Outside the City

“And I don’t mean that the city is deserted. But there’s something so transient about people in the city. Like they’re never there to stay, always in passing.”

kazuokasai
Art by : Kazuo Kasai

My heart has been singing the praises of a tough city to love, lately. I have been smiling at urban labyrinths and jungles, wondering at the neon lights flashing in lesser known streets. I’ve been finding adventure in busy cafés and libraries; statues and monuments have spirited me away.

But everyday when I return from work, we go through a village.

For miles and miles the road stretches on, winding around hills and forests damp with dusk. And all around is the village. It does not make me question my love for the city, but there is something about it. It makes me wonder.

In many ways, the village resembles the city: you will find the same kinds of houses, billboards, phones. It is the same language, the same people weaving in and out of the city. But many of these houses are one-storey only. There are no skyscrapers, only trees. There are hedges instead of walls, dogs lazing about instead of beeping alarm systems. Over the gates, purple flowers bloom messily in out-of-control wreaths, covering the spikes meant to keep people out. And the people leave it be. I think they just don’t have the heart to cut off something that took so much effort and time to grow. And the walls, when they are there, are much lower, too. Made as though an ideal height to sit down on with a couple friends and swing your legs back and forth.

But what startles me most is that there are always people around.

And I don’t mean that the city is deserted. But there’s something so transient about people in the city. Like they’re never there to stay, always in passing. The city is this ghostly plane where they spend their time and energy, where flesh and sinewy muscle evaporate and people drift around translucently.

Last week, I met someone at work who was genuinely surprised to find out that I lived in the city.

“I didn’t think anybody lived there.” He explained.

So I always feel like people in the city are never really present, never really there, because there’s always someplace else they need to be. (Which is why people-watching in the city is always such a transcendental experience — all these lives going about in a blur, all these storylines, plot points, overlapping, intersecting as their bodies are at literal crossroads, leaving one side for the other, and all this, before your very eyes. And you sit there, a stationary point in all this organised chaos, feeling like the whole wide world is gravitating around you—and it’s dizzying, exhilarating, cosmological, an escape).

But in the village, people are there. Fleshed out, sinewy. The village is lived in, inhabited. It is not a drifting plane, blinking lethargically through the brume. People spend time in the village, they linger as though it were warm bed sheets on a biting winter day.

There are old women dressed in white doing yoga on the village council plain as the sun lowers towards the horizon, three old men are playing dominoes on the sidewalk, a low stool serving as a makeshift table. While quietly, another old man passes by, white haired and neat-looking, pedaling an old but trusty bicycle, tranquil.

And the teenagers, they agglutinate by the children’s park, girls giggling on plastic ponies too small for them. Other girls and boys flutter by, lean against walls, play coy and then stumble into shyness, quietly eating ice-creams before the sun sets and the day ends. The kids play football on the road until a car approaches, then they run barefooted to the pavement, panting, waiting for it to pass.

And, oh.

Oh.

There is a kite.

Truly, the city has travelers, nomads, business people of all kinds — but the village, the village is something else.

Where the city goes dark only to flare up with neon lights, the village lights up with a hum, glows a soft orange by the door of every house, where a lamp waits, like a lighthouse in the fog, to guide all the city dwellers home.

Blush Pink Afternoons

“But I sink so comfortably into afternoons— I unwind and my dreams, like birds, take flight, reaching the crisp saltiness of red and white lighthouses, or landing by the distant mystery of the lights blinking owlishly far up the mountains.”

9jedit6
Art by: 9Jedit

I want to swallow these blush pink afternoons the way you inhale a scent deeply, deeply to cage it in, to make your lungs swim in the perfumed pleasantness of it. Those I-can’t-wait-for-it afternoons after school and now after work, slipping out of civilian life, scrubbing off the city from your skin, all the smog and car honks and ruthlessness gone. Your skin clean, breathing again.

You know, these afternoons that dip into evenings, where the calm, ethereal colours of evening drip down the sky like watercolour.

I laugh now when I think about it. About how I used to think I was this mysterious night owl, how I embraced the night and stars.

But I sink so comfortably into afternoons— I unwind and my dreams, like birds, take flight, reaching the crisp saltiness of red and white lighthouses, or landing by the distant mystery of the lights blinking owlishly far up the mountains. My dreams, they soar, unshackled and wild into the sky, flying away into the sunset, towards that place beyond the pines and city walls where freedom lies. They fly beyond time, beyond physics or cosmology or sense. You see, the afternoon unleashes all sorts of otherworlds—dimensions that only tiredness can reveal. Colours that you can only see as sleep blurs the barriers between all the worlds, lulls your brain into letting the child from your memories out.

These afternoons, they’re also deep quietness and music that will not be listened to with eyes open. They’re for watching fingers that are not mine tracing the trail of smoke left behind by passing airplanes.

That brief twilight moment between afternoon and evenings are for warm hands that comb through headaches and glossy hair, that hold your hand as you bid farewell to the day that’s passed, wishing with all you have that you may be granted this kind of peace again.

via Blush — Prompts – The Daily Post


Note: There’s probably a second part to this coming up, so stay tuned!