The day begins in rain. It turns the ground muddy, holds us within the long silence of the rising river. The morning passes in cups of coffee. I write a little, trying to capture the sense of the city seeping out of me. I have not shat in three days. Perhaps this is the body still trying to hold on to its history.
In the rain,
I watch the world seep out of me.
It bleeds, slowly.
Days have to pass before the post world becomes
the past world, the old world.
It is hours of forgetting minor disasters,
sudden silence after the downpour.
The rain mixes with shouts of children,
running games with no head or tail
a melange of wrestling in the soft mud.
Rain streaks every face, tips glistening
leaves, keeps the spiders indoors.
I make a small sketch of a wall of Nacho’s house. The main subject is a television encased in a kind of cupboard. I have seen idols kept in such enclosures before, and assumed the day before, when it was closed and locked, that it contained something of religious significance. This is, to my knowledge, the first sketch I have ever done!
I suppose the television is its own god and still keeps its devotees all over the world.
When the rain stops, I walk to the beach to find more subjects for my Plastic Ghosts series. The pickings are equally varied, and rich, as the day before. It never ceases to amaze me, looking at the range of things that end up in the ocean. You would think that with 70% of our bodies filled with water, we would have more respect or even solidarity with the ocean.
After lunch and another downpour, we take a walk out of the village and into the outskirts of the jungle. It is an uneventful walk, save for the mud and some beautiful tiny blue seeds that I want to come back and collect.
We end up where the river forks in three directions. Upstream is where water is collected and piped to the community. Straight ahead is the path into the mountains, and following the stream downriver would meander away from the village and back into jungle.
I record a few tracks of the flowing water, bringing the mic low as it rushes over the rocks, moving it closer and then further away to mimic a phaser effect. Sound is always a useful layer in performance.
Before dinner, we head over to meet Nacho, who is back from his trip, at his house. He is a natural born storyteller, drawing his audience in effortlessly. He asks us for fragments from our own language, writing them down as he hears the words and then repeating it back to us almost faithfully. He regales us with tales from his life, of the many countries he has visited and the many beautiful girls he has met. This is an adventurer in the truest sense of the word. We are sitting in a house that he built from scratch with his hands. Men like Nacho are few and far between in the world .
I give him the numbers one to ten in Mandarin, then in Malay. Malay is a lot easier for him to grasp. And he starts to compare some of the words to Guna.
Satu (one) – a small fish caught in the river
Dua (two) – the femur bone
Lima (five) – a whetstone, used to sharpen knives
Coincidences, accidents of sounds. Perhaps that is all language is; a concatenation of various shapes in the mouth, given meaning through time and chance, through use and usefulness.