It doesn’t smell like victory


I don’t know how, but we got La Serpiente out of the house fairly quickly this morning and bustled downstairs, intent on visiting the Tiong Bahru Bakery for another pain au chocolat. Stepping out of the lift, I smelt the unmistakable odour of fresh human sewage, and gagged. La Serpiente carried blithely on.

We went round the corner to the steps down to the road, and found there was a fence blocking our way: they’re painting the outside of our building so the area was blocked to stop things dropping on people’s heads. So we went around the block, past the kindergarten, to another lift lobby to get down to street level. The stench persisted. Could it be that every child had dropped their guts at once?

The smell was so strong that I began to think it was the paint, somehow smelling of shit. I tried to explain this to my daughter, and then we went downstairs, crossing the road, still smelling that pungent scent.

I checked my shoes: clean. I began to worry that there was a phantom turd hidden in my backpack. I got on the bus with La Serpiente and thankfully the smell abated.

When we got off the bus two stops later and the smell was still there, I began to grow paranoid. If you meet somebody who smells of shit first thing in the morning, they have a hygiene problem. If you can smell shit all day, every time you meet somebody, the logical conclusion is that you have the problem. This preyed on my mind as we entered the bakery (no smell of shit), bought pastries (smelling only of pastry and chocolate) and then headed to school (smell of shit returning as we made it outside).

Inside the school: no smell of shit.

Outside the school: strong smell of shit.

I checked myself again, took a bike to the station, got on the train, went to work, and only had my feeble self-esteem repaired when a coworker who lives in Tiong Bahru began to complain about the terrible smell he’d endured this morning as well.

But as to what, and why, I’m still in the dark. It doesn’t smell like victory, that’s for sure.


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