March 10, 2009

Here In This Perfect Dark

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hello.
episode 19 will follow shortly after; give and take 3 days
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- edwan

p/s: how soon do you want the ending?

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Of all the gifts bestowed upon us humans, foresight is not one of them. None can truly see what the future holds, and none can really guess more than a few minutes ahead of their time. Some have cursed this apparent deficiency; you hear it all too often when someone says, “If only I could tell” or in its more disguised form: “If only I knew.”

But there lies the hidden beauty of not knowing: if we knew things beforehand, would life be as meaningful as it is? After all, it is the journey we take is what makes the answers we receive at the other end more fulfilling. Foresight would have taken away the anticipation and the hopes and more importantly, our will to seek the truth.

And is that not what we all seek? Truth? Truth that would put our fears at ease? Truth is why we endure life.

And after all we go through, when the truth finally unveils itself from the clouds and fog of our hearts and mind, we would finally be able to find courage to face it; a courage that by all means was probably there all along.

Veritas vos liberabit: “And the truth shall set you free…”


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He stood there in front of his bathroom mirror, cheeks and chin lathered with shaving foam. He washed his razor beneath a slow, steady stream of warm water; bringing the blade up to his face, he cut straight, swift strokes through the foam, each swipe revealing a smoother patch of skin; he left only a small, roughly square patch beneath his chin. He washed his face with cold water and dried it with a towel.

Muhammad Rafar looked at his own reflection.

He looked weary although he promised to take care of himself to Evie weeks ago; he still wasn’t eating or resting properly. At times he allowed himself to be consumed with work, spending hours either in his studio, out in the field, or in front of a computer. That, coupled with his relative disregard for himself lately, contributed greatly to his weary look.

A few days back as he was cleaning out his jeans, he found an object in one of the pockets; he had forgotten it was there. He took it out and saw it was a ring. The very same wedding ring he had put on Evie’s finger with his own hands, six years ago. He had held the small gold band in his hand, studying it, examining it.

The metal was still shiny and the diamond sparkled like the brightest star. He had tried to put it on, but it was tiny: it barely got through the mid-section of his ring finger. Rafar thought of how small Evie’s hands are.

He had put the ring on a bedside stand, and often before he went to sleep, he would look at it. He would pick it up, fiddle with it in his hands and put it back down. Sometimes he caressed it; a very Gollum-like behavior he found quite amusing (if somewhat disturbing). The difference was that his ‘precious’ wasn’t the ring itself; it was the owner.

Then one day he bought an envelope and wrote a note; he put the ring in the envelope along with the note, and drove to the apartment he had once shared with Evie. He dropped it in her mailbox. He wasn’t really sure what would happen, but the truth was looking at the ring was too much of a reminder of her. And these days, he was reminded enough of his mistakes. Besides, the ring was rightfully hers. It was a gift, a symbol of his love to her before, Rafar thought. And so it should be until the end of days, lest he never see her again.

He had told himself to drop the ring and forget about it. But now he finds himself wondering what Evie was thinking when she received it. Part of him was worried Evie hasn’t noticed the envelope at all, or that some mail-stealing jerk had stolen it and it was now lost. But something also told him that, yes, Evie found the ring. And she kept it.

Rafar was at odds with what to do. He knows he shouldn’t be blatant and fight for it, because that would over-complicate Evie’s life. Anyway he had tried this before and got rebuked, hard. It wasn't something he wanted to happen again; he had been pretentious before and he did not want to repeat the mistake. He also did not want to do anything that would make her drift away even further. All he wanted was to be with her again. But he did not have the means to do it.

Not right now anyway.

The whole ‘makan tak kenyang, mandi tak basah, tidur tak lena’ thing was wearing thin on him. He hated feeling so empty. He felt this was punishment. The day he realized he was still deeply in love with Evie Nadia and wanted her back was a day that was both terrible and liberating. Terrible in the sense that he felt like a jerk and a fool for his abandoning her years ago; liberating in the fact that he realized now what was missing in his life all along. He was very sure Evie would complete him, just as she had years ago, despite his foolishness.

But after being openly rejected by Evie Nadia months before, Rafar’s hopes were waning and torn. At the back of his mind he still thinks that after all this he will eventually end up with her again, but that part was unthinking, hopeful and idealistic. It was the part that still believes in love stories. His more rational mind was telling him to cut this shit and move on; just move on.

But it’s so hard. Of course it is.
I don’t think I can do it. Why can’t you?
Because I love her. But you had your chance and you blew it.
But she loves me. Love doesn’t mean being together.
I can’t move on. Yes you can.

BUT I DON'T WANT TO.

And that was the conversation that played on an infinite loop in his mind. Resigned to the fact, Rafar let it play. He didn’t want to move on. He was too old to be chasing tail. So he tells himself that even if loving and yearning for Evie means he’d live a miserable, empty and unfulfilled life… so be it.

Now, as the city lights of Kuala Lumpur began to switch on and bathe the streets in it’s harsh but lovely neon glow, Rafar sits at home, nursing a cup of hot green tea. He wasn’t much of a tea person; but his coffee habit was causing him headaches and he was too tired to even have headaches. He wondered where Evie was; what she was doing. She’s been calling recently, which he thought she did because she was worried for his health. Secretly he wishes that the calls were a beacon of hope; something for him to hold on to.

He wanted to see her badly. But he chose not to intrude in her life. If she wanted to see him, let her be the one to initiate it. Enough with the surprise appearances and calls. He has already made his feelings clear. She has yet to say anything, and as every little candle he lights for her in his heart blows out, he thinks she will never say anything. He felt dismayed and lost, an empty, almost pathetic shell of his former self. His life seemed to have evaporated overnight, because of his one love for this one woman. Isn't it just grand what love can do?

Rafar stretched his neck, rubbing it and carried his tea to his reclining psychiatrists’ chair in the balcony. A playful memory jogs into his mind.

"I'm free tonight. Do you want to do something? Go out maybe?" he had said. I" don’t want to go out tonight," she had said. She had had a misty look in her eyes. She wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him. "I want to stay home. I want you. Make love to me."

But as easily as that memory had come, it vanished. He found himself lying on the sofa, his arm thrown across his forehead.

I wonder where you are, he thought. What are you doing? I wonder if you are thinking of me? Do you feel my thoughts calling out to you, wishing for your touch?


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Not too far away from where he was, Evie was sitting on her bed, her back against the headboard, dressed in comfortable cotton pyjamas. Her cheeks had a slight glow to them and there was a hint of a smile on her lips. She was fiddling with her wedding ring in her hands; since the day she received it, she had alternated between putting it on and taking it off to examine and play with it. When it was on her finger, she’d glance admiringly at the polished gold band and the sparkling diamond. It looked ‘right’ on her. She felt like she’s never taken it off at all.

Beside her on the bed was a photo-album of their wedding. Sometime after their divorce, Evie had climbed on a chair and stowed that album away in the highest shelf in her home ‘office’ (which had once been Rafar’s so called ‘media room’) and refused to even acknowledge it was there. But the day after she had put her ring back on, she found herself standing on top of the same chair to reach for it. It had a fine layer of dust on it, which she carefully wiped away with a moist cloth. She had taken the large album and carried it to bed with her.

She spent hours poring over the photographs. How happy they looked back then! The smiles on their faces had been as bright as the sun. There was a close up photograph of her hands folded together and the wedding ring visible. She kept comparing the photo to her hands; but of course they looked the same. She thought they looked bonier back then, but her hands haven't aged visibly yet. They were the same urchins' hands, petite and fragile looking.

Over these past few days Evie has been slowly regaining her self. She felt as fine as paint, apart from the occasional stomach cramps, which she was sure was PMS. Other than that, she felt slightly brighter and in control.

Evie did not fully understand how the human mind or heart works. She did not understand, for instance, how she suddenly feels more focused and driven when just a few weeks ago she cried herself to sleep due to feelings of confusion and guilt. She was not sure how she suddenly realized where her true wants and desires really lie, although she has yet to say it out loud. She did not know how her heart was suddenly so sure and so certain regarding this point of her life. She did not know how she knew that this was to be a pivotal moment for her; she just knew.

All of it just happened, seemingly overnight, brought forth by a tiny circle of metal that seemed to symbolize everything for her.

Since that day she had that little chat with her father, she somewhat gained a new perspective on things. Like she’s mentioned before; for once, she saw not through the tear-clogged eyes of a confused woman, but instead she saw herself through the eyes of another 'Evie', one that was stronger and unhampered by fear and guilt; it was like she was sitting on the outside looking in.

Through this new perspective Evie saw that it all looked like a corny soap opera, the kind with bad cinematography and tense, dramatic dialogue that were interspersed with equally dramatic music. But here’s the thing: all of a sudden, everything made sense to her.

Not many people are gifted with a sudden moment of clarity; that is probably the reason why so many of us choose to ponder and mope for days on end about our lives, instead of choosing to act and step into tomorrow rather than be dragged into it. But now Evie was one of the lucky few; and when she had that epiphany, it became so painfully obvious to her that it looked ridiculous.

In a sudden flash of inspiration, she understood everything.

She understood why some loves remain undying. She understood why we forgive the people we love even when they’ve hurt us. She understood why it is so hard to move past certain things whilst others get thrown away like one throws away the cellophane wrapper from a pack of chewing gum. And although it might be construed as overly dramatic to say so, Evie supposed she understood now what true love really means.

It’s truth; the meaning of true love is about being true to the one you love, but above it all, it is about being true to herself, to what she wants to achieve and have. Sometimes, to be truly happy, you have to put yourself above others. Sometimes it's okay to be selfish.

Because surely she’ll never forgive herself if one day, in the future, she realizes that she had given up the one she truly loves?

And with the realization of that truth, she accepted. She accepted her past and she forgave it; this time she truly forgave Rafar and most importantly, she forgave herself. She accepted that life is full of setbacks and cruel twists of Fate, but that was no reason to be angry and resent her own luck. All she had to do was to take the best out of it, not the worst.

Evie sighed on her bed, still toying around with her ring.

She will have things to attend to in the next few days. It is time.. She thought of someone else for a brief moment; it threw her mood of a little, but it was necessary. Curiously, Evie did not feel afraid, and there was only the smallest bit of guilt. He should understand, Evie thought. She was confident he would understand.

The fears of the future were almost completely gone now from within her heart. In its place was a belief that tomorrow is full hope and promise; this tomorrow was fueled by nothing else but love, and it will be unconquerable.

Evie Nadia Hakimi took the photo album beside her and put it on the little bedside table. She placed the ring carefully on top. She went outside to her balcony and stared into the city lights of Kuala Lumpur. They were mesmerizing. A cool breeze ruffled her hair and she wrapped her arm around herself. A crystal clear memory gently inserted itself into her thoughts.

"Wake up, my lovely wife," he had said. She had rubbed her eyes and opened them to see her husband gazing a loving gaze at her. "Good morning my husband," she had said and reached up to kiss him. It was the morning after their wedding. They were in the bridal chamber at her old house. "I can’t believe we’re married," they had told each other in unison.

The memory was a fond one; Evie smiled and she felt hot in her cheeks. She knew she was blushing; she remembered how Rafar used to tease her because of how often her face would turn red, even if there was no reason. She wondered where he was; that night where was Rafar? Where was Wiseguy?

What are you up to? She thought, as she looked across the horizon into the city lights of Kuala Lumpur.

Are you still missing me, even right now; and are you thinking of me like you say you do? Do you know that I feel your beating heart, and that I love you?


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As the night draws deeper, Kuala Lumpur slowly falls asleep. The lights stay on, but skies are now almost pitch black, dotted sporadically by celestial objects that refuse to give in to the diminshed light.

Here, in this perfect dark, there is nothing but love and desire. Evie and Rafar yawn and the two of them retire to their bedrooms, separated by no more than 20 miles; both were aware of each other’s presence beneath this blanket of darkness. Both wondered what the other was thinking about.

But neither knew that a million candles were to be set aflame for them; and neither could guess how when that happens, there will be no darkness.

Just their love and desire.




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this is a short episode; the previous one was unnecessarily long.
but almost everything that needs to be said has been said.

it's almost... there.





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10 comments:

anne mohamad tabib said...

the Gollum scene. suki-desu! i can actually picture rafar turning into Gollum. ha! kidding.

the opening while rafar was shaving, i was hoping there is a little more description of how "merana" he is. :P

and finally the scene where both evie and rafar retired to bed at the same time, how the view would move from their bedroom window and up to the star-studded dark night, congratulations. u made me smile.

*countdown to curtains fall for twaay*

nuraainaa said...

edwan, i taktahu nak komen apa.



cepat habiskan.

:((

Muhammad Edwan Shaharir said...

anne - smile :)

aainaa - sabar ye :P soon, soon

ish nama korg lebih kurang lak.

dalila said...

HMMMMMMMMMMM.

I pun tak tau nak comment apa, but I reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally hope Evie pilih one of them instead of just leave it at that and move on.

Gila tak best kalau macam tu.

Nadila Roslee said...

sexy nya rafar tgh shave X)

hehe. cepat2 habis. =D

Muhammad Edwan Shaharir said...

dalila - we'll see what she does :P

nadila - oit oit, behave urself, hehe.


hari ni asyik nama dekat2 je -__-"

Maiza said...

i'm finally catching up, yayness!
can't wait to know how it ends too.


mesti takde orang nama dekat with mine kat sini, haha.

Muhammad Edwan Shaharir said...

hey u've been catching up yea :P

sila, sila. jap i cari org nama dekat2.

Mardhiah said...

But here’s the thing: all of a sudden, everythingl made sense to her.

Typo :)

Not too draggy, very good. On to the next episode!

And Gollum scene is so you, can't help but grin a bit :D

nurdini izni said...

i almost cried with no reason reading this episode.

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