The serenity in the dense darkness was intermittently interrupted by the rustling of leaves as the slow breeze brushed past the foliage of durian trees, bamboo and old rubber trees that has gone untapped for decades. It was about ten in the evening. Tinnitus roared loud inside my ears. The continuous screeching momentarily discomforted me. I had never been in such silence before.
The car was parked on the road. The road clung on to the terrain as it wound its way from Teluk Bahang on one end to Sungai Pinang on the other. The land sloped upwards into infinity on one side. I could not see the peak. On the other, it sloped down to my Tua Ku’s house that perched on the slope ten storeys below the road. The half brick and half timber house was at least half a century old then.
A spring gurgled nearby. I knew where it was even in that blindness. I had stood beside it many times, listening to the sounds the water made as it wound it way around the bedrock. A granite slab covered the opening to keep it from being contaminated. Two families depended on that source of fresh water, the only source available miles around.
Crickets chirped incessantly. I liked the permeating darkness. No artificial lights, no lights at all, save for the stars twinkling high above. It was a clear night though The sky was sparkling, a symphony of stars were dancing to the rhythm of the universe. I was barely into my teens. The wide expanse above made me feel even more insignificant.
I could lie down there the entire night watching the abundance of little lights twinkling away. A city boy like me seldom got the opportunity to witness the splendour of heaven in its full glory. Street lamps and other forms of light pollute the night sky, only allowing views of the brightest stars to be visible.
Across the road from where the car was parked, near the upward slope, specks of green glowed and dimmed, and seemed to be drifting here and there without purpose. I knew what they were although that was my first time seeing them. Fireflies!
I counted. There were about ten, or perhaps twenty. I have forgotten. It was such a long time ago. What I do remember was that I stood there transfixed, watching, waiting, for them to get closer. I wanted to see one up close. They kept their distance. I was absolutely fascinated nonetheless.