Today Is The Juanita’s Birthday

Herbert lives more or less on Jalan Nanas Barat – Pineapple Road West. Parallel to and about the same distance from the house he calls Christine’s Island is Jalan Pisang Barat – Banana Road West.

Today is his daughter Juanita’s birthday. Kluay her childhood name, is ‘banana’ in Thai. Herbert drives everyday with Arthur along Pisang to work sometimes stopping to buy his favourite bananas there. There are many reasons for him to like Pisang. So this Sunday he takes a walk in the neighbourhood, to celebrate another banana’s birthday. To talk to his muse about what makes him happy. About what he needs in his life that she might be able to give him. To wonder if finding a place to live that makes you feel good is more like finding a person you can live with than he had thought about before .

The neighbourhood is run down and very private – like Herbert. It tries too hard to be ‘presentable’ – sometimes-just like Herbert. But most of the time it just is. Mouldering and muttering under its breath like Herbert. Flowers and  green and even wilderness are there. Baroque arrogance, and rundown hope lie alongside the really decrepit, and seem to smile knowingly at each other. Like lovers with a history?  The laughter of invisible children is the loudest noise. Tucked away at the edge of the city, Pisang  just isn’t going in any direction progress is  – West. Herbert likes it. People don’t move out but get dug in when a house collapses around them and the unfettered garden and buried green life opportunistically takes over at the first downpour. The people who live here are chinese, malay, indigenous, indian, Herbert, whatever. They generally aren’t passing through on the way to some other better place. They are here to stay. Now he’s found it, Herbert doesn’t  want to leave either but staying is another thing…

These are sample captures in chronological order, a record of a kilometre or so wander in the heat of the day, before a soft wet storm that was always near, eventually came.

He found a banksia in a hedge (oi!oi!) side by side with a solitary gardenia (singing the blues) Wrought ironic and prosaic. Plastic and spectacular. Jack fruit and bananas. Altogether, a sweet scruffy, well intentioned posy for a Princess, his muse, gathered on foot, by hand, on a very hot Sunday, just one degree above the Equator.

Till they talk again, he will dream of her and love her in all ways.

Sunday August 5 2012

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