January 7, 2009

We Talked By The Window

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Evie stepped out of the wedding hall, which was situated on the twelfth floor of the building. The exterior of the hall was an open space, where some guests were lingering. It was surrounded by full-length glass windows, giving an airy, open feel to it.

Evie glanced down at her kebaya, now a bit ruffled along the edges. Inside, Marina and the others had decided to mingle with the other wedding guests, along with the bride and groom. Rafar had left their table to take photos prior to that. Evie had tagged along, and then felt a little suffocated by the crowds. Hence, she made her way outside for a moment.

She walked towards the windows, which offered a panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur. From twelve stories high, the people on the streets below looked like little ants marching towards whatever colony they belonged to. She glanced at her wristwatch, a Fossil with leather straps, and decided she would go inside for perhaps another thirty minutes and then head home.

Rafar's appearance at the wedding should not have come as a surprise to her. He was Juliza's friend too, she reminded herself. And yet, when he showed up at their table, so casual, so relaxed, Evie could not help but feel a twinge of surprise. Had she really moved on so much, she thought, that she did not expect to see him at all? She pondered over the question.

A small part of her also felt insulted, though she reminded herself that it was foolish to feel that way. But all the same she felt a bit annoyed because Rafar barely seemed to have acknowledged her at the table. Sure, he had thrown a look or two her way, and had smiled, but he did not even say hello, despite talking with the other guests at the table casually.

Still, she was glad she did not suddenly have an emotional fit caused by his appearance. Evie sighed, suddenly wanting to be anywhere but here. She looked out the window with the palms of her hands on the glass, like a child.

"You can't see Sri Kenanga from here, if that's what you're looking for"

Evie turned her head around, her hands still on the glass. The moment she did, a camera flash burst. It was Rafar, who obviously had the camera ready, just waiting for her to turn her head back. He lowered the camera from his face, and grinned. Evie suddenly felt embarrassed, her cheeks flushed hot. Rafar checked out the LCD on his camera and raised his eyebrows.

"You know Evie; you could have been a model. I mean, wow", he said. Evie turned to face him, brushing a few strands of hair that had fallen on her face. She did not know what to say.

Rafar shouldered his camera and put his hands inside his pockets. Evie took a moment to study him. Same old same old Rafar.

"When did you stop wearing glasses?” he asked her, stepping closer. Evie crossed her arms across her breasts and turned quickly away.

"For a while", she answered curtly.

"Contacts?"

"No"

"LASIK?"

"Yes"

"Oh"

Rafar stood by her, joining her in looking out the window. Out of the corners of her eyes, she could see that Rafar was looking at her. She refused to look back.

"You look great, anyway", Rafar said. "Lovely."

Evie still stood silent. She wasn't being cold on purpose; it was just that she genuinely had no idea what to say, but she was trying to mask it by pretending to be uninterested. In truth, she desperately wanted to know what he had been up to.

"So, I heard you got one hell of a raise at the ad firm", Rafar said again. This time he leaned his back on the window. He pushed his plastic rimmed glasses up his nose. "That's good. Means you must be sitting pretty comfortably in your nest"

"What's that supposed to mean? You don't look all too shabby yourself", Evie said, a little harder than she wanted to.

"I don't? That is the first time I've ever heard you say that I don't look messy or shabby for once. Thanks. I’m touched"

Evie glanced at him briefly. "Haha very funny. You're such a wise guy"

"Of course I am. Or was, anyway", he said, smiling. He came closer until their shoulders touched. At this distance, Evie could smell the hint of perfume he was wearing: cK Be, she thought. Still the same.

Evie decided to soften her stance a little.

"So how have you been? You're wearing glasses now. I told you all that time staring at a PC screen would ruin your eyes", she said.

"Yeah. I'll tell you a secret though: they're not prescriptions. I just wear them to look cool", he said, and that made her smile.

"But anyway, I've been taking pictures, what else. I also lecture part time at UiTM, a visiting speaker thingy for photography they invited me to do", he said. Evie smiled. She knew he was a well-known name in the local photography circuits. Just last month he did a high profile magazine photo shoot involving the Perak Royal Family. She felt that he was doing what he had always wanted to do. She was happy for him.

There was suddenly an awkward silence between them. Evie felt uncomfortable.

"So...” she said, trying to break the silence.

"So...” Rafar said. He was still standing very close to her. "How have you been Evie?"

Evie turned to look at him; their faces close enough that if she were to move her lips 6 inches forward, they would kiss. She remembered the feel of his lips on her. She remembered the taste. At these thoughts she quickly snapped her head away.

"I've been alright,” she said.

"How's work?"

"Plenty"

Rafar stifled a laugh. "How are your mom and dad?"

"Healthy"

"Have you been anywhere lately?"

"No"

"How's the apartment"

"Okay"

"..... Can you only say one word at a time now?"

"Yes"

Rafar nodded. They were both silent again for a moment.

"Are you seeing anyone at the moment..?” he asked. Evie turned to look at him again. Perhaps she was over-analyzing the question. But she turned to look at Rafar to see if she could read what answer he was expecting. Yes? No? Would it matter? Then thinking she had taken too long, she just answered as curtly as she can.

"No", she said.

"No?” he asked.

"No"

"Well I'm surprised. I would have thought someone as beautiful as you would have tons of men groveling at your feet. Are you sure you're not seeing anyone?"

Evie raised an eyebrow. "Yes I'm sure. I've dated. Just not seriously. But don't think I'm a career driven bitch who scares men away "

Rafar laughed, rubbing the side of his neck. "I did not say nor did I imply that"

"But people would tend to think that; me, 30, single, working". Evie suddenly felt odd to be telling this to him.

"But I'm not most people. And I know you...", Rafar said, looking into her eyes. They became quiet again.

"You want to start heading back inside?” Rafar said.

"Give me a few more minutes. The crowds are making me dizzy. Whoosh!” Evie said, laughing weakly, and making a swoosh! motion over her head. Rafar nodded thoughtfully. He waited for her. Evie took a few deep breaths, and drank some water from the bottle she always carried around in her handbag.

"Come, let's go back in", she said, stepping away from the windows.

"Hey Evie...” Rafar said. Evie stopped. She waited.

"What are you doing after this?” he asked. Evie thought of an excuse, but could not come up with any. So she came clean.

"Nothing... why?"

"Would you like to go out for a drink..? With me? Just me?"

Evie stared at her ex-husband. Was he asking her out? After all these years? She did not know what to say but--

"Yeah... Yeah, sure, that seems nice", she said, and she cursed herself in her head for agreeing to the offer before she could think it through properly. But secretly she also felt a wee bit excited. Rafar's expression brightened. He ran a hand through his hair.

"That's great. Come, let's go back in", he said, extending a hand in front of him. After you, he mouthed. Evie smiled and they both began walking back inside. They walked close together, his hand occasionally brushing hers. It felt like a wonderfully familiar sensation to her. She suddenly felt stupid. She felt nineteen again. A disappointed thought ran through her mind: maybe she had not really moved on at all. But she dismissed it, and she would allow this moment to transpire.

"Hey Rafar", she said, suddenly feeling cheerful. "Are you seeing anybody?”

"Yes I am", Rafar said casually, in a matter-of-fact tone. "Her name is Farihin; we worked together on several shoots, then I guess we kinda hit if off. She couldn't make it today though, or I would have brought her along"

"Oh", Evie said.

Oh.


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8 comments:

farah fazanna said...

ouch.

nuraainaa said...

oh.

nurdini izni said...

when evie agreed to his offer, i was like, "woo.. wait wait. rafar didnt mention anything abt him going out with anybody. ni mest ade trick ni."

and i was right :D

muhammad edwan shaharir said...

farah: ouch

aainaa: oh. oh.

dini: ala, predictable ke? hehe.

nurdini izni said...

nahh, bukan predictable. but u know what they say, "great minds think alike."
haha :D

nuraainaa said...

ni apahal dini ni perasan.

pfft.

a z a l i a said...

second that. ouch.

looking forward to the continuation tho. :)

dalila said...

aw :(
i feel like hugging evie right now :/