The hollowness of words

Photo: Loreleistar

The sun sets quickly in Singapore. Just like many other words, twilight doesn’t exist here. The word rings hollow whenever you say it. Other such words that I can think of are houses, love, freedom. And the ilk.

“Have you seen the twilight today! It was brilliantly beautiful.”

The words conjure up ghosts of faraway lands, we/them/us trying to be somebody/everybody/someone, trying hard, fitting a square peg into a round hole.

Was that why he, that man/boy, step inside that Starbucks and ordered a double-shot espresso? Was he trying to recreate a European coffee culture, this Anglophile? Why did he fish a thick novel out of his bag and sat down, facing the road (again, the European-ness), and just started reading? It was incomprehensible. He probably like reading a lot to do it in the middle of a crowded cafe that was packed with rowdy teenagers. How could anyone do proper reading amid all that noise, that banality?

But that loneliness. Everyone around him was seated in tables of two or more laughing and chattering, fleshless laughter as crowns, heads thrown back with napes wide exposed for the cutting.

I was probably right. He was lonely, sitting in a cafe, reading, sometimes pretending to read, sometimes observing the crowds. At times he would just stare out into the roads. Was it comforting for him to be around people, so near and yet so far from them? Amongst them and yet untouched?


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