May we all learn…
Simple morning. I feel sorry for him for having to agree to my way this time around. He is not a morning person, but I abhor clumpy traffic, always longing to be out of the hubbub before it started so I mercilessly asked him to be here early. Not that I am an antisocial; only that I have too little time to waste. Not in this coming fifteen day. It is the high season. Too much to attend to, too many details to deal with. Given chance I would have spent half a day just looking at people. They are blissful contradicting, a beautiful and fascination distraction. Very colourful, as colourful as the little girls rushing about to their morning dance class that crossed my path on the platform’s step earlier. The beautiful colours of their costume were freshly imprinted at the back of my mind, but that also reminded me of the day to come in fifteen cycles of twenty-four hours.
I react very badly at such thought. Friends told me I was being dramatic. A simple overreact comment from. But it was the truth. The thought made my hair stand. The circle of metal around my finger felt tighter and cold sweat appearing for no apparent reason all over me. When he first made that promise nearly twelve months ago I thought it wasn’t happening. That it was a dream; not the sweet kind, but more of a nightmare. While my parents thanked God for this turn of event, I shivered. My aunts razed about how ‘tis high time already’. About how my time will soon run out. And I gave the right answer when I was asked.
I do not know what prompted me to accept. By God, I do not know. And I am still not sure if it was the right thing to do. If all this is real. Or whether it’ll happen. Or will it not happen?
But I am standing here in front of this shop. The shutter was half open. I glanced at my watch, and blushed and shivered for no reason. Cold ran all over my body, but my head and face was steaming red. The culprit wasn’t the temperature. It is just because the watch was a gift from him. The first ever. If it was only of an atmospheric temperature, I would soon fell prey to flu. I am the weakest at abrupt temperature change, and I will be out for a week or so. Not convenient, not at all! Even more so when staying idle will kill me dead at first shot.
So I decided to heed the sweet aroma of coffee brewing. Ah. A café. The buns were still steaming when the waitress plate them onto the shelves. The scones looked promising; they have just replenished the baguette. I remembered their Seri Kaya. They were heavenly. So I made a beeline there. I thought of a cup of coffee, a slice of morning bread. The café sat opposite of the shop I have scheduled to raid once it opens so I should not miss anything. Already the clock snapped in place at nine-thirty. Maybe another thirty minute. I felt silly for not checking the opening time. I choose the seat not far from the window. Morning sunlight is like a drug to me. I bask guiltlessly under their glorious shines, thanking God for His amazing Creation. My coffee came moments later; I noted how chirpy the waitress was. She smiled with a dimple. I thought she was cute. She asked if I’d like some toast and I said yes and received a generous slice of bread with a serving of butter and a tray of condiment. They were heavenly.
As I said, I hated lying idle. So I flipped out my mighty sidekick, skimming through emails and things. Then a text arrived. It made a loud beep which echoed very badly in the cafe, for I was with only another couple in the quiet café at an odd hour for someone to be in a shopping complex. They giggled, and I nodded, gestured at them, told them sorry. I saw the sender. It was him. Couldn’t help but smile sheepishly, blood rushing to my face again when the metal band on my finger caught the sunray and glimmered as I slid my finger here and there on the surface of my sidekick. My head was as hot as the coffee I ordered, probably hotter then, but my eyes were strangely clear.
‘Be there in half an hour. Slept badly last night, woke up late. Sorry D,’
I could only smile.
I have lived with this for the past, say, six years. I will survive another. So I rescheduled. I should visit the target shop later. I remembered needing a good pair of shoe. The mall housed one of my favourite shops, so I should check it later, if he decided to run later than half an hour. He often does. I used to feel irritated, but as people say, you mellow down as you gain wisdom. I did. And I made peace with plenty of things around me. Life had been easier since.
So I rescheduled. A shoe shop. Maybe a dress or two. I wasn’t needed until later that afternoon. A little date with the dress-maker. A brief appointment with a client, and picking up goods. Nothing pressing or urgent today, so I shall make it an easy trip. But I pray very hard for the roads to be clear today, despite knowing that it won’t probably come true. Took my time sipping the coffee, replying emails. Poor Prissy had probably refreshed her browser hundreds of time waiting for my email to arrive, so I replied her. That took a good half an hour, but he still did not arrive. The shop opened officially but he had not arrived. I did not want to go there alone, or go there twice, so I decided to walk around and make some stops here and there. Left the café and scoured the halls. It was ten-thirty then. And eleven came by, he texted again.
‘Train delayed. No idea why is it so packed on Saturday morning. Sorry again. Almost there,’
Ah. That’ll probably take another half an hour. I walked about. Found a pair of earrings I like a bought them. While waiting for change, another text came in.
‘Here. Walking from DT now, meet you there.’
There would have to be that shop I was expected at two hours ago. DT is precisely seven-hundred meter from here so he will need another fifteen minutes or so. Plus another five minutes to figure out where this shop is located, because he is such a klutz when it comes to shopping mall navigation. In all, perhaps fifteen minutes or so until arrival. Thanking the stall attendant, I walked straight, but very leisurely toward our point of meeting. Stopped to look at a very beautiful bridal dress, and arrived at the promised point of meeting exactly after fifteen minutes. Still not there. Did not want to go in but our jeweller recognized me and began his usual frantic hello. I love how enthusiastic he is, at any given time of our meetings and thought; maybe I should just wait here. He will be here. He will, eventually. In the meantime I should just let Mr. Jeweller entertain me with his ideas and stories and all that. At least as designers we can somewhat understand each other that much even though our discipline differ. Mr. Jeweller knew how he will always run late for casual appointments, especially with the ones he is familiar with, so kept me busy his way. Mr. Jeweller told me that he will eventually arrive.
But I did not.
There are always turning points in a person’s life which changes everything. Some experienced it once. Other twice. The other none. That day, was the darkest point in my entire life.
The day which changed my whole life. My entire being.
It took a single very precious gem to teach me the importance of time. Or the amount of respect it deserves. Or to respect other’s time. I am always getting into trouble regarding time. Or how I treat time. Or how shallow my respect was for time. I have next to none. I have near zero respect for my time. Or even other people’s time.
And that was what took her away from me.
I remembered that day vividly. The promise was nine-thirty in front of Balwick J. Fineries. She made me promise to be on time. All along our relationship I always wondered, how on earth did a complete slack like myself ended up with someone as punctual as her. Or how did she put up with me. Or why did she said yes when she was asked nearly a year ago. Or how did she manage to find so much patience dealing with my timeless tardiness. Or managed to be at peace with anything I do, or the mistakes I committed. She must have been irked zillion of time. She had nagged several times. She had advised me. She had motivated me. But I was a complete block head. Thinking I was lucky. Thinking it would be okay. Mother said I should take her as example and learn to be punctual. Or at least to have a little respect of other’s time even if I did not want to honor mine. Six-years worth of advice and example was useless on me. I never changed.
God gave me one sore reminder.
It was that day.
My last text was; ‘Here. Walking from DT now, meet you there.’ I had to get off at DT for fear of not being able to get off at the next stop. The coach was packed beyond explanation, wordlessly hot and ridiculously noisy. To avoid the annoyance I took the stop and walked. It should not have been more than fifteen minutes, even if I should lose my way in the crazy maze of a shopping complex, but I dilly-dallied. I came across an old friend. Aziz. Stopped for a short chat. Well. It may seem short, but not really. I bid him goodbye only after twenty-minutes before weaving my way around the ridiculous mass of people. My mind was spinning with guesses. What’ll her reaction be? What will she say to me? I could only grin.
I made my way there. Balwick J. Fineries. Balwick J. Fineries. Right. Lower-ground, Tecoma Walk. I remembered the entrance. She loved the walk. Beautifully framed, she said. That helped enormously in assisting my helplessness when it comes to finding my way in a shopping mall. I made my way toward the outlet guided by my memory.
And her smile.
And I arrived at the walk.
But was blocked, midway, by crowds of curious folks. People were murmuring. I heard speculations. I saw splashes of familiar coloured-light. Red. Blue. I heard people screaming. Describing things. I heard sirens. My blood rushed to my ear as my instinct stirred.
I excused myself. Made my way through the crowd, arriving at the border. A policeman barricaded the path. Frontlines were photographers. They were high, shutters clicking, flash blinking, eager to catch a glimpse of the scene. What scene? I did not know. It was riot and me against the wall of excited photographers felt impossible. I heard one reporter mentioning; ‘Broad-daylight robbery, two victim shot. Robbers still on chase,’ to a rolling camera.
I pictured Balwick J. Fineries.
I remembered that they, for an odd reason, they were the only jeweller tucked by this walk, which opens directly to the street along the mall. My calculation mentioned that only jewellers are worth targeting during broad daylight. If she had been there…
That was the moment when my sanity began, very slowly, trickling away, drained by anxiety.
I asked the police to describe the victims.
One of them mentioned of a girl in white dress and long black hair.
That was the moment I lost it all. I broke through the human barricade, dashed toward the direction of Balwick J. Fineries. The signboard stood proud but the atmosphere chaotic. There were broken glass. Polices. Paramedics. Stretches. Ambulance parked in odd position. Curious onlookers. My being there was unneeded. I knew because they tried to capture me but I effortlessly slipped through them. Nothing else was on my mind then. And when I entered the outlet, I saw a man kneeling on the floor. He had on what seemed to be a beautifully pressed shirt and a vest, but they were stained red. Slender hands protruded from his figure, a pair of legs folded neatly next to him. The figure was hidden, but my world shattered.
The colour drained.
And that redness on his sleeves. On the carpet.
When I saw the ring on one of the limp fingers, nothing else mattered.
Nothing else mattered.
That was how I learned to respect time. My time. Everyone’s time. Everything’s time. But it was too late.
It happened so fast. I only remembered seeing her standing in front of the shop. She looked lonely, somewhat sad. I guess Awan was late again. I haven’t known her for long and our acquaintance was not deep or too much either. I was only their jeweller, appointed, luckily, to tailor their wedding rings. We met on several occasion, but I could safely describe that in these few meeting I decidedly trace out how special this lady is, thus was always very glad to see her (and Awan, her fiance of course). That was why I invited her in. Their appointment should have taken place roughly an hour earlier, but since the next customer cancelled theirs, I was happy to entertain her instead.
But it was the wrong thing to do.
It happened so fast, so, so fast that I have no words to describe it. Or when did it start. Or how did it begin. Only the end. Only the end was vivid. It was painted red. So red that it etched a sad wall of permanent nightmare that would definitely haunt me forever.
They came in. Five of them. Masked from the beginning. How did we miss them? There was a man acting as the leader. He took her as hostage, perhaps because she was the only customer in the premise and because she was a woman. I froze, completely, not knowing what to do. Pathetic, wasn’t it? One of the staff was near the security button, but was too scared to push it when the leader announced that he’ll shoot her if anyone dared to call the police, or ring the button. They had guns. One each. No kidding. The other four began smashing the display and took all the jewels. Then there was that crown displayed in a tempered glass. They tried to take it, but faced difficulty. The leader was distracted, and she took this chance to perform a series of kick that immobilized her kidnapper. She lunged toward the counter and screamed for the staff to press the button. Which she did, and set off the alarm. This must have angered the robbers, that the only thing I could register next was one of them screaming in utter anger followed by the sound of gunshot.
And she fell. Liquid rose on her chest. Onto the floor. The robbers cursed her before they fled. Called her bitch. They left alone the crown. I pulled myself and rushed to her. Took her into my arms. Removed my jacket and attempted to stop the rose. Her white dress red. Stained. Deep red. Her eyes half closed. There was blood by her lips, her breathing haggard. The staffs were in hysteria, the public now gathered. A man tried to help, said he was a doctor but it was useless. But she mustered her all. her final all. She muttered;
‘Please give my…to him.’
And she went away.
I never knew in full what her last words were, but I knew I should not have approached her earlier. By doing so, I have simply snuffed her life, and thus end her time.
Only fifteen days before they become one.
And I took her away.
Motiveless piece. Unchecked, unreleased, probably meaningless. It’ll probably embarrass me in time to come but guilty conscience of not finishing any short pieces this year alone is bigger than my ego. So here you have it. As usual, comments are appreciated.
And I have no name for this girl either. Strange, eh?