Hi, this is a new type of post featured in ooAsia: Travel Short Stories – these are fictional, though based upon the experience of our travels and encounters. I’m trying to keep them at a length reasonable for web-reading, but this won’t always be the case, so will be looking into making them all available in a collection of short stories after ooAsia. Hope you enjoy the read, thanks!
Story of Koshi and the Night
The air wrapped around him, coldly, misty puffs exhaled from the slanted corners of his lips.
For only audible companion, the light tap as the soles of his shoes trod the auburn greys of the sidewalks – a subtle, quite silent, squeak from the slight wear of his moccasins.
This was one comfort, the surrounding silence (one could hear the distant sound of a horn, car engines, and such, which never entirely died out), a rare entity in what was still – but would not be for long – the world’s largest, most populated city.
It was not always the case though, for most often he returned during the peak of traffic, the rush of the rush hours, and so did he leave at that time too. But the subtle, rhythmical changes in the Company’s schedule, provided at times these brief instants of repose.
Of these things he had no mindful awareness, he had long learned to clear these things from his mind, through a mere absence of thought, though not the foolish one, rather, one akin to the mindfulness of trained monks, but without any particular intent or desire to achieve such clear-headedness – and perhaps it’s this very fact which conducted to its success.
Koshi crossed the street, sticking within the bounds of the white lines painted on the tar. He did not wait for the light to turn red – there was no need for that.
For years – was it twelve, fifteen? – the same path he had trodden, with never once a sense of rebelliousness, of gloom. The spring and autumn months were more pleasant, it was true, he didn’t feel then the trenchant bite of the wintery wind, could forego scarf and beanie. The silver parka – a seeming oddity which he had never thought about twice – remained the same throughout the year. Except during the summer, perhaps, when really a wool sweater or similar artifact of clothing sufficed.
In front of him the yellow lights of a convenience store, one of a wildly successful brand, glowed monotonously, indicating with certainty the near presence of the train station. Had it always been the same store, or another before then; the question didn’t occur to Koshi, had no impact on the simple nature, and being, of the path he now followed. Only did he know there remained a fixed quantity of steps, of gestures, till he would sit – or stand, during the rush of rush hours – within the plastic walls of the tube-shaped wagon.
Noises would resume; after thirty minutes, a short ride given the standards of the world’s largest city, and of this he was aware, and appropriately grateful, he would step out of the train, walk up several flights of stairs, out of the station, take a right, a left, cross the street, swipe another badge, and begin to work.
Koshi worked for nine hours today; sometimes his shift lasted eight hours, more often eleven, twelve.
He worked in a factory, but it could have been an office. It was a factory full of offices, and his job couldn’t be deemed strictly manual, so he wasn’t a factory worker, nor an office worker, a blue collar, or white, he was simply a worker – a collar.
But for now the night, its freezing temperatures, still wrapped evenly around him, a diaphanous cloak kissing the regular patter of his steps.
There were no stars; but neither was there any unhappiness. He would find a mate, perhaps soon, perhaps never – Koshi’s smile hinted no trace of frustration, of prolonged debate, as to this matter. He kindly, consistently, offered his hand and hospitality to those who needed it, he did not himself see, or seek, any reason to feel entitled to such.
His hands were reddened as he reached into his pocket for the subway pass, and swiped it over the stall, which at once granted him passage.