Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Raya story 2

"I left my heart here," said Fairul, the 24 year old university graduate in purple baju melayu.

He was munching dodol and rempeyek at once. Fusion food suit his taste buds. Sweet, creamy, salty, spicy - blending well in his mouth.

"Where? Under this tree?" asked his cousin, Malik who was 2 years older but hasn't completed his studies yet. 

They were both seated on a wooden bench under an old rambutan tree near their maternal grandmother's kampung house. It was the first of Syawal.

"No, I mean here, at Uwan's house," answered Fairul with dreamy eyes.

Malik was holding a plate of dodol while Fairul had a container of rempeyek on his lap. They took them from Uwan's kitchen cabinet while everybody's busy taking family photos after the prayers. 

"Oh, I think I know who. It must be Sarah, our second cousin. The pretty soon-to-be doctor," Malik teased his cousin. 

Fairul continued munching rempeyek and smiled. Whenever he heard people mention Sarah's name, it brought tingling sensation inside him. He couldn't deny it anymore, he had fallen for his second cousin. The bright and chatty girl had stolen his heart when they sat at Uwan's kitchen, cutting lemang and ketupat during hari raya, 2 years ago.

"She will graduate this year. And I will ask her to marry me," Fairul proudly announced. 
Malik stared at him, amazed.

"You can't just ask her to marry you. You have to tell you father to go and meet her father to discuss such things. That's how we, the Malay muslims do it," Malik reminded his cousin who had been staying abroad for a few years.

"But my father's not here now!" Fairul was frustrated. 

His parents were in England. Fairul came back to Malaysia alone to celebrate hari raya with Uwan and the rest of the family. 

"But, you can always tell my father about it. He can represent your father, I guess. They're brothers," Malik came up with a brilliant idea.

Fairul suddenly saw the ray of light.

"Yeah, your father can become the spokesperson while your mother can help prepare all the hantaran. How many do think we'll need? Seven trays, right?" 

Fairul has already started visualizing the day he and Sarah were betrothed.  

"We can borrow my brother's car to go to Sarah's family home. My brother, Khalil just bought a brand new Toyota Camry," Malik gave another idea. 

He was also imagining a small feast where his mother would bring a golden ring into Sarah's room and slipped it onto her finger. 

Fairul and Malik were deep in their imaginations when a small boy ran to them with an announcement.

"Abang Fairul, Kak Sarah asks for you. She's at Uwan's house. She's just arrived from Ipoh. Come! Hurry!" The small boy was almost breathless. 

Fairul sprang to his feet, the rempeyek container rolled on the bench but Malik managed to get hold of it. Before Malik could say a word to his cousin, Fairul was already running towards Uwan's house. Once he reached the top of the stairs, he turned back to Malik and saw his cousin was giving two thumbs up, wishing him the best of luck. 

Malik knew exactly what Fairul would do. He'd ask Sarah about her studies, then they would chat for a few minutes and after that he would pop the million dollar question. Fairul was the spontaneous type. He's impatient as well. Malik knew, before the next hour he'd be informed on the engagement date. He's so sure Sarah has fallen for Fairul too. He saw how the two of them exchange stolen glances, how Sarah purposely brushed Fairul's arms when she took the knife from him after he cut the lemang. So many things happened during that hari raya, 2 years ago. 

Malik couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Fairul sauntering towards him 10 minutes later. His head down and both hands at his back. When finally he could see his face, clouds were hanging there - dark clouds. He kicked a small stone near the bench before sitting down with his eyes fixed on a row of ants heading towards the small pieces of dodol left on the plate. 

"What happened?" Malik asked, half expecting his cousin was about to surprise him with some really good news. 

"Well, firstly," said Fairul and then he paused, leaving Malik hanging to whatever patience he had left. "Firstly, Sarah's really pretty. She is like an angel." Fairul paused again.

"Well, that's good news. And?!!" Malik shook his cousin's arms. He needed to know all the details, quickly.

"Secondly, she has graduated last month."

Malik was already putting up his hands in the air by then. He was preparing for his ritual - the chicken dance. He'd do it whenever he heard good news. But this time, he pulled his hands down quickly when he saw Fairul's face was still cloudy. And that's when he told him.

"Thirdly, she's 5 months pregnant," Fairul dropped the bad news.  

Malik's jaw dropped as he stared at his cousin in disbelief.

"What?!! How can she be pregnant?" he knew it's a stupid question to ask, but he needed to know what has happened to his cousin's dream girl.

"Well, she got married and the husband impregnated her, damn it! That's what happened." 

Fairul was angry, his face was flushed. He had been suppressing his anger from the time Sarah introduced him to her husband, who was a doctor and drove a 7 Series Beemer. It got worse when he noticed Sarah's baby bump protruding underneath her loose kebarung. 

"When did all that happen? Why were we not informed?" Malik still couldn't believe the news. 

Fairul popped a piece of dodol into his mouth, the only peace spared by the ants. He chewed the dodol slowly.

"Apparently, Sarah married the doctor after hari raya, last year." At least that's what Uwan told him after he had a short, pretentious chat with Sarah's husband. 

"Last year? Why didn't they invite us?" Now it's Malik's turn to be angry. 

Fairul was quiet, he was still chewing his dodol slowly, savouring the sweetness while staring blankly at Uwan's house.

"In case you've forgotten, last year we were in Europe during summer. We didn't celebrate raya here. We were in Italy," Fairul reminded his cousin.

"Yeah, I just remembered. We were backpacking. That's why we missed Sarah's wedding."

All the things that happened last summer slowly crept into Malik's mind.

"Yeah, we were the two musafir who didn't fast last summer," said Fairul.

Malik kicked his cousins feet for the cruel reminder.

"We didn't fast, and now you're damned," said Malik.

"Yeah, I'm damned," Fairul agreed before picking up another piece of dodol - the ants' leftover.

No comments: