After the manic heat comes the magic hour. The day began with a demand for editorial proof and ended with sex on the beach in a restroom of benign mob rule. In between, Semakau rode roughshod over a starstruck crew who could not contain their enthusiasm even after an afternoon of raw encounters. The boatride back was a rowdy affair. It was a relief to land at last light and sail through the city with reticent company pass a field of bare brown and instant green. Armed with tripods and terse expressions, a row of photographers lined the Padang to capture the play of synchronised projections on grey halls of blind justice and all-seeing bureacracy.
A day before, I was early enough to see the sky burn a halcyon blue as the façade of the gallery danced to the tune of fine Asian art. This round, the lensmen had retired by the time we reached the steps to see a flight of flaming glasses and feel the blazing fury of a dusk in heat. But there was little point in staying too long, for the night was growing old and few, even strollers on foot, saw fit to glance at the display and marvel at its design. On hindsight, I would have liked a scruffier joint, but it was good enough a hole to savour a cool pint and warm up to cocked tales that cannot help but set the tongue abuzz.
There was no reprieve the next day, as we set out to squander the afternoon on the seagrass beds of Chek Jawa. There was no sign of the monsoon, but whispering migrants from the far north were already flocking to the mudflats to feast on the epifaunal bounty of a low autumn tide. Terns dived in the deeper waters beyond the mangroves. Hornbills lurked on the low branches of the village trail and a growing boar trotted towards the crossroads by Punai Hut as the team prepared to get their feet wet on a shoal of flooded glory.
It was dark enough for hawkers to emerge by the time the survey was done. The crepuscular hunters darted in the clearing before the watchman's station, vanishing in the canopy with frustrating regularity to intercept passing insects or conspecific interlopers. We sulked in the van as the road stumbled by overgrown rubber plantations that grew cold in a shroud of grey. But at the pier looking due west, the sky seethed as it shrunk, bleeding violet and lavender in a valiant, vain attempt to prolong the final moments of a hellish Saturday. Perhaps it's merely what we deserve for giving away our hearts too freely to a lost cause and finding ourselves out of step with feelings that flicker by candlelight and simply refuse to wane.