Finally, I’ve gotten around to continuing this personal recount. Read part one here.
The phone rang, and I would sooner chew on broken glass than pick up the call. Cindy rarely called anymore, so when her name registered on the screen, I was sure that having a serious talk would be an understatement. I answered the phone.
“What the fuck, is that bitch, doing sitting on your lap.” It wasn’t a question. Also, there’s something about broken sentences that amplifies the perception of anger, especially when coupled with a seething calm.
“What lap? What are you talking about? We’re just friends!” I said in a tone somewhere between a comforting snigger and a cry for help.
“Don’t lie to me. And what the fuck, are you doing, hugging her.”
“Okay, fine. Fine. Babe, we need to talk.”
Everytime I’ve written a piece in retrospect, I’ve always been the jilted lover. It was never my fault. If you ever had any smidgeon of respect for me, now would be a good time to close this tab and go back to browsing Facebook, because this right here, is where I screwed up.
So after my broken hand fiasco, I had to fly back to Malaysia for financial and legal reasons. My employer wanted my worker’s permit back, and the cost of the metal plates in Singapore alone could’ve paid for the whole operation back home. I Skyped her when I got home—this was during the MSN Messenger days, and BBM was seen as a lifehack to free texting—only to learn that there are some things you just can’t fix when you’re apart.
“So today, my boss turned off the lights when I was alone in the office, and then he tried to make a move on me,” she said.
“You know I think you should stop working for that asshole. After all, didn’t you want to pursue a career in banking?”
“I know right? He has a wife, so why the hell does he keep dropping hints on me?”
“You need to distance yourself from him.”
“I know,” she replied. “What do you think I’m doing? You think I’m going to fuck him?”
“No, babe. Listen. Does he know you have a boyfriend?”
“No. But my friend sent flowers to the office today. It was from my ‘lover’. I hope my boss backs off soon.”
“Alex. You remember that guy we met at Butter Factory?”
“Who the fuck’s Alex? Why’s he sending you flowers?”
“Because I told him about what my boss was doing, and he thought he’d help.”
“Oh, and I can’t help?”
“Come on,” she said. “You? Send flowers? What, from Malaysia?”
I ended the call early on the pretence that I needed to rest for my operation. Truth was, I just didn’t feel like sulking on Skype. It wasn’t as if we could cuddle and make up after that. I spent the whole night wondering what’s to become of me, and this carried on into the next day when I checked into the hospital. I was glazing over the Discovery channel when my first visitor knocked on the door. It was Len.
“Hey,” she smiled. “Can I come in?”
I flourished her in with my unbroken hand.
“Welcome to my crib,” I pointed to my bed, “and this is where the magic happens.”
She laughed and strode in. To say that we hit it off on our first encounter would be a huge understatement. We clicked that first night we met in Zouk, and we knew it. We just somehow ended up with partners in Singapore, and whenever she was visiting him, she’d come over to the salon to say hi, and that’d turn into hours of talking and time melting away without me noticing.
“You look terrible!” she said.
“Why thanks! I wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for you.”
She laughed again, and boy did she have a great laugh, and thus we began right where we left off. I was hospitalised for three nights, and she was there throughout. Whatever Len had in warmth, Cindy mirrored with her chill. We haven’t spoken since the Skype session, and I wondered if I should be worried about this Alex guy. I sent her an SMS asking if she’d be free to Skype that night.
“I can’t. I’ll be out with my friends,” came the reply.
“Okay. Message me when you’re back?”
“You know, I can’t go on acting like everything’s going to be fine. It’s so expensive. It costs so much just to keep in touch. This. This isn’t sustainable.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I don’t know. Message you tomorrow. Bye.”
She was right. That short text conversation with her probably cost RM3, and I didn’t even know what I’d be doing for money in the coming months.
“Hey there, stranger.”
I jerked back to reality. Len was at the door again. It was seven o’clock, and she probably came over right after work.
“Wanna go downstairs for some coffee?”
It was easy being with Len, especially when punctuated by the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. On my birthday, I kept checking my phone to see if Cindy’d text me, but in the end, it was Len that called. She took me out to a birthday bash that she secretly organised with my friends. Seriously, I didn’t know it was coming, and I didn’t have to act surprised when I saw everyone there.
Flooded with mixed feelings of happiness and disappointment, I drank the night away, and in the process, I broke the physical barrier with Len. We took a group photo, and she might’ve sat on my lap, and I might’ve hugged her, but for that small minute of defiance, I would come to regret the way I handled it all.
The next day, Len tells me she broke up with her boyfriend, which solidified our non-verbal agreement of wanting to spend more time with each other. Yet somewhere in the back of my mind, I wasn’t ready to let Cindy go.
So I rode the wave of events, and started giving up on Cindy by circumstance more than choice. That was until the next weekend when I received a text: “Pick me up from Sunway later. I’m on the bus right now. Surprise! Happy belated birthday!”
In my stupor, I picked her up, and she filled me in on why she wasn’t able to afford keeping in touch. It was because she was saving up to buy me my first ever smartphone, the Blackberry Bold, which we could then use to BBM when she gets hers as well. I figuratively smacked myself upside the head while I tried to salvage an awkward weekend, and all that time, Len was trying to reach me. I couldn’t answer of course.
“Who keeps calling you all day?” Cindy would ask, and I’d just chalk it off to my concerned friends wishing me a speedy recovery.
After Cindy left, I had to weigh my decisions. Do I choose something that comes so naturally to me, or do I try and make the best of what I have with Cindy? I wasn’t left with much time to reflect, because I swear that Cindy probably called the moment she stepped foot in Singapore.
“I saw the pics on Adeline’s profile. Are you together with that bitch?”
Of course, I forgot we shared like 20 mutual friends.
“No, I’m not. Look. I know I did wro—”
“Just shut up. Don’t. Even. Say anything. We’re over. Go talk to that bitch if you want, because we’re over.”
“Wait, you gotta lis—” and she hung up. I was still trying to figure out a damage control programme when the phone rang again. It was Len.
“Hello?” I said.
“Finally. I guess now I know where you’ve been all weekend. Cindy called. She asked if we were together.”
I cringed so hard that my brain shrank into the back of my throat.
“I thought we were hitting it off,” she said. “I guess not.” I swear I heard the slightest quaver. If there was a sound for disappointment, that’s what it’d be like.
“I guess I should stop calling you then,” I said.
“Yeah,” she whispered. “Goodbye.”
And there it was. My biggest fuckup as far as my dating history goes. Some of you probably think I deserved it, and you might be right. I spent the following days wallowing in my mistakes, and questioning who I was as a human being. The Singaporean romance is far from over, however, as Cindy called me a few weeks down the road.
And like the idiot that I was, I found myself on the bus headed towards Singapore, with my happiness and future resting quite literally, in the palm of my hand.
(To be continued …)