MONSTERS, MONSOONS & MULTICULTURALISM
During a heat-wave, the sun becomes your enemy.
It seems to hunt you, pools of liquid fire crawling across the floor as the angle of the rays changes to chase you, determined to bake you where you sit.
My house is under siege. I defend my fort by the opening and closing of blinds and windows, and the strategically timed reversal and repositioning of fans as the march of hours and angles crawls by. When it sees an opportunity, the blazing sunlight bleeds through holes in my perimeter to bite my baby's virgin ivory skin with a cruel splotch of pink burn.
My daughter cries out and paws at her angry, heat-rashed belly.
Yesterday, the sun was to me a phenomenon of nature, a fairly typical yellow dwarf star, a roiling fist of gravity and fire. Today, my sweat-drenched campaign against the oppressive heat has caused me instinctively to personify the sun in order to demonise it. Shaken by a savage bout of vengeance-based animism, I shake my fist at that hot infernal eye and curse a Monster Sun.
How easy it is to awaken the frightened pagan inside our most cynical selves, when the threat is just right.
Of the many things I saw, heard and felt on 11 September 2001 that I will never forget, one particular moment comes to mind as my family and I are slowly rotisseried this week beneath our megalopolis' dome of insulating smog, cursing the demon sun...
This moment came after the collapse of the first tower at the World Trade Center. A wave of people was stampeding down the street trying to stay ahead of a massive wall of roiling beige dust and debris. As the panicked crowd rounded a corner between skyscrapers, the videographer turned around to train our view on the looming cloud as it bore down on them, sloshing violently against the side of one building and then deflecting, billowing outward after the fleeing people.
For a split second, it seemed as if the cloud of debris had wilfully turned the corner.
And in that moment my mind found some primordial place that whispered up to me suddenly with dread and certainty: "It's alive, and it's after them." One specific word forced itself unbidden into my interpretation of the scene -- that cloud was a monster.
Meanwhile: we bundle the child, dog, cat and our Sunday best into the car to drive up to our cottage which is a stone's throw from the modest but gorgeous family country estate where my wife's cousin is going to be married. The fight to stop the sun from burning my daughter continues throughout the long drive, as we need to keep the windows cranked down to push through enough moving air to cool our panting, heavy-coated Newfoundlander-cross from baking in his own skin (running the air conditioning at required level causes the car to stall as the rheostat fruitlessly struggles to normalise the sweltering, 45-degree humidity)...
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