It's hard to see her not smiling. It's hard to see her not laughing. Because every time I happened to see her, a smile would be plastered across her face. Laughter never fails to escape from her. It seems like happiness surrounds her every time, so it seems.
But now, I found her lips trembling, the knuckles of her hands clenched, hands clutched together, with her head falling down, and shoulder shivering. Our distances are not that far, but not close enough for her to acknowledge my presence. She suddenly straightened up, and her hands are brought towards her face, as a startled viewer from above (not literally above, I'm standing at the balcony in front of her), my guess is that she is wiping her tears.
There’s a whisper inside me saying that I should go down, and be beside her. I did, in fact, walk away from the balcony, and go down the stairs, but I managed to stop myself from walking towards her a few steps behind. I know that she will probably stand up anytime soon, and would not be expecting to see any human at this time, at this place – our campus’s stadium- and with her present condition.
But my Nike runners could not bring me elsewhere, I won't even budge. Some voices within me whispers that I should remain where I am, and try to find out what is happening to her. As I expected, she stood up and turned around, and I saw her red-rimmed eyes, for the first time. Something that disturbs her must be serious, or her cheeks won't be wet with tears. Instead of taking a step forward from where she stood to go to the distance that she expects she would go (to the exit I supposed), she just stood there still. I reckoned that she probably felt my existence distracts her because her body looked stiff. I cleared my throat and start a conversation, which I rarely had with her.
I placed my backpack on my study and take out the book I am currently addicted to, of course, another non-fiction and politic-genre kind, and paperback is another criteria that I would look for at the bookstore. I turned on the radio and Jason Reeves's The End was playing. I look at the cover of the book and instead of looking at the bold writings in blue and black, my mind wanders back at the conversation that I shared with that girl this morning.
Well, it's hardly a conversation. It was a stupid move actually, because I should've known better she was not prepared to encounter a guy who is so unlikely to talk with her, and so unlikely to start a, shall I say friendly conversation? Darn. Instead of just exited myself before her, like I would normally do if I found myself in an awkward situation like that, well not meant to be unconcern but some people doesn't like people to budge into their life problems, and to actually give room to them to gather themselves and not become more depressed because someone had caught them in such a miserable state.
But in her case, it’s different. Instead of leaving the stadium, I stood there facing her and after clearing my throat I asked, "Are you, are you alright?" Just a simple question but my heart pounds so hard, thinking about this makes me feel more stupid and wonders why I actually felt that. She looked up at the guy who is standing on the steps, I could sense a startled wave in front of her face, but she answered after a few hesitations. "I'm fine." Just a short answer and she walk passed by my side and exited through the door. I didn't go after her of course that would be pretty much ridiculous because then she might think I'm acting weird so suddenly, but I turned around and watched her go.
Now I placed the book down and head towards my bed. As I lie down, my pupils caught on the metal hanging above me. The fan could not be any louder, I thought, but this fan had been serving me well for the last one year since I stayed here. Apart from the loud fan, I know that I enjoyed staying at this room, in this hostel of my campus. It gives me the comfort feeling, like I felt back home.
My far away home. I tossed and turn and I seem could not find myself having a good rest. You need a rest, you've been working long heck of hours and you deserve a good rest, that's what the voice inside my head told me. But I couldn't let my eyelids close, because my mind was thinking besides resting, I couldn't let go of that girl's sad face. Suddenly a memory of the past blinded my eyes, a memory that I reminisced.
I was at the library and looking through the choices of books arranged neatly in front of me and I saw the book that I have been wanted to read since last month, before my mid-term exam starts. As I pulled the book from its position, another book which is arranged at the opposite side also been pulled, and my eyes caught a pair of beautiful dark brown pupils staring straight at me.
I straightened myself, and eventually I was facing a tall, fair-skin girl of my age, with a familiar pretty face. I could guess she is tall because her height is slightly shorter than I am. She's my course mate. It was a brief but awkward moment, cause we actually stared into each other’s’ eyes for a few seconds before she herself break away from our ‘awkward moment’ and gave a slight shy smile before she walks away. I on the other hand, watch her go and kept reciting the istighfar.
I met her again, however this second encounter was longer, and we actually sat and talked, well, discussed is a better word, because we sat and discussed in a meeting held among others, pertaining to our student society – the Medical Student Association. I came fifteen minutes late, and as I entered into the room, the meeting already started, and my course mates were sitting in a circle –because we don’t have a round table so yeah- I found an empty seat next to my friend, Kamal, and I sat, and looked in front of me, and I saw that girl. And during the meeting, we actually discussed together, I supported her points, and she supported mine, I looked at her in a different perspective. A new perspective of her that I somehow like.
These two events occurred last year. After the meeting, we somehow kept stumbling into each other, before class (she’s not my classmate but her Biochemistry class is just next to mine), at the café, and every time we did, the ‘only chemistry’ there was that we exchanged smile as a sign of courtesy towards each other, to actually acknowledge each other as friends, well, we never really discuss matters beyond the student body meeting agendas, like studies or that sort.
Reminiscing this, I realized that I haven’t see her much often like before and saw her in such depression like this morning adds to my already present curiosity. I don’t see her beaming smiles since November last year. I heard my doorknob’s turning, probably my roommate had returned from his lecture, and I looked at my Casio, and just realized I’ve been staring at the loud rotating metal above me for almost two hours.
Have you ever heard of the saying goes “happiness could camouflage your sadness” or “laughter could hide away the tears” or you probably hadn’t cause I had actually made them up. But thinking about the words, it’s true, somehow, because I’ve experienced it. Tears could keep flowing from my most-of-the-time-red-rimmed-eyes-at-night and it will stop when it should stop.
I mean, you could control yourself from crying can’t you? And that if you’re the reserved type, who won’t easily share your personal stories, you would know when is the good time for you to actually pour out, and have a good time of yourself, alone. I always said to myself, true happiness is what I want, always wanted. It is something to be accomplished.
And yet until now I have the trouble to strive for it. I have the ‘misfortune’ of not achieving the real happiness that I’ve always dream of. No, I wasn’t meant to be ungrateful of what I have. Actually if I tell my story, most people would have reacted in a way that tells me I should be grateful because others don’t have many opportunities that I had obtained, before they even hear the rest of my story.
It’s true that my life is complete, with parents, a sibling, and a home although not a massive one, but comfortable enough and I am fed with three meals per day. I entered kindergarten and the journey continues until I could get into university, a life which I should be grateful of, because not all people could experience that. But not all people know about my life completely. Not all people should experience the other side of my story.
Before, I heard about the overwhelmingly devastating news, my previous sadness factor was a whole lot of different kind. People always see me in smiles and laughter, and so I hide my sadness with those masks. And I never thought I would be repeating the same act again after two years of getting used to the whole lot better situation.
Have you ever feel that your home is not a home? You cannot utter the word home sweet home because your so called home doesn’t even fit the two words; it’s not even a home because home where all your ohana get together well without arguing and fighting with each other and sweet, my home is far from sweet. It is too bitter to tell.
That year was 2007. I had my headphones on and The All American Rejects’ It Ends Tonight hit the play button. I was deeply engaging myself with Jude by Kate Morgenroth, actually a very good read that I would recommend to my peers.
And as I got to the part where Jude is accused of murdering his own father, I heard a loud crash downstairs, which caused me to abruptly stand up from my bed and head towards the stairs. I heard a loud thump sound this time, and as I peeked from above, I found out the crash was from the crystal vase, among the two of our only crystal vase in this house (that we got from winning mall prizes) and the loud thump was from the books that has already lain on the floor.
There were lots of books, our old textbooks, which we never bother to keep it nicely arranged, and now they are strewn everywhere among the broken pieces of glass. I saw my 9 year old sister crying and sniffing and the one who caused all these, yelled at her, asking why all of us could not keep the house in a good state; her voice is full of rage. This is not the first time. And we actually have make sure we’d done our chores and the books, well, at times they could get pretty messy when my sister needed them for homework or revision. But she just won’t stop yelling. I closed my eyes shut and tried to control my anger. Suddenly waves of the past memories hit me, and as I opened my eyes, I was 12 again.
I saw myself at the kitchen, trying to bake some cookies. I could never get the hang of baking, but the feeling of comfortable and lovely would always linger there whenever I beat the mixture of butter, sugar, eggs and the vanilla. I headed towards the fridge and was retrieving the chocolate chips that I had bought with my own money that I saved when I was sent to buy some carrots at the nearby store. As I was pouring the chocolate chips over my satisfied mixture, I heard a key sound trying to open the front door.
My forehead was already perspiring hard as I looked around the kitchen. It was a total mess. Dirty dishes still remain inside the sink. The big lump of the flour that I dropped when I carried the flour bag from one side of kitchen to another caused the centre of kitchen to be the most noticeable. I promised myself I would get it all clean up when the cookies are baking in the oven but I never realized I should have to clean all these much earlier. But it was too late.
As I turned around, I saw a figure standing behind me, looking at me and the background of the kitchen with eyes full of wrath. I noticed she brought along a metal hangar. The next thing I remember was that I had to put up with the bruises and sores at my arms for the next five days. I also promised myself to never bother to make anything to make that person happy. Yes, the cookies were meant for her.
I startled as I heard the loud yell. I realized my cheeks were wet and my lips tasted of salt water. I wiped my tears away and looked at my sister from the stairs. Because the woman cannot stand my sister’s continuous crying when she told her repeatedly to shut up, she suddenly slaps my sister’s face. Hard. Which caused my sister to abruptly stops crying but watching her from the distance I could know that she’s hurting. I clenched my knuckles hard, and I feel like I’m boiling up. I shouted, “Mom! Stop!” And mom turned towards me, and I was the second victim.
Yeah, I’ve been slapped, hit. Lots of time. Because of the messiness we siblings had caused. Messiness here could be defined as not properly arranged your textbooks on your desk, late washing the dishes and cannot keep the living area tidy just like our cousin’s house. Only that I hope people should try to excused us for being kids. We were kids, back then, who tried to survive by having fun and play.
I got hit because I answered back whenever our parents argue and fights. People would probably think that is so ridiculous to be true, but it is, unfortunately. My sister and I actually survived to study in a house where you always got beaten with a hangar and hears your two important people in life fighting and shouting endlessly. We are not rich, but we are not poor either. Although we have a home and could feed ourselves with three meals per day, things were pretty harsh for us.
Dad keeps changing jobs and every job doesn’t give a better pay. Mom is in distressed, that’s why she keeps blows up at us. We managed to score straight A’s and got distinctions despite the chaos. However this, this was an accident that scars us sisters’ lives 2 years ago. Now our lives are different to compared to those miserable years.
Our parents made up with us, and we have started to forgive and forget, although it took time because the throbbing pain is still there deep inside our hearts. My guess is that probably because dad got a steady job already, and the salary was higher than before, and mom, I guess she had just realized my sister and I have been working darn hard to give her all the straight a’s we could give. I’ve never stop praying. And I know that He won’t burden me with something that I couldn’t bear. That’s why I managed to smile and laugh in front of my friends every day.
Thinking about how Im who had found me in such situation makes me feel more insecure. Why, in all situations he would eventually see me in that kind of condition. It feels more awkward when the guy who actually asked about your condition this morning is someone who is your crush. My group of friends never knew this, except Syaz, but I like him since our first encounter a couple of months ago.
A distinctive figure that I couldn’t forget. The Medical Student Association meeting helped me to get to know him better, well in the surface at least. The way he talks, is full of wisdom and that caught my eyes. Anyway, back to my story, I didn’t cry, so hard at the stadium this morning because of the past bitter memories. Well, it was hardly about it, because my tears fell this time thinking that I thought my problems had diffuse.
After the dreadful years, another year that accompanies it seems new to me. I felt happier, and this time it is total genuine. I actually enjoyed going picnics together with my “new” ohana, and the venues are different every time. Mom would prepare us handsome-looking irresistible foods. Unfortunately, new problem arises and this time, and it is my battle. Not my parents, my sister, but mine.
I hope I wouldn’t let them be in a new mess after the last mess have been cleared out. But it was too late. They have shared my devastating news. Im saw me crying this morning is because I have to keep to myself that I’ve diagnosed with an incurable disease. If last time I was certain that I could not consider a guy to see my dad for my hand of marriage when the suitable time comes, because of my family’s ‘unstable condition’, now I am most certain I would not have the chance to get married because I would no longer be here when the suitable time comes. And that is 23. (Well if I happened to find someone by that age, if there is certain special someone that He had picked for me). Why? Because I’m probably dead by that time.
I looked at my iPod and realized the time just passed 2 pm. I didn’t bother to go down and grab some lunch. The red-rimmed eyes of mine are still visible to be seen, an accessories that would attract others’ attentions eventually. The time just went by so quickly. I’m going 20, just settled down nicely for more than a year in this campus, and had gotten sick. Everything around me seems to be in full speed.
“He, who has nothing, has Allah.
He who has Allah, has everything”