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Tommy

Thor bori khara… khara bori thor… thor bori khara… khara bori thor

I know what you’re thinking. That I’m nuts and this is some kind of mumbo-jumbo. It is, but wait, stay on this page, it’s not what you think. The ‘thor bori khara’ is audio. Yes, a sound. Thor bori khara…khara bori thor…thor bori khara…khara bori thor.

Hang on, let me explain. Go get yourself a beer, a chocolate bar, a steak, popcorn, a woman, a hunk, I don’t know. Whatever makes you happy.

5am, every morning, I leave for work on Topaz, my new Corolla. One thing. Always give your possessions names. Whether these possessions are animate or inanimate doesn’t matter. Feed them, oil them, make sure they’re regularly washed, give them a wax rub (the inanimate ones). From the day I named my Corolla, Topaz, I never had a problem with her (yes, cars are female).

I was telling you about the early morning drive to work. Sometimes it’s with Pierre, my carpool partner, when our shifts match. But most times, like today, I’m alone. And it’s a long drive, 55kms one way, on silky smooth tarmac. Takes me just 35-40 minutes. Thanks to Topaz.

When Pierre is driving, it is obviously in his car. His is a Ford Escape 4X4, an upstart. Preening and showing off and all, especially when he’s passing by our driveway and Topaz is parked there. I call him Klunker. SUVs are male, remember that. If you own an SUV, give it a male name.

And Pierre, he’s a piece of work. All the way to work, he jabbers away in Quebecois French that any self-respecting Frenchman will have a hard time following. I avenge this the next day, when it’s my turn, by playing Kishore Kumar on the CD player. He then gets back at me the day after, by imitating Kishore Kumar in his French-Canadian accent.

Pierre almost got us killed one snowbound morning. He was warbling “Mai shayar badnaam, mai chala, mai chala” and ROFLing. You don’t ROFL when you’re driving in the snow. We found ourselves in a snow-covered ditch. A cop car came along soon enough, with Austin, the tow-truck. Tow trucks are male. I can prove it. It’s in ‘Cars’.

Wait, I know you need help. I’m writing a book, titled “Is your broom handle male, or female?” You’ll be able to look up genders for just about anything. I’ll send you an autographed hardcover edition after it comes out. Paperbacks are female, by the way.

Now, please, where was I? Oh yeah, it was ten past five on a Tuesday morning. I was alone and Public Radio International was having a phone-in on the whereabouts of one of Saddam’s sons. This guy had a penchant for running people over when he drove through Baghdad. A piece of work he was. It’s why a lot of Iraqi folk were out looking for the creep.

Anyways, it was -15 outside and a light snow was smattering the windshield and immediately getting swept away by the wipers. The asphalt was swept reasonably clean and I was doing 120. Feeling good. Not a soul on the highway at this time.

All seemed right with the world, when this alien sound began to encroach into my consciousness. “Thor bori khar…Khara bori thor…Thor bori khara…Khara bori thor..” On and on it went, rapidly, neither getting louder nor diminishing. As Topaz sped on, I peered ahead. I scanned the surrounding landscape but couldn’t see anything suspicious.

After a moment I realized that there was this one part of the scenery that was keeping pace with me, while the rest of the countryside flashed by. Copernicus’s famous parallax theory didn’t seem to work with this dark shape. It was obviously moving, at approximately the same velocity as Topaz.

It was a great dark shape, darker than the snow-covered land around. And long, really long. It ran alongside and it seemed like if I wound down the window and reached out, I’d be able to touch it. In the reflected light of the snow, it appeared ghostly and alive.

And then I began to recognize the box-like cars – Hapag Lloyd, Maersk, CN, CP, P&O printed gaudily on them. Their corners exactly matched as some lay on top of others, the containers presented a geometrically perfect moving form.

Ahead, as the Autoroute20 curved toward the Mercier road-rail bridge, the rail tracks did too. But here, as if by some pre-arranged pact, the hulk sounded it’s klaxon, “Woot! Wo.. Woo.. Woot!” and began speeding up. Each container swayed by as if nodding au revoir, leaving me behind. As their wheels took the fishplates on the gently banked curve, they hollered out to me-

Thor bori khara…Khara bori thor
Don’t know ’bout you
But Christ, am I sore

Thor bori Khara…Khara bori thor
Don’t know what it is, mate
But you’ll find what you’re lookin’ for

And when yore sun’s a settin’
An’ you don’t drive no more
Sit by the tracks an’ I’ll
Khara bori thor

Over the next few months, I have managed to synchronize my morning drive with Tommy’s. Yes, I have begun calling him Tommy. (Freight trains are definitely male).

Tommy is there every day, without fail. Yesterday, he had oil tanker cars, cylindrical black cigar shapes, SUNCOR emblazoned on them, two tilted barrels on both sides of the name. Tommy usually meets me on the curve after the Galipault, where the tracks join the highway. And he stays with me till he has to get to the higher level, on the Mercier. There, he hoots goodbye and speeds on. Sometimes he goes wah wah wah like he has a sore throat or something.

Tommy’s sure I’ll find what I’m looking for. He says so every day.