187. The Longest Mile

It was decided sometime yesterday that to avoid the constant congestion of the North-South highway, we would be leaving Bekok for home right after breakfast. It was a good idea. A good plan.

And like all good plans, it fell apart before it could even properly began.

The journey home consisted of a solid 12 hours of being on the road, minus the 1 hour spent in Malacca due to a little detour which ended up in snacking. After breakfast was done, my mom thought (presumably) that since there was so much time, we should at least say our goodbyes to a relative on the other side of town.

Then we should clean up the house as well, since it’s still pretty early.

Oh! And these oranges should be sent to the neighbors.

Never forget to bring these blankets back to your aunt’s place!

All in all, we only managed to leave the little town of Bekok by 11A.M., which was when it was decided that we should head over to Batu Pahat for some nice coffee. Which we did (minus the nice coffee part, because I had mediocre hot chocolate instead). Then by the time we left from Batu Pahat, it was already well after lunch time, and the clock was nearing 2P.M.

On the road once more, my younger sister kept pestering my elder sister – who was driving the car – to take us to Malacca, for the simple reason that we could. Initially reluctant, my elder sister and I both, the former decided to go with the Malacca plan when she met the congestion on the North-South highway.

Yes, the very one that we were supposed to avoid by leaving early.

It’s like a study in film structure all over again. With “getting home” as the final goal, there were obstacles, each bigger and more urgent than the last, thrown at us: relatives to visit, things to send, getting coffee, traffic jam, Malacca detour… Just when I thought that the traffic was the worst of our worries, that’s when fate pulled out her trump card. The final challenge. The climax, if you will.

I inexplicably got stomach problems.

Talk about a diabolus ex machina.

At first, I thought I was alright for the journey home. I could hold my bowels for 2 hours or so, right? No big deal. So I took the keys and drove out of Malacca.

And that was when I realized just how bad the congestion on the highway was.

To say that it was a crawl would be an understatement. To qualify: at the worst point of the journey, when I was convinced that if I survived it, it wouldn’t be without irreversible bowel damage, we took 40 minutes to travel 8 kilometers. Yes, 5 minutes per kilometer.

Even I could sprint faster than that.

Those 8 kilometers, in addition to being the slowest, most painful, and most arduous part of the journey, was also the distance separating me from the closest public toilet: in a train station.

I’ve come to realize that time is relative both in reality and story structures. As the stakes are raised higher and things become more urgent, time itself seems to stretch out, as my experience seemed to in those 8 kilometers. I swear those 40 minutes felt like hours, compared to the events of the morning and the afternoon before that.

I eventually made it to the public toilet after hours of clenching my bowels. Finally, when I did get my release – at the risk of sounding crass – shitting never felt so good.

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