The ‘Bumba’

July 19, 2014

That Tuesday morning when Kumo Adomako woke up and saw a large white heron perching on the window sill of his apartment window in Telok Kurau. He realized deep in the marrow of his bones this Tuesday would be very different from all other Tuesdays that had once come and past in his twenty three years of life – the ‘Bumba’ the divine messenger from that other world the elders in his village only made gestures by pointing away from them while rolling their eyes and never once speaking the name of the place…not even once…had visited him and left an ominous omen. Kumo picked up the solitary feather and held it up against the light like some sacred amulet – he set it carefully to his right ear when he went out into the world that day.

As he walked all the way to Aljunied MRT station as he did everyday, that day Kumo walked ever so slowly and carefully always mindful never to break the spell.

He made sure his feet never once stepped across a broken line on the pavement. And when he reached the train platform he felt a sudden wave of relief as if he had just crossed a croc infested river. Soon the feeling settled and once again Komu was invaded by the vague sense of something missing in his life like a man standing before a strange arrangements of alphabets that he could not read. But this was feeling of acute estrangement was soon swept away by a stronger under current that intensified with every passing moment. The conviction that soon all would be revealed in good time by the ‘Bumba’. Kumo did not need any further confirmation that this was the Tuesday of all his Tuesdays. He just knew. Everything about today had a supernatural intensity. Nothing was the way it had been. Not even the blob of green spit that had marked the first few pavements when he started his meditative walk this morning – it looked like a bejeweled emerald. Even the mundane morning bright sky, empty and clear apart from one distant bluish puff of cumulus, which cast a drifting shadow over the neat blocks of housing estate seemed so virginal. As if he was looking at the world for the very first time and this filled him with giddiness.

Kumo did not have to wait long for the cryptic message of the ‘Bumba’ to reveal to him why this Tuesday would be different from all the rest of his other Tuesdays. When the station stopped at Tanah Merah and the door hissed open. A man like any other man in all the rolling vastness of the sea of humanity stepped in – he was wearing a loose fitting T shirt, bermuda’s and slippers carrying what appeared to be groceries. The man sat opposite Kumo. He was none other than the Shahidi, the Chinaman cocoa planter of Gabundi Estate.

Kumo shifted his eyes down and bit his lips in deference as he had always done before the Shahidi. Before he did so, he read the words of the man’s T shirt –

‘Different day, Same shit.’

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