5 – 7pm.

The change in address, the unattractive rubbery squeal of flip flops sloshing through puddles in the rain, men and women running about with folders and bags used as makeshift umbrellas, a colorful circus of women in tudung encompassing a wide spectrum of colors, the very real, cool, fat droplets of rain against the shadowy peek of her ear, hair sticking on napes of necks, scrape of scrapes as the exhaust pipes from passing cabs filled the air with puffs of smoke, condensation on glasses, so cold, she thought, as she reprimanded herself for forgetting her earphones once again, so cold. The air reduced to gradations of grey, the displeasing clamminess of soil and water running through toes as her thoughts seeped deeper and deeper into her mind, like twenty bleeding ungrounded defeats, distracted and distracting as she crossed the streets with purpose.

She had inevitably offended somebody at work again today. It had been unintentional; she had raised the tone of her voice in annoyance because the gossip at work seemed uncalled for, the mocking laughter of her co-workers over another colleague had upset her, she couldn’t accept that they were calling someone a ‘fat excuse of a faggot’. She could not stifle her emotions in time to be sensible, she should not have paused to give a stern glare and a sharp passing remark to shut them up but she could not deny her natural knack for verbal vitriol. She knew upon its release that the timbre of her voice had been strained, that she had caused the halt in the traffic of laughter and conversations as empty faces focused on her and she blinked back, mouth defiantly tight, some faces surprised that she had spoken up so strongly and suddenly on the matter, the girl at work who rarely looked up from her computer.

No, no, no. She hated coming off as rigid and righteous but was well-versed in the practice of denting others. It was a small matter, really. The stares made her feel cornered. Not worth making a hoopla over. But ‘principles’.

She shook it off, tried to placate her displeasure by thinking of what was for dinner, by thinking of warm feet under the covers, of the simple pleasure in her cat’s usual lazy greeting in strolling over to the front gate as she parked (thank god cats don’t have the sensitivity of a fucking eunuch, she thought), a mountain of books to read, surmising the simple pleasures of chopping vegetables for dinner in the privacy of the kitchen, of watching back-to-back episodes on her aging computer which froze every time her habit of opening 20 tabs and 4 windows at one go caught up with her.

The rain continued to patter down her crowded thoughts as she stood, still and morose, safe yet startlingly isolated for the moment underneath the privacy of her umbrella.




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