That strange morning when Missy Dotty met the Farmer in Bedok Jetty – The Way of the Farmer

October 20, 2012

Five years ago in East Coast Park, Singapore at 0445

The stranger stood motionless all alone on Bedok Jetty dressed in his skin tight jet black bicycle gear – he looked out across the vast infinity of the dark sea that stretched before him like a proud plantation owner who stands on a hill and surveys his lands. There was an unmistakable swagger about the man. In the way he stood, with one leg ever so slightly higher than the other with one hand on his hip – maybe it was the way he carried himself. There was something pensive in his gaze as well like falcon – or maybe it was the strange electrically charged air that made Missy Dotty’s teeth feel tight and edgy at the unearthly hour of 4.49, like how she felt when she had first worn braces.

That morning, a strange and almost alien mood pervaded Bedok jetty. And though the curious woman had often visited this place – she couldn’t quite remember it being the way it was that morning. The twenty six year old lawyer found herself suddenly in a very strange place from the one she had always known.

As the very curious woman looked on, she found herself transfixed on the solitary figure, who stood all by himself on the jetty – there was something peculiar about this lone figure – it was as if he was written in an alphabet that she couldn’t quite read. An ancient script. One that doesn’t quite fit with the world. This idea gnawed at her. Since Dotty prided herself by being able to see the world clearer than anyone else – and now standing before her was a connundrum she could hardly fathom.

Suddenly the man lean forward slightly. As if he had caught sight of something that he had waited for so long to see – Yes, she said to herself….he has seen something…I must see it as well…The curious woman was interested to know what caught the man’s attention – this she believed to be a key that would allow her to open the door called CURIOSITY. She had after all woken up earlier than usual (even sacrificed her beauty sleep, as who bloody ever wakes up at four in the morning!) just for this moment when she knew this strange lonely figure that she was less than 20 feet away from would always come here this time of the year.

He had first appeared three years ago around this time. And she had first seen him from a distance from the balcony of her new trendy apartment in Bayshore. The man had come every morning for 5 consecutive days. And when the rains came. He would stand for hours. When the monsoon came. Poof! He was gone. And in the following year like one of those exotic migratory birds that one never seems to see when one wants to see one, suddenly reappears again. Always at this time of the year. Always at this hour between light and darkness – this no man’s place – this time that Dotty would come to call later in her life. The hour of hesitation.

A hour that Missy Dotty came to understand as a very unusual hour. A hour that perhaps even heightened and sharpened her already tak boleh tahan meter* by a good 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. This lone figure silhouetted against a dark azure sky who simply stood for hours and waited…and waited..she remembered asking herself, “what is he waiting for? I must see what he sees. Then I shall understand?”

The curious woman knew the man would appear just around this time of the year again in Bedok Jetty – this time, she had made it a point to ride her bicycle to take a closer look – but that morning nothing prepared the curious woman for what was to happen – for one it was hardly a normal morning – Miss Dotty, began to notice, the leaves stirred around in tight circles like the mistral that once danced in the Sahara in the continent of Africa. This she gathered from cable TV nature documentaries.

Though it was still dark, the sky was filled with an eerie paraffin blue velvety darkness that looked almost like the faint light that shines through old and dark wine bottles. Even the air from the sea that day possessed and almost needle like quality that made breathing painful – Missy Dotty had never experienced Bedok Jetty in this strange twilight of time and space before – so she moved closer to the man. From this distance, she could make out the features of the man who stood less than an arm length away – the man seemed to be peering intently at a column of scudding clouds far off in the horizon making it’s way. Missy Dotty looked out. She looked back at the man again. His eyes began to narrow. His hands began to clench the railing. She looked out once again at that column of clouds and now realized there were tiny glistening dots….birds lit by the moonlight. Birds. They seem to be flying frantically. Desperately. Away from the dark wall of iron clouds blowing inland – flying as fast as their wings can take them. That. Or else….Somewhere between the eight or tenth time when she had snapped back and forth at the man and what he saw – Missy Dotty realized the man was rooting for the birds from being gobbled up by those menacing clouds that looked like a giant steamroller.

Then, seemingly in an instant. When just a while ago it was just another dry dawn – now sheets of rain began to gush down. The heavy, spattering raindrops that even the curious woman who was called Dotty realized announced the arrival of the life-giving monsoon. Yet the man who stood in the jetty at day break staring out into the infinity of the sea – wasn’t very concerned about the rains. As he seemed to waiting for something else to happen.

It was at that very moment when the first rays of the rising sun began to finger out and flame the approaching clouds – that Dotty noticed a breathtaking spectacle – thousands of swiflets began to appear from nowhere – the deep purplish orange skies screamed, like an orchestra at a thunderous pitch of C major full blast – the wings of the birds were set ablaze by the morning sun and they all looked like a shower of meteors – they darted through the eerie lit dawn apricot skies by the thousands for just a few seconds and then it was over – silence and nothingness followed. Suddenly and abruptly – and that moment, the man nodded his head knowingly and pursed his lips. He smiled and even laughed. Then as if suddenly being aware that he was being watched all the time. He looked at the girl with the Brompton and said,

“Yes…yes… my fine feathered friends have finally made it through this time. They are safe. Here in Singapore, they will be able to rest, hunt and fatten up before they decide to fly elsewhere.”

That morning the 26 year old woman understood – she realized the man who stood before her knew how it was like to be hunted.

That morning Miss Curiousity aka Missy Dotty murmured to herself,

“How interesting….a man who knows how its like to be hunted….”

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