Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Commoner's Short Story II: I'm Sorry, Lisa...

The silence in the cold, dark room was broken when my cell phone rang. Once, twice, then it ceased. The gleaming light from its screen had given me a sense of its whereabouts. "God, who could be calling me at 1.30 in the morning?", I grumbled. I checked on my cell phone out of curiosity. It read, "You have one missed call from Lisa". Annoyed by the disturbance, I shut the phone off, just to be sure, should anyone else dare to bother me again for the remainder of the night. I was already exhausted from the long day at work. The piling workload on my desk had kept me locked in my office up till about a couple of hours ago. I longed for my sleep, and so I decided to ignore the call. "I'll just call her back tomorrow or something", I half-heartedly pledged to myself. I chucked the cell phone inside the drawer of my desk and went back to bed.

The room was once again cold and dark. Accompanied by the quietness that surrounded me, and the starless sky visible through my window, the night seemed quite stagnant. The sole indication of time progression came from the clock itself, the ticking sound it made as the second hand stroked perpetually each second. I was lying on my bed, gazing upon the artificial stars that decorated my ceiling, agitated with my failed attempt to doze off. The phone call had kept me wide awake for what felt like an hour then. A tiny part of me grew curious about the possible reasons for the phone call. But knowing how random Lisa could be, she probably just called to rant on some insignificant stories about her friend's friends. She'd done that before, and it didn't surprise me one bit. Over the years of being best of friends, Lisa and I had grown to understand each other fairly deeply. So then I figured, she wouldn't mind if I call her the next day.

The next day I woke up late. It took me only a fraction of the time I usually do to get ready. I revved my classic red Miata all the way to the office, zipping in and out between lanes throughout the highway. I arrived half an hour later than usual, and I cursed the jammed alarm of my table clock for it. Little did I realize that it was actually a Saturday. And the people who'd normally show up for work on Saturdays wouldn't be around until an hour later. I only came to notice the fact when I saw the emptiness of the office. Feeling all stupid, I walked across the hall filled with unoccupied cubicles, and straight into my little office room at the far end. I rested myself on my oxford grey declinable chair, and contemplated on my plans for the day. The digital clock on the blue screen of my Dell laptop had told me that it was in fact, still early. "Maybe I should check on Lisa", I suddenly felt guilty for not calling her back last night. I tried calling her twice, but nobody answered on the the other end of the phone. " Maybe she's still sleeping", I thought at the time. I then went downstairs to the cafeteria to grab some breakfast.

It was already 6.30 in the evening, and I wasn't even half done with my clients' files that were beginning to cram my confined office space. "Great! I've dedicated half my weekend for what I unwillingly suffer every other day of the week", I said to the person who was staring back at me from the washing room mirror. Figured I needed to freshen up before I resume the marathon, nothing wakes my senses like ice cold water on my face. As I was striding back towards my room, my cell phone started to emit that annoying sound again. The caller ID showed an unfamiliar number. I picked up the call, and it was Lara, Lisa's mum. She was crying, heavily. The line wasn't clear. It was breaking up now and then, so I could hardly hear what she was saying. Her sobbing didn't help with the situation either. I could only make up a few words of what she was saying at the time. "Lisa"."My baby...". "Joe". I asked her to calm down, in a half shouting tone, as she could hardly hear what I was saying as well. Then I asked her where Lisa was. She told me, while still uttering that cry of despair.

My exhaust pipes were roaring as I stepped on the gas. Nineteen minutes was the only duration it took for me to get from my office to the hospital at the other side of the town. The old "SHMC" plaque that greeted me at the entrance of the building didn't seem quite as inviting at the time. I had a funny feeling in my stomach as I walked across the white hallway to get to the reception centre. The lady who was in charge had enlightened me on the whereabouts of Lisa, so I headed there immediately. As I arrived in front of the green door with the number "312" etched upon it, I paused for a while. I needed to get myself ready for whatever possible situation I was going to face once I walked into the room. I opened the door and saw Lisa on the bed, lying unconsciously, with bruises on her arms, and cuts on her lips and at the side of her forehead. Lara was still weeping hopelessly by her daughter's side. I stood motionless for a minute, seeing Lisa like that, it was all too much to absorb. Then I moved towards Lara and sat down beside her. I tried to calm her down. Slowly, she told me what had happened the night before.

Lisa's estranged step father, Joe, had come to their house drunk the night earlier. Joe had a bit of a problem with temper, even more amplified with his occasional problem with drinking. One of the reasons Lara and him had been living separately since a year back. That night he showed up on their doorsteps, and started kicking the door and rambling some gibberish while he was at it. Lara was still awake, so was Lisa. They were having a chat in the living room when it occurred. Lisa must've gotten a bit frightened, so she tried to call me. While she was waiting for my answer, Joe had managed to kick the door open. He had a big quarrel with Lara, so loud was all the shouting that some of the neighbours were awaken by it. He tried to drag Lara with him, to somewhere he wanted her to follow. But Lisa came in between them. Joe didn't hesitate, he grabbed Lisa by her hair violently and hit her on her face a few times. When she collapsed onto the floor he kicked her head and her stomach, relentlessly, while Lara was trying to pull him away from her daughter. Joe then realized Lisa was already unconscious from all the beatings that he heartlessly gave. He fled from the scene.

I grew very furious by the time Lara had come to the end of the story. And at the same time I was angry with myself, for refusing to be there for Lisa the night before. In a way, I felt that it was partly my fault that things had turned out this way. "Lara, just stay here with her alright? I'm going to sort out some things...", I told Lara. I budged from my seat and stormed out of the room. The next thing I know I was shifting away in my Miata towards Joe's place. Lisa had told me once where he lived. It was about quarter pass eight when I reached the brownish flat of his. I straight away climbed up the stairs to the fifth floor, since I had no intention of resorting to the sluggish elevator. The door that I kicked swung open, and Joe appeared shocked due to the sudden intrusion. I made him eat his own profanity when I threw the first jab on his face. He tried to put up a fight, but somehow in that demonic state I had outpowered him. The third blow to his temple had sent him down to the floor, leaving messy stains of red fluid all over. Even my clenched fist was smeared with the same fluid. I finally came to my senses when he begged me to stop, already cornered between the walls of his kitchen. "Don't you dare come near Lisa and her mother again! Or I swear this won't be the end of it...", I yelled at him. Then I turned away to leave.

I was awaken by the glaring rays of sunlight that had managed to penetrate through the window blinders. Lisa was lying on the hospital's bluish bed right beside me, still snugged under the blanket. I saw her open her eyes slowly. She was finally regaining her consciousness, so I thought. Moments later tears suddenly began to run down her cheeks. I sensed that she must've been in a lot of pain, all the trauma that she had to suffer. So I put my hand on hers, and I stroked her wavy hair gently. An honest gesture to show her how sorry I was for not being there when she needed me the most. She kept quiet, not a word uttered. "Maybe she just needs some time alone", I tried to convince myself. I realized that I was not in a position to bargain for her reply. "Everything's going to be fine", I promised her just before I left the room. But she ignored me altogether. I headed down, figured a walk would be good to regain my composure, after everything that had happened the night before. I was walking pass a newspaper stand down the road, when one of the newspaper's headlines caught my eye...


Monday, June 16th - A young girl's best friend was murdered when he tried to confront the stepfather for deliberately causing harm to her. The best friend, 25, was believed to have started the fight when he showed up on the suspect's apartment on Saturday evening, the 14th....... Evidence states that the victim was stabbed to death from behind with a kitchen knife...... Police are currently investigating on the whereabouts of the suspect.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Commoner's Short Story: A Goodbye with a Smile

It was a Saturday morning, and I was up early. I could hear the birds singing melodiously through my half opened window. The tangerine sun was just making an appearance in between those green hills, not too far away from my place. And the sky seemed unusually clear, a sign that it was going to be a sunny day ahead. As I was wiping the sleep from my eyes, still nailed to the bed, I heard a faint female voice calling my name from the other side of the door. The voice was barely audible, so I tried shutting off all of my other four senses in an attempt to affirm what I had heard. I couldn't. "That's weird", I murmured, convincing myself that it was just my imagination. I climbed off my bed and headed towards the door, just to check so that I could rest my conscience. No one was there when I opened the door.

I was lying on my bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, while trying to orchestrate my plans for the day. I could come up with none. The blue sky was declaring its presence slowly, and I could feel the gush of fresh air blowing into my room. "Maybe a breezy morning walk would be good for me", I said monologously. So after a quick bath I straight away put on a plain white t-shirt and a pair of bermuda shorts. I grabbed some small change I had left on my coffee table last night, for breakfast later I thought.

I decided to go through the park that day, since it would be a shorter route to the town. The grass was still covered with dew, and the asphalt was still damped from the downpour last night. It was still early, and I could only see three people around at the time. One guy who jogged pass by me, and two old ladies who were peacefully performing their tai chi routines less than a hundred yards away. I was walking pass a huge old oak tree midway through the park when I first realized that the sky had turned slightly greyish. Dark clouds were gathering, slowly but for certain, and I could sense a storm coming. "Someone's having a moodswing", I joked. So I made quick my pace heading towards the town's coffee shop, figuring I could just retire there with my breakfast if it should rain again.

As I was walking towards the park's exit I noticed one of my shoe laces came untied. I was attending to it, half kneeling, when someone tapped my shoulder. I looked up and saw a stranger with a familiar face. She had light brown eyes, flowing auburn hair, and the kind of mellow smile that just comforts you. "Jesse, is that you?", I found myself asking her. She gave me another smile. I haven't seen her in ages, since we were kids. I remember we used to play hide and seek in this very woods every summer holiday, when she would come visit and stay at her uncle's place, a stone's throw away from where I used to live with my parents. One summer she just stopped coming around, and I never saw her again after that. So enthusiastically I asked her what she was doing there, and she said something that sounded like "came back to sort out some things". I didn't pay much attention, I was just stunned. The odds of running into her there of all places, and then of all time.

The sky was still grey, but it didn't threaten to rain somehow. So I invited Jesse to sit on the bench next to us. Maybe do some ten years worth of catching up in a few minutes. Breakfast can wait, I thought. We talked, actually I was doing most of the talking since Jesse didn't have much to say. She reluctantly answered my every question with a word or two the most, constantly avoiding to elaborate further. She was more interested to know my end of the story, like how I've been doing, whether I still live at the same place, and stuffs like that. I found it strange that she appeared hesitant whenever I tried to turn the topic around. And somehow I was puzzled with the way she looked. Even with the beautiful smile crafted on her face she couldn't hide the sorrow that was radiating from within. "Maybe she's just worried about some problems at the moment", my mind was telling me.

It was about 9.30 a.m. when the first drop of rain finally came down. Our conversation was interrupted, but Jesse said she had to go anyhow. I invited her for coffee, but she declined the offer politely, asserting the fact that she really had to go somewhere. Before I left, I asked her, "Can I see you again tomorrow?". She just gave me a smile and said her goodbye. We then went off our separate ways. I sprinted my way to the town's coffee shop for shelter. And I arrived thanking God that I was not soaked yet. A set of toasts and two cups of coffee indulged in while waiting for the rain to stop. I went back home right after.

The next morning I woke up excited with the idea that I might see Jesse again that day. I didn't have the uncle's house phone number, so I thought I'd just show up on his doorsteps and ask for Jesse. After a bath and some light grooming, I headed to her uncle's house near where I used to live. This time I brought my umbrella with me, just in case. I strolled down the road with a smile planted on my face, and a happy tune of whistling to go with. As I arrived at the vintage off-white porch of her uncle's house, I found my heart suddenly pounding in a vigorous manner. I knocked on the door three times before a man that looked like her uncle, if I remember correctly, answered with a smile. I politely asked for Jesse. Suddenly his expression changed, somewhat full of grief then.

I sat on the pavement, overwhelmed with all sorts of feelings. Shocked, sad, scared, and puzzled all at the same time. What that man said kept ringing in my ears. "I'm sorry son, she died. Nine years ago. Yesterday. They found her body in the park. She wanted to go see her friend. So she went one morning, but never came back.", the man told me while trying to hide his sorrow, but still visible through his eyes. I threw up next to the tree nearby, the feelings were too overwhelming to digest. Then I headed back home, suddenly finding tears running down my cheeks.

*story based on the essay written for my SPM paper*

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Hari ini kau bergelar teman,
Suka-duka dan gelak-ketawa kita bersama,
Tapi esok lusa bila diriku dalam kesusahan,
Adakah kau akan berada di sisiku untuk mengongsinya?

You know, it's really sad when you start to decipher the true natures of your friends. The ones who'd be the firsts to be there when times are good, and the lasts when times are bad. The ones who'd take advantage of you as they see fit. The ones who only think about themselves instead of being considerate towards what you have to endure. And the ones who are simply ungrateful of all the things you've done for them.

Maybe the issue has always been sincerity. It has got to be either that, or their definition of friendship is thoroughly different from mine. Sometimes I get upset when they abuse the friendship, but most of the time I'm just sad over the way things have turned out to be. But it's fine. They will always be what they are, and I will always be what I am. The friend who'll always wear a smile on his face, even when his threshold is scraped... Because on this end, it grew out of sincerity.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Be Thy Own Master

Sometimes I keep asking myself, why do we let other people define our happiness? Shouldn't we be the judge of that? And why do we always want more, when we don't even appreciate what we already have in the first place? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I haven't been guilty of all that. I'm just trying to understand the psychological side of it, since all of my 23 years of life I've been having to succumb to this dogma created by the world around me.

Life has always been about, first and foremost, surviving. But somewhere along the way we start developing greed. Greed for power, greed for money, greed for status... You name it! Our culture tells us that all of those define happiness. And we, being the idiots that we are, believe that each and every step we take to satisfy our greed will take us a step closer to a content and meaningful life. Trust me when I say, greed is a hunger that can never be satisfied...

Maybe it's a wise idea to take a step back once in a while. God gave us the gift of hindsight for one good reason among many. To look back and to learn. Let us decorrupt our beliefs and redefine our own happiness, and our own needs to get there. Learn to appreciate the simple things in life. Say, meeting someone new... or fool around with your little siblings... or have a chat over coffee with an old friend... Those little perks which would almost likely cost nothing, are most of the time overlooked, but they are also the things that make us smile sincerely...

Sometimes the goals in life would bring us through deceiving paths. One day you're happy with what you've achieved, and the next day it never seems to be enough. To have goals is synonymous to having a purpose, like my previous post. It is what drives us. For all I know, it's a great thing to have goals. Just be mindful not to let others deprave you in such a way that it deters what your heart originally set out to achieve. Be your own master...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Was it just me...

Was it just me, or was it you too,
The sky neither seems grey nor does it blue,
Now I am split into two,
To be, or not to be, into you.

Was it just me, or was it also you,
Maybe it was just me who'd seen the clues,
The smile, the glances, and the gestures too,
So was it still just me, or was it also you.

Was it just me, it probably was,
How could my offers ever measure up to hers,
The sight of her I'd probably miss,
Maybe it was just a moment, a moment of bliss.