Singapore Adventure

Monday, October 16, 2006

Yearning For Rain
by venitha

"It needs to rain," Andrea said. "Singapore is starting to smell."

Drenched in sweat after our morning run, I'm hardly in a position to criticize. And I don't imagine the dog doo (few dogs and even fewer pooper scoopers in this oh-so-clean country) in the grass next to us is helping much either.

But two weeks of no rain to wash away this fetid haze, and Andrea's right: Singapore is starting to smell. And even worse: it's starting to fester. Jim's shingles pain ("I'm now being stabbed with needles instead of screwdrivers"), waves of nausea and chills that I can't seem to shake ("I'm not even hungry for sushi"), a lethargy that's settled heavily onto both of us...

Jim sits beside me on our bed, his chin in his hands, and I run my fingers through his beautiful hair, scratching ever-so-lightly.

"Oooh, I like that."

"Well then I won't stop. You've gotten significantly grayer in the last year." I kiss the back of his neck. "And four months and six days." Like my passport number and the lyrics to Tainted Love, I know this without even thinking.

Jim smiles ruefully up at me, and I don't know until he speaks if it's his graying hair or my extraordinary math skills that have earned the tired look in his eyes.

"It's hard not to be exact when people ask how much time we've got left here. Seven months, twenty-five days." Wow. Even I don't have these numbers at my without-even-thinking disposal. Though I admit I've thought about adding a countdown timer to this blog; I discarded the idea out of fear I'd do nothing but watch it. I've also wished I could locate that millennium clock my mom gave me. After January 1, 2000, you could reset it to count down to any date. I wonder briefly now if maybe Jim's got it, but this is not a time for accusations: That clock was mine, old man!

"Sorry lah."

"Me, too."

My feet don't reach the floor from this bed, and I feel like a little kid as I swing my legs. I lazily caress Jim through his graying hair, and I look across his bent head to a soft white sky and an utterly unfamiliar skyline. The downtown has vanished, the trees of the Istana's stately grounds are a choking charcoal smudge, and the towers of nearby Little India and Bugis loom eerily out of focus, bleak shaded backdrops to some depressing black-and-white documentary about poverty, disease, pollution, and starving children.

There are no clouds in this hopeless sky, yet I yearn for rain. I crave a massive soul cleansing, stench quenching, lethargy lifting downpour. I want lightning to emblazon Singapore's majestic skyline, to shock us all wide wide awake, to ignite a smile in Jim's eyes. I ache for thunder that rocks our apartment and shakes this nausea from my gut. I long for a storm so powerful it washes away the haze, this attitude, those damn counters, and all - all - 80s song lyrics.