We were staying in a beautiful tall detached house that was second from the end of a row of similar buildings squashed together in a densely populated part of the city. If you glanced up at the skylight over the bed, you could see the top window and rooftop of the house next door.
One day I was idly gazing upwards at the skylight when I heard a strange noise. Then I saw that a ladder had been placed against the neighbour’s wall, and a succession of youths was scampering up it. They did not look like workmen: they were burglars!
I wanted to raise the alarm, but a face stared at me directly through the window with a silent warning. As the witness of a crime able to identify those responsible, I was in grave danger. I needed to escape across town as fast as possible.
I ran out into the street to board on the first bus that appeared, dragging TPR along with me. I tried in vain to communicate to him why I jumped each time a new person joined us on the top deck.
When a Malaysian woman approached me with her hand extended, I knew that to take it would be dangerous. She crushed my fingers into my palm, as if to warn me to flee – or face the consequences.
Then the man at the window came up the steps. This was it. I was in mortal danger, yet unable to communicate this to anyone fast enough to save myself.