November 4, 2007


a narrative, in the first person, from wiseguy.

3 weeks later...

i am a terrible person. i think i have become the very person i swore not to become. i have become a cheater, a liar. i feel horrible about it, and yet i cannot seem to stop. what is going on inside my head..?

over the past few weeks... i have been seeing rosebud often. a few times a week. and everytime i went to see her, of course i had to make up stories to you. once it was i had to do inventory at the restaurant. she should have known better; my brother is in charge of that. and one lie came after the other.

it sucked all the more because you were still irritable and twitchy. but i could tell and see you were trying hard not to be that way. since these past few weeks, there were moments when i was reminded all over again why i fell in love with and married you in the first place. like, last week, i came home from work (genuine work.. i can't believe i have to explain myself..!) and there was dinner on the table and a beautifully made drawing of us; your work. the drawing was based on a photograph of us on our honeymoon. when i saw it my heart melted; you then proceeded to treat me like a king that night, and we had spent the night doing nothing else but indulging in each other well into the wee hours.

and just 3 days ago as i was finishing up the busy lunch shift at the restaurant, i got a delivery of a bouquet of roses and carnations with a card saying "defying convention syg: i'm giving u flowers!". i'm not the usual sap for bouquets, but that particular one from you really brightened my day.

we were still fighting much more than we usually do... when i confided to my brother he told me it was not unusual; that every couple would go through the proverbial 'asam garam' of marriage and a relationship. he told me all i had to do was believe, be patient, and stand my ground through times like these. when i called up cookie to confide to her, she told me to give you some time, as, being a woman, of course you were caught up in the need and desire to bear children. (cookie, by the way, is engaged to snickers; he was a bright, upcoming doctor at HUKM; but that's a story for another day..).

what i didn't tell to my brother and cookie though, was the fact i was seeing an ex without your knowledge. which brings me to rosebud.

whenever i went to see her, first i'd feel incredibly loathsome towards myself, but then i'd be somewhat cheered up when i finally saw her in the flesh. happy? not really, as the image of you would be playing in mind. mentally i was comparing rosebud to you everytime we met... and, i don't know if i have any right to say this, but you're far the better, sweeter person for me. so why am i doing this then?

was i bored? did 7 years of being with you cause me to feel bored? maybe it was your recent grumpiness and the loss of your usual sugary self? i did not know. i still genuinely loved you; but it feels as if i myself has tainted this love i have by seeing another woman. i was being stupid. i know.

now here i am, at Starbucks SS15 Subang Jaya, waiting in a plush chair, pondering these thoughts as i saw my date buying 2 frappes at the counter. i was deep in thought. my date, yes. rosebud. i had mixed feelings for her; it was attraction, i do not deny, but i don't know what was i attracted about: her, or was it just because i was trying to escape a girl of whom i had made an angel of, a girl i was turning to fear because she was losing her shine?

rosebud walked over to me, her smile gleaming. we had been on several dates these past few weeks; and she had gotten more confident in her nuances. once, whilst i was driving, she leaned her head on my shoulder and said had said it reminded her of 'old times'. i had let that pass, but then i feigned trying to look for something in the dash to dissuade her.

"heyy darls..", she said as she handed me my frappe. she took a seat in the plush chair opposite mine. it was late evening; outside, i could see college students and passersby walking around. it wasn't particularly busy yet; a bit later the droves of people would flock to Asia Cafe.

rosebud and i made small talk as we drank our frappes. small talk then evolved into flirting, and i had to keep telling myself to stop! stop it dammit..! more than once my mind wandered off to you. my eyes would go blank and rosebud had to snap her fingers at me to jerk me back to reality. suddenly she took my hand.

"don't you miss this wiseguy?", she smiled.

"miss this..?", i tried to avoid answering.

"yeah this. don't you think us meeting again after so many years has meaning? that maybe the love we had back then was really true..?"

i kept silent. she must have took this as an agreement from me. she smiled again.

"we never really broke up officially right..? i mean, i had to move away. it wasn't our call, right wiseguy? sayang..?", she said.

her calling me 'sayang' struck a note in my heart. i thought of you again. rosebud stroked my hand. when she saw i was still being silent, she continued.

"i think all this time, i never stopped loving you. i mean, when i saw you the other day, it hit me so hard that i had missed you all this time.. didn't you miss me sayang?", she said. "and haven't we had great times these past few weeks? just like dulu-dulu, right?"

she smiled; my mind was going blank; but something was starting to clarify.

"wiseguy..", rosebud said. i looked her in the eye.

"wiseguy, i want to be with you again. we can make this work", she said and took both my hands in hers now. again, i stared into her eyes as she smiled sweetly at me.

a turning point, then; rosebud had just said she wanted to be with me again. what was i to do..?

an eternity seemed to pass as rosebud said she wanted to be with me again, and an eternity passed as she held my hands; all while i was staring, almost stoically, into her eyes. i smiled, probably my best, my most charming smile, at her. she smiled back, barely hiding the eagerness and hope in her eyes.

i smiled back at her, genuinely, not faking, and i grasped both her hands in mine, gently touching those fingers.

"wiseguy..?", she said.

i took a deep breathe, still with that best of smiles carved on my face, and said:


for a moment it was as if something crumbled physically in the lines of rosebud's face. as if her hope had shattered with all the subtlety of wine glasses being shot with with 12-gauge shotgun. but it was only for an instant; she covered up as best as she could, and repeated what i had said in a question.

"no?", she said, with the faintest hint of hope in the tone.

i let go of her hands, looked down at my own, and slowly sighed and let out a breathe; my hands were shaking. that smile on my face had dimmed into one of sad sweetness. i closed my eyes; when i opened them i saw rosebud was still staring at me, awaiting an answer.

"no..", i said.

"what do you mean? no to what? us?", she asked.

"yes.. no to us.."

"but why? i thought we were... reigniting something..?"

again i took a deep breathe; but my heart was calm, and i have never felt surer, or more at ease and confident, when i told rosebud:

"rosebud.. i am married", i told her. and i choked back a tear as i said: "and i love my wife.. so much.."

when i said that, images of you came flying into my mind and heart. in the space of a few seconds, i was reminded of everything i loved about you; images and thoughts and memories of you flooded my mind, heart and soul until i felt so overwhelmed. i saw you as that hot girl in glasses with a sweet tooth who matched me for wit back when i first knew you; i saw you as that adorable, manja, funny and sassy girl when we dated; i saw you as the devoted, loving, incredibly sweet and caring woman you had become ever since we got married. every bit of memory we shared came rushing to my senses, in every intricate detail; i remembered the pink nikes you wore on our first date; the two pistachio ice creams you had; i remembered that night a week after our marriage when we had spent it at the beach in PD; i remembered how you made me make you nasi lemak for breakfast the morning after; i thought of that night when you had put my hand to your bosom and asked me if i could feel your heart beating; i remembered the time you gave me your diary to read... but the most clear memory was that night in the rain; when you had asked me to hold you close and tight because you wanted to tell me that you loved me too...

"wiseguy, you're married? are you serious? then what was all this?", rosebud said as she broke my chain of thoughts. there wasn't anger in her tone or expression; but bewilderment.

"your eyes are watery wiseguy..", she said.

i looked at her, not bothering to wipe at my eyes. she was looking at me with a mixture of confusion and bewilderment.

"i can't live a lie rosebud. and i don't want to lie. and i have to be fair, to you, to me... to Sugar", i said.


i smiled. "my wife. the love of my life.."

i went on, and told her the story of you and me. i told her almost everything since the days back in college, and through the days we dated, got married... and i told her about these past few months. about how i was getting jaded and afraid that you were turning into something else.

much to my relief, and in fact, amazement, rosebud took all of this with grace. i could see she was genuinely sad, but something in her eyes told me she also understood. i showed her a picture of you and i that i always, always carried in my wallet. she smiled, sadly but beautifully, when i showed her that.

"i'm sorry rosebud..", i said.

she took a breathe. "it's alright..", she said. "i understand... and i'm proud of you at this moment.."

"proud?", i asked.

"wiseguy", she gave a laugh. "look at me. i know i'm attractive. i'm hot. i could have any guy i wanted, haha.."

i looked at her, puzzled. "how does that make you proud then..?"

"because you stayed true to who you really loved. a lesser man would have given in.. if this is a test Allah is giving you... you passed..", she said. and by her saying that, it struck me how i could have said 'yes, i want you too rosebud' but i didn't. she was right; i had faced temptation, had probably given in, but i had saved myself. my love for you, sugar, prevailed.

"will you be alright dear..?", i asked her.

"i will..", she said, and took my hands again. "now don't worry about me. i think whatever part i was intended to perform, i have done. it's time you go back to her, and stay with her, til whatever end."

i smiled at her. was i lucky, then, to be in this situation? what is Fate, after all..?

"by the way you told me... i know how much you love your wife..Sugar..", she said.

"i do..but i'm still sorry to you.. you know..", i said.

"you don't have to be. things happen for a reason, right?"

i nodded, smiling. we sank back in our chairs, and let a moment of silence pass us by. in it whatever topsy turvy emotions i felt were straightened out again. and in it, rosebud and i became just friends. i would probably never see her again after this.

"you should be going home..", she said.

"i should..", i said, not really trying to say stuff like 'its ok, i can hang about' etc.

she got up from the chair, and i stood up to leave. surprisingly, she came to me and gave me a brief hug.

"be with her. you know this now: you and her will last all time, insyaallah, amin..", she said. i took that in, and amin-ed it myself.

"you take care..", i said as i took leave. rosebud just smiled as answer. she lifted a hand and waved her fingers. i waved back, and stepped out of Starbucks SS15 Subang Jaya. as i walked to my car, my pace quickened; i almost skipped my way there. for some reason, i was feeling refreshed, renewed: rejuvenated. i felt as eager as that night i first drove out to pick you up for our first date. i got to my car, and drove back to KL. along the way i stopped at a florist, picked up a bouquet of roses and carnations; i also stopped by a candy shop and bought you those big, all-day-sucker lollipops i knew you love so much. i could hardly wait to get home to be with you.

when i arrived, i almost jumped out of my car. i pressed the elevator button to go up to our apartment floor, but found it irritatingly slow. so i leaped up the stairs, only to realize that in my eagerness i forgot to lock my car; so i went down again, pressed the remote to lock the car, and ran up the stairs to our 6th floor apartment. i fumbled my keys as i was opening the door, and almost stumbled into the doorway.

"sayang..!", i called out as i kicked off my shoes and closed the door behind us.

"what?", you said as you came out of the kitchen, wiping your hands. your hair was tied up in a bun, and there were specks of flour on your glasses; the smell of cookies wafted in through the kitchen.

i walked to you, gave you the bouquet, and before you could even say a word, i took you in my arms and gave you a long, deep kiss. i hugged you tight, lifted you off the floor and spun you around in my arms. you were laughing sweetly.

"wiseguy, what..?", you said, your voice echoing sweetly in my ears. i embraced you from behind, and kissed you softly just below your ear.

"i love you sayang.. and believe me, we'll have a family, and we'll have a happy one at that", i said. you turned around and slung your arms on my neck. you gave me a kiss.

"i know you love me because i love you too..", you said. you put your head to my chest.

"sayang", i said. "i'm sorry if you thought i wasn't being enthusiastic about having a baby. and i'm sorry if i've been seemingly busy these past few weeks.."

"truth is, i was afraid.. i want to start a family with you sweetness; but i was becoming afraid because you were turning moody and you weren't being yourself..", i said.

"i'm sorry about that sayang.. i'm working on it..", you said softly.

"it's alright.. i am here with you. and i'll be here with you, for you all the way.. i realize now i didn't have to be afraid.. it's only natural, right..?"

you hummed your agreement.

"and when rosebud said she wanted to be with me again, i realized then that all i wanted in my life is you..", i said.

a sudden pause; an awful realization.

"rosebud...?", you said. i didn't answer straight away.

"rosebud wanted to be with you again?", you said again. you broke our hug, and stepped backwards. the bouquet was still in your hands.

i looked at you. in my... excitement, i had forgotten all about what a terrible person i had been these past few weeks. i wanted to say something.. but all i had at this moment was silence. you were staring at me, your eyes narrowed. when you spoke there was a smoldering anger in your voice.

"who. is. rosebud..?", you said through gritted teeth. "and what. do. you. mean. by 'rosebud wanted to be with me' again..?"

of all the mistakes i've made in my life, recent or ages ago, this would be my costliest. truth hurts; even if it may set you free. my truth was realizing i was still, and would probably always be, in love with you. that truth set me free; but the next one will hurt in so many ways.

i finally found a voice.

"sugar.. i can.. elaborate..explain..", i stammered. fear creeping through my bones.

you thrust the bouquet into my hands. the point where you had been holding them was crushed; you had gripped them hard. you looked at me, your eyes burning straight into mine, piercing the fabric of my heart and soul.

with a seething rage, you stomped back into the kitchen.

"you better."


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