In this ridiculously crowded place, where living, breathing people are herded together like robotic sheep, one sometimes bears witness to a strange (and, to a wayward son of Africa used to miles of elbow space, unsettling) phenomenon. It occurs on the extremely rare occasion when two stray souls – most likely at some ungodly hour – suddenly find themselves on the opposite ends of a deserted street or park or square and, disorientated by all that heady desolation, still somehow manage to gravitate toward and bump into one another, as if drawn by some strangely sentient magnetic force within the miracle of the void. I call it forfucksation.
On this particular summer morning, just after dawn, I was fiddling with lenses and cables on a street corner, quietly setting up for a project I was working on at the time. I was feeling good. It was crisp and peaceful and lonely out there as the city drew a deep, hushed breath before the daily plunge into madness.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted some movement on the far side of the empty junction. An old lady was slowly crossing the street. From where I was perched on a parapet for some height in my frame, she seemed utterly out of place, surreally bent under the weight of the skyscrapers looming behind her as she was forfucksaking straight toward me in the fading gloom. Standing my ground, I sighed into the viewfinder as I waited for the ironic conclusion to this outlandish haiku of breath and flesh, the dulling brush of limbs, the mildly apologetic grunt.
She turned away at the very last moment. I was grateful for not being knocked off my arty high horse onto the sidewalk filth and shit and spit that seemed to harden in her shadow as the untold suffering of her generation in a now forgotten China sank all around her and the city roared to life.