March 17, 2009

Just The Two Of Us, You And I


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hello.
this is a rather long episode, but please, do take time to read it.
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:)

- Edwan

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(picture from TWAAY S1)

Part One


Friday

Evie Nadia
When I came in to work this morning everyone seemed to note how I was smiling and cheerful again. It made me wonder: did I really seem ‘off’ lately? Maybe I had then, or certainly people wouldn’t have said how I was cheerful ‘again’. Alya, the receptionist, was the first to notice it when I walked through the office doors. She immediately asked me, “What happened?”

Alya is the only person I’ve been confiding to about my recent, uhm, issues. I haven’t told her in too much detail, but she knows enough to understand and offer a shoulder to cry on. I do feel bad that I offloaded it to her, but she always confides in me about her relationship stuff too. This morning as I told her about what I was about to do, she almost squealed in delight. She noticed that I had a ring dangling from a leather string around my neck and asked to see it. Alya said it was lovely. She wished me luck and told me to tell her everything after all is said and done.

I suppose I was feeling rather buoyant. It felt like I was walking on air, or maybe my heels grew wings on it, like the shoes worn by Hermes of Greek mythology. If this were a musical I’d probably break into song and tap dance my way all over Kuala Lumpur. Strange thing was, I actually did feel like singing. I’d sing Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’.

But I better hold my horses! For all my raised spirits and moods, I still haven’t told him yet. Eek! Half of me is still afraid, but it is also certain. The other half on the other hand is excited and eager, looking forward to telling him how I feel. In my mind I could already imagine how he would… wait! Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves now. Talk first. Sappy romantic ending later.

When work was over I asked Alya if she would accompany me on a little shopping trip; I offered to drive her back afterwards. The younger lady jumped at the opportunity, and we had fun trying on clothes and accessories. She kept teasing me like a schoolgirl.

“What’s the occasion Kak Evie? Gotta date?” Alya said.

“Maybe I do. Jealous much?” I said.

“Ehehe. Maybe. Is it okay to say I’ve always thought he looked hot?”

“No, it’s not okay! Hahaha.”

After a couple of hours we called it a day. I bought a nice, short, merlot colored evening dress, a baby blue cardigan and a long, white, billowy skirt with light blue paisley embroidery. Alya bought herself two tops and a pair of jeans. I remembered during my college days that my best friend, Juliza, and I would go on similar shopping trips. Juliza is now happily married. I made a mental note that I should see her. Maybe after I tell Rafar? It’d be sort of nice I think.

I dropped Alya off at her house in Taman Dato’ Keramat and went home. I tried on the clothes I bought again and felt satisfied, and I wondered if he would like it?

It’s been a few days since I made my choice; and the only reason I haven’t told Rafar sooner was because… well, I wanted to make this special. It is a special moment for me, and I believe it’ll be special for him too. I don’t know if he’s still hoping for me to return to him; in fact he’s been quiet lately, although he does occasionally text me to let me know he’s doing alright. But even in expressionless text messages I sensed that he wanted to tell me more but wasn’t doing so. Probably because he thinks he shouldn’t be.

But I will prove him wrong.

Muhammad Rafar… eleven years ago I fell in love with him after what I thought was a strange set of circumstances. Who would dream of something so intricately detailed like he had? It was crazy at first. But something’s happened then I guess, and we made that dream come true, even if it was cut short. But now the time has come to pick up where we left off. I believe so.

I kept glancing at the phone. I needed to call him and tell him that I wanted to see him and talk to him. I didn’t want to tell him over the telephone; that would be so impersonal! But I was also sort of nervous at the moment. To pass time while I decide on what to say to him before I call, I pulled out my secret notebook and began scribbling a few notes.

As I jotted down those words in my (ugly) small handwriting, I think of how I got here now. I think it is a strange thing to realize that I should want what I had. Another cliché true then: that we only realize what we have until it’s gone. The difference is, I think, that not many of us get that chance to reclaim the things we had. I shall make the best of this opportunity. I shall build the rest of my life with this.

Because I love him, I wrote down in the notebook. I think I’ve always had, even after the split, and I think no matter where life would have taken me if I chose not to be with him, I would love him regardless. Nobody has managed to sear his or her images and love inside my heart like he did. Like he still does. With him, my love went through several stages of different emotions: trust, belief, faith, anger, hurt, etcetera. But even after the things we went through, the fundamental belief in my heart has never changed. That is to say, I have loved him even through the hardest times of my life so far. And I will love him until the very end. I truly think he is meant for me, and I was meant for him, no matter the circumstances.

I love him so much. I just can’t stress just how much; but it’s a lot. A lot. And my birthday is coming up soon; there’s only one perfect present that I would want.

I was lying on my stomach, my feet in the air when I felt those stomach cramps again. This was getting annoying, and they hurt, but still Mrs. Red was nowhere in sight. I hoped this wouldn’t ruin what I was planning. Which reminds me: I need to call him! Enough procrastinating. I went outside to the living room and curled up on the sofa beside the telephone. I picked up the receiver, and after taking a deep breath (a thousand images of Rafar and I flashed in my mind within milliseconds) I dialed his number.

RiiiiiiiiingRiiiiiiiiiiing. RiiiiiiiiiiiiiingRiiiiiiiiing.


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Muhammad Rafar
I hate being stuck in traffic jams. They get on my nerves. I find that whenever I'm in the car, stuck on a road where the cars move at a snails pace, my temper seems to rise. Traffic jams are boilers to my angry bits. They seem to amplify all the little things that make me upset.

Take, for instance, this middle aged, blonde haired, wrinkly, tanned woman in a BMW on my left, in the emergency lane, who’s trying to cut in front of me although clearly there’s no space. Maybe on a normal day, if I wasn’t in traffic, I’d have just ignored her and let her go her own way in her spiffy Bimmer. But today, along this here Jalan Tun Razak, I couldn’t stand it.

She edged her car in front of mine; in response, I edged further up. Then she was so close to nicking my car, all because she thought it was a grand idea to take the emergency lane and cut in front of others who are enduring this cue; I rolled down my passenger side window and urged her to lower hers; when she did I said “Have patience you idiot, you’re not making this easier, Idiot,” while waving my fist. At first she glared at me, but then she cowered when I kept staring at her. She rolled up her window and let me go ahead.

My point is, I was already feeling edgy and being stuck in this traffic jam was just… too… much. But serves me right I guess for choosing to leave Kuala Lumpur at half past five on a weekday. Sigh. I looked at the empty seat beside me.

Some time ago Evie would have been sitting there. And if she was there, it wouldn’t be so bad, stuck in a jam, you know? Because then it’d just be an excuse to be alone with her for longer. She was also the yin to my yang; if she was here, I wouldn’t feel so pissed off. She neutralized every negative emotion I had. She’d make me feel nice with her words, or maybe by just holding my hand as we drove.

God, I miss her so much. I wonder if she got the ring I dropped in her mailbox. I miss seeing that ring on her finger. I liked looking at it back then. Somehow it made things real. It said to me “Rafar, you’re a lucky guy. Look who’s wearing me on her finger”. But lucky men aren’t necessarily the smartest. We all know how that had ended. I don’t need to re-tell my pathetic story.

Earlier today at the studio before closing down, my partner at work, Saladin, who is a videographer (that’s right; we run a complete imaging services company, so to speak: need pictures? Video? We’ll do it for you. Call zero one two, two six four, seven triple six) asked me if I would join him and his wife for dinner. He said his wife could call one of her single friends and introduce me to her.

“Sal, that’s very kind of you, but I couldn’t possibly,” I said.

“Come on, man, you need to get out. You can’t work all the time,” Saladin said.

“Why the sudden offer anyway?”

“Well…”

“Sal; do I really look that lonely and miserable?”

“Honest answer? Yes. Even my wife said so. This was her idea.”

“Ehehe. Well, tell her I appreciate it. But no thanks, I think I’ll… I’ll stay home and do some work.”

Saladin had looked at me then put a hand on my shoulder. “Look, I get it: you miss your ex-wife. But you can’t mope around like this, you know? Come on, you don’t know if life has treats in store for you. Join Mimie and me for dinner. She’ll call her one of her single, hot friends.”

“Sal, I,” I said. Saladin had this hopeful look in his eyes. In all honesty I was grateful for what he was attempting to do. “Look, seriously, thank you so much, to both you and Mimie. But… well, I don’t think I can. Not tonight anyway. I'm sorry.”

He sighed. “Okay, fine, have it your way. But the offer stands. Alright? Just tell me, anytime buddy.”

We parted; I presume he went for dinner with his lovely wife, Mimie. I envied him; why wasn’t I like him? He’s been married 5 years now to his wife. I don’t think he’ll ever screw it up. I, however, wasn’t sure where my life was headed. I just wanted Evie again. I want to hold her in my arms again and caress the silky skin of her face and kiss the tender flesh of her neck. But… I just can’t see right now how that would be possible again. I fear I’ve burned down the bridge, and now all that is left is a little plank that could break at any moment. The least I am hoping for is that she knows that I love her. Because I do. More than anything else in the world.

After three quarters of an hour I finally managed to drag myself out of the slow crawl along Jalan Tun Razak and headed off to the highway, back home to Mutiara Damansara where I lived. The roads were still busy, but they were flowing smoothly and I made good time getting home, arriving just after the Maghrib call to prayer. When I reached home I prayed first; then I took a shower and made myself dinner. With the little appetite I had, it was just a packet of Maggi Tom Yum with the added benefit of an egg thrown in.

The thought of sitting in front of a computer monitor doing work, like I said to Saladin, made me sick. There was nothing good on television either. Instead I grabbed my battered and dog-eared copy of The Lord Of The Rings and crashed on the sofa. I was feeling tired. I thought maybe I’d read a few pages and then go to bed.

I’ve always liked the Lord Of The Rings. There is tale that is part of the saga that tells of a man named Beren and an elf-woman named Luthien. Despite their different lineage, their love for each other was so strong. Together they defeated monsters and endured many pains… but always their love prevailed. Indeed, their love was so strong and so pure, even Luthien’s father, who at first opposed to their coupling, softened his heart and took pity upon them. When Beren died a tragic death, Luthien went on alone, singing haunting songs until finally she left the world to join her love where it would be undying.

I loved that little tale; it was all so simple a concept: man loves woman despite numerous setbacks, and in the end their love still conquers all. I guess I have a romanticized view of love; in my defense I believe there is no other view, especially when the world itself is such a cruel place. If I could believe that love is beautiful and that it could transcend everything, then I will. And I do.

I know my love for Evie has endured. I do not know how long, and at times, like I’ve said before, my love for her feels like punishment for leaving her when there was nothing wrong with out relationship. Sometimes my heart, it aches, and sometimes it beats to a tune more alive than ever. As I read the book my thoughts are elsewhere. My thoughts were on my very own Luthien. I wonder where she was, what she was doing, would she ever come to love me again. I wonde—

RiiiiiiiiingRiiiiiiiiiiing. RiiiiiiiiiiiiingRiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.

Now who could be calling me tonight? I sighed as I answered the telephone.


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Evie Nadia & Muhammad Rafar

“Hello,” Rafar said into the phone.

Evie closed her eyes; her heart was suddenly beating a bit too fast. “Rafar?” she said. In contrast, at the other end of the line, Rafar’s eyes widened and his heart almost stopped. “Evie?” he said.

Evie took a deep breath. “Hi.”

“Uh, hi, hi,” he answered.

Silence.

“Am I bothering you? Were you busy? Do you want me to call another time?” Evie said and she thought she was speaking a bit too quickly and excitedly.

“Hey,” he said. “Hey, uhm, no, not at all. It’s fine, sure.”

“Really?”

“Yeah…”

“Uhm… okay. What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just reading a book.”

“Is it the Lord Of The Rings?”

“Eheh. Yeah, it is. How’d you guess?”

“You were always reading it, remember?”

“I was? I was. Yeah, and you’d get angry because I’d be too engrossed with the book rather than with you, ehehe.”

“Ehehe… yeah.”

“…………”

“Uhm, Rafar…?”

“Yes, Su --, I mean, yeah?”

Evie noticed how he had almost called her Sugar. That made her smile and feel warm all over. “Hey… are you busy tomorrow afternoon? Say around one o’clock?”

Rafar checked the date. “Yeah, I'm free. What’s up?” He felt unsure talking to Evie. He was worried he’d let some words slip by; he almost called her Sugar.

“Well, I was thinking…” Evie stammered a little and cleared her throat. “I was thinking if… uhm, you’d like to go for lunch? With me?”

“Lunch? I… well, of course. Where at?”

Evie thought quickly. “There’s this place called Saffron at Solaris Hartamas. Would that be alright?”

“Sure, wherever you please.”

“Great! I’ll see you there at one o’clock?”

“Sure,” Rafar said. He detected that she was slightly excited. He wondered why, and secretly thought that Evie wanted to tell him that someone had proposed to her and she was going to marry the man. In a much to casual-implying-I'm-not-thinking-too-much voice, he asked her,

“So anything big you want to talk about? You sound… well, you sound excited.”

Evie bit her lip at the other end of the line. She suddenly felt bursting with energy; so much so that she was doing quite a good job of ignoring the stomach pains in her lower abdomen. Ow, she thought, but she didn’t want to let PMS ruin this. She wanted to shout out “Rafar, I love you!” but thought it best to hold it in for now. Besides, she planned on holding him in her own arms when she says it.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” she said, keeping the anticipation down. “I just thought, well, I just thought I wanted to see you, see how you are. How are you anyway? Eating okay? Sleeping well?”

“Oh okay. I'm alright, I'm alright. Just had dinner. Maggi Tom Yum.”

“My favorite!”

“Eheh. Yes, indeed, I forgot about that. How are you? How’s work?”

“I'm good. I think a little PMS-y, if you know what I mean. But great.”

“That’s good to hear…”

“Thanks…”

Awkward silence. Finally Evie thought if she lingered on the phone she’d break and ruin her much anticipated moment. So she excused herself.

“Well, thanks for the call Rafar,” she said.

“Uhm, Evie, it was you that called me.”

“Oh it was. Sorry. I'm a bit, uh, tired I guess. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Eheh. Okay, go rest then. Yeah, tomorrow, one o’clock, Saffron at Solaris.”

“Great.”

Neither of them wanted to hang-up nor say goodbye. They just hovered over the line, not speaking. The tension was palpable and thick. Both of them felt like one of them needed to say something. It was Rafar who finally did:

“Hey Evie… thanks.”

“For what?” she said, puzzled.

“Calling.”

“It’s… You’re welcome… Well, I’ll let you go back to your elves and whatnot.”

“Eheh. Okay… I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Sure… Uh, Rafar?”

“Yes?”

“Nothing. Good night Wiseguy,” Evie said and she hung up. Rafar held the receiver in front of him for a few minutes. Then he put it back down. “She called me Wiseguy.”

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Friday Night

Evie Nadia
It was so nice to hear his voice! She thought. I think he suspects something… I do hope he’s not thinking too much about it. But maybe that would make what I want to say to him tomorrow all the more meaningful.

She couldn’t wait. She couldn’t wait to tell him that she loves him. She couldn’t wait to have him hold her again, and couldn’t wait to hold his hands and stare into his deep, shady eyes. I want to be with him again, she thought. I want to be with him because this time I know we’ll be happy. I want to have his babies. I want for us to have eternity together. I can’t wait.

Evie thought about what to wear tomorrow. Should it be the new dress? Or maybe she should wear the new cardigan and the new skirt? That’d be much simpler. She remembered he liked it when she was wore simpler things. He once said it was because “nothing is as beautiful as the person wearing it” and that made her blush. God, how she misses those moments. But then:

Ow. Ow. OWWW.

Her stomach was hurting again. All while she was speaking on the phone with Rafar it was hurting. She managed to ignore it when she was speaking, but pain increased steadily. Senggugut? She thought. She made her way to the bedroom, walking slowly and clutching her stomach. She thought she might have some more painkillers in her handbag.

This really hurts, she thought. Ow. She had to stop and lean on one of the dining chairs; she bent down, hands pressed to her tummy; but when she pressed and let go, the pain spiked through her abdomen. Evie grimaced, her eyes closed; what was this? She realized she was starting to sweat and she felt nauseous. Evie walked slowly to her bedroom and tried to look for her handbag; suddenly she vomited and collapsed to her knees. She began to cry out of the pain; it was spreading and it felt like fiery knives were stabbing her.

Kneeling on the floor, Evie Nadia grabbed for her mobile phone; but the reach suddenly seemed too far. She gagged, and this somehow intensified the pain in her stomach. She finally managed to grab the phone, but found that she couldn’t even dial the numbers, so great was the pain. She fell on her side, hands on her stomach, as if trying to contain it. She cried, not comprehending what was happening. She couldn’t think, couldn’t even scream.

She tried getting up again and attempt to call somebody, anybody. But as she barely got halfway up on her trembling elbows and dialed seemingly random numbers on her phone, Evie Nadia fainted.


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>The Following Day, Saturday 12.55PM

Muhammad Rafar
He arrived five minutes early to the agreed time. Rafar dressed himself in a black long sleeve shirt and jeans, and a pair of loafers. He waited in the car for a few minutes before making his way to the restaurant. He thought Evie must have arrived as well; she was usually early on dates.

Dates, he thought. Is this a date?

He checked himself in the rear view mirror, adjusting his messy hair and wiping his face with a moist napkin. Satisfied that he didn’t look too shabby, he got out and made his way to the restaurant. He had texted Evie earlier, but she hasn’t replied. But that was alright. He was here already. All he had to do was wait.

He arrived in front of the restaurant expecting to see her there, but she wasn’t. He had mentally prepared himself for this meeting; he told himself over and over again on the drive here to play it cool at whatever it is that she would talk about. At some point, he didn’t really care; he was massively happy just to be able to see her again. He had even practiced how to greet Evie upon seeing her. So he was slightly disappointed when he realized he had arrived first. That’s fine, she said one o’clock anyway, maybe she’d be a few minutes late, he said to himself.

At eight minutes after one, Evie still hadn’t shown up. He asked one of the waitresses if there was a reservation under her name; the waitress said yes, there was, table for two at one o’clock. Rafar asked if the person who made the booking was here earlier but the waitress said no, I'm sorry, she hasn’t. Are you with her? Rafar had just replied thanks. He decided he was being edgy so he made himself wait. He tried calling but there was no answer. Okay, maybe she’s on her way. Must have been caught up or something.

He tried calling again after fifteen minutes had passed. No answer, but he convinced himself not to think about it too much. Besides, it’s not like she’s going anywhere else. There was no need to be a chore to your self Rafar, he thought.

At forty minutes past the hour, Evie was still nowhere to be seen. Rafar had begun calling her at roughly five-minute intervals. This was unlike her to be late or not answer the phone. He became a little bit worried. He still decided to wait, and that’s when it occurred to him to call her house. Still no answer, but that made him think that she was already out.

It was two o’clock; Evie still wasn’t there. Rafar began to feel deflated. He sighed. He thought maybe he had been stood up. He didn’t know to feel angry or disappointed. But the urge to see her was too strong. He told himself he would wait. Five minutes. No, ten. Make it thirty. He kept calling both house and cell phone. Still no answer.

At half past two Rafar thought he should just head home. But as a last resort, he decided to place a call to her parents: his ex-mother and father in law.

“Hello, Mrs. Nadzrah?” he said as he identified the soft-spoken lady on the phone.

“Hello, yes. Who is this?”

“It’s me, Rafar.”

“Ohh Rafar, Ya Allah, I'm sorry, I didn’t recognize you. It’s been so long.”

Rafar felt pangs of guilt at that statement. “It’s okay Mrs. Nadzrah –“

“Oh, just call me Ibu, it’s alright.”

“Okay, uhm, Ibu, I just would like to ask, is Evie over at your house?”

“Evie? No, she’s not. Why?”

“Well… she asked me to see her today, but I’ve been waiting since one o’clock and she’s still not here. I tried calling her house and cell, but no answer.”

“Really?” Mrs. Nadzrah said; she suddenly sounded worried. “Well, I'm sorry, but she didn’t tell me if she was going anywhere. She did mention that she wanted to see you this week though. I'm glad she got to you. This is quite unlike her to not show up.”

“Yes, it quite is. Look, sorry I bothered you Mrs. – I mean, Ibu. But if you could…”

“Of course, I’ll let you know if I hear from her. And I think I’ll try calling her as well. I'm a little worried. You take care. It was nice to hear from you again, Rafar. Come on over for dinner someday.”

“Okay, thanks Ibu,” Rafar said. He found it slightly amusing that his ex-mother in law would be so nice. But that didn’t matter at the moment. Right now he was wondering where in the world was Evie Nadia? He began calling her mobile phone again. Still no answer. He began calling their old friends.

“Evie? No I haven’t seen her for a while. Really? Well I’ll try to call her,” said Marina. “I haven’t seen her; I'm in Bali at the moment, sorry Rafar,” said Juliza. Rafar made a few more calls, including to her office, but nobody knew where Evie was. After what was probably the hundredth call to her cell phone, Evie’s mobile diverted him to her voicemail. Her phone had probably run out of juice. It was three o’clock. If Evie would show up at all, she’d be two hours late, and it’s not like her to be that late.

Okay, something’s happened, he thought. He left Solaris and sped to Ampang, to the Sri Kenanga apartments, the home they once shared. He parked his car outside and quickly told the security guards he was here to see a friend. They mostly ignored him anyway. Rafar noticed her white Volkswagen was still in the parking lot; that couldn’t be good. He paced his way to their old apartment, taking three steps at a time on the stairs. When he reached the door, he found it overwhelmingly familiar, down to the shoe cabinet beside it. It was a door he used to come home to. Rafar knocked.

“Evie? Evie, are you home?”

Nothing. He knocked again. “Evie? It’s me, Rafar. Are you home?” He realized that was a stupid question but he was feeling worried. He called the house and heard the telephone ringing. Still, no answer. He knocked again, this time harder, and raised the volume of his voice.

“EVIE?”

A door opened, but it was the next-door neighbor. It was a woman, in her fifties. She was wearing a t-shirt and pants, and had probably been cooking, judging by the oil-stains on her cloth. She squinted at Rafar. He knew her, of course; he used to live here after all, and he was slightly surprised his former neighbor was still there.

“Kak Mira,” he said. He realized he was panting from climbing up the stairs.

“Rafar? Ya Allah, it’s been so long. I thought.. you know,” the older woman said.

“Yes, well, it’s complicated. Kak Mira, have you seen or heard Evie leave the house today?”

“No, why? Is something wrong?”

“I, I don’t know. I was supposed to meet her two hours ago but she didn’t show up. I tried calling but no answer, and none of her friends or her parents knows where she is. So I thought… well, I came here. Her car is still downstairs.”

“Really? Wait, let me try.”

Rafar thought what was the point? But he let Kak Mira knock and call Evie’s name. As expected, no answer. They tried again, calling and knocking on the door alternately. One of Kak Mira’s children, a boy of about 10, came to see what the fuss was about. Rafar remembered the kid; he was four when he last saw him, and the child didn’t know who he was.

“Where could she be? You didn’t hear her leave?” Rafar asked again.

“No, I'm sorry, I didn’t. Is there any reason to be worried? You look worried,” Kak Mira said.

“I don’t know. Her car is still down there. And she’s not answering both phones. I know Evie; she’s not the kind to show up late. I don’t know, I'm worried. But if I could hear from her right now, it’ll be a Godsend.”

“Well, don’t you used to have a spare key? But I guess you gave it back to her.”

“Wait, what did you say?”

Kak Mira looked like she said something wrong. “I said, don’t you have a spare key?”

Rafar went blank for a moment. He remembered when they were still married, they had four sets of keys for the house; one was hers, one was his, one was kept in a key cupboard labeled ‘SPARES’… and the other one was stashed secretly behind…

He squatted down, moving so fast it startled Kak Mira. He began pulling the locked shoe cabinet beside the doorway.

“What are you doing?” Kak Mira asked. As he pulled the cabinet, which was heavy (he forgot how heavy it was with Evie’s loads of shoes inside it), he explained.

“We always kept a spare key outside, hidden, just in case,” he said. He managed to open a six-inch gap between the cabinet and the wall. He felt around with his hands; he hoped it was still there… and… bingo! His fingers touched upon a hard cold object beneath a smooth layer of cellophane. He pried it off and showed it to Kak Mira, who raised her eyebrows.

“We taped it to the back of the cabinet,” he said. Kak Mira motioned for him to open the door, and Rafar nodded. His hands were trembling as he tried to insert the key into the lock; he fumbled twice, but finally managed to jam it in. He turned, and heard the satisfying clunk! of the mechanism releasing. Rafar opened the door and stepped in. Kak Mira followed.


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Saturday, 3.19PM

Muhammad Rafar
As I stepped into the apartment, an immense feeling of familiarity and nostalgia swept over me. This was the first time I set foot into its walls for four long years. And now, as I look at every corner, every angle of its walls, I see us together. For a moment I just stood there still. It felt surreal.

The apartment was pretty much the same as it was when I left four years ago. Some of the decorations have changed, and a lot of the stuff that was mine was of course no longer there. But the furniture was the same; the TV was the same, and the colors of the walls were all like it was years ago. The only things that were new was a very Zen, Japanese style lamp in corner; on a small table beside the sofa, Evie had put framed pictures of her and her family and friends. I felt slightly hurt that there wasn’t a picture of me.

“It’s quiet. Sounds like she’s not home?” Kak Mira said, interrupting my thoughts but reminding me why I was here.

“Let me have a look,” I said. I stepped softly, putting my hands on the familiar furniture. I came to the dinner table; I glanced right, towards the kitchen. The windows were closed and I could hear no activity. I swept my gaze from right to left: my old ‘media room’ was empty; the guest room in front of me was empty save for some huge teddy bears Evie kept there. When my gaze came to the left, it was our old bedroom. The door was open. I stepped towards it and a sickly sweet smell rose to my nose; I looked down and saw what looked like a dried puddle of vomit; immediately my fears were raised.

“Evie?” I called out and walked into the bedroom. My eyes scanned the oh-so-familiar room. There was nothing but then I realized I was looking too high up. As I looked down on the floor, I saw her. She lay still on the carpet, her cell phone lying a few inches from her right hand; her left was on her stomach. She was dressed in a t-shirt that was slightly raised, exposing her belly, which looked slightly swollen, and a pair of shorts.

“Evie!!” I shouted and immediately went to her side; I lifted her into my arms and felt her body was hot; then I saw her chest rise and that at least told me she was alive. “Evie? Ya Allah, what happened? Kak Mira!!”

The elder woman appeared at the door and put a hand to her mouth. I told her to call an ambulance and she nodded, rushing to make the call. I sat on the floor, feeling helpless, not knowing what to do. “Evie? Are you alright?” I said as I cradled her head in my arms. She looked so lifeless, like she was drained of life. I held, not realizing I had begun to cry, worried to death.

“Rafar…” a weak voice called out my name. I looked at her face; her eyes were slightly open. Her body was sweating and feverish, and she was slightly trembling. I caressed her hair (I realized it was styled differently; in other circumstances, she would have looked gorgeous).

“Rafar, you came…” she said, her voice feeble and strained.

“Shh.. Of course I came… It’s okay; I’ve called for help. Hang in there, you’ll be alright.”

Kak Mira came in and told me the ambulance was on its way. Then she rushed out and came back with a blanket and a cool, moist towel. She made me wipe Evie’s forehead with it.

“Rafar…” Evie said, but I put a finger to her lips.

“Shh.. Save your energy. You’ll need it.”

Evie gave the slightest hint of a smile, but then she grimaced again and her hand went to her stomach. “It... It hurts…” she said. I could only watch in pain. In truth I thought I couldn’t. This was worse than seeing her cry after our divorce.

“Hush, Evie, you’ll be alright. Have patience,” I said. Without thinking, I kissed her forehead. “I'm here.”

About ten minutes later the emergency medical transponders arrived. They put Evie on board a stretcher and I followed suit in the ambulance. The nearest hospital was Gleneagles, about 5 minutes away. As we rode there, Evie lay motionless. The medical guys had put in an IV for her. One of them had put his hands on his stomach and mouthed ‘appendix’ to me. I had nodded. I felt less worried; appendicitis was very treatable… but how long had she been lying there on the floor? Did it happen after our phone call?

I pushed these thoughts out of my head as we arrived at the hospital. A grey haired male doctor came by us; he assessed the situation in what I thought was lighting speed. I followed as they took Evie into surgery. All along, I held her hands and kept looking at her, telling her she’ll be alright.

“Rafar…” she said in her weakened state. The rumbles of the gurney’s wheels were drowning out her voice. I bent in closer while still keeping my feet on the move.

“Yes? Shh, you shouldn’t speak,” I said.

“Rafar… I…” she said. She had been given anesthetics, and she was losing consciousness. I held her hand tighter, but her own grip was loosing. “Hang in there, Baby,” I said.

“You… you called me Baby…”

I smiled at her, if only to alleviate some worry. “I guess I did…”

“Sir, we have to take her inside the OR now,” said a grim nurse beside me. I looked at her; she must have seen the worry on my face, as her expression softened. “We’ll take care of her, Sir. Don’t worry.”

I nodded, reluctantly. “Rafar…” Evie called my name again. She looked paler and weaker by the minute as the drugs kicked in.

“Yes, Evie?”

Then, somehow, she smiled. She stretched her lips, and in that instant I saw the girl I fell in love with eleven years ago and the woman I married, and the woman I was still madly in love with. She smiled, and just before she went through the doors of which I could not follow, Evie said,

“Wait… Promise me… Promise… wait for me. Wait for me… Wait…”

And then the doors closed; but I had already made the promise.

I will wait for her.



There's a time for everyone if they only learn
That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn
There's a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors
When the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours


----------------


to be...... concluded......





5 comments:

nurdini izni said...

i just knew it wasnt some typical pms pain. haa. please dont tell me nnti evie cannot get pregnant, because she said it just now, "i want to have his babies." :(

great suspense and apprehension. uu.

im looking forward to the conclusion! hehe

Maiza said...

Cunn! Sangat mendebarkan okayy..
I'm waiting for the next episode in anticipation :D

Muhammad Edwan Shaharir said...

dini - suspense yea? hehe :P

maiza - season finale coming soon :)

Sarah Zahari said...

even i'm waiting for what's gonna happen :D

nuraainaa said...

it's killing mee!