It was around eight in the evening. It was raining. Not heavily, just this monotonous drizzle. The rain made the asphalt all shiny and glimmering in the dark.
Traffic slowed down. A jam. Hardly unusual in and around Kuala Lumpur.
After a few minutes the reason became clear: in the middle lane of the three lane highway stood a policeman, directing the traffic to the left, onto the outer lane. Behind him, a few meters further, a motorbike. Not of the policeman. This was a regular motorbike.
To me these bikes look like mopeds. I'm used to the big cc's in Europe: 250, 500, 1000 cc... These Malaysian bikes are much smaller, go fast - at least a 100km per hour - but due to the small tires they are extremely dangerous at high speeds. Any grip is easily lost, especially in the rain. The bikers drive on the highways, even overtaking cars, often without adequate lights, no protective clothing - most in nothing more than shorts, T-shirt and sandals - sometimes with a second person on the small back seat who's clinging on to them. They do not abide by any rules: if there's space, they'll occupy it. It's scary for car drivers, because any move to the left or the right, without looking around properly, can lead to a collision with a death defying biker and its cargo. There's lots of them around on the highways surrounding Kuala Lumpur.
The bike was laying on the asphalt behind the policeman. The biker who had driven it lay a few feet apart from it, between the policeman and the bike. Flat on his back, diagonally in the middle lane, his head towards the policeman and his feet pointing to his bike. He looked like a young guy. Early twenties I guessed from his body features. Most of these bikers are young anyway. It's a young country and cars are too expensive for most youngsters.
Behind his head, still helmeted and shimmering in the rain, a puddle. Compared to the rough asphalt surrounding it, the puddle was smooth; a satin contrast. I couldn't make out the color, it was too dark for that, but the reflection of the light on the puddle gave away the structure, and I recognized it immediately as blood - sticky, thick and gooey.
The biker was dead.
I had no way of knowing that for sure, but the amount of blood behind his head suggested life threatening injuries. It was a big puddle and it seemed unlikely he could have survived the loss of such an amount of blood, after what must have been a severe blow to the head. He wasn't moving and the puddle didn't flow. There was just this big still spill behind his silent body, like someone had emptied a bucket of paint right behind his head. I felt relieved that the helmet prevented me from seeing his face.
The policeman was also not trying to comfort him or give him first aid or stop the bleeding.
That could have been a simple choice: if not directing the traffic, cars might have run them both over. But he could have parked his police motor cycle in front of the scene with the alarm lights running. Those police motor cycles are not easily missed - they're very big and white (the police uses ‘real' motor cycles) and have blue lights and sirens. And once jammed, cars don't go fast anymore.
No, it seemed the situation was obvious: no rescue possible. The policeman was just waiting for help to arrive.
Young life lost, family distraught, and I wondered, as I always do when I see these young motorcyclists drive: aren't they aware of the risk? Or is it the age? That age where we all thought we were invincible and death was some weird thing that only happened to the elderly?
His friends knew better now.
When we had passed the body we were quiet for a while...