Deathly Wednesdays

Consider the world of the neighbourhood idiot.

His is a world of fury within – a raging misanthropy directed at anyone and anything and himself. When he is not consumed by a hatred for his own existence and his own consciousness, he is devoured by a wordless resentment for a world that ignores him. It is wordless for he is illiterate both written, spoken and in thought. Bitterness condemned to an eternity of wordlessness is an inextinguishable misery for there is no salvation of catharsis. Beyond physical illiteracy, his thought processes is a blur of images and impulses of hunger and emotion; his speech is one of incomprehensible grunts and hollering; his physicality is one of limited facial features on a large, burnt face mounted on a rotund torso.

He has lived to an age of 54, with shirt and shorts worn to tatters since his last caretaker left 20 years ago. In all those decades of blurred time and space, his once pitiable stupidity has morphed into an odious public indecency. In the mindless passage of the hours from dawn to dusk, hunger and hatred are the sole constants.

It was a Wednesday (not that the days or even years are of significance to him) when he died.

He was languishing by the Walls road-side ice cream hawker, nibbling on scraps of bread – alms of the ice cream aunty, discarded to his famished growls. A gang of upper secondary school boys had stoned him with pebbles. In a retaliatory fit of fury, he had inexplicably rushed onto the main road and was flung to an immediate death by a double decker 186.

***

Consider the world of the ice-cream hawker aunty.

Hers is a world of worry – a perennial state of anxiety and concern. Hers is a family of breadwinners too destitute to even have a one-room flat to themselves and yet completely untouched by the helping hands of social welfare.

Each day is a Sisyphean struggle to raise enough to pay rent and fuel in face of her worsening arthritis and cataract. Language had ceased to be an issue with a printed poster of ice-cream flavours. The universal language of pantomime sufficed for that.

What little else that is left from her daily revenue is a pathetic modicum of notes and coins that she brings to the dinner table. Her husband brings to breakfast table slightly more. Breakfast table, because his punishing taxi driving shifts has fucked up his timezones. Her son brings home only homework and free McChicken meals for the entirety of his McDonald’s salary goes to his polytechnic education.

She lives in the fear of increasing debilitation by cataract. But nothing could compare to the fathomless shame of failing her son. The lack of a family guarantor with a bank account possessing $50,000 has denied her son a government scholarship for higher education and a path out of poverty.

She incidentally sat on a matured government life insurance plan – a pay-out in excess of $50,000.

It was a Wednesday when she died.

She had been riding her ice-cream cart-mounted motorcycle home along the AYE when she found a route out of inherited destitution, if not for her then at least for her son. Swerving abruptly onto the opposite lane, she met the oncoming traffic in a blaze of tears and unspoken goodbyes. Social mobility had been achieved in a traffic accident.

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