Thin Walls

He goes first, ever the sleepier one. She goes to the kitchen, after supper of plain boiled rice, lentils and steamed cabbage, with their dirty plates. I hear splashing, the tap runs as she cleans up. She walks straight to the bedroom after. They giggle and chat animatedly, their words muffled. A sudden silence then engulfs everything, like their world has been sucked into a vacuum. Then the sonorous rumble. It was a source of much frowning after the Christmas Eve party in the boys’ room, an unwelcome trombone orchestra. This is how it usually happens.

Not tonight.

She takes the plates and places them gently on the ceramic counter top, the glass clinking lightly on stone. There is no water running. She comes back and whispers in his ear, close, her lips brush lightly against his right lobe. She pulls away and smiles, sashaying into the dark corridor and beyond. He follows not long after, a knowing grin playing on his lips. What follows is a different type of mirth.She moans sensually, a quietly ecstatic song interrupted by sudden intakes of breath. Pleasure-pain sounds, high-pitched, punctuated by strained breaths add to the quiet cacophony. There are some words interspersed: “Not there”, “Stop”, “Oh, God”, “No”. And the music plays for about an hour.

Running water. The shower, the sink or the toilet. Or all of them. There is more laughter, lighter and more spontaneous. The house seems to exhale and settle into a pregnant satisfaction. It is still again, the turmoil has been released and one could imagine they lie uncoiled and spent, waiting for the unwelcome daybreak. The energy dissipates fast and no one would know whether there a raging fire just moments before.

And then there is me.

I sit still, watching and listening to all of this, exploring my own voyeurism, guiltily happy with my silent intrusion on their privacy. I take it all in, wondering whether there is another somewhere out there doing what I am doing, knowing there are such others on the opposite sides of such walls as well. They do not know that I am here. I am invisible and silent, dead to them in their fervour. Maybe they think the walls contain them, like deaf people talking and not knowing that they are shouting. My head tilts towards the wall that separates us, diaphanous even though it is made of stone. A deep silence seems to ooze from it now. Then rumbling. I wonder how she sleeps amid that chaos, resting peacefully when thunder surrounds even the outside.

My own stirrings have long been calmed and my mind wanders back to the past, where it is fixated, trying to draw some meaning from everything I have touched and been touched by, trying to unravel those shortly passed ecstatic and tense moments. I wonder whether there is such a thing as ‘a present’, when I have barely moved from where I sit and yet everything has changed irrevocably, all seeming to have happened when I was not there. Idly I imagine that these thoughts can be heard on the other side, transmitted across the film that separates us. At least some-ones are not troubled. Morpheus comes calling and I heed. There is tomorrow for these thoughts.



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