Remains of the Day

I dreamed about books last night. My suitcase was heavy, my sacrum in despair. In a cursory attempt to lighten the load, I began to empty its contents, hoping to find its weightiest culprit. And, like Mary Poppins, I began to pull out one book after another from the bag’s bottomless pit. I piled them one on top of the other, wondering where I had collected all these books, because I didn’t remember packing any of them. Dredging the last book from the bottom, I held it in my hands and looked at the title: Remains of the Day. What the…

I read Ishiguro’s book many years ago, but what could have prompted its reappearance in my dream?

Was it a reference to last night’s outbreak of shouts and aggressive behavior next door? I’d returned to my room after watching an Italian film in town, showered and got into bed. It was wonderfully peaceful outside, hardly a dog barking, only the rare motorbike zipping by. I slipped under the clean cool sheets and switched off the lamp. Not more than ten minutes had passed when I heard a banging outside, the familiar sound of doors being shoved open, pushing off any bricks or planks that block the front gate to prevent intruders from trespassing during the night. (I had squeezed quietly through the blockade fronting my guesthouse just earlier, at 10 p.m. – past standard Balinese bed time.

The noise next door continued to escalate, loud talking shifting to shouts, a sense of foreboding filling the gaps of air in between one outburst and the next. Then, the shattering of glass. More yelling. Another round of glass breaking. Then, the voice of a woman, trying to calm down the drunkard, to sweet-talk him out of his stupor.

Standing out on my terrace, I could see only shadows of my ex-pat neighbors as they stood on theirs gazing down to the scene unfolding in front of their home. What were they thinking? Had they witnessed such incidents before?

The whole episode lasted only minutes, long enough however, for me to notice that all the other normal sounds of the night had all died down. Only once I could no longer hear voices, figuring the ruckus had subsided for good, did I lie back down and listen for continued silence. And then, ever so slowly, as if nature had been put on hold so that the messiness of a man’s night could first be assuaged, the sounds of the night resumed once again.

I slept deeply and soundly, much longer than I have in the past week; through the dawn of neighborhood noises.  But when I awoke, the sound of a broom outside my window was all I needed to remind myself of the previous night. Perhaps the man’s wife was dusting off, sweeping away the shards of hostilities from yesterday – the remains of their day.

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