01 ALL PHOTOS BY John Treadgold and Jamie Rynd MAN IS AN ISLAND - written by John Treadgold OVER THE WATER AND ONTO THE BEACH - written by Jamie Rynd EDITING AND LAYOUT BY John Treadgold E: email@example.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Man is an Island Words and photos by John Treadgold
tangerine glare burned through the thin cotton sheet that hung over the window of his apartment. Blinking against the light and licking his dry lips, Shanling felt himself return to his weary body. He breathed in the musty smells of sweat and moldy concrete. There was a wicker chair that had a broken leg - it stood lop-sided in the corner of his room, leaning on a cigarette crate. He swung his legs onto the cool concrete floor, his lumpy mattress was low to the ground so he put his hands
on his knees and pushed himself up to a standing position. His shorts and t-shirt were in a heap beside his bed, damp like everything else in this city. He moved slowly through the soupy mass of humidity that hung in the air. After he pulled on his clothes he drank some water from the plastic bottle by his bed, he pushed his security pass into his pocket and he was ready for work. Opening the door to his small concrete room he was hit by the beating sun, the din of agitated traffic and the smells from the noodle house below.
His route took him first through a rabbit warren of tiny streets. He bobbed under tarpaulins that attempted to block out the sting of the sun. The long, dark lane-ways offered some relief, but this was tempered by pools of fetid water and furtive rats that also took refuge there. He scrambled up a dusty embankment towards the freeway and wriggled through a rip in the hurricane fence. Standing on the side of the eight lane road, he waited for a gap in the relentless flow of flashing vehicles, he looked up to
see a new face smiling back at him from the billboard that spanned the road, “BLE Party, Looking after your future!” He hoped they’d build the promised footbridge over this road soon, or he and hundreds of his neighbors wouldn’t have a future. After a dash across the black expanse of road, he joined the procession of his co-workers that was following the line of the fence on the other side. “What’s new Shan?” said Tarj, as the two men slapped a handshake.
“I’m still having those dreams Tarj. But sometimes they’re like nightmares. They take me far away and it hurts when I come back.” “Dreams cost nothing Shan, and sometimes they’re more real than reallife.”
“Am I dreaming now?” asked Shanling.
“I hope not,” said Tarj.
There were sporadic tussocks of dry brown grasses pushing up around the base of the fence. A swirl of dust and old newspaper danced around their feet and traffic smog delicately painted their skin. As they reached the entrance to the factory they pulled their ID cards
off their belts and swiped them past the gleaming white card reader. A green light flashed like an alien sentry and the doors swept open. They joined the throng that was moving towards the main building. They pulled on over-alls and began the days work. At the head of the line a machine was stamping plastic parts. With focused eyes two women in hair nets scanned the pieces for imperfections, expertly zeroing in on those parts that were different and disposing of them. Then the pieces came to Shanling. He would take one piece from the line to his left and another from the line to his right. He would clip them together and then drop them in a chute in front of him.
He found himself staring at his hands, but they didn’t feel like his hands. He was watching them dexterously twitch as they assembled the pieces of plastic in front of him; one after another, in ceaseless repetition. The whistle blew and the throng shuffled back into line. Into the change rooms and out again. Onto the freeway and dashing between the speeding cars. Everybody was in a hurry, rushing to get home, to the end of the day. Rushing to the end. Shanling followed his feet as they led him home. He looked at the faces passing him, he smelled the rotting lettuce leaves in the gutter, he felt a man in a suit brush past him. It was all happening and would go on happening, even without him, he thought.
He found himself at the noodle house below his apartment. He sat down on a red plastic stool and greeted the chef who shouted at him from behind a veil of steam. “Yeah, yeah, same as always thanks Chi,” said Shanling. “Nothing’s the same Shan, everything’s different in some way or another.” came the reply. “Alright, fish curry then, and this time I don’t want any dog-hair in it!” said Shanling. “It either will or it won’t Shan, that’s the only thing you can be sure of.” said the chef. —————
Shanling lay on his mattress looking up at the fan that was spinning above him, wobbling and squeaking in its repetitive rhythm. The worn mechanics were a lullaby for his weary head. His eyes blinked once, blinked twice and the third time he found himself on a beach, looking over the pale purple haze of an early morning horizon. The sun was near to rise but so far offered no warmth. With his hands resting on the sand his fingers softly dug through the fine grains, millions of shards tickled his senses. Above him, under the eaves of a palm tree that was moving with the wind, he could see a mass of coconuts packed in bunches. He wondered which would fall first; how it was decided? Did they want to drop first, or did they want to
stay with the tree for as long as possible? Slowly the horizon was developing an orange tinge. A gust of wind whistled around him, the waves lapped at the shore and a distant shout told him the rest of the village was rising to the new day. The sounds flowed together to form the most delicate of symphonies, subtle and in-stereo. Shanling saw something flicker above his head and before he could react a coconut thudded into the sand right next to his head. Lying motionless, his heart raced. He turned his head and he could see the fine lines and green texture of the giant nut resting only two inches from his head. He looked back up still in shock. Had that been luck? Or fate? At least I know another one wonâ€™t fall in the same place.
His eyes met the horizon and the first burning light of the new dayâ€™s sun. The crisp bud of light burst into the relative darkness and crept out over the distant ocean. The tangerine arch grew into a flood of light that shifted shadows and brought fresh colours to everything it met. Shanling felt the warmth of the sun on his skin as the smells of smoke and cooking fish wafted around him. He leaned forward and pushed himself onto his feet, he scooped up the coconut and headed towards the village.
Over The Water And The Beach
A tale of moustaches and change.
. Words and photos by Jamie Rynd
all and dark and threatening, the storm kept its fury on the mainland. Rain crashed through its red earth leaving crimson canyons behind. Vegetation took its drink from the sky, and then sagged and broke down. Jungle roads humble at best were flushed away and stilted houses had their legs swept from under them by swollen rivers. Before long they would join the other debris on its furious sweep out to the sea. So it goes. Out of the storm a ferry rose and fell, clumsily moving through the waves. It had a curved hull rising up at the bow and a long deck covered by a tarpaulin on a frame. At the stern stood a pale blue wheelhouse with open windows and little else but a smoky exhaust covering its wake. Onboard the ferry a huddle of passengers with wind whipped hair and wet clothes held bright packages. In between the passengers, pigs shrieked and squirmed while hog-tied on the deck. With his back against the wheelhouse wall a short man sat straight with eyes forward. He carried an intense stare and looked out clearly towards the small island on the horizon. Under thick dark hair and a long forehead he was slim and his face was healthy compared to the green grimaces of his fellow passengers. The short man, Koloko, tilted his head back and felt the air and breathed deeply. A nervous energy moved his limbs, and he rocked forwards as if to will the island closer. From a smear on the horizon the island grew into shape. Slowly, it became a flat atoll covered in palms and surrounded by small fishing boats tugging against their ropes as the tide went out. The ferry made for a small beach. On the beach, children with distended bellies and listless eyes watched the boat. Thin island women stood slanted, babies on hips. A wooden store stood where the beach ended and a group of men sat under a wide veranda. They were lean, wore moustaches and watched the ferry with lazy postures. â€œHah! That looks like Koloko next to the wheelhouse, what do you say to that Kariumun?â€? A man said into the dark entrance.
A shadow came out to the doorway, filling the frame with its size. Koloko walked nimbly up the gunwales of the wooden ferry. The last of the passengers had made their way into the shore break and Koloko followed them, stepping easily down into the churning water. On the dry sand a small pyramid of cardboard boxes and nylon bags. Next to the pyramid a row of pigs and chickens lay trussed on the sand. The men came down from the bar and moved quickly with a strength that belied their wiry frames. A short woman, with dark hair pulled back and an old calico shirt directed the men. “Take the chickens! Take the pigs, all four! Don’t drag them, cut their ropes and lead them!”
W ith a chubby arm she gestured to the store, her other arm shielded her eyes against the late afternoon sunshine that glared intensely with the rumbling storm still crumbling over the horizon. “Hello Silvi” Koloko said. “I’ve seen you on the boat already, so you are returned. What brings you back here?” Silvi said. “An idea, a fortune of an idea. “ “Ha! A fortune is made through goods and money! This boat you have come on is my boat, these goods the men bring up the beach they are my goods. “said Silvi. “I can already see it is a success. You and my brother have done well. You don’t look hungry in any case.”
“Hungry! Only the lazy are hungry! Like these men here, lazy and skinny!” Smiling faces found their way around Koloko and Silvi passed into the shop. “Ah, don’t mind her! We are happy you’re back.” “Ya, Cho Cho, what have you been doing in Swarna Dipa?” “ I’ve been walking and talking, friends, Koloko said. “Why walking and talking, when you can lie and talk.” a skinny man replied. “Or just lie, maybe.” his neighbour said. “No you have to have the walking too, or riding if you’re lucky, but even more im-
portant is the meeting, the interactions, you know. I’ve been trying to find an idea so that on the island here, the children’s stomachs should not be so big and you and your wives should not be so small.” Koloko said. “So you’ve become a cook Koloko? the skinny man said. “Something like that Aki. I think I have some good ingredients.” said Koloko “Sounds like a bule story, Koloko” said Aki. “Bules do have good ideas though. Are you all still fishing?” Koloko asked. “Sometimes, but mainly we are working for your brother and for Silvi.” Aki said. “He has the shop, the boat, the pigs and the thickest moustache. He’s the boss.”
“ Ya, you have to have a moustache otherwise you are not man, you are woman! Like Ama here.” his neighbour said. “Hey! I do have a moustache, its just not that thick.” Ama said. “Well you can be half woman then! “ The other men laughed. “Koloko! What happened to your moustache? Are you a woman too now?” Said Ama. “No, I’m not a woman Ama. My moustache
was getting in my eyes! Too big, stopped me from seeing, and others from seeing me. Now all can see my face.” Koloko said. The shadow had emerged and brought a large man into the light. A deep pitted forehead, thick hair at attention, and red eyes above a hirsute mouth. “All can see your face now brother? I wonder what it wants back here.” Said the red-eyed man. “Well Kariumun, it is good to see you. “ said Koloko.
“Bah! Idiot! What do you want back here after wandering and begging and who knows what else.” “A walk to learn brother, I’ve been from Sentosha to Aceh, I’ve learnt much that could be.” “Much pointlessness!” Kariumun cut him off. “Much reason brother.” “Well you can reason with this. I don’t want you back here.”
The bigger man had come closer then struck out, a quick hit catching Koloko on the cheek. There was a wet slap as he was struck. He fell and came down next to a weather beaten wall. At the wall was a shovel. Koloko picked it up. “Why are you afraid of me Kariumun?” he said. “How could I be afraid of you?“ The large man spread his arms out as if to emphasise his size. “ The same way that all who are full,
fear those who are hungry.” “Get out! Get out! Leave here.“ Silvi had come up, grabbing Koloko and pulling him away. “Silvi, please!” Koloko said. “Just go! “ The rest of the village had come up, but a heavy silence held them still. The silence seemed as thick as honey, holding the islanders in place. The only sound came from the dogs and pigs outside. Koloko stared out at the crowd. “Perhaps, today is too hot.” he said. Koloko let slip the shovel and walked out. The islanders, Kariumun and Silvi seemed as stationary as the palm trees around them. A silence had petrified them. Koloko walked along a small path of white coral into the middle of the island. A space ahead of the path cleared to a house leaning on its stilts. On a step sat a young girl and an old man. The man was short and rake thin. He had faded tattoos on his chest and watery eyes that were cloudy also. Around his waist a loincloth and on his head an old cap.
“Ya’ho’wo Bapak”, Koloko said in the dialect of the island. The man peered through the milky veneer of his eyes, and found his son through the haze. Inside the house there was no furniture except a bamboo bench and a kerosene lamp hanging from a bamboo pole. In the corner stood a machete and an axe. Bapak took the machete and cut from a thicket of tangled trees. He chopped at green branches then piled the wood on the white coral ground. The girl collected the wood and made a fire from the branches. She fanned it to a strong flame. Afterwards she threaded small skewers with strips of goat meat and steamed rice. The three ate observed only by a goat that stood tethered to a pole. It was pregnant and its body was distorted and wide. The sun breathed fiery and faded into a dark night. The girl made shadow puppets on the walls, while the fire smoked its green branches and puffed across the room. Koloko sat on the stairs and breathed in the smoky air. He whispered. “Let me grow this idea, let me grow it, and let it be strong.” The End
Crying Wolf will be back soon. Issue 02, waves of change and twisted 35mm...
Published on Mar 25, 2012