February 26, 2009

Evie Nadia II: These Photographs, A Note In The Dark


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When she was growing up, and all the way through her college days, Evie’s family had lived in the area of Wangsa Maju, just outside Kuala Lumpur. It was a busy place, with good connections to the city centre and beyond. After she married Rafar and moved to the apartment at Jalan Ampang, Evie’s parents decided to step away from the busyness of the Wangsa Maju area and moved somewhere quieter.

They settled in a double-story link house in the quiet, somewhat upscale neighborhood known as Bukit Jelutong, which was part of Shah Alam. Evie’s father, Mr. Hakimi Ubaidillah, was a lecturer who has since retired and made a small fortune as a consultant. Her mother, Mrs. Nadzrah Abdul Nadzri, was a lecturer as well, now retired. Nowadays she passed her time selling cookies to her friends and acquaintances.

It was to their house that Evie found herself driving one late afternoon. She had called in advance, and asked if she could stay the night. Her father, eager as always to have his only child home, of course said yes. Evie was grateful. She knew they kept a room just for her at their house; an ‘Evie’ room.

“No matter where you go you can always find home with your Ayah and Ibu,” Mr. Hakimi said when they had first moved in there. The room was, much to Evie’s amusement, pretty much the same as her old room from before she got married, before she grew up. It was still painted a soft shade of pink, and the Ikea bed and furniture were still irritatingly cute and girly. The funny thing was that the decorations and equipment were the choice of her father; perhaps it was true then, that daughters, in one way or the other, never stop being daddy’s little girls.

Her parents are, to her, the most perfect human beings ever. Her father was straight, sharp and seemed tough, but only Evie knew how gentle and kind the man was, especially with her. Evie’s mother was likewise; tender and kind hearted, and funny to boot, although Evie did and will always remember her mother as the more ‘garang’ of the two. They were like yin and yang, duality. She was their only child; when she was about nine years old, however, she learned from them that she should have had an older brother named Ezra, but he was born prematurely and did not survive.

Evie loved her parents to death. As it should be, she thought. And her love for her Ayah and Ibu was never clearer than when Rafar divorced her. She remembered how supportive they were, and how they did not become petty and hate Rafar or condemn him. Mr. Hakimi was very displeased, of course; but he also did not deny Fate. Her father was a source of great strength that time, and her mother the greatest comfort.

It was them who had helped Evie through the divorce; they had lent a shoulder to cry on, ears to talk to and a home to come back to. Her father had offered her to come stay with them, but Evie thought she should be independent. She did, however, promise to visit often.

And she kept that promise; she visited them at least a couple of times a month, driving from Kuala Lumpur to Shah Alam, as she is doing now. In her white Golf she brought a change of clothes, though she knew the cabinet in her room was well stacked. She also brought a chocolate cheesecake for her father. As she pulled in the driveway of their house she saw her father tending to his orchid garden. It was somewhat his passion lately: he kept orchids of different kinds and colors.

Evie killed the engine and stepped out; she was dressed casually in a pink t-shirt and comfortable, billowy white pants.

“Ayah,” she called out, smiling in the late afternoon sun. “Isn’t it too early to start tending to your flower-patch?”

Her father slipped off the gardening gloves he had on; he was dressed in a comical mix of a Pagoda t-shirt, denim shorts and a cheap rubber slippes, with a wide brimmed straw hat perched on his head. His face was deep and thoughtful, but the eyebrows made him look kindly. His eyes were the same bright eyes Evie had.

“First of all, it’s an orchid garden, not a flower patch,” he said as he walked towards his daughter. “Secondly, why are you so sibuk as to what I do as a hobby?”

“Oh please,” Evie said. “Admit it: you were waiting for me, isn’t that right? Miss your daughter much?”

Her father made a grim face and nodded. “Just a little bit. How are you honey?”

Evie salam-ed her father and kissed his cheeks. “I'm okay. I brought chocolate cheesecake. Your favorite.”

“Wah, good, good. Now go inside before you burn your skin.” This was a joke he always mentioned to her because of her fair skin, even if it was no longer funny. “Your mother is cooking dinner.”

He went back to tending his orchids as Evie took the cake and her bag inside. She shouted “HAH!!!” and surprised her mother who was in the kitchen, and got scolded as a result.

Evie laughed and apologized and salam-ed and hugged and kissed her mother, who was still babbling. Her mother was cooking her favorites: Asam Pedas Ikan Pari, fried chicken, stir-fried vegetables with oyster sauce, sambal belachan and cool, fresh cucumbers. Evie offered to help and her mother told her to prepare the chicken.

“So,” said Mrs. Nadzrah as the two of them prepared the food. “How have you been dear? Busy?”

Evie nodded as she cut the chicken into small pieces. “A little.”

“Are you alright? You look tired. Are you worried about something? Haven’t you had enough sleep? Have you been eating well? Are you ill?”

“Ibu, I'm fine,” Evie said. Her mother looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “I'm a bit stressed with work, is all.”

“Ah,” said Mrs. Nadzrah. “Alright. How’s it going with Adam?”

Evie paused for a moment. Her eyes seemed to drift away. When she had first started going out with Adam, she had told her mother about it. And when it seemed that things were going great with him, her mother said she was thankful that Evie was seeing people and that this ‘Adam boy’ seems like a really nice guy.

Mrs. Nadzrah has always been worried about Evie; ever since the divorce she has been trying to make Evie at least date again, and though Evie has done so to an extent, this Adam fellow seemed the most promising, and more importantly, Evie was always happy when she talked about him. Mrs. Nadzrah sensed her daughter liked the man, a lot.


Evie snapped out of her momentary trance. “Hm?”

“I asked you, how are things with Adam?”

“Oh. Oh, they’re okay...” Evie trailed off. She did not feel like divulging the subject, at least not yet. “So what have you and Ayah been up to?”

Mrs. Nadzrah accepted the rebuke and the change of subject, thought she suspected Evie was troubled. But soon mother and daughter were chatting away about what was new and what was rumored; typical, harmless, amusing mother-daughter talk. Mrs. Nadzrah complained about Mr. Hakimi, and Evie would defend her Ayah. Mrs. Nadzrah would then say how much of a daddy’s girl Evie is, and Evie would say she learned from the best: Ibu. And so they went on talking and cooking, until Evie excused herself to take a shower before dinner.

Evie stepped inside her room and closed the door behind her. As always whenever she slept over at her parent’s, she scanned the room; aside from its layout, it was almost exactly like it was so long ago. Even her old, almost decade old pink Sony laptop was on her desk. She felt like a giddy nineteen-year old being in such a youthful room.

But a quick glance to the dressing table mirror dispelled any such thoughts; the woman in the mirror was clearly older; the eyes still bright but no longer sparkling and eager. It was a woman who, at thirty, has learned quite a lot. Evie took a shower and afterwards spent about half an hour lying wrapped in a towel on the single bed with its purple sheets. Then she flipped open her old laptop. It was slow and a bit ‘wheezy’, but she was just curious to see if her old pictures were still in there…

They were. All (Evie glanced at the stats below the window) 3356 pictures. She opened the folders one by one: Family, Friends, and Stuff. And then she came upon her once most cherished folder: ‘Sugar+Wiseguy’. She hovered the cursor above that folder, thinking over in her head if she should open it and look at the photos. Finally she just sighed and closed the lid of laptop (which creaked, much to her annoyance). She got dressed and performed her prayers. When she got out of her room she saw her mother and father praying, so she went down to see most of the lauk was already on the table. In her house, dinner was always taken early. It was already evening, and the sun was setting on the far horizon.

Evie strolled around inside the house; it was all so familiar from her younger days. The sofa set was still the same as it was since years ago, although it had been reupholstered. The curtains were the same, and the dinner table and chairs were the same as well. What was new to their household was an aquarium with colorful tropical fish. But the carpets, the decorations, even the pictures hanging on the walls were all familiar. They spelled out, in loud, colorful and comfortable letters to Evie: H-O-M-E. Later her parents came down and Evie helped her mother serve dinner.

They ate together, and for a ridiculously childish reason and inside joke, Mr. Hakimi forced Evie to read the doa makan before they dug in. Evie laughed the moment she finished, and her father was grinning. He spooned Evie her rice and offered to serve her the lauk on the table.

“Ayah! Thank you so much but I'm not nine years old!” Evie said. But her father insisted. It occurred to her then just how much he missed having her around, and Evie made a mental note to her self to visit more often than the usual once or twice a week. She supposed her parents were bored with no one else in the house. The three of them had their dinner, and Evie thought nothing tasted better than her own mother’s cooking.

She ate a lot; her belly felt like bursting, although to an outside observer, there was barely a discernible change in her physique. After dinner she took out the chocolate cheesecake and cut out a large portion for her father and mother, and only a little bit for her self. Normally she would have had a bit more, but tonight was one of those rare occasions when she refused sweets.

They talked a bit more and had some tea, and then Evie’s father said he wanted to catch a football game on television, and her mother wanted to watch some television.

“Evie, get some rest. Go to bed early and sleep. You look very tired, Yang,” her mother said. As Mrs. Nadzrah got up she put a hand on her daughter’s shoulder and squeezed. Evie smiled and nodded. For a while she sat there nursing her rapidly cooling cup of tea. Her mother had noticed how tired she looked, thanks (or no thanks) to her lack of sleep and her tons of work. So she decided that tonight she would heed her mother’s advice and get adequate rest. So she went up to her room, closed the door, turned off the lights and lay down on her bed.

Except she could not sleep. She kept thinking about Rafar and Adam. Their images came alternating in her thoughts; the recent ones with Adam, and the more mellowed, aged but no less wonderful ones of the times she had with Rafar. She felt it odd that ever since the day Rafar broke down in tears in front of her, she no longer thought about the bad times. That is to say, she no longer thought about the divorce and the bitterness that had ensued. No; instead now, only the sweetest memories came snowballing in her head.

She turned on the bedside lamp and grabbed her old laptop. She was slightly amazed it was still working at all. She turned it on and immediately opened her pictures folder, and the folder titled ‘Sugar+Wiseguy’. There were about 1600 pictures in that folder. Most were of her and Rafar together, in various sweet and memorable situations.

For example, there was one picture, taken using a cell phone at the time they just began dating, that showed the two of making faces into the camera. Evie smiled at the photograph, and part of her was amazed that the picture was about ten years old. She clicked on another thumbnail, bringing up another photograph. This time it was a photograph of Rafar, again taken using a cell phone. In that picture he was looking straight into the camera, his smile lazy and relaxed, his dark eyes calm and shaded beneath the messy crop of hair.

Evie made a mental comparison of the Rafar in this picture and the one she had seen some weeks ago: in ten years he has not changed at all. Not by much anyway. Evie tried to place this smiling young man in the picture with the crying, thin man she saw; they did not correlate. Despite the obvious similarities, to Evie it was as if she was looking at two entirely different people.

She sighed and browsed through more photographs, including the one photograph that had sent Rafar on his study trip to Japan, the same one that had convinced Evie eleven years ago that Rafar was truly in love with her. It was the portrait of her. Evie studied it, and just as she could not parallel the Rafar of old with the current one, she found herself detached from the image, despite it was her, just eleven years younger.

In that beautifully taken picture, her hair was longer and she wore spectacles; her face was thinner, the cheekbones more prominent. Evie found it hard to believe that was her at all. But when she clicked on to the next photograph, she knew just how far along she’s come from those days when she was young and full of ambition.

This next photograph was of the two of them during their first anniversary; Evie remembered it well. They were at a fancy restaurant and Rafar had propped his camera on a mini tripod (that he had comically forced Evie to carry inside her handbag) in front of them to take the picture. In it, he was sat slightly behind her. Though the picture did not show it, Evie remembered Rafar had one arm around her waist. They put their cheeks together in that photograph and both of them smiled at the camera, their faces full of joy and of promise.

Evie sighed. She felt a thickening in her throat and realized she was about to cry. She browsed through more photographs: Rafar and Evie holding hands; Rafar wearing a silly novelty hat; Rafar and Evie sharing a banana split; Evie with her eyes crossed; Evie with her chin on Rafar’s shoulder; all these pictures opened the floodgates and Evie began to weep, out of both, sadness and happiness for those memories. Evie clicked through more photographs. She did not know if this would count as self-torture.

She came upon a set of pictures that were uploaded about a month and a half before their divorce. How happy they looked, so blissfully unaware of what their future held for them back then. She browsed through that set, and came across the last picture they ever took together. It was a portrait of them in black and white; in it, Rafar’s gaze was cast downwards, and the shadows and light brought out his features; Evie was kissing his cheek, her eyes closed. Evie remembered that Rafar said he wanted to print that out and frame it.

It never came to pass.

She cursed her luck. Why, of all times, must this happen now? Why did this not happen maybe a few months earlier, or perhaps two years ago, when she was in a less compromised situation? Maybe she would feel less confused. But now two men were clearly very much in love with her. Was it a choice she would have to make? She did not feel like making any despite the fact she knew that the day would come when she will simply have to, by hook or by crook. But she could not bear to think which one would she hurt when that day comes.

She also had her self to think about, because above all, she wanted to be happy. But happiness it seems comes at a price. And who would think that it could be so complicated… and yet so simple. Evie probed the depths of heart, trying to dig out a clue as to where her true feelings lie. She found no answer. Instead she just found more questions to ask.

Evie closed the lid of the laptop and cried. The last time she felt this vulnerable was four years ago when Rafar divorced her. She had wept and mourned. She thought Rafar was cruel and heartless, leaving her like that. At one point she even thought she would hate him for life. But now she realized that she has never hated the man for what he did. She was angry and hurt, yes. But she has never hated Rafar. Not once. She remembered after the divorce she had spent day after day just wishing, praying for him to return to her. She had missed him terribly, painfully that time.

As, much to her surprise, she found herself now: missing Rafar. For the first time in a few years she was admitting to herself that she missed being in his arms; she missed the touch of lips on hers, and the way he would wake her up in the mornings with a kiss to her cheek...

Evie took out a small notepad from her bag and a pencil. She began to write a note, though she never intended anyone to ever see it:

(please click image to view the note)

(please click image to view the note)


Your voice was the soundtrack of my summer
Do you know you're unlike any other?
You'll always be my thunder, and I said

Your eyes are the brightest of all the colors
I don't wanna ever love another
You'll always be my thunder

So bring on the rain, And bring on the thunder


February 22, 2009

Evie. Rafar. Adam.


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Where do I begin?
To tell a story of how great a love can be,
The sweet love story that is older than the sea,
The simple truth about the love you bring to me.
Where do I start?

Evie was at her office, and she was not feeling too good.

She felt terrible in fact; she felt this physical sickness that made her head hurt and her stomach churn; she felt this emotional pain in the well of her heart that pierced through her like a jagged knife; she felt a dull mental throbbing of a matter pressing inside her thoughts.

Perhaps she could explain the physical pain; she has not slept particularly well this past week. During nights she would toss and turn, and she would wake up sweating despite the cool air-conditioning. Often her pillow would be wet to the touch, suggesting she had wept during her sleep. She knew she did, anyway. This unrest, coupled with a sudden heavy workload at her office, was straining her. She had little appetite this past week, and that was unusual for her, a well know big eater. Her receptionist, a demure girl named Alya, who Evie was close to and already thought of as a younger sister, had noticed how tired she looked and asked her if she was okay.

“It’s just a lot of work Alya, I'm alright,” Evie lied.

“Are you sure Kak Evie? You look awful, sorry to say so. Is there anything I can do to help?” Alya had asked.

Evie had put a hand on her shoulder, smiled and said, “It’s alright, and call me Evie. I feel old when you call me Kak.” Alya had left her looking not quite satisfied, but Evie did not want to trouble the girl with her own affairs. It was her battle to fight. Evie sat at her desk, barely concentrating on the job at hand. She took a big gulp of coffee that was already cold.

Now if the unrest and loss of appetite accounted for her physical wear, the mental and emotional aches she was experiencing were of another matter entirely. She knew the matter at hand, yet she did not know. She was not sure, but she was already so certain. See? She was not even making sense to herself. In her head she went over the same inferences, hypotheses and conclusions, trying to foresee all possible scenarios and predict any outcome. But still she got nowhere. Still her mind and emotions were swirling in a perpetual storm, cloudy and murky and showing no signs of settling down.

But was it not simple enough? Rafar had broken down in front of her a week ago, telling her just how much he missed her, and Evie was sure he was going to say that he still loves her. And, to make matters more interesting, that very same day Rafar went all sincere and teary eyed with her, Adam decided it was high time to proclaim how he felt towards her; indeed, his saying of the three words ‘I love you’ was no surprise to Evie, in fact prior to that day she was anticipating it. And yet, when the time finally came, she was at lost for words, and she was only able to feign sickness. The fact that sincerity and honesty and just pure simple love had radiated off Adam’s words somehow made it more complicated.

Here she was, feeling like she was on a tightrope with both ends on fire above a million mile deep gorge, and the only way to save herself was to reach for one of the ends in time before they burned through. But which end to grab on to? She did not know.

Evie worked on autonomy, doing things without thinking. She was angry with herself for feeling so perplexed and confused. She was angry because she thought she was past the past; she thought she had moved on, strong and full of the will to forget a time she was hurt and vulnerable. But suddenly, in an hour-long conversation saturated with tears, her convictions were shaken.

Rafar, her once eternal lover and ex-husband, was clearly still desperately in love with her, and how convenient was it that he came to realize this at the very moment Evie thought her life was finally heading in a good forward direction? And then there was Adam; fun, charming, sweet Adam who is now in love with her as well; how unfair would this be to him, after all the time they’ve spent getting to know each other? Hell, Evie herself was so sure their relationship was blossoming into something else. Evie had counted on it, had bet on it, had waited for it. She wanted to love him, but suddenly she was unsure.

This past week she has not seen Adam; she was busy, no lie there, but she also thought she would be better off if she did not see him this week. It was selfish of her, but in truth she could not bear to see Adam’s face light up with hope each time he saw her and took her hands in his. She did not want to diminish the expectation he clearly kept. She thought if he did not expect anything, then it would be more unlikely for her to hurt him.

Why am I feeling this? Just because he shows up crying on your doorstep? Evie, get a grip! But she knew it was something more than that. She could not deny how special Rafar was to her… and also how special Adam has become to her. One she had loved and died for, the other she wanted to love and live for.

What is going on with me? It’s not like I’ve been faced with a choice, right? Rafar did not say anything. Adam just said he loved me. Am I at some sort of crossroad? Do I have to decide? Do I have to make a choice? No, maybe she didn’t. On the other hand, why else would Adam tell her how he felt? And why else would Rafar suddenly turn up and profess just how much he longed for her, and that was it, wasn’t it: he longed for her?

Evie felt the very foundations she had tried to re-build her life on were shaken. Her heart and head felt so confused, so upended. What happened to her resolve and her desire to live again after her separation from Rafar? She thought she had promised herself she would no longer be ‘Sugar’, but she would be ‘Evie Nadia’. But now she could not fathom what she was supposed to do.

Rafar. Adam. Adam. Rafar. What do you two want from me?!!

AND WHY IS THIS MESSING ME UP! I SHOULDN’T FEEL THIS WAY! Evie yelled in her mind. She glanced at the clock on her desk and saw it was fifteen minutes to five; she decided to call it a day and just leave.



Like a summer rain,
That cools the pavement with a patent leather shine,
You came into my life and made the living fine.
And gave new meaning to this empty world of mine,
You fill my heart…

“Alright… and… we’re done!” Rafar said as he fired of the last shot of the day. He was in the studio, doing a magazine fashion spread. The model in front of him was a tall Punjabi girl with the clearest grey eyes and the body of a Greek goddess. But Rafar had barely noticed her beauty, and he had directed the shoot with clinical detachment, his mood objective and passionless.

About an hour and a half later he left the studio with his gear and headed straight to a nasi campur restaurant. There he had rice with stir-fried bean sprouts, chicken curry, half a salted egg and some sambal, washing it all down with a glass of soya milk. But the taste of the food was like the photo shoot; detached, meaningless, empty.

It was just a necessity, just another thing to do on, just part of his routine. Life, for him, had become just that.

He would wake up before dawn, and after Subuh prayers he would drive to his studio or lab or whatever location he had to be at for the day. Then he would do whatever it was he was commissioned to do; a magazine spread, an advertisement, a wedding, an award ceremony.

It was all the same thing. Arrive, prepare, shoot, leave. When he got hungry, like just now, he had a meal. If he was tired he asked for a fifteen-minute break where he would just sit down and shut his eyes. At the end of the day, he would go home, just like he was doing now, shower afresh, watch some television or read a book or more likely do post-processing, and go to bed as early as he could, which, unfortunately for him, was almost always about 0200. Then he would wake up again and repeat the entire process the next day.

If Evie was distracted from work, Rafar seemed, to his clients anyway, focused. But only he knew that it was not focus, but just the fact he’s been doing it for so long. He felt robotic, programmed to do the same job well over and over again.

Robots, however, did not waste away like he had. Despite eating regular meals, something was definitely wrong with his metabolism. He’s lost a lot of weight this past few months. His jeans had gone down two sizes, and his clothes hung looser on his frame. People had pointed it out, of course. Evie had pointed it out. He had promised Evie he would take care of himself, but why should he? He did not know how. Evie knew. If Evie were with him, she would take care of him.

I miss her! Rafar thought as he sat slumped on his sofa, his chin almost to his chest. He felt pathetic. He felt like he was a character in some awful romance story published in an online serial, who was dying because he could not have the one he truly loved. How melodramatic. He also felt like a stupid jerk. His current predicament was his own doing. He had no one to blame but him self. Maybe he deserved to be miserable after all.

Last week he was struck by a bout of longing and yearning so strong he decided to try his luck and just show up at Evie’s office building. She was, of course. And he had made her listen to him, even if he thought she had done so more out of sympathy for his pitiful state rather than a genuine concern. But it was okay; the important thing was she had listened. In truth Rafar was himself unsure what he would say to her that day. He had ended up breaking down like a sissy. To his surprise Evie, too, had cried with him.

Rafar had tried to say he loved her when a phone interrupted their conversation. And then he had noticed a look of concern cross her face when she had looked at her phone, and he knew Evie was seeing someone else. His heart had faltered, but he did not say. What could he say anyway? She was not his. Not anymore. But when Evie had hugged him as they bid goodbye Rafar felt a fire ignite within him.

I want her again, Rafar thought. If only she could see I want her, and I have wanted her all this time, and that I will not make the same mistake I did before. Maybe then…

Perhaps there is hope? But he would not be betting on hope. Hope was brittle. It could easily be broken with even the slightest misplaced touch. He had already made the foolish mistake of being pretentious and assuming before. He did not want to make another mistake that would lead him further away from having Evie again.



You fill my heart with very special things,
With angel songs and wild imaginings.
You fill my soul with so much love,
That everywhere I go I'm never lonely,
With you along who could be lonely?
I reach for your hand; it’s always there…

He has not seen Evie for a week now. She told him she was swamped with work, and also that she was a bit under the weather, and Adam had no reason to doubt her. Still, he wanted to see her so badly.

But alas, he too, had work to do. After all, a restaurant was not going to run by itself. Luna at Bangsar was enjoying a good start, with good customers coming in to dine and so far, feedback has been positive. Adam had been worried; it was his first time opening a restaurant. But half a year on, he was confident Luna would be a success.

He had spent years dedicated to his career, culminating in Luna. Most of that dedication stemmed from the fact he lost a beautiful fiancé to illness some time ago, so he had buried himself in work as a way of mourning. He thought the day he saw Luna make him a wealthy man would be the day he can put his mourning to rest.

Until, of course, that fateful day when a simply lovely woman had showed up at his restaurant. Though he has never told Evie this, he was stunned the first time he clapped his eyes on her. At the time he could almost hear the gears of Fate grinding, turning luck in his favor. When Evie had left the restaurant, Adam knew he just had to see her again.

So he had put on a thick face and surprised her with coffee right at her office building. Thank God for business cards. Much to his delight, he and Evie had hit if off almost immediately. She was charming and sweet, funny without being overtly so. It was as if she was tailor made for him. Adam thought Evie was the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, or ever would see. He did not care that she had been married once; that was the past.

When his fiancé passed away, some part of him was convinced he would not love again. But with Evie, that conviction began to erode and falter bit by bit, as sure as a river that runs through the mountains, cutting paths into the earth. Maybe, what, three, four months? Maybe it was a little quick to be falling in love, but damn it if he was not sure about it. In fact he felt so sure about it. There was this purity he felt between them; words unspoken. Adam was almost sure that Evie was simply waiting for him too say those three sacred words.

He thought he had timed it well. After that incredibly romantic, unreal moment they had shared on the beach, he knew for sure how he felt. And he was 100% certain she felt the same way and was just waiting for him to be the gentleman and say it first. So he did. He had imagined Evie’s eyes would water and she would hold him close and whisper the same words he said.

Instead, the night he said it, she had claimed she was not feeling too well. On the upside, she had hugged him, had kissed his cheek even, but Adam knew then that something was amiss. Why else would she suddenly avoid the issue?

Adam sighed. He was in his office at the restaurant; it was evening and his staff was busy preparing for dinner service. He felt like calling Evie but decided against it. He had already called earlier today, and indeed she sounded unwell and tired, her voice strained and weak.

“Hey, I miss you,” he had said earlier. Silence greeted him for a few seconds.

“I miss you too Adam…” Evie said.

“When can I see you?”

“Soon. I'm sorry, I'm just swamped with work and I'm kinda not well. I’ll call you, okay?”

Adam had said okay and unconsciously he had waited for the call; but it never came. He told himself not to be foolish and expect her to call straight away.

So he went to work. If Evie was distracted and Rafar was focused, Adam was as passionate as ever at his restaurant. He was a hands-on sort of boss, bustling about in the kitchen, helping staff, scolding staff, making sure everything was running smoothly. When, after lunch service, he received positive feedback and compliments from the guests, he had felt incredibly proud. He thanked and congratulated his team of chefs and he retired to his office.

There he made calls and checked his finances and statements and stock inventory. He printed out a working timetable, setting shifts and planning menus. He was engrossed in it, paying meticulous attention to detail to every aspect of his business. He wanted Luna to be not just financially successful for him, but also emotionally and mentally gratifying. He wanted it to be a beacon, a shining symbol of his hard work.

And now that he was on his way, he could only think that he wanted to share this with somebody, and he wanted that somebody to be Evie Nadia Hakimi.

As sure and as certain as the sun brings day and the moon brings forth night, Adam was in love with Evie Nadia.



How long does it last?
Can love be measured by the hours in a day?

Later in the day.

Now Evie was home, having showered and changed into more comfortable clothes, and she was lying down on her sofa. She had just taken some painkillers and drank a whole bottle of water. She felt tired. When she had reached home she thought of calling Adam. Or maybe Rafar. Adam, actually. But how was Rafar doing?

In the end she called neither of them, though she expected Adam to drop her a line later. She thought of Adam. He deserved to know something at least, did he not? Evie thought it was unfair if she kept quiet about her conflicting emotions. If Adam loved her, then the least she could do is to tell him to give her a bit of time to think. Evie wanted to give him a chance. She also knew if she were to go ahead with Adam, she wanted herself to have a clear conscience. She did not want to start being serious with someone if she herself was not so sure about what she really felt.

Again the thought angered her. This was not supposed to be difficult. Things were going wonderfully between Adam and her until Rafar showed up looking like he just got off a sinking ship; and the sight of her ex-husband looking so in need of care and attention had broke through whatever barrier she had put up in her heart.

What should I do? Evie asked herself.

Meanwhile, in another part of Kuala Lumpur, Rafar sat in front of his iMac, importing the photographs he had taken today. Again, he was on autopilot: he was barely aware of what he was doing despite the fact that, to an outsider, he seemed precise and sure of his actions.

Rafar thought of calling Evie, but then he thought: what for? He supposed Evie was out somewhere with a new friend, and he did not want to interfere anymore.

He was in a bad mood. He felt like a drunk, drowning in the bottle and singing odes to a dead memory. He hated being alone in his apartment at times like this because the memory of Evie Nadia popped up everywhere he looked.

In his mind, a memory of the best times he had spent with her played on an infinite loop. The memories came to him like an old video recording, with scratch lines and grain, the camera angles jittery and unstable, and there was no sound, and it seemed like it was speeded up. He saw himself not through his own eyes, but through the eyes of an outsider who knew what he had just let go, like a child looking tearfully at an old toy Mother decided was too dirty to keep anymore.

Oh my God, will you STOP dwelling on your mistakes, you miserable excuse for a man! He thought. But although he tried he could not. And he did not want to. Because to him, right now in one of his darkest hours, all he ever wanted was the past, and what the past had brought him.

“I want Evie back with me,” he said out loud to himself.

In Bangsar, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the dinner service at Luna tonight was running slowly. Adam decided to leave the kitchen and made his sous-chef run the show for the night. He changed into his regular clothes and left Bangsar. On his drive home he rang Evie on her phone.

“Hello baby,” he said when she answered.

“Hello, hi.”

Adam listened, trying to detect if she was still ill, but to no avail. “Hey, how are you feeling?”

A silence. “I'm okay I guess. I just took some Panadol and was lying down, being a potato.”

“Oh, I'm sorry I bothered you…”

“It’s alright. Are you at home?”

“I'm on the way. I thought I wanted to see you tonight, but you’re not too good are you? That’s fine then.”


Silence. Then she said, “Adam, I'm sorry.”

Adam tried to keep his voice neutral. “What for?”

“Well,” Evie said on the line. “I’ve just been too swamped and tired and not feeling too good, and it’s been a week since we last saw each other, and-“

Adam cut her off. “Hey, baby, it’s alright, it’s alright. It’s not your fault, so you don’t have to apologize, okay?”

“Uhm.. Okay. I promise I’ll see you as soon as I get better or my workload lightens up; whichever comes first. We’ll have dinner, maybe a movie?”

“That sounds great. Listen, I'm driving actually. I’ll call you back?”

“Sure. Take care Adam.”



“… Nothing. I miss seeing you is all.”

There was another silence on the line. Adam did not like it, but what could he do?

“I miss you too Adam. I really do,” Evie said. Then they said their goodbyes and hung up.


As soon as Adam hung up the phone Evie bit her lip and suddenly burst into tears. It was an odd defense mechanism that was triggered whenever she felt overwhelmed: she would just break down crying. She suddenly felt so wrong about her mixed emotions. She felt that this was happening too quickly. How can she go from being so sure of what she wanted to being suddenly conflicted? Was it really going to come down between a choice between Adam and Rafar? She was not sure. Right now she felt like she did not want to know. Evie felt weak and foolish. She felt like she was giving something uncertain to both Adam and Rafar.

Rafar had finished importing the photos and sat at his desk, leaning back on his chair. He gazed into empty space, his mind distant and adrift. He thought maybe he should go out, have some fun. But where on earth would he go? Who would he meet? It did not matter. He would still be thinking of Evie. He could not escape from it now. His longing for her grew bigger and bigger with each passing moment. All he could think of, and all he wished for right now, was for Evie to have him back and love him like she used to. All he yearned for at the moment was to be with her, to make love to her, and for all this to be forgiven if not forgotten. But yearning was a dangerous thing; it made one hope for something that might never ever be attained again.

Adam reached home and thought of calling Evie again. He could not help it. He reached for his phone, dialed the number but immediately pressed the end button before the call got through. He should not appear so desperate. He was disappointed, of course. Maybe he should have gone a bit a slower, and waited for a better time to say he was in love with Evie. Maybe by saying it he seemed too eager and made her scared. After all, she had been married before, and her husband had left her, right? So maybe that was it: she was just scared. Well if so, Adam thought, then I'm going to show her that she need not be scared. I will love her until the end of my time on this world. I will promise her that. And I will keep it.

These three people, in different places around Kuala Lumpur, sat alone in their houses, pondering their situations. One of was unsure of her own present; another was yearning for something he let go in the past and fears he lost, and the other was adamant that he will build a wonderful future. As these three people sat by themselves, they were unaware that at one almost precise moment, all three of them spoke the same sentence out loud:

“I want to be with you.”

I have no answers now but this much I can say,
I know I’ll need you until the stars all burn away;
And you’ll be there…


the verses are from the song 'Where Do I Begin?' as sung by Shirley Bassey, and slightly modified. the song is from the movie 'Love Story', a huge influence on Talking With An Alternate You.


this took me three hours to write, wth.
it's a bit messy. sorry.

- edwan


February 16, 2009

Over Coffee/Briefly At KLCC


to all readers; please leave feedback regarding this particular episode if you could: it's valuable and i would greatly appreciate it.

- edwan


She sat there drinking a smoothie, her eyes fixated on Rafar. He looked undernourished, thin and just plain tired. There were dark circles beneath his eyes that even the plastic rimmed glasses he wore could not hide. How long has it been since they last met? Was it two or three months? How could he have gone from healthy to this? He must have been starving himself, Evie wondered.

“I know how I look,” he said gently when he noticed that she was staring at him.

“No, it’s not… oh what the hell, yes it is. You look awful,” Evie said, not bothering to hide what she thought.

He took a swig of his coffee. They were at the café down at the office building Evie worked at. The very same café Adam had waited for her at the first time he chatted her up. How different are the circumstances; if it was a cheerful and charming new friend before, now it is her thin and ill looking ex-husband. Despite her recent disassociation from him, Evie’s heart could not help but reach out. She felt like she wanted to hold him in her arms and ask him what’s wrong and tell him things were going to be alright, though she did not say it out loud. At the same time she was vaguely uneasy. Mixed emotions were perhaps the best way of describing how she felt right now.

“Oh wow, I can’t believe you said that. I was sort of hoping for ‘Oh Rafar, you look fine’,” Rafar said smiling. Even his smile looked tired and ghostly, like it was a blurry, out of focus photograph.

“We’ve never hid what we mean behind fallacy. No bullshit, right?” she said.

“I guess not.”

“Have you been working too much? You haven’t been eating well have you? Are you ill?”

Evie realized she sounded just like she did back then every time Rafar was not feeling well, when they were still together. Despite what had happened between them, she could not deny she still cared for him. Seeing him looking like this, was, to put it into words, breaking her heart. Suddenly, without thinking, and to her own surprise, she took his hand in hers. Rafar did not say anything, but he did not pull back his hand either.


Rafar leaned forward in his chair. His eyes cast downwards, almost as if he was looking into the own deep pools of his soul and emotions, like drawing water from a well. It seemed to cost him a lot of effort as well. His lips stammered, and Evie could see his temples pulsing. Evie was worried. She thought Rafar was sick; a morbid part of her mine was thinking that Rafar was here to tell her he was dying of some terminal illness.

“Are you sick? Please tell me if you are,” Evie said, the worry obvious in her voice.

He smiled and shook his head. “No, don’t worry. I'm not ill…”

“But you look-“

“Awful, yea I know. But it’s not because of illness. I guess I’ve just been working a lot and haven’t had much to eat or rest,” he said. “At least I'm slimmer, right?”

He ended that sentence with a smile that did not reach his eyes. Instead it was strained and forced, a smile of irony. Evie tightened her hand around his. She felt terrible to see him so devoid of life and vitality. Granted, he was never the kind to go frolicking with stardust in his hair anyway, but at least he was always healthy. Now he looked like a wraith. And in just three months? What would happen if this goes on? He’d waste away! Evie thought.

He had said he came to talk. Now that he has said he was not ill or dying (much to her relief), Evie guessed there was only one thing that he would want to talk about. She knew he wanted to talk about them, their relationship. She would indulge him today. It was not wrong to do so anyway. But first she had to get something out of the way.

“Rafar, I'm sorry the last time we met I just stormed off, angry at you. I should have been more, uh, diplomatic I guess.”

He stifled a short laugh. “It’s fine. You were right to be angry anyway.”

“You said you wanted to talk about something?” Evie said, her voice caressing, encouraging.

“I do. I did. But now I don’t know if it’s such a good idea. I don’t know. Maybe,” he said. “I don’t know.”

“Well... I'm here. So come on, let’s talk. I promise I won’t get angry. I’ll try anyway,” she smiled. “We can talk.”

Rafar raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? I mean, do you have the time? I'm not bothering you or anything?”

Evie briefly thought about her date with Adam, but she supposed she could listen for a moment. “No, I don’t have anything to do; not right now anyway. So come on, let’s talk.”

“Okay,” he said. “Okay.”

Evie smiled at him. This was the first time she had seen Rafar look nervous and slightly stammering since the day he had first hinted at her that he loved her, many years ago, on that night he had come up to her at a café in front of their old college, ‘apologizing’ for being a ‘bad husband’. Has it really been that long? She thought uneasily.

“Well, to start, I’ll say again that I'm not sick, and I'm not dying, so please don’t have that worried look on your face. You’re not as pretty when you look worried.”

“Okay, but I can’t help it when you look like something the cat dragged in.”

“Eheh. Cat’s don’t bring in Wiseguys.”

Smiles from both of them. Silence.



To her utmost surprise she saw tears welling beneath his eyes. Then as quickly as they had appeared, he took off his ‘Weezer’ glasses and wiped his eyes. But they came yet again.

“Oh damn,” he said softly under his breath. Evie waited, her heart aching.


“Yes, Rafar?”

He looked at her.

“Evie, I miss you.”


“Evie, I miss you. I think I miss you so much. Saya rindu awak,” he said. Evie was quiet. She just stared at him, her gaze not moving away from the tears forming fat droplets beneath his eyelids. She hoped nobody would see him like this, vulnerable and open. Luckily there was nobody much at the café this time anyway. He continued.

“I think I miss you so much that I can’t help but think of you every time I'm awake. And when I think of you it hurts me, deeply, inside, and it puts me off doing anything good for myself.”

One tear dropped from his eye. It formed a clear streak that shone beneath the light of the café. Evie fought the urge to reach out and wipe it away.

“I know I don’t look so good right now,” he said. “And certainly you think I look weak, maybe pathetic even. But I guess I don’t care. I’ve never felt so… honest, ever. So if people see me like this today, I don’t actually give a shit.”

Evie nodded. She bit her lower lip as another tear fell from his eyes. The teardrop was rounded, pearly and it glided across his cheek before disappearing beneath his chin. He wiped it away this time.

“When I'm at work or doing work I guess I'm fine. But it’s those in betweens that really tear me apart. Ever since lately I’ve been reminded of you every time I do even the littlest of things. Like, I was making coffee and I remembered how you used to like it: one teaspoon coffee and 4 teaspoons sugar with milk.”

He sniffed back a sob and smiled, sadly. “I know, it’s silly isn’t it? I feel like a girl, haha…”

Evie did not say anything. She just let him talk as yet another tear dropped onto his cheek.

“I never thought that clichés could be so true. You know, the old ‘mandi tak basah, tidur tak lena and makan tak kenyang thing?’ Well look at me now.

Ever since that lunch at Raju’s, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I mean, when I went home I told myself ‘Rafar, you fool, it’s over, now just get on with your fricking life’, I thought. But I couldn’t. Can’t.

I guess it’s a guilt complex? I don’t know. But ever since that day I thought about you, and how you’ve always been there for me, how you’ve always loved me. And I’d always remember the day I saw you crying alone after we divorced. And when I think of that I’ll always cry, because I knew I could have been there for you but I wasn’t. I knew I could have come back for you but I didn’t. I knew we’d probably have made it work if only I had come back and tried, but I didn’t.

What I did however was run away. I decided to run away from the best thing that’s ever happened in my life. I ran away from you.”

Now Evie could not help but shed tears herself. She wiped them away with a tissue. She no longer cared if people were looking. She has never seen Rafar like this, so open, vulnerable and honest. Not even the day they were married. Or the first time they made love, which, unbeknownst to Rafar, she too, sometimes dreamed of. Right now, if truth were made of gold and diamonds, Rafar would be a billionaire.

“I was rummaging through my old stuff,” he said. “And I found a card; it was the card I gave you during our first wedding anniversary. Do you remember what it said?”

Evie nodded, and when she spoke her voice was whispered in a feeble attempt to hide her emotions. “Forever starts today my love.”

“Right, eheh,” Rafar said. “And I think we went to Pangkor a few days later didn’t we? Our gift to each other?”

Evie nodded again and wiped her eyes, now red and slightly swollen. Rafar’s tears had somewhat stopped, but his eyes, too, were reddened and slightly puffy. It made his face look even more tired.

“I'm sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, but do you remember we spent our first night at Pangkor in bed, doing nothing but making love?”

“I do,” Evie said.

Rafar gazed downwards. “These past few months I feel like I’ve been living in a dream, a dream that is forcing me to re-live all our best memories, and I even dream of the funny ones. Like, remember the time we went cycling at Titiwangsa and somehow I lost control of my bike and went straight into the lake?”

Evie laughed through her tears. “I remember! Thank god it was shallow where you fell.”

“And the time we were talking and you said that when you were younger, you thought that James Bond was the King of England?”

“You teased me for days after that!”

They laughed together, and the sound of their laughter together was a wonderfully familiar but sadly distant sound, like an audio recording from decades ago, re-mastered for modern formats: it was still the same, but it did not seem quite ‘there’. Evie wiped her eyes. Rafar was suddenly quiet. She herself did not know what to say as of yet. They reminisced for a moment, both of them clearly trying to lift the mood of the situation, but both of them failing miserably.

“I think, “ he said. “This is my penance for leaving you, for all the times I could have been there for you. This is a twist of fate; that I should live my days remembering the past and wasting away like this… Nothing feels good anymore. I wake up, work, go home, and work. And in those in betweens all I could think of is you, Evie Nadia.

How you’ve changed! I thought you could never be as beautiful as you already were, but you’ve proved me wrong. And you’re successful, smart. How could I have ever thought of leaving you, even I can’t say for sure right now. Maybe I was just stupid. Selfish. Selfishly stupid.”

Evie bit her lower lip again. Rafar’s voice was breaking up. The wells of tears formed in his eyes again. A tiny plop! As one little teardrop fell on his cheek.

“But what use is pondering over my mistakes, opening doors of yesterday and weeping over deeds long done though never forgotten. I’ve made my mistakes, so now I have to live with the knowledge of them. Until I die, I guess. Which by the look of things, could be soon? Eheh eheh…”

“Don’t say that!” Evie scolded, her brows furrowing.

“I'm sorry.”




“I'm not ever sure if that was what I came to talk to you about… I guess I just needed to see you because,” his squeezed and his lips were twisted in a grimace as pure, unbridled sadness tore at his face. He looked away from her, trying to hide his pain. Evie’s own eyes watered again just looking at this. Evie knew he thought he was pathetic. It radiated in dull, heavy waves off of him, and that broke her heart even more. He took a deep breath and looked at her again, his eyes shiny with tears. A few other people were looking at them, or pretending not to look.

“I needed to see you because I missed you, I missed you so much.”

Evie grabbed his hand. “Rafar, janganlah macam ni…”

“I'm sorry. This… this is a weak moment for me, though I guess that’s obvious…”

Evie could not say anything. She could only cry.



“I don’t know what it’s worth right now… But Evie, I lo-“

BUZZ! Her mobile phone suddenly rang. She said ‘Sorry’ and fished it out of her handbag and looked to see a text message. It was from Adam:

‘Babe, I'm on my way home. I booked tix for the movie ☺ see you in an hour?’

“Oh cripes,” she said as she remembered her date with Adam. She looked at her watch and realized she had been talking with Rafar for about an hour or so. She still needed to get home to freshen up and change. Despite this tender moment with Rafar, she thought it would be mean of her if she blew off Adam. She wiped her face, drying her eyes. She noticed Rafar was doing the same.

“Rafar, dear, I'm sorry, but I think I have to go…”

He nodded. “It’s alright, I think I’ve taken too much of your time anyway…”

“It’s okay… it was… it was lovely to talk to you. Were you about to say something before my phone rang? Sorry.”

Rafar pondered for a moment, then shook his head. “No.”


He nodded.

“Okay. Sorry. I'm sorry I have to go.”

He waved a hand, nodding his head. They got up and Evie asked how he came here. He said he came by car, and he was parked at the building opposite. For a moment they stood there, awkward, both of them unsure how to say goodbye. Then Evie thought the hell with it and hugged Rafar; he gently put his hands on her waist and she could feel his breath on her neck.

“I’ll see you,” she said as they broke the hug. “And please, eat properly and take care of yourself? Please? For me?”

“Okay,” he nodded slowly. “I will. For you.”

They said goodbye and Evie watched him leave the building. She was hoping for him to turn around and wave but he did not, so she rushed to her car and sped back home, where she took a shower. She looked at herself in the mirror and decided her eyes were not so puffy. She got dressed and put on her best smile, just in time as Adam rang her phone to tell her he had arrived down at her apartment. Adam was bright and cheery as usual, and his eyes widened when he saw her. With Adam, Evie thought, it was like he’s seeing you for the first time every time he sees you.

They drove to KLCC in Adam’s sleek black Honda NSX. The movie was a period-piece drama, and afterwards they had dinner at a posh Indian restaurant. Evie enjoyed the date, and she enjoyed being with Adam. They were holding hands now when they walked, though they have yet to say how their emotions out loud. But for all this, Evie felt she was distracted throughout the date, like there was something nagging her mind, like the thought of you leaving something on the stove or forgetting to lock the door before you went to bed. Adam must have noticed this as they were strolling hand in hand at the park after dinner.

“Hey, sweetness, are you alright?” he asked, politely.


She glanced up at his eyes and shook her head. A band of hair fell on her face, and she pushed it behind her ear. “I'm alright. Just a little tired I guess…”

“Do you wanna go home? Get some rest?” he asked, the concern in his voice sincere.

“No, no. I'm fine, really. Come on, let’s walk.”

She hooked an arm around his and slightly leaned her head on his shoulder as they walked. They were now on the bridge above the fountain-pool. He stopped and they looked across the still water, to the main square beneath the Twin Towers. He leaned his arms on the railing. Evie did the same beside him, her eyes distant, disconnected from her thoughts.

“Hey Evie,” he said suddenly and held her hand.


“Do you think things are going cool between us?”

“What? What do you mean?”

He shook his head. “Sorry, that didn’t come out right. I mean, are you happy? Being with me, spending time with me?”

Evie smiled and said, “Yes, of course. Isn’t it obvious already? We are holding hands.”

“Yeah,” he said. “But we haven’t really talked about us.”

Adam turned to face her and took both of her hands in his.

“I think that since we started seeing each other, I’ve never felt happier. I'm being honest. I miss you when we’re not with each other and I think about you a lot these days.”

Evie’s heart seemed to stop; this was the second time today someone was telling her they missed her and thought about her often. But…

“Okay, sure, though this holding hands thing is a dead give-away,” Adam continued. “But I’ll say it anyway.”

Evie bit her lower lip for perhaps the hundredth time today. Adam looked into her face, his own face eager and full of affection.

“Evie, I… I'm crazy about you. From the first day we met. You’re the most amazing, most smart, most beautiful woman I’ve known. I… I…”

He took a deep breath. “Evie Nadia, I love you.”

Evie looked into his eyes. She wanted to say something but couldn’t. Was this not the moment she had been waiting for with Adam? Was this not what she was hoping her relationship with Adam would lead to? Is this not the crux of her life, a turning point for her to rebuild her own castle in the sky and never see it fall?

It was. It was all that, she could not lie. And yet… and yet…

Photographs at FlickR. The stolen glances. 11 years ago. He was standing in the rain. “Sugar, I love you,” he had said, and then they were running together in the rain. “I always knew! I knew you love me!” she had said as they ran. Funny riddles. Spontaneous trips. The sight of him leaving for a year. “I’ll miss you always, and I guess I'll be talking with an alternate you,” he wrote in a letter. The engagement. Their wedding. The passion when they had made love. Their anniversary. ‘Forever starts today.’ The subtle scent of Calvin Klein Be. Lying on his chest at night, talking until dawn. The touch of his hands on her body. The taste of his lips. The day he left her. And this afternoon, the sincerity in his tears.

“Evie?” Adam said. She was startled. Evie realized she must have been lost in her thoughts.

“Evie, I, uh, I don’t mean to sound like a dumbass, but I guess you could say something as well?” Adam asked. He had an apologetic look on his face.

Dear, sweet Adam. Evie put a hand to his face, and caressed his cheek. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing but sincerity there; she believed him when he had said he loves her. She wanted to say it too, because, to an extent, it was true… But…

“Adam, I…” she said. He looked at her, his face hopeful. Evie struggled with her words.

“Adam I don’t feel so well…” she managed to say in the end. She saw a flash of disappointment in his face, but he covered it well. She turned her look away, not wanting to see the hurt.

“You’re not well? You wanna go home?” he asked, putting an arm across her shoulders. She nodded.

“Yes, I think I ate something that disagreed with me. I'm sorry…”

He shook his head. “It’s okay. Alright, come, let’s get you back home.”

They drove back to her apartment, and Adam insisted that he walk her back all the way to her door. They stood there for a moment. He had his hands in his pockets.

“You’re going to be okay?” he asked. Evie nodded.

“I'm sorry for tonight. I suddenly don’t feel too good,” she said.

“It’s alright. You do look a bit tired. Well,” he smiled. “There’s always next time right?”

“Right,” Evie said and smiled back. She knew he wanted to say ‘I love you’ to her again; she could see it in his eyes and the way he looked at her and the tone of his voice. She felt so sorry she could not say it back, though it was her that had been waiting for that moment to happen. But now… she just felt confused. Something happened today that she did not expect nor had any dream of figuring out as soon as she thought she could. She felt she needed time to mull things over.

Suddenly things felt like they were going too fast.

“Well, goodnight Babe,” he said. There was sad tone to his voice that Evie felt so sorry for.

“Adam,” she said… and then she held her arms out and embraced him. He hugged her back, and Evie felt him smell her hair. She let it be. As they broke the hug she kissed him on the cheek, a tender kiss, filled with an emotion she was not fully sure of and could not even say out loud.

“Goodnight,” she said. Adam’s face was red, and she thought he was at least a bit happier now. He waved goodbye and went down the elevator as Evie closed the door behind her. She changed, brushed her teeth and washed her face and immediately went to bed.

And yet she could not fall asleep for hours.





Adam… Rafar…


tiba saatnya kita saling bicara
tentang perasaan yang kian menyiksa...


February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

hold on:
do note this is a 'special' Valentine's Day episode, and not part of the official Season 4 continuity, although it is canonical. this one story takes place about 6 years ago, during Evie and Rafar's first year of marriage. perhaps it shows what it was like before.

hope you like it

- Edwan


Six Years Ago

Evie Nadia roused from slumber when she felt the soft touch of lips on her cheek, and the slight tickle of hair on her skin. She slowly opened her eyes, and squeezed the gum out of them and yawned. She looked up to see Rafar's face above her, a short, subtle smile on his lips. Evie lay down, her face a bit dazed from sleep. Rafar was sitting beside her on the bed.

"Good morning," he said. Then he bent down and kissed her lips. Evie raised her arms and put them around his neck, beckoning him to kiss her again. He laughed.

"Oit. That will have to wait, I have to go to work now."

Evie frowned. "Already? What time is it?"

"It's seven o'clock Sayang. I have to be on site in forty-five minutes."

He kissed her on the forehead and left the room, presumably to get his stuff. He had a photoshoot today, and it would probably take him all day long, maybe until after dusk. Evie wished she could come with him, but she knew she'd probably get in his way of work. Anyway, the shoot was likely to be long, boring and hot.

But she was slightly upset about something. Today was the fourteenth of February. Ever since they dated they would go out on the fourteenth of February. Dinner, movie, walk in the park. Something, anyway. They've done that for the past five years. It was sort of ironic that, now, in their first year of marriage, Rafar had to work today.

Evie stretched her limbs and got off the bed. She was dressed in a pink baby-tee and boxer shorts; his boxer shorts. She went to the living room where Rafar was already putting on his shoes.

"I can't believe you have to work today," Evie said, and she stuck out her lower lip.

"Well," Rafar said while tying his laces. "Don't feel too bad. Anyway, I'm your husband, isn't it my responsibility to work so I can provide?"

"But on Valentine's Day!"

"Haha, yes, on Valentine's Day as well. Come rain or high-water, haha. Now come here," he said as he stood up. Evie walked towards him and he put his hands on her waist. In turn, she hung her hands around his neck. Rafar kissed her.

"If all goes well, I'll be finished before Maghrib. Maybe we can go out later, if I'm not too tired, hm? Okay?"

Evie feigned disinterest. She looked aside. Rafar tried again.

"Dinner? Movie?"

This time she looked back at him and grinned. "Heee.."

"Right, so that's settled. Look, I gotta go," he said. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek, gathered his stuff and went down the stairs of their apartment building. "I'll call you before I come back okay?"

Evie nodded and waved her husband goodbye. For a moment she stood there, leaning in the doorway. Then she closed the door and took a long shower before making breakfast and reading the newspapers. She skimmed through the headlines, and eventually settled in the 'About Town' section. Of course, she looked through hundreds of promotions for Valentine's Day. Sushi, 3-course dinner, Table For Two, etcetera.

Evie grabbed a pen and circled some restaurants. Later she'd try calling, though she knew that all those places were likely fully booked. The only reason she had not booked a place was because she knew Rafar had to work today. They had known it for weeks beforehand. Still, she could always try her luck.

After breakfast Evie wanted to watch some television but all the shows were boring, so in the end she made herself a cup of hot chocolate with those tiny white marshmallows and sat on the sofa listening to music. Outside, the cacophany of noises that signaled another day for Kuala Lumpur had already begun; blaring horns, engines, shouts, the occasional police siren.

As she sipped her chocolate she thought of her life. She was so happy. Ever since they had started dating five years ago, Evie knew she would end up with Rafar as his wife. She had counted on it, and had bet her entire life to get where she is right now. When Rafar's family had come to her house asking for her hand in marriage, she felt like she wanted to scream and cry in delight at the same time. And of course her family had said yes because she had said yes.

They had gotten engaged, and about a year after that they got married. The journey was not all smooth sailing; at first they tended to disagree about minor details, and sometimes the things they wanted to do encountered set-backs. For instance, Evie had originally wanted to give guests small boxes containing chocolate truffles with Rafar and her names on them, but somehow the caterer had misplaced her initial order and only managed to deliver less than a quarter of her desired amount so she ended up giving regular sweets, and about two nights prior to the ceremony, the pelamin at her venue collapsed after someone had dropped a televison (yes! a televison!) on it.

But Rafar and her had waded through the often stressful process of planning the wedding; in fact, a year earlier they had pooled their savings together to purchase this apartment they were now living in. And the wedding, of course, had gone beautifully. She truly did feel like a queen during the ceremonies.

Without realizing it, Evie was smiling by herself. Her heart was filled, almost overflowing with her love for Rafar. Sweet, lovely Rafar. She knew they would be together forever. She felt it in her blood, and saw it in his eyes.

At about quarter past ten, Evie began calling the places she had picked out from the newspapers. Much to her (albeit expected) disappointment, most of them were fully booked, or could only offer her a table at a time when Rafar and herself could not make it. When she finally hung up on the last place she had picked, Evie sighed, her shoulders slumping. She blew a strand of hair that had fallen on her forehead and pushed her glasses up her nose.

What should I do? Today should be special!

She tossed aside the newspaper and switched on the television again. She settled on a cooking show, and that's when it dawned on her: I should make a Valentine's dinner; if we can't go, then we'll let dinner come to us! Besides, I have all day long!

Suddenly excited at the prospect, she went to get her laptop and began searching for recipes that were not too difficult to make, and ones where she could easily get ingredients. She surfed for about an hour or so, taking notes and bookmarking pages. Finally she settled on three-course meal that seemed easy enough; she listed the ingredients and printed the recipes, and got dressed to go out shopping.

Evie had decided to make gazpacho soup, steak with vegetables, and strawberry and chocolate mousse. She even made a note to herself to purchase a bottle of that non-alcoholic, sparkling grape juice. With her list of ingredients and a determined mind, Evie went to KLCC to go to the Cold Storage supermarket there.

She never was the domestic type, so she did feel a little embarassed when she somehow got 'lost' in the supermarket, looking for stuff. But eventually she managed to purchase all of the things on her list. Feeling rather pleased with herself, Evie decided to stroll around Suria KLCC before going back home. Maybe I should get a gift? she thought. So she went into Isetan and various shops, looking for something to get for Rafar.

Chocolates? No, he doesn't like sweets. A card? That's kinda lame.

Then she stopped in front of a La Senza lingerie outlet. She stood for a few minutes in front of the shop. They had some sort of Valentine's Day sale. Hmmmm, Evie thought. Maybe...

Half an hour later she walked out, slight grin on her face, and a La Senza bag in one hand.

As soon as she got home she placed the dinner ingredients at the kitchen. Then she decided to spruce up the house a moment, cleaning and decorating it with romantic stuff she ransacked from her collection of knick-knacks. Evie prepared the table, draping a pink chiffon band over it, and placed scented candles and a plastic flower (that wasn't pretty enough for her, but it was all she had).

After that was done she went to the room to try on her new lingerie, and was satisfied with what she saw, and hoped Rafar was going to love it as well. She changed back into her regular clothes and glanced at a clock. Hm, I have plenty of time before dinner, she thought.

She made herself a light lunch and a drink and watched television to pass the time. Evie had already planned this out in her head: she had a rough plan of when to start cooking, to lay out the table, and when to get dressed to surprise Rafar. She thought she would wear a nice, cherry red knee length evening dress tonight. She had even loaded the hi-fi with a cd to play later on, full of their favorite love songs.

Evie yawned and again glanced at the clock. Plenty of time, I need a nap. As she laid herself down on the sofa for a quick nap, she had a smile on her face. Tonight will be the best Valentine's ever.


She woke up when the telephone rang; a bit dazed, she fumbled for the handset and dropped it. She cursed quietly and picked it up.


"Hi Evie." It was Rafar. "You're napping yea? Sorry. But I'll be home in about an hour, then we can go out."

"An hour?" she asked, confused. Was the shoot over?

"Yeah. We're wrapping up here. See you back home alright? Love you," Rafar said and hung up. Evie looked oddly at the handset. An hour? Then she glanced at the clock and saw it was already quarter to seven o'clock.

Crap! I overslept! Oh my God!

She rushed to the kitchen and suddenly forgot her recipes so she rushed back to the living room and grabbed them. Evie cursed herself for not setting an alarm of some sorts, and she felt spears of panic piercing her heart. She only had an hour or so to cook! How was she going to surprise Rafar! She moved quickly in the kitchen, but had to pause often to glance at the recipes. Finally annoyed she just chucked them aside and just followed her intuition. She blanched the tomatoes for the soup, and at the same time tried to make the chocolate and strawberry mousse. At one point she spilled a quart of cream that she had already measured out and she felt like screaming.

As she was peeling the blanched tomatoes she smelled something burning and saw the pan she intended to use to cook the steaks was smoking. She yelled "No! No!" and threw the pan into the sink, where it sizzled upon touching cold water. She put on a fresh pan and decided to cut some vegetables to go with the steaks; but wait, what about the mousse? Have I washed and cut the strawberries? Is my blender ready? Do the steaks need marinade? How should I cook the vegetables? And the soup? Shouldn't gazpacho be served cold? And the sparkling juice was warm because it was standing beside the stove! Wait, the table was set but what about the plates? Cutlery?

No! Evie screamed in her head. No! No! No!


One Hour Fifteen Minutes Later...

"Assalamualaikum," Rafar said as he opened the door and stepped in. He was shouldering a bag, heavy with lenses and cameras. He closed the door behind him. "Evie? You there? I'm home Sayang."

The house was quite silent. Where was she? Rafar thought.

He placed the camera bag on the floor and pulled off his socks. He peered around.

"Evie? Evie, honey?"

Rafar saw the dinner table; it was decorated with adorable motifs. He particularly liked the chiffon band across the table. But nothing was laid on there. From the kitchen he heard the ting-ting of cutlery on glass, and he smelled a mixture of aromas: herbs, spices, chocolate, fruit.

Rafar entered the kitchen and raised his eyebrows. The sink was full of dishes; on the stove were a few pans and a pot that had something which looked like tomato soup. The counter-tops were littered with various foods: there was a plate of very dry looking meat, a colander of strawberries, a chopping board with half-cut French beans and carrots, a jar of sugar, a jar of salt, a pepper grinder, some potatoes, a bowl of egg whites and a loaf of Ciabatta bread.

Evie was sitting cross-legged on the floor, her back leaning on the cabinet. She was in a white t-shirt and shorts, stained with tomatoes, chocolate, oil. A bowl of melted chocolate was in one hand, and in the other a metal spoon. Her hands were stained, and she had a sour expression on her face. She had a faint chocolate stain on her cheek, and her lips were covered in the gooey melted cocoa. Beside her, he could see the green leaves from several strawberries. She looked up to him.

"I wanted to surprise you with a romantic, home-made dinner," she said flatly. "But I fell asleep and did not have enough time to prepare everything before you got home."

Rafar tucked his hands into his pockets. He wanted to laugh but knew it would upset her. "So," he said, raising his eyebrows. "What's for dinner?"

"If you like steak that tastes like charcoal and feels like rubber, it's on the counter top above me. Soup that looks like tomato but tastes like water is on the stove. But I'm sorry, no dessert. There's not enough chocolate because I've been eating it. With strawberries." She belched, gently, onto the back of her hand. "Now I sudah kembung."

Rafar whistled, looking at the mess. "Well..."

Suddenly Evie cried. Rafar sat down on the floor beside her, and put an arm around her shoulders.

"What's wrong Sayang?" he asked.

"Everything! This was supposed to be the best Valentine's!" Evie said through tears. Rafar could not help but smile, but Evie did not see it. When she looked up towards him, he wiped the chocolate stain off her cheek and wiped aside the tears.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I just wanted this year's Valentine's to be special. It is our first V-day as a married couple, you know."

Rafar nodded, smiling. "Well," he said. "It already is special."

Evie wiped her eyes. "How? I messed up!"

"Like you said: it's our first one as a married couple. It's not just this one day that we need to be extra romantic and loving and special. Things are beautiful everyday now that I'm with you. And it will always be beautiful. And even if the steaks look like coal and feel like rubber, I love you anyway."

Evie laughed, a sudden, clear and clean sound through her sobs. "Really?"

"Of course!" he said. "Now come, let's go out to dinner. We can clean up when we get back."

"I already called the nice places. They're fully booked."

Rafar nodded thoughtfully. "So how about McDonalds? Burgers, fries and chocolate shakes and looking at the stars?"

Evie wiped her cheeks and smiled. "That sounds like the best, nicest, most romantic dinner ever, Rafar."

"I love you," Rafar said and kissed her on the lips, deeply. Her lips tasted like chocolate. "Now have a shower and we can go out, okay?"

They got up and Evie went for a shower. Rafar laughed as he looked at the messy kitchen. Still, in his heart, he felt deeply flattered and touched. He went to their bedroom to change clothes. He opened the door to their wardrobe and saw something that piqued his interest.

Well, this is nice, he thought.

As Evie showered she washed off the chocolate stains that had somehow got in her hair. She was still upset things did not go according to how she wanted to, but at least Rafar was okay with it. And she managed to laugh at herself a bit when she thought of how silly she must have looked, sitting on the floor, eating melted chocolate. Then she heard Rafar call her name, his voice a bit muffled through the bathroom door.

"Yes?" she said, raising her voice a little. Rafar said something but she couldn't hear properly. So she opened the door just a bit and poked her head out. "Yes?"

"Are you really hungry right now? McDonald's has a 24-hour drive thru right?" Rafar said. He was standing behind the door of their shared wardrobe, partially obscured from Evie's view.

"Yes, they do," Evie said, wiping water off her face. "Why? Do you have something else you want to do first?"

Rafar closed the wardrobe door and held out the new lingerie set Evie had purchased earlier. She had almost forgotten about it. Rafar eyed the lacy garments curiously.

"Yeah," Rafar said, smiling. There was a naughty look in his eyes. "I do."

Evie blushed.

Maybe tonight was going to be perfect after all.


The best plans of Men and Mice often go astray.


Happy 14/2 to all who celebrate


- Muhammad Edwan Shaharir


February 12, 2009



It was past eight o’clock when Adam finally dropped Evie off at her apartment. Their goodbye was curt, short and sweet: he had taken her hand in his and gently caressed her fingers. And all he said was “I’ll see you.” Evie had felt the heat rise in her cheeks and she just knew she was blushing; all of a sudden she was thankful that it was dim enough so the rouge wouldn’t show. Then Adam had winked and drove off.

After they had watched the sunset together, they had gone to a public restroom (which was thankfully lighted and more importantly clean) to change. Afterwards they had a light early dinner at a warong. For the first time they were not speaking much over a meal; they were quiet, both of them not wanting to say much, both of them knowing that too much words would have ruined the moment. Then they had walked back to the car hand in hand and Adam drove them back to Kuala Lumpur.

The drive home was a relatively quiet one as well. Suddenly both of them seemed to be avoiding eye contact, but not out of discomfort. Evie, for one, knew she was suddenly shy to look him in the face. She felt ridiculous. She felt the way she felt the day many years ago when she had fallen in love for the first time. And Adam seemed a bit nervous whilst driving, like he was taking an exam under the uncomfortable stare of a grumpy JPJ officer. Evie felt like they were getting to know each other all over again; as in, really get to know each other. The flirting and the pick-up lines were all a pretense to this moment in time.

Both of them had prodded and tested each others’ waters, trying to seek a way to start a conversation that would flow naturally, but both of them found it suddenly hard. Evie thought she was being corny and felt lame, and Adam was suddenly out of lines. And yet, in a way, it was not at all inappropriate. Maybe what Evie felt was correct after all: nothing much needed to be said; it was perfect as it is.

She knew, though, that sooner or later, they both would need to have ‘the talk’, because clearly something new was blossoming between them, something unchained by telephone calls or text messages or winking. Something purer and deeper had been stirred in both of their hearts today, at that moment their hands linked together and she had leaned her head on his shoulder, both of them watching the sunset.

It was like a scene from a movie. The kind where people would boo and criticize out loud but secretly watch over and over again because, despite the corniness and the cheesiness, they felt good watching it, and they felt good watching it because it gave them some hope and belief that yes, life can be as beautiful as it is in fairy tales and Hollywood scripts.

To Evie, it had felt exactly like that. Maybe once upon a time she would have thought that the very notion of a moment such as the one she had only existed in fantasy. But having experienced it for herself, she must say its every bit as romantic and beautiful as the movies suggest it is. Even better, she thought, I was in it.

Upon entering her home she immediately stripped off her clothes and had a long hot shower. She dried off and dressed and crashed herself on the bed with a book in hand (‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova). She read a few chapters, lying on her stomach with her feet dangling in the air. Then she felt distracted and chucked the book away and lay down staring at the ceiling.

Evie sighed, and in her mind she kept picturing that moment on the beach over and over again; sometimes it was in slow motion but more often it was like she saw herself through the eyes of another person. And every time she thought of the way his hand had closed around hers, and the way he had gently pulled her close, her cheeks would flush with pleasure and she would feel giddy.

I haven’t felt this way since I was nineteen years old, Evie thought. Indeed, the last time she had felt giddy and exasperated about a boy (though Adam was not technically a boy) was when she first realized she was falling in love with Rafar, eleven years ago. Eleven years ago, that’s such a long time, Evie thought. She put an arm across her forehead and stared at the ceiling. Inside her head, a little monologue was going on:

But am I actually falling in love, or is this just infatuation with someone new, someone who’s bringing new things in my life? God that sounded weird… He’s so sweet, so wonderful to be around with. He treats me the way I want to be and he makes me feel… why, worth my weight in gold.

It’s not everyday I find someone like that. Indeed I’d probably never find someone like Adam ever again... And that moment at the beach… that was wonderful! It’s almost as if he read my mind. I loved it… I loved the way his hands felt, and I loved being able to put my head on his shoulder like I did.

He’s so different from all those jerks I unfortunately dated before I met him. Remind me to thank the Dragon Lady; if it weren’t for her I never would have met Adam!

Adam… he’s in love with me. I can see it, feel it. But… what about my self? Am I already in love with him as he is with me?

Evie ignored the question for now and turned onto her side on the bed and grabbed her cell phone. She opened the file manager and looked through the pictures she had taken with him. She did not realize she had a smile on her face as she did so. Some part of her again felt like a nineteen year old; but hey, what the hell, I’ll cling on to the best parts of youth for as long as I can, she thought. She browsed through the 100-plus pictures and remembered everything about what happened in them.

For instance, there was one which showed Adam frowning, his eyes closed and his face twisted; that was when he had put too much wasabi in his soy sauce dip when they went for sushi. Another showed the two of them smiling into the camera with tired and sweaty faces; that was when Adam had invited her to play futsal with his friends. Evie browsed through more pictures when a text message came in from Adam.

“I had a great day ;D”

Evie smiled. She quickly replied.

“Me too. But why was yours great? :P”

A minute later:

“Lets just say it involved the sun and a very pretty girl in a red tank top who was too afraid to swim further than I did. ;)”

Like a little girl, Evie hugged the phone to her chest and felt her cheeks flush; she shook her feet in the air and squeezed her eyes, all while a huge grin was carved on her lips. She tapped the keys on her phone.

“Really? Mine was great because of this guy who happens to be the sweetest. Maybe because he also drives a black sports car? :P”

Buzz. “I bet he’s very good looking too ;D”

Tip-tap. “Ok la, not bad, kinda cute, a bit annoying”

Buzz. “ ;( “

Tip-tap. “Aww, just kidding. He is good looking ;)”

Buzz. “Fell for the Guilt-trip? :P”

Tip-tap. “No! I was being honest :) “

And then the replies stopped for a moment, to Evie’s mild disappointment. She put the phone aside and tried to read her book again. After an hour or so she fell asleep, the book open on her chest, the bedroom light still on. She slept for a few hours, and only woke up when she heard her phone ringing the intro riff to ‘We Are One Tonight’. She glanced at the time and saw it was five past eleven. She pressed the ‘answer’ key.

“Hey…” she said, a bit groggily.

“Oh you’re asleep? I'm sorry.” It was Adam. Evie squeezed her eyes and stretched her body.

“It’s okay, hi, what’s up?”

“Nothing. Just thought I’d call you.”

Evie smiled. “Do you miss me already? Kangen yea?”

A snicker over the line. “Yes, actually. Kangen. I did miss you.”

They were both quiet for a while, letting that sentence sink in. Evie hugged her bolster.

“I missed you too…” she said. Then their conversation began to flow more openly. Evie noted Adam was still a bit careful in the way he said things. She, too, was still trying to figure out what was happening between them at the moment. She sensed transcendence; there was a current of change in the rivers of her emotions, a current she felt like diving into and letting it drift her away to the shores of Paradise. But Evie wanted to play it slow.

Most of all, she wanted to be sure. Some part of her wanted him to say the words first. The L word. Evie thought that only then would she be able to ascertain how she really, truly felt about Adam. The truth was she already knew how he felt; but she wanted to hear it from him anyway. She wanted this to happen ‘officially’. At the same time she did not want to hear it over the phone, so she chose her words very carefully as they talked, always skimming the surface but never really plunging in.

They ended up talking for about an hour or so. When they said their goodbyes, it was with a simple and sweet “Goodnight and sweet dreams. I’ll see you.”

Evie plugged her phone into the charger seeing as it was nearly drained. She got up to switch off the lights. Tomorrow was Monday after all, a working day. She slipped into her blankets but just before she went to bed she grabbed her phone again and changed her wallpaper to a picture of her and Adam together. She smiled and lay down, and sleep came fast. She dreamed of Adam that night.

The next morning was bright and beautiful. She woke up with a smile on her lips and a song in her heart when she saw a text message in her inbox:

“Morning Honey, I miss you already :x – Adam The Hensem One”

Evie was exceptionally cheerful as she drove to work; she bought packets of nasi lemak and gave them to her officemates, and she sat down at a coffee table eating and gossiping with her receptionist, Alya. Her workload was coincidentally light, so she breezed her way through most of it. During lunchtime she and Alya went for a small shopping spree, and again bought goodies for the office to share. Even her boss remarked how bright and chirpy she was on that day.

At five o’clock she called Adam and they agreed to meet each other that night, at, oh, say KLCC and watch a movie? Then she packed her stuff and said bye-byes to her colleagues and went down to drive home, freshen up and get ready for another date. As she descended in the elevator she could not help but smile, and some of the people in the lift gave her an odd look. But she did not care if she looked like the Cheshire cat. She reached the building lobby and was searching for her car keys when a man suddenly stepped up beside her. She gave a small yelp of surprise.

Evie looked at the man; he was thin and gaunt, the cheeks sallow and the whites of his eyes had thin streaks of red. His clothes hung loose on his body. The subtle scent of Calvin Klein Be encircled him. Evie knew him. How could she not?

“Rafar,” Evie said.

“Hi Evie,” Rafar smiled weakly, the smile never reaching his eyes. “Can we please talk?”

(to be continued, of course)