July 31, 2013

Before & After The Fire

1961.

Rain falling on zinc roofs. Neighbours having sex

Hoping they won’t be suay again. They have no money.

The news coming from the sole television set. Children peeping for a glimpse of world affairs. Condensed milk cans

filled with coffee. Ah Ba will have to go to the office.

The office is also a shed. He carries sacks to and fro sheds

All day. Sometimes all night too. Last week someone tried to chop him in the head. He doesn’t care. A bowl of porridge a day makes Ah Ba strong. Insulates him from the world. Protects him from things such as emotions. And cleavers.

If there had been rain yesterday, everything could have been saved. There was no rain. Now there is no television set. No neighbours. No sex. No house. Ah Ma ran everywhere with his two youngest children. They were at the provision shop looking at candy they could not afford. When it happened they ran into temple. Stayed there. Crouched in a corner. Waiting. Shaking. It did not rain. The firemen worked all day. Ah Ba ran from the office shed but he could not find them. He almost cried, but, porridge.

He found them in the temple. Waiting. Shaking. Crouching. Ah Ba held his children tight. But he never found the words.

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