The following day in a oil palm estate mansion – the way of the farmer

October 10, 2012

The man never slept beyond five. The 70 year old Hainanese man servant had laid out his masters pressed Khaki bush jacket with matching slacks along with mirror polished shoes in his walk in wardrobe at exact four forty five. On other days, a Khaki open neck short sleeve shirt along with trousers made from rough wearing cotton would be laid out. At five minutes to five, the tribal boy would return from the river bank bearing a razor sharp parang. The man servant inspected the edge, nodded to the boy and passed him a can of condense milk.

At precisely five. The dining table was laid out for breakfast. At one minute past five, the radio turned on automatically to the BBC world service. The man servant knew the ritual well. It was a strange voice from another world that he found strangely comforting. Only that from time to time, his master would strain himself to listen to this strange and foreign voice. As if it had the power to hold time in one breathe. In one word even – all the man servant knew was he found the rounded tones and ebb and flow pitch strangely melodious. Like a strange musical instrument that he had long grown accustomed too. At half past five, the driver brought the car to the front. At quarter to six, the tribesmen who guarded the man when he slept began to retreat into the preamble of the jungle. Though, the man servant had never seen them so much as once. He could always sense their presence. They were always nearby and never far away.

By six even the largish dog that had stood absolutely motionless to attention in front of the master bedroom door began to stir restlessly.

The man servant, boy, cooks, chambermaids, gardener, driver and dogs all waited – in the mansion located in the middle of jungle, the clock chimed six times. Yet there was no sign of the man. Only the sound of cogs and wheels from the grandfather clock turning rhythmically filled the silence just before the rise of dawn.

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