The gloomy darkness had fully descended as I traversed this one neighborhood. Neighborhood after neighborhood that my dragging feet had passed by had people expunged from its streets for the inevitable coming of the worst weather of strong gusty winds; of strong rain; of strong whiff of something I had come to bear. I had grudgingly overcome its created melancholy that came to grip the whole of my brooding soul and had me soaking in ecstasy. I could not explain why.
This disturbance that would come to represent the proud physical and mental attributes of my unsatisfied self had lifted the sinking spirit that had come to seep gradually inside of me; and so, I thought, instead it further put me into ruination by an insatiable want to satisfy the thirst of my inner self. The one thing that I couldn’t fathom why I had to offer myself for that unreachable reward to be attained to have a complete fulfillment. Had the gods of favors and goodness forsaken me? Had I not been a good follower of them for the goodness that they had all feigned to represent? Now that these goddesses had all but banished me to the edge of the unknown abyss of their realm, it was only proper, nay, pertinent to place myself at the opposing end of everything that they tried to convey, nor everything that their individual caprices and whims had forced me to execute.
As the streets before me had turned into a maze of alleys and dead-ends, it was fascinating to gaze at the soulless surroundings with its muted sounds of the bouncing echoes that engulfed the periphery which further gave me a feeling of euphoria that began to transform the sulking spirit I’d been feeling a while ago.
A while ago, I was at the street corner of some few kilometers away from where I am now. The place was the busy Avenida Riz. A main thoroughfare in an erstwhile colonial area of the city, but lately had been transforming itself from a remnant of a bygone era to an era of affluence and materialism.
The year was part of the decade when the word transistor was readily mentioned in every talk that was about radio. Songs of the boy band from Liverpool, who wore bangs on their hairdos, were omnipresent in the air waves. The flow of the coming new era had shifted the current to the other part of the city in an area that was more conducive and convenient for commerce and trade to create a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere—where endless want for superficial aesthetics would mix and flourish in an unmistakable unrestrained show of incessant craving for materialism and insatiable greed for wealth.
You might want to ask me what I was doing in that debased place. I said, debased because it had been quite some time became the workplace of vagrants, of petty criminals, of fledgling crime bosses, all determined to grab a piece of the area to create a realm of influence to jumpstart their criminal enterprise. It was an opportune time for others to piggyback on the area’s upcoming transformation. One of the outcomes was the flourishing of the flesh trade. The place had become the waving stations of flesh peddlers and hookers; they had to make a suggestive waving of hands to hook clients. This approach was mostly done by those who had seen bright and rosy days but had started to reach the penultimate end of their careers. They would wave to every man to get their attention; the attention that would give these men their night feasting on flesh of women they had only come to know from the gesture of their hands. Threatened by the upstarts and the budding ones that had started to turn up and snatch their clients, the older ones had to be more aggressive in their ways so as not to be left behind.
These new comers tried to escape the poverty and misery of the far flung places where they came from—that outer civilization that was altogether forgotten and went to sink further into an indescribable misery because of the neglect cause by the incompetence and unbridled corruption of those in power—had practically found themselves in an enclosure of a new and different world. Soon, they too would also be forgotten and set aside among the throngs in the market place of flesh, when the lines on their foreheads and the visible emergence of crow’s feet on the sides of that overburdened masked eyes of theirs started to appear.
But before being sidelined for the rest of the remaining years of their wasted bodies, they had to give out their best smiles every single time to bait and lure some foolish men to splurge in a sinful indulgence, and to convince them to part with their hard-earned wages. The all too familiar consequence would leave the families and relations of these men hungry, dispossessed, and deprived of that one freedom; freedom from the torturing pang of hunger and endless impoverishment. And the other side of the coin was the feeding of the hungry stomach of the families of these women. It was a tragic cycle of dog-eat-dog world.
Why would I be bothered by them, these idiotic men and their wretchedly poor and miserable families, and these pathetic women and their pitiable families. As I was not emotionally bothered by them, then I would not be nudged nor shoved into showering empathy nor sympathy to those who were at the receiving end of the cruel food chain.
So, they came early. The first to come was attired with a silk dress, well, not really a real one but an obvious imitation of a silk. It was silk looking alright as the bottom part of the dress, the skirt, flung in one direction at the whimsical gust of the strong wind that had now by this time coming to be felt. The unwelcomed looming bad weather had given an indication that it would soon be rampaging about. The portent of the coming destruction was never given more than a shrug of a shoulder, for this imminent bout had come and passed before and had not ruined much, but only extended a scrape and slight bruises on a jungle of eyesore buildings, dilapidated and decrepit as they were, to give not much of a hoot to whatever nature would come bringing for their further demolition and destruction.
“You’re early,” said I. I went near her while she tried to smoothen her hair that had been messed up by the persistent wind. It was only past five on the dial of my old but precious classical wristwatch; it was unusually early for her to flaunt her trade. But of course, with protection extended to her by her madam, no corrupt officer of the peace would come bothering her. Her madam had made sure of that. Secondly, no decent officer would come bothering a woman doing her best to make a living in this inclement weather.