May 2023, Audience of One

Riding along the roads, we came by a colorful stage, oversized for both the village and the sole singer standing on it. Behind colorful makeup and a a makeshift protection against the sun, she sang a Chinese opera in all her strength.

The streets were empty but for us, a group of four somewhat irritated, curious, yet in the end little appreciative tourists.

Then we saw the boy. Sitting all by himself, in the self-made cage of his umbrella, he was transfixed by the singer’s voice. An audience of one.

(Passing by a day later, the ensemble threw a bunch of sweets into a wild crowd of people. Few of the goodies made it to the floor, being caught on the way. After the show ended, the bystanders hauled them in bags towards their scooters, swooshing away).