Right to the end

I walked through a graveyard with a friend and saw a man in black standing by a gravestone. He’d move around but he was always facing the gravestone. He’d smile and cry but really his eyes looked dead.

My friend said “He waits by his grave”. I was afraid and walked faster till I saw more people standing by gravestones.

“They are standing guard” she said. I walked faster and further through the crowd, that now had all kinds of people, waiting by their deaths.

I walked till I left my friend behind at her grave and reached my own.

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Time reading

While reading, time passes quickly. Look at the clock while you think about it. Reading kills time and time kills people.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master. Lose something everyday. A set of keys, hours badly spent. In the time it takes for a bruise to heal, for hair to grey and for you to notice- it’s too late. Everything has passed just try not to miss the rest of the show.

Born to wait

The queue seemed to stretch for miles with people moving like they had all the time in the world.

I was tired and unsure of the ground below me. I looked around and decided that the people there were a sorry lot despite being dressed up like a carnival. The ones that smiled made me uncomfortable.

Eventually I reached the gate. Some guy there showed me a video- all sped up but vaugly familiar. I said “What a sad little story, you guys should make that a movie.” 

He said “The name’s Peter. That was your life on replay.” 

Death at the apartment

Apartments are like anthills with people always running around. You can never see everything but watch long enough and you’ll see the mad scramble has a pattern to it.

Yesterday must have been something like somebody kicking the anthill’s towers. At around 6’o clock I spotted a dead body in the front yard of the apartment next to mine. It’s usually a parking space so the sight took some time to register. I thought she’d jumped but turns out she was brought there. 

Soon cars drove up and parked outside the apartment compound. This throttled the flow of traffic so the rest of the evening was terrorised by endless angry drivers smashing their horns. 

Everyone sat in the parking space on red plastic chairs they brought it. The body remained in the yard uncovered unlike it’s witnesses. A priest with evident back problems was came along and started performing some rites. 

They moved the body a bit and washed it. It was some old woman. People on all nine floors of that apartment peered down at the process. They called in their friends, they jostled for window space and spoke on the phone while the rites were performed.

 There’s a shed next to the parking space on which dogs usually climb onto from the next compound. Today there were two of them who barked while they enjoyed the show. They had better seats than the relatives. The priest finally covered the lady’s face with a cloth. 

The indifference mixed with curiosity looked so surreal I took pictures to make sure it was actually happening. While I was doing this they loaded the body onto a vehicle and left- after all the relatives made their exit.

The watchmen later sprayed down the area with a garden hose. He was bored and didn’t do a very good job. There was a large puddle left behind were the ritual happened and nothing else.

Death and I

Death knocked at my door and asked for my brother. I gave him my eyes so he’d go away.

He came to my door a year later so I gave him my voice.

Yesterday I heard myself at the door and heard my brother rush out to greet me.

White Dog

If you ever walked past the granite dealers opposite the Bosch factory you might see a rather fat three legged dog.

He’s fat and unkempt, look closely and you’ll see his black hide under the off-white fur. He’s not fat because he’s well fed, it must be a lifetime next to small sweet shops and living on discarded fried items.

He used to sit near a sweet shop down a nearby lane. There was a giant puddle always filled with stagnant water and a house that always dripped dirty water onto the street, from its rain gutter. Why did he move to the main road? There were no trees, only the long grey compound of the Institute of Agricultural Technologies. They had filled their campus with palm trees, like they predicted the worst of urbanization.

Maybe it was the other dogs that moved in, maybe the passers by got a bit tired of having to navigate the filthy streets, broken pavement and a fat dog. His new hang out was the small gap in the wall, the only spot where no one peed. There a small stall set up where the people from the granite dealers would come to eat after washing their trucks. He’d lie on the piles of sand that were always there. You’d only see him after 10 and in the afternoon when the city was as its most inhospitable.

Recently they built a wall and he only has the pavement to sleep on. A woman runs the cart now and she’s always looking out. She looks at something far away from her plastic seat and glass jars of home made snacks. She won’t flinch even if you walk the narrow space left on the pavement. The dog however will look straight at you with his jet black yes that stand out on his body like spilt ink on paper. His look is full of a defeated indifference, knowing food is unlikely but waiting anyway.

He has bad timing, most residents know that you should stay indoors rather than risk the city roads. But I wonder if he’s just keeping people company.

I’m in pain

My mother always loved her job, even if she was only a housekeeper at the nursing home.

She would take my sister and I there to visit her co-workers or some of the old folk. She had an aunt who lived there too.

The nursing home was painted a drab and faded white. But it was always dark and shadowy despite the huge windows and buzzing lights everywhere. 

Even though I was young I knew this was a place of death. The people were frail and sickly watching reruns all day long. Even the artful wall that bore the names of the deceased seemed foul despite the many attempts to make it a more pleasant monument.

None of this affected my mother who always remained upbeat and spoke about the many reasons why she loved working with the elderly. Maybe that’s why she always took us along with her. We were always there on the weekends and we would have to wait till she finished her lunch and took us to attend mass.

We’d mill about and explore while she ate, ignoring the strong stench of urine that haunted the place. Once when I was six I wandered off while my sister stayed with my mother.

I heard a women shout “I’m in pain” over and over. There was something familiar about the voice. When I asked my mother about it she said the woman would do that every day and we should just ignore it. Later she explained stroke or dementia patients have verbal preservation, or the repetition of certain words or phrases due to the condition. 
When I grew up I started work at the nursing home’s sister institution. I didn’t want to come back home to be honest but I didn’t have many options. I was also curious about my aunt. I couldn’t remember a thing about her except that she had  dementia. 

Family friends would always talk about her as a forceful and determined woman who had a habit of bearing grudges. She grew quite bitter after a car crash severly injured her arms and she was confined to her bed.

I though my conservative relatives weren’t giving a free thinker her due and was curious to learn more about her. Strangely ever since I moved back I would have bizzare dreams of me at her bedside, playing the crule games only children who don’t quite know what pain is yet can. My sister cries in the background while my aunt struggles to say something.

The two facilities were connected so that staff could get around easily. I’d often make trips to the other facilities kitchen. It just so happens that this was the faculty where the shouting lady lived but I didn’t remember at the time.

I though I heard a distant “I’m in pain” echo a few times. I looked around a few times to see where it came from, but all I saw were empty rooms and made beds.

I stopped a nurse and told her I thought I heard something. 

“You did”she replied. “Every now and then the call light will go off and then you hear…”

“I’m in pain”

I realised that the voice sounded very familiar and the dream with my aunt flashed before my eyes. I shook it off and told myself to stop being silly. 

Back at the other facility I was talking to a regular dementia patient I was working with. She still had moments of clarity and enjoyed stories, although she would always remain silent. I told her the story and wondered if it was a ghost.

“I wonder why it doesn’t just grab me” I said as I drew up my chair. I noticed my patient look straight into my eyes.

Without breaking her stare she said “That’s because the woman under your chair has no arms.”

Fairy

All I could see were his feathers and antlers, so why should I have felt any fear?

His eyes like colored marbles, smaller than my palm he spoke in a strange cackling. I could hear his flutter and I swore I heard the night speak in its cold breeze. The brushing of leaves that I had forgotten since I left the old farm, since the world left the old farm followed the fireflies that buzzed around us.

The land broke and bent, on it’s bones lay roads. A serpent crushing what once was. In these forest lost stories of man eaters, demons and spirits once made their home. The forest floor was harsh. The land around me was dry and quiet while men would thunder and glow across the forest borders.

This was not home, the straggler would not like my habits. I felt guilt, deep down I longed for my land of light and fire.He led me far, onto the icy roads and head beams. So came my peace. I should have known. Why would the faeries lay in wait for  man’s repentance?

The Wait

The dog at the station, how long had he been there?

I would have offered him something, but his stare was empty. I stepped back trying to figure out if he had died. Before us people milled about. The train didn’t want to leave, but really what was there to look at?

The din was like the ticking of a meaningless clock. Feet shuffled but the crowd never died. There were so many, only a blur without meaning. So I stood there and with the dog I listened. People moved but the station never changed.