Walking past the open mouthed lots around me, I am survived by a collection of feet and legs as I slip around the bend. The backyard of parallel rows are fronted by a blackened road littered with swooping swiftlets, rusty grill doors and drainage pipes leading into murky drains. Open mouthed chains padlocked on an end hang awkwardly from retractable hinges well used and less oiled than should, not for public usage. My legs work like a castanet as I slowly begin my journey past the khaki cemented linings of levelled path, boundary cliffs to either edge of pent up oily, curried sewage water below ground level. There is a thick diesel scent lubricating the warmly moistured air about the alley stretched out towards the distant geometrical view of another block’s side profile. Whirrs of detachment and attachment of hardware machinery skive through the empty alley save for vehicles side parked on a single side. This space is fit for an approximate width of two pick-up trucks and three inches, some stray cats in between the gaps, industrial garbage bins, me and the wafting aromas of unfresh ingredients being cooked in the nearby kopitiam.
I am almost halfway towards the end when I catch hold of a black cat with white stripes (or perhaps the other way around) staring into my soul. I have the nagging thought that it would still be able to maintain that look at me even when kicking back its hind paws in a sandpile or grass. Satisfied as I pass it by, it turns about upon its haunches, its crooked Malaysian tail tip an antennae in the air as if to relay / race towards my starting point.
Its last glare says to me, “You’ll walk backwards and I’ll walk the opposite direction, I’m sure we’ll meet somewhere at some point.”
“Hmm, Mobius person”, I give it a cantankerous look back and then resume focus on the tune shimmying into my ears from my phone.
Mobius people in a technicolored world never knowing the effect of shadows or the beauty of magical works of dalangs in Wayang Kulit. Gold plated food for thought; you are what you eat. You have a calorific count that resets at the start of the following day. The allowance to ration yourself to only so many meals a day is dependent on your allocation of resources along with nutritional gains in mind. Fitting those two together, you have to take into consideration your capability of enzymatic processes, allergies, water intake among others all within the confines of your metabolic rate. Dieting slows it down and you end up being counter productive to your goal for fat/weight loss. I am barely breaking a sweat and make a mental note of hydrating the moment I get back indoors.
An open street with live cars driven by rectangular glass cut outs of random faces welcomes me at the end of the alley. Looking around, I notice the cat is still at the same point where I had left it.
“I win”, we both think simultaneously. I leave the thoughts to meander past the sheltered hardware, pockmarked tar, blaring sounds, cloying drainage, confounding humidity and omnipresent acridity of the strip behind me.