Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chapter 25


*

How do you win back the heart of the girl you love?
Sacrifice? Re-building trust? Proof of dedication and loyalty?
I decided it would be all of those.
I needed to win Damia’s heart back. I needed to be inside her love again, where we were just a few months ago: happy, contented and looking forward to a tomorrow we could build together. I needed to be there, with her, and bring her towards the future where both of us could leave all the shit we’ve gone through behind, and just spend the rest of our lives in each others arms.
I would ignore her statement that I could get any girl I ever wanted.
I only want her.


I texted and e-mailed Damia everyday. I would wish her good morning, good night and sweet dreams, and I would tell her I missed her and I would be waiting for her. I just wanted to reiterate and re-emphasize that I was there, waiting for her to come back. I wanted to assure and re-assure her that I wasn’t going anywhere, and that I would hold on to this love, and that I would keep faith. I would also send her pictures of us from the months before, always the ones where we’re together, and sometimes just pictures I took of her. There was one particular picture that I had taken as my favorite: it showed Damia, adorable in a pink blouse and light blue hijab, pouting and holding up a little flag that said ‘I’m yours’. I sent her that picture with a text saying, ‘I’m yours.’
She never replied those messages.
Then I started to send her flowers. A bouquet of red roses, with a little card saying “I love you Damia”. I sent them to her home, and this went on for nine days before the florist called me up to say that the house refused to accept anymore, and they didn’t want to waste their delivery men’s time for refusals. I took the hint and quit. It was becoming a bit impractical, I suppose.
I tried calling her, of course. She never answered.
These material endevours might be in folly, you might say. Perhaps you might be right too. But it’s what little I can do to show Damia that I’m here. That I exist, and that I love her truly, and that I no longer am the Dhani Ibrahim of old. I refuse to be compared to her ex-fiancee, and I will defiantly deny her accusation that him and I are the same person.
No, no.
I am in this for real.


I told all about what I’m doing to Nissa one weekend. She listened intently while she prepared lunch for the four of us: white rice, chicken soup (the Twins’ favorite dish), spicy stir fried kangkung, ikan masin goreng. She didn’t say anything, just listened, and nodded to show she was listening.
“So yeah. I’m just doing that, for now. I hope little by little, she’d see that she means so much to me and that I want to be the person she wants me to be,” I said, munching on a piece of fried ikan masin, a habit of mine since I was little. I liked the salty stuff.
“Stop meratah the lauk!” Nissa said. “How is she responding to all this?”
I paused, and swallowed. “She isn’t.”
“At all?” Nissa asked, looking at me with her eyebrows raised.
I shook my head.
“And how long has this been going on?” Nissa asked.
“Couple of weeks. A month,” I said, suddenly feeling a knot forming in my stomach.
“I see. And how long do you plan on doing this?”
“As long as it takes, Nissa. As long as it takes.”
Nissa looked at me thoughtfully while wiping her hands on a kitchen towel. “Dhani, you know you can’t force this, right?”
“I’m not forcing it,” I said, a little defensively.
“It seems to me that you are. Don’t you think you ought to give her some space? I told you this before, but you have to realize it’s not easy for her, you know?”
“But it’s been a damn month,” I said with a sudden vehemence. “A whole damn month. Tak cukup ke?”
“Only a month. A month isn’t enough, Dhani, to quell her doubts, her fears. Believe me, as a woman, I know.”
“Thanks, Nissa, I really needed to hear that. I thought you were supposed to be on my side, and be supportive to me.”
A flash of hurt rose to my sisters eyes, and I realized I had unfairly said that to her. She didn’t say anything, and just turned away and started to clean some dishes. My shoulders slumped, and I sighed.
“Nissa, I didn’t mean to say that. I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m just… angry, and… and… desperate, to get her back. I want her back with me as soon as possible.”
Nissa put away some dishes and stood in front of me. She put both hands on my shoulders, and looked at me eye to eye. It struck me then how alike we are in terms of looks.
“I forgive you for your outburst, because I do understand what you feel,” she said firmly. “You are my brother, Dhani. My only sibling. I love you, and I don’t want to see you get hurt, again. I only speak harsh truths because you need to hear just that: truth. I can’t, and don’t want to, sugar-coat things because it’ll bring you down. You need to be realistic about this.”
I looked down, like a child reprimanded for being disobedient.
“I’m not telling you to give up,” Nissa said. “Nor am I telling you to go all out. You can do whatever you wish, you’re an adult. But as your sister, I am just telling you to be prepared, and to be realistic and strong to face whatever outcome this might bring. I do not want you to float on castles in the sky, only to come crashing down. I’ve seen enough of that happen. Are you listening?”
I nodded, feeling depressed and stupid. Nissa kissed me on the cheek and hugged me. “I do wish every happiness for you, regardless,” she said. “Now let’s eat. The Twins are too quiet and you know that means they’re up to something.”


The following night, after work, I was in an irritable mood. I came home feeling exhausted, and famished, but the thought of eating didn’t cross my mind. I just made myself a cereal drink, downed that in four hot, painful gulps, and tore open a pack of cigarettes and started to chain-smoke at my balcony. I gazed far into my city, not even sure of what I was looking at. I tried to feel her presence in the wind, maybe just a hint of her perfume, but that was fucking stupid thinking. All I smelled was cigarette smoke and ozone. Without realizing it I broke into cold sweat and suddenly started to feel nauseous. I doused my seventh cigarette of the night, calmly walked to the bathroom and vomited whatever there was in my stomach. The acid stung my throat, and the smell was rank. I cursed loudly as I rinsed down the toilet, and then I saw my own reflection and was, for a brief moment, shocked.
I haven’t shaved for two weeks, and now a rough goatee and moustache had taken place. My cheeks were sallow, and I could see my ribs. Have I really forgotten to take care of myself? It seems so, in my thoughts of winning back the heart of Damia. Now I saw even my shirt fit me more loosely, and my trousers had some slack in it. Hating what I saw, I showered, shaved and freshened up. I dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of cotton boxer shorts, and went back to my balcony.
A long, exasperated sigh escaped my lungs. Today, I haven’t messaged Damia yet. I was trying to not try too hard. I was trying to follow Nissa’s advice to ‘be realistic’. But it felt like I wasn’t trying enough. It felt like, with every second that passes where I don’t try to convince Damia, I was losing whatever grip I had left on her. I grasped the railing of my balcony so tight my knuckles turned white; I looked at my hands and imagined Damia’s hands in them. How they had fit so neatly, like a glove. I closed my eyes and images of her flashed by in my head, like a speeded up montage, like turning the pages of an album so quickly you could only ever see flashes and glimpses of memories, and never the whole picture. My mind travelled through time, to those halcyon days I had spent with her in my arms. Then my mind travelled further back, to the time before I even knew her name. Those times when I was still Dhani Ibrahim, Flower Heart.
Those times now seemed so much simpler. And suddenly I felt angry. I felt angry at this sorry, maudlin state I was finding myself in. This pathetic pool I was wallowing in.
“I was fucking fine!” I screamed into the wind, fourteen stories above ground. “I was fucking fine, living my life. I had everything planned out! I had girls, I had time, I had everything I could ever wanted! Then you came along and ruined everything! You came along with your beautiful grey eyes and your smile and you fucking made me fall in love with you when that wasn’t what I fucking wanted!”
I crashed myself on the sofa I kept at the balcony. My eyes still were open now, and I gazed into this emptiness that I had built for myself.
Now I love you and  suddenly you mean everything to me. Now you’re the ONLY thing that I want,” I said, this time whispering into the wind, and wondering if it’d carry these words to the one I was yearning for.

*

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Damia II


*

As soon as the clock struck 0700hrs, Damia pulled on a t-shirt, a simple slip-on hijab, track bottoms and her worn down green hoodie to go for a jog. When she put on her running shoes, she saw how used (‘dilapidated’ even) her they were, and made a mental note to get a new pair. She drove the short distance to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, her favorite park in the city, and already she saw early-morning runners pacing themselves. This early on, the air of Kuala Lumpur was still cool, still touched on by the breath of last night. A faint breeze even made it chilly, and Damia zipped her hoodie all the way up below her chin.
Damia started to run. She was a good, not great, runner. Back in her school days, she regularly got into the top ten at every annual merentas desa she participated in. She always maintained a steady pace, controlling her breathing, and today was no exception. Damia circled the lake, and within half an hour had already done three laps. A few young male joggers threw her admiring glances, and one even ran up beside her and asked if she wanted to run together. She had politely declined, and stepped up her pace.
Damia wanted to be alone with her thoughts. Staying at home wasn’t helping. By running, she felt freer, more at ease with herself. As she ran, she thought about the events of the past few weeks. How it had snowballed out of the blue, and caught her off-guard.
Her younger sister, Dianna, had been shocked when she told her that she was going to call it off with Dhani.
“But why?” Dianna had asked. “Wait, what happened?” So Damia recounted a more condensed tale of what went on, choosing to leave out the more lurid details.
“But he seemed so sweet and nice. And hot too. Aw, cripes,” Dianna had said.
Damia had bit her lip thoughtfully. “They all are.”
The sun started to show it’s face over the jagged skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Damia figured she could run for another hour or so before it got too stuffy and hot.
She wondered about her luck with men. Dhani had been only her second boyfriend, and he, too, turned out to be just the same guy Amir is. Maybe she was attracted to these jerks? No, no, that wasn’t it. She supposed it was just bad luck.
But Dhani said he changed because of me, she thought. Then dismissed it. It seemed too cliché. 
Who knows what lies in the hearts of men, especially men like Amir and now, it seems, Dhani. She recalled all those other cliches about men that cheat, and men that treat women like disposable toys rather than meaningful pursuits. Damia almost wanted to believe that all men are like that, even when she knows that simply isn’t true.
In truth, she missed Dhani very much, because she loved him very much. She missed Dhani to the point where she shed tears at night, thinking about him and missing him with every minute that passes by. But she was too proud to admit it to him, and too angry to have found out about his life before her.
That was before me, Damia thought. Maybe he really meant it when he said he’s a changed man.
This thought, too, was dismissed as quickly as the wind that rushes by her ears as she runs. The dismissal was either by her anger, or her pride. Maybe even both. She couldn’t believe that someone could change so easily.
Human beings are creatures of habit; it’s impossible that Dhani, that so called Flower Heart, could turn a new leaf overnight over one girl. Over her. She recalled those damned pictures Amir had sent her. They were so obscene, so lurid, so… pornographic, yes, that’s the word. Those pictures had offended her beyond measure.
Suppose she was being self righteous? After all, her own history wasn’t drawn on clean sheets either. But, in her defence, she thought, she had been faithful to just one guy. Not that that was a good argument, but she had been in it for love. I didn’t spread my legs for any guy that passed me by, and believe me, people have tried. 
Her point was, she felt betrayed, by Amir back then, and by Dhani now.
But he didn’t cheat on you… right? Right?
Damia didn’t know, and would rather not know.
So why can’t you forgive him?
She was perspiring heavily now, the sweat dripping off her brows and nose, and she could feel her clothes sticking to her skin. But she didn’t stop running. She kept on, not even feeling tired.
I can’t forgive him because I am scared. I am scared if I forgive him and carry on, I will end up loving him too much, so much, and then one day wake up only to realize that history has repeated it self, and that I will find or catch Dhani with his pants down, thrusting away at some tasty little tart he picked up at a restaurant or off the streets of KL. I am scared that I will never be enough for him, and that I will just be one of his disposables, to be put down on the wayside once he’s done. And worst of all, I am scared that, if that happens, I will just let him.
So she couldn’t forgive Dhani. Maybe it was self-righteous, and selfish of her. Maybe Dhani would end up hating her. She didn’t know.
She didn’t know anything right now.
She just kept on running.



*


Monday, October 7, 2013

Chapter 24


 *
 
It has been four, close to five, years since anyone has ever made the decision to leave me. And I have spent the past four years being unbreakable, untouchable and invincible. I had carved a legend out of my own name, so much so that I have gained a hallowed name: The Flower Heart, they called me. I have, over the past four years, made girls wet their panties and tremble on their knees as I swept them off their feet and made their eyes roll up so far they could have sworn they saw heaven.
But now I am sitting on my bed, feeling angry and maudlin. I am angry at the fact that that fucking dickhead of Damia’s ex-fiancee decided to show himself and disrupt my relationship with her. I am angry at the fact that Damia refuses to see that I am a changed (?) man and that I would give it all to be with her. I am furious that for the first time ever, I feel I am not in control of events, and I am not dictating how my life is flowing.
Sitting alone at home wasn’t helping. I put on a white button down shirt and a pair of jeans, whipped out my helmet and went down to my parking lot. There, gleaming in an angry yellow and looking like a robotic wasp, was my Ducati Streetfighter. I had bought the bike two years ago, almost on impulse. Many sexy asses had graced it’s pillion seat, and I have ravaged them all. I mounted the bike, fired up the engine, and went to my old hunting grounds.

***
 
But not to hunt. Rather, for a drink. And maybe a smoke. I’m not usually the smoking type, but somehow this… predicament, I suppose, warrants it. When I had pulled up in front of Casa del Loco, one of my most frequented clubs, a dozen eyes looked my way. I saw some familiar faces, not that I knew them, but familiar enough for me to acknowledge. The bouncer, Victor, a tall, slim but tough Chinese dude who had the Muay Thai skills to clout your ass backwards, greeted me warmly, noting that it’s been awhile since I’ve been around.
“Busy, Vic.”
“I thought you got married or something,” Victor said, laughing as he let me in. I left my helmet with him and walked straight to the bar, where I ordered a whisky and a pack of Dunhills. I lit a fag and sipped my whisky. Already I felt calmer. Angry, still, but calmer. I wanted to gather my thoughts, in a place where the silence wouldn’t be so loud and agonizing. Behind me, the dance floor was packed and the music loud. I swirled the fiery liquid in my glass, thinking about Damia.
Why me, Dhani? What’s so special about me? Said a ghost voice, ringing in my ears (or so I thought). You could have anyone you want, Dhani. Why do you want me?
“I don’t know,” I said out loud, loud enough that the bartender came to me and asked if I called for her. She was a pretty Pinoy girl, who went by the name of Marcella. We’ve flirted, before, but I’ve never actually went in for the kill with her. Mostly because this was a place I came often, and I never liked bumping into playthings. So Marcella and I were just casual, flirty customer and server. I asked her for another whisky and she put out two glasses.
“One is on the house, D,” she said and I thanked her for it. Something must be showing on my face. Whatever.
The ghost voice spoke again: You can have better than me. Why me, Dhani?
I closed my eyes, took a shot of the whisky and let it burn down my throat. I followed this with two long drags on the cigarette, and I blew smoke in a steady stream into the air. I kept my eyes closed and I thought of Damia. My lovely Damia. I saw the curves of her body and the sparkle in her grey eyes, and at once I felt her hands in mine and heard that husky laugh.  I could relive the conversations we’ve had, and the things we talked about.
I heard her ghost voice saying I love you, Dhani, like she always says when she wishes me goodnight, and how everytime she says it, my heart gets warm and my cock stiffens, not out of lust, but out of a strange sense of arousing pride and love and gratitude.
“And I love you,” I said, out loud but this time not so loud that people would hear. And I did; I do, I love her with all my heart, more than I’ve ever loved anyone before, more than I’ve loved the last girl that broke my heart and turned me into the monster I had become before Damia came along. I loved Damia with a  passion I can’t explain.
Why me, Dhani?
“I can’t explain, Damia,” I said, again, just under my breath. The drinks were making their effect known. Already I felt relaxed, less angry.
I thought of a moment I had with Damia, a few weeks, perhaps a month ago.

*** 

We had been sitting on a grassy knoll one weekend, at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. My nieces were with us, and they were playing with newly bought toys, which Damia had bought for them, much to my annoyance, a few meters away. The toys had already taken over their attention, and though both Damia and I were keeping a watchful eye on them, Yasmine and Jasmine, had, seemingly, forgotten we even existed.
Damia was sat close to me, her shoulder in mine, and she was sketching the skyline of Kuala Lumpur, which, on that clear sunny day, had been as visible and picturesque. I watched her slim, urchin fingers caress the pencil on the sketch-book, moving in deft strokes and graceful wisps. Once in a while she’d put her eraser to work, and then she’d softly blow away the debris. Damia, too, seemed to be lost in her own world. I let her, because sitting there, just watching her, was heavenly enough. She was in a pastel yellow hijab, pinned artfully to her white cotton blouse, and a mustard yellow long skirt with floral motifs. I could just make out the outline of the pink bra she had on beneath her blouse.
Damia glanced at the twins. “They seem happy,” she said, without turning to me, eyes fixated instead on Kuala Lumpur’s skyscrapers and towers.
“Of course. You shouldn’t buy them toys, next time. They’ll get used to it, then manja.”
Damia laughed. “It’s okay. It’s not often, and besides, they weren’t expensive toys anyway. I don’t mind. What do you think?”
She showed me the sketch of Kuala Lumpur. It was remarkably detailed, if a bit rough-handed. I had been suitably impressed.
“Why aren’t you an architect?” I asked, inciting laughter from Damia.
“Because I hate drawing technically and numbers, that’s why,” she said.
“Have you drawn me?”
“No.”
“And why not?”
“Because,” she shifted and faced me more fully. “Because I don’t have to draw pictures of you on paper. You,” she put a finger on my lips, then put the finger to her head. “You are already here,” she said, then brought her finger down to her chest and pointed to her heart. “And here.” Damia smiled at me, her nose crinkling a bit. I had looked at her and never felt so convinced that I wanted to spend all my life with her.
“Am I now?” I said, acting unimpressed. Then she did the sweetest thing; she brought her face to my cheek and gently rubbed her nose against it. A ‘kiss’ that wasn’t quite a kiss, and certainly not the kisses I’m used to getting. But it was a sweeter gesture, a more loving act.
“I know you love it, mister. I love you, Dhani,” she said. Just then the twins came running back and crashed into me. They begin to tickle my body and I was laughing like crazy. In between, Yasmine and Jasmine were screaming with laughter and Damia only looked at us, also laughing, and taking pictures on her phone. The twins begin asking for ice cream, which I didn’t want to, and that made them start asking Damia, who agreed, but only if they gathered their toys and promised to behave. Incredibly, they did, and walked with utter obedience between us; they held each others hands, and I had Yasmine’s hand in mine, and Damia held on to Jasmine’s.
“They never listen to me, you know,” I said to Damia.
“That means they love me more already,” she said. We stopped by an ice cream stall and Damia bought ice creams for the twins.
Just then an elderly Caucasian couple, expats most likely, who were out on an evening stroll, passed us by. The couple looked at each other, then, as they passed us, the kind looking lady of the duo said to us, “What an adorable family you’ve got there, love.”
“Why, thank you,” I said, in reflex. The elderly couple smiled at us and walked along, and I turned to Damia, who was smiling, blushing, but refusing to meet my eyes. Then we had walked back to our car, in a comfortable, lovely silence. The twins fell asleep with sticky lips and cheeks almost as soon as the car got moving.
“They thought Yas and Jas were our kids,” Damia said, suddenly. Then she turned to me. “Do we already look like parents?”
I laughed. “Well. We’re certainly old enough.”
Damia didn’t laugh. Instead she said, “Maybe they were hinting at something, Sayang.”
I looked at her. She just smiled, and looked away. Then she put her hand in mine.

***
 
“Can I get you another one, D?” came Marcella’s  the bartender’s voice, and that broke me out of my thoughts. I shook my head.
“No, thank you, Marcella. I think I should be going now.”
“You take care yah,” she said. I left the bar, and thought I noticed (how could I not) some girls checking me out, and one of them even calling me out (“Hey awak, tak nak menari dengan I?”), I ignored them. Outside, I tipped Victor RM100 and rode back home.
As the Ducati roared down an empty Jalan Kuching, I made my decision.
Come hell or high-water, I will get Damia to take me back. I love her, and nothing in this world, nothing, will stop me from being with her again.
You mark my words.

*

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chapter 23


 *

Even a few days spent with my sister and her lovely twin daughters weren’t enough to prepare me for what I came to find out the moment I came into work.
Damia had resigned.
It was Sharmini that told me as she came into my office with the stuff I missed out on last week.
“When? How? Why?” I asked, feeling faintly angry, more bewildered, although not entirely surprised.
“Last Thursday, Mr. D,” Sharmini said. She seemed unsure on how to proceed. “She came in, saw her boss, and tendered a 24-hour-notice of resignation. She forfeited her pay.”
“Did she say why?” I said. Of course I knew why. I just wanted to hear it.
“No,” Sharmini shook her head. “She did drop by to see me. But she didn’t say anything. Just hugged me and left.”
I leaned back in my chair. To tell you the truth I wasn’t totally in the mood to go back to work. Now this news has just made it worse. Why else did Damia resign? It was because of me.

***
You resigned. That was all it said in the e-mail I sent her. I sent her the e-mail two hours ago, just as soon as I reached home and stripped down to my undies. It was a typical hot Kuala Lumpur evening, where the sweat just keeps on coming and makes your clothes stick. I was sitting at my balcony, welcoming the breeze that sways fourteen stories up. I had sent that email via my tablet, which now lay on the floor beside my chair. My hands cradled a glass of hot green tea; my third of the evening. Earlier, I had thrown away all the liqour bottles.
I watched the sun say its goodbye over the horizon, and as it went down it bathed the skyscrapers of my beautiful city in gold, indigo and an angry orange. Dusk settled in, and the first inklings of stars tried to peek their way through the skies, vying with the light show on earth below.
Ding; my iPad buzzed with the familiar tone of an incoming e-mail.
I did. It was Damia.
I quickly replied. Why?
Five minutes later, she replied. You know why, Dhani.
Can I call you, Damia?
After another five very long minutes, she replied, Yes.
She picked up on the first ring.
“You didn’t even tell me you left,” was the first thing I said. “You could have at least told me?”
“I didn’t want to, Dhani,” she said. Then there was a long pause from both of us.
“Damia, please.”
But please what? Please come back? Please talk? Please turn the clock back to a year ago so I would know every pitfall, every misstep in order to avoid them?
“I don’t know what to say, Dhani,” Damia said.
“Say you’ll come back to me,” I said.
“You know I can’t do that.”
“And why the fuck not?” The words came too quickly for me to stop them. “I’m sorry.”
“Ok.”
More silence. This was turning to be a hateful, awkward conversation.
“Dhani,” she said. “I know I’m not the best human being in the world. I know you think that I’m being selfish and unfair, and you’re probably thinking I’m being a hypocritical about the whole thing. You might even be right. But this… this whatever this is, that has happened the past week or so… It’s not something I can brush aside so lightly.”
“Damia, I am not that person anymore. I am not the fucking Flower Heart anymore and I am not him, that person, because of you.”
“I can’t trust that. I’m sorry. You’ve put everything into question, Dhani. I feel… I feel, used, and I feel so naïve.”
“FUCK THAT!” I screamed into the phone, more in panic than anger. “You KNOW we’ve been nothing but happy until that sonofabitch came along and ruined the party, you fucking KNOW that I love you and you fucking KNOW that you fucking love the fuck out of me too!”
“Please don’t take that tone, and language, with me, Dhani. It hurts,” she said. Again, I regretted everything I said. I took a deep breath and sighed. When I spoke again, I tried hard to control the fear creeping into my voice; because with that fear came anger.
“I am sorry, Damia. I really am. I’m scared. I’m scared this is over. I’m scared you’re going to walk away and leave, and I’d never see you again. I’m scared.”
“Why should you be? You could have better than me. You could have anyone you want, evidently. Why me, Dhani? What is so special about me? Am I not just another trophy, just another notch on your bedpost? I ask you this sincerely: why me, Dhani?”
“Because…” I said, words bouncing around in my skull in rapid succession. “Because you’re… well, you. I’ve never met anyone like you. You’re smart, beautiful. You’re… strong.”
“But that’s just it; I’m not, Dhani. I’m just another girl, who made and makes mistakes. I’m just one girl. And I’m not smart; if I was I wouldn’t be here.”
“Are you saying being with me was a mistake?” I asked.
“I can’t answer that, Dhani. I can’t answer any of your questions right now. I just need.. I just need time. And I would appreciate that you leave me alone.”
“For how long?”
“For as long as it takes,” she said.
“That’s unfair,” I said. “Why couldn’t you forgive me?”
“I have.”
“Then why can’t you come back and we pick up where we left off?”
“Because I can’t. I’m not ready. I’m not sure being with you is the right thing for me to do right now.”
“Damia, I can change. I fucking have changed because of you.”
“Tell me, Dhani,” Damia said, ignoring my statement. “And please be honest. When we were.. going out, did you sleep with any other girls?”
“No,” I lied. There was only that one incident; but I had sworn to myself never to let her, or anyone, for that matter, know and find out.
“Swear to God?”
“Swear to God, I didn’t sleep with anyone,” I said.
She was quiet for a few seconds, then asked, “Did you ever intend to get me to sleep with you?”
“No. I loved you. I wouldn’t do it to you. I loved you.”
“What about all those other girls, Dhani?”
“What about them? I didn’t care for them, like I care for you.”
“That’s what bothers me, Dhani; what about all those other girls? Did you think about their hearts?”
“What?? You don’t know those girls. Those girls weren’t in it for love; they weren’t looking for a relationship. The reason they were out there was to let go, to give in, to -- ”
“To be picked up by the legendary Dhani Ibrahim, is that what you’re saying? Don’t you see, Dhani? Don’t you see this is why I’m finding it difficult to resume our relationship? You spent years being heartless, and you probably don’t even remember the names of the girls you’ve done. You seem to think as girls as toys, as playthings. How am I supposed to be with a man like this? How am I supposed to tell if you’re being genuine or not? That I’m not just another girl?”
“BECAUSE I TOLD YOU I LOVE YOU,” I stressed out.
“But for how long, Dhani? How long, before you get bored, before I’m not enough?”
“That’s an unfair question. What happens tomorrow is anybody’s guess.”
“Then that’s not good enough for me.”
“What? Even you can’t tell what the future holds.”
“But at least I need to have reassurance. And I do not think you can give it to me now.”
Silence. I’ve run out of words and arguments. The more I say, the more, it seems, Damia becomes unconvinced.
“Dhani, I need to be alone for now,” she said, softly. “We both do.”
“This isn’t a break-up, Damia,” I said. “Right?”
There was another pause from Damia.
“Dhani,” she said. “I think it is.”
The phone flew from my hand, hit the wall, and broke into pieces.

*