Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Friday, May 30, 2008

Through The Godless Hours (51)

Emerging rapidly from their tawdry shacks on hearing what they thought was a firecracker going off, the first of the kampung folk were horrified at what greeted them as they arrived upon the scene. In the run up to Ramadan, the Holy fasting month, there had been a spate of incidents involving the cheap explosives – examples of boisterous adolescence in the main – which due essentially to their irritating frequency, rather than the seriousness of the damage they caused, had begun to anger the local community. Picking up broomsticks and other assorted objects with which to chase off the transgressors, they had expected to come across the familiar assortment of youngsters they had faced on previous occasions. No-one was prepared for the horror of the circumstances that were now revealed. To many, the moment seemed almost surreal. Pushing their way to the front of the crowd that was now surrounding the boy, a few of the kampung‘s more dominant characters stared down at him in disbelief. “It’s Anath! The kid who sells the papers!” yelled one. “Take off his shirt!” shouted another. “Rip it off, quick! We’ve got to find the wound!”

A degree of panic was now beginning to manifest itself – sweeping throughout the group like a contagious disease and leading to hurried, uncoordinated attempts to lift the dead weight of the boy’s limp body. It was only through the calming influence of a particularly strong member of the team that they successfully managed to pull his tee-shirt over his head, which at once flopped backwards with a sickening crack. Despite their natural revulsion, the group then began wiping away his blood with their bare hands, eventually locating the puncture mark, from where a liberal torrent of the vital fluid was still spurting. “He’s going to bleed to death if we don’t do something quickly,” said the man who was emerging as their leader. “We need to push hard, somewhere around the hole… Stem the bleeding… I saw it in a movie!” “OK – do it, then!” someone urged.

One or two of the group helped by experimenting – prodding and pinching around the dark hole before managing, finally, to locate the spot where constant pressure did indeed stem the flow. “Somebody’s going to have to press here until… well, until we find a way of getting him to hospital,” said the man who was now pressing hard, close to the wound. “I’ll do it,” came a voice from behind him. An unexpected, cultured voice. That of a woman; finely dressed, and none other than Captain Farid’s wife.

Positioning herself so that Anath’s head nestled in her lap, the woman pushed as hard as she could in the exact spot indicated by the kampung-dwellers. Knowing that the boy’s condition had been momentarily stabilised, the members of the group then ran out into the road, waving frantically at the municipal minibuses in an attempt to force one to stop. But seeing the bloodstained garments among the crowd that was milling about the scene the drivers veered away, fearing they were about to be drawn into the latest incidence of amokan – the feverish violence that could sometimes intoxicate the lawless mobs that were quick to assemble in this crowded city; occurrences that often led to baseless killings that were the result of a suspension of reality coupled with the primeval fascination of watching human blood being spilled.

“Leave me alone! I’ve done nothing wrong!” yelled the driver of one of the vehicles as he jumped down from the cab and scuttled quickly away, fleeing what he assumed to be a lynch mob. The sheer weight of bodies had eventually managed to block, and then surround, its rusting target. It was inevitable as a result that the bus’s unlucky driver would not be earning enough to feed his family today. Pursued closely by the conductor, who under normal circumstances would welcome the seemingly inexhaustible supply of passengers the crowd represented, the pair of disenfranchised transport workers then disappeared anxiously down a side street, hurtling through a group of children at play in their rush, and knocking over a makeshift basketball hoop in the process.

“What now?” asked the group’s leader, shouting above the hubbub. “It’s OK, I can drive,” said another. “Get the boy, I’ll start the engine!” The man jumped up into the cab and tested the turn of the steering wheel, before firing up the engine. Together with a few of the others, the leader had already rushed back to Anath, who remained under the care of the sophisticate who had emerged from the restaurant. A volunteer, it now occurred to the leader, who despite her obvious standing in society was prepared to dirty her finely tailored clothes on the damp, red soil that fronted the restaurant. Thinking this and in spite of the dire nature of the circumstances they faced he managed to smile, acknowledging her with a grateful nod before once again coordinating the other group members in an effort to lift the boy with as little discomfort as possible. All around them, meanwhile, the crowd continued to gossip excitedly, glad to have witnessed the drama and survived, and each with a story to tell upon returning home. As the team then barged through row after row of the curious onlookers, the woman’s attempts to apply continuous pressure to his shoulder were at times unsuccessful, her occasional slips allowing the red spurts to come once more. Their stuttered progress towards the waiting bus at times induced a natural swinging motion in the boy, whose limp torso swayed to and fro, like a deer trussed to a hunter’s pole…

…and now he was swinging in a hammock on the porch of his Mother’s house… Mother… Mother..? but he sensed she was not at home today… where is she..? how he missed her… but this hammock was so comfortable… sooooo comfortable… as he swung and lolled, his body loose and relaxed… swaying airily in the afternoon breeze…

posted by Kirk at 10:48 pm  

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