I don't understand my recent penchant for late nights, late mornings. It all started approximately one and a half years ago, when I found my liberty rudely robbed by this necessary evil called "National Service". We would stay in camp from Monday till Saturday, before a long march out from the camp grounds to the jetty on the outlying island of Pulau Tekong, where we would sit, dazed on the ferry back to the mainland. There, it was a crushing exercise on the bus as drivers tried to pack as many recruits as they could. I still remember the overpowering stink emanating from the already sweaty uniforms, which the poorly equipped air-conditioning was struggling to overcome, and failing valiantly. Once we reached the first bastion of a town, the clock starts. Thirty-two hours of free time to play, sleep, eat... We raced for the train station (and ended up dripping sweat all over the train floor, to the utter disgust of other commuters; they seem to dislike sharing seats with soldiers, even if they had been cleaned up in camp), and reached home fully mindful of the sand trickling away. No time for sleep. It's playtime after a quick shower (which would always be useless, since in the rush to get ready, the tropical weather would ensure that everybody leaves the house with droplet-stained shirts).
It is easier for me, since my friends don't really have the time to keep in contact with me. I boot my computer, and get online. After the initial hour spent checking out useless chain mails, and the effort spent emptying the trash can of spam mail, I decide to hang around the multiple on line communities: since that is where intellectuals hang their egoistic works to be impaled. Many hours are spent there instead ignoring flame wars, troll postings, and useless me-too replies to great discussions. Never mind. Sifting through the chaff is part of the job too. I cherry-pick a few topics of interest, and am begin my discourse when I realise that it is mid-night (no kidding). Outside is a soundless night, occasionally punctured by the sounds of the insects, which would continue their company till my head substitutes my hand on the keyboard.
The next day is spent fretting about another week spent in camp. Yet another weekend gone past. More days in camp. Total despondence. Despair. I was even dispirited enough to lie in bed all through the afternoon (I admit that the late night played a part) with my eyes screwed shut in the fruitless hope that the clock would just halt there and then...
That was then.
Now a relative veteran (in the NSF system of course), I can safely say that my late nights are a legacy of my early recruit days. Where Saturday mornings are spent in camps are Friday night book outs, drastically boosting the amount of time out of camp. I gladly continue my favourite haunting sites dead in the night, sometimes till early morning (remember my experiment with not sleeping?)
I know of others who have a propensity for night owl sessions till daylight, before collapsing a messy heap on their beds for a few winks. Then, it was back in action for them. For them, time is not to be wasted away moping in the house. Sleeping is but a necessary nuisance, to be done away as soon as possible. Sometimes I agree with them, but never in camp. Time in camp is meant for sleeping.
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