03 June 2012

The Night When It All Ends

This night is the night. THE NIGHT. I am not going to contain anything; I am not going to restrain myself from saying it anymore. This is it.

I waited for him in front of our favourite diner in my blue winter coat and my matching turquoise hijab. They said that a girl wearing a hijab in a foreign country is the girl with the strongest identity; strongest sense of home. I minced at the thought. I doubt that it’s the truth. For me it was just another generalisation or stereotype people have. It’s not necessarily true.

It was past 9 o’clock, and the chill from the freezing winter breeze sends shivers down my spine. The crowd is dispersing away; the streets are getting lonelier. I am not entirely sure if it’s the right time to say it, but I knew it’s the right thing to say. The clock tower with the colourful lights was still flooding the place with its rays. I’m getting more nervous with each passing second.

I always knew what I had done was so wrong, but I did never think twice back then. I was young and wild. And plus, I have repented since. But sins never failed to put that one last punch in your face to remind you of how wrong you were in living life. At least that was my thought when I saw Hakimi from across the street.
He waved his hand; a wide grin on his face now turned into a full-fledged smile. And that smile reminded me of how much I loved him. I almost choked myself with sadness when he ran from across the street. I held back my tears.

“Assalamualaikum, Malina. How are you? Dah lama tunggu?” he asked me in his usual boy-next-door tone. “Waalaikummussalam. Fine. Baru sampai!” I forced myself to sound as cheerful as I could, for I knew at the end of the night, two hearts are going to be broken.

He wore his usual winter coat, with his usual blue jeans. I always teased him on how predictable and boring he is, how he could never surprise me in any ways. And I realised now that I’m going to miss him for that.

“Apa tunggu lagi. Masuk jom?”

“Ah, I forgot to tell you. I have eaten. Let’s just have a walk, shall we? Lepas tu kita grab some kebab ke tengah jalan?” I forced myself again, this time to smile.
“Anything is fine by me. Jomlah kita! I pun tak lapar pun!” and he smiled again. My heart skipped a beat. And we started to walk away from the diner.

“Ah Malina, you ingat tak housemate I orang Iran tu?”
“Ali Reza?”
“Yup. He’s going back to Iran next month. For good! So now he’s selling me his things. His MacBook yang baru 3 bulan pakai pun dia nak jual! Imagine that! And he asked me kalau-kalau you nak beli novel-novel dia. Dia tak larat nak bawak balik semua!” I can see Hakimi was unusually talkative tonight. I can’t help but feeling sorry for him.

“Ah I see. That’s a good suggestion. Tapi I tak rasa nak beli novel dialah. I pun tak larat dah nak baca novel-novel ni semua. Banyak sangat! By the way, dia dah habis belajar ke? Thought he still have another semester?”

“Eh, berapa kali dah another semester. Dah final dah la!”

We suddenly felt into a terrible, awkward silence. Hakimi must have thought that he said something wrong, because I could see his worried face. I didn’t feel like talking happy things with Hakimi tonight. So I stopped when we finally reached a bench.

“Hey, duduk dulu nak? I have things to say to you.” I suggested with a cold voice. “Sure.”
So there we were, sitting side by side. Only a few inches apart.

“Hey, you know how I always wanted to backpack worldwide after I graduate kan? Ingat tak I told you few times before yang I nak backpack dekat Europe, then Australia sebelum pergi India, and then balik Malaysia by road? Ingat tak?”

“Of course I do. Kenapa tiba-tiba you mention pulak? Wait, you missed one part. WE are backpacking together, not just you! After our akad nikah of course. When we are married. So kita honeymoon satu dunia sama-sama! That’s our dream!”

“Maybe I can never achieve that dream. Now, cut me off from that dream. I am not backpacking with you.” I didn’t even stop to gauge his reaction. I did not even see his face when I say it.

“ Hakimi, let’s just get straight to the point. I’m breaking up with you. And I no longer want to marry you...”
“What? But why? Why so sudden? I don’t understand!” Hakimi looked so perplexed and frustrated, his voice didn’t sound solid. I was ready for this moment. From the day I knew it.

We were getting married next summer break in Malaysia. It was just a few months away. But now that marriage is no longer possible.

“Hakimi, in my life, I did bad things that I was never proud of. Things too bad I’m ashamed to admit even to myself. And this hijab; this is just a disguise to cover the wrongdoings I have committed.” I spoke as calm as I could.

“Can’t we just go past your history? Malina, I am ready to accept you no matter who you are. When I said I want to marry you, I am ready to accept you for yourself. Your history, your bad deeds; your strengths; your weaknesses. I am ready for all that. I just want us to be together...”

“Hakimi, you tak faham. I have bigger issues than just my past. It’s my future!”

“Malina, kalau you dah ada orang lain, just say it straight to my face! Tak payah nak bagi alasan bodoh macam lembu! I pun ada otak nak fikir! Tak payah nak pura-pura macam it’s all your fault and pretend like you are the cause!”

I could not mutter any word for now my emotions had taken control over my whole body and thoughts. We went faster to a fight than I thought we would. I wasn’t ready. Hakimi can be short tempered at times. I was planning to take a step-by-step approach.

“Heh, so you mengaku ada orang lain? I dah agak, patutlah dua tiga minggu ni you’re giving me the cold shoulder! I tried to think positive, maybe sebab finals dah dekat you acting out! Tak sangka you’re such a bitch!”

It was a bad word. But I knew I am. Or at least I was.
“Malina I’m sorry. I, I didn’t mean it...”

Words had completely failed me. I did not respond, so the conversation almost died out. And I knew I was crying when I felt warm waters rolling down my cheeks. And maybe that’s why Hakimi did suddenly toning down his voice.

“Hakimi...” I called his name with a croaking voice. I mustered all my strength to say the last words.
“...I’m HIV positive...”

And I stood up, and ran away from Hakimi as fast as I could, sobbing uncontrollably. My chest was clogged with a heavy feeling that made breathing was thousand times harder than it is. I didn’t know if Hakimi was chasing after me, but I hoped he won’t.

Then I say it for a few more times in my head like echoes in a cave: “I’m HIV positive, I’m HIV positive, I’m HIV positive....”

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