I promised to accompany Fik for lunch at the café. I think it would be a good change to have some rice inside me, as I’ve been having biscuits, bread and tea at my room since last two nights. It’s not like I’m on a diet or anything. These few days we have lots of tutorials, and quizzes which automatically refrains me from having a good meal. This sounds extreme, but I guess I choose to get myself busy especially after I encountered Nad at the complex yesterday, her condition and my unreplied messages bound me to get busy with anything as to not let the image of her easily cross my mind. However at some point, I lose.
“You saw her?? Are you sure? Because she has been missing class more than a week now,” Fik looked at me, expecting to hear my explanations. “Yes, I did saw her. Yesterday morning. But her expression…” I decline from telling Fik about Nad’s condition, which I don’t even know, exactly. I clenched my Blackberry while looking at disturbed looking guy standing in front of me. I remember Nad owe me a few text message replies. After the ‘meeting’ at the complex, I realized how reserved she has been. It is as if she’s hiding something. Well…
“It’s the bruises, isn’t it?” Fik actually had asked a question that came into my thoughts. The bruises are old news, but expecting to hear it from him is new news. “How’d you know?” My question is more like a demand.
“I heard it from Ami. Well, overheard, to be exact. She was having a serious conversation with Bel, in the library behind the book shelves, and I was behind their book shelves, actually searching some revision books for our group study, and I heard she mentioned the words ‘Nad’ and ‘serious bruises’.”
Bel is also his classmate, and Ami’s good friend. While Ami is also close to Nad. What am I talking about, it doesn’t even matter.
“Well, do you know something about the bruises?” Fik asked. “I, I know a bit from Syaz. She just said that Nad wasn’t in a good condition.” I declined from mentioning about the common room incident. “Oh, but I guess everything is settled between Nad and our lecturers. None of them have mentioned anything about her absence. Besides, you know how she is, likes to ask questions, offer some of her perceptions, how could a lecturer forget about her. I wonder whatever happened to her.” Fik continued eating his half-eaten cheese burger. I looked at my untouched guava juice and Nasi Campur in front of me. Suddenly I felt that I want to pack my lunch for dinner instead. Fik’s last thoughts made me lose my appetite. We shared the same thoughts.
After performing the Zuhr prayer together with Fik as my Imaam at the Surau, I straight away headed towards my hostel, and to my room, declining Fik’s invitation to go to the bazaars to check on some clothes. Fik asked me a couple of hours ago when we had our lunch together, but I’ve got more important activity ahead of me. I felt bad that I had to cancel ‘till the last minute but I’ve got to prepare myself for my usrah which will be conducted soon, after Asr prayer. Today is Sunday.
Am wasn’t in the room when I got in. I guessed he would have probably gone to the bazaar too, because I heard that they are selling at discounted rates. But something different caught me as my eyes wanders at the surface of my bed. My sea blue bed sheet is now ‘decorated’ with a medium sized rectangular shaped ‘accessory’ on it. It was a book.
I picked up the book and saw the name of the authors who had been giving great impacts to the lives of the many Muslims in Malaysia. It has been a while since I’ve read their book. Looking at the cover of the book, I realized it has two stories within a book. At the top left corner of the book, it says “Tarbiyah Novel 2 in 1.” I flipped the cover page, and a familiar handwriting captured my eyes and made me smile.
“This book is a good read. It has ‘slapped me hard.’ Lol” – Am
Looking at my watch, I decided to rest for a while and have some dibs on this book, which starts with the story, entitled “Cintaku Kerana Agamamu” by Dr Farhan Hadi. I didn’t realize how time could pass by so quickly. I was already on the page 39 of the book when I heard the sound of the azan. I also realized that I’ve had some valuable information and notes for my beloved mad’us. As what Am had stated, this book kept me mesmerized, and intrigued. It slapped me, hard.
Although I’m still at the early pages of this wonderful book, I realized that I’d forgotten some bits of the tarbiyah that I’d been exposed at, what my ustaz and ustazah had taught me before. I realized that I had made mistakes and I know I should fix them. From the corner of my eyes, I could see the book Mazha Yakni lying on the desk beside me. I also realized I easily forget what I had learned. I feel helpless knowing that I conducted an usrah and have five mad ‘us under me. Suddenly I felt that I’m not worth it and two drops of tears started to wet my cheeks.
“Am! Am! What’s the rush? Wait for me!! Hey… wait!” I shouted as I try as hard as I could to catch up with Am. But Am is too far now. My hope of having him to hear my calls went down together with the rain into the drain. I know he couldn’t have heard me because the rain is too heavy.
I never knew Am could run as fast as that. I guess I couldn’t outrun a rugby player, I sighed. The sound of the storm breaks my thoughts, and I realized that I need to find a shelter, fast. I think my body temperature just ascended. As I run, I looked around the unfamiliar surroundings. Where are we? I keep on running, hoping to catch up with Am.
Suddenly I heard drenched footsteps right behind me. A familiar face also came running towards my direction. “Syaz! What’s wrong? Why are you running?” I said while slowing down my pace so that Syaz could catch up with me.
But instead she outruns me, while still running towards Am’s direction, she shouted back at the rain in front of me, “Didn’t you hear about Nad? We’re going there to meet her! Hurry up!” My pace slowed down as I heard the words coming out of Syaz’s lips. Nad? “Syaz! Wait! Going to where?? Stop running!!” I shouted back, and tried to run as fast as I could. I’m not sure what exactly is going on. The ambience surrounds me darkens, and my steps slowed down even when I tried as hard as I could to chase them.
“Am! Am!! Wait!”
“Im!! Im!! Hey, what’s wrong? Im!” A familiar voice pounds into my ears, and I could feel my shoulders being shaked. And I opened my eyes.
“Hey, you’re dreaming dude. You okay?” Im was there crouching in front of me, scratching his hair and scrubbing his sleepy eyes. My eyes darted around the ambience surrounded us. It’s the familiar room again.
“It’s 3 am dude. And you were practically shouting my name! What’s wrong? You alright?” Am looked at me with a curious and a worried look. I climbed off my bed and stand in front of my good bud. “Let’s perform qiyam together.” And we went to the bathroom to take our wudhu.
That night’s dream caught me on hold. I’m not sure I could understand the meanings behind the dream. Not to mention, Am and Syaz were there in my dream, and most importantly I could figure out that the dream was mainly about Nad. We were running towards her. I don’t get that bit.
I recalled the conversation I had with Am the day after I had that dream. Am’s curiosity caused me to tell him about my strange dream, and how I felt about it, and about the book he had lent to me.
“So you’re saying I was running towards Nad? Together with Syaz? But that doesn’t make sense. What connection do I have with Nad besides being her classmate? You know we’re not that close. Well, not close as in buddies.” Am said while munching the leftover snacks that we had kept on our shelves. I realized that he doesn’t know about Nad’s condition. Suddenly I felt that I should talk to Fik about this. But to think again telling Am is necessary, because he is a closer friend to me in terms of confiding secrets. Other secrets like how I felt about the book that he lent me.
But before I could say anything, a few munched snack bits fell onto my trousers; it came from Am as he exclaimed, “Ahah!! The way you tell it, it seems like a sign! Don’t you think so?? Yepp, it’s a sign, no doubt!” He looked so excited as if he had just found a precious clue to a mystery. His eyes are at dazed as he munched the snacks messily and some more of the bits fell onto my shirt and trousers. Although the falling snack bits bothered me – not just because of the snacks, I could see his saliva drops onto my shirt as well- what anxious me the most is the statement that he had just said. A sign.
I remember making a du’a that early morning, the qiyam that Am and I performed together. I asked for a sign from Him, so that the dream won’t disturb my feelings. I felt worried about Nad ever since. I texted Syaz, but her replies were common two-words ‘she’s alright.’ As if that explains Nad’s disappearance for the last two weeks.
“So what do you think?” Am’s question breaks my thoughts.
“Yeah, probably. Err, Am, I think I must tell you this.” I said while straightening up my position on my seat. Seating for quite a long time hurts my back. Well, I guessed it is because of my wrong sitting posture.
“It’s about Nad isn’t it? Look, I’m sorry that I laughed at you the last time we had this conversation.” Am’s soft voice surprised me a bit. How’d he know? Well, yes, the dream that I just told him, caused him to a speculation that Nad is the main issue here. But the voice that he used just now as if he knows something beyond the story of my first dream of Nad. Not that Nad was there, but it was about Nad. Isn’t it? But I just had to be sure.
“Yeah, you knew the dream was kind of about Nad.”
“No, the my question was not about the dream. It’s Nad that bothers you lately, isn’t it, Muhammad Aimran B. Radlan?”
The pair of eyes looking straight at me couldn’t let me slide this through. They’re as if two bolts, holding you down.
“Yes. I think it’s her. Look, I don’t understand why Nad is always there somewhere inside me that causes me to become so worried thinking about her. Just simply thinking about her caused me to become so restless. And that frightens me as well. I know I should control myself from…”
“From loving her?” Am’s words interrupt me.
“What? Love? No..!” I was startled by his ‘accusation’. Am I? Do I love her? “I was going to say, I should control myself from thinking about her almost all the time. I read the book you gave me. It means a lot to me.”
“Yeah sure, thinking about her ‘almost all the time’ is not love, and so you think after you read the book you can’t fall in love or something?” Am said while making a invisible quoting signs above his head when he mimicked what I just said.
“No, you can fall in love. It’s our fitrah. It’s just that there’s something else. And could you please listen to me before making false accusations? I’ve got other important things to tell you.” My voice ascended a bit.
“What false accusations? What other important news? Before you tell me anything can’t you just be honest with yourself first? I heard you okay. I heard you saying her name.”
“What do you mean, heard me saying her name? Like what, I called her? I’ve never called her Am.”
“You said her name last night. You thought I woke up because you were shouting my name, but actually you were shouting hers. I thought if I tell you that you wouldn’t be comfortable. But looking at you right now, trying to tell me something, I guess this is the right time I can tell you what my eyes have seen. You’ve fall for her, Im. So, what a big deal? Guys love girls. That’s normal. And I know falling in love in your term, is not just ordinary teen love. It’s more than that. So why must you deny it? You said so yourself, loving is fitrah.”
“It’s our definition of love.” I corrected him. “Ya Allah, Am, seriously? I shouted her name?” I shielded my face with my two hands. Astaghfirullah…
“Chill. You said so yourself, both Syaz and I were running towards Nad or something. No wonder you were shouting her name. I understand, and I’ll keep that between us,” he joked while moving his fingers over his mouth as if pulling a zip close.
I couldn’t even afford to smile. “I think that she’s hurt.” My one single statement caused Am to drop his snacks totally. It is good though the Tupperware lands safely on the ground without having the snacks pop out from it.
“Hurt, how?” asked Am looking confused.
“I’ve seen serious bruises on her arm, it was accidental and Fik overheard Ami’s conversation with Bel last December, also about bruises. Only that he said he didn’t hear exactly Ami said Nad is hurting because of them, but he said he was sure that he heard the words ‘Nad’ and ‘bruises’.”
Am just look straight at me.
“She is probably ill.” I continued.
“Haven’t you asked her friends? I mean, Bel and Ami would’ve known something.”
“Syaz is closer to her. And she won’t tell me a thing. Besides, it will be irrelevant if I asked Ami or Bel when I’m not that close to Nad. Supposedly”
I could hear Am exhaled heavily.
“To think again, it’s weird that none of the lecturers have asked about her absence.” I remember Fik said the same words.
“I’ll help to talk things out with Bel and Ami. Don’t you worry. Just keep on praying. He is there for you always you know. And He will protect Nad.” Am’s words consoled me a little. And yes, Nad has been in lots of my du’a already. Suddenly I remember about the common room incident, and decided to confide that to Am too.
“So that was your first time seeing those bruises? Why didn’t you tell me earlier? Hmm, sounds serious indeed.” Am’s voice sounds more curious than ever.
“So, you’re helping me to ask about Nad to Ami alright?”
“Of course. Insha Allah as soon as possible. Fortunately we have group meeting tonight at the library. I’ll ask after it ends,” Am promised.
“Oh yeah, there is other thing too. It’s about the book you lent me.” I recalled how it had succeeded in grasping the deepest corner of my heart. And after finished the book the night before I had the dream, I remember I promised to myself that I’m going to become a better man, especially in terms of dealing with the opposite gender. Especially when dealing with Nad.
Nad? Did I think of that? And this is another thing that I would like to seek some Am’s opinions. He had probably just accused me of loving her, but I don’t understand my own heart.