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20 years ago, if you’re using Jalan Genting Klang from KL heading to Ulu Klang, just after the Setapak police station, you will find an exit road on your left between Rich shopping complex and a Lutheran church. Near the junction, there was an electricity pole and beside it, a homeless Indian man standing in Tat Seng flip-flops with his torn grey shirt and grimy brown pants. If you watched closely, the homeless Indian man was actually counting something with his fingers.

When I was a kid, father used to drive along Jalan Genting Klang to go to work. If I was with him, he would slow down his car when approaching the junction and looked at his watch, counting. Then suddenly he’ll point at the homeless Indian man and said, “Now!”.

The homeless Indian man will then promptly utter incomprehensible words angrily and kicked the pole as if the pole was the reason of his current misfortune. And this will go on throughout the whole day on a precise significant timing.

I was impressed with father’s close observation. I think I could understand why, given the traffic condition on Jalan Genting Klang was not much different from today. What else better to do while stuck in a traffic jam?

Anyway, father refused to tell me the exact timing of the kicking bustle. “Go and find it out yourself”, he always said. After a few years, I gave up.

These days, Rich shopping complex has been converted into a Courts Mammoth outlet. This happened around 10 years ago. The Lutheran church is still there. The electricity pole is still there. But the homeless Indian man is missing, and I’ve just realized that recently. When I asked father about his whereabouts, father said rumours had it that the homeless Indian man was killed in an accident just before there was a Courts Mammoth. Some say that the homeless Indian man was thrown into the middle of the street one evening by some drunken youths, presumably Malay mat rempits, who used to hangout worthlessly at a Mamak mapele nearby.

Well, whichever way, I have my own assumption. I think the homeless Indian man is now retired from the Royal Malaysian Police, Special Branch division and is now currently living a decent life with his wife and children somewhere in Sentul.

In the morning I swear that you were next to me. You were talking to me, and we were laughing. Maybe it was in my dreams. When I looked again at the left side of the bed, the sheet was still tight, uncrumpled.

But it’s okay.