The blistering heat scorched through the flimsy material of my blouse, a
choice of wear as naive as the one that now saw me traipsing along the sandy
back lanes of the little Mexican town. I had thought that it was a brilliant
to spend the day as an intrepid explorer, rising to the challenge of conquering
the confusing maze of streets that crisscrossed the sleepy town we had arrived
days ago. But it seemed that a conspiracy was underfoot to thwart my conquest.
Slowly, frustration mounted in me as I began to curse the reason why I
was virtually "trapped" in this poor town. If May had not developed a fever
so suddenly, we would be enjoying the beautiful sights of Acapulco instead
of wallowing in this heat trap. My bitterness at being inconvenienced by the
inconsideration of my best friend's fever soon escalated into a galling fury. I
victimized and was aggrieved.
The proximity of the squalid houses around me seemed to suffocate me.
White-hot anger simmered in me as I fed the growing resentment at May for
having inconvenienced me time and again. I recalled the time when I had
planned to go trekking in Nepal but was persuaded by her to wait till the June
holidays. But when the time came, she fell ill with chicken pox. My twenty-first birthday celebration at a famous seafood restaurant was totally destroyed
by her developing ugly red rashes while feeding on chilli crabs! I had to spend
the most important birthday of my life in hospital with her. And now, her
fever has forced our trip to revolve around the terribly unexciting prospect of
trying to discover a place that was largely unworthy of any such effort. As I
indulged in these angry thoughts, my indignation rose to such a feverish pitch that I simply had to run or I would burst. My feet started moving towards the
dilapidated hotel that we were staying at.
I looked up to the window of our room, trying to harden myself to storm
up and pack my things to carry on with the trip without May. Why should I
curtail my plans just because she could not come along? She should just stay in
this godforsaken place and recuperate, I thought, trying to convince myself that
was right. Finally, I gathered up enough steam and proceeded to rush in.
Suddenly, a heavy hand on my shoulder halted me. I turned around and
looked into the face of the hotel-keeper. He looked at me sadly and uttered only
three words in his gravelly voice: "She no more." I was paralyzed on the spot. A
knot of fear tightened in my stomach as I fought to quell the scream that was
building up in me. I was not aware of how I had gathered my legs to thunder into
the room upstairs, but I did. When I entered the room, the foul stench of death
seemed to cling to everything, even the curtains. May was lying on the bed, in a
still repose that chilled me. Hot tears scalded my eyes as I moved closer.
Through the mist of my tears, I saw May's unadulterated joy when she
found out that I had won a prestigious scholarship years ago. Her unswerving
friendship had been my constant companion through twelve years of our lives,
and now it was lost to me forever. I crumpled slowly to the floor, as my
ebbed away slowly.