Macam Mana Nak Cari Jodoh di Malaysia?
900k ahli di sana sedang mengunggu anda di Baitul Jannah. Mungkin.. jodoh awak ada sana.
"Tanya Sama Hati", Day Zero.
Although I am currently juggling through a thick paper for my post-graduate roll at a university I have found to be so fond of for the past few years, I am more convinced that art is my true calling.
Nights spent in front of my good old Acer laptop, writing a full length play about a kampong girl and her dreams of being a big star in New York, finally paid off. It was the cliché follow your dreams plotline in which I injected a tremendous amount of classical Malay and modern New York, to give off P. Ramlee vibe without losing the Tyra Banks touch, but I daresay I am much too proud of it when the Powerhouse Youth Theatre fell in love with my manuscript and decided to put it onstage for a week. I spent two weeks perfecting the musical numbers with the musicians before the two-months rehearsal begins. Being occupied with the production has been doing very well to my own emotional self – it kept me from being lonely and ended up sighing in the shower in the middle of the night like I would usually do.
And all the hard work that followed after lead to where I am today – backstage of Dewan Jubli Permata, with the rest of my cast members and production team. I was anxious about how the show would turn up, but being advertised by one of our sponsors, Boho, a seemingly famous ‘brand’ representing local youth of the state – I even have one of their limited edition t-shirts in one size smaller because my size was sold out, so you know how well-known the ‘brand’ is to the locals – should fill the whole auditorium.
‘Tanya Sama Hati’ is what the play was called, in respect to a classical song by Tan Sri P. Ramlee, which was also the second last song in this musical.
At the end of the full dress rehearsal, I settled on one of the front seats in the auditorium, with my phone in my hand. I had sent out an invitation to my thesis supervisor and her husband, hoping they would show up tomorrow. Dr Fatimah was surprised when she was told that I was doing a play, but she wasn’t that surprised either, because I always had my short stories printed out and scattered all around my desk whenever she came into my office!
“You nervous?” Chang asked, with two beautifully decorated, chocolate covered doughnuts on two pieces of paper napkin in both his hands. He sat down next to me, offering one of those deliciously-looking pastry piece.
The look of it, itself, prompted my stomach to grumble, and it reminded me of the dinner that I’ve skipped hours ago, and my multivitamins which I had abandoned inside my handbag in one of those backstage rooms with everyone else’s belongings. “Thanks. Where did you get this?”
“Azzira and Debbie went out to get some standby props just now, thought they’d buy us doughnuts on the way.”
“I haven’t eaten since lunch. Gah,” I said to myself, crossing my legs and readjusted my long skirt with one free hand. That was my trademark ever since I moved to this city, to a new life, supposedly – long skirts, with different eccentric shoes everyday. I was well-known among my faculty students for my how ‘hipster’ my shoes were, though I find them not ‘hipster’ at all if I would compare to other several streetstylers around the city of Boho Jahru.
Chang was clearly hungry – he stayed back when everyone else went out for an early dinner, too – when he finished the doughnut faster than I decided where and which angle should I bite so I don’t stain my teeth with chocolate. Though so, he did so politely, he didn’t look like a glutton while at it. Chang was always so polite, and it was a good complement to his appearance too. He was a good looking Chinese guy, a little taller than me, with good, matured choices of clothing and a kept face. Unlike most Chinese guys I’ve ever befriended with, he never abandoned his hygiene, he smells good all the time, and that was clear when he wiped his mouth clean before he crumpled his paper napkin and tucked it into one of his front pockets to be discarded later.
Our focus went back onto the messy stage – not props-messy, but people-messy – as our production members and cast members joked away, seemingly having fun carrying those props back to the storage room. “It’s already good, you don’t have to worry about them screwing up,” Chang reassured. Chang was one of my co-composers of a few musical numbers in the play.
“Rihanna’s still a bit pitchy,” I commented.
“Rihanna’s fine. And if she’s being pitchy, Aizat could cover her up.”
“Still pitchy to me.” I sounded cold.
“Okay, Devonne.” He sighed, but kept his voice low. The audience’s front row seat was sufficiently distant from the stage, enough to give us a little privacy in our conversation – convenient, because if I need to speak to anyone onstage, I should only have to raise my voice a little higher and the echoes would do its work – but with the noises they made onstage while tidying up, we don’t even have to try keeping our voices down to poret. “You’ve been a little cold to Rihanna ever since we started this production. Ever since you met her, actually. What’s going on?”
I wrinkled my forehead, turning to him. Wrapping my hands around the shawl in my lap, I narrowed an eye dramatically. “Was I that obvious?”
“Well, no, not really. But that’s what I’ve noticed.”
I have no words to put it, how uncomfortable I was with her presence. We both turned back our heads facing the stage, studying the actress as she laughed herself off with the other crewmembers – or at least, I was the one ‘studying’ her. An aspiring, talented, stage actress, I admit, but a voice not that fit for a musical production, somewhere stamina needs to be high and maintained to be moving about while keeping in pitch. The red, waist-length straight hair – very unnatural-looking – and the grey-coloured contact lenses that made her look more or less like a Chinadoll, a term I use so often these days only to mention one person, herself, without her knowing. Thin, fair legs – unlike mine, fairly ugly hidden under my long skirt all the time – she had used to captivate audiences in her costumes I purposely have assigned her, and when not performing, she puts on high-waisted shorts and floral skirts cut through her mid-thigh, almost every time. She was so different than me, so much different, and yet, she was out there, being appreciated by people that I wanted to be appreciated by. “She has something that I don’t have.”
Which leads to Chang shifting glances between her and me, studying the both of us almost so obviously. “You both are different, yes. She’s younger than you by how much… Five years? Yes. She’s an actress, you’re the mastermind behind the play she’s participating in. Between you and I, you’re much better than her. I wonder what is it that you possibly want that she has.”
But nobody in the production team has interfered in being kepoh with my personal life, before, apart from the knowledge that I am a student and a tutor at Malaysian Institute of Technology, and that I am from another state, and of course, the stories of my life from no more than a few months before. I’m not planning to tell them either, but Chang was the closest to the topic, tonight.
Maybe I do need to explain to someone how uncomfortable I am having Rihanna around, and how I disagreed with her being casted into the play but there was nothing I could do when everyone regards her as ‘a drop of sunshine’, which made me even more disgusted, since I used to be called that.
I turned my head sideways, towards Chang, with my voice lowered. “Do you really want to know?”
“Can you keep a secret?”
And I sighed, realizing there would be no turning back after this. A broken piece of history will be revealed and recalled into my supposedly new life, as I closed my eyes, making sure that I’m ready to tell the full story to this handsome co-composer of mine. My mouth uttered three simple words, in which he would understand instantly or otherwise, that would be another story. “She has Adam.”