The bus ride on the way home was... pleasant. It had been three days of not having talked to anyone at work. It was peaceful, not having to worry about making conversation. As the bus stop arrived I put away what I was reading and made my way to the exit. It was eleven in the night, and the stopped bus caused a traffic jam. I got down and made my way along the footpath avoiding the numerous cockroaches that had come out to feed. I tried to count them, but got bored after 60. I was half asleep. The pavement was crowded with people having a late supper from the many roadside food stalls. It was dark, with a few dim street lights here and there. And the warm glow from the stoves of the food stalls. I walked. A decorative string of lights on a closed shop cast a multicoloured glow on the wet pavement. Water flowed from a broken drain pipe, and I didn't care. I stepped through it. A smell wafted into the air. A smell of week old fish frying in month old oil.
I longed for my bed and the warm recycled air blown around by the ceiling fan. I kept one foot in front of the other. And I walked. Standing in the lift, I warily eyed my fellow passenger. A cockroach covering in the corner. The doors opened, and I stumbled forward fumbling for the keys. I unlocked the door and headed straight to sleep. In my sleep I dreamed. And in my dream, I slept. For the last time.
The apartment is eerily silent as I watch myself lying in peace. With cotton buds stuffed into my nostrils and ears. It comes as no surprise to me that I live in an apartment. I hear a sound of muted anguish from beside where I lie. My wife? Perhaps. I tried to put a face on her, but it is difficult to put a face on a person you haven't yet met. But the surprise is the girl who is comforting her. Her daughter? My daughter? The doorbell rings, and one by one people came in to say their goodbyes and comfort those I leave behind. I see a few familiar faces. Old friends, from a time long past. I realise that many of my friends have managed to outlive me, but for a few notable exceptions. The entrance to the crematorium on the banks of Kempambudi lake seems to invite a sense of finality. Or is it Dharmambudi lake? I forget. The final rituals are in progress, rituals that are supposed to bring peace to my soul. I try to get a better look at the people gathered to say their final goodbyes. But I feel myself being drawn away from there, and the faces of the people get dimmer. I am placed on the belt that feeds the ever hungry maw of the electric crematorium, and I slowly disappear from view.
I see myself go up in smoke. I feel free. But it is not freedom. It somehow feels that I am running away from responsibility. That I am leaving behind a job only half finished. But there is nothing I can do about it. I see the ones who have come to wish me goodbye slowly drift away to their homes, to their lives. I watch the only two souls waiting to collect my ashes. I long to reach out and comfort them, but I am slowly drifting away. Reality is calling. That call that can not be refused. The sunshine spilled into the room in all it's warmth at precisely seven in the morning. And the alarm gave it company. I woke up with a smile on my face and the knowledge that all I dreamed would come true one day. I couldn't wait.