The Night Lights of Kuala Lumpur

klia 2 night

The night lights of Kuala Lumpur emanate a surreal orange glow. It is tinged with the blue of commerce nearby, and it lines the Lebuhraya KLIA Extension (E6) and the Expressway Lingkaran Tengah (ELITE). The night lights of Kuala Lumpur are witness, to many incidents, circumstances, conversations and all activity after dark.

The night lights of Kuala Lumpur illuminate the arteries of Selangor’s highways, on fast lanes, on slow lanes, on legal lanes and on hard shoulders. They stand tall at the dividers, looking down upon machines on rubber disks, that carry humans who, with their hands on metal wheels, stare ahead into the blank of the night and towards their final destination.

The night lights of Kuala Lumpur shine upon a taxi driver, who listens to dangdut, who sways between Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia, who is young, fidgety, in love and in work. His left hand is on the wheel, his right hand is on his smartphone. He is hunched over, he speaks into it, jalan dua puluh dua stroke satu b, he says.

The night lights of Kuala Lumpur illuminate the prejudices of the woman behind him, for whom Malaysia but not Selangor is home. It provides her a comfort, that is immediately familiar, yet unrelatable. It exposes her fear of the unknown, of the city and of its boundless possibilities. Of the foreign and of the local, it exposes her identity, and she does not know who to be.

The night lights of Kuala Lumpur reveals the opinions of the driver, who calls the security guard “orang Malaysia”, and who adds the word “susah”. The orange glow of the highway breaks into the darkness of the red, registered vehicle, and it is treated like the sun. All sides of its windows are covered with foldable sunshades, the material of mosquito nets.

The night lights of Kuala Lumpur are witness to a forty-feet trailer, that slow crashes into the divider. Its neck is bent, and its body follows suit. The crash is light, but its mouth kisses the metal plank. Alamak, alamak, ya’Allah, she says in the back seat. No one escapes the night lights of Kuala Lumpur. Terus melintang, he says in the front seat.

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