jasmine extended her hands towards Sharifah, palms faced up. Beckoning.

Sharifah hesitated for a few seconds, then raising her hands, she placed them right into both Jasmine's hands.

"Tutup mata," Jasmine instructed, her face bearing a somewhat grave expression.
(translated: "Close your eyes")

Sharifah did as she was told.

As she did so, she immediately felt a tingle of electricity pass through her hands. Startled, she opened her eyes, and saw for the first time, a whole new world.

* to be continued*