Friday, September 6, 2013

Interlude.

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I dreamed of heart-break;
Of blinding pain, and endless crying.
Of falling rain, and a sky that’s darkening.

I dreamed of crumbling walls;
Of shattered glass, and songs of mourning.
Of dried-up wells, and not belonging.

I dreamed of a weeping moon;
Of suns that set, but never rising.
Of stars so dim, and never shining.

I dreamed of heart-break;
Of forever goodbyes, and no returning.
Of losing you, and slowly dying.

I dreamed of heart-break.

- D.I

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chapter 22

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I was dreaming.
In the dream, I was in the standing in an empty room; surrounding me were four stark, white walls. The room was bitterly cold and I felt gooseflesh rise on my skin. I take a few steps; backwards, forwards, to the sides, but there is nowhere to go. Then I noticed a mirror hung on one wall. It was a full length mirror, and much to my horror I realized I was completely naked. I looked at the mirror, then down my own body, then back again; but now suddenly I was fully clothed and groomed. I had my slim fit jeans on, and a sports jacket over a white, open-collared shirt. I approached the mirror,and saw my own reflection laugh at me.
Look at you, pathetic fuck, the reflection said. Why would Damia want you?
Shut up! I screamed at my reflection. But the reflection kept on laughing, and the laughter was cruel, humorless and mocking. In anger, I punched the mirror, and it smashed into a million pieces, and it eachn piece was my own reflection laughing. Then the walls of the empty room came crumbling down, and suddenly I was surrounded by girls; hundreds of them. They were faces I know but couldn’t attach names too, and now they were circling me and hurling insults my way.
You left us cold! They screamed. Bastard! Heartless! Asshole! Fuck you! Die! Fuck off and die!
I ran away, then these girls; Malays, Chinese, Indians, everything in between; in tudungs and kebayas, in tank tops and shorts and pretty little cocktail dresses; they started to chase me. It was like a stampede, and it was terrifying. I kept running and running but I felt like I was going no where. Then, tired, I dropped to my knees and started to crawl.
I stopped when I came upon a pair of feet; I looked up and I saw Damia, standing there, her arms crossed, looking down at me. She looked sad and defeated.
Help me, Damia, I said. I held out a hand but she just shook her head, slowly, deliberately… and walked away.
Damia! I screamed as the hundreds of girls caught up with me and begin to tear me apart –

***

And I woke up to the sound of my bedside telephone ringing. I yawned and stretched my limbs, and felt a nasty ache in my temples. I saw three empty bottles on the bedstand; two bottles of Grey Goose vodka and a bottle of cheap KK-Mart ‘whisky’. I sat up, still not thinking that clearly, as the phone kept on ringing. It sounded very loud.
“Yeah?” I said as I picked up the receiver.
“Dhani?” came the voice of Nissa, my sister. “Where have you been? Are you alright?”
Dazed, I couldn’t really get at where she was coming from. “What?”
“Dhani, your secretary called me, saying you haven’t been in for three days and haven’t called in sick. What’s going on? Why can’t I reach you on cellphone?” Nissa said, her words a cocktail of worry and anger. She was always angry if I got sick without telling her. I remember sometime mid-last year I came down with viral fever and forgot to inform her; she only found out when I called her to say I wasn’t coming for my usual Sunday visit. She had scolded me over the phone, then an hour later had arrived at my apartment with the twins, complete with a packed lunch and a fruit basket. It was one of the little things she did that reminded me how lucky I am to have such a kakak.
“My phone’s broken,” I said, not bothering to tell her the phone was lying in several pieces in the living room. But something she said piqued my curiosity. “It’s been three days?”
“Must be if your work is calling me. Are you sick? If so I’m coming over,” Nissa said. I remembered then that she was my emergency contact number, and I didn’t provide my home number to work.
“No. No, Nissa, I’m okay,” I said.
“Then how come you’ve missed work for three days? How’s Damia? Hasn’t she come looking for you?”
I sighed, inwardly. “Can I come sleep over today until the weekend?”
“Of course. You shouldn’t even ask,” Nissa said. Then, with a deep concern, “Dhani, is everything alright?”
“I’ll see you this evening. I have a few things to do first. Then maybe we can talk, after I spend some time with the babies.”
“Okay. Okay. Sure. Is there anything you’d like to eat?”
I couldn’t help but smile. “Can you make me your lasagna, if it’s not too much to ask?”
“Of course. Make sure you come,” Nissa said, and paused, as if she was gauging something. Finally she just said, “The girls would be ecstatic you’re sleeping over.”
“Likewise,” I replied. The thought of my nieces was absolutely wonderful, given my state of mind.
“Okay. Take care, yang. See you later. And do call Sharmini.”
We hung up and spent some time cleaning up my room, which was a mess. My bedsheets smelled like sour alcohol and there were bundles of dirty clothes on the floor. I picked these up and stuck them in the washer, and changed to fresh sheets. Then I went to clean my usually spotless kitchen; this time there were a few cans of tuna in the sink, and soiled dishes and cutlery. The dustbin was full and there was spilled coffee beans on the kitchen counter. On the dining table were dozens of glasses, two empty bottles of wine (and I’m not even that much of a wine lover) and three large, empty bottles of Budweiser. Must have been on quite a bender.
I cleaned all that, then vacuumed the entire house and opened the windows to let some air in. Then I made the dreaded call to work, to an angry and relieved Sharmini. I told her I’ve fallen ill and will be taking emergency leave for the rest of the week.
“Okay, Mr. D,” Sharmini said over the phone.
I hesitated, but then I asked, “Is Ms. Damia around?”
“Well, yes,” Shar said, cautiously. “But she’s been elusive. Comes in work early and leaves home early. Hardly ever talks… Mr. D?”
“Yes, Shar?”
“I’m really sorry about your, well you know.”
“It’s okay, Shar.”
“Is everything alright with the two of you?”
I don’t know. “I’m keeping my hopes up,” I said.
“Okay Mr. D. I wish you all the best. Do rest. I’ll take care of things here. You’re not having much this week anyway. I’ll reschedule most of your things. Is there anything else you’d like me to do?”
I thought for a moment. “Nothing, Shar. You’ve done so much already. Thanks. Take care. When I come back, we'll go for lunch, okay?”
I ended the conversation and went for a long, hot shower. I just stood beneath the shower-head, and the water was very hot, but I felt absolutely comfortable in it. I let the water run through my hair, on my skin and between my legs. I felt like I didn’t want to get out. I scrubbed my face and realized I haven’t shaved for days, and a five o’clock shadow had formed. After the shower I looked in the mirror and thought maybe I’d sport the facial hair for awhile. Then I changed, packed some clothes, and went to Nissa’s house.

***

We were sitting in Nissa’s garden, drinking mugs of hot tea. It was late, and I had already helped tuck in the twins to bed. As Nissa had predicted, Jasmine and Yasmine were super excited to know I was going to spend a few days at their house. When I arrived earlier, they had, as usual actually, come running and screaming and jumped on me. I spent a couple of hours playing with them, and all my worries left me. Then Nissa had called for dinner, and just as I asked, she had made her lasagna, which I remain adamant is the best lasagna ever. But she hadn’t stopped there; there was also fried chicken, a huge bowl of fruit salad and chocolate pudding for dessert. All my favorites from when we were growing up together. I was so touched I almost cried. She knew I was feeling distressed. Anyway I had eaten until near bursting.
Now we were just sitting, enjoying the quiet of her neighborhood. The skies were clear, and if you squinted a bit, you could make out the stars.
“I sure could use a cigarette right now,” Nissa said. I looked at her. I had forgotten she used to smoke, before she had the twins. Nissa looked at me and laughed. “But I won’t.”
We sipped our teas. “What’s wrong, Dhani?” Nissa asked as she put down her porcelain mug. “What happened between Damia and you, in such short a time?”
I thought about what to tell her. I thought hard, and finally I told her what she needed to hear; the truth. She listened intently, her eyes focused and lips pursed. She let me speak freely, and only interrupted me to drink her tea. When I was done, I felt tears well in my eyes.
Nissa shook her head. “You know, I always suspected that about you.”
I frowned. “Really?”
She looked at with a ‘duh’ look on her face. “Come on Dhani. Single, successful bachelor, living alone. I’d be naïve to think you didn’t get some tail.”
“You’re not mad?” I asked.
“Well,” Nissa sighed. “We grew up with each other, and you’re a wonderful little brother and uncle to my children. But you’re human, after all. I don’t condone your past behavior or actions, but neither will I judge you or condemn you for it. After all, it is, as you said, someone you were, and not who you are now. So I choose to believe in the present. Besides, who am I to be mad? I’ve made mistakes, I’ve been through shit. We have our own paths.”
Quiet crept in. Then Nissa looked at me and said, “But I do hope, and pray, that you’re a changed man. And that you won’t repeat the mistakes or actions of the past.”
“Thank you, sister,” I said. A single teardrop fell on my cheek.
“Damia changed you. I saw that with my own eyes,” she said. “She made you happy, like I’ve never seen you before.”
“And now it seems that I’ve lost her,” I said.
Nissa frowned. “You don’t know that yet, Dhani. You haven’t tried to get her back. Don’t give up yet. Insyallah, if it’s your jodoh, which I pray it is, you will still end up together with her.”
“I wish I had your optimism right now.”
“Don’t wish, just have it. Remember when I divorced the twins’ dad? If I had chosen to be pessimistic, I would have abandoned the kids, or killed myself, or I don’t know, done something bad. But I decided to look on the brighter side of things. For one, look, I have Yas and Jas now. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Good things can come out of bad things.”
I was silent and looked at her. Nissa rubbed my shoulder. “It’s been less than a week, Dhani,” she said. “Give her some time. Don’t force her to listen to your explanations. You have to remember she’s not having it easy, too, you know? She needs time and thought, lots of thought, to see where this is going. I know you love her and it’s torturing you right now, but this is something you have to endure. And it’s not like you haven’t, right? Just give her time, Dhani. If she loves you like she says and you believe she does, then in the end, nothing else will matter.”
“I just miss her so much,” I said, sounding weak and feeble.
“I know you do. But what choice do you have right now? She needs her time, and so do you. Now, go to sleep; tomorrow we’ll think of things to do so you can relax and take your mind off things, okay? I’m off to bed. Getting and feeling old,” Nissa laughed. She disappeared into the house and left me alone in the garden. I fished out a crappy old phone in which I had put in my simcard. No messages or missed calls from Damia. I contemplated sending her a goodnight wish like I always do… but in the end I didn’t.
Perhaps Nissa was right. I should give Damia some time. I know she still loves me like I do love her.
I only wish that ‘time’ would mean Damia comes back sooner into my arms.


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