The lava lamp I got as a birthday gift is a stubborn thing. It takes at least a couple of hours to get started. For two hours, the purple wax moves imperceptibly like the hour hand on a grandfather clock. It stretches out stiff, arthritic and unsteady. I watch the rain instead. I sit at the window, waiting to be hypnotised. But what’s lashing at the trees out there is an angry thing.
The lava has to be better.
Something appears to be happening. The first bubble. But its skin is thin and it bursts before it can float upward. Now the wax is a long, ropy bridge between the top and the bottom. It is never going to get soft enough to become the lava I was promised.
The puddles are everywhere. It ought to be fun to wear an old pair of sandals and wade through what the night has left behind, but it isn’t. These puddles are reproaches; men on cycles hesitate at the lip of the big one that occupies the entire corner of the road. One turns back and I think he’s going to take another road, but no. He’s gone to take a run-up. He cycles furiously and just as the wheel’s about to touch water, he draws his legs up to the handlebar. It’s a wonder he manages to keep his balance all the way through. Wouldn’t it be ironic if, after all the care he’s taken not to get wet, he tips over smack into the centre of the puddle?
There’s a letter I’m trying to save up. It came in the post a couple of days ago. Letters are rare birds these days, and this was a real-life, postage-stamped, not-on-official-letter-paper letter from a friend. The adhesive on the flap was a good one: strong but not the kind you have to take a pair of scissors to. It lifted easily and inside, one sheet of closely written paper. In the way one does, I skimmed over the page, trying to take in everything at once. What is it about letters? You can warm your hands on them on a cold day. I’ve put that letter away, but one day soon, just before I sit down to reply, I’ll take it out again and read it slowly.
I hate pigeons. They make gross noises in their throat and are constantly screwing. And they imagine they can build a reasonably comfortable nest out of three wisps of straw. They lay their eggs in the most unlikely places, like the edge of window ledges, or on the top of the electricity meter, and don’t seem to care one way or the other when, inevitably, the eggs get smashed. Once, a pigeon was irresistibly attracted to the narrow space – not even half a palm wide – between the AC and the wall. It managed to burrow into that space, but couldn’t get out. It flapped and screeched and got more deeply wedged. The window of the third floor flat this happened in opened out on to the other side of the AC. You could hear the pigeon flutter and flap but you couldn’t see it or reach it in any way. After some time, it gave up and just sat until a kite came and took it away.
Work. Got to go.