The compound was starting to be filled with people.
It's the eve of their big day together. The tents had been erected to serve as dining space for more than 2500 guests that were invited. The wedding stage where the wedded couple show will be held had been decorated and prepared completely. The caterers had arrived and were setting their preparations while the grooming team was bringing in boxes of garments and makeups and whatnot into the house. At the living room of the house there were a group of women, young and old and in the middle, sitting together to prepare the house gifts meant to be given as compliments to attending guests the next day. Their chattering and laughters shook the whole residential area.
Everyone was happy and excited, but not the bride.
"Anna," she said. "Are you alright?"
Anna was sitting at the edge of the brand new king-size bed that was beautifully decorated with silk sheets and silk mattresses and pillow cases. The bride room was extremely extravagant and royal, full with roses and potpourri in bowls. Next to the bed were boxes of shoes and garments made from various types of expensive fabrics and leather. On the makeup table were an extensive box of makeups and two glass cases of diamonds, white gold and other precious metal jeweleries. And in front of her was this lady she called Dita.
"I'm just nervous, Dita," she said. "Oh God I'm wreck."
"Oh calm down, you," said Dita as she took the box of makeups and started to prepare the bride. She took a big brush a started to apply a decent amount of foundation powder on Anna's face. "You'll be alright," she continued.
"Don't you think it's a bit odd, Dita?"
"Well what is, honey."
"I mean," Anna replied, "I mean it has only been two months since we, me and him, bumped into each other again after I left him many years ago. And now we're getting married. Doesn't that sound odd to you?"
"I mean, I left him, Dita. I left him for men I thought were cool and such. I left him because I thought I wanted to be free from his advices and protections. I disappointed him so badly. Did you know he was hospitalized from what I did, Dita?"
"He did? My God," replied Dita as she applied blushers on Anna's cheeks.
"He did. For like a month or something. He really loved me that much, Dita. He still would marry me nevertheless. Oh my God why didn't I see all those before."
"Hey, hey. Come on now. Don't cry, it'll ruin the makeup."
"Do you think we'll work things out, Dita?"
Dita turned around to her makeup box and again towards Anna.
"Of course darling," she said. "I'm sure things will be alright. He's a nice boy anyway."
* * *
It was just merely an hour or so before the ceremony was to be held.
He sat there on his sofa at his home. He was fully dressed now in traditional Malay male costume - a pair of Baju Melayu and Songket Samping with his black headgear. He looked calm and ready. In his hand there juggling a Zippo lighter. In his other hand was a pack of Winston Light. He took a stick and lit it up.
"Kill the smoke, boy," said Ronnie. "We're good to go."
"Oh God, will you?" he said. "I'm the one getting married here."
"Fine," replied Ronnie. He too lit a cigarette.
"So, Iz," Ronnie said. "Tell me why."
"Why her, why?"
"Oh come on boy," Ronnie said as he tapped his cigarette ash off into the ashtray. "Anna left and made an idiot out of you for years."
"Then why you're marrying her?"
He killed his cigarette, took another and lit it up.
"See, Ronnie," he said. "Love is one complicated thing."
"Not as complicated as we tried to bring you out from your cave of endless sorrows long before. The cave she kicked you into."
"I'm sorry, Ron," he said in sad voice. "I know this move will make as if your aide the last time meant nothing to me. But it did matter to me, as much as she does. I'm sorry brother, but I'm marrying her."
Ronnie killed his cigarette. "As long as it makes you happy, Iz, then I'd be."
Ronnie nodded. "Now let's get the hell out of here," he said. "Someone's getting married."
* * *
Back at Anna's, people have gathered around.
Less than half an hour before the ceremony is to be held. Everyone was getting all dandy with the last minute preparations, setting up in their best garments and whatnot. Food had been prepared and served. The living room of the house had been emptied for the ceremony to take place. The hall was decorated in royal gold and maroon as its theme, and at the middle of the gold carpeted space there were two maroon and velvet cushions meant for the Kadhi and the groom to sit on later.
Anna was sitting in her room alone. She was all dressed up in cream Kebaya made from the best of satin and chiffon. She placed her scarf on her head and made herself up. She looked well damn pretty in that dress and jewelries. Her long hair had been set and finely curled up. In her ears there hung a pair of pure white gold earrings with a diamond in the middle of each. On her neck hung an artistically decorated necklace, a stunning one of its kind. But still in her heart, she felt the distressing feeling.
Suddenly Dita stormed into the room.
"Anna," she said. "Fix yourself up and get ready. Iz is here."
And so here goes, Anna said to herself.
This is it.
* * *
He sat on the maroon cushion and made himself comfortable.
The guests took their seats as well surrounding him. In that living room, there were no less than fifty eager and excited people lurking around to witness the whole commotion. The ladies were teasing each other while the gentlemen continued in their talks about the weather and the price increment of many things these days from the recent oil hike.
But he didn't say a thing. Instead he looked at Ron who sat in front of him, and then he looked at the hallway leading to the bride's room, and back at Ron. Ron nodded to him and showed him the thumb-up sign.
"Well here comes," said a female voice at the back. "Here comes the bride!"
And all the crowd gathered around closer and throw their eyes to the hallway. There they saw Anna walked carefully down it and into the living hall escorted with two other young ladies. She was invited to sit next to her family members, in this case her aunts and uncles for she had lost her parents sometime back, the same thing she and Iz shared in common, only that Iz did not have any other family member except his close friend Ronnie. She saw Ronnie from across the room and she saw how he stared at her. He certainly hated her still.
She then threw her face to her future husband who was calmly sitting on the plush, cozy, maroon cushion.
And there came the Kadhi, the religious man who was appointed to unite the two of them in that very wonderful and heartwarming ceremony. The old man took his seat on the velvet cushion. He took out some documents and placed them next to him before putting on his thick spectacle. Then he coughed a little.
"Is everyone ready?" he asked.
"Ready!" replied the whole crowd followed by chuckles and giggles.
In Anna's mind, she was very relieved. She was finally happy, for she had found her happiness. She thanked God that Iz finally accepted her again, after all that she did, that she thought were never forgivable, for they were beyond evil. She understood that she had caused him unbearable pain for years, and she was ready to do what it takes to make up to him. No, he didn't deserve all the pain she caused him. In her mind she wondered, how he was a strong man to go through all these alone by himself, all his pride and ego and loyalty fully dedicated to her, the person who left him despite his undying love for her. This caused her to break into tears, but she still could hold them back, after discovering how he still loved her all these goddamned years of suffering.
"So here goes," said the Kadhi. "Take my hand and hold it, young man."
Well this it is, told Anna to herself. This will be the last few minutes where she was still single and then no more, for when the wedding is soon tied, she then belongs to him and no one else, she continued telling herself. Oh how nervous she was at the time. How difficult it was for her to describe her feelings that particular while, but all and all she kept them inside. And deep inside she was still relieved that both of them, him and her, will no longer have to wait to be together. After all these years, all these years. She held her head down in nervousness.
"Wait a minute."
She raised her head to the voice. It was his. He was already standing up next to the maroon cushion and gave the crowd some sort of awe they could hardly believe. The hall was so damn quiet. Pressure built up comprehensively. All eyes on him.
"I don't want to marry you," he said.
This caused the whole crowd to give out expressions of shocks in terms of ohhs, ahhs and oh my god! Dita herself put her hands on her mouth in total disbelief. As she looked at Anna, she got to know that it wasn't only her who had that dropped-jaw effect. Anna's was even wider. In all those, only Ronnie who gazed at Iz in amazement.
"But," Anna said. "But why?"
He stared at her face with the expression of the coldest of winter.
"Because I feel that I don't have to."
"But, but you love me!"
He didn't say a word but to turn his back to Anna and the rest of the gazing crowd.
"You love me!" screamed Anna.
He turned his head around. In very very calm voice, he made his reply.
"I did," he said.
"But I changed my mind."