Monday, March 7, 2016


"Where are you now that I need you?"

He becomes aware of Justin Bieber crooning from the speakers. He mutters under his breath at his disappointment for leaving the laptop on overnight for the umpteenth time. 'It's not as bad as sleeping with earphones on,' he consoles himself. Something about bacteria building up ridiculously fast in your ear the longer you leave earphones on. He fears bacteria.

He opens his eyes suddenly, but has to close them again as they are bombarded by the sunrise. He shields his eyes and gradually his eyesight clears. Clears to the sight of highway in the distance beginning to fill up with commuters. He catches the gentle touch of the morning breeze and sighs pleasantly. Then the smile turns into a frown upon realizing that the window must have been open all night long. He checks his arms and runs his finger across his face, looking for telltale signs of swelling. There are none. The mosquitoes must be having an off-season. On any other day, they would have punished him for such an error. The recent heatwave has made sleeping under a mosquito net untenable. So it is with much relief that he throws his head back on the pillow.

He rolls over to the left and spies a glass with a finger of colourless liquid. That explains his black out. His favourite poison, gin and tonic. He reaches over to the glass and takes in a generous whiff of the gin, catching along with it the sweet remnants of an apple-scented shisha stem on the table beside the gin. 'It must have been an eventful night,' he thinks to himself. His mind is still fuzzy and in no mood to put together the pieces.

He's shaken from his bliss by the harsh summoning of the alarm. 07:00 it reads, playing his favourite ringtone. He set his alarm tone the same as his ringtone because he knows a phone call is hard to ignore, unless you're unconscious for real. There's a certain sense of urgency connected to a ringing phone. The brain knows it, and will always react to it as long as it's capable. Even if the body is not willing. He wonders how exactly he managed to wake up before the alarm, but it doesn't matter. He has only an hour to get to work.

He jumps out of bed, but cringes and crumples over as a sharp pain races through his calf. He considers sitting down for a moment to gather himself up, but decides against it. "No one ever said they can't get to work because of an aching calf. Haven't a clue why it's hurting anyway," he remarks.
He presses the power button on his laptop and limps to the bathroom as the music fades in the background.

Several minutes later, he's heading towards the door, looking fresh. But he knows his mind is not up yet. "Why do they call it substance abuse when I'm the one who comes out the worse for it? It should be called human abuse." He stops by the fridge, but is greeted only by a half-empty bottle of tonic and an egg. It's strange that there's only one egg. He ponders the circumstances under which there could only be one egg left, since he tends to prepare them in even numbers. But that's not what's on his mind. He groans at having no water in the fridge, and resolves to boil some when he returns. He remembers something and darts into the bathroom. He glances in the mirror and sees what he's been suspecting all along. A tired face wearing a concerned forehead, a sarcastic eyebrow and a pair of flaming red eyes stare back at him. he considers going to work with sunglasses, but that will only cause people to stare at him the more. The whole 'wearing sunglasses indoors' is for celebs only. Musician celebs. He can't sing to save his life. While he examines each eye he mutters, "Perhaps if I squint, no one will notice."

The harsh wind from the boda ride to work sets his mind straight. He wonders if people know to be vigilant while they ride these traffic-ignorant steeds. He has a habit of telling the boda what to do, in case he has a slight case of indecision. He likes to be taken at a comfortable speed and not be put in unnecessary risky situations. He almost has his shin grazed by a Harrier. As the boda passes by the car, he casts a dirty glance at the driver. She's a well dressed, middle aged woman, fair as the sunset. She's wearing sunglasses. Not surprisingly, she's talking on the phone. She turns to face him in that fleeting moment. It feels like five minutes as their stares meet. He gives her the best stink eye he can muster. She responds with an incredulous eyebrow. He raises his hand with a 'what gives?' motion. She puts her hands together, bowing her head slightly, with a hint of a sheepish smile. He turns away, while giving her a thumbs up. It's too early in the morning to be giving a hapless commuter the middle finger.

He gets to work with 15 minutes to spare. There's that Monday morning status meeting that he usually looks forward to. And if last week was anything to go by, he has nothing to worry about this time. The meeting is lengthy, but it finally comes to an end. Which is a good thing because he's beginning to feel dizzy. He almost collapses from his chair during the meeting. He gets a smirk from the boss and a concerned look from his boss' assistant. He's more concerned about the smirk. It means the boss is going to be keeping an eye on him all day long. He needs to freshen up and keep his act clean. A generous drink of water should help with that. His colleagues thought he was still sleepy but he knows he's dehydrated. The truth is stranger than fiction, so he sheepishly agrees to their suppositions. After the meeting, he makes a beeline for the water dispenser. his eyes widen with disbelief as he notices something wrong with the dispenser. he flipped the valve, but nothing's coming out. Then he looks at it closely. It's a lot shorter than he remembers. So there's something missing. It hits him like a lorry a couple of seconds later. There's no water container on top. He claws his throat as dryness and dizziness begin to overwhelm him. His brain feels like there's heavy duty construction going on; thumping and pounding and drilling. The noise is almost unbearable and his body is beginning to shut down. As he staggers away from the water dispenser towards his cubicle, his mind drifts towards the betrayal he has just been dealt early on a Monday morning.

"Where are you now that I need you?"

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