01 June 2005

Dawn

Dawn

They said he was special, everyone he knew. He survived. But he didn’t feel it, not while sitting in this freezing cold room, waiting for the cop who brought him in to verify his details wondering at the fate of his friend.No, he decided, he did feel different.I felt it earlier.

Just before he got caught. It was a short burst of uniqueness that he had cherished for one moment before it stopped when he’d started speeding up. For a short minute, a short short minute he’d felt the world around him move about him faster. His car had started vibrating, and for a minute, a short short minute, the world outside the windows grew streaked. It became a series of streaks, streaks of various colours, highlighted by the setting sun. Like cloth that was stared at for too long, so you could see the individual threads that made up colour. The city that he had grown up in had changed into a pastiche.

As the white car ripped along the empty highway, a police station nearby was notified of a missing car. ‘A white 1983 Mitsubishi. Licence plate WMB 4332,’ the cop on duty was told. It was a woman; she had spoken in quick short breaths. He had a strange order when it came to asking questions.Was she harassed? NoWas she assaulted? NoWas she threatened? No.Was she around when the car got stolen? No Sangkarra continued speeding. His car had now grown lighter, he could feel the wheels float slightly, and the speed dial was rapidly rising. He was flattered by the fact that his car seemed to be in such good condition, she was fired at the speed not grunting.

Somewhere at the back, empty bottles of beer cheerleaded. The sun in front was a crimson red, a perfect circle. And that was when he remembered strangely enough, that he was soon to encounter a traffic light. It was where he took his turn to go home, and as the dial continued to rise, he realized that trying to stop would be as dangerous, if not more, as taking that turn. Stopping then, had not been an option that he’d considered. Imagine that turning, the speed, burning rubber, the noise!

Somewhere though, he prayed the light was green. And green it wasn’t. He braced himself, with a firm grip of the steering; he turned the steering rapidly anti-clockwise. Having nearly covered the turning with inches to spare, his sigh of relief nearly half way out, he realized that there was another car. Another car, flying straight at him.

Unnerved, finally by just everything, he screamed.

I’ve never done that before. Never been that, that person that I became when I screamed. The wheel was let go of. And I left it to fate, so the wheel spun. What? What happened? Rajini happened. It takes a second to fall in love, a glance, a first sight. And well, that day it took a second to break my heart; a face, a tear and a sorry excuse.

No excuse can cushion the pain that is easy to feel when it comes to heart break. The fact that she was leaving and didn’t think that we could make do with long distance didn’t do anything to lighten the hurt. That and the fact that she’d been my girl friend for a year, and that one hand would be enough to count all the times we’d had a fight. She never argued, except for that day. She’d never judged something before it was proven.

So with her hand on mine she said, “We need to do this so that there isn’t anything that can tie us back. If I left and we were meant to be in love and do something to hurt you, you would never forgive me. I’d rather this than that.” And she left. Left me before I could say a thing, it was decided for me.

I ran after her, only to have her walk into her brother’s car, and with the wind in her hair and her tears drying quick on my shoulder, she left.Just about then he received a phone call. And he murmured a yes, an evening out with the guys. He put his jacket on, the one that he wore before games, called it his good luck jacket. Zips it up tight, and runs to his parked car. He slams the door and rips out onto the road.

He pulled over to an array of cars arranged messily. Right above them, the seven eleven sign spotted the night in its flicker. He parked his car and walked cautiously over to the trio sitting on the pavement with cans of beer. Remnants of what had been neatly arranged six-pack beers in packaged cardboard boxes lay strewn in messy litter around the three, still guzzling the still cold beverages.

“Hey there Big Eleven!” hollered Fadi. His head covered in a fisherman’s cap, his clothes hanging on him loosely, he hardly looked like the MVP who saved the team an ass whooping in the basketball game that they had played earlier in the day. Sangkarra responded with a wave, while Kiran and Bobby nodded a reply.

Big Eleven, Big Eleven…. My number didn’t give us any luck that day. We lost, right before we made it to season playoffs, we lost. Big Eleven me, I couldn’t do anything to give us the chance. And we kissed our chances goodbye, with the last three pointer from the other team.
Our cheerleaders shut up. Our crowd booed. The lights on the score board went out. Our coach looked down. We looked at each other looking for explanations. And that was that. An empty look meets an empty look. And we ushered ourselves off the court, into the locker rooms and out the college gates. In shame we separated.

And Rajini had chosen to happen. Her thirty seconds of fame, the cherry topping for boiling ice cream. Contempt breeds contempt, love breeds hate and well, when shit happens, it doesn’t drizzle, it rains.
That’s when Bobby pulled out a joint. I don’t remember when but we were all pretty buzzed from the alcohol so it must have been a while later. And yes, we should’ve known better but well, we didn’t. He said he’d gotten it off one of the seniors after the game, not that we cared then. It was later, it became vital that we had to recollect that piece of information.

Three joint buds down the smelly drain later, we were talking. And as far as talking went, it might as well have been some emotional outpour. Guys don’t say things like they love their mates until they ingest something. Either that or they’re gay. And it was Kiran who whined out the magic word, ‘hot wire.’

And we walked the yellow light lit road, staggering along like dizzy cockroaches after a spray of inseciticide, contemplating the revelation that Kiran could hot wire a car. Something you’d never know about a person whilst running around the court. It was Bobby who said something like, “I bet you’re kidding us you shit. You wouldn’t be driving that shit if you were some big blob.”
I still had the stench of the drain in my nostrils, it was stagnating there, my nostrils picking it up and maturing it like wine, stemming thoughts of where the drain emptied out and whether distillation really worked.

Fadi started singing, whilst Kiran pulled Bobby aside and said something pointing out to a yellow/white Mitsuibuishi, parked precariously next to a lamp post.
Fadi continued singing and walking, while I contemplated the water content of the beer I had been drinking and its purity level next to him. About ten minutes later, the Mitsuibuishi sped right next to us.

“Get the shit in dudes, this blob pulled it off!”
“Jesus, Bobby, what the shit?” from the interrupted singer.
In the distance a woman yelled. And a car started. We had to get out of there soon, so Fadi and I jumped into the rear.
“No man! This is crazy!” protested Fadi as they sped away into the alley that they’d turned into. The intial shock of the action had just worn off on the two in the rear of the car. In the front, Bobby was having the time of his life, his window half down and his mouth busy screaming obscenities at the silent audience.

The window turned down, and his head half out. The wind blew in, and the rose scented car absorbed the precious fusion of polluted city air, sweat, beer and nervousness.
The car sped along the roads of Kuala Lumpur. It was very rare that anyone in the city encountered such abandonment of the roads but in the middle of the night. Like the balls of a maze game, they cruised in and out in the meandering roads. It was a while before the gravity of the situation hit everyone else but Fadi. He had remained squirming in the back seat unable to enjoy the ride.

“Where the heck do we leave the car man?” Kiran said.
“In the alleyways, those abandoned areas. That’s the right place man, the car might look out of place but, it should take a while to be found. How about Chow Kit?” Sangkarra offered.
Fadi, his hand continuously running through his hair, his eyebrows cocked up was revealing more of his dotted face than he normally did. He said ‘finger prints.’ They ignored him.
“And how are we meant to get back from Chow Kit?” Kiran.
“Get one of them women who stay there to give us a lift on the way to the next customer,” Bobby kidded.

“Listen, ass wipe. We could be arrested!” shouted Fadi. Bobby shut up. He pulled out yet another joint. Surprised, they all held out their hands in eagerly.
Ofcourse, that makes no sense. But we did. It was the night, it had made us all more willing to dare than we otherwise were. Taking in the last drag, I offered my car. But we had to return to the scene of the crime. So why don’t we just return the car? Fadi wanted to know. It would be too dangerous I said. To be caught in the act of returning was unpardonable. If we were going to get caught. There were better ways to do it, like giving the cops a chase.
And we retraced our steps, took the back roads, and got my car off the front of seven eleven. Plan executed to perfection, I dropped the guys off at seven eleven again so they could get their cars and make their way back home.

So when the same car came in the opposite direction, it did not make any sense. That which had been left behind had returned. Materialized to haunt and feed of the fear that I thought that I’d left behind.

That night left me with stitches, and a bad bruise on my head, physically. My baby car was smashed beyond recognition. Even now, it brings tears to my eyes when I see the pictures of the wreckage. The most important thing though, was Bobby. Fadi and Kiran faced rehab, I had a two year prison sentence. Bobby’s parents didn’t see it fit for us to attend his memorial, neither did the law.

For the longest time I believed that I killed him. I knew what he was like. It only made sense that he’d go back and try the trick on the car himself. The day could’ve been forgotten, been just another bad day. Instead I still remember. Pain comes to everyone, pain like this, to those who pave the road for it.

I lost a lot that day, and it’s taken me a lifetime to heal the wounds. And I know now, no matter how bad things can get, they can always get worse.

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