August 29, 2008

.. and Ten


[5 years ago]

"oh look, it's starting to rain", you said. we were standing outside our campus building. ahead of us was the student parking lot. you held out your hand and watched as a few droplets of water fell on it. pretty soon it the drops fell faster.uh oh. you quickly brushed your hand on my shirt.

"oh thank you very much", i said sarcastically, but with a smile. you only smiled a lovely smile.

"you're welcome", you said. "now come on, let's start walking or we're gonna get soaked!"

you took my hand in yours and we dashed across the small boulevard that separated the building and the parking lot. we were running with our free hands on our foreheads to shield the rain from our face. it really didn't work so well though. but we managed not to get too wet as we entered the car.

"that was fun now wasn't it?" you said, laughing.

"no. i don't like getting wet", i replied. "my notes almost got ruined!"

"haha. you'll be fine. you're smart enough without notes"

you were in the drivers seat. you started the engine and backed out. we were going on a lunch date. this was only, like, our sixth or seventh date as an official couple.i was happy as can be.

"where are we gonna eat?", you asked.

"i feel like nasi campur at Taman Melawati", i said.

"yeah? where exactly?"

"there's this awesome Minang restaurant; it's near the post office row. know that place?"

"oh ya, my dad took me there once. Minang Sahur or Subuh or something like that right?", you turned to me.

"haha, it's Minang Saiyo actually. but yeah, that's it. they have the best beef rendang", i said enthusiastically. i was already tasting the tender pieces of beef in my head. you looked at me again and smiled. you took the car there. we arrived there just before all the lauk ran out. when we finished lunch we sat there for a moment, talking.

"you know what i've realized this past few weeks?", you said.

"what dear?", i said while sipping some iced lemon tea. or rather iced lime tea.

"ever since we got together i've gained some weight"

"is it somehow my fault?"

"i never said it was"

"but you're impling it is kan?"

"haha yes. but don't fret. it's because i'm happier than before". at this you smile sweetly at me whilst leaning back and rubbing your belly. i pinched your stomach.

"ouchh!" you exclaimed loud enough that a pakcik eating his lunch looked our way. i tried not to laugh but couldn't contain it in. i coughed on iced tea, whilst simultaneously laughing.

"padan muka", you said amiably. we talked for a few minutes then decided to leave. heading back towards KL, we stopped by Taman Tasik Titiwangsa for an afternoon stroll. the rain had stopped when we were having lunch, and the sun was creeping out of the clouds, sending golden spears of light downwards.

"look at Kuala Lumpur", i pointed out. we both glanced at the lovely skyline of Malaysia's capital city.

"beautiful, isn't it?" i asked, somewhat to myself.

"like a painting", you concurred. we took a seat on a bench public enough for us not to get caught for 'indecency'. you held my hands. for a moment we just sat there looking at each other. a faint blush rose to your cheeks, which i pointed out immediately.

"why are you blushing?", i asked bemusedly.

"nothing", you said sheepishly.

"come on, tell me. or not i'll pinch your tummy again"

"haha, okay fine. no tummy pinching", you said. you held my hands tighter. "it's just that, well... i know we've only been seeing each other for like months rather than years, but somehow i can see myself..." you trailed off.

"see yourself what?" i pressed.

"i see myself spending the rest of my life with you, of course", you grinned.
i smiled back. "and what do you see?"

"well.. we'll be married in like 4 years or so from now. we're gonna stay in a nice, cozy apartment. in Kuala Lumpur of course. and near my parents. and near your parents", you said.

i smiled again. i was loving you more and more. "and?"

"hmm, we'll both have good jobs. and we'll be happy. then we're gonna have kids. and they're gonna be the most beautiful babies ever."

"well, that's a given since they're gonna have the most beautiful parents ever", i said, laughing. "tell me more", i beckoned. and so you did. you said that we were going to be successful young talents in our fields of interest. you said that maybe we're even going to be famous. you said that we were going to send our children to the best schools. and you talked about more lovely dreams and hopes. and you said this half-jokingly. i sensed a determination to make these visions happen beneath your eyes.

"you know how i can see these things?", you finally asked.

"how sayang?" i said, my heart filling with love and affection for you.

"because i love YOU", you said and placed a finger on my lips, which i kissed softly. "because i love you, and even though this is just the beginning, i KNOW we're gonna be together for all time..."

we had smiled at each other, our smiles carrying hope.. and promise. the sun was not quite out, still hidden behind clouds. but it's rays of

[5 years later]

..golden sunshine streamed in through the windows of my bedroom, and lighted on my eyes. i woke up, my eyes squinting. i glanced at the bedside clock: 1000hrs, Sunday morning. when i could open my eyes better, i saw that my bedroom light wasn't turned off. i yawned and stretched. instinctively i glanced beside me. an empty space. of course.

i got out of bed and turned off the light. i looked out the window, and saw beautiful blue skies and cotton-candy clouds. whatever remnants of yesterdays rain had now gone. it could come back later, but as of now, it was beautiful. i determined that i would go out today. maybe go window shopping, or maybe i'll visit my parents. or friends. or go out on a date? whatever. just as long as i don't spend the day like yesterday.

i took a shower, feeling much better than yesterday. of course last night i had dreamed about 5 years ago. it was alright. it was a bitter memory to swallow, but like medicine, it made me feel better. i finished showering and dried up, got dressed.

as i stepped out of my bedroom, i glanced at the apartment. there were no longer pictures of you and me around. i had taken them down. the apartment was neat, because i kept it that way. you were always the messy one anyway. now you were not going to be around to make a mess anyway.

i made myself coffee, and laced it with lots of brown sugar. i liked it sweet. you had liked it bitter, i remember. i smiled at the thought. i went to the lounge, and put on some jazz on the stereo. i quietly sat down drinking my coffee, in a moment of reflection, like often i do whenever i have those bad days of memories.

i was feeling much better. the bitterness and the sadness i felt yesterday, when i had been questioning the whats and whys to the destruction of our relationship were now being diluted by a sense of calm and of course sweet coffee. there were some parts of the separation that i just couldn't bear to remember anyway.

i thought of you for a moment. i had loved you back then.. and even now, i still love you. maybe differently, but it is love all the same. i thought about five years ago, and your visions of the future. well.. some of them came true. and maybe you're making the rest of it come true with someone else now. i pray you're doing well.

i know i can't afford to be bitter all my life. i guess whatever that happened was just meant to happen. there is a Higher Power than us. maybe we were just meant to be separated. maybe there is and will be a better future for both of us. i choose to believe so, even without you by my side.

no matter what happens, no matter what i do, or who i end up with before i die, i think that some part of me will always belong to you, and i hope some part of you belongs to me as well. you were my best friend, my dream lover, my wonderful spouse. i cherish everything. and i blame you for nothing..

and Wiseguy, in one way or the other, i'm always going to be your sayang, your love, your Sugar. i miss you, i said in my mind. i took a sip of coffee. then i smiled softly. i'll be alright. this isn't the end of the journey of life and love. i believe i'll find my forever happiness one day. but i know that even then, a part of me deep down my heart, i suppose, will always be talking with an alternate you.

Muhammad Edwan Shaharir


August 24, 2008



the night grew deeper, and the streets around my apartment complex got quieter. i felt a headache, probably from sleeping too much today.

i had fixed myself now a mug of hot Horlicks. i opened the sliding door to my balcony and rested my elbows on the railing, holding the hot drink in my hand.

i stared out into the distance, towards Kuala Lumpur. the rain had stopped, and the night air was cool. i blew a strand of hair that had fallen on my face. what an unproductive day, i thought. i had spent the day doing nothing at all but laze around, eat and brooded over my own thoughts and memories.

like i said, the memories were now only bittersweet. that is, there were only the bittersweet memories playing around in my head. i had pushed the bad ones out some moments ago. i even managed a smile when i remembered the sweeter somethings.

one day you had called me at work, saying that you were craving tuna sashimi and wanted to go out that night for dinner at a Japanese restaurant we usually frequented. unfortunately i had tons of work to do that day and couldn't promise i would make it for dinner.

so we can't go tonight? you had asked.

no dear, i'm sorry, i had answered.

it's alright, maybe some other time lah.

and sure enough, i came back home quite late that night; but not without a surprise. on my way back i managed to get some sushi and sashimi from a nearby supermarket. i thought it would be a nice way to satisfy your craving. that was, of course, until i arrived home and saw you had bought a spread of sushi and sashimi.

since we couldn't go, i thought i'd bring it home, you had said.

apparently i thought the same, i had replied while holding up a bag of sushi and sashimi. then we broke into laughter, and proceeded to eat as much sushi as we could. there was enough for a family. we had ate until we felt like vomiting.

which eventually i did.

i laughed at the memory. the wind swept most of the laughter, carrying it further. i sipped my Horlicks. again, i gazed into the distance. where were you tonight, i wondered. with a new friend? a new love? i could never guess. it did not matter anyway. i said a prayer, wishing for your well being and happiness.

i went back inside, straight to the bedroom. i put aside my drink and laid down on the bed. i glanced at the empty space beside me. ever since our separation, i had chosen not to sleep on your side. i felt it was not nice to do so. i guess it was a way of me to remember the good times, when i could lay in bed with you beside me.

don't mug the blanket! i had said one night long ago.

i'm not mugging the blanket; it's you who doesn't fit, haha, you had teased.

i smiled again to myself. sure, the other side was empty now. but the memory of the person lingered there.

it's strange that i could continue loving you even now. the love has taken a new form i suppose. it's no longer as passionate or intimate. i cannot do that anymore. this love has now taken form as a memory, sometimes painful sometimes not, but often bittersweet and crystal clear. in a way, i have moved on. i've seen some people, and some of them have made me smile.

the only thing is i guess i'm holding out for something special. when that is, i don't know. even if it doesn't happen, i will be content with having you as my last memory of love.

i drank my Horlicks to the last drop, and curled up inside the blanket we had shared, on the bed we had talked on, made love on, even argued and fought on. it was okay, i thought.

wherever you are, i'll always pray for you.

and so i ended a day of thinking, remembering and sleeping by falling asleep, with the lights on.

but at least i did not cry to sleep. i'd like to think there was a smile on my lips.


hold on;
'Ten' will follow, and finish, TWaAY III..

August 20, 2008



the apartment was dark as i jolted suddenly out of my prolonged nap. it was already maghrib. i yawned and stretched my limbs, squeezing my eyes as i did so. i rearranged the messed up sofa and stood up.

glancing outside, i saw it was still raining, though not as heavily and without a light and sound show. i smirked, thinking that the SMART Tunnel better be doing it's job. even through the rain-stained window, the lights of Kuala Lumpur beckoned at me.

i walked to my bathroom for a shower. as i stood there undressing my mind somewhat casually thought about you being in the same room as me; a gentle heat rose to my cheeks, and i closed my eyes to let the thought go away. it seemed inappropriate, now that we weren't together. i wrapped a towel around myself and chucked my worn clothes into a laundry basket.

i stood with my head bowed under a steady cascade of very warm water. my eyes were closed. it was relaxing. in my mind i saw the bathroom door opening, and a voice from yesteryear calling out.

you look very nice standing under a shower, you had said.

i thought there were rules about opening bathroom doors; but since you're already there, care to join me?, i had said. you looked as if you were giving it thought.

no, i want to prepare dinner for us, haha. and you had closed the bathroom door, trailing laughter, and left me to finish showering. i had smiled with a mixture of amusement, embarrassment and exasperation.

i remember you had jumped me as i got out of the shower, and we had made love instead of dinner.

i opened my eyes and washed my face to rid myself of that memory. most of the painful stuff were beginning to fade, though, God forbid, they'll probably return again the next time i end up stuck at home with nothing to do.

the memories that were in my mind now were the bittersweet ones.

i turned off the tap and dried myself; i got dressed and proceeded to the kitchen to prepare dinner; but instead i found myself ordering pizza over the phone. you loved pizza, i remembered. it was always Domino's, always Extravaganzza. you could finish a whole large one by yourself. so it was that pizza i ordered.

when the pizza arrived i made some iced lemon tea and sat down in front of the television. there were some good shows on tonight. so i ate my pizza, drank my tea and watched television by myself. when the phone rang i rushed to get it. it was mama, asking me how i was and if i was going to be visiting anytime soon.

yeah, of course, i'll come by tomorrow, i said. mama and i small talked for a few minutes and we hung up.

when the good television show finished i saw that i had eaten half of the pizza. i packed it into plastic containers and stuck them in the fridge. what now? i thought. but then i grabbed a notebook and a pencil and began scribbling, doodling, almost randomly.

absently, i wrote:

as days go by i find that strangely i miss you in intervals.
on days like this when i'm doing nothing i miss you so much.
but on other days it's like i'm okay and don't think so much.
it's been 2 years now since we went separate ways.
i still don't understand why.
maybe i still love you or maybe i'm just taking time to heal.
but i'll remember you always.


August 15, 2008



and there i was dreaming of you and the day it ended. i don't remember the details: paperwork, legal advice, etc. just the moment when the sound of shattering glass in the caverns of my heart seemed to send out echoes into the outside world.

you had come back again later that fateful night, looking sad yet oddly calm. i had been sitting in this very living room, just waiting for your return. you had locked the door behind you and turned to face me, still with an expression of conflict on your face.

is it another person? i had asked.

no, it's not. like i said, it's me. i feel like i don't belong here, you had said.

what do you mean? how can you possibly feel that way? are you not happy with the way things are?

it's not like that at all. it's just that i..

you paused. i had given you a long, hard look. what? what my love? i had asked.

you know, sometimes i wish it was another person. maybe it'd be easier to explain then, you had said.

but, you had continued, i'm not cheating on you. and that's the truth. i still love you, but somehow i don't think we should be together anymore.

it's been only little more than a year! i had almost yelled.

i know, you had said. but in this time i feel lost, and aimless. i feel like i'm not living my life the way i should.

those words shocked me. they really had. even more so when you said:

i want to be free of commitments.

a sudden loud crashing of thunder woke me from sleep. i got up too quickly and suffered a head-ache as the blood rushed out of my head; i sat up feeling dazed for a moment, my world spinning. outside, the rain continued to pour. it was just one of those wet, wet days. a small voice inside me told me to get out of the house regardless, go do something to take your mind off things.

i could not. it was getting late in the afternoon now, almost approaching evening. the weather outside made me feel heavy and strained. i did not feel like doing anything at all. still dazed, i leaned back on the sofa. the quiet apartment was quite dark, so i switched on a table lamp. i sighed.

somehow back in the day i thought a sacrifice for love would be noble, honorable and rewarding; that when you measure the strength of your heart for someone you love, you would be blessed with a happiness more than you could hold.

i had made that sacrifice. foolishly, i thought you would come back to me when i had let you go. i had then spent night after night, wishing, praying, hoping, wanting and needing for you to come walking into that apartment into my arms again.

but that did not happen. sure, life had went on. i went to work. ate. talked. almost on autonomy. like i wasn't in control. the only thing i was conscious of was wanting you back. and of course, the friends and family had come and left, and they had said words of the kindest intent.

but intent did not and could not turn back the clock.

in time it had ended officially on paper and in that life of.. ours? there is no 'ours' now.

i crashed myself back on the sofa. no, i did not want to do anything on a weekend like this. sometimes the memories are just too vivid, even if, i realized, they actually don't hurt you as much as they did. but they still hurt, all the same.

i'm sorry. but to go on would be lying to myself, and lying to you, you had said.

do you love me? i had asked.

i still do. maybe. but i don't think this lifetime is meant for us.

so what now? you're on your own? free? solitary?

i guess. it's what i want.

then what about what i want!? i had hissed through gritted teeth.

i can't give you what you want, you said, to which i only remained silent to.

i twisted on the sofa, and lay on my stomach, resting my head on the cushion. i should probably take a shower and prepare myself some dinner or something.

but right now, i just want to say a little prayer for myself, and sleep, and dream everything away.


August 6, 2008



i was reading a magazine when all of a sudden the skies went from sunny to a subdued gray; i glanced out the window to see the rainclouds had returned. i shook my head. we live in the tropics after all. i sat myself back on the sofa and continued reading the magazine.

the sofa has space for three. i remember buying it at Ikea with you. the color was a pleasant brownish tone i had called 'honey' and you had called 'caramel'. then you had said

'caramel and honey is close enough. sweet things'

i had laughed. seems like ages ago.

the sudden tip.. tap.. tip...tap..tiptaptiptap at the window made me look outside and sure enough the heavens had opened up again. heavily too, and almost without warning. thank god i did not have laundry out in the balcony. that would have made a humdrum day even worse.

lethargy took the better of me. it was about thirty minutes to four but outside, it looked like dusk. anyway, a rainy afternoon.

i put down the magazine and stretched my arms and legs. i cracked my knuckles. what now? no place to go today, and nothing to do. i tossed a cushion on one end of the sofa and laid myself down. i feel alone. i woke up earlier this morning while it was raining and thought of you. i was doing it again now. as ever the voices of ghosts echo in my mind.

what do you mean we can't be together? you're joking right?

no, i'm not. i'm sorry.

we've only been married a year or so; tell me now what is going on? aren't you happy?

i am happy. or was happy. i don't know. i just feel.. incomplete. incontent.

what? why? and how? have i not given you everything? have we not built a dream together?

to an extent.

to an extent? what are you talking about?

it's not your fault. i just feel this is wrong. that i should not be here.

a sudden crash of thunder startles me out of my thoughts. somewhere down in the parking lots below a car alarm was ringing, doubtless having been triggered by the loud thunder. the rain was getting heavier. Kuala Lumpur was like a prisoner being tortured with alternating bouts of heat and water. and yet, rain or shine, the city thrives. like the beating heart of the country that it is.

my heartbeat was slowing down. a sudden phantom pain pierces my heart as my mind drifts back to those words.

..i should not be here.

i had been stunned. i remember now; we were about to have dinner when that conversation happened. i had cooked your favorite dishes. i had planned on treating you to a movie.

i'm going out, you said then,.

is it another person? i had asked.

you had paused and just shook your head.

no, you had said. it's just me. i want to be alone.

then you had opened the door, put on your shoes, and you left the apartment. i had been stunned and was speechless. it felt back then as if the world i thought was so perfect was just a facade for a cruel, bitter underworld.

i sighed. i glanced at the door, wishing for it to open and for you to come walking back into the apartment and into my life... but knowing that that was unlikely the more these days go by. you had made your choice. you had given me a glimpse of paradise only to have pulled down the blinds so suddenly. the abruptness was like a slap to the face.

my eyelids felt heavy. thunder and lighting exchanged greetings outside.

i fell asleep.


August 1, 2008



during late afternoon, Kuala Lumpur on a weekend takes a strange change; it becomes more quiet, less hectic. even more so when the sun is shining full strength as it is at the moment. siesta time, of course. Kuala Lumpur takes a nap.

with the remnants of lunch now cleaned up and the plates scrubbed, i settled in the living room for a spot of television. unfortunately surfing through banal shows and dumb commercials caused me to shut it back off. i glanced at the telephone, my feelings a fifty/fifty mix of hoping for a call and making a call.

it seemed then i had a staring contest with the phone; i remember that it used to ring quite often back in the day. you would call me to say hello or perhaps inquire what i would like for dinner.

steak, ice-cream and a movie at One Utama?

yes, that would be lovely.

alright, i'm coming back in half an hour. we'll go in about an hour's time. sounds fine?

sounds excellent.

those were the voices of the ghosts inside my head, telling me that i miss you very much.

i sunk back in the sofa; the stillness and quietness in the air was killing me. perhaps i should take a walk. perhaps not. i thought of marriage. an institution. supposedly an eternal bond. but you had proved me wrong when we broke our bond and severed our ties just when i thought we had it good.

i guess complacency was my fault.

i sighed. it wasn't supposed to be like this. i should have you right here with me. together with me. but the foundations i thought were strong were swept away by your insistence and my desire not to bind you to a fate you would not have loved.

time has healed some of the wounds. the last person i dated told me i had beautiful eyes. i had laughed and called it a day, claiming a forgotten appointment. the truth was that no one could tell me i have beautiful eyes... no one but you.

and from these eyes of mine now i shed tears. i don't actually cry that often, of course. but it's times like these. when i'm alone with nothing to do that weakness takes the better of me. and echoes of your voice fill my heart and mind like you were right there beside me.

there's something i must say.

alright; what is it dear?

i love you.

i know that already; i love you too.

but i can't be with you anymore.

like i said earlier, these were the voices of the ghosts inside my head. i wish badly for them to stop haunting me.

why did our love fail when we had already reached the top?