THE MULATTA AT THE LIGHTS
As she approaches the corner at the busy Salim Maluf highway the lights change and the traffic roars into life. She could be singing to herself, it’s hard to tell under the deafening rumble of traffic, but her feet are definitely stamping out a rhythm as she stands there on the spot (perhaps a kind of refusal or defiance at being stopped against her will). Then her arms join in, clapping slowly, widely as she moves in time. It seems involuntary, or at least unconscious, but was, I suppose, a subtle form of dancing.
The lights change and she crosses five lanes to make it to the traffic island at the halfway mark. The traffic coming the other way has stopped as well, but a couple of cars turn onto the highway from the adjacent street which forces her to wait; and she fails to anticipate her next move. Instead, she rests both elbows on a piece of traffic furniture and puts her head in her hands and starts to stare; she just stands there staring.
The traffic’s ready to move off again and envelop her from both directions. It’s too late, but anyway, she hasn’t noticed; she’s there, content, with that same expression, fixed. And as the lights release the traffic, the fragile silence of the pedestrian’s stolen moment is sent reeling by the maelstrom of dust, fumes and noise that violently takes over. And she remains unmoved, unflinching, head in hands, only fleetingly discernable now, strobed by the endless chain of vehicles and the polluted sepia haze.