There are an infinite amount of things to despise about life.


However, traffic easily takes its place in the top five. 


I sat there; one with the snake of scales made of cool, pale-from-sun-burn metal lying flat on its stomach, refusing to move—almost as if it was the thin paper refusing to let go of a book after you’ve attempted to rip off its barcode—drilling its fangs through the moulding edges of the decade-old windows; allowing the potent venom found deep within boredom to grow nails and pinch the soul of human sanity. 


Time stretched to infinity. 


Cars behind just kept piling and piling and piling—I could hear their groans of annoyance once they had reached this beast, a splitting image to my own. One of the common, vexing struggles embedded in the act of living, of course. 


However, if I went on to all the fine-lined details of this sagging, mundane scene of daily life, then I would very possibly already be out of the daily 7 am traffic. 


I burrowed deep into my chair, sighing, knowing that I could’ve taken a much-needed nap and still wake without any change or movement. Scanning the surrounding area, there was quite literally nothing to see. A somewhat dull-coloured joke of an ocean, the dusty skies choking from the mouth-fulls of yawns and hateful murmurs—our own collective hate stinging the atmosphere, and the varying array of vehicles from a motorbike to an old bland Toyota to a truck with three attached crates to it; A Lamborghini to a paint-chipped, sunburnt mini. 


I just kept my eyes straight ahead, silently praying to whatever god was willing to listen to one in a million victims of the 7 am traffic. 


7:10 am: 


My eyes couldn’t take it. 


They itched for something to do, something to view—to see. No more than ten minutes of undisturbed staring and I was going to begin and tear my eyes off; the true power of boredom. 


I cautiously glanced to my right, conscious of the consistent buzzing of noise. I was however quite surprised by the sudden sight—as there, in the passenger seat, sat a woman. 


She was very clearly middle-aged. Slight wrinkles creasing beneath her cheeks, a clear double chin, chubby arms, matted dark brown strands tied in a hurried bun—it was very evident that time was starting to wear her body down. 


But aside from that, the most shocking view was the toddler wailing in her lap. 


She was desperately clutching onto the child, pulling him closer as it howled like all toddlers do when someone doesn’t abide by their commands, frantically patting down its thin brown locks while shaking rainbow-coloured toys right by its face, attempts to calm the little crying demon being all futile. 


Even with two car doors between us, a faint high-pitched shriek still managed to wriggle its way into my ears. 


Behind both the woman and the toddler, in the back seat of the car, sat two elderly people with another child—a teenager this time. With his features all tight, stretching his face down with his hands, knee bouncing and eyes darting around, it was clear that even though he wasn’t the one sobbing; he sure wanted to be. 


All five people fit quite tightly inside the five-seat, paint-chipped, dented mini. The car itself seemed to barely contain the five family members stuffed inside, let alone the tension growing tighter with every cry from the toddler.  


I cringed, feeling a sore pang of sympathy for the family. 


Turning away, I looked back onto the road. 


And to my surprise, the queue of vehicles has finally moved!


Gripping onto the wheel, I guided the car slowly with light pressure on the pedal. Unfortunately, the small drop of relief quickly turned sour once more as everyone barely moved five metres until we were all forced to stop. 


I sighed, sinking back into the painful state of waiting. 


This time around, I glanced towards my left side. 


My eyes suddenly widened as my head swerved—and though it certainly wasn’t an uncommon sight, the comparison held me speechless. 


This time, there was a man. Not any younger than the woman but an entirely different life written out on his features. He had sharp features honed from the dark suit he wore, a fresh and ready feeling surrounding him. The interior of the car was plastered with cream-coloured leather as he patiently sat back, flicking his eyes to his phone and the road constantly. 


Though the last thing I wanted was for a stranger to catch me staring during early traffic, I couldn’t help but gawk in awe at the extreme comparison between the two lives that are only a couple of metres away from each other. 


How is it that society is so heavily divided that a mere number in your bank account can determine your way of living? How come the simple luck of inheritance, whether in abilities or assets, can affect what you are capable of so much? Is life just a gamble, seeing what you can make out of your time and resources given? 


How can some be born lucky while others are just born?


The people of today are drilled into this system of working and gaining as much as your luck from the very beginning granted you, with the couple successes despite the odds being magnified and fleshed out—persuading the young to believe that ‘anything is possible’. But what they don’t show is the majority; how most will inevitably succumb to the cruel strings of money and luck. 


Society today calls for the said ‘luck’ you’ve gained from ‘spinning the wheel’ before your birth to determine how to crush you or how to make you—and it is sickening to think about.


Cars started moving. I snatched my hard gaze away and back onto the road. 


The traffic has finally passed. 


Making my way to work, I never once again lifted my stiff gaze from the road. 


7 pm:




Traffic again. 


Not only every morning, but every night this giant beast haunts me, refusing me and hundreds of others access to any sort of rest. 


Like an infinite loop of time, where reaching the inevitable snake of cars is unexpected in the moment, but then becomes a familiar act. 


But this time, I didn’t gaze at nearby strangers nor did I take in their details. 


I kept my hard gaze on the road, my body aching from fatigue and my mind failing to calm from this morning. I refused my mind to wander as much as about a hundred cars refused to move. 


Relaxing my crushing grip on the wheel, I sighed, giving myself exactly three seconds to rest my eyes before dragging my neck back up. Almost there—


Then, all of a sudden, terribly loud upbeat music slammed past my car doors and crashed into my ears, shattering any previous thought I had. I swung my head to my left, realising my mistake far too late as a natural reaction taking over any conscious awareness. 


Right there to my left, edged far too close for comfort, was a white jeep filled with bright young women all singing and shuffling around their seats to dance to the music. They bumped into each other, attempting to sway to the music as much as the limited space would allow them screaming with voices drunk with joy. The music was loud and clear—the voices even clearer. 

I sat there in utter shock. 


Eyes and lips dropped into ovals as they continued like everyone else couldn’t hear a single whisper. 


Yet that had struck a memory within me, one that was buried deep. 


Once upon a time, traffic hadn’t affected me. 


Once upon a time I sang and I danced and I felt joy in something that I have now been exposed to far too much. 


Once upon a time, patience was not needed—it was not necessary, all that was needed was to be able to see the potential within things. 


So I didn’t know if it was the traffic or the memory that moved my hand, but I smiled softly as I grabbed out my phone, and turned on some of my own nostalgic music. 


And just as I looked up, the road ahead of me moved swifter than ever. 


7 am:


There are still an infinite amount of things I despise about life. 


Little vexes and troubles, big or small, will continue to come of course. As long as you are living in this society, hate and cruelty will breathe and live alongside you. 


Again and again, the limit of ‘infinite’ will increase, and the list of hate will grow. 


But, funny (and shockingly) enough, there are also an infinite amount of things that make it worth it—even seven am traffic.


Writer – Stephanie Lin
Editor – Kenneth Gong
Artist – Cindy Zhang 

–May 2024–

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