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Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 - 1:11 a.m.

Everyday for the past year, he has been breaking into her flat after she leaves for work. He steals nothing, except for a few hours of rest on her unmade bed. Then he carefully reconstructs the tousled mess of bedsheets after he leaves, so that no trace of him is left.

He picks the lock and it takes less than thirty seconds to enter the flat. Barefoot, across the cold tiled floor, he heads for her bedroom. He has never had walked into her kitchen, never used her toilet. Once, however, he did stop at her bookshelf (in the living room) to see what she had been reading. He agreed with her choice of literature. Vonnegut, Rushdie, and a book of Persian poems by Iqbal. Exactly what he would pick up at the National Library at Bras Besah Road. But there was also a number of management and business books on the shelf, that made him frown. Even the perfect woman has her flaws.

There is a grey wardrobe in the corner, and a dressing table next to it. The table is crowded with different bottles of perfumes, moisturers, lipsticks. A teddy bear has appeared there recently.

He stands at the edge of the bed, and memorizes the diagonal slash of a blanket thrown hurriedly aside (woke up late again), the topographic lines of the bedsheet, delineating each cotton peak, valley and plateau. Then he deduces where her body must have lain the night before, and he lies down on the bed gingerly. His body takes up the space her body had taken during the night.

His head lies on the single pillow where her head lay, his body in the imperceptible shallow caused by the depression of her body. A small amount of heat from her body lay dormant in the layers of insulation, the blanket, the duvet, the bedspread. He is not after this warmth, which is merely physics, nor the imprint of her dreams or thoughts, which is merely metaphysics. He had been waiting for a bus and she had walked past him. Then he followed her home.

He has suffered from an intractable insomnia for years, even before coming to Singapore. That is why he chose to work nights. But even during the day, he cannot crossover to the blackness of sleep. Her bed is the only bed in this country where he can fall asleep in.

The human being is the only animal that requires rotating the axis of the body from vertical to horizontal to sleep. Horses, elephants sleep standing; dogs and cats lower their bodies to the ground. He thinks of nothing as sleep claims him, once again.



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