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It was 9.25 in the morning. I was late to see my mother. I promised to take her out for breakfast that morning. I checked my phone again and read the text message received 15 minutes ago, “I’m already here”. A message from my mother, referring to the kopitiam that I’m supposed to meet her at. She just loved to eat out. I doubled my pace and walked swiftly towards the building in front of me.

“Sorry I’m late, terlajak tidur”, I greeted my mother. I threw kisses on her cheeks. She was seated comfortably in the isolated corner of the kopitiam. Her favorite spot. We ordered breakfast and chatted while waiting for our food to arrive.

“How’s Sherry?” she asked about my fiancée. “Err… she’s fine. We’re going shopping for our wedding preparations today, after an early lunch”, I replied.

“I know. She called me yesterday. She seemed excited on the phone”, mother continued.
“Well, she should be”, my answer brought laughter to the table.

I noticed that mother brought some magazines with her. Latest editions of Pengantin, Pelamin and some other related materials. It was going to be a long morning, I said to myself. But to be honest, it’s nice to share these kinds of things with my mother. We had a great morning together.

The clock ticked its way to 11.43 in the morning. “Oh God, I’m late!”, I gasped. “I was supposed to meet Sherry at 12.00!”
“OK then, send my love to Sherry”,
mother said. “Same time next Saturday?”
“It’s a date!”,
I promised her and went to settle the bill at the counter.

I went out of the kopitiam and prepared myself to cross the then empty street.

*****

Julia was a self-establish career-woman, married to Jaffrin, a businessman for 7 years. They had no children. She just found out that her husband had cheated on her. Her husband was at that moment on a “business-trip” to Singapore. She walked lifelessly along the side of the road, grasping a photograph in her right hand. A last known photo of her happier times with Jaffrin, she liked to believe. Tears were still dripping from her eyes. Moments before, she had ransacked her own home as an impulse to the news she’d just received. Every inch of her home with Jaffrin was turned inside out. Fragile stuff were broken to pieces. But she salvaged the one single photograph.

As she was walking, she saw a bus coming from ahead of the road, approaching fast. She waited. She waited. She waited. When she thought the timing was right, she closed her eyes and jumped into the middle of the street.

The driver’s reflex was superb. He swung hard the steering wheel just to avoid the bus from hitting the woman by a matter of inches. Julia can feel the rapid gust of air in her face. The bus did not hit her, but it went out of control, swerving along the curved road with its momentum. The photograph slipped from Julia’s hand and floated into the drain with the help of the bus’ shock wave.

The bus finally stopped after an impact with a parked car. In between the wrecks was a motionless man who tried to cross the street.

*****

OK, I wasn’t being totally honest. I did not meet my mother that morning. Nor was I at any kopitiam, having breakfast. I was at Linda’s apartment. We were fucking. Linda was Sherry’s best friend from college. I got to know her from a birthday party some times ago. Yes, it was an affair. But I was being truthful about being late on meeting Sherry that afternoon.

Before I left the apartment, Linda said to me, “Send my love to Sherry”. I dressed myself up again. “Same time next Saturday?”, she continued.
“It’s a date!”, I said and hurried downstairs.

And I did try to cross that unfortunate street that morning.

*****

It was 2.45 in the afternoon. I was standing in the middle of the cold mortuary room, looking right at my own corpse, lying on the steel slab. Pale. The cause of fatality was a severe head injury. I can see the crack of the skull on my corpse’s head.

Why am I still standing here? I can understand that I caused the wrath of God, not to mention other people if they knew what I did. Well, I’m dead already. I guess it’s too late for me to learn the lesson.

Maybe I’m still here just to narrate this story until it ends.

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(the final verse)

Dia mungkin mulai mengantuk di senja abad,
Tapi perlu celik cergas di fajar alaf.
Dan dalam ribut beliung yang amat buas,
Dia semakin dituntut untuk berdebat waras.
Dan di sisi sisik, buih, alun dan kocak
diharap dia akan terus canggih bertindak,
kerana, ada musibah yang mesti disanggah;
juga ada rakyat yang masih perlu dibela,
dan dirinya kini teruji di tengah mereka.

A. Samad Said
August 1999


While dusting the bookshelves, I took out a blue book, blew the dust from its cover and opened it straight to the last written page. I began forming the senses from the above words, the same way I did 4 years ago. It was written almost a decade ago. A poem dedicated specifically to pemimpin yang itu, whom was then the *Exterior Minister. Guess who?

*Exterior is now Foreign Affairs?

primrose at the doorstep

By chance I surpass your door every now and then
For each passing I place a primrose at your doorstep
To remind me how the flowers bloom with your presence
Even though I’m pretty sure, you don’t live there anymore

Photo credit: Robert Silverwood

As the rain was pouring heavily outside, I waited in the porch. It’s been 3 years since I last been here. I’m not sure if things are still the same, the place, him. It so happens that I was driving in the neigbourhood. A sudden remembrance made me turn into the USJ3 exit. I called him after 3 years of absolute silence. The rain was making me feel cold.

He opened the door and we shook hands. When our skin touched, I felt the jolt of blood rushing rapidly in my veins that made a tingling sensation at the back of my ears. I tried hard not to, but past memories kept bursting into my sane mind. He was smiling widely as he invited me in. The familiar face made me felt warm in the inside.

Half way towards the living room I saw a slim vertical cabinet by the stairs, filled with recognizable items. I stopped my footing and tried to identify each items. “That is where I kept all of your gifts, don’t you remember?”, he broke my concentration. “Oh…”

We sat ourselves comfortably on the couch and began talking. An attempt of catching up some would say. He told me that he was living there alone. On the telly, Ezzah Aziz Fauzi was reading the news but there was no sound. She was set on mute. Rain continued to pour on that cold Sunday evening.

“I need to go to the bathroom”, I finally said. My bladder can’t take it anymore. I need to pee.
“Use the one in my room, I’m sure you know your way up”, he replied.

*****

I zipped my pants up and flushed down the toilet. As I was washing my hands, I thought about the excuses that I’m going to give him. I was planning to leave. Very soon.

I opened the bathroom door and saw him standing in the middle of his room, with only his boxer on. I closed the door behind me. When I turned my head towards him, he was already out of his boxer. Naked, he climbed on his bed. Lying there, he gave me a smile. I wasn’t surprised at all. I picked up his boxer and gave it to him.

“I think you should put your clothes on”, I said.
“But why?” he gave me a disappointed, yet adorable look.

The rain showed signs of stopping. I opened the bedroom door. Leaving for good.

“It won’t get us anywhere”