A Short Novel

I met her again, however this second time 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, Kam, 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.
I would have done something the next day, on Nad’s sake, but Am caught me on hold, he got injured during his rugby practice, and he needed further treatment, which later caused him to have 20 stiches on his knee. Alhamdulillah he’s fine now, and he assured me by saying “Go and solve your Nad’s problem. This is the first time I’ve seen you cannot solve an equation. Nad is surely pretty tough one. Ha-ha” I threw at him hard, a pillow, and if he hadn’t fallen injured, I would have done more, I flinched when he laughed. But I can’t possibly do that when he doesn’t even know the other side of Nad’s story. He said that because he thought I have a crush on Nad or something. Which I, don’t. I realized that I’d been staring at the book too long now. I grab my Blackberry, and start texting.
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, 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 glass vase, among the two of our only glass vase in this house, and the loud thump was from the books that has already lain on the floor. There are 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 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. I closed my eyes shut and try to control my anger. Suddenly waves of the past memories hit me, and as I opened my eyes, I was 12 again.
“Is there anything wrong Miss Lisa, because I’ve got Microbiology in less than 15 minutes. I haven’t performed my Zuhr yet.” Impatient and apprehensiveness outgrew me. What’s with the look? “That’s what I want you to tell me, Nadhia.” She walked out of her desk and crouches in front of me, and patted my hand, as one might stroke a frightened child.  “My dear, there are laws protecting children from parental abuse.” “E-Excuse me?” I was dumbfounded. The counsellor offered an indulgent, all-knowing half-smile. “The bruises, on your legs and arms have been reported Nadhia. You can tell me the truth, is anyone hurting you at home?”

1.    SPEED


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.

That’s how time works between us. Full of speed.


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 is in full speed.

He, who has nothing, has Allah.

He who has Allah, has everything



“Can’t you be faster? Geesh!” This is the third call for me. I asked my best friend Syaz to accompany me to the toilet because the sports complex’s toilet scares me a bit. It is always dark all the time. Well, on the outside. I cannot give an excuse to go to the café’s toilet (which is more far than the stadium’s restroom) because the sunlight could trespass into the window inside the toilet.

So anyway, Syaz is being pretty annoying outside, and I’m actually struggle to wear the knee pads inside a small “room”. I couldn’t run or do any active movements without them – the knee pads, I mean- my knees ache on certain occasions and it will just bug me to stop myself from exercising or do any kinds of sports.

 Then I heard footsteps come towards my bathroom door and heard a loud knocking sound, which irritates me more. I opened the lock and saw a girl of my age, a few inches shorter than I am and looked more or less annoyed. “I told you I have always had the problem when it comes to wear the knee pads back again. They’re so tight,” I complained. Well actually just to be in the safe side, because Syaz’s look irritates me a little.

I headed towards the sink and wash my face. As I looked up at the mirror, I saw Syaz’s face; her eyes looked as if she’s looking at something gruesome. I follow the direction of her hazel brown pupils, and asked “what’s wrong? You alright? Is there something at the floor?” Her eyes seem to look at the floor where I stand but there was nothing there, well besides the dirty tissues that fell on the floor.

“Nad, you’re bleeding.” Sure enough, blood trickled down my leg from behind my knee. I folded my track pants until my knees; well that’s how both of us could see the blood clearly. It’s red as red geraniums. “Oh I must have cut it when we try to climb over the back gate this morning.” We just entered the campus in September, as new sophomores, and we were just super excited to ‘work out’ at the campus’s proud sports complex, or a stadium-what we preferred to call it, because the complex is actually very big.

It has a big trampoline placed at the centre of the stadium. And the red tracks are just so welcoming. We just cannot wait to officialise our newly bought pair of Nike runners. Just for the information, our campus has two different sports stadium which separate between the genders, which is great because I’m easily self-conscious if guys watch me run. But of course that’s not the main point. It is always good if places like this, separable.

Today marks the day of our ‘freedom’- we just finished our orientation week, and it was quite hectic, that’s why we yet to have dibs on the stadium. The front gate is not opened until 8 am, but I got some info from our very helpful seniors that there’s a back gate, and you just need to climb over it to be inside the stadium, and there is nobody around if you go there early.

The fences are not that tall. As I’m 5 feet 7 inches tall and the fences are almost two inches taller than me, so it wasn’t a big of a problem, only it was for Syaz though. However, the fences are quite sharp at its tips.  We just couldn’t wait until 8 am, that’s why we felt that we want to have the tracks all for ourselves, not to mention the trampoline. We packed ourselves breakfast boxes into our backpacks, and headed to the stadium as early as 6.45 am.

 I reassured her, and take out some Kleenex out of my backpack and wiped off the blood and secured the tissue over the cut. Then I stick on the plaster. “And it’s still bleeding? This morning you mean 6.45 am this morning? Now is almost 1 pm, Nad. And you’d have thought it would have clotted by now.”

I rolled down my folded pants and rearrange my shawl. Agh, I’m always in a bad ‘tudung’ day, like my friend would call it. Ignoring Syaz’s statement, I said “Let’s go, I’m hungry” while dragging Syaz towards the exit.


A month has passed and I’ve considered the library- or to be exact, the carrel room to be my second home. In fact, I’ve got my favourite already, room 241, and the windows facing the vast green field.

The backdrop is not cloudless and always dashing blue, well except when it rains, but the ambience really motivates me to study and actually finish my works. Assignments are piling up, and I can’t possibly finish my tutorials while my room at the hostel keeps remind me of the bed.

But today my favourite carrel room has been taken by somebody else, and I blamed Syaz. If she could stop bothering me at the café this morning to linger a bit when my eyes keep darting at my Swatch, and my legs are begging me to go to the library fast because it’s about to open –well I might have the opportunity to book my carrel room, but no I just had to ‘linger’ at the café a bit because Syaz kept pestering me about Im, who’s also having his breakfast two tables beside us. “Omg, he is like just beside you!” Ugh, and I don’t even know why I bother confided to her about this. But she is still my best friend. I know she’s acting like a normal best pal would do.

I’ve got my headphones on and Danial Jang’s Violin Cover of a famous Korean song pounding slowly into my delicate ears. It has been delicate since ages, which is why I really cannot stand loud music. I’ve got biophysics homework to finish today and as I was about to put my pen down to start an answer essay, Ami –my Biochemistry classmate, also my good friend- came in front of my table.

 She leaned across the table and whispers “just got to tell you this, I’ve won the Manga Comic Fiesta tickets! I’ve got to attend Tokyo International Anime Fair!!! I got to go to Japan! Aaaaaaah!” She practically shouted on “Japan” and all of the students nearby shot us murderous looks. Well, literally. Ami, being a ‘good sport’, rolled her eyes at them.

I lunged at her to hush her down and she just laughed, catching my wrist. I grimaced as her fingers closed around my bruise. She dropped my arm, and folds down my sleeves, and eyed the ugly purple mark in surprised. “What’s that? And how did you get it?” She looked worried, and I’m too. “Just a bruise and I don’t know.” I was curious myself but I couldn’t figure out how I got them.

I tossed my backpack on the study desk, and slumped myself onto bed. Today is a tiring day, the most exhausting day, perhaps. But I’ve been feeling tired these days, and I thought I had took enough of vitamins. My girlfriends have been saying that I look pale.

 I look at the paper butterflies hanging above me. I cut them out of multiple colour manila cards and decorated it with my roommate’s remaining scrapbook kits last week at the common room down the hall at the library. I planned to read the newspaper, also, try to finish my 5 pages of tutorials but instead found a few used manila cards, and thought instead letting them to waste I should innovate them or something.

Yeah, I could be easily distracted. And when I came back into the room bringing the scrapbook kits, I don’t know it will turn out to be this lovely. But something else happened at the common room. Reminiscing it, I realized something is wrong with me, besides keep being self-conscious with myself because Im keeps appearing in my life; I’m no less than confused and curious.


I texted Fik that I would be heading to the tennis court after I drop by at the common room to return the newspaper I borrowed. Today’s headline is about my brothers and sisters in Islam are in grave battle in Rohingya – May Allah protects them always, besides other political issues and gossips on the local celebs.

As I’m placing my Blackberry inside my pocket, I heard a ‘thump’ sound ahead of me, besides looking at papers strewn everywhere, and one paper was right in front of my Converse. I took the paper and realized I have seen one just like it before; a Calculus tutorial, except that this paper’s owner has way better handwritings than mine.

As I look in front of me, I saw a body lying down on the dark blue carpet, trying to get up. I run towards her and saw the familiar beautiful face again. “Nad, you alright?” I looked around to see if there are any female students that could help her, but at the same time, my eyes cannot release from looking at her condition.

She looked weary and helpless, and I on the other hand, trying as hard as I could to resist myself from touching her to help her up. “I’m, I’m fine, I just stumbled, that’s all,” she said while standing up. But her face couldn’t mask the lie she just told me. She looked different, not healthy of different. She looked darn pale.

I saw two girls walking towards us, and quickly ask them to help her, to carry her things, because she really needs someone to lean onto while walking, or at least walk behind her just in case she falls again. Nad shot me a startled look and turned her head towards the girls and said, “It’s okay, I’m fine. My friend here just thought that I’m not well. You guys may carry on.”

The two girls looked a bit taken aback and felt half-guilty but they walk on when Nad kept reassure them that she’s fine. I flinched when she addressed me as her “friend”. “I said I’m fine, you could go now,” Nad said to me after the girls were gone, in a stern way. She then crouches down and quickly gathers her fallen tutorials up.

She was about to continue her journey but I stopped her and said, “Hey, you forgot this” and handed her handmade butterflies. She took it with her right hand and her baju kurung sleeve fell down a bit, exposing her fair skin, I guess she’d probably forgotten to wear her arm socks, like she always did, well not that I’m aware of at most of the time.

 But that doesn’t bother me as much as the serious purple bruises on her arm. I think she caught my startled eyes and quickly grab the butterflies and secure her sleeve. “Thank you” Nad said and walks away. I had made her feel self-conscious; I noticed that when she pulls down her sleeve, heck does it even matter. In my mind, I was asking are you alright, Nad? And I watch her from behind until her tall figure has disappeared from my sight, before I turn my sneakers to the opposite side, towards the common room.


I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and her pale look during the incident last week. Well last week is not that long. Two days ago, on Saturday. A voice deep inside me saying that she is not fine. I look at the book in my hand, I’ve been trying to finish re-reading this book for three days now, a revision that I thought I urgently need before I conduct my usrah this Saturday morning – Mazha Yakni ‘an Intimai Islam (What is the purpose I profess in Islam) by Fathi Yakan is such an indispensable book, for all of us who consider ourselves as Muslims. And I’ve got the last part to cover up.

Two hours has passed and Alhamdulillah, I managed to absorb every word written by the late prominent Islamic scholar. I lie down and thought to take a short nap before ‘Asr but as I took a glimpse at my phone, I recalled my previous conversation with Am, my good friend and Nad’s classmate, that she had been called to Miss Lisa’s room. She’s the Head Guardian Counsellor for our course department. And normally students who got to see her are either because they are problematic or have some problems that needed guidance and counselling.

No, I’m not being judgemental to those people who walk into and out of her polished wooden door, but she always said it herself whenever she presents her speech; introducing the department’s Guidance and Counselling Unit, as if we students never heard about it. I looked at my Blackberry, and I fought with myself whether I should text her, ask her myself whether she’s fine or even call her if I have the guts.

But calling her would be a very brave attempt, I know she would not be fine with me calling her, and I know that it’s not the right thing to do. Our nuqaba’ reminded us always about ikhtilat. Yes, another reason that caused me to be concern about her is because we go for the same usrah.

That would be a good reason to answer the questions that kept pounding inside my head; why do you have to be so worried about her? Have you fallen for her? But I could only answer the first question. The second question keeps me in curiosity. But, the bruises. I can’t forget the vivid image that I’d seen on her arm last weekend.

I asked Syaz on the same Saturday when we stumbled into each other outside the  cafe, it was unusual already that she’s not with Nad. They’re like glue, stick strongly with each other, Am would have commented. After a few hesitations she said she also thought that Nad is not in a good pace and she told me about some more bruises.

 She was going to say more but she stopped herself, I figured she felt she had betrayed Nad’s trust if she did. She told me was because she has a better trust in me, she mentioned the words, “with the same fikrah, that’s why I trusted you with Nad’s condition.”

 I would have done something the next day, on Nad’s sake, but Am caught me on hold, he got injured during his rugby practice, and he needed further treatment, which later caused him to have 20 stiches on his knee. Alhamdulillah he’s fine now, and he assured me by saying “Go and solve your Nad’s problem. This is the first time I’ve seen you cannot solve an equation. Nad is surely a pretty tough one. Ha-ha”

 I threw at him hard, a pillow, and if he hadn’t fallen injured, I would have done more, I flinched when he laughed. But I can’t possibly do that when he doesn’t even know the other side of Nad’s story. He said that because he thought I have a crush on Nad or something. Which I, don’t. I realized that I’d been staring at the book too long now. I grab my Blackberry, and start texting.


I can’t believe she could say that! The next thing I knew I find myself collapsed into my bed in tears and exhaustion. Today is the most weird, awkward day for me. First is the situation with Ami, next with Miss Lisa. That was the first time I went to the GCU – Guidance and Counselling Unit, and I already loathe the wooden door of her entrance.

 She would have probably thought she is helping me, but saying the words makes me feel I’m that problematic, like you could watch in movies where the counsellors trying to get hold of the kid, and normally the situation is because the kid is problematic. Am I problematic? I compete in marathons; I finished my coursework and tutorials before the due date. I’m an active participant of our debate team, in fact we were scheduled to have an International Championship in the UK, London to be specific, next January- approximately  one month to go from now.

 If I’m problematic won’t I be able to go through all that, I mean if you watch movies, problematic kids are usually timid in personality, and doesn’t want to disclose themselves to the world. But to think again, I’ve stopped participating in marathon because these few weeks I cannot walk right. I feel tired most of the time, and those mysterious bruises.

I never tell this directly to Syaz, let alone my family. I don’t want to screw up our current family status; ‘reforming the happiness’ within our family, besides, I trust myself to be independent. I knew I’m skipping classes, but I don’t care. I won’t want my classmates and lecturer to found me in this state, enough of unwanted moments already. I turned my head and recalled each and every word that came from her red lips.

I was having my lunch -mac and cheese- at the café with Syaz when I was summoned to the GCU. Curiosity dodged Syaz and I down the hall to Miss Lisa’s room. But on entering, I asked Syaz to wait for me outside while adding “but if I’m late, just go first to Mr. Lopez class.” Our lunch break is an hour and a half before Microbiology. And it’s 2.00 pm already, I hope this won’t be a long meeting because I’ve got to head to the musolla first before 2.30.

 I walked into a baby blue coloured room, finished with fully furnished office set, and in front of me sat a professionally dressed woman in a bright pink scarf. “Assalamualaikum, have a seat Nadhia.” She motioned to the chair in front of her neat and orderly expensive looking desk.

I replied her salaam and sit down while my pupils not moving from looking at her pretty face and the red lips. I still cannot tell why she calls me here. “Congratulations on your debate championship last month. You’ll have an International Championship scheduled next year in London, am I right? Well it’s certainly the best one IIUM had to date.” She said beaming at me.

 I nodded, I still can’t figure out what’s behind this somewhat pep talk. “Thank you Miss Lisa.” A slight case of jitters set in while the pretty figure in front of me studied me for a few thoughtful moments. “Have I done something wrong Miss Lisa?” I asked. “Not at all,” she said while looking straight at me.

After a few long seconds, and I could no longer possibly facing the red lips in front of me, I said, “Is there anything wrong Miss Lisa, because I’ve got Microbiology in less than 15 minutes. I haven’t performed my Zuhr yet.” Impatient and apprehensiveness outgrew me.

What’s with the look? “That’s what I want you to tell me, Nadhia.” She walked out of her desk and crouches in front of me, and patted my hand, as one might stroke a frightened child.  “My dear, there are laws protecting children from parental abuse.” “E-Excuse me?” I was dumbfounded. The counsellor offered an indulgent, all-knowing half-smile. “The bruises, on your legs and arms have been reported Nadhia. You can tell me the truth, is anyone hurting you at home?”

I was horrified. I stared at her open-mouthed. “Now dear, please understand me. Although you’re not a minor, you are still protected by certain laws and the university personnel only want to make sure that no one harms you. You are a brilliant student Nadhia. You’ve got long path ahead of you. And we don’t want anything to change that,” she continued.

My thoughts whirled and tumbled. She thinks my parents beat me! The impact of the thought sent blind rage coursing through me. A mental picture of my family -learning and helping each other to mend the broken pieces two years ago; trying to fill in our leisure times with much happiness as possible; mother trying as hard as she could to be a good mom; and dad works hard for all of us- flashed through my mind.

In an instant I was on my feet. “Are you asking me, implying if my parents hit me? No one in my house struck me! No one!” I seemed to lost control of myself. I forgot everything what my naqibah had taught me, about patience, and courteousness, about how our beloved Prophet, may peace be upon him, has the best akhlaq that I should always conform to. 

“Please calm down, Nadhia. We can’t ignore those bruises.” She seems to be taken aback with my attitude, the look on her face shows that my respond was unexpected. “I don’t know how I got these stupid bruises. But they didn’t come from my parents. There are some other reasons for them.” My anger was so intense.

“What other reason?” She asked further despite seeing my fury. “I don’t know! Maybe it’s because of my strenuous training for the marathon a month ago. I just don’t know!” I sputtered. Miss Lisa kept going as if she knew everything. “I can’t let this go unreported Nadhia. I must call your parents for consultation. I would be negligent in my duties if I didn’t.”

 “No! My parents, they’re wonderful! They would not strike me, alright? Just leave this alone. Don’t involve them!” Without knowing, I bolted out of her office, and ran outside into the bright afternoon light. I did hear she called my names, but I can’t possibly return back.

A moment of sadness to seek Allah’s pleasure, is a thousand times better than

being sad every day because of love for this Dunya.”


3. The Unforeseen

      Part 1



I look at the screen of my iPhone, and re-read the newly received text. Looking at the sender, I recalled Im’s first message to me, after the incident near the common room last December.

Assalamualaikum, Nadhia. I’m sorry if I disturb you with anything. Got your number from Syaz. I just want you to know, you don’t have to be insecure with me if we have the chance to “meet” again. And I don’t mean to be busybody but the bruises that I saw last Saturday were very serious. Are you alright? Have you gone to the medics? Well, I think it needs some treatment. Hope to hear from you soon. Im.

No one could tell how my feeling at that time was. He sort of showed his concerns in me. But the feelings were indescribable. I thanked him, and replied that I was fine. I lied saying I got the bruises from the marathon trainings; well it makes sense if you run to a light pole. I know lying to him won’t make me feel better, won’t change anything, and simply just add my sin. O Allah, please forgive your slave. And I don’t know the causes, then.

 We exchanged texts a few times in December, mostly in the matter of studies, asking on certain matter of topics that he claimed he did not comprehend, which surprised me because Im is no ordinary student. Well to compare with me, he is. He was the President of the Medical Students’ Council back in Matriculation Center. He talks as if he is a law student. But I don’t want to get my hopes high, and so I disapprove all the thoughts that as if he really cared about me, and that he wants to know me better.

I don’t have much time for that kind of hopes. No, not much time. Im’s first message of the New Year, really motivated me, but in other way, I tried as hard as I could to take his message as a friendly text, and not more than that. After all, looking at how he greeted in the message, I assumed it's a New Year wish for all of his friends. The message was before we stumbled into each other at the stadium- yes, the awkward moment.

Assalamualaikum to all my friends. May this January leads us closer to Him. Let’s not forget our responsibilities as duats. Being twenty sooner or later would change the fact that time doesn’t gets slower in its pace. I remember my BTQ Sir said that ‘who are going to spread the true message of Islam, if it’s not all of you (referring to us students) who learn about it quite thoroughly here. What can you do for Islam? You should ask yourselves that question every day when you wakes up in the morning…’ Well something like that. I hope each of us would not let go of our responsibilities that we have. Let’s strive harder each and every day to become a better Mukmin.  In (63:8): ‘And the greatness (only) belongs to Allah, and His Messenger, and the Mukminoon’. JIm”

Not shortly after we met coincidentally at the stadium, I got a text from Im. It was dated 2nd January and the time was 4 pm. He asked why I cried that morning. He asked if I got hurt again. He asked again where I’ve been these entire long. And to the extent, saying that I shouldn’t keep everything to myself. Also asking whether Syaz knows about my condition, well we being best buddies and all, because Syaz isn’t telling anything to him or to anyone. Well I made her do that. I replied;

“Wassalam, Im. This morning was very awkward and odd. I know. No, I wasn’t crying because of what you said, somewhat hurt? I wasn’t. (Well, I wasn’t really crying because of the bruises I’ve got) Don’t, worry. Syaz knows about whatever that is happening to me. And it’s not like I prefer to keep everything to myself, it’s just that sometimes, things are better left unspoken.

Please, just don’t bother about me. You could just imply that I’ve got problems that I don’t wish to share it to the world. And that’s why I’m not the same anymore. All the best always, Im. May Allah ease everything for you. Nad “

Three days have passed since I showed my red-rimmed eyes to Im at the stadium. Three days have passed since my Converse stepped onto the red pavement of IIUM’s entrance. And three days have passed since I left home and got re-admitted to the hospital.  Today marks the date January the 4th.
And the text? Of course he replied back and asked more questions that I know he could guess I’m not going to reply them. I never bother to reply it. I turned my head to the right side of the room, and look at the calendar that is placed next to me on the side table. 20 more days to go and I’m officially 20 years old. I heard the door creaked open, and a medium-height, good looking guy came towards me, behind him, a woman of mid-thirties is carrying a tray, on it a small cup of tablets.

The doctor smiled at me and said, “Are you ready for the treatment, Nadhia? You have to take your pills first and after 2 hours Miss Husna will administer your medication.” I just nodded. I took my pills, and lie down again. Mom is at work again after taking care of me overnight, but dad will join mom later to accompany me undergoing my first “treatment”.

I suddenly remember the memory of 3 weeks old; the last time when I ran away from Miss Lisa, the last time when I finally understood the reasons behind those bruises.




I was home shortly after my mom called me she would fetch me from my hostel on that day Miss Lisa found out about my bruises. “Miss Lisa called me and told me what happened. We’ll deal with her later but now let me see the bruises.” Obediently, I allow my mother to examine me.

Worriedly she said, “There really are lots of bruises, honey. Are you sure you don’t where you got them?” “No, I don’t. Its okay mom, I feel fine. It’s probably the flu.” But mom wasn’t buying it. She then grabs the car keys and said, “Get ready, we’ve got to go and see the doctor.”

 I touched the glands in my neck and realized they were swollen. I can’t get sick now I’ve got a major debate competition coming up in less than 6 weeks, not to mention the new semester is starting in a month. After 45 minutes’ drive, we’ve arrived at the General Hospital. Dr Mila, welcomed us with her warm smile, a pretty woman in the late thirties, has always been one of my favourite doctors.

Our last meeting was when I was 10, I’ve got viral fever, and she took care of me with so much attention. Dr Mila’s examination was routine. She checked me with sure, confident fingers, feeling my swollen glands and bruises, and then takes my blood sample. I squeezed my eyes shut as the needle pricked my right arm.

“It’s just flu, isn’t it Doctor?” I asked as Dr Mila secured my puncture with a bandage. On some point I felt that mom’s idea of bringing me here is a good one, because I could never been less than curious ever since I got these bruises and just now realized that my glands are swollen too.

Dr Addin gave me a professional non-committal smile. “It’s something. We can’t be sure with that yet.” “What do you think it is?” My mom asked uneasily. “I don’t like the look of those bruises. And you young girl, should’ve told me earlier. Dad is going to be cross with this and worried sick too.”

Mom looked at me with a sad face. I never meant to worry her; I don’t want to become a trouble in our “new” family. Things were getting fine since two years ago, but now? I just want to go back home and have some rest, while hoping that tomorrow everything will return back as normal. Normal like a month ago.

Dr Mila breaks my thought by saying, “It could be as simple as anaemia. That is common in girls as early as sixteen.” “Then I’ll take iron pills,” I said, relieved. “Nadhia made the International Debate Competition,” my mother said, as if that might influence the doctor in some way.

“I can go back to the college, can’t I?” I asked. But Dr Mila didn’t respond to either of us, instead she made her way to the peach coloured door and said, “I want to check a blood smear under the microscope. I’ll be right back.” I turned towards mom and said, “It’s going to be alright mom,” and I put my arms around her neck and hug her.

Frankly, I had been feeling bad about this, worried about myself and been asking what has been happening to myself all along. “Insha Allah, let’s hope so.” My mom reassured me with another long and big hug. Dr Mila returned her expression unreadable. She positioned herself in front of me. “Your red blood count is low…”

I gave a quick relief smile. “Then just write me a prescription on iron pills. I’ll take them truly. I promise” I said while gesturing a “scouts’ honour”. She held up her hand. “Whoa it’s not that simple. Your white blood cells on the other hand is rather high, Nadhia.” 
“So?” I asked, puzzled.

             “So, I will need you to stay here for a few days for testing.” 

            I think my heart might have stopped beating. The hospital? “The hospital, doctor?” My mom said my thought aloud. “Is it really necessary? Is it really serious? I can’t afford to leave college now. We’ve got preparations before the debate competition. And it’s less than 10 weeks from now,” I protested.

 “Is this absolutely necessary Dr Mila?” Mom’s voice sounded tense. The doctor with the black rimmed-spectacles answered, “Yes. It’s imperative that we find out what’s ailing Nadhia.” I wanted to ask what is she testing for, but I could sense that Dr Mila won’t tell me.

Instead I asked, “When do I have to go Doctor?” “The sooner, the better. My receptionist will call and have your admitting papers prepared by tomorrow.” She said and gave me a comfort pat on the shoulder.

The next thing I know I’m admitted to the hospital, got a pint of blood a day, Syaz going crazy because I never confide to her about me not feeling well lately, and the biggest thing that became less bigger after I found out what bugs me is the bone marrow aspiration on the 7th day of my stay at the “Hotel General”.

I nervous-laugh whenever my parents or my sister asked about my condition, and Syaz kept treating me as if I’m a little girl who needs full attention, I acted all courageous whenever they were around. I even reminded Syaz to take all notes that I’ll miss during lectures, and keep all of my assignments. But when visiting hours were over, I was left alone, I plucked the bed sheets and the bravado drowned with the night sounds that echoed around me. I was scared.

My lips can’t stop from reciting dzikr, and like my dad always said to me when things are tough, “do lots of dzikr of Ya Haleem (The Most Compassionate), Ya Muhaymin (The Guardian) and Ya Salam (The Source of Peace) besides keep reciting Ayatul Kursi and the three Quls (Surah Al Ikhlas, Al Falaq, An Naas)”. And I found out the right side of the pillow was drenched with my tears the next morning.

The D-Day; bone marrow aspiration. The technicians came for me early in the morning. The first thing that they did was electrocardiogram. This was to rule out the rheumatic fever, the woman in the blue lab coat said. I asked, “Rheumatic fever causes heart damage, isn’t it?” But as soon as I uttered the question, the thought terrified me.

 “What causes it?” I asked again. Although I might have a hunch because I remember Fik asked about in in our last lecture to Sir Rahman. “Untreated strep,” the nurse said. I swallowed against my scratchy throat. Could I have had strep throat and overlooked it long enough to have caused rheumatic fever to develop?

However, the bone marrow aspiration was not less pleasant then the electrocardiogram. They placed me on the examination table on my stomach, with a pillow tucked under my pelvis. The nurse cleaned my hip area with iodine and next, she applied a cooling spray which she explained “this is a local anaesthetic, Nadhia. It will numb the site so you won’t feel anything while the needle is going in. We’ll insert it in the spongy part of the bone where your marrow is manufactured and don’t worry, it won’t take but a few seconds to withdraw the cells we required for the lab analysis.”

It annoys me a little that she had to explain this basic knowledge. I clutched the metal edge of the table, determined to hold my pupils focus on the cream coloured wall in front of me and not being distracted with the syringe that looked a foot long. I gritted my teeth as pressure, then pain, overcame me. It felt as if a vacuum sucked something from inside of me. It was horrible.



“If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it” I slide through my iPhone and saw this quote from someone’s Tumblr. The next picture said, “Allah won’t burden you with something you couldn’t bear.” I realized this quote is taken from a Quranic verse. Tears drop slowly from my eyes as I browse through the pictures that eventually motivate me. Ya Allah, I don’t know if I could endure this test, this seems unbearable. But I also don’t know what’s Your plan, and I surrender everything to You. Ya Rahman, Ya Raheem, please give me strength.

My lips trembled as tears kept flowing, and I couldn’t stop recite the istighfar as I recalled the conversations I had with Dr Mila and my family in the ward just half an hour ago, after we have the results from the bone marrow test.




I laughed a nervous laugh. Dr Mila sounded irrational and my family, hovering around my bed with disturbed looks, which reminds me of a silent movie. “I don’t believe you. You have been mistaken. I’m going twenty in less than a month. I’m still young, how could I possibly have leukaemia?”

Dr Mila slightly squeezed my arm and said, “The bone marrow aspiration confirmed it, Nadhia. Leukaemia is a blood disorder. It occurs when young white blood cells reproduce abnormally and crowd out the normal ones. They take up the spaces of red blood cells and platelets. Platelets cause your blood to clot normally and because your supply is low, that’s why you get bruises easily. Without enough red blood cells to carry oxygen, you become anaemic. That’s the reason why you’ve become tired all the time, and you always look pale.”

Tears weld up in my eyes, and as dad touched my arm, mom approached me and hugged me, and Nasuha, my younger and only sister, looked at me with sad looking eyes, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling anymore. I cried, hard, and I never thought I could cry as much as this.

I heard dad almost whispered ‘innalillah…’ Mom wiped the non-stop flowing tears on my cheeks, and comfortingly said, “Insha Allah, we will fight it Nadhia. We’ve got the best medical help available. We will fight it.” Dr Mila cleared her throat. “Over the past few years Medicine has made great advancements for different kinds of leukaemia treatment. Despite the fact that we have no cure for the disease, we do have sophisticated ways of dealing with it, insha Allah. The vital thing now is Nadhia should begin treatment as soon as possible.”

“What kind of treatment?” Dad and I asked at the same time. “Traditional treatments include chemotherapy. Once we initiate chemo, we’ll expect an improvement. It will take several days to establish the right combination of drugs, but our goal is to get you into remission as quickly as possible. Remission is a decrease, sometimes a reversal, of your symptoms. After we achieve remission you will go on to maintenance.”

Dr Mila continued, “Once initial treatments do their job and healthy blood-forming tissue begins to regrow, you’ll take oral medication. You only have to come to the clinic every few weeks for testing and possible further IV chemotherapy. The longer you remain in remission, the better your chances for complete recovery.”

“And if there is no recovery?” My mind was spinning, but somehow the question popped out from my mouth. Dr Mila’s expression grew sombre, and she touched my arm; her eyes are filled with deep empathy. “I believe in being honest with my patients, Nadhia, because being truthful is necessary for them to actively participate in the treatment of their disease. I’m not going to lie to you, but I won’t be leaving with you without hope either. If you remain in a continuous first remission for five years, we considered you cured.”

 “And if I don’t?” “We shall try for second remission. We also consider a bone marrow transplant. That’s mean we graft healthy marrow from a biologically compatible donor into your marrow.” Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed by too much information from Dr Mila and my head felt like it’s going to split into two. Ya Allah, why me? Tears kept flowing and dad grab a hold of me. I shield my face onto his chest, and keep on sobbing on his shirt.

I couldn’t stand anymore information from Dr Mila. Mercifully, my mother interrupted. “What are you going to do with Nadhia right now?” “Today we will do a lumbar puncture. We’ll take fluid from around Nadhia’s spinal cord and examine it to determine whether the leukemic cells have invaded your central nervous system. That test will also help us to decide on the best drugs combination to begin fighting your leukaemia.”

I suddenly realized that my body has become a war zone. My internal defences no longer controlled whatever happens inside me.

“When will you start the drugs?”


“That soon?”

“Clinically, the disease progresses rapidly. We must begin the test immediately.” The warmth of Dr Mila’s hands on my bare arm caused me to nod almost subtly. “Do it, so that I could be as soon as possible at home.”




            2 hours has passed, and Miss Husna came in with Dr Mila and the handsome doctor, Dr Hafiz. “Okay Nur Nadhia Rania, your treatment shall begin now.”


3. The Unforeseen

Part 2





            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.

 CORETAN HATI oleh Raihana Nadhira
Hari ini kejadian yang sama berulang lagi.
Titisan air mata membasahi pipi,
Sekali lagi.
Jika mahu katakan serik, ya aku amat serik sekali.
Jika mahu katakan penat, ya aku amat penat sekali.
Sudah cukup pengalaman pahit terpahat di minda.
Sudah cukup pengalaman kelam kekal dalam sejarah hidupku.
Sudah cukup titisan air mata yang tidak kering,
Lagi tidak berhenti,
 jatuh membasahi bumi.
Ya Allah, apalah nasibku ini.
Dikurniakan sebuah keluarga,
Yang mana memori bahagianya boleh dibilang jari.
Yang mana memori sedihnya berturutan hari.
Namun tidakku layak untuk mempersoalkan semua takdir ini.
Ampunilah daku Ya Allah,
Kumohon kekuatan dariMu.
Aku bukan mahu membuka aib.
Aku bukan mahu mengeluh.
Tetapi setiap bait perkataanku ini merupakan luahan hatiku,
Yang sering sakit menanggung perit dan beban,
Beban menanggung derita,
Beban menanggung cerita,
Beban bermuka dua,
Di dalam duka, di luar ceria.
Aku tidak tahan lagi,
Melihat ayah yang sering dihina,
Dicerca merba.
Hampir kesemua kejadian berulang episode yang sama.
Semuanya disebabkan kehidupan yang tidak serba cukup,
Kata mereka.
Semuanya disebabkan menginginkan kehidupan yang serba indah,
Kata mereka.
Angan-angan yang terlalu tinggi,
Bukan bermaksud tidak realistik,
Tetapi terlalu dramatik.
Meskipun dihina,
Meskipun dicerca,
Meskipun terpaksa mendengar rintihan anak yang tidak bersyukur,
Meskipun terpaksa mendengar bebelan isteri yang tidak memahami,
Ayah tetap bekerja keras,
Membanting tulang,
Mencari rezeki,
Demi memastikan perut keluarga tidak kelaparan,
Demi memastikan badan keluarga tidak kesejukan,
Demi memastikan kehidupan keluarga masih dapat berlangsung,
Untuk sebuah rumah yang sederhana,
Untuk sekolah yang memberi ilmu berguna,
Untuk sebuah keluarga ayah.
Demi keluarga ayah.
Dan aku?
Apa tindakanku?
Aku hanya mampu menangis,
Dan terus menangis.
Aku rela dipukul emak.
Aku rela dimarahi abang dan kakak.
Tetapi aku tidak sanggup melihat ayah diperlakukan sedemikian rupa.
Ayahku tidak dayus,
Sudah ditegurnya isteri.
Ayahku tidak lalai,
Sudah dididiknya anak.
Meskipun kami miskin, aset yang ayah laburkan buat kami anak beranak,
Ialah ilmu agama yang berpanjangan manfaatnya.
Bak kata ayah,
Jika ayah sudah tiada,
Dan kehidupan kami masih seperti sedia kala,
Ilmu agama sahajalah yang mampu ayah berikan.
Dan setiap kali aku teringat kata-kata ayah,
Titisan air mata jatuh lagi,
Membasahi pipi,
Membasahi bumi.
Ilmu itu ibarat cahaya,
Kata ayah pada suatu hari.
Meskipun kehidupan kami miskin,
Ilmu tetap harus kaya di dada.
Orang yang berilmu dapat merantau jauh.
Oleh sebab itu ayah tidak kenal erti penat,
Ayah tidak kenal erti lelah,
Kerana mencari rezeki,
Bagi memastikan kami masih mampu menimba ilmu.
Aku bersyukur dikurniakan seorang ayah yang amat penyayang.
Aku bersyukur dikurniakan seorang ayah yang telah menjadi
Sumber inspirasiku,
Sumber motivasiku.
Tidak wajar kukatakan keluargaku sahajalah yang titimpa masalah paling besar,
Masalah pekikan saban malam,
Masalah pergaduhan saban siang,
Kerana masih ada lagi keluarga yang bernasib kurang baik daripadaku.
Kerana Allah tidak membebankan hambaNya bebanan yang tidak dapat ditanggung.
Aku sedar suaraku tidak didengari,
Suaraku tidak diambil peduli.
Meskipun sudah berulang kali aku menegur adik beradikku,
Meskipun sudah berulang kali aku menasihati emakku,
Dan meskipun aku kerap dimaki,
Dan meskipun aku kerap dipukuli,
Aku tetap tidak akan berhenti.
Berhenti daripada terus menegur.
Berhenti daripada terus menasihati.
Aku akan teruskan menadah tangan ke langit.
Aku akan teruskan perjuangan hidupku.
Aku akan terus cuba menjadi anak yang berbakti,
Buat kedua orang tuaku,
Buat keluargaku.
Aku berdoa agar Dia melembutkan hatiku,
Untuk sering beristighfar,
Dan memaafkan emakku,
Dan meaafkan abang dan kakakku.
Aku berdoa agar Dia meniupkan rahmat dan kasih sayang,
Dalam jiwaku,
Untuk tetap menyayangi mereka,
Terutama emakku yang telah melahirkan serta membesarkanku.
Aku berdoa agar Dia meniupkan rahmat dan kasih saying,
Dalam jiwa kami semua.
Agar kami dapat hidup bahagia.
Mulai sekarang dan selamanya.
Tangisanku sudahpun kering tatkala aku menulis bait ini.
Aku melihat sekeliling sunyi sepi.
Aku meninjau kamar orang tuaku yang gelap namun disimbahi sedikit cahaya.
Mataku cuba tatap sekujur tubuh
Yang terbaring lesu.
Mataku cuba mengamati tubuh letih yang amat kusayangi itu.
Aku berdoa agar Allah memanjangkan umurmu,
Aku berdoa agar Allah memanjangkan umurku juga.
Aku mahu engkau melihat aku berjaya.
Aku mahu melihat  engkau tertawa.
Aku mahu melihat engkau gembira.
Hati ini tidak mungkin dapat sanggup menghadapi kehilanganmu.
Hati ini terlalu lemah untuk kehilangan seorang insan yang amat ia cintai.
Aku berdoa agar nyawaku ditarik dahulu,
Sebelum pemergianmu menuju Allah Yang Kekal Abadi.

THE LAST TIME by Raihana Nadhira

I met her again, however this second time 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, Kam, 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.
I would have done something the next day, on Nad’s sake, but Am caught me on hold, he got injured during his rugby practice, and he needed further treatment, which later caused him to have 20 stiches on his knee. Alhamdulillah he’s fine now, and he assured me by saying “Go and solve your Nad’s problem. This is the first time I’ve seen you cannot solve an equation. Nad is surely pretty tough one. Ha-ha” I threw at him hard, a pillow, and if he hadn’t fallen injured, I would have done more, I flinched when he laughed. But I can’t possibly do that when he doesn’t even know the other side of Nad’s story. He said that because he thought I have a crush on Nad or something. Which I, don’t. I realized that I’d been staring at the book too long now. I grab my Blackberry, and start texting.
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, 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 glass vase, among the two of our only glass vase in this house, and the loud thump was from the books that has already lain on the floor. There are 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 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. I closed my eyes shut and try to control my anger. Suddenly waves of the past memories hit me, and as I opened my eyes, I was 12 again.
“Is there anything wrong Miss Lisa, because I’ve got Microbiology in less than 15 minutes. I haven’t performed my Zuhr yet.” Impatient and apprehensiveness outgrew me. What’s with the look?“That’s what I want you to tell me, Nadhia.” She walked out of her desk and crouches in front of me, and patted my hand, as one might stroke a frightened child. “My dear, there are laws protecting children from parental abuse.” “E-Excuse me?” I was dumbfounded. The counsellor offered an indulgent, all-knowing half-smile. “The bruises, on your legs and arms have been reported Nadhia. You can tell me the truth, is anyone hurting you at home?”

FLASHBACKS by Raihana Nadhira

I remember how everything was perfect. You told me you will be there whenever I needed you. You told me how beautifully amazing I was when we met for the first time. Then, you told me that, you will never left me alone, because, you said you are my guardian angel. Reminiscing that night when you said "I have to go away. I'm sorry" and you left without no more words spoken, you left me speechless, and you made me pouring down hot streaming tears. You are unforgiven.

I remember how everything was tough. I remember I was at the stable, taking care of those horses that you and I use to rode. I haven't heard of you since that night. At that time it was almost six months since you left me, without calls and letters, I couldn't know how you are, where you are and why you left me. I was angry and frustated because all you said to me before was a lie. My heart was torn, throbbing in pain. I couldn't endure it, and my eyes kept welding up tears. I remember when I came to your house the other day after you went away, I knocked once, then twice, then many times, hard enough to break it down. I shouted your name, but there was no response. Of course, I was knocking at the door of an empty house.

I remember how everything was troubled. I remember when I was walking at the park from my college to my apartment in King's Street, I stumbled upon you. All of my college assignments strewn everywhere. You helped me to pick up all of the papers. It was three years after you left me, and suddenly you showed up again. Why? You made my heart torn again. We just stand there, looked at each other, studying each others' faces. You looked different. You looked somewhat, paler, and weaker. You looked at me, but I could see that your eyes looked through me. You were studying your beloved face. I smiled, my eyes weld up with tears again and I tried to touch your face but you looked away. Suddenly, you turned and you ran. I could see your feet brought you away from me as fast as if I was also running, trying to catch you, trying to reach you. But I was just standing there, where you left me, feeling dumbfounded what I just did, to make you go away, again.

I remember when I was busy. Busy looking up names, searching your name in the internet. I googled, and your name suddenly popped up in the centre of my computer. I plastered a smile. I finally found you. My housemate said that I was a fool, trying to find you when you're the one who left me. But somehow, although I was still mad at you for breaking your promises, deep down I felt as if you weren't purposely left me. I could tell when I looked into your soft hazel eyes this evening. Are you alright? I wrote down your address, and that night I walked out of my apartment, determined to see you and put away the memories of three miserable years of my life behind me.

I remember when I rang the doorbell. I rang many times, I called your name, I cried. I reminisced how I felt when I knocked your door last three years. I didn't bear to fail this time, no not this time. Just after a few moments, the door opened, and a familiar looking woman was standing in front of me. It was your mother, looking beautiful like always, like you. She was surprised to see me, and I was surprised even more when she quickly hugged me. She asked why I never called them and send letters. I was puzzled, I told her how you left me that night without telling me why, without telling me where you will be going. She wasn't prepared for this and she broke down. I helped her to sit in the kitchen. And then she said, "Oh honey, I thought he has told you. I'm sorry." I said to her I don't want an apology but an explanation. So, she told me your story.

I remember when my cheeks are wet again. I remember I was in a ward, your ward. I walked into the room with a heavy heart, because I couldn't bear seeing you like that. You turned to look at me, and you let your tears fall. You said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I couldn't take care of you anymore." I broke down beside you. And I remember I hugged you and finally I'm in your arms that had always been guarding me. "I love you. So please, don't leave me again. Never." And we remained quiet to capture that moment, that soon will end.

I remember when I read your letter, that you has wrote for me the day before you left me. A special letter for a special someone, you said. And to me an explanation that I have been trying to find. You wrote; ".... You are my one true love, and you can never be replaced sweetheart. I could never stop loving you because you are truly a special woman in my life. You brought happiness in my life and you should know that your laughters has always been my favourite. I am really lucky, to have you inside my life. I would never regret that I had lend you my heart.
I'm sorry. But I have to go. I couldn't live beside you anymore because I 'm not strong enough to see you cry. I'm sick. And it is killing me slowly. I've diagnosed with brain cancer. And you could tell that I'm dying. I must let you go because I don't want you to see me like this. I'm sorry. And I love you. Please take care. And please.... forget me." My lips trembled. And I cried again.

I remember when the air was windy when you has gone. I remember I walked towards your grave and kneeled down to lay the flowers. All of your family were there. I could see your mother and her red rimmed eyes. She has cried enough. And I thought that I had too. I'm ready to let you go. And I want to tell you that my sweetheart, your love could never be replaced. I will always cherished our memories that we have shared together and I promise I will take care of myself. And I'm going to miss you. Badly.Thanks for the memories. Thank you for letting me be part of your life. And in your heart is forever I'll be.

I remember when I wrote this story. I remember when I told the New York Times publisher that I would like to share my story. I said, "Hi, my name is Rachel. And I've got story to tell."


It's a hot day and I hate my wife.

We're playing Scrabble. That's how bad it is. I'm 42 years old, it's a blistering hot Sunday afternoon and all I can think of to do with my life is to play Scrabble. I should be out, doing exercise, spending money, meeting people. I don't think I've spoken to anyone except my wife since Thursday morning. On Thursday morning I spoke to the milkman. My letters are crap.

I play, appropriately, BEGIN. With the N on the little pink star. Twenty-two points.I watch my wife's smug expression as she rearranges her letters. Clack, clack, clack. I hate her. If she wasn't around, I'd be doing something interesting right now. I'd be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I'd be starring in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. I'd be sailing the Vendee Globe on a 60-foot clipper called the New Horizons - I don't know, but I'd be doing something. She plays JINXED, with the J on a double-letter score. 30 points. She's beating me already. Maybe I should kill her. If only I had a D, then I could play MURDER. That would be a sign. That would be permission. I start chewing on my U. It's a bad habit, I know. All the letters are frayed. I play WARMER for 22 points, mainly so I can keep chewing on my U. As I'm picking new letters from the bag, I find myself thinking - the letters will tell me what to do. If they spell out KILL, or STAB, or her name, or anything, I'll do it right now. I'll finish her off. My rack spells MIHZPA. Plus the U in my mouth. Damn.

The heat of the sun is pushing at me through the window. I can hear buzzing insects outside. I hope they're not bees. My cousin Harold swallowed a bee when he was nine, his throat swelled up and he died. I hope that if they are bees, they fly into my wife's throat. She plays SWEATIER, using all her letters. 24 points plus a 50 point bonus. If it wasn't too hot to move I would strangle her right now. I am getting sweatier. It needs to rain, to clear the air. As soon as that thought crosses my mind, I find a good word. HUMID on a double-word score, using the D of JINXED. The U makes a little splash of saliva when I put it down. Another 22 points. I hope she has lousy letters. She tells me she has lousy letters. For some reason, I hate her more. She plays FAN, with the F on a double-letter, and gets up to fill the kettle and turn on the air conditioning.

It's the hottest day for ten years and my wife is turning on the kettle. This is why I hate my wife. I play ZAPS, with the Z doubled, and she gets a static shock off the air conditioning unit. I find this remarkably satisfying.
She sits back down with a heavy sigh and starts fiddling with her letters again. Clack clack. Clack clack. I feel a terrible rage build up inside me. Some inner poison slowly spreading through my limbs, and when it gets to my fingertips I am going to jump out of my chair, spilling the Scrabble tiles over the floor, and I am going to start hitting her again and again and again. The rage gets to my fingertips and passes. My heart is beating. I'm sweating. I think my face actually twitches. Then I sigh, deeply, and sit back into my chair. The kettle starts whistling. As the whistle builds it makes me feel hotter.She plays READY on a double-word for 18 points, then goes to pour herself a cup of tea. No I do not want one.

I steal a blank tile from the letter bag when she's not looking, and throw back a V from my rack. She gives me a suspicious look. She sits back down with her cup of tea, making a cup-ring on the table, as I play an 8-letter word: CHEATING, using the A of READY. 64 points, including the 50-point bonus, which means I'm beating her now. She asks me if I cheated. I really, really hate her. She plays IGNORE on the triple-word for 21 points. The score is 153 to her, 155 to me. The steam rising from her cup of tea makes me feel hotter. I try to make murderous words with the letters on my rack, but the best I can do is SLEEP. My wife sleeps all the time. She slept through an argument our next-door neighbours had that resulted in a broken door, a smashed TV and a Teletubby Lala doll with all the stuffing coming out. And then she b****** at me for being moody the next day from lack of sleep. If only there was some way for me to get rid of her.

I spot a chance to use all my letters. EXPLODES, using the X of JINXED. 72 points. That'll show her.
As I put the last letter down, there is a deafening bang and the air conditioning unit fails. My heart is racing, but not from the shock of the bang. I don't believe it - but it can't be a coincidence. The letters made it happen. I played the word EXPLODES, and it happened - the air conditioning unit exploded. And before, I played the word CHEATING when I cheated. And ZAP when my wife got the electric shock. The words are coming true. The letters are choosing their future. The whole game is - JINXED.

My wife plays SIGN, with the N on a triple-letter, for 10 points. I have to test this. I have to play something and see if it happens. Something unlikely, to prove that the letters are making it happen. My rack is ABQYFWE. That doesn't leave me with a lot of options. I start frantically chewing on the B. I play FLY, using the L of EXPLODES. I sit back in my chair and close my eyes, waiting for the sensation of rising up from my chair. Waiting to fly. Stupid. I open my eyes, and there's a fly. An insect, buzzing around above the Scrabble board, surfing the thermals from the tepid cup of tea. That proves nothing. The fly could have been there anyway. I need to play something unambiguous. Something that cannot be misinterpreted. Something absolute and final. Something terminal. Something murderous.My wife plays CAUTION, using a blank tile for the N. 18 points. My rack is AQWEUK, plus the B in my mouth. I am awed by the power of the letters, and frustrated that I cannot wield it. Maybe I should cheat again, and pick out the letters I need to spell SLASH or SLAY.

Then it hits me. The perfect word. A powerful, dangerous, terrible word. I play QUAKE for 19 points.
I wonder if the strength of the quake will be proportionate to how many points it scored. I can feel the trembling energy of potential in my veins. I am commanding fate. I am manipulating destiny. My wife plays DEATH for 34 points, just as the room starts to shake. I gasp with surprise and vindication - and the B that I was chewing on gets lodged in my throat. I try to cough. My face goes red, then blue. My throat swells. I draw blood clawing at my neck. The earthquake builds to a climax.

I fall to the floor. My wife just sits there, watching.
HOBNAIL by Crystal Arbogast

Fannie Poteet sat cross-legged on her Uncle John's front porch; her favorite rag doll clutched under one arm. The late afternoon sun shone through the leaves of the giant oak tree, casting its flickering light on the cabin. This golden motion of light entranced the child and she sat with her face turned upward, as if hypnotized. The steady hum of conversation flowed from inside of the cabin.

"Ellen, I'm sure happy that you came to church with us today. Why don't you spend the night? It's getting awfully late and it will be dark before you make it home."

"I'll be fine Sally," replied Fannie's mother. "Anyhow, you know how Lige is about his supper. I left plenty for him and the boys on the back of the stove, but he'll want Fannie and me home. Besides, he'll want to hear if Sam Bosworth's wife managed to drag him into church."

The laughter that followed her mother's statement broke the child's musings and she stood up, pulled her dress over the protruding petticoat, and stepped inside.

"Get your shawl Fannie. When the sun goes down, it'll get chilly."

As the little girl went to the chair by the fireplace to retrieve her wrap, her uncle came in from the back with a lantern. "You'll need this Ellen. The wick is new and I've filled it up for you." "I appreciate it Johnny," Ellen said. "I'll have Lige bring it back when he goes to town next week."

Ellen kissed her younger brother good-bye and hugged Sally gently. Patting her sister-in-law on her swollen belly, she said," I'll be back at the end of the month. Don't be lifting anything heavy. If that queasy feeling keeps bothering you, brew some of that mint tea I left in the kitchen. Lord knows I've never seen a baby keep its mammy so sick as much as this one has. It's a boy for sure."

Upon hearing this, Fannie frowned. She was the youngest in her family, and the only girl. After living with four brothers, she had prayed fervently to God every night for Him to let her aunt have a girl. The only other comfort she had was the pretty rag doll that her mother had made for her. Tucking the doll under her left arm and gathering the shawl with the same hand, she stood waiting patiently. Aunt Sally kissed her lightly on the cheek and squeezed Fannie gently. "If I have a girl, I hope that she will be as sweet as you," her aunt whispered. Uncle John patted her on the head and said, "Bye Punkin. When that old momma cat has her kittens, I'll give you the pick of the litter." This brought a smile to Fannie's face and swept away the darkening thoughts of boys.

Ellen secured her own shawl about her shoulders and tossing one side around and over again, picked up the lantern, which had already been lit. Taking Fannie's right hand, the pair proceeded on the three-mile trek back home. Heavy rains during the last week had left the dirt road virtually impassable for anyone on foot. Ellen and her daughter would return home the way they had come, by following the railroad track. The track was about one half mile above the road. It wound and wound around the mountains and through the valleys carrying the coal and lumber, which had been harvested from the land. Once on the track, they proceeded in the direction of their own home. Ellen began to tell Fannie about the trains and all of the distant places they went to. The little girl loved hearing her mother's stories of all the big cities far away. She had been to town only a few times and had never traveled outside of Wise County. Fannie remembered her papa talking about his brother Jack.

Uncle Jack had left the county, as well as the state of Virginia. He was in a faraway place called Cuba, fighting for a man called Roosevelt. She wondered what kind of place Cuba was, and if it was anything like home. The sun's last rays were sinking behind the tree-studded mountains. Shadows rose ominously from the dense woods on both sides of the track. Rustling sounds from the brush caused Fannie to jump, but her mother's soothing voice calmed her fears."It's all right Child; just foxes and possums." A hoot owl's mournful cry floated out of the encroaching darkness and Fannie tightened her grip on her mother's hand.

Finally, night enveloped the landscape, and all that could be seen was the warm glow of the lantern and the shadow of the figures behind it. It was a moonless night, and the faint glow of a few stars faded in between the moving clouds. Fannie tripped over the chunks of gravel scattered between the ties and Ellen realized that her daughter was tired. "We'll rest awhile child. My guess is that we have less than a mile to go." Ellen set the lantern down and the weary travelers attempted to get comfortable sitting on the rail.

"Mammy, it's so scary in the dark. Will God watch over us and protect us?" "Yes, Fannie. Remember what that new young preacher said in church today. The Good Lord is always with you, and when you need His strength, call out His name. Better still, do what I do."

"What's that mammy?"

"Well," Ellen said, stroking her daughter's hair," I sing one of my favorite hymns."

While contemplating her mother's advice, Fannie was distracted by a sound. The sound came from the direction they had traveled from, and the girl's eyes peered into the ink like darkness. It was very faint, but unlike the other noises she had grown used to along the way. The slow methodic sound was someone walking, and coming in their direction.

"Mammy, do you hear that?"

"Hear what child?"

Fannie moved closer to her mother and said, "It's somebody else coming!"

Ellen gave her daughter a comforting hug and replied," You're just imagining things Fannie. We've rested enough. Let's get on home. Your papa will be worried." Ellen picked up the lantern, took Fannie's hand, and the two resumed their journey. After a while, the sound that had unnerved the little girl began again. This time the steps were more distinct, and definitely closer. The distant ringing of heavy boots echoed in the dark.

"Mammy, I hear it again!"

"Hush child."

Ellen swung the lantern around. "See, there's nothing there."

Fannie secured the grip on her mother's hand and clutched her rag doll tightly. The hoot owl continued its call in the distance, and the night breeze rustled the leaves in the trees. "The air sure smells like rain," said Ellen. "The wind is picking up a mite too. We'll be home soon, little girl. Yonder is the last bend." Fannie found comfort in her mother's voice, but in the darkness behind them, the steps rang louder. It was the sound of boots, heavy hobnail boots.

"Mammy, it's getting closer!"

Ellen swung the lantern around again and said, "Child, there's nothing out there. Tell you what; let's sing "Precious Lord". Fannie joined in with her mother, but her voice quivered with fear as the heavy steps came closer and closer. She couldn't understand why her mother seemed oblivious to the sound. Ellen's singing grew louder, and up ahead the warm glow of light from their own home glimmered down the side and through the trees. A dog barking in the distance brought the singing to an abrupt end.

"See child, we're almost home. Tinker will be running up to meet us. Big old Tinker. He's chased mountain lions before. He'll see us safely home."

"Let's hurry then Mammy. Can't you hear? It's closer and I'm scared. Let's run!"

"All right child, but see, I'm telling you there's nothing there."

Ellen made another sweep around with the lantern and as they proceeded she cried out, "Here Tinker! Come on boy!" The dog raced up the path leading to the track and the two nearly collided with him as they stepped down on the familiar trail to home.

"Ellen, is that you?"

Fannie's heart filled with joy as her father's voice rang out of the darkness.

"Yes Lige. I'm sorry we're so late. I'm afraid I walked a bit fast for this child. She's worn out."

Elijah picked up his daughter and carried her the rest of the way home. Once inside of the cabin, Ellen helped Fannie undress and gently tucked her in bed. The comforting sounds of her parents' voices drifted from the kitchen. Even the snores of her brothers in the back made her smile and be thankful that she and her mother were safe and sound. Before closing her eyes, her mother's voice rang in her ears.

"Lige, I heard the steps. I didn't want to frighten the child. I kept singing and swinging the lantern around and telling her there was nothing to be afraid of. But Lige, just before we got off the tracks, I turned the lantern around one last time. That's when I saw what was following us. I saw the figure of a man. A man without a head!"
THE UNPREDICTED by Raihana Nadhira

Please Raihana. Please. Don't suffocate me. I really, really need that air, the air of your beautiful soul. Wake up. Wake up. And let me breathe.
Well, you seemed to be curious of me, do you? Don't be Raihana. Don't look at me with that so-shocked big eyes of yours because I'm here already! I'm here! I know that you've been expecting me, I guess I just have to come early and meet you. Ha-ha! Look at you! So helpless, so insecure, so dumbfounded.. and yet, you've grown so fast, so fast indeed. You've grown taller! My, such a beautiful girl! No more Raihana that I used to met years ago, huh? What? What's that? You've been the same alright! Ha-ha! Shut that big mouth up honey! I don't give a well heck to whatever you're saying now, see? I came for a reason. You need me now. Look at you! You've cried for me, isn't that right baby? That's right. That's right. I don't want to stay any longer either. But what I want is that you listen to me. Yes, that's right. Just listen and do what I'm gonna tell you and then I'll leave you in peace. Yes honey, in peace indeed.

This is all your fault!! There's no way turning back, isn't there? Why? Why? Why me Raihana? Why me? I've been living in your shoes long enough! That smelly shoes of laziness, of lack of discipline, of lousyness, of whatever things that aren't right! I'm bored okay? I've got my own life! I've got my own future! You've changed a lot, yes, changed Raihana! I agree with her. She was all the way right! For the past 4 years and 2 months, all I could feel was exasperation, no, that's true, that I've learned a lot with you in those years, and honestly, I had fun too with you and your friends. But they are not the problem. You are! You are the problem! This is true that you've learned many many valuable and imperative things of your life throughout those years but some part of you. I don't know, they seemed to be not in the right place. I really want you back Raihana. The true you. I know she's still there somewhere. I know it. Please Raihana, please. Wake up. Wake up and let me breathe. Let me. Let me.

So you wanted peace huh? You wanted your peace now is it? That's good. You've learned to understand your situation now. One thing that I just got to tell you. One thing so that that girl won't suffer because of you!
You have to go back. Yes you heard me! Stand up and go back Raihana! Go back! Go back alright! YOU! You have to go back. Where to honey? Can't you remember at all? The slightest memory? Can't you remember that the times when you were younger and adulterated, if that word is suitable, ... can't you remember? Yes? So what is it? What is it that you remembered my child? And STOP CRYING LIKE A DAMN BABY! That's right. Speak to me. Speak to me clearly. Don't mumble. Speak. Speak.

Speak Raihana. Speak. Come on girl! I know that you wanted it too. I know that you missed those precious memories badly. I know that you are willing to let yourself into that. Into the page of lost years. The page inside the book of your life that you've once let it opened and tear it to million pieces. And now, she gave you the power Raihana. The power to call back those teared pieces. Those magically bautiful pieces of your life. And that is when you were twelve Raihana. Yes, when you were in year 6. That girl Raihana. That 5 feet 5 inches tall girl that you have forgotten. Yes, you've seen her before. In the mirror remember? Yes. That girl Raihana. That girl. Now wake up. Wake up Raihana.

STOP! STOP! STOP SHOUTING AT ME LIKE I'M SOME KIND OF ANIMAL! I KNEW I WAS WRONG! I knew. I knew B. I knew. Now, stop! Yes, H. Yes, I want to let myself into it. I want to let myself calling the missing pieces. Those, precious pieces. Yes. I want to be that girl back That twelve year old girl. I missed her. I missed her H, I really do. Badly H. Badly. You've awaken me H. I'm awake now. You can breathe now H. You can breathe. And B, you were right. I called you sometimes, occasionally for some reason that I wasn't sure about. But now you had came and honestly, I was a bit scared, petrified of the way you just treated me. But I understand now why you did that. No hard feelings, really. Thank you. Thank you both of you. I realized now that I need to be inside that twelve year old girl. She was very special now I've remembered. So special to me now. And look. I've called those precious pieces. That page that I've torned is now back! Look! O Allah I'm so happy! I'm so happy now. Really. I'm so happy!. Lord, let me be in this way, forever. Guide me O Allah. Guide me. And forgive me Allah. No one forgive sins but You. And thank You Lord, for giving me two most wonderful thing in my life; a Brain and a Heart. Thank You Allah. Thank You. Now I'M AWAKE!

A CINDERELLA STORY (2008) by Raihana Nadhira
CINDERELLA. She's a dreamer.
My story begins with my character as Cinderella, a typical fair lady who lives with a wonderful aunt that provides the family with full of TLC- tender,loving ,care, and a very very close friend that could not be compare with, Giselle. One day, Cinderella met a very handsome looking young man, riding his rich golden-brown horse with his group of his own kind- vicomte de chagney, and notice that the man wasn't just any ordinary man, he is the son of a ruler of all kingdom, rich with many lands and horses. He has a lovely, strong and distinctive looking face, the owner of a very brawny sculpter-build figure, he is a prince.
 I don't know why I just observe his existence 'till that day one of his royal associates stuttered playfully which to me, foolishly- "Hey, his name is Edward!" to me and my friend, Giselle, to which of course we know him, he is the son of the royal highness, or maybe just me, knowing him, since Giselle is still new in this place. But, I didn't know at that time that the words were the exact explanation for my anxiety on the answer – who's his lucky maiden? I had fall in love with him on that day. And of course, the feelings grow fonder and fonder. I was too stubborn to find out, feeling so proud and dreamily dreaming that he is into me.
However, his mind wasn't into me, clearly I'm out of question. I wasn't the lucky maiden. It felts like a papercut on my heart, it hurts badly, leaving it throbbing in pain after acknowledge that Prince Edward is in love with Giselle, my close friend, instead of me. Why would he fall for me? I'd ask myself in front of the mirror with my cheeks wet. Because I'd thought so! His smiles, his replies towards my letters, his advices on my major educational test, the words he used in the letters he'd replied, I thought he care about me, I thought I'm his lucky maiden, that could take care of his heart, I thought I could be his One. However, his heart, he let it be taken care by Giselle.
Truly I'd been envious with her, they write letters to each other behind people's acknowledgement, Prince Edward's associates have told me for the hundreths of time he fonds Giselle, he likes her, so much. The feedbacks were too much for me to handle and I'd thought to start over, my love life I mean. I know no gents could compare with him, no, not his power and wealthiness, but his beautiful soul inside him. I know that I would miss him, badly. But, I couldn't possibly compare with my close friend, she isn't any ordinary woman I can say. She has her own kind of things, beautiful things. His last word about the truth of this drama has come to an end, I felt a knife stabbing my heart, when he confessed he loves Giselle. I asked him of course and after a few hesitation, the words spluttered out from his lips. I 'd truly wish I shouldn't have asked that question. I was being so foolishly anxious. Even though I still love him right now but my love story has put to an end. Cinderella let go of Prince Charming, Prince Edward to her beloved friend, Giselle. And they live happily ever after.
(Note that my posts with the year '2008' were originally 'published' at my MySpace back in year 2008)

-still under construction ^^"-

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