Essays by Timothy Lim

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Thunder over Delhi

27th April, Singapore

I wake up and attempt to figure out where I am. I realise I am looking at a flight attendant sitting perfectly still with a perfectly straight posture. It's too dark to make out his expression but he sits there calmly watching over everyone sleeping. How strange it must be to put so many adults to sleep.

I press the screen in front of me and it says we're over Delhi. They've programmed the image on the screen to show a blurry, pixelated map of the land below and backed it with a jet black night sky with some constellations. Inside the plane it's completely dark and now I realise that it's probably dark outside too.

I open the window and see an ocean of clouds below with some openings that show the spider lights of a city. Suddenly I see flashes from different directions, explosions from with the hearts of the soft towers, lighting them up from within and giving contours to their form. The explosions continue both below us and on the horizon.

I think of the pilots flying the plane and being to wonder what spectacles they've seen on such a regular basis that no one else can really comprehend. I also think of of carpenters sanding the perfect plane or of midwives literally bringing life into the world. There is a unique beauty in so many experiences that can never really be shared.

I feel a fragmentation these days, of my life being split into shards. Of seeing different things in different places and not being adequately able to communicate it. Perhaps this is why I am writing this essay right now. I am sitting next to a couple who actually live five minutes walk from me in Oslo. They will be travelling Vietnam together. I think that's human, to want to experience things together. It makes it richer.

The best I can do now is to write and share what I see. Maybe one day my reality can overlap with those whom I care about. That's why I love postcards, they are an object of the place, this little piece of card that links you and me. It has passed through hands and flown across the world.

I look out the window again and the clouds are still sparking from within. The city is probably drenched in rain and the night sky would seem to be covered in light. We don't hear anything from this height. Everything lays low as the stars braid silently above.