I’m on the midnight bus to Jaffna. I can sleep anywhere, but – like any Sri Lankan bus – it keeps stopping for tea. Once roused I drift in and out of consciousness. I dream about the places we’re passing through, I dream I’m in my body but cannot move. It’s ethereal.
There’s a rickety bridge I somehow remember, the bus won’t make it over. Instead it hurtles past. It’s going faster now, uncomfortably, people start to murmur, then yell. I can see out the window police running. Laden by sleep, I cannot move.
‘There’s no bridge,’ they say, but we somehow make it, next to an improbable bay, a parade ground. I see a man still in costume, face peeking through a dragon head, his boxy suit. Some show. A war reenactment I think.
We’re dodging cows, then elephants, their pink mottled bodies emerging out of the pre-dawn mist. They pass around us, some close, furtive. Some crouched violence, this indignity of sharing the road.
Then we’re reversing for some reason, and going, I feel, too far. I worry about the elephants. I actually wake up and look out the window. We’re moving forward. There are no elephants. I doze off, return to ethereality.
I’m stretched out in the back seat. After curling so the things stab me just so I become conscious of a clicking but too sleepy deepy to move or look. I’m conscious of my body but cannot control it. Are they taking photos of me? This is my bad side.
I wake up into the Wanni dawn. The clouds here are something else. I check my camera for the photos I remember taking. There’s nothing there.