April 30, 2008

The Prelude To A Goodbye


there was her and wiseguy; also along for tonight's dinner was tingles, who came with her new boyfriend, redfoot; lucky and bubblegum, wiseguy's closest classmates; and of course there was cookie, wiseguy's best friend.

this was the first time sugar would be meeting cookie; and she felt a tiny twinge of jealousy when wiseguy introduced cookie to her. cookie was a beautiful girl. but anyway that feeling faded away when she started talking to cookie; she found her friendly, warm and above all, very very sisterly. as an added bonus, even tingles quickly warmed up to cookie.

they were all here at a TGI Friday's restaurant in Subang, as a farewell dinner for wiseguy who was going to leave for Japan tomorrow. all his preparations were done; all that was left was for him to get on that aeroplane and go. last week his family held a small kenduri doa selamat for him, which sugar attended. she had been pleasantly surprised when wiseguy's mama had asked her how she was coping. they got along well, she and his mother.

now, here at this restaurant, with their closest friends together, they were ready to bid farewell to wiseguy. they had ordered dinner and had laughed and talked merrily throughout the meal. lucky and bubblegum (who were going out together), proved to be the jokers of the table, making everyone laugh. they made off the wall jokes, pranks and slapstick humor. tingles and her new boyfriend were being rather shy, as this was only the third time they were going out as a couple. they did laugh and smile and talk with the others.

at one point, conversation turned to cookie, who was sitting beside wiseguy (he's being flanked by the girlfriend and the bestfriend, sugar thought bemusedly). the college friends begin talking about her, asking her stuff. cookie answered graciously, politely even. she even begin telling stories about her high school days with wiseguy. funny things, sad things.

sugar held wiseguy's hands throughout the dinner; she was really enjoying herself with laughter and stories, but inside she knew she was feeling sad. tomorrow her beloved wiseguy was leaving her for a year.

"you're okay babes?", he whispered to her at one point.

impulsively she kissed his cheek; a quick, sudden kiss she even surprised herself. but it lasted only a fraction of a second.

"i'm alright sayang", she said. wiseguy's face looked impassive, as if her tiny kiss never even occured.

conversation went on until they finished their desserts. the laughter and jokes slowly died down, and they begin talking about wiseguy's time away. they all knew, of course, what he was going for. but they wanted to talk about it all the same. it was getting late; and only a few tables were left at the restaurant.

tingles made a face at sugar. "come on", she mouthed to her. sugar nodded and cleared her throat to get attention.

"guys, and girls, thanks for coming tonight to this byebye dinner for my bushukness here", she said to the smiles of the others. wiseguy bowed his head down slightly, his ears red.

"i knowww this is cheesy", sugar continued, "but since he's leaving tomorrow, i'd like all of you to say something tonight. he'll be away from me and you guys for one whole year tauu? so please let's give him kata-kata semangat, haha, or something, okayy?"

the others laughed and nodded. sugar motioned for tingles to start.

"do i need to stand up?", tingles said jokingly. "okay okay. well wiseguy.. you and i only like, got a bit close when you started dating smartypants there, ehehe. i only knew you as that, ehem, rather cool guy who takes pictures, but now i see you're actually cool!"

wiseguy smiled and raised a glass at tingles. she continued.

"thanks for making my best friend happy, and i wish you good luck and all the best for your flight yeah? and yup, i'll be there at KLIA tomorrow", tingles said with a smile. sitting beside her was redfoot.

"redfoot, you're not exempt. anything to say?", sugar asked tingles' boyfriend. he was okay; as mentioned, he always wore red shoes.

"eheh..uhm, i guess i second tingles here", he said to the laughter around the table. "haha, but yeah, good luck dude. and get me a pair of red shoes! Japan kan banyak benda pelik-pelik, haha. but seriously, all the best.."

then it was lucky and bubblegums turn. they spoke almost in unison, finishing each other's sentences. lucky was a fun, cheerful guy, who got the perfect girlfriend in the form of bubblegum. bubblegum, who was studying to become a lawyer, was a sweet, friendly girl who loved karaoke.

"first i wanna say siot la kau", lucky said. "i also wanted to win that competition, haha!"

"i thinkkk..", bubblegum said as she pinched her boyfriend's thigh. "that we want to say that we'll miss you and we'll always pray for you. jangan lupa kitorang okay? and stop being so gedik! and we too, will be at KLIA tomorrow"

the two of them smiled warmly at sugar and wiseguy. sugar was starting to realize she felt like crying. but she held them in.

"cookie, you pun kena cakap okay?", she said to cookie. then she realized she was a bit jealous at cookie just because cookie had known wiseguy longer. but as before, that feeling evaporated quickly. cookie took a sip of water.

"i hope you won't come back, haha!", she said. wiseguy flicked his fingers at her hand. cookie laughed.

"ala marah konon. ehehe. alright, alright. for sugar's sake, i hope you'll come back the best photographer or paparazzi in the world. and i will miss you, you sombong ass. sorry sugar, hehe. but tengok la! bila dah nak pergi baru nak jumpa. anyway, do take care nanti, and do write or sms or email all of us here alright? sugar, when he's gone, give me your phone number, boleh kita ngumpat, hihi..~", cookie said. sugar noted how sincere cookie's little speech was, and sugar saw that in cookie's eyes, she was genuinely a bit upset that wiseguy will be leaving tomorrow. sugar made a mental note to keep i touch with cookie.

"thanks guys..", wiseguy said, breaking a silence. sugar thought he looked calm.. which was, she realized, how he always looks. composed, and cool. there was a difference tonight, though. she had the sneaking suspicion that only she knew why.

"i'll always remember what you guys said, tonight.. and anyway it'll only be one year right? soon enough i'll be home again", wiseguy said and smiled.

there was a silence around the table. then cookie asked, "sugar, don't you want to say anything?". all eyes at the table turned to her now. she felt suddenly exposed.

"i do..", she said. "but i need a moment, eheh", she laughed nervously. she shifted a bit in her seat so she faced wiseguy. she took a deep breathe and held his hands.

"wiseguy", she said.

"we began our relationship in an.. uhm, unorthodox way kan? when you played that 'prank' on me that fateful day, you stirred something within me. i think you lit a candle that showed me what i wanted and with whom i wanted to be, insyaallah for the rest of my life.."

she took another breathe. the others were quiet now, listening. wiseguy was looking directly into her eyes. she went on.

"but it happened eventually, we got together and told each other how we truly felt. and i was never happier than that day when you poured your heart out to me. wiseguy, every day since then has been wonderful to me."

"it upset me when you told me you were going to leave... and somehow i was even sadder when you told me you would stay if i asked you to. but i can't do that to you sayang, not when i love you so much. so i let you go, and i want you to promise me you'll come back as the best picture taker in the world and more importantly as my wiseguy"

wiseguy nodded gently, while his fingers caressed hers. she noticed that bubblegum and tingles were wiping their eyes. cookie was looking at her and wiseguy thoughtfully. sugar opened her mouth again.

"good luck and all the best nanti alright sayang? i will miss you always. wiseguy, everytime i look into your eyes, my world becomes beautiful. and yeah, i will be there at KLIA tomorrow to send you off tau sayang?"

she was crying now, barely hiding her tears. she felt a deep sadness that he was about to leave for a year. but she felt stronger, more in love than ever before. she wiped her eyes and laid her head on wiseguy's shoulder. he held her hands tight.

"so", tingles said, "i guess that's all for tonight?"

"wait wait", wiseguy said, "don't i get to say anything?"

"no!!", cookie, sugar, tingles and bubblegum said in unison. the guys laughed, and they talked again. finally they got up and left the restaurant, saying goodbyes at the entrance. tingles went off with redfoot, bubblegum with lucky.

"you're a lucky bastard wiseguy", cookie said as she said goodbye.

"i know i am", wiseguy said and smiled. "are you coming to KLIA tomorrow?"

"of course. i'll see you there alright?" cookie said. she gave sugar a hug and smiled at her. then she walked away. finally it was only sugar and wiseguy left. they started for his car. he put an arm around her waist as they walked. she leaned on him.

"you're gonna be okay sayang?", he asked.

"i guess i will be.. don't worry..", sugar said.

"that was a lovely speech. mesti practice depan cermin ni, ehehe"

"nooo.. that was spontaneous. i can do spontaneous okay wiseguy?"

they laughed and settled into a quiet walk until they reached the car. it was getting quite late. just as sugar went to the passenger side, wiseguy called her name.

"yes?", she said. he was standing there in front of her. he walked slowly towards her, then held out his arms and hugged her softly, warm and close to his body. sugar hugged him back. she felt him gently kiss her temples.

"sugar, you know i'm gonna miss you right?", he said as they broke the hug.

"i know..", sugar said as she realized she was beginning to cry again. wiseguy held her hands. he was quiet for awhile.

"wiseguy?", she asked.

he smiled. "eheh. i think i have a speech as well, haha.."

sugar smiled sadly.

"but", he continued. "i'll say it to you tomorrow, alright?"

sugar nodded. wiseguy kissed her hands and they both got into the car. they didn't talk much en route to home. sugar felt a bit tired. wiseguy was probaly trying to avoid being too emotional, hence the reason he wasn't talking much. when they got to her house, he got out of the car to open the door for her. she thanked him as they walked up the driveway to her house.

"kirim salam to your mom and dad yeah?", he said as sugar stepped into the gate.

"sure will", she said.

"i'll see you tomorrow?"

she nodded softly, smiling. wiseguy looked around him.

"i'm gonna miss picking you up for year, eheh", he said. sugar chose not to say anything. then wiseguy said "okay then", and walked back to his car.

"don't you wanna say goodbye?", sugar called out to him just as he was about to get inside his automobile. he paused at the door and said:

"not tonight. i'm saving my goodbye for tomorrow"

he blew her a kiss, which she caught, and drove off into the night. sugar watched his car until it turned a corner and went out of her sight. she sighed.

she didn't feel like a goodbye..


April 25, 2008

the last interlude to the prelude to a goodbye



sometimes i think i can't do this, and that while i seem okay, deep down inside my heart it feels like i'm not really ready to say


goodbye. it's funny how i think Fate brought us together only for me to go away for awhile. but i guess it is something that


he has to do; it is a life's dream for him anyway. and i just know he'll be great at what he does. it's unfair if had wanted him


to stay, if you had asked me to. she knows that i would have done it for her. and i was ready to stay, even if it meant


he sacrifice his dream? no, i can't do that to the person i love so much. besides, i trust him with all my heart. the love i feel from


her comes in waves so strong that sometimes i can almost see it. i'm eternally grateful to her for letting me do this. one year


seems like such a long time. but i think if we just hold on and believe in one another, and have faith that our love


can survive distance and time, then i know nothing is impossible. i'm not going to let distance nor time be an excuse to


not love him any more, because i believe in us. i believe that Fate brought us together for a reason, and i really think he is


my forever, insyaallah. i'm going to do anything i can to


keep our candles burning bright and strong because


i love




with all my heart and soul






another week to go. i still don't feel like


saying goodbye.


April 19, 2008

interludes to a prelude to a goodbye: oh hum..

sugar sat at her desk, aimlessly browsing the net.

2 months passed by almost without them realizing it. they spent lots of good times in these past two months. sugar also went along with wiseguy on his trips to arrange the details and black and whites of his forthcoming trip. visa applications, passports, etcetera. wiseguy had already submitted his sabbatical request, which was approved pretty easily because the college felt it would be good publicity for the college if he was chosen to go on an international course having studied photography there. everything was going as planned.

sugar felt she was feeling better. over these past 2 months she began to cope with wiseguy's impending departure. she felt a little less sad, although deep down her heart still echoed whispers and songs of sadness.

but these two months! oh what a wonderful time they had been having. despite busy college assignments and coursework, amongst other things, they have been spending a lot of time together. sugar would smile when she thought of those spontaneous dates they had gone on. one early weekend morning wiseguy picked her up from home.

"where are we going?", she had asked.

"tengok je la", he had said.

4 hours or so later they were in Penang, just in time for lunch. they spent the day jalan-jalan around Penang, taking photos together, eating, having fun. they stopped by the beach, where sugar had taken a stick and written "wiseguy+sugar" in the sand. wiseguy had taken the stick from her and written "wiseguy = sugar". they went driving around Georgetown for a couple of hours. just after maghrib they took the drive home, reaching KL at almost midnight. sugar scolded wiseguy for not telling her earlier thay they were going up north. he had just laughed it off.

then it was her turn to surprise him. she had called her over to 'pick her up' at her house on weekday. when wiseguy arrived, she beckoned him in, saying wait a while she had something to do with mama. when he had come in, it turned out he was being invited for lunch with her daddy and mama. an obviously embarassed and bashful wiseguy(who at first refused until sugar made puppy dog eyes at him) sat at the dinner table with her parents, talking and having lunch. after lunch sugar's mama served coffee, and she, sugar and wiseguy sat in the living room looking at pictures of sugar when she was younger, and chatting.

"pandai ye awak?", wiseguy said when he finally had to leave.

"why is that wiseguy?", sugar asked back with a cheeky look in her eyes.

"last week i tricked you to going to Penang.. now you tricked me to coming over for lunch with your parents. malu ok?"

"ngee", was all sugar said, and she smiled until he smiled back. they touched hands then wiseguy went back.

and the endless talking on the phone. text-messaging. IM sessions on Yahoo! Messenger. they were inseparable.

yet, sugar thought, the beauty of it all was that, as cheesy as it was to be young and in love, it was 'real'. it was real in every sense of the word real. she felt true, and she knew wiseguy felt the same. this wasn't a high school crush. this wasn't puppy love or cinta monyet or whatever animal love they called it.

this was real. whenever wiseguy said 'i love you' to her, she felt every bit of strength, will and truth in those words and in the way he says it. and whenever she says the same words back to him she poured every bit of her heart out in those three little words.

three little words, so simple a meaning, so powerful a feeling.

sugar sighed a little sigh, and smiled.

she thought about wiseguy. he was always gentle with her... although the playful banter they had shared before they started dating still persisted. she found him irresistibly charming. the way he casually shrugs when he says "i dunno", and the way he cocks one eyebrow at her when he's being sceptical. sugar thought how he was always patient when she dragged him window shopping, although in his eyes it was painfully obvious he was bored.

she loved the way he would link her fingers with his when they walked; it was something he did almost sub-consciously, without thought. and on occasions he would tenderly slip an arm around her waist as they walked, and she would feel this urge to just rest her head on his shoulder and be swayed by the moment.

sugar sighed again, still sitting at her desk. she clicked open a folder where she kept the pictures they had taken together. she flicked through them, smiling as she looked at each and every one.

another month to go.

she felt a palpable sadness build up, as always when she thought about his forthcoming departure. 12 months to be thousands of miles apart.

her will resolved. this was a love worth being patient for, she told herself.

and yet the impending goodbye will be so hard to do and say.

another month to go..


April 13, 2008

interludes to the prelude to a goodbye: speaking of song

2 days later


it was a quite evening for sugar. wiseguy was out at a family function. earlier in the day tingles had come over as they wanted to work on a college assignment together. when they had stopped work for awhile for lunch she told tingles about wiseguy's upcoming departure and her consent. tingles had been surprised.

"so he's actually going?", tingles had asked with her hand holding a fried chicken wing. they had cooked a simple lunch of rice, fried chicken and telur goreng masak kicap (which was spiked with lots of cili padi)

sugar finished chewing a mouthful of rice and took a sip of water while nodding slowly. she swallowed. "yes he is.. in three months time.."

"babes.. are you for real?", tingles said, her hand still holding the chicken wing.

"yeee.. why would i joke about it. i spent yesterday being sad. but i guess i'm alright with it now. or i will be anyway. i gotta make these upcoming three months count so much..", sugar said and continued to eat.

tingles stared blankly at her for a while.. then she finally took a bite of the chicken wing and went on eating.

the talk had continued as they cleared the table and cleaned up. tingles fired off questions that sugar had already expected: are you okay? will you guys keep on? aren't you afraid, etc. sugar had answered patiently and softly. i'm okay, we're gonna keep on, sure i'm afraid, who wouldn't be?

"but..", sugar said, "i do not want to make distance or time apart as an excuse to not keep this alive. he's my candle babes, and i'll do anything to keep this candle aflame.."

tingles finished washing her plate. "you really do love that bastard yeah?"

"oit", sugar scolded and swiped a tea towel at her friend. "that bastard is my boyfriend okay? and yes, i love him very very much"

they had looked at each other and then broke into laughter. then tingles had gone to sugar and gave her a hug. sugar hugged her back, feeling a deep love and appreciation for her best friend.

"you'll be okay", tingles then said as she broke the hug and smiled. they resumed their work afterwords, until, at about half past five, tingles said she had to go home as her parents were going to a wedding and she needed to be at home to babysit her twin baby brothers.

after tingles went home sugar had stashed away the notes and paperwork they were doing and watched the television for awhile. often she glanced at her mobile phone, waiting for a phone call or message from wiseguy. but he had told him he was going to be quite busy at the family function. so now she was sitting at home doing nothing.

she glanced at the electric piano near the dining table. it was her mother's, bought nearly 18 years ago. sugar did have piano lessons when she was younger, and had had graduated her lessons with flying colors. but she stopped playing about a few years back. now looking at the electric piano, she wondered why... then got up and went to the musical instrument. she sat at the stool, and switched it on, wondering if she still knew how to play it. she put her fingers on the black and white keys, and began to play..

.. and much to her surprise, she did remember. she began playing Fur Elise by memory, then fumbled a bit. she started again, and this time did much better, she thought to herself. she peeked at the small magazine rack beside the piano and took out some chord-books. they were mostly still there, unused for years, perhaps. she began to play, mostly the classical pieces.

then she got bored of those, and found a modern book of contemporary songs. inside were several movie themes, including 'speak softly love' (her mama's favorite song) and 'love story'. she played those two songs, feeling happy with herself for being able to. when she finished she flipped the page to go to the next song. it was 'unchained melody'.

she bit her lip and paused herself. this was wiseguy's favorite love song of all time. he had said that because she had asked him, just about a few days after they started seeing each other.


"hey wiseguy, what's your favorite love song of all time?", she had asked him. they were walking, just after classes, to go to the cafe in front of college.

"my favorite all time love song? what's yours?", he had said.

"i asked you first wiseguy"

"but i won't tell until you do", wiseguy said with a charming smile. "because you'll think i'm sappy"

sugar had laughed. "you memang pun. jiwang. haha. but fine. my favorite of all time is Elton John's 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?'".

wiseguy smiled. "from Lion King? that's nice"

"yes it is. so tell me what's yours nowww..", sugar said as she linked her arm around his. he had his hands in his pockets.

"'Unchained Melody'", wiseguy said. "The Righteous Brothers' version"

sugar looked at her boyfriend. "why 'Unchained Melody'?", she asked curiously, with a smile.

"because", wiseguy said, "it seems to embody everything there is to love. you know. listen to the song and then you'll see. or hear, more like it. and the melody; whoop-dee-doo. i know you've probably heard the song 1000 times before, but now try to hear it again"

"and why should i hear it again?", sugar said teasingly.

"because now you know it's my favorite love song", wiseguy had answered with a smile.


she never did went on to listen to the song after that day; it had sort of slipped her mind.

now sitting at the piano, she looked at the notes to 'Unchained Melody'. she knew the words to the song already, and, as wiseguy had said, she probably has listened to it 1000 times before. she took a deep breathe, feeling suddenly emotional (stop it evie! she told herself), she began to play.

as she played, she sang softly.

"oh my love, my darling.."

she went on playing.

"time goes by, so slowly..."

her fingers pressed the keys accordingly, almost caressing the keys, playing it accurately and suddenly without flaw or fumble. she continued to sing softly, in tune with the music. and then came the line which suddenly made her feel deeply touched and sad at the same time. she felt that she had been crying too much lately. but she sang that verse anyway, and kept playing the music.

"lonely rivers sigh, wait for me, wait for me. i'll be coming home, wait for me.."

she choked back a tear.

"oh my love my darling, i've hungered for your touch, a long lonely time.. and time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much; are you still mine? i need your love. i need your love.. God speed your love, to me.."

she finished the song, and her fingers finished playing. she switched off the piano and put her hands to her face and cried. she knew now why wiseguy loved that song. and she knew now that she will be missing wiseguy so, so much when he finally goes.

but part of her, deep inside, also knew that, like the song, her love for wiseguy, and in turn his love for her, will be an unchained melody. insyaallah, never ending, ever ever after, until the end of their days together.

now she knew she believed in it that much; a belief only wiseguy had held in the first place..


April 9, 2008

interludes to the prelude to a goodbye: teka-teki


"i don't get it", you said.

"how can you not get it? it's a guy on a horse carrying a chicken. hence, 3 heads, a pair of wings and arms, four legs and two tails", i replied.

"okay, but that still doesn't justify the question. you asked me 'what has 3 heads blabla' and you asked it in a way that meant you were referring to single... creature", you said while wiping your glasses with a tissue. you put your glasses back on and looked at me gravely. "right?"

"how come it was fine that you answered 'magic horse' when you asked me that question about 'what has eight legs, flies, spits rosewater and neighs'?", i retaliated, and looked back at you in the same grave way.

"it was okay because", you tilted your head sideways, "i was still referring to only ONE creature. you, wiseguy, were talking about 3 separate sentient lifeforms.."

"fine you win..", i said. we were silent a moment. then you burst into a sweet muffled laughter, holding your hands to your face.

"ooo suka?", i said. we were at the cafe in front of the college campus, having a late lunch and telling silly riddles. i just finished my plate of maggi goreng(kosong, no vegetables but lots of cili padi) whilst you, much to my amusement, had had a plate of nasi goreng ikan masin with a piece of fried chicken, 2 slices of roti bakar with butter(in reality, margerine), and had finished that off with a cornetto and a glass of iced lemon tea.

"mesti la suka..", you said. "i like to win at arguments. they make me sound smart"

"excuse me sayang, but arguing a riddle about a horse rider with a chicken isn't really smart okay?"

"no, it's not. but it's the waaaayy you argue it that makes you sound smart. and i think i did an excellent job"

i cocked one eyebrow at you. "so you're the leading authority on chicken riddles now i suppose?", i said.

"i'm the authority on all riddles!", you said, smiling widely. then you took my hand in yours, and gently caressed my fingers. you were smiling, but not at me. the smile looked like it was directed inside; like you just thought of something funny, or maybe you shared some inside joke with yourself or something. a faint rose blush tinged your cheeks.

"what? senyum rahsia", i said as i let you caress my fingers.

"haha. what's a senyum rahsia?", you said, looking sharply at me now.

"that one la. the one you just smiled. you know", i made a parody of her smile on my face. "that smile as if you were thinking about something amusing.. or maybe you just broke gas or something.."

"oit! haha. i won't break gas in front of you okay?"

"ehehe.. yeah, but you get what i mean kann?"

"of course i do. you forget that i'm much more wiser than you, wiseguy", you said in mock arrogance.

"fine", i said. "so what's with the senyum rahsia?"

you suddenly got up from your seat in front and sat yourself down beside me. you held my hand in yours and leaned slightly on my shoulder.

"senyum rahsia because you just called me sayang", you said in a half-whisper.

"can't i call you that?", i said in half-whisper as well.

"yesss you can. saya suka. makes me feel loved..", you said, again in a half-whisper.

".... why are we whispering?", i said.

you held your head back and looked at me, puzzled. "was i?", you said. i shrugged my shoulders. then you said, "maybe i was. segan la. haha.."

you slumped in your seat. earlier you had been telling me what a hectic day it had been for you. as you sat there leaning back a little, my mind took a detour to how i was here in the first place with you. it was only 2 weeks back that i finally admitted how i truly felt to you, and much to my joy you said the very things i wanted to hear.

i still remember the 4 hour phone call and 2 hour IM session that followed the events of that day. we sort of re-discovered each other, getting to know about things we probably knew all about already. and in that process i think i had fallen in love with you all over again.

it's just crazy how things work, i thought.

"hey wiseguy, remember the movie 'The Exorcist'?", you asked suddenly.

"yeah, sure. 'MERRIN!!!'", i said.

"haha. yeah, that one. the demon in that movie was a Babylonian demi-god or something. pazuzu, it was called. weird huh?"

"yups. but i liked it. i like weird stuff. like you."

"haha very funny wiseguy. but thanks, haha... anyway, do you think monsters like that are real? i mean, we do believe in the devil and evil, right?"

i looked at you quietly for a moment. "where are you getting at dear?"

you shifted in your seat and put your elbows on the table.

"i mean, what if there's thing thing.. huge, hairy.. with like, long pointed horns, dark skinned. and yet we'll never be able to see it. what do you think a thing like that would be?", you asked, your eyes holding a mixture of excitement, awe and fear.

"a thing like that? but we can't see it?", i said and shrugged my shoulders. "i dunno. demon. hantu raya. hantu tahun baru. jembalang. ntah..mana nampak pun.. what would you call it dear?"

you narrowed your eyes at me and bit your lower lip. then with laughter you said:

"kerbau menyorok!!!"


April 7, 2008

interludes to the prelude to a goodbye

in the quiet of that night after she made the phone call to wiseguy, sugar lay in bed, curled in a fetal position, feeling cold and sad and relieved at the same time.

can i really do this? she thought to herself. she tried holding in her tears, but they flowed freely, glistening on her cheeks, making her pillow damp. she glanced at her bedside clock: 2334. she wiped off her tears, and went out her bedroom. glancing across the upstairs hallway she saw daddy inside his room, reading a paperback novel. Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, if she wasn't mistaken. he had bought that a few days ago.

from downstairs floated the voice of Andy Williams singing 'Where Do I Begin?'. mama must still be downstairs then, sugar thought. she made her way down.

indeed mama was still down there, in front of the television. a radio channel was on, the one playing oldies. mama sat on the sofa, a cup of hot drink in one hand and another Jane Austen book in the other.

she walked and 'thwumped' herself beside her mama. they looked at each other. sugar made a sad face and mama raised an eyebrow. mama took a sip of her drink, which smelled like tea infused with ginger.

"hmmm", her mama began. "what is it dearest?"

"evie dah cakap dengan wiseguy", she replied.

"and what did you say dear?"

sugar edged herself closer to her mama and put her head on mama's shoulder.

"i told him", sugar said, "that he should go.. and that i wanted him to go.."

her mama nodded. "and?"

"mama, evie sedih..~", sugar said and broke into fresh tears. her mama put an arm around her only child's shoulders and hugged her tightly. she kissed her daughter's forehead, a gesture filled with love and affection.

"shh.. dah dah. it's okay. it doesn't mean this is over right? and one year isn't that long a period of time. sedar-sedar saja it'll be over and he'll be back here", mama said.

"i know..", sugar sobbed and wiped her eyes. "somehow that makes it sadder; because i know he'll love me from thousands of miles away. it'll make me miss him even more and the distance seem so far.."

"well, at least you know you can count on him kan? wiseguy's a good boy. there's something about him that mama suka sangat.."

"really? what is that?"

"it's in his manners i think. he's... different. he's a good boy is the best way of describing it. and daddy also likes him. which you should be glad about"

they both smiled.

"so when is he leaving again?", mama asked.

"in 3 months time. June 20 is the date", sugar said, her tears in check now.

"so make these 3 months count, alright?"

sugar nodded quietly. a thought occured to her, and she voiced it out loud.

"mama, how come you and daddy are so.. so.. uhm, so cool about this?", sugar asked.

"cool?", mama said, a bit confused.

"i mean, about me, about my relationships. about wiseguy. i love and appreciate the way i can be so honest with both of you.. well, with you, mostly because segan juga nak cakap-cakap with daddy about these things.. but you know.. mama and daddy, you're both so... cavalier, if i could say it that way.."

mama smiled. "ish. maybe it didn't occur to you that daddy and i were once in love as well? what, you think parents around the world just happened to get together?"

sugar blushed. "i didn't mean it that way.."

mama laughed. "i knowww.. mama just usik saja.."

sugar smiled and leaned on her mama.

"i remember when daddy took his degree in Australia, and i was in the States", her mama said. "it was a hard time for both of us. i missed him so much back then"

sugar looked at her mama. she knew this story, but maybe she just hadn't seen it in the way mama was talking right now. mama was talking in a way that wasn't the parent-telling-old-story way.. but she was telling it the way she felt all those years ago, when she was younger, and the way she felt back then.

"i remember when we both applied for the scholarships..", her mama said. "and when it came out we got different places to go.. mama ingat lagi mama menangis masa dapat tau your daddy wasto go somewhere far away from me.. i always thought we would go to the same places...

"but i guess, in a way it was a blessing.. because we ended up loving each other more and more as time passed by.. i didn't see him for 3 years.. and remember, back then there wasn't any internet, or email or mobile phones.. so snail mail it was. and postcards. and photographs.."

sugar managed to smile and said "no flickR?"

mama grinned. "no, no flickR. but those letters and photos kept us alive and going on. and then when we finally came back after those years, your daddy asked me to marry him and i said yes. i have never loved anyone so much as when he asked me that.."

mama sighed as she said this. sugar hugged her.

"so", mama said, "i don't want you to be too sad...alright?"

"i'll try, mama", sugar replied.

"he loves you. and he will come back for you.."

sugar got up, and again hugged her mama. "thank you mama... evie rasa nak tidur dulu.."

"go ahead sayang.. do you want to go grocery shopping with me tomorrow?"

"sure.. but wake me up!", sugar replied as she skipped up the steps, feeling a bit better. as she entered her room, her phone buzzed. a text message. she read it, smiled, and crashed herself on her bed. within moments she fell asleep. but she fell asleep with a faint hint of a smile. she was thinking about the text she just got.

it said:

"it doesn't matter if i'm in Tokyo or KL; i miss you all the time and love you always anyway.. thanks sayang. when i go it only means i'm gonna be back for you. mmwahs..'

wiseguy, of course.

who else..?


April 2, 2008

so there it is

"bye sweetness..", sugar said as she shut the car door. wiseguy gave her a cat kiss; he squeezed his eyes shut. sugar smiled. he waved and drove off, slowly at first ("if", he had said once, "i drive away to quickly it means i want to get away from you. so when i drive away, i'll do it slowly, to show that i'm reluctant to leave your side") and then he picked up speed as his car left her street. sugar watched as his the vehicle until it finally turned a corner, where it went out of her sight.

she sighed a little sigh, and went inside. her mama was laying out dishes on the dinner table: ikan pari asam pedas, sambal belachan, steamed spinach with garlic and ikan gelama masin. the sight of those dishes made her stomach rumble and her mouth water.

"mama, evie nak makan nasi!", she proclaimed as she closed and locked the door behind her.

"you", her mama said, "go freshen up first. and then call your daddy down and then we'll have dinner"

so sugar took the stuff she had bought up to her room, went to tell her daddy that dinner was ready and she herself then freshened up and changed into her 'house' clothes: a simple worn t-shirt and shorts. she went down, where her daddy and mama were already at the table spooning rice and condiments. she joined them.

the family talked and joked over dinner. sugar loved this. she loved being with her parents over food. parents and food. to her, that was a heavenly combination. she wouldn't need anything else... other than wiseguy, maybe.

when they finished dinner (sugar had had 3 helpings of rice; she felt full and somewhat sleepy.. but this was normal for her) she helped her mother wash up and afterwards sat with her daddy watching tv and chatting. her mama joined them at the lounge, and asked her:

"so is wiseguy going?"

sugar was quiet. she had talked to both her mama and daddy about it. both of them had the same opinion: she should let him go on that course. but they had told her in different ways. while her mama told her "let him pursue that dream, and i'm sure he'll come back to you. he is a good, and more importantly, honest, person". her daddy had said it in this way: "a man has to have a future. if that is his future, then let him fulfill it. in the end he'll use it to make sure you have a future as well".

sugar adored that her parents were being supportive of her. she thought how mama liked wiseguy more than she had liked arrows. her daddy, in particular, took an instant liking to wiseguy, calling him 'a smart lad'. she had been so thankful. she remembered that daddy didn't like arrows at all.

now her mama was asking if wiseguy was going.

"uhm..", she said. mama was looking at her whilst daddy was pretending not to listen although, sugar knew by heart, that he was paying full attention to this conversation.

"evie, you have to tell him what you think..~". her mama coaxed.

her shoulders slumped. "i will mama.."

the three of them continued watching television, and conversation moved on to other matters. finally sugar excused herself and went up to her room. she sat at her desk and flipped open her pink vaio. she already knew what she was going to tell wiseguy; but she needed a catalyst. and she knew she was going to find it.

in cyberspace.

she went to wiseguy's flickr page. she browsed through all the photosets and pictures, including the ones of her. she smiled when she saw that this time wiseguy had put captions beneath her pictures. one of them said 'girlfriend saya yang pelik". she laughed a little. she went on admiring wiseguy's pictures. she knew nought about the details behind them, but she knew enough to say the pictures were gorgeous. scenery, people. she particularly loved a set of pictures showing children, his own little cousins, at play.

then she skipped back to a portrait of her. the one that just earned him a shot at becoming even better than he already is. it was a very flattering photograph.. soft focused with a natural light illuminating her features. it made her feel beautiful. the fact that he loved her made her feel beautiful. she sighed. catalyst. she grabbed her phone.

it took only 2 rings. he picked up.

"you've reached the national helpline for transsexuals, how may i help you?", wiseguy said over the phone.

"so that would make you gay, then?", she said straight away. she smiled.

"okay that back-fired. hi sweetness.."

"hey wiseguy.. are you busy?"

"no, not really. i was just.. well, just doing nothing, really"


"yup yup. saya sedang memalas. ehehe.."

"hee.. uhm.. sayang..?"


maybe it was in her mind, but she could feel that wiseguy was holding his breath.

"sayang.. i want you to go on that course..", she said, almost forcibly.

he was silent for a moment.

"sayang, you're gonna have to tell the organizers by next week kan? and all that was stopping you was because you asked me if i wanted you to stay.. so now i'm telling you that i want you to go. you deserve to go. it's a dream of yours..", she said.

wiseguy blew softly into the phone. "for real, sayang?"

"for real", she replied. "it's just.. it's just that.."

"..what, dearest?"

she broke into tears. "it's just that i hope you didn't have had to ask me if i wanted you to stay. it was hard because i knew you'd stay if i had asked you to, betul tak?"

"..yeah.. sayang, don't cry. i'm sorry. but i had to ask you..."

"i know! that's so like you to be selfless! i was so torn between letting you pursue your dream or asking you to stay with me!"

"i'd still stay if you ask me to, you know that..", wiseguy said quietly.

"no. i want you to go. i know i'd feel guilty for life if i deny you this right now. so i want you to go..", she sobbed. "besides, we're living in the 21st century. we'll still be connected in some way or the other"

silence from him.

"sugar i love you..", he said.

"i know", she replied. "i love you too. that's why i'm letting you do this okay? ngada-ngada!"

they laughed a little. then they were quiet again.

"so it's in 3 months time?", sugar asked.

"yeah.. 3 months time..", he said.

"plenty of time..". she could see in her mind he was smiling at the other end of the phone.



"however far away, however long i stay..", he said. then both of them finished that sentence in unison.

"i will always love you"