Years ago in a far away town, I was hanging out one evening with some friends. We were in RSU having teh tarik and pisang goreng with brown sugar MSG and chili dip. Then she came walking by our table, heading home I think. My friends started uttering words of praise towards the girl among themselves, like most male Malay college students would always do. But I didn’t notice her. I was busy figuring out how the fuck to use my newly bought Phillips Savvy dual band. Yes, my first ever mobile phone that spitted out enough radiation to burn my ears every time I talk more than 4 minutes. A friend shoved my shoulder and said, “Look at that, man! Look at that if you are really, really not gay!”. I turned to look and saw her back. It was ok, nothing fascinating. As I was lowering my sight, she gave a glimpse that I’m pretty sure connected directly to my eyes. She smiled. One tap of my hand on the table shook everyone and said it all.

*****

I forced Suffian, her classmate to give her 5 pieces of Fizzy Cola candy every now and then. “Tell her it’s from a secret admirer”, I said. At first Suffian was reluctant. Maybe he thought that pimping was not the right career path for him, but it proved him wrong in his latter days. The candy saga became a routine and went on for 2 and a half months. I never asked Suffian for her reactions. I just give.

One day, the convenient store inside campus was out of Fizzy Cola. I was devastated. No other candy can replace the prominent role of Fizzy Cola. I gave a long thought. Then I decided to go with Cloud 9, a pretty huge step at that time. As usual I hunted down Suffian for the customary fix. He too was surprised with the change of candy. “Are you going to the next level?” he asked. “From stalking to being a man, with balls?” he added. “Maybe” I mumbled.

Later that afternoon, I was in front of the main hall, reading the notice board. It’s funny how I never realized that the university has so many activities and events organized. “Snooker Competition”, interesting. Well, maybe if I came to class often, I should have known about it earlier. I was done reading the wall when I saw Suffian and his classmates in the distance. Just finished class I assume. At the same time I saw her coming out from the main door. To my surprise, for the first time, I saw him doing the transaction. From inside his pocket, he handed her the Cloud 9 candy. Then for the second time I saw her smile. Suddenly, Suffian pointed his finger towards the main hall. To be specific, towards me. I trembled. What should I do? I saw her coming towards me. What should I say? Ahh! 5 years in an all boys residential school surely didn’t help at all. Sweat began to drip from my temples.

“So, you’re the secret admirer that’s been giving me candies all this while?” she asked.
“Errr, yes” I replied.
“I guess it’s not a secret anymore. Thanks.” she continued with a smile.
“You’re w-w-welcome” I stuttered.

She turned and started to walk away. Within a few moments I held her arms before she got too far. She was surprised. “Errr, can I have your number?” I asked. “Of course you can” she replied, again, with a smile.

*****

I just stood there, watching her walk through the gates towards her housing area. Slowly, her shadows began to fade. My heart was finally beating in its normal rate. I got her number. I needed a cigarette. When my hand reached inside the pocket, I felt something odd. It’s not my cigarette, nor my lighter, nor my keys. It was a fucking last piece of Fizzy Cola from I don’t know when. It was a sign! Without thinking further, I ran! I ran towards her, wherever she was. I ran!

Panting and sweating, after a prompt search finally I saw her. Still, modishly walking. I controlled my breath and stepped beside her. “Can I walk you home?” I started with sweat starting to dampen my shirt. It was a terribly hot afternoon. “Well, I would love you to, but I’m already in front of my house” she answered, surprised at first but with a little tone of disappointment at the end. “In that case, if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you for a little stroll before I walk you back home again” I continued, hoping for the best. “I don’t mind that at all…” she replied.

I pulled out the last piece of Fizzy Cola and offered it to her. She took it. We smiled at each other and began our short walk.

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