February 16, 2009

Over Coffee/Briefly At KLCC


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

- edwan


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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…”

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.

“Evie…”

“Yes?”

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.

“Evie…”

“Yes, Rafar?”

He looked at her.

“Evie, I miss you.”

Silence.

“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.”

Silence.

“Evie…”

“Yes?”

“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.

“Evie…”

“Yes?”

“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.”

“Sure?”

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.

“Evie?”

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.

“Hm?”

“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.

Adam.

Rafar.

Adam… Rafar…

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


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9 comments:

Rasyiqah Khairul Anuar said...

rafar just had to spoil it kan? haih. it's over rafar, dah too late. u had ur chance, u blew it. and evie? come on...u should know better now...

dalila said...

but everyone deserve a second chance!

and and they were going out a tad fast.


hm. but adam deserve a chance too.Hah. complicated much?

nuraainaa said...

i sedih betul..air mata dah bergenang, tapi tak nangis.

aina kuat. :)

i'm liking the storyline even more.

go rafar!

Mardhiah said...

We think its simple but its not.

A man who is romantic, kind, honest, makes the woman happy, will not guarantee that he has her heart. But he is encouraged to do so to win her approval.

More often than not, the very man who breaks her heart, makes her emotionally miserable is the one she loves the most.

Why?

I quote: "..the only one who's had enough of me to break my heart.."

He has her heart,that's why he can break it. It may not be wise for her, people might call her stupid if she rejects Adam's offer of happiness. But what is happiness? I think it's when you are in the arms of the man you love, forgiving him, accepting him the way he is, imperfect and flawed, because you just love him.

Evie, don't fear of the future you know not. If you choose the man you love the most, things will fall into place though it won't be smooth sailing. If you choose the man you don't love but you convince yourself to love because he's just such a good guy, life would feel so empty though it might be emotionally comfortable. Listen to your heart. Some things are worth second chances, some are just there to help us give this chance to the one we love.

Thought provoking episode :)

a z a l i a said...

tough choice. altho i do agree that evryone deserve a second chance, bt then again. adam does sound like a very nice guy and yes i know rafar too. oh damn.

nice one edwan. i pulak yg dup dap dup dap. haha.

Muhammad Edwan Shaharir said...

surprisingnya that a lot would back-up Rafar in this. i would have thought ppl wud think he was a jerk for going away in the first place.

:P

nurdini izni said...

sokong rasyiqah!
:)

bEtTy B00P on PrOzAc said...

adik along baru baca....

ADAM ALL THE WAY... god save us from self absorbed jerks... huhuhuhu

emo... atas xbaca lagi

Francesca said...

conflict!
Adam is such a nice guy, baik giler. and before Rafar came into the pic, again, Evie was starting to be happy with Adam..

Rafar on the other hand, left her, BUT everyone deserves a second chance rite?

decisions of the heart..
personally,im torn between who to support... lolx. ;)