13.3.09

Part II: Eyes

After Friday prayers that day I was positively hungry, thirsty and needed sustenance fast. Thus, with as much speed as my legs, the mosque crowd, the subsequent traffic congestion and my skills of negotiating heavy traffic on my bike would permit, I made my way to the nearest place where I know I can get good food fast (or rather, good fast food): McDonald’s. Even as I was riding my bike I decided which McValue meal to have for lunch.

Soon enough, I parked my bike and quickly proceeded into the restaurant. As I entered and saw the queue of people waiting to place their order, it became clear to me that I wasn’t the only one who went for Friday prayers without having lunch first. I took my place at the end of the line, with some 6-7 customers in front of me. I observed with great interest the speed at which the McDonald’s staff served their customers when suddenly, I was tapped on the shoulder from behind. I turned to look and saw Milly. She laughed; I guess the shock must have been evident on my face.

“Sorry,” she said. “Didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“No no no, it’s okay. I was just...surprised to see you. In a pleasant sort of way.”

“Oh? That’s nice of you.” She smiled.

Damn, I thought to myself, I wish I could just get my phone out and snap a picture of her smiling right now.


“So, what’s up?” Zero marks to me for originality.

“Sorry?”

“I mean, what are you doing here?” I realised a little too late that that was a stupid question, and the answer would be painfully obvious.

“You mean, other than buying food?”

“Yeah, of course.” Feeble attempt to cover up, but what the heck.

“I see. Em, just waiting for Jay.”

“Jay as in your....oh.”

I turned and took a few steps towards the counter, glad of an excuse to turn away and hide the grimace on my face. And for some reason, I could not bring myself to continue talking to Milly as my mind was pre-occupied with associating the name ‘Jay’ to almost every curse word I can think of.

Moments later, I was seated and ready to devour the fries on my tray when Milly came to my table.

“May I seat here, if you don’t mind?” she said, beckoning to the seat opposite mine.

“Yes. I mean, no. I mean, I don’t mind,” I said, with four fries or so in my mouth. Thankfully, none of them came out.

She smiled and sat down.

“What are you having?”

I thought that was a weird question to ask, since “Double Cheeseburger” was clearly printed on the box on my tray. Not to mention that she also ordered the same thing.

“Double Cheeseburger,” I said, turning the box towards her.

“Oh, is it your favourite?” she asked, with an interested look that puzzled me even more.

“You can say that,” I said, stuffing a few more fries into my mouth. “But I also like McChicken and Filet-O-Fish.”

“Oh, you’re an all-rounder then,” she said with a smile. “Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to offend...I wasn’t saying that....I...” Milly added nervously, the look of horror evident on her face as she struggled to form an apology for what she felt could have been misinterpreted as an insult. She eventually stopped and stared at her tray, her face scarlet with embarrassment.

“It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean to.”

“Sorry.” She continued staring at her tray. Seconds later, she started fiddling with her burger.

“Is something bothering you?” I asked.

“What? Oh, no, not at all.”

“Look, if it’s about what you said...”

“No no, it’s nothing, nothing at all.” She put down her burger and took a sip of soft drink. “You know,” she began, apparently having regained her composure. “We didn’t really talk much the other day.”

I stopped eating and looked at Milly.

“I didn’t realise you wanted to talk.”

“Well, I did. But you disappeared after, what, 5 minutes?”

“Oh, I see,” I said, as I tried to remember the reason for leaving the living room at that time. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay. At least we can talk now.”

“Oh? And what do you wish to talk about?”

“Oh, you know...stuff. Campus life. Your sis said you’re taking TESL.”

“The short, evil dictator wasn’t lying about that.”

“Short, evil what?”

“Nothing.”

She laughed.

“You’re close to your sister, aren’t you?”

I pondered over the question for a few seconds.

“I think so. I get along with everyone in my family. I mean, isn’t it natural for family members to be close to one another?”

“True. Although some would say differently about their siblings. Jay, for example, doesn’t really have a good relationship with his brothers and sisters. They...abuse him a lot.”

No surprise there, I thought. If my sister turned into a goddamned butch with a foul mouth like that arsehole you call Jay, I’d practise kickboxing on him... I mean, her, as well.

My face must have betrayed my thoughts, as Milly’s own face betrayed her own inner sadness.

“You don’t like Jay that much, huh?”

I sighed.

“Let’s just say Jay didn’t make much of a first impression.”

“Really? Or do you hate Jay and I for what we are? Do you hate us because we are lesbians?”

So that is what’s bothering her.

I wiped my oily fingers clean and took large sips of Ribena. This is a delicate situation, and I need to choose my words carefully. Milly waited for me to answer; her fingers fiddling with her burger in a manner which I imagined was caused by nervous anticipation.

I set both hands on the table, leaned forward and looked at Milly straight in the eyes. They are brown.

“Milly, I don’t hate lesbians. I don’t have any quarrel against your choice of sexual orientation. I admit, however, that at times I do feel it is a shame that you chose to be that way but at the end of the day, it is your life to live and your choice to make.”

I stopped to take a breath and drink more Ribena.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’ll have you know that I do know other people like you and Jay. Other lesbians. And these people I know are way cool, probably some of the coolest people I’ve met, and I respect them for standing up for what they feel is right.”

“But Jay...”

“Jay, I’m sorry to say, was unnecessarily foul-mouthed when we first met, despite my attempts at being apologetic. That is enough to drive anyone mad, I daresay.”

She sighed.

“I know. I talked to him about it after that incident. That he was harsh and everything. But Ady,” her tone changed to that of a desperate plea, “Jay is really a nice person. He’s just sometimes... rough and easily loses his temper. But he’s really nice and caring. I hope you believe me....”

“I believe you.”

She looked straight into my eyes, and I did the same to her. I didn’t know what she was trying to read from my eyes, and frankly speaking, I don’t really care as long as I have an excuse to gaze into those brown eyes.

“I like your eyes,” she said, without taking her own eyes off mine.

“I like yours.”

“Really? Why?”

“They’re brown. I like brown eyes.”

She laughed.

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. So tell me, why do you like my eyes? What do you like so much about my Chinese eyes?”

She laughed again.

“Not telling you.”

“What?”

“It’s a secret.”

“Oh, come on. That’s not fair.”

“Nope, not telling you.” She giggled.

“Fine, have it your way.”

I continued eating my burger in silence. A few bites later, I noticed that she hasn’t been eating hers so I looked up only to see Milly looking with a look of amusement on her face.

“What’s so funny?”

She giggled again.

“You are mad, aren’t you?”

“I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m not,” I replied, with added stress, my irritation made plainly clear in my voice.

“Okay, you’re not mad then.” She continued eating her burger, somehow unable to rub the smile of her face. I wasn’t going to complain, though.

Eventually, she finished her Double Cheeseburger. I looked at my watch. The time is now 2.45 p.m.

“What time are you supposed to meet up with Jay?”

Milly looked at her own watch and looked around.

“We agreed two-thirty, but entah la, dia tak sampai lagi.”

“But you’ve been here since two o’clock.”

“Well, I was hungry and wanted to eat.”

“Fair enough,” I said. Then a thought flashed through my mind.

“Does he know that you came to my house the other day?”

Milly looked a little shocked at the question.

“Yeah. Why?”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“I don’t know. You know how jealous some people can be. Are you sure it’s okay for me to be here?”

She laughed.

“Kind of too late for that, right? Anyway, he’s late so he can’t blame me for having someone keep me company. It is dangerous for a girl to be alone in this area, you know...”

I nodded in agreement.

“True, true. Excuse me,” I said, as I stood up, “I’ll be back shortly.”

In under a minute, I was back in my seat with two sundaes: chocolate and strawberry. Milly looked at me suspiciously.

“Two sundaes for yourself?”

“Choose one.”

“Huh?”

“Choose one. I didn’t know which one you prefer, so I bought both.”

She laughed.

“And what if I like both?”

“Then we’ll just have to share, because I ain’t going back there to get us another couple of sundaes. So, Milly,” I said, with my best impression of a famous Malaysian celebrity who hosted ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’, “what is your answer?”


To her credit, she played along quite well.

“I choose.....” she said, the deliberation evidently on purpose. “I choose both.”

“You choose both?”

“Yes. Both.”

“You realise this means that you, Milly, would have to share the ice-creams with me?”

“Yes.”

“And that is your final answer?”

She smiled.

“Yes.”

I realised that now would not be a good time to pull the “We’ll be back after a short break” gimmick.

“Well, help yourself then. Ladies first.”

It seemed ridiculous that two people would take turns scooping ice-cream out a cup situated in the middle of a small table, but that was what happened. And all the while, we involuntarily gazed into each other’s eyes.

“We’re doing this quite often, aren’t we? Gazing into each other’s eyes.”

“Why not? Don’t you like it?”

“I can’t say I don’t like it without telling a lie.”

“So why ask?” Another smile.

“Good point.”

At this point, my phone rang. It was one of my old schoolmates, asking me if I would like to join them for futsal that evening.

“You gotta go now?” Milly asked, as I placed my phone on the table.

I looked again at my watch. It was close to 3 p.m.

“There’s still time.”

“Good,” she said, as I discovered that my phone is now in her hands. “Wow, who is this?” she asked, referring to the wallpaper. “Your girlfriend?”

“Nope.”

“Really? She’s really pretty.”

“That’s why I chose her picture as my wallpaper.”

“I see.... Wow, you have lots and lots of pictures of girls in your phone.”

“Well, would you prefer me having pictures of guys in my phone?” I replied, to which she laughed.

“So, which one is your girlfriend?”

“None of them.”

“You kidding?”

“Not at all. If even one of them is my girlfriend, would I dare keep pictures of all the other girls?”

“Ah, I see.”

The next few minutes went by with Milly browsing through my phone. I did not make any attempt to get it back, simply because I have nothing to hide anyway. I was staring into blank space when Milly’s phone rang.

“Hello? Abang ada kat mana? I ada kat McD ni. Kat luar? Masuk la, I ada kat dalam ni.”

“I guess that means I should go?”

“Not really, but...”

“I don’t wanna be in the way, you know...”

“Okay,” she said, with an air of resignation. “Until next time then.”

“Next time?”

“Next time.” As she said that, I saw her smile for the last time that day. And I returned that smile, taking the chance to gaze into those brown eyes for one last time, silently regretting for not having the guts to take her picture earlier. As I turned away and headed to the door, Jay came in. Upon seeing me, he... I mean, she was utterly shocked.

“You...” was all Jay could manage.

“Hello, Jay.”

I walked out of the glass doors and just barely heard Jay ask Milly “Dia teman you ke tadi?” I didn’t hear what Milly said in reply, but it didn’t matter. I was already on my bike, on my way home.


Later that evening, I played futsal with an extra spring in my step.

__________________________________________________

The cuckoo clock chimed, indicating the time to be 1 a.m. although in actual fact, it was really half-past midnight. I was wide awake as usual, browsing the Internet while everyone else sleeps. Two of my cats have also curled into deep slumber; one on the sofa in the living room while the other on the rattan peacock chair in the dining hall, next to where I was sitting at the dining table. The third and youngest of the lot, Snowy, was lying flat on the floor and not too far off from falling asleep himself.

Suddenly, my phone rang. The caller ID displayed a mobile number that I didn’t recognize. With bated breath, I answered the call.

“Hello?”

“Hey Chinese eyes,” said the voice at the other end of the line.

I smiled to myself. That sneaky little...

“Hey brown eyes.”

3 comments:

ZARA 札拉 [사랑해~] said...

Wah!!


That's so sweet...=)

Abdullah said...

aaah....love is in the air...

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