I have flown with the owl. I have come to life at dusk, prepared my eyes for the darkness, waited for the sounds of day to fade. And stepping out, shivered from anticipation, fear and the thrill of tasting the forbidden.
I have crouched in half shadows, eavesdropping on drunken quarrels. I have listened to the night-watchman talking himself to wakefulness. I have heard the lonely roar of the late bus. I have puzzled over soft rustling sounds in the baker’s alley until sweet parting sobs revealed all.
I have watched shift workers descend the company shuttle and walk wearily home, wordless unlike their daytime compatriots. I have seen the lights in the cabaret dim, clients stumble out, dancers in shawls of modesty slip facelessly home. I have watched sweepers turn out the day’s litter from the depot’s buses.
I have heard the first thuds of a new day – tight newspaper bundles landing on the pavement. Silent swishes of paper on paper as nimble fingers sort yesterday’s gossip. Landing shouts of fishermen, answering calls from their women. Diesel vans, dyspeptic from substituted kerosene, bringing in the city’s vegetables. All preparing to stand by as normal people wake reluctantly to their day.
It is not yet light, but impending dawn has pushed away the night’s romance. I am suddenly somnolent. I grope my way home, to cool sheets and hard berth.
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Oh, many have been the nights when I brushed aside the daily repose, indulging my inner voyeur in the unlit city. I thought nothing of it, for sleep was not then a precious, proscribed pleasure. Perhaps I am paying in unclosed eyes now, for my youthful disregard. Neglected nidra is having her revenge.
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