RUSH HOUR

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I don’t know why I do it every time. The sound of the main gate opening leads me to rush through the morning rituals that are the cause of my tardiness. But I can’t imagine not doing them if I can. Unless the resources aren’t there. Maybe then.

The gates close and my head is angled to the right as I watch the inside compound disappear. The thickly grown shrub fence glides by and you can see lights through the windows at the back of the house. The cold dawn breeze feels crisp and divine on my face. I close my eyes, wanting to absorb it. I always thought it felt the purest, like cold water down a dry gullet. I drop the window down lower to let in more. The bumps are something I got used to, after some time. The grass looks greener than it has for a while. It has been raining. So it’s grown a good couple of inches, and the dew can be seen reflecting off the light, forming teeny tiny rainbows in the air above them. There will be thick black mud everywhere. No one will be able to walk with shoes on for two days, at least. The path is flooded. Flowing heavily downhill, out to the main road. The clouds are grey and dense, partially veiling the distant hills and houses. There are birds chirping, which makes me wonder, from where? Because there are no trees near. It’s just bush fences for miles around. I stare off to the side as the familiar landscape of houses and empty lands roll by, the bumps are frequent now, and bigger. The slow movement of the car against the jutting stones lulls me into a doze. I feel my eyelids drooping.

The main road takes ten minutes to reach. There are people standing at the stage, waiting for a bus. It usually doesn’t take long, except on Mondays, when it plays out like suddenly there are too many people, which doesn’t make sense. On just that one day? Like, do they sleep at work the rest of the week?

There is a bridge, which overflows onto the road sometimes when the rains really come down. Today the water is halfway up, gushing underneath us with promising vitality. Right before it, there is a roadblock, traffic officers arrive there very early to collect bribes off of the buses that come from our direction. I imagine they make a lot considering all the buses that serve that route, and how many times they go back and forth. From the seasonal river, the road climbs up, flanked on both sides, with land bearing short grass, and houses set further back. It’s my favourite stretch. Because the wind is free and clear and the green of the place takes your mind on a trip.

But soon enough, we catch up to the rush, or more accurately, the snail pace of traffic, where the roads are wider, but the cars are too many, and EVERYONE is seemingly late. The houses are much nearer the roads now. As we crawl on, and the cars around us change lanes every two seconds, I try not to show my displeasure at the vehicles cutting us off, or the rowdy buses that seem to want to drive on the railings at the sides of the roads. It’s a struggle to maintain one’s place, everyone is pushing one another for space to get ahead of the traffic. Horns blare from what sounds like inches close to my ears, and there are drivers yelling outside their car windows flipping birds at each other. The conductors of the buses that vibrate like they want to fly over the other cars, come off and try to direct the smaller cars. It does not go well. By the time we move past this, everyone is alert and smothering laughter, at the free show of humanity trying to organize themselves. And failing. Cars spill over onto the sidewalk. It is quite the spectacle.

As the houses disappear, tall buildings take their place. Large billboard advertisements flow one after another about exclusive sports clubs, banking solutions, phones, and comedy and jazz events. We veer into a road off the highway, that goes into a neat little neighbourhood. I’d always thought I’d live here if I got a good enough job. The houses are squat, spaced, and the roads are smooth and tarmacked, no bumps. Even if it rained a good day you’d still be able to walk outside.

We near the stop where my mum drops off, and I start to wake. The small nap leaves me worse for wear, as I usually don’t want to let it go. It gets so sweet, feels like something to be had in a proper bed. I screw up my face, trying to shake it off. That’s what the last leg of the long drive to work is for. Turning into the roundabout, I blink a couple of times, breathe in deep, and lean out far into the air. The car pulls up into the parking space we have at work, I pull up the window and get out.

 

Author: L.Billal

Behold! You are the Universe! You are rarely ever just one thing your whole life. You are never in one state of mind. You are many things. Like the body in which you live. You breathe life into the one and the many. You live them. You are them. But they are never you.

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