This is an article that I wrote for a writing course that I am currently doing.
There is no escaping the humidity, only perhaps the short relief from it when the breeze dances across my skin, teasing me. The promise of the possible relief is what draws me outside. Down from the 14th floor, with the view of the rooftops and restaurants, past the listless guard at the door and out onto the uneven pavement. The night is muggy, it sticks to my skin refusing to let go.
It is quiet out on the street. The humidity has muffled everything. This evening I don’t even hear the loud-speakers advertising from the navy-blue Kia mini-vans, in their amplified drone “setakkie, compoota, air con”. On and on. The tok-bokk-ie stand is engulfed in a haze of steam rising from the boiling red-sauce which covers the chewy rice tubes and processed fish bites.
I smile at the woman.
“Annyanhaseyo” she responds. Always friendly.
The ice cream seller outside the local supermarket lures me towards her with a smile and a stream of foreign words. I understand them to be an offer of an ice-lolly to ease the oppression of the heat.
“al-mey-ye-joh?” I ask her.
“500Won”, she gestures to the sign.
I suck on my ice-lolly. Breathe the thick air in.I watch my step as I cross over the higgledy-piggledy pavement in the fading dusk light. The turtles, Gumi’s mascot, mark the entrance to the park. It is an area of greenery and water among the paving blocks and high rises that surround it.
The cicadas electrify the heavy night air. Voices come to me in snippets. I understand the tone, the laugh. I recognize the body language. I hear the running feet and the high pitched scream of shock as a jet of cool water shoots out a pink plastic gun and hits a chest. I close my eyes, enjoying the chatter that fills my ears.
Life fills up all the spaces. Voices rise up through the pale yellow walk-way lights. Low and loud. Piercing and soothing. Shouting and laughing. Feet run. Bicycles ride. Water guns squirt.
‘Kee-dal-joh’ implores the smiling mother as her toddler impatiently waits for the water to rise up from under the bridge to spray her feet, pitter pattering in the cool puddles it leaves behind.
The water switches off, as if by magic, and before you know it silence starts to descend. In groups people head off into the muggy night air. I sit still under the soft glow of the park lights fending off the urge to scratch the vicious red bumps that have appeared on my bare legs, the marks of summer. Mosquitoes.
I walk home, alone. The voices of the stragglers in the park continue to fade from me with words that I don’t fully understand, yet long to be a part of. I dread going back to my 14th floor, single room apartment where the stifling air will be all that will greet me.