Lemon tarts. Valencia orange tarts. Oregano bread. Cinnamon roll. Apple crostata. Pear crostata. Aglio olio spaghetti. Pesto spaghetti. Chicken curry. Fish head curry. Fried rice. Tom yam. Beef soup. Lemon tart again, but a little less tangy. Orange tart. Baking and cooking are my current obsession. I think I will be a good husband with these self taught skills.
You don't want to invite me to any football match. I don't know jack about football. But I'll invite you to my place where you yes yes yes please chop the cilantro for me while I saute the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Pass me the salt, please. Thank you. We will wait for the spaghetti cooked al dente (I don't know what that means, anyway). I will pretentiously plate the pesto spaghetti on a big round white plate like Jamie Oliver does. We will sit facing each at a small table with dried flower stalks placed in an empty glass jar in the middle. We will see each other's face showered with incandescent light that colours everything warm. We will let the television back there blare whatever appears on screen so that we could sense extra company. We will talk about almost anything in particular except football. We'll go deep into our nation's politics and their clowns. We will exchange stale jokes. We'll wash the dishes together then close the night with a cup of my watered down version of affogato and a slice of lemon tart. Bitter and sweet, just like our future will be.
He is still alive and kickin'. I wrote about him some time ago. A reader had probably mistaken my Mat Jeng and the one from his memories. He is surely not dead as I found a Facebook page dedicated to bringing news related with Dungun published a photo of Mat Jeng seen pushing a baby stroller yesterday. The caption under the photo says, in a thick Terengganuspeak:
"legend dungun...dari admin skoloh lg mmg takut ke mat jeng ni..tp kdang2 sakit ati tgk budok2 brahi sangat khianat ke dia..padahal dia dok cara ke orang pun..mat jeng mat jeng..aku eluk mu kang aku iyum mungg..hehe ayat femes dia"
"This is Dungun's legendary figure. Ever since my (the page admin) school days I was very afraid of Mat Jeng but sometimes my heartstrings were torn by children who loved making fool out of him whenever he never brings problem to anybody.
O Mat Jeng.
'Aku eluk mu kang aku iyum mung (I'll hug you, I'll kiss you)'.
Hehe that is his words known by everybody."
The comment section was swarmed with colourful remarks and childhood memories about Mat Jeng from Dungun netizens. Someone says the bicuk (swollen flesh) on this forehead has gone. Another observant Mat Jeng's researcher said Mat Jeng should have been given Innovation Award for his creativity in adding accessories to his stroller. It seems like everybody loves him.
Mother was very fond of her that she couldn't wait any longer to tell me about it the very same day she coincidentally met her at a nearby car service centre they visited to recently. I said I didn't want to get to know this young woman I barely know but she said "who knows someday it might work out." I hold my ground that I would never dream about mustering up courage to date this some random girl Mother found somewhere down the street.
Mother pictured her as a petite, fair, polite, demure lass coming from a state up north of Terengganu. She shuffled daily between a rental house and her white-collar profession at a nearby general hospital in Dungun. Her genuine smile has stolen Mother's soul by the time Mother walked over to the entrance. From then on, she seeped through Mother's heart with her impeccable manners as she spoke.
Their encounter had sparked quite a merry conversation leading to some awkward interrogation. She blushingly said "no man has ever shown interest to me" as henna painted ornaments on her hand beckoned Mother's curiosity. She got that from her role as clamp bride at her cousin's wedding recently.
"You can befriend my son!" Mother spouted the unthinkable. Well, that was what Mother told me.
"Jange lah gitu, malu lah sayo..." she said, demurely in her thick Kelantanese accent. I feel embarrased of myself.
"He too has no special friend," Mother told her about my life. Almost true. "Just like you, he's just got himself a job." Nope, not true. I have been sitting behind desk for two years now whereas she was just six months. Mother told me that she told her later that I just got a job after graduating from a local university and she responded, "malu lah sayo..." and "sayo blaja setakak STP jah..." A self esteem-issue probably: I am an university graduate and she was a village damsel who had just finished high-school. Mother said it's alright with that. Neither of us in the family sees oneself from such worldly perspectives.
Mother told me that the girl's mother is a widow. Mother also is but Father died whereas hers found separation a better way to true happiness. It happened when she was still small. Mother also didn't forget to mention that the girl's car registration number was very similar to mine. Such an interesting coincidence. She admitted no young woman has ever attracted her but this one named Intan is probably one of a kind. Mother thought she might be the one. It was a mother's hunch.
Intan said "mitok maaf lah mok cik (I'm sorry, aunty)."
It was a body roll effect of Intan's Perodua Viva as she was taking a sharp corner. Mother was slightly pushed left against the door panel. Mother said it's okay. A few minutes later, Intan dropped Mother by the entrance gate of our house. Mother's car was left at the service centre.
Mother told me about this hours later. She gave me Intan's phone number. She told me to let the heart do the decision. I cannot give my word because I was already drawn to someone else before Mother met Intan.
Winter is approaching in northern hemisphere. Cold winds parade southwestward from the land of Great Wall. So we have downpour over here almost every day. After winter, it is spring. Angsana would bloom resplendent yellow flowers and fall to the ground whenever new ones come out. There would be a layer of floral carpet – bright yellow and gold with brown patches here and there. It is a beautiful sight.
There is a man with hint of bags under his eyes. His bushy eye brows under the broad greasy forehead of his oblong skull are charcoal black. It must be hard for an artist to sketch every detail of his eyes only by looking at a photograph of his. His slightly sunken eyes always keep lights away. When facing the sun, one man could see the irides are heterochromias. One is like a copper nickel coin bleached in vinegar and the other one is darker than his skin. Stubble below and above his dry lips. He examines his face, brushes some thin strands which stand higher than other sparse remaining hair like damaged springs coming out of an old bed. He turns his neck a little to left and right to let light paint a clearer image of the slightly coarse skin of his cheeks. Two tiny moles at the right side. He pinches a small pimple at his temple, presses the blood and pus smeared fingertip against the dusty mirror, touching his image - touching me. Time moves on oh so swift. It has been twenty five years since this very day. Growing old is a must.