The Man from Across the Window

Cold air seeped through the tiny cracks between the windows’ wooden frames. Their glasses shook timidly, letting out a subtle noise as the wind hit them. Every inch of the room was covered in 5am cobalt hue. Tiny particles of lights reflected from the antique crystal lamp made it seem like Van Gogh’s Starry Night came to life.

The man who lived in the motel across the windows had just finished his first cigarette, indicating it’s 5am. Every morning, fifteen minutes before the clock strikes 5 o’clock, that man appeared in the balcony. His body leaned against the metal railings, his back hunched as he lighted his first cigarette of the day, or maybe the last one of the night. Messy grey hair recklessly tied in a small ponytail and darkness under his eyes were never absent. And don’t forget the thin round glasses sitting still on his crooked nose.

Blue told me once that the man who lived right across his window came from a small village on the west side of the country, far beyond the red deserts and the rainforests. He came here to work at a pencil factory, but after a series of events, he lost his job and ended up living in that motel. What he does now, no one knows. The security guy at the motel said he works as a janitor in a nearby office building. The lady from the coffee shop said he works under the wise guys of the northern suburbs. The part-timer at the bookshop said he’s a small drug dealer who does his transactions at platform 7 on the station a block away from here.

For fifteen minutes he would enjoy his cigarette in silence. There was never a hum, a whisper, nothing. Just silence. After putting out the butt on a make-shift ashtray that was hung on the railings; he stretched his skinny body, inhaled a deep breath of clear morning air, gazed quietly through the laneway under his balcony, and then disappeared behind his door. Perhaps, it was time for him to get ready for work like what most people in this city do, or maybe he was just as insomniac as I was and after a smoke he would sink in the comfort of his warm blanket until the sunlight covers the entire city. But, who knows, he could just be finishing his long night of working and now he’s finally getting ready for bed.


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