North America

The Spell of Halloween

I don’t know about you, but I have had a banging day. What, already? Why yes, you see it started with a serene morning of writing and then marinating Cornish hens in a buttermilk bath for a roast dinner. It was rather smooth going. I kept thinking about our night last year in the city and wishing that Halloween had placed itself strategically around the weekend, instead of dab in the middle of the week. It would have been neat if we could have caught Christine and the Queens performing in Brooklyn tonight. You know, the French singer Héloïse (I have shared videos of her below). She of the phenomenal abs, badass attitude and pop-funk rhythms. I have been annoying Adi with my constant humming of ‘Five dollars, baby blues, five dollars baby …’ all week now.

With such thoughts running through my mind, I stepped out of the apartment to dispose off the garbage and drop off recyclable odds and ends in the garbage room. Now every time I step out to this room, which is around the corner on our floor, I keep the door of the apartment slightly open so that I do not need to carry my fob with me. I have nightmares of losing that fob in the garbage chute. Usually, I manage to keep the door ajar. But today, I was balancing a whole lot — that included a heavy glass bottle — and I could not control the momentum of the door. It swung shut behind me with a thump. My heart sank.

At this point, you would shake your head in utter disdain if you thought that I was on my own in the apartment. Serves her right, you would say, to step out with her phone or the fob. But you see, I was not alone.

Adi was working from home. He was in the bedroom with the door shut, headphones in his ears, on conference calls with his assortment of colleagues. It was 1.10pm when I had stepped out. I got back to the door and knocked. It happened endlessly. This routine of knuckles turning red with constant knocking. Blood at a fine boil. Emotions seething. Yet no one appeared at the door. I could hear the neighbours shuffling behind their doors. They must have been wondering about this strange annoyance. ‘Couples sparring, possibly? Has the partner locked her out?’

I thought in my head, ‘Oh there shall be sparring you bet. As sure as gravity, once the door opens’.

Finally, tired of using my knuckles on a husband deaf as a post, I retrieved the glass bottle from the garbage bin and banged on the door as many times as possible. At 2.05pm, the door finally opened and there stood Adi with eyes bulging with astonishment, headphones still in his ears.

There was a moment when he tried to make light of it. Naturally, he got no lunch. The devil was in my head.

Later, I went for a run. In my need to shake off this fury. The temperatures had suddenly risen — to a mellow 20°C — and there was a pleasant nip in the air. The sun was dissolving in a flurry of colours and gradually there was a streak of crimson on the salmon pink horizon. It had the brilliance of lamé. With this backdrop, I noticed a couple leaning into each other on the wooden pavilion by the Hudson. I dismissed it as excessive PDA. But I saw them in the same posture on my second lap. That’s when I lifted my headphones and caught strains of music in the air. Why, they were dancing in each other’s arm to fluid notes of music. It was rather beautiful. Who said there could be no romance on Halloween?

Then an old man, in his late 70s, stopped me to ask, ‘So how many steps you got there?’ I replied, ‘Just 2 miles yet.’

‘Good, good, I have got me 22,000 steps,’ he said. That spurred me on alright. Of late, my new fitness accessory, a Samsung smartwatch, has been telling me that I have been running just below 5 miles, while previously my phone had been showing the same number of laps as measuring up to a wonderful 6 miles. Bah. I could not match up to the old man’s steps (imagine his glee) because the muscles are sore with lifting heavy weights this week, but I sure felt the mood set in as I caught glimpses of the trick-or-treating crowd.

A constant stream of tiny witches, pirates and superheroes I saw, bored fathers in black suits trailing behind these little enthusiasts who have taken over the streets of Bayonne on this Halloween evening. It was a fine sight that and somehow the day feels redeemed. So here’s to the magic and mystery of the day, to cauldrons bubbling, headless horsemen and witches on the prowl.

Happy Halloween, y’all.

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