She stood next to the traffic policeman. She waited for him to blow the whistle that would call a temporary cessation to the hostilities, that would let her cross the road.
She stood on the small stretch of no man’s land between two lanes of traffic moving in opposite directions. Her thoughts felt alien, like they were pulled into distorted shapes by the chaos that surrounded her. Vehicles, big and small, rushed past, belching black smoke and loud noise. They rumbled past relentlessly, not seeing where they blew the dust, not caring who came in their path.
People thronged around her, pushing past and jostling each other. With an almost bovine impatience they scrambled for the best position even as they waited to cross the road. Hoping that their collective haste would make the traffic stop.
The sun beat down with no regard for the fact that it was a relatively early hour. She could almost feel the steam rising off from everything around her - like they were all giving up their souls to some hellish inferno.
There was a building being torn down on the pavement across the road. The sound of the hammers had a rhythmic quality to it – a haunting sound amid all the cacophony.
Flashes of chrome and plate glass made her squint. She felt she would not be surprised if she was run over. It was almost too easy. One step forward or one step back would make all the difference - the Dance of Death she thought morbidly.
She felt disoriented – cut off from past and future. Locked into this eternal present where the sun grew hotter, where the din of the traffic wouldn’t let her think, where the crowd made her feel invisible. Her kohl-lined eyes yearned to close themselves against this brutal reality. She felt she would gently float away into a space that was far removed. Someplace pure. Clean. Quiet. She felt she would give up almost anything for such a moment…The whistle blew with a piercing shriek and she jumped out of her reverie.
She crossed the road and started walking briskly forward, trying to get her thoughts in order.