Behind the conservation shop house where I work in Singapore’s business district is an alley. The alley’s purpose is strictly utilitarian. Back doors of restaurants and bars open to a lane just more than a car width wide. The alley has no living vegetation, except for the plants growing on the side of the a few less-kept buildings. During the day there is the occasional delivery. At any time, staff could be sitting on the back having a smoke. In contrast to the busy streets of Boat Quay and Circular Road on either side, you rarely see anyone walking through the alley. The desertedness is especially true at night. With echoes of music and people from somewhere just beyond, the alley is a quiet, almost haunted line in the city sand.
For a variety of reasons, not the least being that I am familiar with the streets, I found myself taking a less congested route to where I had parked my motorcycle. As I walked in the darkness light mixed shadows through one alley to cross the street and enter another alley where the bike was parked, my ears and mind picked up new sounds. It was as if “my enemies are talking behind my back, watching for their chance to knife me.” (Psalm 71.10) Soft steps came and went just behind me. Clothes brushed against construction poles and shoes seem to catch on the edges of small potholes. Every sound was a whisper of possible danger.
I seemed to be in a world of my own. Nobody was around. I was sure my voice would not be heard if I screamed. I was exposed and vulnerable. My body insisted on being on high alert.
As short as the walk through the alley is, on this night it seemed like forever. The walk was long, each step closer to danger.
In this alley, you know the demons are here. In my mind they are everywhere but here they live.
Walking through the alley reminds that I have a guardian even if evil strikes in the moment.