December 25, 2008

Four Years Later


The girl - no, woman - clad in her underwear, looked at herself in the mirror, as she often did, a remnant habit from days long gone. She squinted her eyes, scrutinizing her body, touching it here and there. With a careless swing of her head, she threw back her long raven hair. She turned her body sideways, glancing up and down.

Her figure was fuller than before, rounder in the correct places. She had put on a few pounds, but not in the bad way, and her body still had the tone and nuance of someone in her prime. She stuck her chest out, again an old undying habit, and tilted her head.

I look fine, she thought. In fact, her slight chubbiness was only obvious because she was a skinny waif before. By no means was she even close to fat. A nutritionist and doctor would call her 'healthy'.

But the biggest change from before were in the lines of her face. The most obvious difference from days of yesteryear was that she no longer wore glasses; corrective eye surgery had taken care of that. Sadly, she thought that the surgery had also taken away some of the gleam in her eye. She knew it was probably something else, but it just seemed that way to her.

Her eyes were darker, and she had somehow(much to her annoyance) developed dark circles under her eyes, which she now concealed with make-up. She looked wiser, quieter, no longer the spunky and cheery nineteen year old eleven years ago. She stared into the mirror for a moment, and began pulling faces, almost desperately trying to summon herself from the past.

Finally she just smiled and sighed. I'm not nineteen anymore, she thought. I'm thirty.

That thought comforted her as well. She felt that stepping into the age of thirty somehow validated her existence. Funny, sure, but she really did feel that way. Four years ago at the still early age of twenty-six, she almost crumbled into depression from a divorce. It had been too early. But in her sadness she found that life went on, and life would leave her behind if she did not buckle up and hitch a ride.

She told herself to get on with it, to acknowledge her past but not dwell on it. Put simply, she needed to move on. Part of that process was losing her glasses; a seemingly trivial thing, but the act was significant to her. A milestone. A step towards moving on.

So she did. Four years ago she started working really hard, and it paid off. She now lives quite handsomely on her own, and although she still stayed in the same cozy apartment, an apartment she once shared with another, the house no longer felt 'empty' to her. She had made it her own sanctuary.

She no longer looked nineteen or twenty-six, but that was alright. She was still beautiful, and an outsider or an admirer would say she was like aging like a fine wine, with grace and becoming better. Her age brought to her a beauty she never had: the beauty of grace and wisdom. She was wiser. Stronger.

She paused in front of the mirror, and adjusted the undies. Finally comfortable, she turned away and began dressing up in a cream kebaya, with matching sarong. She had a wedding to attend today, the wedding of a dear friend. A friend, again it seemed, from many years ago.

Juliza Mahyuddin, her oldest and best friend, but one she hasn't seen in ages since college, was getting married today. Juliza was getting married to her college sweetheart. It was surprising it took them so long, she thought of her friend. But she was happy all the same.

She finished dressing up and putting on light make up, and as she made her way downstairs to get her car, Evie Nadia Hakimi had a thousand thoughts swirling in her head. She was a bit excited at the prospect of seeing old friends.

Juliza.. I used to call you Tingles, she thought as she was driving. And Aliff, your boyfriend now husband? Redfoot was it? Yeah. I wonder if the rest will be there. Marina; what was her nickname.. yeah, Bubblegum! Ehehe.. and Lucky..

As she reached a traffic light junction her thoughts paused. She put on a pair of designer sunnies, taken from her overhead compartment. Before the lights turned green she took a quick look at herself in the mirror; for a split second, and with the glasses on(even if they were sunnies), she saw herself as that nineteen year old from days gone by again.

The lights turned green, and she stepped on the gas.

Years ago, Evie thought. They used to call me Sugar.


(to be continued)