The City at 4.30AM
I almost never walk in KL. Ever since I can remember, the city has intimidated me.
Last Friday I found myself in the middle of its beating heart in the dead of night, sticking art up at bus stops around Pudu.
Irrational fear flooded my sleep-deprived amgydala, the portion of the brain that regulates the flight or fight response. I couldn’t tell what I was afraid of – the police, the darkness, getting robbed, being a stranger, being a woman. Zedeck asked why I was standing so close to him. Ashamed, I simply denied the truth: "No I’m not."
As we trekked from Jalan Pudu to Medan Pasar and Tun Perak, we passed rows and rows of people sleeping on the streets. They were young and old, men and women.
We headed toward the bus terminal. Zedeck grabbed me and said softly: "Watch out!" I’d been about to step on a huge dead rat, its guts vibrant pink spread out against the grey asphalt.
Two policemen on motorbikes stopped us and asked where we were going. Zedeck muttered something about Swiss Garden Hotel, while I stood there clutching our art supplies with a deeply guilty look on my face. They let us go.
We put up 9 posters, and then my body dragged my exhausted mind back the way we came. I heard faint birdsong. The sun was about to rise.
The streets seemed to say to me: you have no business being here. But I know that's a lie, just my mind tricking me into believing these thoughts don’t come from itself. I know because there are those who make it their business – the shelters and soup kitchens, people who provide places of respite for the ones who don’t get to go home after a long, tired night.
Later, in my soft bed, I thought of the art we’d pissed on the streets, like cats. I thought of the rows of sleeping bodies. I fell asleep grasping the memory of my fear like a faint thread that might hold the two beside each other.