The Jungle

Birds of all shapes and sizes chirp, tweet, and sing while small winged things buzz and vibrate creating a rare melodious symphony only heard by the earliest of risers. Rays of gold fleck its leafy green friends with shades of sunrise as it slips between buildings and crosses streets.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

Light tangles itself among the many wires drooping between telephone polls where once vines wrapped themselves around mossy branches. The cacophonic sounds of birds and insects will too soon be replaced by the chug, chug, chugging of termite-invested buses and growling tuk-tuks, but for now, the jungle rules the city.

Somewhere off in the distance, a mewl is heard, another kitten born on the streets, destined to become feral. As dark becomes light, the red and gray brick of the sidewalk remains damp after last night’s rain showers.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

Retro-techno K-pop blasts from a speaker, destroying the gentle cadence of the morning. The beat is both catchy and mind-numbing with its repetitive cutesy beats. A bicyclist, in his unwashed khaki shorts and t-shirt, pedals down the street, and with it, the retro-techno K-pop beats popping out of the stereo rides shotgun in his basket.

Carts filled with chunks of ice topped with an assortment of fruit, each one in its own clear cubby, file down side streets towards corners. Others, sporting black-encrusted grille tops heated by gas, set up shop in their respective places along Sukhumvit Road, the longest main drag in Bangkok. Everyone has a place under the rusted metal awnings where soon locals and foreigners will push past carts manned by their owners to step into one of the many Seven-Elevens.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

Putrid aromas of rotting fish mixed with lemongrass ferment together as humidity spreads like a damp blanket across the city. It’s going to be another hot one.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

A delicate breeze blows as eyes turn skyward. The breeze turns to a soft wind and people begin to hurry. Street sellers open umbrellas in tandem as the selling, chopping, sautéing, and bagging of food continues without pause. It is a well-timed, well-choreographed dance. It is my home.

The gray mass of clouds encroaches on the sun promising to halt the city with sheet after sheet of rain. The soft wind catches corners of skirts, twirling them about. Fruit, meat on sticks, and sweet delicacies wrapped in banana leaves sit in small, individual plastic bags, which dangle from wrists as money changes hands. Glances towards the darkening sky speed up the selling, as if nature has hit a fast-forward button and suddenly hands and arms are pointing, chopping, slicing, flipping, turning, and scooping without relenting.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

The soft wind blows hard and fast as birds zoom low overhead, seeking shelter in the leaves of the palms. Cats crouch low and disappear behind carts, even the rats, sensing the shift in pressure, dive into sewers. People scurry about, some racing up the three flights of stairs to the walking bridges covered by the trains on the level above, while others hurry into the nearest shopping malls.

The wind picks up. A few brave people pull out their one-hundred-baht umbrellas, foreigners mostly, in their flip-flops, pastel shorts, tops, and dresses. They don’t know what awaits them. I smile as I step into a bookshop, order my usual, and sit on a stool watching the people scatter.

Photo by Judith Walz

Rarely is thunder ever heard and there is no lightening, only a whoosh. Water as if cascading over a cliff or having been poured by the hand of God down a mountain, rushes earthward. A woman screams, others run, but it is too late.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

Minutes from now when the rain has driven the inhabitants of the city indoors, there will be a lull. Birds of all shapes and sizes will chirp, tweet, and sing while small winged things will buzz and vibrate. A rare melodious symphony will be heard and for a few minutes, the jungle will run the city.

Photo by Pixabay, CCO Creative Commons

I will sip my coffee and watch as cockroaches, unhindered by feet and wheels, will zigzag over tiles and disappear into cracks. Then, as it always does, the chug, chug, chugging of buses, tooting of horns, and shouts of people buying and selling will resume on the busiest drag in Bangkok.

Any grammar and mechanical issues are the responsibility of the author, and even though she’s an English teacher and does proofread, there may be some errors.

If you find yourself in Central Massachusetts, drop by The Shrewsbury Public Library on the third Saturday of the month and join us for a writers’ workshop. You do not have to write anything to attend.



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