As the sun disappears from the sky, the bright lights of my beautiful city come alive. The buildings burst into their neon glow and the streetlamps turned the roads of Kuala Lumpur into living, breathing veins and arteries. The flash of headlights and brake-lights danced their way along these roads, and Kuala Lumpur’s night crowd begin to throng it’s streets.
It was Saturday, after all.
Down Jalan Bukit Bintang, the people were an eclectic mix; rich Arabs, tired looking Bangladeshi and Burmese workers, and China doll hookers selling their wares from stair-wells. Local kids, wet in the ear but already acting like they knew the world, joined into this crowd.
My city sings and dances with it’s people in an never-ending waltz and bump and grind.
Yet here I am, on a park bench in KLCC. I’ve been sitting here for the past… 4 hours? 5 hours? It must have been that long, since the sun was gone and above me, the skies were darker gray and blue with starlight trying hard to shine through. I was unaware of all the flurry of activity around me; people still walked this park at night, of course.
But I didn’t see them. I seemed to have zoned out and left the world behind. It was like I could see myself from above, a man, sitting alone, with a bouquet of flowers by his side on the bench he was on. A man sitting still, unmoving, one could almost believe he was one of those wax-model street performers.
Only if one would look into his face and see the reds rimming his eyes, would one understand.
I didn’t even feel the fatigue of sitting in one spot for hours. All I could feel right now was that blinding, crushing pain. It was so large it made everything else insignificant by comparison. My mind was still trying hard to comprehend the words I heard coming from her. Actually, not comprehend: I fully understood all she meant.
It didn’t mean I could accept them though.
So I sat.
Unbelieving but having to.
4 – 5 hours earlier
“I am getting married, Dhani. To a man, the son of my father’s friend, whom I’ve known for quite some time since we were little. They came over to merisik a month ago, and my family accepted. I accepted,” Damia said.
I was stunned to silence, and it immediately felt like someone had stabbed me with a rusty knife between my ribs and was merrily sawing through my heart. I looked at her, and I could feel my lip quivering and my hands starting to tremble. The enormity of what she just said seemed to have borne its full weight on my heart.
I looked into her eyes to determine if she was bluffing. She looked directly back at me, her grey eyes watery but lovely, pools of serenity in the waves of emotion on her face. I looked to see a hint of a lie, a trick, a deception. But all I saw was a steely, frightening resolve.
She wasn’t lying.
“You’re not lying,” I said. “Please tell me you are.”
“No, I’m not. I wouldn’t,” she said.
“Damia, NO!” I said. I fought hard to resist the panic surging through my veins. I tried to reach for her hands but she flinched and got up on her feet.
“Dhani, please,” she said. “Don’t. Just, don’t.”
I stood up as well. “You can’t do this, Sayang. You can’t.”
She squinted her eyes, queerly, at me. “I can, Dhani. And I will. It is my life, Dhani. I get to make the decisions concerning it.”
“Damia, I love you. I have been waiting months for you. I’ve been wishing damn hard for us to be together again.”
“The best plans of Mice and Men often go astray.”
“I don’t care about the plans of other men! I care about you, only you. Damia, you can’t do this to me.”
“I’m not doing anything to you, Dhani. I am doing what I think is best for myself, for my future.”
“How do you know it is for the best?”
She looked at me. “Because I must.”
“Then,” I said. “Why can’t ‘for the best’ include me in it?”
“Dhani,” Damia said. “I’ve told you earlier. I cannot un-learn what I’ve learned about you. The way you were, the way you’ve treated women. How could I believe you’ve changed, and that you no longer see women as objects? When I found out about who you were, Dhani, my whole perception of you, of us, changed. I couldn’t get past the doubt.”
“But I have changed!! Look at me! Look how I’ve pined for you and waited for you! Look!” I hissed, trying to keep my voice as low as I could as to not attract too much attention. There were already some people looking and pointing our way.
“The man I’m marrying is a good man,” Damia said, seemingly ignoring my words. “He is a doctor, a UIA graduate as I was; he is a family person, God-loving, God-fearing. He is… he is someone I believe will be a good family head, and a good father to my children.”
I glared at her. “Your point being?”
“My point being,” Damia. “I do not see that in you.”
That hurt me more than I thought it could. “But I can be that guy; I can be who you want me to be.”
“You can’t, Dhani,” Damia said. “It’s not who you are. Changing yourself for another person is not a good thing. It’s superficial. And this man is already the man you say you want to change into.”
“But do you love him then?” I said. “Do you love him like I know you love me?”
Damia turned away from me. She looked at the Twin Towers. “Love isn’t the answer to everything, Dhani. Sometimes love is the problem,” she said. Then she turned to back to me. “He might not be the man I love, or want. But he is the man I need right now. And I didn’t come here to negotiate, Dhani. I came here to tell you, as I wanted to be honest. I wanted this to be over with so both of us can move on with our lives. I know I am.”
“What if this is a mistake, Damia?” I challenged her, but there was no conviction in my voice.
“Then one day I’ll learn from it. I said I didn’t want to repeat my mistakes. But I have faith; I don’t have doubts that this is what needs to be done so I can let go of all my past, and start anew.”
Damia came closer to me. “I’m sorry, Dhani Ibrahim,” she said. “I have to go. Take care, and goodbye.”
With that, she just left. I had nothing more to say. So I sat down, with my head between my knees.
Now as night came into full-swing, I finally got off the bench. My buttocks were sore and I felt tired and hungry. My eyes hurt. I still couldn't believe this turn of events. I wanted to believe this was all just some fucking dream and none of this ever happened.
I wished I never met Damia.
I wished that I never took her out.
I wished we didn’t talk.
I wished that I had worked somewhere else, even, so I didn’t come to get to know her.
I wished for a lot of things that could have happened so I didn’t have to had fallen in love with her this hard. I wish I could just have gone on being the Dhani Ibrahim that fucked left and right and didn’t give a shit about love.
More than anything, I wished I could still be with her now.
What now, Dhani?