Rays of darkness enter a postbox three blocks from your two-storey house. The quiet frustration of cars screeching to a stop at a red light that I can’t even see wakes me up and I blink. It’s another evening in the postbox. Here, I live among the many letters you send to your friends, exes and colleagues. I toss and turn, making space among your formal faithfullys and sincerelys, words penned with no regard to the meaningless flattery all regards have carried for the past hundred or so years.
This mundane evening, I proceed as I do every day, to reseal the letters that I fell asleep reading, making sure I leave no traces of spilt secrets. Once I’m done, I feast. I put my nose inches away from the efficient and neglected opening of the postbox and breathe in the crushed aroma of tea and coffee mixed with the mischief of leaves and seeds from the Asias. I smell yesterday’s rain on the coats of young ambitious souls on their way back from work and the leather of shoes not yet broken into. It reeks of monotony; all of it.
As the evening breaks into the pitch black of the night, I am confronted with what I must do to pass time. There’s not much to do at night. I certainly can’t read any letters. In fact, I can do nothing but listen to the stillness, an activity that’s such a bore I pity anyone who finds it beautiful. I like to process. I need smells and sounds to acknowledge the existence of my senses. I really don’t know why I spend so much time awake in the night. I could just sleep and be at my best during the day. I feel like an old fool. But that is just how it is. I like to tell myself my obsession with the laziness of the night lies in how the expectation of something new is glorified by nocturnal silence, a heightened experience of anticipation from a pause that lasts but around ten hours.
After this stretch of failed expectations and excusable disappointments, I finally find joy in the ever certain glorious break of dawn. The rays of darkness change colour like milk poured into a cup of hot tea. I hear the sound of birds echo inside my small cylindrical chamber of existence and condition my eyes to the yellow of the sun reflecting off the glass of an old pawn shop and falling on the red of the inlet of the post box. I hear the sniffs of dogs accompanied by the accomodating length of a whistle or a hum. I do not always smell flowers but I smell love and the expectation of love that flourishes in the sincerity of yet another day.
What I like to do in the wee hours of the morning on such a routine day, is scratch ever so patiently at the red of the inlet. Giving my living space a touch of individuality is cause for a lasting sense of warmth and security. After going about this for five seconds or so, I proceed to rummage through the letters in search of chocolate or liquorice that some kind old woman sent to her grandchild along with a note the child can’t read. Once I’ve helped myself to the spoil, I go on to read.
To know what day it is is not too much trouble for me. I just check the date on the first letter that comes in. As I read, I share in the frustration of my neighbours. I listen patiently to them rant about how their cooking appliances keep breaking down and how the country’s foreign policy is evil. I try to imagine their faces as they wrote the words down. It helps if I remember the edges of your fingers when you dropped the letter in or the sound of your coat brushing past the metal of my postbox. The sound of your shoes, the ruckus your loose change makes in your purse, all helps me to put a face to the words you write. That’s how I know about you.
You live a few blocks from me. You write quite frequently. In fact, you no longer slow down when you reach the postbox. You, like a few others who frequently visit me, have mastered the art of skilfully targeting the rectangular inlet with one hand, very much like you would throw a frisbee. I don’t even hear the spring in your step after you’ve successfully posted a mail in this fashion. I find this to be a quality among many who post as often as you with similar ease of technique. You send a letter to your grandma every week and I find you to be a very sincere and likeable person. I’m sure your grandma loves reading what you write. I wish I could know what she writes back to you. I do know she does not correct your spelling mistakes because you continue to post your mail without proofreading it. It made my day when you wrote ‘Police Chef’ instead of ‘Police Chief’ in your last letter. I enjoy your letters for this very reason. It seems like you write to your grandmother just like you must have talked to her when you were a child.
Today, I hear you in the distance, your feet steady, the letter in your hand. I shield my face to brace the impact of your letter but nothing happens. I’m sure you passed by me because I can smell the undertones of lemon in the perfume you use. Did you forget to post your letter? I can still faintly hear your firm steps fading away. I almost panic. Is your grandmother all right? If something’s not right, do you need someone to talk to?
I sit back against the rusty metal and run my fingers through my hair. You’re a loner. I hope everything’s fine. Another letter comes in. Amateur. I could hear him slow down, stop and I could even hear his shirt strain against his belt as he bent down ever so slightly to put the letter in.
This is the third post of the series ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’ where I talk about weird ideas and seemingly irrelevant stuff that I believe have aesthetic value.
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