Taken from Annes blog......
The bedside window was covered in frost. It was probably the coldest winter Dublin has seen in years. In the dark room lay a figure, not on the single bed adorning the room but on the floor. The heater was broken so Abdul was wrapped in 4 layers of sweaters. He was crying so hard that it got harder and harder for him to breathe. It all seemed a blur to him, what had just happened.
A year ago...
“Abdul! Abdul! There’s a letter for you in the mail”. at the sound of his mother calling, Abdul jumped up from the sofa where he was sitting and rushed to the yard. it was a sunny day. as soon as he stepped out of the house, abdul was blinded by the hot sun. it took him about 2 minutes to finally rip open the envelope and reveal the contents of the letter. Abdul's hands were trembling. all his effort for years in the IB program lead to this defining moment in his life. did he get the scolarship to the university of his choice in ireland? a single bead of tear rolled down his cheek, and puan Aminah knew it was the happiest day in Abdul's life.
It was late. The dark sky was littered with stars and out of courtesy the moon dimmed its gleam. Only the rustling of leaves and the croaking of a nearby frog filled the otherwise deafening silence. Raju got off his old Honda motorcycle. The day’s newspapers stacked on his seat were threatening to tumble. Quickly, he took the stack into pak Ali’s store. It was the same as usual. The store smelled of coffee and pak ali was sitting at his cashier’s desk. As Raju walked in, he glanced towards the clock on the wall. He was late. “Ali, maaflah lambat, anak saya sakit tadi. Bawak dia jumpa doktor”, raju said. Raju knew all too well of his oldest client’s particular habit of expecting punctuality. Instead, he was greeted with a quiet smile. Pak ali was never the one to be generous with smiles, so raju knew that it was an occasion. Pak ali told raju all about how his son was offered a scholarship to the best university in Ireland to study medicine. The two of them sat down and had coffee, Pak ali gleaming with pride and raju was happy for his friend. “abdul jadi doctor, doktor abdul”, raju said to himself as he hugged pak ali. Clearly raju couldn’t contain his excitement. Pak ali just nodded, but deep inside, he was repeating those very words again and again ready to burst with pride, as would any father.
The Chicken Rice Restaurant near Abdul’s house was busy as it has always been every time he and his family went there for dinner. The place was not too big with black and white tables and chairs neatly arranged along both ends of the space. On the walls hung pictures of menus, mainly a variety of chicken and oriental cuisine. His family was a regular customer and the owner was a good friend of Pak Ali whom decided that dinner was on the house that night to celebrate the good news. The floor was a little slippery as Abdul made his way from the toilet and sat down to continue eating his dinner. After finishing the Chicken soup, Abdul started telling his dad about the party he was planning to throw. Pak Ali listened for the whole 5minutes of Abdul’s grand idea, including the never-ending guest list that Abdul made. Pak Ali no longer had the appetite to eat or finish his last piece of roasted chicken.
The business at the store wasn’t going so well, plus last month, burglars broke into their home stealing RM5000 worth of items including cash and Puan Aminah’s jewellery that she had inherited for generations. Pak Ali was saving up to get Abdul a surprise gift, a new laptop, he even cut out a photo of the new model of Sony laptop and had put it behind the cashier’s desk in the store to motivate himself into working harder.
Abdul had no idea about the unfortunate event.
A few months ago..
It was the most nerve wrecking few weeks Abdul had experienced. The final papers were tougher than Abdul expected, at times he could see some of his classmates crying indignantly after finishing their paper. Abdul had requested his father to come by and bring a smart set of black blazer, a tie, a pair of grey slacks and a light blue shirt to match Abdul’s light brown hair and give a confident look for the interview that was taking place in the next week. While waiting for his father in the gazebo near his dormitory, Abdul could see other families arriving. Cars came and went, filling the usually empty parking space on every other day. It was a hot day and Abdul began to get nervous thinking about his interviews when he saw Pak Ali pulling in from the main entrance.
“Abah, what do you think about my party? Can I please have this party? My friends are already asking me when and where they should come.” Abdul asked his father. His face was full of hopes, half smiling. The restaurant was almost empty. The workers had started to put away chairs and tables while cleaning the floor. Most of the customers had left and only Abdul’s family and some other people were still there. Abdul could see his father’s face immediately turned pale as he took out his favourite dark brown cotton handkerchief to wipe his face, which he usually does whenever he gets nervous after getting a bad news. Abdul felt confused at first. He earned this. He had been staying up late at night revising, over and over, getting 100% prepared. He had his family picture tucked in his wallet at all times to give him courage and perseverance to deal with the tasks at hand.
Abdul was devastated. His father’s long silence turned his smile into a frown. Abdul couldn’t believe it, he felt somehow betrayed by his father. All this while, he tried to be grateful even when his father couldn’t give him things such as an ipod, playstation, PSP or vacations to Disneyland or Europe like most of his other friends. Abdul looked down and stared at his reflection on the polished marble floor, trying to hide his upset face. His visions became blurry, tears started to build up. He felt hot despite the cool night air lingering the atmosphere. Dinner ended with no laughter and everyone was silent except for his little sister who was too young to understand anything. Pak Ali and Puan Aminah looked at each other. Their faces showed obvious sign of guilt. Puan Aminah put her hands on her son’s shoulder to comfort him but she was shrugged off, harshly.
At midnight the house was already dark and quiet. The only source of light came from his night lamp while Abdul carefully check his list and tidily arranged everything in and finally zipping shut his luggage. Abdul was prepared. There were two big bags neatly positioned at the corner of his bedroom beside the door. They were filled with winter coats, boots and some curry spices that Puan Aminah had forced him to take along. It was a chaotic day, Abdul didn’t get any rest. He was all over town getting everything he needed. Finally, lying down on his bed in his pyjamas, he knew it was the last night he would spend sleeping in this house. There was a knock on the door. He could hear his father asking if he was still awake. Abdul pretended to sleep, he wasn’t ready to confront his father about feeling upset the other day. The door creaked open, he heard a few footsteps, paused and then turned back around with a small sigh.
Abdul just reached his new home in Dublin. Despite the bright sun, the air was crisp and cold, it was the beginning of winter. He had two other housemates sharing this small but warm apartment. The view from his window was a wide grass lawn overlooking a small lake. He could see people jogging and walking their dogs around the lake, some families were having a picnic. It does remind him of his family. But he still couldn’t get his mind to forget about his unfulfilled last request. Months passed by and Abdul grew further apart from his family. He rarely calls them, usually giving excuses on how busy he is.
Back home, Pak Ali was sitting uncomfortably at a tour agency. The air-conditioned room and cosy seats didn’t help him relax, so did the estimate for his travel. As he stared blankly at the porcelain ceiling, he made up his mind about really wanting to go visit Abdul. He had given it a lot of thought.
Abdul finally gathered the strength to stand up. His whole body felt weak and he felt queasy. He walked over to his desk and opened the bottom drawer. There was a picture of his family covered in a layer of dust. But that was not what he was looking for. Under it was an unopened envelope. Abdul stared at it for a few seconds before opening it. Tears were streaming down his face. There was a letter;
Dear abdul, my son.
First of all, abah would like to apologize for not being able to give you what you wanted. Im very sorry my son. Its not that i didn’t want to, i just couldn’t afford it. I love you abdul, more than anything on god’s earth. Please forgive abah. I really miss you. I would do anything, even beg and steal for you abdul. I hope you will forgive this weak old man for disappointing you. I have decided to come to Dublin with your mother to visit you. I am working very hard and will still do as long as i am able to provide for you. Me and your mother can’t wait to see you. Only god knows how much we have missed you. I love you abdul and so does your mother. I will inform you of our plans when it is confirmed. Take care my son.
Abah and mak.
Abdul wept. The feeling of dread filled his soul. There was nothing he could do now. Nothing at all. He clutched his knees to his chest and sat on the floor for hours. What had happened just a short time ago filled his head. It was replaying over and over again in his mind; there was a tap on the door. His friend, samad passed him a cell phone. He heard his mother, crying. His father was stabbed to death in his store late that night. He was working overtime. Abdul knew deep in his heart that his father was working to support him and at the thought of that, at the thought of that it was his fault, abdul knew he could never forgive himself.2 years has passed since that fateful night. Abdul still wished he had realized sooner. He still blames himself. But he is trying hard to make things right. At least his mother is laughing again and as for Abdul, lets say there is no better son a mother could ask for.
P/S: Annes, Im touched!
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