February 3, 2009

The Memory of A Dream

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He woke up in the middle of the night, his body covered in sweat. Sitting up on his bed, he scanned his eyes around the darkened room. Rafar sighed. He got up and fixed himself a coffee, dressed in only his boxer shorts. It has been awfully hot in Kuala Lumpur recently, and he did not have air conditioning. Hard to believe, maybe, but he was one of those rare kinds who enjoyed the comforting whir of a ceiling fan, and the captivating, hypnotic spinning of blades.

He walked to his balcony, a stumbling, almost drunken gait, and opened the sliding doors. A breeze, warm yet somehow refreshing, blew into the living room, ruffling his messed up hair. Rafar took a long swig of the hot and bitter coffee. He made it strong, and it burned his throat going in. He did not seem to notice however. He gazed into the horizon.

His neighbourhood had gone quiet a few hours earlier. All he could see in the streets below were occasional cars, mostly taxis, and some night owls walking the street. There was a couple making out behind a tree., making grunting noises. The sounds did not bother Rafar as much, however. To him, it was just another sound; like the creak his bed made, or the singing of crickets and the occasional crash of a bat with poor judgment into a window. It simply did not register. His mind was elsewhere.

On the balcony was a reclined sofa, the kind psychiatrists used. The leather upholstery was already faded and stretched, with a few rips and tears. This sofa was his chill-out-chair, so to speak. Often he would spend his quieter evenings on it, listening to his MP3 player or watching television from the balcony. He did not read many books (though by the battered and dog eared copies of various Fantasy novels on the bookshelf, you could say he was more of a specialist reader) but when he did, he read it on the reclined sofa. The sofa was more often used at times like this: when he could not sleep and just needed some quiet, which a bed or a bedroom somehow did not provide for him. He supposed it was also because of sentimental value; he had spent many hours on that sofa with Evie, her head on his chest, and their fingers would twirl and dance together as they talked. That was years ago of course.

He sat on the sofa, his back straight. He drank his coffee and finished it despite the fact it was still quite hot. For a moment he just sat quietly, hands clasped in front of his face, and stared into empty space, his eyes glassy and devoid of any real emotion. Then his eyes seemed to mist over, as if a sudden cloud of memory and thought was stirred in the deep pools of his thought, and he exhaled. It was a warm night, and the atmosphere seemed lazy and thick, the atmosphere of sleep and slumber. Which it was; dawn was still a few hours away. But Rafar no longer felt sleepy, thanks to the coffee. He just felt…

Felt what, exactly? He did not know. It has been days since he saw Evie. Weeks since he saw Farihin. And he has been haunted by a recurring dream that he has no idea to classify if it was bad or good. Yet he has dreamed of it too often lately, and he always wakes up at a precise moment. Rafar sighed.

Do dreams really tell you something, or are they just buried memories mashed up? But how could I dream of something that happened years ago and remember every vivid detail? Why do I keep dreaming this lately? I don’t know, he thought. He dreamed of the day he got married to Evie Nadia.

..........

.......S

....Sl

..Slo

Slow

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"Slowly now, you don't want to hurt her finger," said Rafar's mother as he took Evie's hand to put on her wedding ring.

Her hand was slightly trembling as he slipped the finger on. Rafar saw that Evie was looking at the act with eyes that were eager yet also unbelieving. Then the ring was on and they looked at each other and smiled. Evie’s eyes shone. She was not wearing glasses that day; instead she wore temporary contact lenses instead. Then she bent over and salam-ed and kissed his hand, and he leaned forward and kissed her forehead. From the corners of his eyes he could see the smiling faces of friends and family around them, some of them in tears of joy. Most of the older women had their hands clasped as if accepting a victory. The men were busy nodding their approval with wide grins on their faces, even if their arms were crossed like a steadfast sentry. Camera flashes popped everywhere.

The Nikah and wedding, held by Evie’s side of the family first, was being held at a place called Kampung Pengantin, which was formerly an old bungalow lot, now converted into a place that catered almost exclusively to weddings. They provided changing rooms and an open hall with a stage, and provided the catering as well. It was situated just off Jalan Ampang.

The Nikah ceremony that had went on about half an hour earlier was done, smoothly. Mr. Hakimi himself was the one who officiated it, and he had had tears in his eyes as he said the words that effectively let go of his one and only child, his beautiful daughter, to the man she loved. Evie had been sat behind Rafar, and she was fighting back tears herself. Her mother, and his mother, sat by her side, giving her support. Then he had put on the ring, and they salam-ed their parents and their closest relatives. It was still before noon, and now the guests to the Nikah were invited for a brunch at the hall nearby. Evie and Rafar lingered in the room for a moment as a photographer (Rafar’s friend) took pictures of them being husband and wife for the first time. They wore white for the Nikah ceremony, and Rafar thought Evie looked so beautiful, her face blossoming with life and happiness, he almost wept with joy. He felt the same way, on his part.

The two of them lingered for a moment as the guests begin eating. They talked to a few friends and relatives. Finally Rafar’s older brother left the Nikah room, leaving the two of them alone for a moment. He wrapped his hand around Evie’s, and it folded around hers like a glove. She looked up at him.

“Husband,” she said, the smile on her lips reaching her eyes, and she crinkled her nose in amusement. Rafar always thought she had the cutest nose, which reminded her of ‘Sam’ from the old TV show ‘Bewitched’. Rafar pulled her closer to him.

“Wife,” he said. “I can’t believe we’re married. It’s… it’s unreal.”

“Are you having second thoughts? Because if you are,” Evie said as she craned her neck to look at a clock on the wall. “You’re going to make me a widow after just 32 minutes of getting married.”

“I'm not going to make you a widow. Besides, to make you a widow, wouldn’t I have to be dead instead of divorcing you?”

Evie squinted her eyes as him. “Oh my God what are we talking about? We’re married! Let’s go eat dear, I'm starving.” They walked hand in hand to the buffet, and Rafar felt an unbelievable and unexpected sense of pleasure and pride as admiring eyes followed them wherever they went. They went to sit at the table with their parents and they talked long and good, all of them enjoying the moment. The bersanding ceremony was schedule at evening.

Afterwards their parents and families went back first. Rafar and Evie stayed behind at Kampung Pengantin as they needed time to get ready. The color theme of the wedding was all white as well; this was Evie’s choice. Initially they dressed in separate rooms, but then were brought into one room for the make up and other cosmetic enhancements. Rafar felt a bit uncomfortable, mostly because the person doing his make up was a gay fruit called ‘Sofia’ but whose real name was Sufian. Evie giggled looking at Rafar, who was always awkward around men with that extra ‘flamboyance’. But as he had foundation and mascara (mascara!!) applied to him he stole glances at his bride. While he thought Evie looked good enough as she is, he had to admit the lady doing Evie’s make up knew her job; he watched slowly as Evie was transformed from a pretty girl into a beautiful, almost Elven-like being. For a moment he was reminded of the mythical princesses of the countless fantasy books he’s read, all of them impossibly gorgeous. And now here was one sitting but a few feet away from him.

He held out his hand, she took it.

Soon afterwards Evie was fully dressed and ready. She stood in front of a mirror, and twirled around to look at herself. Rafar, all dressed up in a suave white songket number, admired his wife. Her wedding dress was a white kebaya, with sheer sleeves and a slim, fitting blouse. The sarong she wore fit her shape and clung to her, accentuating her long legs. A shining tiara rested on her hair.

“How do I look?” Evie asked him. Her eyes had a trace amount of insecurity in them. Rafar looked at her top to bottom, his hand on the fake keris in his sampin. His eyes finally rested on the gold necklace on Evie’s neck; the pendant hung just above her bosom, a deep red crystal embedded within, the red like blood upon the snow of her skin.

“You look amazing,” Rafar said. Evie smiled. The make up artists took pictures of them both, and they laughed and joked for a moment.

Then they were ready; it was after Maghrib now and the guests were all there, already enjoying the buffet and the music. Evie and Rafar had been escorted outside for their entrance, and were now waiting for the kompang to begin. They stood side by side. Rafar’s brother, Razif, was his pengapit, whilst Evie’s was Juliza. Their parade was joined by family members from both sides, uncles and aunts and cousins, some wielding cameras and some content with mobile phones. Again Rafar and Evie linked hands. Then the kompang boys started their beat. It was time to move.

“Ready sayang?” Rafar said.

Evie looked at him and raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Are you?”

They were given a cue and started their ‘march’. They walked slowly, in rhythm with the music. Three flower girls, little cousins of both of them, sprinkled rose petals at their feet. They passed by a covered passageway, the garden rack above them creeping with orchids that had fat white and purple flowers. The night was cool and the atmosphere exciting. Again the flashes from a thousand cameras burst in the air. All the guests had momentarily stopped what they were doing and were looking at the bride and groom make their way to the pelamin for the bersanding ceremony.

“I feel like I have a thousand eyes on me,” Evie said.

“That’s because you do have a thousand eyes on you dear. We are the King and Queen of The Day you know. Your subjects are watching you.”

Finally they reached the pelamin and took their seats. Rafar felt a little awkward being the center of attention. But hey, it was his wedding after all. The ceremony soon commenced; the folk who did the merenjis for them were their parents, their grandparents and the elder uncles and aunts as well as their guest of honor, a friend of Evie’s father. Afterwards Rafar and Evie were led to their dining table for the customary Makan Beradab. Evie’s appetite was still the same: she ate with as much relish at the bride and groom’s table as she would have at any other table. The difference was this time she kept her head bowed a little. They posed for a photograph of the two spooning each other food. In fact they posed for tons of photographs. Rafar, of course, had done weddings many times before behind a lens. This was the first (and at the time, only) wedding where he was not the photographer for a change.

After dinner they cut the wedding cake, a lovely three tier confection with luscious icing and creamy, edible decorations. After that, Rafar and Evie stood on stage as Rafar sang Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ to her, which was her favorite love song. Evie visibly cried at the end of her number, and her mascara stained her eyes. Juliza had to hand her tissues to wipe it away, much to the amusement of the guests. They mingled with their friends and family, accepting hugs and hand shakes and pats on the back and countless wishes of a happy life until they have grandchildren and an endless stream of congratulations. By the end of the night Rafar began to feel a bit overwhelmed, and from the look on Evie’s face, he knew that she, too, was tired. It had been a long, but happy day.

Later that night after the ceremony they had gone back to Evie’s house, where her mother and aunt had so tastefully decorated their room, the first room they’d spend the night together in. They changed into more comfortable clothes; Rafar changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and Evie put on a shirt but kept her sarong. Curiously they changed separately, both of them unsure and still shy. Her extended family was at the house, having late night coffee and snacks. It was gift opening time. They had received loads of gifts and fat white envelopes no doubt stuffed with money. Rafar and Evie sat in the center of the living room as her – no, our, Rafar reminded himself – family members gathered around them, again with cameras. Rafar wondered if the batteries would run out. They unwrapped the presents, which ranged from the usual IKEA lamps, chinaware and crockery to some stranger gifts, such as a hydroponic vegetable garden set. They had had a good laugh at that one, even more so because it was from an anonymous person.

Soon it got late and everyone decided to retire. Rafar began to feel a little nervous as he and Evie went to their room. He closed the door and locked it behind them. Dim, warm bedside lamps lit the room. The bed had been decorated for their wedding, and it had some sort of lace curtain (Rafar did not know what to call it; surely you don’t call it a mosquito net) above it. The sheets were cream colored and luxurious, a gift from a wealthy spinster aunt. Rafar stood by the door, unsure for a moment. Evie sat on the bed quietly.

They were both quiet, but it was not an awkward silence. Rather, it was anticipatory, full of hope and desire. There was a sweet tension in the air. Rafar sat beside Evie on the bed and took her hand in his. Her hands were slightly trembling and he realized that his, too, were shaking. Evie turned to face him and their faces slowly drew closer until their lips met. At first the touch was light, the kiss tender and soft, but then it turned into something deeper as he wrapped his arms around Evie. Their clothes dropped to the floor one by one, and together they climbed in between the sheets, hand in hand, their lips hardly parting. As they joined Rafar felt him self melting into a world so dreamy and beautiful, he hardly believed he was in it. Her perfume filled the air. The feel of her skin, silky smooth and soft, was a sensation that would stick with him for days on end. As he lay on top of Evie, as gentle as he could, he looked at her face., and he could never again recall just how how much in love with her he was. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was deep; she looked angelic. Rafar kissed her and their hands clasped together and Rafar looked at her hand and saw the wedding ring there, and the ring seemed to be a symbolize everything to him; a love so true, so strong, a love that would never

never.

neve..

nev...

ne....

n......

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Rafar snapped out of his thoughts. He cast an eye to the clock in his living room and saw he had been idle for maybe an hour or so. It was still dark, still quiet. He thought of the dream again, if he could even call it a dream. Was it not more like a memory? A kernel of memory carved forever in his mind?

It always ended there; the moment he looked at the ring on Evie’s hand, and when he woke up, the dream, or rather the dream of a memory of a dream, would fade and dissolve into his consciousness, just like a kitchen towel absorbs a spill on a table. And yet the dream lingered in his mind, and he kept trying to make something of it, to extract some deeper meaning, but he just did not know what, and that frustrated him.

He lay down on his psychiatrists’ chair in the balcony, his eyes glazed and staring into thin air. He sighed. Some part of his heart accepted that perhaps this was his punishment for leaving Evie Nadia; to forever relive a beautiful moment in time, a moment unlikely to ever happen again, until Fate deems he has paid for his sin.

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4 comments:

nurdini izni said...

..and somewhere else, perhaps evie nadia is talking on the phone with adam, happily.

ahahha :D

Mardhiah said...

This is a good episode. I like it :)

The lovemaking scene is perfect. Very subtle.

Good job :)

anne mohamad tabib said...

Adam is a nice guy. but i secretly want Rafar and Evie back together! >.<

nuraainaa said...

i vote for wiseguy and sugar to be together again. B)