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Thursday, Mar. 24, 2005 - 9:50 p.m.

She stops the car along the side of the country road and gets out. The afternoon light is still, as she walks across the grass to the giant triangular truss. Its apex holds up the high voltage power cables, which run along the countryside like sagging laundry lines. The next truss is planted on the side of a green hill, but that one is too far from the road.

She had sped from Singapore all the way to Kuala Lumpur last night using the back-roads, in order to forget. She passed darkened houses standing in the middle of vegetable fields, a motorcycle abandoned in a ditch, but she did not remember any of this when she reached KL, because she was moving so fast in the blackness. Only the two cones of her yellow headlights reflected the road surface, and occasionally she would see the steel triangular trusses glinting silver with moonlight. In KL everything behind the car would be forgotten.

At the club on Jalan Ampang she met her friends and they all got drunk, and the conversations became progressively less comprehensible as the night deepened and the music got louder. Then she watched the Discovery channel mindlessly in her hotel room until she passed out between the sheets. When she started to wake the next morning, in that unsure median between sleeping and waking, she had a thought - you must remember what you want to forget.

As she drove on the same back-roads towards Singapore, she realized that there is a return journey to every memory that one tries to depart from. She had failed in her attempt to forget him, the near booking of the condominium, and the almost marriage; he had taken up so many years of her life already but she wasn't angry with him. She just didn't want to keep thinking about it anymore because the sadness was just so tiring.

Unfortunately, one of the features that the human animal evolved over fifty thousand years was the ability to hold memories. And even though we might have forgotten the first memory of fire, reason infers that memory must have existed at some point in time. She passed by the abandoned motorcycle in the ditch and felt annoyed at her own powerlessness. It must have been there when she drove up to KL and it lies forlorn on its side as proof - even of what she does not remember. The persistence of memory is as physical as a motorcycle rusting in a ditch.

She reaches the foot of the steel truss and looks up at the twenty thousand volts in the cables swaying above her. The cables connect to flats in KL and all the houses in the middle of vegetable fields; one family is watching a P. Ramlee film on a black-and-white television set, while an old grandmother lifts the lid of her rice cooker to watch the bubbling rice.

She opens her wallet and digs out the last photograph of him. She discovered it earlier while settling the bill at the hotel reception counter, buried amongst her parking tickets and shopping receipts. It is a small square photograph of the two of them at Sentosa, taken almost four months ago. She places the photograph on a chest-high horizontal spar of the steel truss, and hopes that the Discovery channel was right: the documentary had said that magnetic waves from high voltage lines could impair memory.

She leans her head against a diagonal metal spar that has been warmed by the uninterrupted sun. She looks at the photograph one last time. It is the final thought in her head as she slides her trembling eyelids shut, and forgets.


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