There was a perceptible swarmlet of dragonflies yesterday evening as I waded through the town centre to procure dinner and pick up drycleaning at real risk of being discarded by the laundry after nearly a month of neglect. Even within the premises, a brace of glass tubes on the wall above the collection counter harboured two libellulids drawn to the cold white light. Other insects lurked on the upper corners of the lift landing and there was just enough illumination to make out one with a plain brown body and another with a reddish brown abdomen and small but distinct, pale patches on the rearwings. A quick check in the best available local reference eliminated the line-up to Tholymis tillarga, a species that hawks at dusk and hence eludes the eyes of hunters who worship the light but whose minds stay ever in the dark.
With faint intrique, I note that the meep kitten is not a few whiskers short of a full cat. Whatever trauma he endured alongside his brothers a few months earlier, he seems to have since imbibed a secret diet of wildlife documentaries, having taken to regularly tackling Angelmao in the manner of a lioness assaulting a full-grown elephant and with similarly dismal results.
At the hawker centre, over a bowl of wonton noodles, I noted an angmoh couple lugging a little dslr perusing the wares of the stalls in wry succession. It was telling that the mere presence of a similar machine in my hands would elicit palpable caution or genuine artifice in those who work or play in the vicinity. The foreign pair, however, sniffed the stuffed skins of a yong tau foo stand and pondered the fragrant offerings of a chicken rice seller to little alarm and no more than a passing, almost dismissive interest from diners who refused to let curiosity get in the way of their meals. In another time and a far more distant place, the tables were turned as my instinct to capture fleeting moments drew either warm banter or cold indifference from the inhabitants of a greater town.
With no visual tools in hand, my ears scanned the air for other signals of interest. Seated at a nearby table were a lady and her young charge, who shared a serving of fishball noodles. In sing-song English, she drew the mousy middleschooler into quiet conversation, exhorting her to finish up with a firm tone, asking “So when your exam finish?” with friendly eyes and remarking “You know ah, that Hokkien mee stall there not very nice…” with sisterly banter. It’s not my business to pry, but who would have thought that such low hurdles stood between the duties of one made with an accent and the care of an absent mother?