Wednesday, December 9, 2009


"paul!!". he was running up the stairs. a girl, smaller than him, was after him. being shorter does not help the girl in this pursuit. she was panting two floors up. "paul..wait!" she wailed. the man she was after was floors ahead. "oww!". she tripped on the stairs. scratched her palms and nail. "f***! no...not now..", and threw off her red heels, which heels had popped off. eighteenth floor.

paul was already at the rooftop, staring at the sky. it was a beautiful night. the stars were shimmering. the cold breeze of the wind swept through his fingers. he threw off his jacket to the floor. his shirt drenched with sweat. he walked slowly to the edge of the roof, loosening his tie, looking over the busy streets, some 30 floors below him. slowly he drank the last drops of alcohol from his bottle..

the door creaked. at his back, nina finally caught up with him. "paul, what are you doing!? come back down here!". "i'm sorry, nina. i can't". tears formed under her brown eyes, disappointed with the man she loves, the man who suddenly gave up to everything. "you break my could you do this to me..".
"..honey..look at me..! i lost my job! my job!!"
"but you can look for other jobs! there's always another job..!"
"...hahahahahaha!! funny how life works. lemme finish *hick*, remember last week we went for the checkup for my headache?"
"yea, you said you were experiencing pain for quite some time now. why?"
"i went for the follow-up, you know what?
nina didn't answer.
"i have a tumor", whispered paul. "carcinoma"

Nina went speechless. she didn't expect that paul's condition would be so serious. she reached out her hand towards paul, and moved slowly towards him. "honey, we can talk about this.." she pleaded. "what's carcinoma?"
"it's a brain cancer, and the doctors told me that it's located in the region in my brain which is inaccesible, thus malignant. means it's inoperable".
"oh my god.., it's..."
"shocking? yeah.."

"i'll be dead soon, but i don't wish to suffer that long knowing that i'd be dead".
" have me. i'm here..".
"nina", he said, while he stepped up the edge of the roof, "i'm sorry. i'm not as strong as you think".
"we've been together...", her words were interrupted when he cellphone suddenly rang. she looked at the number. unfamiliar, she ignored, and continued, "we've been together for six years..does it not mean anything to you?", she started to cry.
"nina, don't cry..", he looked at her. "i'm sorry. i couldn't stand myself watching u suffer, watching myself wasted..". he looked back at the busy roads below. "i love you". he spread his arms wide, and slowly, he fell forward, towards the empty space.

"no!!!! noo..!!!!!!", she screamed, hopelessly. she sat on the floor, screaming, crying. couldn't understand this cruel world, that took his love away.

her phone rang. once. twice. she looked at the number. the same unfamiliar number. and she picked up. "good evening, this is dr stevens, from the hospital. i couldn't get your husband, so i thought i should try to get you. we accidentally swapped his results with another patient at the lab. i'm calling to say that we have his actual results. his results showed that he has hemangioblastoma, it's benign, and a simple surgery can cure, and.." the voice trailed. she passed out.

[i would like to thank Syazana Alia, my friend, and also a medic student in Indonesia, for helping me, although we didn't quite find what we're looking for; we slept.]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

the inevitable

i was running. i thought it was safe. i thought i can get away with it..i blanked. i can't think. my body ached as if my limbs were torn apart, as if i was running forever. dub dub, dub dub. i could even hear my own heartbeat. i was sweating, my pores visible and opened as if it could suck all the air in the world.

"hey! watch where you're going, a**!", the chinese hawker yelled at me when i bumped into him. how the hell was he there. i fell down. he fell down. the cups he held in his hands flew in the opposite direction. "i...i...", speechless. i got up and sped again.

it was a dark, cold night. the traffic, as always, hectic. horns blared. red. yellow. green. go! the bikes at the front of the traffic came full throttle. they came speeding towards me. i can almost imagine the moment of impact when someone pulled me backwards, off the road. "shit! are you f-ing crazy? are you okay?" she said. "you almost got killed!". i looked at her. she was horrified. so were others around. i looked at my left. then, my right. good, less people at the left, and i ran towards it. "yeah, sure. You're welcome!", said the girl who saved my life.

i can't feel my legs anymore. i can't do this anymore. i stopped, in the middle of a dark, filthy lane. i tried to catch my breath, but it seemed so difficult. my hands were trembling. and then i saw him. the person i was running away from. he was coming for me.

"what do you want? get away from me!!", i shouted in the clear, moonless night. it was a starless night. it was suddenly a very quiet night. "the time's up. you're done here", the man whispered between his teeth, but the words were clear. he moved a step closer. terribly frightened, i ran away, towards the end of the lane, which led to..

BOOM!!!!!!!!! something hit me. i flew sideways, hit the pavement head first...and suddenly my vision blurred..

... "sir...are you okay..?" "..can somebody call the ambulance!?" "oh my god, who is that...?". many unfamiliar voices. the first voice would probably be the driver who hit me. "it's gonna be okay..i'm's gonna be fine", he told me. only that i was not okay. my whole life flashed before my eyes. i saw my childhood, my life. and i felt so cold. then the man i was running from walked slowly to me.. "so this is it, huh? i'm dying now?" i said to him. he stopped. and he walked closer just so i could see his face..beneath the neon signboard. oh. he was faceless. "you'd die anyway, tonight".


my mom woke me up that day, just like she always did. "mom, baru pukul 6..", i said, and i pulled up the blanket even higher. Mom said, "get ready, breakfast on the way..". Hah. i always said to myself, has everyday have to be like this? it's still dark out there, you know.

So i woke up obligingly, brushed my teeth, took a short bath, and ironed my school uniform while enjoying the smooth aroma of earl grey, my favourite. about half an hour or so, i walked down the stairs, getting closer to the crisp buttery smell of my toasts. sugar on top. that's how i always like it.
"where's papa?". "he's gone early today.some errand. here, why don't you have your breakfast, first..". chew. chew. chew. slurp....

7.10am. "mom, leaving!".

slowly, i dragged my feet to school, some 15 minutes away. it was a friday. i would usually be happy and super hyper on friday, knowing that, ends at 12, and i can spend the extra hours hanging out at boy's place, playing games while peeping at the girl next door. talk about girl with legs! her legs were like a mile long each, i swear! "Oi", boy shouted, "mengintai anak dara orang je, patutnye pegi semayang jumaat!". "eh macam kau baik sangat. tu buku ape kau pegang tu?" GTO. rosak budak sekarang.

but that day i felt i walked past the morning market, the people there kept staring at me. i looked up to their faces, and i saw them whispering to each other. have i done wrong? i was nervous, for no reason. sweats formed on my forehead. there were two old ladies in front of me. "how old is this boy?" whispered one of the ladies to the other. "he's just turned eleven".."oh..really ah..ooh how ah.."..i looked at them, and the old ladies looked away.

i reached school just before the bell rang. i remembered that it was the day i must submit my maths exercises the teacher gave me last week. but i couldn't pass up the book, because the week before, my girlfriend tore the book when she saw me eating with another girl at the canteen, which happened to be my neighbor. and no one seemed to bother to let me copy the exercises, because "..padan muka kau!". i think the teacher, mr chow, wouldn't mind me not passing up the exercises. but then i suddenly remembered that it was only the month before that a classmate of mine nearly fainted when mr chow hairdried her, as how the media usually potrays Alex Ferguson. oh shit, what should i do? crap!! the devil just came.

mr chow walked into the classroom, with a cane under his left armpit, textbook on his right hand. he walked slowly, scrutinizing the faces of his victims. he stopped in front of meena, the indian girl who sat at the front. and he dropped the textbook on her table. it was fast, and the textbook was so heavy that it sounded like thunder. meena, who was usually cheerful, suddenly had watery eyes. trembling with fear. "ehhemmm.." voiced mr chow. "ammaaaaaaa....!!!!!!!" meena cried. yeah.

"good morning, teacher.." we greeted simultaneously. "good morning.ok pass up the books, now!". boy put up his hand. "sir..i..i..". "i what?". ", i didn't bring the book..i um..", and it was merely a fraction of a milisecond when mr chow was suddenly in front of him. "boy," he said, "i shall never care of the reason. Palm up, please". Whack!! "Ow! but sir..". "Oi, ada bunyi lagi!!" Whack whack!!

"who else!?" mr chow shouted. i lowered my body..slowly, so it would be possible for me to hide behind Meme, a tall, fat boy who sat in front of me. "him!", boy pointed straight to me. gah!!!!! mr chow walked to me..i lowered his face to mine..i closed my eyes. waited..waited for the moment.. then a soft voice suddenly spoke to me "'s okay, but don't do it next time". "i'm, what?" i opened my eyes, and he looked at me. the same expression the old ladies gave me that morning. and he walked to the front. Boy looked at me with his teary eyes, and shrugged.

12 o'clock. time to go home. bought a cendol at a small stall set up at the roadside, under the shed of the tree. the uncle who owned the store, my dad used to say, was there since he was young. his fragile hands, gripping the slippery wheel that carves the ice cubes for nearly fifty years, to feed the empty stomachs of the customers, to feed his family.

i continued walking. my heart felt so wrong that day. i never knew why. until..."fuad! fuad!!". " chow..hi. i mean, good afternoon, sir..". "Yes, erm..fuad, listen..i hope you could take this news slowly.."

we were in his car, on the way to hospital. my dad, according to mr chow, got into an accident, earlier in the morning. when i was on the way to how come he didn't tell in the class? oh..meaning, the old ladies knew too, hence the expressions? how's he doin? would he be okay..if only i... "fuad", mr chow finally spoke, as he drove, halting my reverie, "fuad, are you alright?". "yes, mr chow. i..anyway...where's mom? is she already there?". He looked at me..silence..

we got to the hospital. from the moment i entered the door, walked through the lobby, until i got into the elevator, i prayed that father would be fine..that he managed to survive from the injuries nurses and the attending doctor described as catastrophe. four people died. and when i came into the room..the monitor that was connected to him, beeped. beeped. beeped. i did not see any kind of movement, but the doctor told me that he was stable. mom wasn't there with me. wasn't there, at the side of the bed, holding father's hand. where's mom..? we need her. i looked outside to see if there's a payphone. oh, there, downstairs. i got down, insert a 10 sen coin, and dialled home. no one picked up.."mana ni..", i mumbled myself.

i sat down..and i fell asleep.

about four hours or so, i was awaken by a touch on my wrist. my father's touch. warm. "pa, are you feeling better?". "uh..yea..", he finally spoke, "i think. i think. how's school?" "ok, where's mom?". "...tadi makan ape kat sekolah?". "i didn't eat, not hungry. had breakfast with mom, she said you went out early today. pa, where's mom?"

"stop it! stop talking about mom!", shouted father. "what's wrong, pa?". i've never seen him like that before, even on his deathbed nearly twenty years later. "just stop it!", he shouted again, startled a nurse who walked by the door. he looked upset, trying to hold back tears. he switched his attention to the news broadcasted on the tv in the room. i later recalled that the week before they were fighting while having our dinner. "pa..". he turned slowly to me, with his sorrowful face, and he looked deep into my eyes, as if he's trying to understand me, trying to make me understand him. "son, your mom..she's no longer with us.."

"what do you mean?" i was shaking..
"fuad, your mom died last week.let her go"

[i would like to thank Henna Nur, who gave the idea for this story. cheers!]