Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shades of angel - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Photo by Neil Krug (CC)
I close the book, I'm about to turn off the light but I realize that I am not sleepy enough. The muffled street noise is seeping into the room through the chinks of the window frame, people are having fun outside: tomorrow is holiday in Kuala Lumpur, but I'll still have to teach.
I wear a pair of flip-flops and get out of the room. The furniture is rather lousy but the apartment is large and for once in a while I don't have to share it with anyone. I grab a chair and I take it with me to the balcony. There must be at least 25 degrees and I'm only wearing a pair of boxers, but the lights are off and I live on the eighth floor, nobody can see me and, even if they could, I am only a shadow: a dressed shadow and a naked one look pretty much the same.
I just need a look to realize - for the nth first time - that a balcony with a view is actually cool. There is a crossroads just down here, a confused knot of small streets without a traffic light: it has to bear the weight of traffic only when there's some nightlife, just like tonight. Cars, motorbikes and taxis advance with the same speed as the pedestrians, looking for parking space or for their way back home.
I almost never smoke but I light myself a cigarette. If you don't have a habit that's what cigarettes are made for. I smoke, look around and write sentences in my mind, in Italian, in English, in Spanish, with cuneiform characters and ideograms, without being able to save them, as in offline mode. Maybe, if I look carefully, I can manage to spot those Russian girls as well.
A few hours ago, when I was mooching a wi-fi signal in the lobby, they got out of the lift laughing and singing, together with those male model friends of them, some kind of self-propelled bronze statues. They were muttering when they walked past me, probably tipsy, maybe they were taking the piss out of me: I'm always by myself, writing at the PC or walking around the neighborhood, I don't open up easily like the other men in the building. What a nerd, they might think, maybe even an asshole: well, nerd is alright, and I might also be a bit of an asshole, but most of all...I'm shy! Then the one who often sits near me with her laptop - always wearing shorts and t-shirt, ponytail and no make-up - turned towards me and I almost didn't recognize her: tight black clothes, loose hair that could finally flow down her back, long and wavy, soberly made-up, just like an angel would be. Hopping as if she was dancing, nay, like a little girl with her friends at the public gardens, she smiled at me and waved her hand. All of a sudden on the contact surface between body and chair I felt some sort of liquefying sensation, not as if I was sweating or bleeding, just as if my skin and muscles were actually melting. Then it was all a sequence of changes, of temperature, of light intensity, of color shades, of perception of space, as if a new dimension had seeped into this little world of mine, and finally I understood: I was completely bonkers. I didn't really have enough time to say anything and I was afraid that she might find me quite rude, but when I got hold of the various parts of my face again, I found a smile that almost beheaded me stamped right across it: if she didn't notice that she was not only drunk, she was completely lost in a hyperspace trip. I knew better than cherishing false hopes about the future, but I sucked the present until I could almost hear the noise of a straw that drains away the last drops of a fruit shake.
The traffic jam clears, the group of tipsy guys leaves, I haven't seen the Russian angels but others are passing by: fluorescent Chinese, Indians blended with the night, alternating with Malays of different qualities of chocolate. Snazzy, with stylish hairdo, some are swaying a little, they clasp their purses as if they were afraid of losing them, or they hold on to them not to fall over: from up here, in semi-darkness, they all look beautiful.
A car alarm goes off, one of those sirens that sometimes sabotage my siestas, this time I'm not in bed but on a balcony instead, and even lounging around: I enjoy it as if it was a soundtrack slightly out of phase. Then I yawn and it's the cue I was waiting for, I pick up the stub and I put the chair in its place, then dragging my flip-flops I grope my way back to the room.
Now I can go to sleep: a balcony in the darkness and the wake of a smile have tucked the night in.

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