'So?' Ash asked Elle with a certain edge in her voice.
"What? I'm not his sister,' Elle replied a pitch higher. The preparation of the wedding has certainly taken a toll on her. Elle no longer cared of how she looked these days as she claimed she was too busy trying to dodge every single person in her family from trying to talk to her about her wedding plans. It amused Ash to see Elle with panda-eyes and a hunched shoulder. The last time Elle looked like this was during her final exams during their final year in the university.
'OK fine. I'm so sorry to disturb you by the way but it was so curious. He seems to like kids but refused to carry the little darling.'
'Yeah, I'm puzzled by it too,' both friends stared up ahead, past the sheves and the cashier. They were in fact sitting in one of the department stores as both Elle and Taufik were getting all their preparations ready. And Elle had to drag Ash out because apparently, Elle hated shopping. Taufik on the other hand, doesn't mind shopping at all. It was really a match made in heaven. Elle nearly backed out from the outing if Elle didn't manage to get hold of her. Elle was tired having to go jump from one store to another to get their essentials together. One perfume doesn't differ from another if it have to take her to visit 20 different outlets. This happened when Taufik tried to bring her round to get the perfume set for their 'hantaran'.
'Where's Taufik?' Elle asked in a rather tired voice.
'Am here!' Taufik answered from behind a shelf. The guy was trying on shoes.
'So, what do you say now?' Elle asked and took of her shoes before sitting cross-legged to face Ash.
'Ish! Elle! We're in a shop. Put on your sandals back,' Ash's eyes wandered around the store.
'Oh my God. You're such a bore,' Elle resorted to putting on her sandals back on, looking extremely reluctant.
'I say ... see how it goes. It's too early to say anything and its very unfair to judge him you know?' Ash sipped on her iced coffee.
'Do it for Sarah,' Aunt Mariah said to his son, Munir.
Munir sat with the spoon resting on his plate. Still puffy-eyed with red eyes, he looked at Sara who was watching Pingu on a Saturday morning. The little girl stared open-mouthed at her favorite cartoon. A brown bear sat on her lap and she patted the stuffed toy one or twice. It was still early and Sara definitely look very cute in her blue pyjamas. An apple to Munir's eye.
Aunt Mariah sat in front of Munir. She loved her son. Of course she was sorry that Munir lost his beloved wife so young. But it's time to move on and at the rate that Munir is going right now, there's a huge chance that Sara will grow up without really knowing the meaning of parents. He woke up early, left home early and come back really late. And they only bond during weekends. However, Aunt Mariah doesn't have the heart to tell him that he had to be home more often.
Munir stared down at his plates; trying to find courage to say 'I don't think so, mak' between the deliciously cooked rice. But he failed to see any. One never really got over about their partner's demise. And Munir hardly forgotten about Aida. It was merely two years. Sometimes, he might got up in the middle of the night to the smell of Aida's favorite perfume. Then again, he remembered that it was just a fragment of his memories. It was painful and that led to long hours at work, tons of meetings during the weekends and holidays in sabah and Sarawak. That was the only part of Malaysia both of them never travelled to. He was just uncomfortable of the idea of going to the places they used to go to.
Munir sighed,'OK mak. Just for you.' Aunt Mariah smiled and her eyes shone. Her mind works like a spinning wheel.
' We'll see you on Friday then. Maybe at the Secret Recipe outlet that we met you last time?'
Ash can only wonder why she agreed with Aunt Mariah. Well, she did miss Sara afterall. Ash can really remember how Sara cuddled up to her and flashed her cute eyes. Ash really had to refrain herself from pinching Sara's chubby cheeks.
Sitting at the Secret Recipe, Ash stirred her coffee. She knew she was early but that was because she brought a brown moose for the little angel. The soft toy now sat in a box beside her. Ash really can't wait to see Sara hugging the toy.
A squeky sound reverberated in the shop. Ash tried to look cool and turned as slowly as possible. She faced the little bundle of joy as well as the ever-smiling face of Aunt Mariah.
"Auntie" Ash got up and shook hands with the lady. She looked flustered and tried to put Sarah's things on the chair. Ash took Sarah into her hands and started to play with her. Not until a loud
Ash startled with fear. It was... was it? She was sure she was not dreaming and that scared her most of all.
Trying to appear as cool as possible, Ash turned around slowly to face the owner of the voice.
"Hi..." She tried to smile sweetly. Of all the places in the world, it has to be here, her heart said.
"Hi, you baggage-stealer" Munir greeted Ash with a betraying smile.
Ash felt blood rushing up to her head. It was totally accidental and she can't believe this grumpy old man was still over reacting. The baggage was not even his.
Aunt Mariah looked at both of them. Ouh dear, is this the starting of another nuclear war?