Entries open for Honi Soit 2021 Writing Competition

A weary accountant’s view of a day in the city

A collection of descriptive sketches.

Art by Janina Osinsao

Pre-dawn

Electric gaze transferral from cyber tap-tap-tap through long night seen through faint lights peeking inside reinforced windows, and onto the real end-of-night hand-in-hand with real-day (dawn), walking beside churning rubbish trucks groaning along roads like tanks with emphysema. Walk beside the menacing, big-bodied mechanic lumps and it’s hoarse cough flushes one back into a non-cyber presence, free and flushed, free and flushed from the whirlwind of numbers and monitors and the deadening reflection of the face in said monitor or all monitors – it may as well be fragmented for the night-dawn identity of a plick plocking accountant is nothing more than an identity divested into screens and taps and the obscene figures for the people of means sitting in hefty watchtowers built by the sweat and the fissures of pre-arthritic fingers. Soon enough, the slow gurn of the emphysema truck waddles away and a shitty black uber replaces it. Sit in the car and murmur a half-language caught between the verbal and the numeric and drift off to sleep in the one-hour drive home to the suburbs, trying not to suffocate on the odorous stench of a 24-hour cigarette smoke fest and to faint as the lights of the office building and other buildings transform from mere flickers to a hogwashing, swashbuckling swirl of whirlpool-like intensity as the car skittles away…

Morning

… and the train skittles into the Wynyard cave. Cramped like thousands of dirt particles between the tubes of a Connect 4 board game, the open sliding doors beget a flurry of white-collars. In India, peak hour trains often leave late passengers floating above the floor and require no effort of the muscles as they float along the tracks suspended in the hold of sweaty bodies. Theywade out in a similar way when the doors decide to be begot. In the less civilised or the more modernised Sydney trains the standing trip is a test of strength and patience, and an unfriendly descent back into the acute finger-strained and eye-strained confines of tall towers. The eventual escape from the snaking Wynyard cave off the platform and through to Barangaroo greets the face with a much-needed dose of fast-paced, fresh air complementing the shimmering blue waters of the Harbour flashed across generic tourist leaflets that the emphysema truck usually picks up in its loud churn. Lines snake out from coffee shops and acrid coffee smells drift between clean fingers or covert cigarette fingers plonking away on phones. The aggressive, caterpillar-leg like flurry offsets the invisible movement of gargantuan cranes and the roaring wall of machinery beautifying and modern (tourist)-ising the city…

Lunch

… that enlivens at the midday rush between lunch breaks and between shopping and between quick snapshots taken beside seagull shit and seagull swoops. The salmon poke bowl with a generic tasting mayonnaise and chilli that wasn’t ordered but is too spicy to be a mistake is the most colourful thing that graces the eye all day but the most unpleasant thing to eat. A sloppy burger from Bar Luca would have been preferred but those patties have the same dead dryness and thinness of the questionably beef McDonalds patties and a kebab from the generic kebab store would be too embarrassing to eat in front of all the midday office runners and sweaty gym heads and RM Williams’d and power-suited workers feigning a health obsession. The oily sloppiness of junk food would be the only robust, knowingly satisfactory event of the day but even that must give way to the nutrient filled, non-chemicalised mode of sustaining the brain and the focus. Everything lives in fast forward but not one that sweeps by like trees in a fast car. It is instead a quickness that resembles that of a shit popcorn movie watched absent-mindedly and one which sits in the mind with a heaviness catalysed by the regret and dissatisfaction that one just spent two hours watching it. The lunch time rush amalgamates with the pre-dawn and the morning and with the upcoming soup o’clock and night and leaves the weary accountant living in the gunk of a two-hour popcorn movie of The Rock’s pecks on endless repeats for 24 hours a day, and 21 not 7 days a week. The watery mayonnaise at the bottom of the poke bowl quakes in reaction to the walk back to the office and after throwing it out, the rays of the sun bouncing off the freshly cleaned windows of the tower glisten…

Soup o’clock

… as the afternoon sun rays at soup o’clock slant across the water of Sydney Harbour. The fatigue at soup o’clock is the worst part of the day as the realisation dawns that while the other salad-eaters and shopping-eaters will head home or to bars for fun beers and other emancipatory post-work events, the changes in the gradients of the sky commingling in various shades of orange and grey and blue will be overpowered by the white glare of the screen. Colours are the easiest way to track days, to track one’s own progression, to realise reality in its constantly shape-shifting forms. Colours themselves are the easiest sources of transmigration. Transmigration, as Doris Chon writes, “encompasses a twofold meaning: it can signify the migration or passage of something or some person(s) through time and physical space at the same time that it can allude to the transcendence of spirit or soul from a corporeal to other less tangible forms of existence.” Look into orange, migrate to dawn or night or see the smiling recesses of the soul. Look into blue, migrate to dawn or night or see the frowning recesses of the soul. Look into grey, migrate to dawn or night or see the melancholy recesses of the soul. Stare into white and evaporate to one times three x six seven eight eleven point zero three zero three repeater or heavy annoyed breathing on the ends of people who hate pesky accountants or blank void dormant recesses of the soul…

Night

… (sole) of the wearisome leather shoes constricting the toes. OH&S signs recommend toe-wiggling and half an hour breaks but what is the point if the pain is perpetual? Another pesky salad sits in front except it has to be eaten inside, inside the small, toilet-like room beside eight other members of the team all plugging along and trying to stay plugged in. Some float optimistic thoughts like the consumption of alcohol once it’s all done but it falls on deaf and tired ears. Sit back momentarily away from the computer and see the pieces of air in the room mingle and dust settling everywhere and screens and their contents increasing in acceleration and the little pieces of lettuce even giving a little dance and smiling and all the sights above and below and beyond the panoptics of the vision encircle the body like a coffin. They breathe heavily on the face and provide momentary respite and reveal in themselves some hidden order constituting the space beyond the screen but even that revelation soon becomes confronting and dizzying as it enlivens the awareness that a manic and fluctuating world exists outside of the…

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