viernes, septiembre 29, 2006

Singapore - Part 5

I always like a ghost story where a dead man is destined to wander the earth. A lost soul. Unseen, unheard of - a nothing. Blending into the landscape, taking in the scenery, weaving in and out of history without ever having to be a part of anything. Invariably, he is a miserable one. He’ll wonder why he isn’t in a heaven or a hell or at least some form of netherworld. He’ll grumble and whine, trying to figure out where it was he went wrong in life.

Ungrateful. Bastard.

I’d have traded places with him in a minute my first few months of Singapore! I stuck out like a sore thumb. Singapore is full of foreigners. But my corner of Sembawang… This was no expat community. There were Malays, quite a few Chinese, and some Indian. The only white face I saw was the one in the mirror and the ones on television. I’d never experienced anything like it in my life. I’d walk down the street and get stares. People would gawk at me on the bus. They'd take abnormal levels of interest in the loaf of bread I was buying from the supermarket. I’ll bet most people would have gotten over this a little quicker than I did. But really, there’s nothing I hate more than that type of attention. It drove me up the wall. And little did I know it, but once I moved in with Blue’s parents that December… well, let’s just say I had miles to go before I slept - all downhill.

I should mention, now that I've started on this topic, I owe my life-in-fishbowl experience not only to the obvious stranger in a strange land predicament. There’s more to it. When I arrived, Blue was working to complete the military service he'd stopped short to go study in the US. Because he had an MA (unusually high level of education for someone still doing National Service), they made him serve his remaining months in a high-profile, high-security position. He couldn’t tell me a thing about his work (a whole story in and of itself...). What he did tell me was that I shouldn’t alarmed if I felt I was being followed or thought my phone was being tapped. He was told they’d do this. I was a foreigner, and that was a serious liability to his organization.

At first, I didn’t believe a word of it. Government employees wasting their time following a 22 year-old American girl? They’d pay people to do that? But several times I got into the apartment elevator only to see a man running around the corner, asking me to hold the door. He’d ask me where I was from and why I came to Singapore. Harmless questions, all of them. I can’t prove he was checking up on me, but it sure felt like it. None of my other neighbors ever talked to me (they only stared!). I could never see which apartment he came out of, and he always managed to catch me as I was heading downstairs. Then there was a guy in the food court whose job it appeared was to supervise cleaning staff. A tall, heavyset Indian. He’d eat lunch with me sometimes. Was he being nice because he saw I was alone? Or was there some other reason he talked to me? I never knew, but I was happy for the company. He was nice. And my phone, well, I’ll believe that was for real. The connection was full of static up until Blue finished his military service.

Invisibility. I’d have killed for it. I started leaving the apartment later and later. Sometimes, not at all. And when Blue came home from work I’d lie and say I’d gone out when actually I’d only gone to the corner store to grab lunch. I kept my head down, spoke when spoken to, tried not to notice how much people were noticing me.


Anonymous Anónimo said...

so, your ideal life is as a ghost dat aimlessly vanders da earth unnoticed...figures you dorky antisocial nomad keet. i stiiink you'd grumble, vhine, and be miserable no matter vere you vere doh.

12:52 p. m.  

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