I’ve been sick. I wake up in the middle of the night coughing and hitting my chest to spit out the mucus clogging my throat. At night, when I lie down, I think it’s very possible I won’t wake up. It’s ok, I’m not too bummed out by the idea of dying; I feel miserable enough not to care too much.
I almost died later this afternoon too. Walking to get a late dinner (personal rule: put on clothes and leave the house every day, even when sick) I tripped near a gutter jutting four feet deep into the ground. I realized that yesterday I wouldn’t have had the strength to catch myself before falling in.
It seems such a waste to die alone in a gutter if not intoxicated.
At the small restaurants near me, the waiters look terrified and panicked whenever I sit down, uneasy with their English. In this Indian/Malay/Western food place, I slip into Malay without really thinking about it, and the waiter looks greatly relieved. He prances off to fetch a menu (why not just bring that in the first place if you fear a communication breakdown?) and the drinks I ordered.
Quietly I chew my murtabak and sip my Milo, only bothering to look up when the news shows highlights of a Standard Liege match.
I saw nurses gathering at the joint next door yesterday, which makes sense with the hospital just across the street, but today a patient walks in. The connecting hub of his peripheral IV line has a white bandage around it. His green hospital outfit is open at the chest, and I can see a few lonesome hairs. In one hand he holds a cigarette, in the other a white drink in a plastic bag, probably Horlicks.
Overall he looks calm, like he frequently steps out for a cig and some roti bakar (two pieces of toast with butter and some sort of Marmite, available for RM 1.40 (0.45 USD) a pop). His mustache is flecked with gray. Silently, he drops his cigarette on the tile floor in the middle of the restaurant and steps on it with a sandaled foot. The waiter next to him doesn’t seem to mind.
Behind them, an old Chinese man has one hand two knuckles deep into a plate of rice, the other holding a cigarette with an inch of ash perfectly still, the smoke wafting slowly around his ears.
Further down the road from the hospital looms the pink cement walls of the prison, the city and its hawker stalls pressed right up against the exterior walls. The location will surely prove fortuitous if I ever break the law and injure myself in the process.
On the walk home, dogs bark at me from behind gates and along the street. I make the same kissing noise used around here to hail waiters or pacify animals or, occasionally, catch the attention of pretty girls, if you’re a misogynistic jerk like that. [YOU’RE A GODDAM FOOL, AND I LOVE YOU.]