Dotting the Blank Page

I sat on the floor of our room, my legs crossed on the cold, white tiles. The door wide open, the curtain drawn up. The faint sunlight that passed through the thick clouds filled up the room that never really saw the sunlight for months or years.

It was a warm afternoon. The fan was on but it can’t help the humidity. I kept the door open thinking it will help the air circulation. This feeling reminded me of the hot sticky summer afternoons of my younger years when even the electric fan is not of any help, long before we were able to afford the comfort of an air-conditioning unit.

I was drinking coffee amidst the weather, thinking it will help my sleepy and confused brain. I took Murakami’s book and started reading only to realize that Murakami’s books is not for the confused mind. I kept the book and took my notebook, ruler and pencil.

I saw this notebook few days ago and as I leafed through the pages, I saw a journal that I started in May 2018. What a coincidence. I found it on the same month two years later. The plight of the poor journal started on the 16th of May and ended on the 6th of June, the same year. You can already see how ningas-kugon I am. But then I smiled upon reading what I wrote and felt sad. Two years has passed. If only I continued writing daily, I could have more things to look back to now.

So once again, using the same notebook, I decided to start a journal because a) I have things to write and b) I have more time to write. I am just hoping that I won’t stop writing again after a month just like what happened two years ago.

The notebook doesn’t have lines and on my first two days of writing, the lines were diagonally inclined to the lower right. So I thought I’d put on dots (instead of lines for easy erasure) as guide for the handwriting. And so I spent the whole hot and sticky afternoon dotting the notebook. I carefully dot the blank pages, one centimeter apart horizontally and half centimeter vertically.

I never enjoyed using the pencil and the ruler (since they never cooperate with me), let alone dot several blank pages but this time, I enjoyed it. It also calmed my tensed and confused mind. And while laying down the dots, some thoughts lingered in my mind.

We will all be changed people after this whole ordeal. It’s not only about just the topic of travelling, it’s about everything. Our perspectives about life, time, family, friends and money will dramatically change.

I kept dotting the pages until a person passed by my door. He went back and threw a green mango. It was Sami, one of our gardeners / coconut climber. He is originally from India and can’t really speak in English. He just smiles when we talk to him and tries his best to think of how he can answer us even with his broken English and sign language.

Our lives here on the island have also changed since the first day of the lockdown. People have become closer. The people I’ve never talked to before in my years here on the island are now like close friends. There are no departments now, just one team. I’ve never swept so many fallen leaves in my life, nor segregated so much garbage, nor carried sacks of 25kg cements nor shovel sand and fill more than 20 sacks in 2 hours, till this lockdown. We have come to love the island even more now that we are taking care of it by ourselves. I appreciate more the people who have done these jobs for us every day in months or years while I sit in an air-conditioned office all this time.

The company has been quite nice to us however, business is still business. No guests, no money. So they have been asking a lot of my colleagues to leave the island as soon as there are flights. Cost saving measure they said. And this has created tension to some of our colleagues as once they leave the island, they may not be able to come back. But I can see they keep hoping for things to get better soon so they won’t have to leave. And we try to keep the atmosphere light whenever we are all together although I know that maybe, they stay up late at night worrying about their future, crying behind their closed doors.

It was about 4:45pm already and I was still dotting the blank pages of the notebook, contemplating about life. The weather started to change, the wind picked up and the palm trees started to sway. Bat fruits fell from their branches creating a thunder-like noise as they hit our roof. The gray sky assured me that the golden hour is cancelled for the day.

Someone was then, suddenly standing in front of our door. I looked up and saw it was Ate Amy. She lives on the island next to us and came to stay for the night and probably to sing karaoke with us after dinner to ease her boredom.

What are you doing on the floor? she asked.

I’m drawing, I said.

Poor child, you don’t have a working desk.

I’m ok, I said and then realizing that my shoulders hurt. And my legs started to cramp. I stood up limping and asked her to come in but she refused and said we’ll meet for dinner.

She left. I switched on the light, turned on the air con, closed the door. I have to wrap up this activity and so I continued to lay dots on the blank page, the last one for the day. This time, on my bed instead of the cold, white-tiled floor.

Author: aysabaw

Hi there! My name is Aysa! I am currently based in the Maldives, a free diver, a frustrated artist and writer and a lover of palm trees and ocean breeze.

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