"So how's life?"
The rain was getting rather heavier than previously. A little soaked from the shower from heavens, I shivered a little inside my jacket. The air-conditioning unit was blowing at the most minimal, but somehow I still thought that the engineers in Perodua have had the most minimal setting to be arctic temperature. God knows what the maximum air-conditioning capacity was; I never went that far to try. The lady beside me sat comfortably albeit the frosting condition. In fact she didn't show any sign of coldness whatsoever. They said only angels and demons could warm themselves up from within; which one was her, I couldn't tell.
"Hello mister," she said to me. "I asked you a question."
"I know," I replied casually. I wasn't that deaf.
"So why didn't you answer me then?"
I turned my head to her and took a look straight into her eyes for a few joyful seconds before getting my vision back on to the wet road. That short glance sure did give her some hints. I waved at the guards as the car moved past the guard post and into the campus ground.
"You know what happened, young lady," I said without looking at her. "I do not have the capacity to express that my life is anyhow better, neither do I have the fundamental to say that my life isn't that blissful anyway."
She didn't reply. From the corner of my eyes I saw her turning around, her face was directed to me. Her wavy long hair was moved by the blowing air-conditioner. Her facial expression showed a bit of womanly concerns. There was not a word being spoken. Dead silence filled the air. Rather uncomfortable, I tried to make a conversation, but nothing came out from my dry throat and in between my dry lips. But I tried anyway.
"Where did you come from?" I asked her simply out of nothing at all.
"Makan with friends."
"Uh huh." Say something more, damn it, I lost words.
"Then when we stopped at Petronas just now, I saw you. Thought of saying hi."
If that was a hi, Rosy Cheeks, then how the hell you ended up sitting next to me now.
"Very well then," I replied. At that time the car was passing the white, floating mosque of UTP. "You still live in V1?"
She laughed a little, so I turned my head at her. My, how I missed those laughs. She covered her mouth with her palm, from which in between the fingers I could see those lovely white teeth showing. Her cheeks blushed cheerfully. Her bold eyes almost completely shut, showing just how much she was having, from me asking her if she was still living at her old block.
"You," she said in between chuckles. "V1 has become an all men territory, remember?"
And then I realized. Just how times flew all these while. It has been like two years since we last talked, since that unfortunate incident at the Old Town. Quite so suddenly all the bitter feelings resurfaced. What she did was completely way too awful to even think about. I couldn't even remember if I did forgive her. Maybe I did, that could be the reason why I let her enter the car just now. If I didn't, then how come I felt so damn comfortable having her next to me right now? I threw my face to her again.
She still looked the same, although with some observable changes. Her skin was a bit fairer than it was before, I could say that. The way she dressed showed some maturity; a pair of grey legging and a thick long-sleeved plain white tee that revealed some of her shoulder, and a hairband that kept her long hair together in a classic ponytail fashion. With good approximation i could say that that hair when released could reach the top of her belly. I could also tell that she has applied some moisturizing balm from that shiny look on her lips. She changed her watch to a rather elegant one this time - a silver body with a brown strap that looks somewhat expensive compared to her last one that looked rather kiddish. On other note was her earring; I had never seen her wearing anything like that before.
When did you grow up to be such a lady?
"I live in the same residential with you now," she said after a long pause. Probably she was being a bit taken aback from the look I gave her just now. Her blushing cheeks and running eyes confirmed that. Why, since when you grew so shy, dear you?
"Very well then," I said as I took a turn to her residential college. "Guess I'll just drop you down at the covered walkway or something."
"Now," she spoke in her softest voice. "That isn't very gentlemanly, is it?"
* * *
"Thank you for walking me back."
"No worries," I replied as my hands wiped off drops of water from the rain just now as we both ran from the car to the covered walkway. It got even colder to me, now that I no longer had my jacket since I gave her to cover her head and body from the rain, while I myself was soaked like a bone-dry sponge thrown into the Indian Ocean. I placed both of my hands into my jeans for warmth as we both walked towards her block, less than a hundred meter to go. I hope this would be a quick one since I was starting to feel that one of my fingers was about to catch some nasty frost bites from the freezing temperature. I couldn't stand coldness that much. Anymore colder than this and I could have sworn that I may just drop down and die from it.
She covered herself tight with the thick jacket, and as she moved her hair danced in silence. Not a sound was made other than from our footsteps and the tapping raindrops. It didn't take long for us to reach the entrance of her block, but to me the walk was almost forever. When we finally stopped, she turned around at me and tilted her head up for a bit. That eyebrows could have never been so lovely.
"I'm sorry I asked. I hope you will face it strongly." Her face showed her concerns. Or worries, I couldn't tell.
"It's alright, and I sure hope so."
Her eyes looked into mine deep, trying to dig for some comforting words or something darker, I didn't know. But I was sure that those eyes were getting a bit teary already. That eyebrows suddenly bent in sadness. And there we had it; a tear dropped out from her shiny eyes.
"What's wrong?" I never was so confused.
"Nothing," she said as she held her head down. "It has been so long."
"Sure it has." But why did you cry? Did you miss me?
"I never had the chance to say sorry before," she continued after a long pause. Her head was still looking at her feet. "I would want to, but I was so afraid."
Ah. So that was the reason for all these teary segment this rainy evening. I didn't say a word. Mixed feelings lingered upon. Another drop of tears fell, I saw it clearly. At this point I was so clueless than a little teenage girl choosing on her first brassiere. What do I say, what do I do? Do I stand here doing nothing, or do I just extend my hands to you?
"I'm sorry for all my faults. I really am," she said in her wet voice.
At this point I wasn't sure if what I was doing was right, but I proceeded anyway. Screw all these monsters of feelings, I said to myself. Yesterday's grudges will only hurt me worst, so it was about time to let it go. I placed my hand on her chin and pushed it up in the most gentle manner just so that I could look at her face clearly. That teary eyes, wet cheeks and trembling lips. My dear God, what has the world done to you, Rosy Cheeks? It hurt me to see you this way, you know? My thumb ran slowly on her soft skin, wiping her tears away. But she just won't stop crying, she even cried harder. Every time that bold eyes closed shut, more tears came out. Something broke inside me. I felt like slapping myself. Say something nice, damn it, something nice...
"Darling," I said in my softest voice. "I already forgave you long ago."
There, I said it.
"Come on, stop it already," I tried to comfort her from her miseries. "Don't cry anymore. You look so miserable this way."
She placed her hand gently on mine that then was resting on her face. It felt so warm as she gripped on my fingers. She nodded a few times fast and wiped her tears with her other hand. She gave out a smile, and I knew right away that that smile came out of relief. Suddenly all burdens were no longer there. All released. She was freed from her miseries from not being able to say things she wanted to for so long. For two bloody years. Her eyes looked at me, full with unknown meanings.
* * *
When I reached my room, it was already past sunset.
I turned on the light and the room was alive again. I lit a cigarette and sat down at my chair, looking at the pouring rain outside. I had so many things in mind, but most of them was related to Rosy Cheeks. What just happened? There was no answer for that. Her face filled my mind. The sinful smoke filled the damp air. In a way, I felt better, despite the fact that I no longer have my jacket with me because she insisted to wash it first. My hands were so cold that I could bite my fingers off without feeling anything. I looked at my right hand for some time while my left one was holding the cigarette. For no reason, I pulled it close to my nose and I took a long breath.
It smelt of Rush.