*The Pointless Writer*
has a life you're completely uninterested in. But it's okay because I can write. No abbreviations. No shoddy grammar (though I'm not immune to mistakes). Just quality writing on sometimes completely pointless topics.
UnPoints of Note
1. I write when fancy takes. Sometimes, fancy takes many months of leave.
Living in the Neighbourhood: Next Door
I stand in the shower, relishing the sensation of warm water sliding down my body. Warm water possesses a rare power, one that God no doubt placed in the natural spas of this world. The knowledge that grime is being swept away by this comforting blanket of heat is physically and emotionally pleasing, cathartic.
A dreamy fog fills my mind like the hazy mist of water droplets that is suspended in the air, thickening the air I breathe as it thickens my mind. It is difficult to know if I am asleep or awake in this twilight zone. The sounds of the outside world wash over me like the water; I am unalert, and they echo against my heartbeat.
I live in one of a circle of blocks that tower over a common park. The effect is amphitheatric: every sound from the playground is carried upwards in an auditory swirl of sound smoke - the screams, the shouts, the laughs... Even the caterwauling from the cats. They muddy together in indistinguishable echoes; one cannot tell where two sounds end and an echo begins.
I seldom listen to the screams. Children laughing. Playing catching. A couple of rowdy teenagers yelling at each other without thought for the amplifying effect of architecture which makes all their secrets unsafe. Tonight, as the screams fog around me, they take on a hard edge. Inadvertently, I tune in.
The scream. There's something wrong with it. It doesn't sound like the happy, excited cry of a child at the playground. I cannot tell how I know this. A mysterious sensitivity of the ear to tone, perhaps, to the invisible contours of uncoloured sound. It's amazing how much we can tell even from an unfamiliar voice. I'm about to brush off the darkness of the sound as an effect of the dreamy fog, where reality and dreams collide, twisting together and breaking apart into new existences, making it impossible to distinguish truth from imagination. Then, the man's voice shouts.
I cannot hear his words. They eddy with happy sounds from the playground, television noises from an unknown apartment - perhaps another, perhaps his own. Consonants are lost and vowels deformed. As garbled as a digitally warped recording. The knifed scream is cut off and all I hear of screams are the happy ones. Almost seamlessly, the sobbing begins. Heaving. Racking. Maybe fearful. It sounds like something hard has been knocked over or thrown, but the sound has splintered into a million pieces that colour with other sounds. It's hard to tell if my imagination is affixing a creative label in the absence of fact, or if those are truly the echoed tones of an angrily tossed object. It's impossible to deliberate on the woodenness or tinniness of the sound that reaches me. Are the shouts and the sobs and the screams even from the same location?
I wonder if this is merely an angry father berating his son, or a darker soundscape. I barely dare to think the word.
I don't like to think about it, but I am forced to accede that it is possible. With at least four people living in any of these large apartments and four apartments on every floor, there are easily the sounds of a thousand people that reach my ears via these echoes. What is the rate of known abuse in Singapore? The rate of unreported abuse is no doubt higher.
How much do I know about my next door neighbours?