Yay, Pasha and Tesa finally meet eachother again!!! Please update soon.
Yay, Pasha and Tesa finally meet eachother again!!! Please update soon.
Sorry for the long update... too lazy
Thanks for everyone that has reading it... hope you like the story.
Mr. and Mrs. Graham were a couple of dove in their fifties. They got married four years ago, both for the second time. Maureen Graham’s first husband had died almost ten years ago because of diabetic complication. While Roger’s wife had been killed in the car accident six years ago. From each of their previous marriage, they had 2 grown-up children who had their own families.
Grey-haired grandpa and grandma were so hospitable that it only took Tesa a while to feel comfortable teaching them. Besides loved to make jokes and had a good sense of humour, Nana Graham also loved to cook. So after each lesson, there would always be food serving. Unlike at Professor Meyer’s place, Tesa could enjoy the food with ease because she knew that the food served there had no hidden agenda behind it.
Nana Maureen seemed to master foreign language faster than Pop Roger. On their request, the lesson was also accompanied with showing different things.
Once, Tesa pointed to a match, than asked Pop to ask for it from her. Seriously, he said, “Berilah saya kereta api, saya mau merokok.” (Red: Give me a train, I want to smoke. [match = korek api; train = kereta api]).
Tesa and Nana Maureen burst into laughter, causing Pop Roger to blush. On the next lesson, Tesa showed them the map of Java Island.
“Saya mau pergi dari Jakarta ke Surabaya naik…” And she paused, waiting for Pop to answer. (Red: I want to go from Jakarta to Surabaya riding…)
Boldly and bravely, he shouted,”… naik kereta mati!” (Red: … riding dead train. [train = kereta api; dead train = kereta mati])
Grrr. And everybody laughed. Pop was confused, he looked at both sides, as if asking where did he go wrong; it’s the correct answer!
Each time they had a lesson there was always a weird and funny sentence showed up. Like, “Maureen, bunuh lampu di dapur,” or “Bunuh lemari pendingin!” (Red: Maureen, kill the kitchen lamp or Kill the fridge [bunuh = kill; padam= turn off]).
Tesa was reminded with Ria, her dorm friend from South Sulawesi Island. She spoke exactly like that.
On the other hand, when he had to use the word “bunuh”, this confused Pop confidently used the other word. “Orang itu dipadamkan oleh penjahat dengan pistol.” Atau, “Orang itu padam ditabrak mobil.” (Red: ‘That person was turned off by the bandit with a gun.’ Or ‘That person was turned off, hit by a car.’)
“Hush!” shouted nana Maureen quickly. “Orang itu tewas – tewas, mengerti?! Bukannya padam! – ditabrak mobil!” (Red: “That person was killed – killed, understand?! Not turned off! – hit by a car!”)
Although he’s making a lot of mistakes, Grandpa was very serious in his study, just like his wife. He never forgot to do his homework. But what really made Tesa giggled happened on one afternoon. After eating cake and tidying up her papers into her bag, Tesa excused herself. Both of her students showed her out.
“Bye-bye, dear,” Grandma said lovingly, but Grandpa wanted to show off his smartness. While waving, enthusiastically he shouted, “Bye-bye! Sampai mati!” (Red: [Sampai mati = till dead; Sampai nanti = till later]).
“Eh,” said his wife. “Should not say that! ‘Sampai nanti’! Not ‘mati’!”
Suppressing her giggle, Tesa went downstairs. When she got to level 2, she was so surprised when someone greeted her, “What’s wrong? You’re taken to smiling to yourself now?!”
She lifted up her head. Turned out Pasha was standing on the most bottom stairs. One of his hands was on the banister, while his other hand was inside his pocket. And when Tesa tried to walk past him, his hand darted out to stop her.
“Eeiiit, aren’t you going to reply my greeting? Your hearing is okay, right?”
Tesa couldn’t help but laugh, even though she didn’t want to. She really had not forgotten Pika’s sharp reminder in her room when she knew Tesa and Pasha had already met. Tesa did not want it to happen again.
“Any you… what do you think you’re doing, blocking people’s way?”
“Because I want to talk to you.”
“Next time, okay? I still have to give lesson somewhere else!”
“No way. I cannot cancel it just like that. Do you think this is our country?!”
Pasha still didn’t let go of his grip and Tesa didn’t want to struggle free from him just like in a cheap shot of a silly movie. She glowered at Pasha, trying to use telepathic transfer to make him let her go. But apparently her telepathy super power still needed a lot of practice. She failed. Pasha even dragged her to his apartment door.
“Eh, eh, what this is all about?” she shouted in panic.
“Call you students from here. Tell them you have migraine! They wouldn’t be angry.”
“What is migraine?”
“Half side headache.”
“Whichever you want. Left or right, but not both. It will have different term.”
Tesa tried to strengthen her base on the floor. Her neighbour’s relative in Jakarta had once studied with a kungfu master in Kampung Melayu, if not mistaken, The Black Crow clan. And she had watched their practices until she’s sick of it. If one’s base on the ground had been established, even two big guys wouldn’t be able to push, moreover move, them from their place.
It should be just like this, she thought as she clenched her jaws and forced both of her legs onto the floor as hard as she could. Sweat start to show up in her forehead. But, why was it that Pasha seemed to have no difficulty pulling her?!
“Eh,” shouted Pasha when he turned his head to her. “Why are you pressing on like that? You’re even sweating? Don’t you know that it could cause haemorrhoids?”
Damn, cursed Tesa inwardly. How could he know one of her biggest fear?! Haemorrhoids! People said it’s a genetic disease. Her dad, mom, granddad, and also her big brother had gotten it. It’s she alone that had not been ‘visited’ by that disgusting haemorrhoid! For these few years she’d been a little anxious, in case she’d get it! Eww!
No other choice, she was forced to stop her exercise for the Iron Horse Punched the Hell Gate stance.
They arrived in front of the door now. Pasha pushed the door with his foot until it was wide open. Just like a stupid cow, Tesa let herself being pulled in. Only after she’s inside that she started to panic. She tried to free herself and head toward the door, but Pasha pushed her even further, chuckling, before he closed the door.
“Now,” he said, standing with his hand folded in front of his chest. “Please call you student. That’s the phone.”
“No. I have to go!” Tesa shook her head. Who’s she going to call? There’s no other class for today! There was one, but it’s for tomorrow.
“Why do you look frightened? I’m not a man-eater. Have a sit. I just want to show off my masterpiece. Pancakes! I’ve got nobody to call to admire my pancakes. So I had to make you my hostage. Do you really not want to give a small satisfaction to someone else? What time do you have to go for the next lesson? You can go as soon as you taste my skill. But before that, don’t you dare!”
Tesa was giggling inwardly, although she didn’t show it. But she didn’t refuse anymore when she was led toward the kitchen after she knew what Pasha really wanted. Besides, she yearned to see her old territory once again.
Still looked the same. Just a little messier. Here and there, some utensils were left behind. For instance, the scale was supposed to be inside the left cupboard. Mixer, which had just been used to make the pancakes, was still on top of the counter, not in the sink yet. The toaster was full of crumbs that had not been cleaned yet. How was the fridge? When she came for the first time, the fridge was so dirty. Seemed like both Pika and Pasha were too busy that they had never had time to look after the kitchen.
On the table she saw a stack of yellowish pancakes that looked very intriguing to the stomach. The aroma, oooi! Tesa walked forward as if to come over to the table, but when she passed the fridge, without thinking, her hand went to the door handle and… wrenched it open.
Whoa! It’s as dirty as the first time! A margarine tub was opened, and smeared all over the door side. Half rotten vegetables was left there. A baby-leg-sized ham was placed in the middle of the rack, taking most of the spaces and spilled the sauce from the bowl.
She knew Pasha’s meal were usually just ham and lettuce. He’s too lazy to cook. Even if he’s not lazy, he could not cook, according to Pika.
Hm. Seemed he really needed others’ praises on the pancakes he probably made for the first time in his life.
“Are you looking for food? Hungry?”
She jolted, didn’t realise that the host was standing behind her. Well! He’s normally just a statue, not moving from the window! So she forgot!
“I don’t have anything. Just ham and half rotten lettuce!”
Tesa quickly closed the fridge door guiltily, then turned her head. She saw Pasha’s shy grin as he didn’t have anything better to offer his special guest.
“We’ll eat the cake, okay?” he said, half persuading her.
Suddenly Tesa smiled. “I’m not hungry. Just now, upstairs, my stomach was stuffed with apple cake.”
“But you have to try my pancakes!” said Pasha quickly, as if worried that Tesa’s full stomach would refuse.
“Sure,” replied the girl, nodded and took the chair to sit. “Blessing can’t be refused, right?”
“That’s the spirit!” welcomed Pasha delightfully.
After nudging the plate that was as high as the hill to Tesa, he went to the corner of the kitchen to make coffee. Then, on that bright day, they munched on some cake and enjoyed some coffee.
“Is it good?” asked Pasha with a worried tone.
Tesa nodded and said, “Looks like you have a hidden talent here!”
Pasha lowered his head and sighed silently, but Tesa still caught it. “Long time ago,” he said without looking up, “there was someone who often made me this cake. Each time she made it, I was next to her, hearing her mentioned the ingredients needed, how much flour, butter, eggs, milk. She mentioned it so often that I had it memorised without meaning to.”
Pasha lifted his head and looked at her with a sad smile on his face. Tesa felt her heart went bum bum being stared like that. She lowered her head hurriedly, hiding her uneasiness behind her coffee cup. But at the end, her curiosity got the best of her. She put down her cup, and asked casually, ”Who is she? Your mom?”
“No”, Pasha shook his head. “It happened here. Her name was Selina, the girl I mentioned the other day. A very sweet girl!”
“Ah, Selina!” cried Tesa with a bored manner. “How do you know that she’s very sweet? You’ve never seen her, huh? Selina’s face has chicken pox marks, don’t you know?”
The air went instantly quiet. The cup he was holding almost dropped to the table. The pancake in his mouth almost made him choked. His eyes went enormous, as if seeing a ghost grinning at him. Tesa almost felt sorry for killing Pasha’s worshipped and praised illusion.
But Pasha didn’t get angry or disappointed. He just sighed. “No wonder,” he mumbled. “No wonder she didn’t want to see me! Once I could see again, she ran away to Jakarta. I heard she has problem with self-esteem!”
Her lips almost asked, “Who says that?” Of course she’s not happy to be called low self esteem, but in a second, she calmed down again. Who cared what they said, she knew that it’s not true. And who else would have heart enough to create that rumor?! Surely…
“Yes, yes, yes, so what Pika said is true,” continued Pasha softly, as if talking to himself. “Selina is ashamed. I don’t realise it earlier why she’s like that. Turned out she has chicken pox marks on her face!”
Hm. So it’s true. That snake Pika! I helped her look after her favourite person, and yet she’s talking badly about me behind my back! Low self esteem, she said! Hm. Just because she didn’t have a handsome boyfriend like hers?!
“Ah, she’s such a nice person! Do you know, Tesa, I used to get angry to her all the time. This not right, that wrong. But she’s always so patient and always nice. Ah, even for a hundred years, I would love to live my life with her. If only I can meet her again. Ah, I wouldn’t mind staying by her side, even when everybody doesn’t want her at all!”
Tesa was stunned. She saw Pasha’s beautiful and dark eyes almost misted. Hey! She didn’t expect her joke would be taken this seriously! To make light of it now would be too difficult! Too late! What should she do now?!
Suddenly she remembered Pasha’s friends from the university that had seen her. She suddenly broke into cold sweat. Oh right! Fortunately, Pasha never asked around to Thomas what his “angel” looked like!
“If so, then what are you going to do with Pika?” she asked again. Since she’s already in her own trap, she might as well keep fulfilling her curiosity. This Pasha used to be very demanding just because he’s the employer paying the salary. She would play around with his feeling now. If he cried, that’s even better!
But Pasha didn’t seem to hear her. He didn’t reply her. Instead, as if he just realized he had a visitor, he pushed the pancake plate and forced Tesa to take some more. He waited until the girl took a bite and chewed, than he asked her once again, “Is it good?”
Tesa nodded, smiled. Nobody remembered about giving a lesson anymore. It felt so good to be able to relax like this. But ah, she suddenly remembered the possibility of Pika showing up. She must go quickly if she didn’t want to get another tell off!
She pretended looking at her watch, knitted her forehead, then stood up.
“Ah. I really have to go now. But before I leave, let me wash these cups. Your cake is really yummy. You have to give me the recipe some other time.”
“Oh, I can’t! If you want to eat pancake, you have to come here!”
“Huh… stingy!” Tesa pouted her lips – weird, it’s so easy to act cute in front such a charming guy like this! – as she took the dirty cups to the sink.
“It’s not that I’m stingy, Tes. This secret recipe was only given to me with a promise that I cannot share it with anyone!” said Pasha seriously as if it’s a dangerous black magic.
“Ah, you’re lying!” shouted Tesa, giggling. As far as she could remember, she had never said such a thing to Pasha Solem.
“Really. But Selina also told me if there’s a sweet girl who’s willing to be my loyal girlfriend, I can share it with her…”
“Wah, you’re really a player, huh! You have Pika, and just now you still missed that chicken-pox-marked face girl who you reckoned like a heavenly goddess. And now, you still long for yet another girl that you want to lure with a secret recipe…”
“It’s because I’m lonely!” he groaned as if he was hurt. “Pika is too busy with her classes and labs. If she’s already like this now, what will happen after she graduates?! Morning practice, afternoon practice, even evening practice. When will she have time for the family? It’s probably my mistake, suggesting her to come and learn medicine together with me!” Pasha sighed heavily as if he was in deep debt and the debt collector was right in front of his house. Looked like he still wanted to make another one-two hours confession, but Tesa couldn’t play a fair judge, so she’d better go now.
“What I wanted before was for us to study together. Then later, practice together as well… “
Tesa dried her last glass. She checked her watch, which was already not working since before (maybe she needed a new battery; she had to go to the shop after this), then take her bag containing her wallet and her teaching notebooks. She gazed at Pasha (maybe for the last time, she thought) as if to carve his face in her heart.
“Really sorry, Pas. I really have to go. I’ve been here for a while. If Pika finds out about this, there will be a nuclear war!”
“She wouldn’t know!” thundered Pasha, making Tesa jolted. “Even if she knows, it doesn’t matter. If she’s angry, I can be even angrier. I have a lot of reasons…”
Oh no, oh no! Tesa didn’t want to be a hearing-witness of other people’s domestic problem. She quickly opened the door, then waved.
“You should come again!” shouted Pasha.
He meant to invite her, but it sounded like half threat, Tesa thought amusingly. She pretended she didn’t hear him, and thus, didn’t reply him.
But once became twice. Twice became four times, five times, six times… At the end, almost every time Tesa finished giving lesson on the third floor, Pasha had already waited for her on the second floor. And she accepted his invitation to come in. When she thought about it later, she really didn’t understand why she didn’t mind coming in. She realized that Pasha belonged to someone else and she actually detested being a spare tire. Maybe it’s because she’s also lonely just like Pasha? Living abroad without relatives?
Whatever it was, she’s happy to come. She even felt more eager to teach the Graham couples, although she vehemently denied this (inside her heart).
Of course Pasha rarely made pancake. “Doesn’t matter how good it is, it’ll get boring after a while,” he reasoned, then coaxed Tesa to show off her talent.
Surprisingly, she didn’t refuse. If she visited Pasha’s place in the afternoon then met Pika later in the evening in the kitchen, she felt guilty, awkward and didn’t speak much. But she would forget about it the next day. And when she came again to Pop-Nana Graham, Pika was far far away from her thought.
So she often came to Pasha’s place. Not much different activities from time to time. Normally Pasha would read books or do reports, while Tesa went busy in the kitchen, making snack. When the cake baked or fried had brought about a nice aroma, Pasha would hurriedly come, offering ‘help’. Tesa would laugh heartily seeing Pasha acted as if he really meant to help. If Tesa said everything was done and only had to wait for the cake to be baked, he would come every 5 minutes. And when the cake was ready, Pasha would pause from his study, and sat around the table or on the floor, munching on Tesa’s cake while listening to music.
Pasha seemed so nice, so different when he was disabled. He also always asked how was Tesa’s course and her students on the top floor – Pasha pointed up to his neighbour’s place – and Tesa always reported the funny sentences that were used by Pop Graham.
Although Pasha seemed full of attention toward her, Tesa didn’t forget. She knew this guy still loved Pika. He was just lonely. Or probably invited her purposely to make Pika jealous?! She often wondered why Pasha always tried to keep her longer and longer as if he didn’t want to be apart from her. Was he waiting for Pika to show up?! He would get it if he thought he could use her!
No! She could not fall into whatever trap Pasha was planning. One could not trust men completely, she thought of her bitter experience. Even Selina had already been forgotten now, when just few months ago he was still missing her day and night. Pasha belonged to Pika, period. She came over to his place just to get rid of the tedium in her heart (or emptiness?!)
What really alarmed Tesa (in her heart) was Pasha’s attitude. Without rain or wind, he would stop chewing, staring at her strangely then mumbled almost unheard, “I remember someone…” or, “You remind me of someone!”
Obviously Tesa didn’t dare to ask who she reminded him of, although curiosity was burning inside her chest. In the end, she got scared, what if… ah! Don’t try to play with fire, if you don’t want to get burn, she warned herself.
“I will make a serabi cake (rice flour-pancake with palm sugar and coconut milk sauce) this afternoon!” she said, as if announcing a new product in soap industry.
“With delicious sweet coconut milk?”
Pasha’s eyes instantly glowed. Tesa felt her heart softened, seeing this good looking guy became child-like in his loneliness. How deprived he was, that he would crave for a delicious sweet coconut milk!!
Inwardly, she regretted Pika’s ungratefulness. How many girls were jealous of her? Just count the simple ones: in the dorm kitchen, she heard Atina and Sabita, Pika’s girlfriends, had almost thrown themselves to the Swan River because of unrequited love (to Pasha Solem). Not to count other girls that she’d never heard or knew. On the other hand, the real owner just didn’t care and not even try to please her boyfriend’s heart. Pika didn’t show any effort to fight for his love. Maybe she thought Pasha had already been hers since the last lifetime!
“Yes, yes, with delicious sweet coconut milk. With palm sugar! But you just stay here quietly, don’t come to the kitchen. Or it would flop.”
“Why flop?” Pasha teased, laughing. “How come making serabi can be failed? Do you have to do it naked?”
“If yes, that means you can not be there, right?”
“Wrong!” he replied seriously
“That means I can.”
“What? Alright then, I’m calling the whole thing off. I’d better go home and have a nap!” Tesa moved toward the door. Pasha moved quicker there.
“Eh, once you enter the kitchen, you cannot go out again before making cake! It’s a no no, don’t you know! Big no no! Okay, go to the kitchen now! If the cake’s not done, I will hold you here until it is!” Pasha pretended to threat her with evil voice, but his eyes sparkled with laughter.
Tesa pretended to be afraid and rolled to the kitchen without arguing. If she thought about it again, she acted like a dumb teenager.
After Tesa was in the kitchen for around 15 minutes, Pasha suddenly stopped writing and his forehead crinkled. From the back, he heard noises of pan and spoon. His forehead got even more wrinkled. Odd. How come this girl had never had a problem finding any utensils or ingredients that she needed?! If it were Pika there, every minute she would screech, “Pas, where is the palm sugar?”, “Pas, where is the mixer?”, or “Pas, where is the cooking oil?”
Odd. This girl really often played in the kitchen that she even knew where everything was placed…! Eh, but how could she know where the mixer was placed?! That utensil was rarely used and thus, it’s kept inside the top shelves. To take it out, a person with Tesa’s height would need a chair. She wouldn’t go there straight away unless she knew where it was. How did she know?!
Tesa seemed to be in a happy mood. He could hear her humming quietly. Ah, it felt so refreshing to listen to it. Her voice was nice. And that song sounded familiar, but didn’t know why his mind got blocked. He couldn’t remember where he had heard that nice tune before.
He tried to recall it in futile. Until finally Tesa came out with a plate of fragrant, warm serabi and appetizing, delicious coconut milk with palm sugar. Pasha instantly forgot all his previous questions. He moved the books from the table hurriedly, and then they sat facing each other to enjoy this special delicacy.
“This is my favourite!” he said after gulping down five pieces.
“It’s a canned coconut milk, so perhaps it smells a bit weird?” asked Tesa, as if to put down her cooking quality.
“Ah, no way. Still taste yummy, no odd smell whatsoever.”
Pasha stared at Tesa. Suddenly his earlier curiosity popped back in his mind. He was about to ask, when the phone rang.
Pasha listened for a while, then said alright and put down the phone again. He turned to Tesa. “Pika will come with pizza.”
A cheerful smile adorned his handsome face. It must be one of his favourite too, thought Tesa.
“I’d better be go now,” she said and stood up, then noticed the serabi cakes that were still left untouched.
“What are we going to do with so many pieces? Pika will be suspicious.”
Pasha sighed heavily. “Well! It’d be better if you take it with you, Tes. I will be in trouble if Pika gets angry.”
Tesa took the plate to bring it to the kitchen.
“Eh, hold on! I still want some more!” He took the plate and picked 4 serabis. Then he poured the delicious coconut milk on the top. Tesa waited then took the coconut milk bowl and emptied it into a plastic container.
When she was wrapping the cakes, Pasha stood next to her, holding the plate and munching while he dipped it into the coconut milk once in a while.
“Tes,” he said half whispering. “I’m so sorry. You have to go just like this.”
Tesa’s laughter sounded out of tune while her heart moaned in pain. “Oh, it’s ok. I understand.” Inside her heart, she added, “I understand; I’m just a side tracker. Of course you don’t want to fight with your girl because of it, right?! I have to face it, anyway. Who am I, and who is Pika!”
“You’re not angry? Really?”
“Erk, why should I be angry? I don’t want people to call me names! Besides, I don’t have any intention to rob other people’s lover!” She glanced at Pasha with a neutral smile, but deep in her heart, only God knows.
“Oh, come on! Don’t say it like that. Pika knows you are not just any girl whose heart can be so easily stolen. But sometimes, girls can be narrow-minded and old-fashioned when related to dating. So, yeah! Although we know we have no other intention but be friends, if Pika sees you here, I’m worried your name will be ruined all over Australia!”
Tesa laughed heartily as she tied up the cakes and coconut milk. Not bad, for Nopi and her friends; they’re always hungry.
She took her bag. “Okay then. Bye.”
Pasha tried to take her hand as if wanted a more intimate goodbye, but Tesa quickly dodged and walked to the door.
When she’s on the street, she just realized how hurt she was. Yeah! She had been chased away like a dog! She would never want to go there again!! Let Pasha died lonely with no friend! She didn’t want to be treated like a spare towel while the good one was in the wash.
But after sitting on the bus watching the beautiful Swan River, her heart opened again. My own fault, she thought, why did she have to play around with other people’s boyfriend! Thus she got chased away anytime the real master wanted to come!
oi,tesz n' siro ,tuh cerita panjang banget yah,mata gw ampe pening bacanya,gimana kalo kamorang bikin deh resensinya
OK....where's the update? It's been a while since you two updated this story.
Sorry for the late update... been a bit lazy myself too...
She followed her own words with vehemence. For three weeks, she avoided Pasha’s door. That meant six times, since she gave tutoring upstairs twice a week. But when she thought about it later on, actually her determination didn’t get any challenge. Because that door had always been shut tightly and Pasha himself didn’t appear.
Tesa didn’t want to think why Pasha stayed away from her now or whether he didn’t feel lonely anymore or whatever else. She didn’t care what reason Pasha had. Instead she felt relieved that she wasn’t disturbed anymore. Even though every time she passed that door, her inner heart would still hope that door would suddenly get opened so that she could show her determination not to be a spare tire. Without her realizing it, her feet had stopped for a moment on that lowermost step. But that smile-full face had never greeted her anymore. With her heart sighing, she lowered her head down and hurriedly walked down to the first floor.
After the same things happened six times, Tesa was used to the new situation she was in. She had never hoped to see Pasha again or accepting his invitation to stop by. After she became used to this changes, her mind became peaceful too. She could even go teaching with a happier note, because the worry – caught by Pika – she used to feel had never gripped her again. Her enthusiasm to give tutoring escalated, because her concentration didn’t branch out to other apartment.
She was satisfied spending a little time with the Grahams after lesson, then hurriedly went home to take a nap or doing whatever homework she had.
And in the kitchen, she could look Pika in the eyes more openly and chirped in their chat without anything to hide. Her dorm-mate usually had a cookout together. Everybody donated one kind of dish, then they would sit together and had a big meal. Usually, Tesa seldom joined in, but now she had enough time to show her cooking skill off in front of her friends. The most impressed one of course was Nopi. His sharp eyes could tell that most of the other girls were not good in cooking. But, well, it’s understandable, living under indulgent Mommy’s wings during school.
There’s this once, Nopi ragged Atina who were frying jerky sent from home. “Whoa, just like chewing leather,” taunted Nopi, who was finally able to bite the jerky after his teeth almost fell off.
“I fried it too long and forgot to drench it in water first,” Atina said, admitting her mistake.
Nopi sighed patiently. “Yeah, understandable. Nowadays, mothers prefer their daughters to become doctors or engineers instead of the queens of the kitchens. Even most of the homemakers in this century have given that title to the maid who knew which one is shrimp paste and which one is ginger.”
“Ah, I’m willing to learn, Nop; it depends on who I have to cook for every day,” Atina retorted, vexed.
“Ohh, in other words, I’m not fit enough for you to cook for? So you don’t like me?” Nopi said, eyes bulging, as if he couldn’t believe someone so stupid still existed on this planet.
Of course Atina got twitchy hearing those words cum warning, because truthfully, her heart had fallen for that Civil Engineering guy. “Hey, hey, how come it goes this far? I didn’t say you’re not fit, but…”
“… you just don’t want to!” continued Nopi, raising his nose in the air, acting haughty. “Okay then, I’ll forgive you this once. But next time, you have to cook Soto for me! Sulung Soto! Delicious one!”
“I’m dead,” Atina whispered to Sabita, who was sitting next to her. ‘What is Sulung Soto? My first time hearing about it.”
“If it’s Bungsu Soto, I can make it,” teased Sabita, who had never guessed that Atina was that stupid. (Red: Soto = clear soup; Sulung = first born; Bungsu = latest born). Happily, Atina turned to Nopi, who was sitting at the head of the table like a king surrounded by his concubines.
“Nop, Sulung Soto is not that good. How about Bungsu Soto? That I can make!” Atina said confidently (with Sabita’s help).
Before the king said a word, a concubine called Nurul had already said in confusion, “Never in my life I have heard that kind of Soto. I’ve heard Kudus Soto, Bandung Soto, Madura Soto, or Banjar Soto, but Sulung Soto? Bungsu Soto?”
“Wah, then you’re really dumb. Never go to the kitchen, do you? Just because you have high education…”
Nurul’s temper flared at being called dumb. Instantly, her mouth, known for being so direct, shouted loudly, “That’s right. I want to be the house owner, not the maid in the kitchen. In my house, only the maid knows how to cook. If you want to have a wife who’s an expert in the kitchen, just go marry my maid.”
Nopi’s face turned crimson. But he didn’t get angry. He even laughed heartily. “That means we’re not meant to be,” he mocked, then gazed at Tesa who was busy moving her minced chicken roll from the steamer to a plate. Of course, this move wasn’t lost on Atina’s radar. Her heart started to thump. She knew, Tesa liked to cook. And if this one guy was a food-lover, wah, wah, wah, Tesa could get him! This, of course, had to be prevented. But how?! Maybe she need to be nice to Tesa and slowly asked for a cooking lesson!
The paper wrap had been opened and Tesa cut the minced chicken, then brought the plate to the table. Every move Tesa made was observed by Nopi with admiration, while Atina herself was busy recording Nopi’s moves.
When the plate was placed on the table, every pair of eyes suddenly widened, staring at the chicken with starving expression. Tesa, who didn’t realize her friends’ behavior, calmly took her seat next to Ria. Noticing that everybody was only looking t the center of the table fixedly, she quickly called out, “Eh, come on. Don’t just look at it. Nop, you split it.”
“Yippee!!! Thanks for your trust, Tes!” he said, rubbing his hands in anticipation.
“Not him, please!” Nurul protested, still fuming at being called dumb. “Guys are greedy. We wouldn’t get anything. Just let Tesa split it.”
“Eh, that’s the rule, you know? Guys give, girls accept!”
“Dirty minded!” Atina blurted out, suddenly bristled seeing Nopi looked at Tesa with a worshipful gaze, while the girl herself was looking down, busy cutting cucumbers. Tesa had never thought of guys at all, Atina thought. Someone said she got her heart broken once and afraid to try again. If she’s not mistaken, it was Pika who told her. Ugh, that bull Nopi, didn’t know where his heart lay.
Nopi didn’t care about all the protests. The owner herself had given her mandate, so who cared about all the complaints? Calmly, he picked up a piece of chicken that looked so mouth-watering, then let his fork stopped in the middle of the air as his eyes swept over every face. “Who want a piece of this?”
Sabita quickly handed her plate. If it’s about food, she didn’t want to think who made it or who split it, as long as she got her part!
“Eh, so gluttonous!” Atina nudged her friend.
“You know… I have ulcer, Tin!” she defended herself. “I’m starving.”
As if she had no other choice, Nurul and Atina were willing to accept Nopi’s offer. Tesa handed our her plate at the very last. But maybe it’s only her thinking, but Atina saw how Nopi purposely left behind the most succulent piece for Tesa. Yeah, never mind, she thought, comforting herself. Tesa was the one cooking it and buying the ingredients.
In the middle of their party, suddenly the door to the kitchen was pushed open. Who was coming? Tesa lifted up her face and an instant later looked down again. Pika appeared, with Pasha in tow. Oh, God, she thought. Don’t let him see me! Don’t let them sit here.
But Pasha had already seen such delicious food on the table and immediately nudged Nopi, whom he knew. “Can I have a plate?”
Although not wholehearted – because he still wanted the third serving – Nopi didn’t dare to refuse. Reluctantly, he welcomed the two uninvited guests to wipe clean the bowls and plates on the table.
“hmm. This chicken is very tasty. What is it called? Chicken pie? Or meatball? Who made this?” Pasha asked while looking around, then his mouth went slack as if thunderstruck.
Near the very end of the table, Tesa was sitting apart from the rest. At first, at the first glance, he thought she was a new girl he didn’t know, so he didn’t pay attention to her. But now his face showed his happiness along with… longing?! No! He must be careful if she didn’t want to be smashed by Pika who was sitting on his side and monitoring his every move like the most sophisticated camera recorder. He’s not afraid, but a peace lover, he thought, defending his action.
“Don’t be irksome, asking who cooked it and all!” snapped Pika half jealously. And Pasha quickly shut his mouth. But Atina who liked storm as attraction had already said Tesa’s name.
Now Pasha couldn’t act nonchalant. He had been told who cooked the food he had praised before. So he had to give her the praise too.
“Oh, it’s Tesa! Very delicious. I wouldn’t say no if it’s get made often.” He only meant to joke around. Who knew Pika would flare up.
“You’d really like that, huh? Do you think one has enough time to stay in the kitchen all the time? Do you mean my cooking is not good enough that you craved other’s?”
Uh-oh, Tesa thought from the end of the table. It wouldn’t do if they got into a fight because of her. Pika could accuse her of something she had never done. Moreover so, if she had suspicions that Tesa had once or often visited Pasha’s place! Wah, Pika wouldn’t hesitate to bad-mouth her in front of all people!
With a thundering heart, Tesa acted as if she didn’t realize the critical situation. Laughing casually, she scolded Pasha, “Men!! How come they always act like that? Pretended to praise other girls’ when all they wanted is to be spoiled more by their girls.”
Pasha looked at her as if wanted to protest, but Tesa blinked once and he understood. Pika calmed down again after she understood that it was men’s tactics to be cared more by their girls. Inwardly, she admitted her mistake, not caring for Pasha enough. But then, school had taken all her time.
After eating, Tesa brought her plate to the next room to wash it. Dita followed her, also with her own plate. Not long after, Nopi appeared, acting as if he’s waiting for the girls to finish washing their plates. But Tesa knew he wanted some help. Since so far Nopi had always been nice to her, Tesa relented. “Here, Nop. Let me wash your plate for you.”
“Ahh, really? Thanks,” he said without qualms, then disappeared with a cheerful face.
“Don’t be too nice,” Dita chided her. “It can be a habit. If he’s your boyfriend, it was another matter. Nopi will never cast eyes into our direction, Tes. His eyes are directed to the blondies, you know!”
Tesa only laughed. Since she was only washing one plate, Dita finished quickly then went into the dining room again. As Tesa was busy washing plates and spoons, Pika walked in with a stack of plates and glasses.
“Tes, help me with this. My plate and Pasha’s. Later, some time, I will take turn and wash your place for you. Okay?”
Truthfully, Tesa was annoyed, but she had no defense against such a sweet mouth. Pika could be eve sweeter than honey when she wanted.
“Just put them there,” she said without turning around.
“Thanks. Next time is my turn. I promise.”
Of course Tesa didn’t put too much trust into Pika’s words, even if that girl vowed. At most, after twenty four hours, she would forget that promise. But after stealing a glance at the stack of those plates and glasses, her irritation subsided. Whatever it was, those were also Pasha’s. Pika only used one plate and her glass was not there; maybe she was still using it.
In the middle of her washing, Pasha suddenly came to throw away the orange peels in his hand. His step faltered when he saw who was in there. But then he continued his steps as if nothing happened.
“Busy?” he asked, making a small talk.
‘Like you see,” Tesa answered shortly without stopping whatever she was doing.
When Pasha saw her washing the plate he had used, he immediately knew Pika was in her lazy mood. “Pika asked you to do it all?” he confirmed.
Of course Tesa couldn’t say the truth. But if she only laughed at it, Pasha would still be suspicious. So she said a white lie for Pika’s good. “Ah, no. I offered help. It’s not that many anyway.”
Pasha wasn’t satisfied with the answer that he felt suspicious, but he didn’t pursue further. “Let me help you,” he said.
Before Tesa could refuse, Pasha had already picked up the towel from the rack and started to dry the washed plates. They worked without a word. Pasha even didn’t show any sign that he had known Tesa long, and not just only met in the dining room just now. Tesa understood, this must be because of Pika’s presence in the next room. Every time that girl could inspect and made a ruckus if she saw something she didn’t like. As the daughter of a wealthy family, Pika was used to be spoiled and her attitude was adapted from that habit. Tesa didn’t want any commotion. Even more so, since there’s nothing between Pasha and herself, so it would be terrible if she was accused wrongly, she thought.
After all the plates, spoon and forks had been dried, Pasha hung the towel back on its place. Then he fished out a handkerchief to dry his fingers. Tesa noticed the folded, wrinkled blue handkerchief. It seemed like since her retirement, there’s no one to do the ironing. Pasha must be too busy. Pika wouldn’t want to do it…
‘Ah, how come you still use that torn handkerchief!” Tesa blurted out without thinking.
Pasha, who was still drying his hand, quickly opened the folded handkerchief. And there was it: a torn corner.
“Oh yeah! I don’t know that!” he said, blushing. Too embarrassed, he didn’t remember to ask her how she could know! But after he got back to his place, Pasha suddenly remembered the incident and became confused.
‘Eh, how come that Tesa could know my handkerchief is torn?” he muttered, half asking to Pika, then he told her about what had happened. Pika’s heart skipped a beat. Silently, she cursed her friend’s carelessness. Of course Pasha was suspicious!
‘Ah, maybe you used that handkerchief before, and she saw it’s torn!” Pika said, trying to convince him that Tesa wasn’t a witch who could see what’s inside one’s pocket.
Pasha went quiet after hearing the explanation, as if he’s satisfied with the answer, but actually it was far from that. His mind kept turning, looking for answers that made more sense. The more he thought about it, the more mysteries he found shrouding that shy, quiet girl, he thought. Her smile and her eyes sometimes looked so mysterious. Were there secrets that she had to keep locked inside? Was there sadness that had flooded her heart that had made the reflection from her eyes looked so uncertain and vague, as if cloaked by a curtain of duress?
Too many question marks popping in his mind, like bubbles that were left over after the wave crashed. Like, how Tesa looked so familiar in his apartment that she didn’t need any help in the kitchen. She also knew which glass to use for snack and for meal.
Pasha had this weird hobby. He really liked to collect porcelain cups from all over the place. There were the blue ones, a souvenirs from Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding; there were the golden brown ones to commemorate the Queens’ birthday; there were the white ones, green ones, red ones, yellow ones, vermillion ones, etc. That last ones, he bought them in the tea auction, not to celebrate anything. Their colors were bright vermillion with a green heart. These were reserved for breakfast, along with their matching plates.
For afternoon snacks, he liked to use the white one with cat pictures all over them. Of course he had never told the world about his habit through radio or casual conversation. So, was it only coincidence that Tesa took the right cups for coffee? Was it true that she was not a witch who could see one’s thought?
There were only two answers: yes and no. And both had deep meanings. Hmm. He had to know to the root of this.
When Tesa walked down from the Grahams the nest Tuesday, she was surprised to see Pasha had already waited for her on his usual place. It had been so long she had forgotten his habit, so she didn’t expect to see him crouching down in front of his door near the stairs.
“Hi!” He greeted her with a mysterious smile.
“Hi!” she replied half stuttering.
“Let’s visit my place,” he invited, jumping upright.
“Next time. I’m busy,” she said, trying to move forward. But Pasha of course was not Pasha if he let a lovely girl refused his invitation. He grabbed hold of her arm and didn’t let her to walk downstairs.
“It’s been so long since we eat pancakes together,” he said, as if yeaning for it.
“That’s right!” Tesa said, half pouting. “I thought you already forget me. Didn’t expect you till remember again today.”
“I just got back from Sydney last Friday. And we saw each other on Sunday, right? The chicken roll is super duper good.”
“Mmm… I have no change,” Tesa scoffed, hearing the belated praise. “Now, let me off.”
“Eh, don’t be like that. Let’s go in first. I’m so sorry for not having the chance to tell you about my leaving. You won’t sulk, will you?”
“Of course not,” Tesa said, scowling at him. “Why should I sulk? You’re not my boyfriend.”
Pasha winced, hearing the curt answer, but he kept his smile intact. Tesa brushed his hand from her arm, but Pasha only tightened his grip. He showed her his secret weapon in the form of the most charming smile. And his deadly coaxing words that had passed dozens of girls’ tests. Tesa who was relatively naïve, with only one Goffar as her experience certificate, of course hard pressed to defend herself.
“Come on, Tes. Don’t be like that. If you’re not angry with me, then why don’t you want to come in? If you don’t want to come in, then it’s the sign that you’re angry with me.”
“I’m not angry with you, but I also don’t want to go in. Next time, I said. I’m busy now. Next time, I will really go in.”
Pasha looked at her piercingly, then he slowly hissed while showing her his toothpaste-ad smile. “What if I tell Pika you’re sulking at me?”
“Are you nuts?” Tesa yelled, her eyes widened. “She would be so angry. My name would be destroyed to the end of the earth. There will be no place for me to show myself.”
“So, you know what will happen. Therefore, don’t force me to report to her that you don’t want to visit my place anymore.”
“You dare to report this? You’re not afraid she would get angry with you?”
“Who cares? Anyway, I bet she wouldn’t dare to be angry at me. So, do you want to go in or get reported?”
“This is blackmail!” Tesa yelled angrily. “Let me go!”
“Oh, no. Don’t say that. I only want you to accompany me eating fruit salad. You will agree, won’t you?”
“Fruit salad?” From where this monster knew that I like fruit salad the most. Tesa thought in frustration. Was it possible that he baited the information from Pika? They often made fruit salad at the dorm, that’s true. And the queen of it was of course Tesa!
“I just got superior shrimp paste from home. So I plan to make fruit salad. Palm sugar, chili, and tamarind are easy to get here. Also the fruits. So, come on, let’s eat together…” Then he dragged Tesa, whose knees were weakened already, toward the front door.
“I’m busy…” Tesa argued with a weak voice. The image of spicy and fresh fruit salad made her almost drooling.
“If you don’t agree, I will report you to Pika. You must accept my invitation!” Pasha said firmly. Without waiting for another word, he opened the door and pushed Tesa inside.
That girl’s eyes quickly searched for a plate of her favorite food. But there’s none! Her precise nose tried to smell the smell of shrimp paste and salad’s dressing. In a closed room, usually such smell would be easy to sense. Then the truth dawned on her. Pasha was lying. Maybe only his idea to trap her.
When he didn’t pay her close attention, like a lightning, she leaped to the door and turned the knob. But like a doe seeing her cubs in danger, Pasha immediately leaped to her side. He stood between the door and Tesa, blocking her way.
“Please don’t go, Tes. There’s something I have to say to you!” His voice was now pleading, not even a trace of a threat.
“I don’t like to be blackmailed.”
“Forgive me, Tes. I have no other choice to make you willing to go in.”
“Hmph. You only think about your own. Don’t you know how busy I am? This is exam week!”
“Once again, I’m sorry, Tes. I… I… the truth is, I like you very much. I… I… think, I… am in love with you.” Pasha said the last words hurriedly, as if he’s afraid he would choke on it. Afterwards, he gulped with a dumb look on his face.
Plak! The slap came without warning, so that Pasha’s red face showed a great shock. But Tesa’s eyes were even more frightening. They shot the burning hate.
“That’s what you’re saying to your girlfriend’s good friend?” Tesa bellowed furiously. “You don’t appreciate the trust Pika gives to you! And you offend me! Do you think I’m that cheap?” Then suddenly, her tears flowed down just like that. Tesa suddenly remembered Goffar. Maybe this was Goffar had done to Shakira. But the difference was, maybe her best friend had welcomed it… Would she lower herself, just like Shakira, for a piece of love, by hurting someone else’s heart?!
Pasha rubbed his sore cheek. He couldn’t decide whether he should be angry or laugh out loud for being slapped. Because all his life, he had never got slapped by a soft hand. When he saw the tears flooding out from her eyes, he was thunderstruck. Her male heart lost any sense, confused and panicked. Of course he had never guessed that Tesa was remembering her faithless ex-boyfriend.
“Forgive me, Tes. I didn’t know I would hurt you so. Sorry, Tes. I don’t think you’re cheap at all. I don’t know. There’s something inside me that made me said that to you.”
Pasha touched Tesa’s shoulder, and when that girl didn’t protest, he held it more tightly. He got out a tissue and wiped the tears coursing down her cheeks.
Tesa fished out her own tissue then cleaned her nose. She tried to stop her tears, then she looked at Pasha with eyes that were still shining wetly.
“I respect you, Pasha. Don’t be such an unfaithful guy!” she said with a faint voice.
Pasha clamped her lips tight and bobbed his head seriously.
“Now I have to go home!” Tesa said briskly, pushing Pasha aside so she could open the door.
“I’ll drive you,” Pasha said quickly. “You’d better wash your eyes first so it won’t be so red. Coincidentally, I just got my car back from the shop, so I want to test drive it.”
Tesa nodded without a word, then walked to the bathroom. Pasha held her arm when she walked out from there. “Tes, about the fruit salad, I didn’t lie to you. It’s not like I wanted to bait you with it. I did plan to make one, but I was waiting for you to make it…”
Tesa didn’t say anything. Pasha propelled her to the kitchen and showed her the shrimp paste, sugar, chili and fruits.
Tesa shook her head. “I have no mood for it today,” she whispered softly.
“I understand. Next time, okay? When are you coming here again? Thursday, right? I will wait for you.”
“You’d better call Pika. The fruits wouldn’t hold.”
“Oh, that’s easy. I can buy new ones,” he replied without acknowledging Tesa’s advice to call Pika.
Tesa huffed out her breath and gathered her last courage before she went home. “Pasha, if you want me to come here again, you must promise me you will never repeat such a dumb act like today! If you don’t give me your word, I will never come here again. Just keep in mind! Your girlfriend is Pika. She’s your wife-to-be. I’m her good friend. And I will never fall for you!” She looked at dumbfounded Pasha. “Will you give me your word?” she asked firmly.
“Yes, yes, yes,” Pasha stammered as if he was just awaken from dreams. “I… promise. But you will come Friday, right?”
Tesa took a relieved breath and nodded.
The next Friday, Tesa carried out her promise to come to Pasha’s place to eat rujak (Indonesian Vegetable & Fruits Salad with Palm Sugar Sauce). Tesa was an expert of making rujak’s dressing, since it’s her favorite dish.
“Too bad there are no kedongdong, lobi-lobi and gandaria,” she said, salivating. (Indonesian sour fruits)
Pasha cringed listening to her. “My gastric acid just burst listening to that sour fruits. Girls! Craving or not, you girls are always after the same thing! Just like Pika!”
After hearing her name, Tesa all of a sudden remembered what she wanted to ask. “I wonder, why don’t you make this rujak with Pika?”
“That means I have to wait for her break! My shrimp paste will go bad by then! Tes, Tes, don’t you get it? My girl has no time for anything except two. First, for classes! Second, for labs! I’m just a simple deviation.”
So, you just accepted being downgraded into a simple deviation?! But she didn’t utter her thought, worried it would touch a taboo topic. Her soft heart felt sorry for him. She understood, this man was lonely and in need of a friend. That’s it. No more. If he’s talking nonsense like the other day, he was just overboard or maybe just to coax Tesa so she wouldn’t mind fulfilling his wishes: to come to his place every now and then, for example. Pasha didn’t realize that Tesa was immune to sweet-talk. Because she’s full with Goffar’s sweet-talk, all of which turned out to be just “moonlight on the river”.
As if he could read Tesa’s mind, Pasha continued further, “You must be wondering, why I don’t mind to be treated like an old rag. Well! I want to fight back sometimes. But our love has gone through so many obstacles. We’ve been fighting for far too long against our parents’ old-fashion thinking and hypocrisy. If we do break up, it will be the same as giving up to their nonsense order. They were competitors in marketing their products, then they wanted to involved the children to that rivalry. And now, when it’s obvious that Pika actually doesn’t care about me, I can not back off. Moreover, now they start to accept this relationship. It’s all because of me. When I had my accident the other day, I always send a letter –written by Selina, the girl that I never forget – commending Pika’s attentiveness in looking after me! While the person I was commending was having fun somewhere in laboratories. Or in the middle of staring at and listening to some lecture. Anyway, my parents have a good impression of Pika, so they took an initial step to the other party. Pika’s parents wasn’t a vengeance type anyway. So in the end they came to an agreement…”
Pasha looked at Tesa, then smile sadly. Tesa was confused; she didn’t understand what this guy’s true feeling was. His smile was hard to interpret. Now that his relationship had been blessed, why didn’t he go wild and dance happily?! Why he just cringed?!
“Wah, Pika should be very happy then!” Tesa exclaimed, faking joy.
“I’m not sure,” said Pasha half moaning. “That girl is odd. In front of other people, she always spoils me. That should mean she’s happy with me. But if it’s only just the two of us, she will ignore me. It was me who has to spoil and serve her. Preparing food, washing dishes, or cooking, she wouldn’t want to do those! It’s all my duty! But if there’s someone else around, she’ll be nice to me.”
And Tesa know how pleasant it was when Pika was in her sweet mood! Was that why Pasha was reluctant to let her go? Eh, eh, how could she think that far?! Reluctant or not, it’s not her business! She was just a pot to where people spit whatever inner feeling that can not be told to any ears.
Turned out Pasha was taken over by the delicious rujak devil inside him. His words were flowing more freely and also becoming more and more lost. If possible, he would probably spill all his heart content to the person in front of him at the moment. And coincidently, that person is her, thought Tesa.
“The other day I wasn’t around, because I went to Sydney. My uncle came there for some business matter. He had no time to come here, so he asked me to come there instead. My uncle said my parents had agreed to meet Pika’s parents. They had approved our relationships. And they asked whether our engagement can be held as soon as possible. Two months from now if it’s possible. On the twenty-seventh!”
Pasha grinned while taking more chili. “The weird thing is, I don’t feel like I’m flying to seventh heaven. Just normal. I’ve been fighting for this love for years. Once, I even threatened that I wouldn’t go back to Jakarta if we didn’t get the approval. But now!” He lifted his shoulder while once again taking chili sauce.
“Maybe that’s human nature,” he kept on. “What really counts is the fight for something. But after it was achieved, well, nothing felt special anymore. The usual. Normal.”
Tesa was silent all along, since Pasha didn’t wait for any response from her. What he needed was a pair of ears to listen to him. And Tesa ran her role very nicely. But inwardly, she couldn’t help thinking. Pasha would be engaged with Pika soon! Was she happy? Or would she be sad?!
Not sure. What she was sure of was her heart suddenly felt relieved! Relieved as if she would no longer be in danger. Yes, yes, if Pasha was officially tied, that meant the temptation for him would be over soon. He wouldn’t remember who Selina was anymore, or any other girls, such as… herself! And deep inside her heart, there’s a voice mockingly saying that the temptation was not only ended for Pasha, but for herself too, wasn’t it?!
When she thought about it, she couldn’t find a correct reason why she always came here. Yeah, maybe because she simply liked to come over to Pasha’s place. Maybe she’s looking for praises for her delicious cakes. Maybe just to kill time (although her homework assignment was piled high!).
Not sure which one was correct. What obvious was, she said to herself, Pasha was no more than a big brother for her. (Really, a dark corner of her heart asked.)
Yes, yes, she missed her big brother in Jakarta. All this time Markus had become her bodyguard wherever she went. Moreover after that tragedy with Goffar. Now, far from home, she felt all alone. She missed the attention from his big brother! So, Pasha was the replacement. No more than that!
So a few weeks passed. Pasha’s back as before, nice, polite, but sometimes a bit dazed as if he’d gone loony. Sometimes she called Tesa with Pika’s name, asking her to make some coffee, then he would ask for forgiveness when he realized his mistake.
“No problem,” answered Tesa laughingly. “But be careful! Don’t you ever call your girlfriend Tesa! She’ll go ‘BOOM’!”
“I’ll be careful,” promised Pasha, grinning shyly. “Maybe I’ve learned too much that my brain often electrocuted! What will happen if I kiss you? Problem, problem, problem!”
Pasha shook his head, while Tesa hurriedly went to the kitchen. She didn’t want her blushed face seen by Pasha. Because she’s willing to bet, her cheek must be the same color as a steamed crab!
Besides saying the wrong name, Pasha also forgot other things. For example, for a week he couldn’t remember the name of the Vespa scooter company competitor. He went sullen and nervous.
“I’m probably got hit with Alzheimer,” he told his schoolmate. “If in ten days my memory hasn’t returned, I will have to take my brain to the lab for service!”
Luckily before the due date come, he suddenly remembered the word Lambretta. He called Tesa straight away.
“Tes, I remembered, Tes! Lambretta! That’s right, isn’t it? Vespa competitor is Lambretta, isn’t it? Ha, ha, ha, I’m still normal! I still can go into Surgery!”
“Thank goodness, Pasha. I’m happy that you could finally remember. Buuuttt, have you told Pika yet?”
The ha-ha-ha sound on the other end was suddenly gone. His voice sounded dejected when he admitted, “No I haven’t, Tes. I’m afraid I will disturb her. Besides, I actually don’t know where she is now, or what class she’s in now.”
“Oh, if I’m not mistaken, she’s not in the class today. I saw her in the laundry room. The dorm people normally do their laundry when they’re staying in, worried some naughty hands stealing their clothes if they left. Do you want me to get her?”
“Ah, no need. She will feel disturbed; it’s not that important anyway.”
“And it’s ok to disturb me, huh?” Tesa said without thinking. She wasn’t serious, but hearing Pasha’s shock gasp, Tesa regreted it straight away.
“O, o, o, so sorry. I don’t think about it at all, you might also not want to be disturbed. Sorry, Tes, I’m…”
“Hei, I wasn’t serious…” cut Tesa, but Pasha just continued.
“Maybe later, around midnight I will disturb you again! Bye!”
Tesa wanted to get angry, but she also wanted to laugh. That male monkey, instead of reporting things to his master, he reported to her! Did she look like a dorm supervisor already, she thought sourly. But she couldn’t help it, she felt so glad that Pasha could go through his black-out.
When she met Pika in the kitchen during lunch time, Tesa reported to her straight away regarding the phone call. She meant to share the joy that Pasha was not muddleheaded any longer.
“Ah..,” grumbled Pika half upset. “Such a minor thing had to be broadcasted all over the world!”
Tesa was stunned, disappointed and offended. Didn’t she know how important this thing was for Pasha?! Did she care at all?!
“Good think I was not the one he called!” she said further, busy blending carrot, her daily drink.
“Pik, don’t you understand how important this thing is for him? If he keeps on going muddle-headed, that means he can not take specialization in surgery, doesn’t it?”
“And it’d be better if he could not!” replied Pika while pouring the carrot juice into a glass. “What do you know? Surgeon’s working hours is uncertain. In the middle of the night, he has to be ready to perform an important operation. Lack of sleep, have to concentrate fully, work like a horse… will he be able to do that? And me? If I’m to be his wife, won’t I also be woken up when he got a call?!”
Tesa went silent. When she thought about it, Pika’s objections did make sense. Who wanted to get called in the middle of a dream?! Who wanted their husband to be fully awake in the middle on the night with scissor and scalpel in his hands, ready to fix people’s stuck intestine or stop the bleeding under a broken skull?! But, if she thought further, who would help those people if everybody thought like Pika?! Ah, she’s not sure! The safe way was to just agree with what Pika said!
“Yes, perhaps you’re right. I’ve never thought that far,” said Tesa in the middle of her lunch preparation.
“Of course I’m right!” barked Pika viciously. “It’s Pasha who doesn’t think further than his own nose. That person never pays attention to anyone’s need. Always himself as the centre of the earth. Number one, his need. Number two, his need. Even number three is still his need! Sometimes I’m so irritated by him.”
Eh, eh, steam cooker blew the lid up! Tesa was taken aback listening to her friend ranting. That side whined his girlfriend had no time for him. One here complained her boyfriend only cared for his own problems! Was this what called the cross-war?! Or world war?! Iiih, she didn’t want to turn into Stalin or Churchill!
When Tesa didn’t come up with any comment, Pika turned her head then frowned.
“Hey, what started my-Pasha to love to report to you?”
Oh, Lordy! Tesa was so shocked being asked like that. She’s not ready with any answers. For a second her mouth, which was ready to taste the coconut soup, was opened just like a fish without water. My-Pasha! Oh, goodness me! When I ever said that he’s not your-Pasha, Pik?! she thought inside.
Good thing Sabita showed up as if sent from heaven, so that Pika didn’t dare to continue her interrogation. Grumbling like a dog that had just drunk aphrodisiac, she walked away with a glass of carrot mixed with cucumber.
“What kind of formula is that?” asked Sabita who had a curiosity like a toddler.
“Fresh, huh?” Pika nodded with pride.
“I’m not sure. Smells like ammoniac?!”
“What do you know! This is carrot, cucumber and pear!”
“Oh, I thought yesterday urine from the fridge!”
“Yuck, yuck, drinking urine! Even if my-Pasha told me too, I will never drink it!” snapped Pika, walking to her room.
Sabita watched Pika until she disappeared turning the corner of the corridor, then turned to Tesa who had just spread her table mat.
“What wrong with our kangaroo? Looks like a locomotive without proper warming up? Her diesel hasn’t shown up for a date for a while here either.”
“Pasha is busy with his paper. Pika, I’m not sure. I’m not even sure why she’s so upset in such a bright afternoon!” Tesa was reluctant to reveal other people’s business.
“Eh, how come you understand other people’s domestic affairs so well? Maybe it’s you who typed the paper? What is the title?”
“Geez! Nopi is Pasha’s friend. I just heard Nopi mentioned it, nothing’s complicated…”
“Oh, I see! Eh, Tes, do you mind if I tell you a thing or two? Don’t ever get involved in Pika’s personal problem! It’ll be fatal! I’m her longtime best friend, so I know how much voltage her anger could go up! Huh! It can burn the whole city, you know!”
“Who wants to get involved?” she said lightly, but deep inside Tesa was trembling. Sabita had a talent to become a detective. Luckily she could find a sensible answer. Because this special friend of hers was not easily satisfied if she suspected something amiss. In short, she wouldn’t be surprised if later Sabita changed major from accounting to the academy for CIA or KGB candidate. But what would make things worse was if this girl, who was Pika’s best friend, would start ranting with her cheap story in front of Pika.
Once again she’s lucky and saved as hundreds of hungry worm in Sabita’s intestine had been asking for rice for the last half an hour, so that girl was running around opening the fridge looking for remnants of yesterday leftover that was still edible.
When the air danger had passed, Tesa quietly wiped the sweat from her forehead. Next time you must be more careful when you talk, you pig, she warned herself.
One day, as usual, Tesa was in Pasha’s place. She was making apple pie while humming softly. Her mood was good. Yesterday she had received a letter from home telling news of the three puppies that were born by Mopi, her darling spaniel. Her grandchildren picture was so awesome that it’s now decorating her desk.
While mixing the ingredients, her mind flew across the ocean, perched on her house window, and peeked inside. Her mom will be carrying one of Mopi’s puppies, holding on to a milk bottle, while Aster, her sister, will be feeding another. Mopi had given birth so many times and the whole family had always taken great care of it. Even Inem the maid would prefer to work overtime than not holding Mopi’s puppies.
Ah, it’ll be nice if she can stay at home all the time! She thought dreamily. What is it I’m really looking for here?! All that I love is at home! Just because of a broken heart…
“Selina!” suddenly she heard a shout from the living room.
“Yes!” she replied hurriedly. Pasha must have needed something. It’s a pity when someone had to be depend on someone else to even do little things. She’s lucky to be blessed with a good sight. Even though Pasha was more often whining than appeased, Tesa was glad to know him. It made her appreciate what she had. If she never met a disabled person, she probably would always whine and complain too; she would always feel she lacked of something and pity herself just because her lover had betrayed her!
Swiftly, she untied her apron and ran to the front. In her mind, she’s picturing Pasha falling from his wheelchair. His voice sounded so urgent.
“What is it?” she asked, a little out of breath, then it was as if she’s nailed to the floor. Her face went as white as paper. Her eyes flared widely, staring to the front with fear.
Pasha was staring at her without blinking. That guy was sitting at ease on the static bicycle. And his eyes were not blind at all!
Slowly that guy lifted his left leg down to the floor, then swung the other one so that he stood tall. Then step by step he came forward. As if seeing an alien, Tesa instinctively stepped backward in fear, until she was trapped by the wall. In the meantime, Pasha didn’t stop walking. When he got to where Tesa stood, he prisoned that girl with both hands planted to the wall.
“Nah, now Mr. Solem wants to hear what your real name is! Watch it, don’t you dare lie! What’s your name, sweetie?”
Tesa couldn’t find her voice. Her lips was shut like a shell, while her eyes got bigger, as if almost jumped out.
“Come on, say it!”
Tesa shook her head weakly.
“Hm. Naughty huh?! Do I have to call Pika to get help? Maybe Pika will remember more?”
“Oh, N…o! Don’t call her! I’ll be dead if she knows I’m here!”
“Nah, so you have remembered what your name is? Have you? Come on, I haven’t heard anything. Say it loudly!”
“Tesa! I hope you can not sleep seven days and night!” she cursed snappily, but Pasha wouldn’t mind being cursed by a lovely girl. Even the Devil would be sympathetic with them and wouldn’t want to disturb!
“So whose name is Selina?”
“I don’t understand what you’re asking.” Tesa shook her head.
“Don’t play dumb. I was calling for Selina; why did you show up if it’s not your name?”
“Because! I’m the only one here, so who else you’re calling besides me?”
“It didn’t mean I called you, right?! Maybe I was just daydreaming, than suddenly that name popped out from my lips. That can happen. You might not know, but I never forget Selina. She’s always on my mind, day and night.”
“That’s your business!” said Tesa with a bored look. “Now, let me go back to the kitchen if you not looking for me! My apple pie couldn’t be ready otherwise,” snapped Tesa without having the courage to look at the person in front of her.
Pasha didn’t release his cage, but one of his hands took hold of Tesa chin and he looked at her deeply. “Selina,” he said softly, “how come you don’t dare to look at me?”
“My name is not Selina!” snapped Tesa angrily.
“Ah, ah, ah, you need more practice before you can become a good liar!” replied Pasha laughingly without letting go of her chin.
“If you think I will be tempted with all you rubbish, you’re wrong, Pasha! Let me go to kitchen now or… I will never come here anymore!” threatened Tesa, glowering at him.
“Uh, uh, uh, you are prettier when your temper rises like that! Selina, you will come here again! You want to bet?!”
“Hm. Your ego is too big!”
“Certainly. As big as the love in my heart and…”
“Hm,” scoffed Tesa mockingly. “Tell me, why are you so sure you will win the bet?”
“Because… if you let me finished my sentence earlier, you would know… because, your love is also as big as my love!”
“What??? Hah, so funny! My love? My love for whom? For you? Ah, don’t try to make kangaroo laugh, really! If you think I will be interested to a whiner like you, then, you’re really are loony,” mocked Tesa without mercy.
“Oh, oh, oh, so you know I’m a whiner? From whom? Certainly not from Pika, right? During the time you’re here, as far as I remember, I’m always nice and polite. As far as I remember, I’m only being a whiner to one person. It’s not Pika. It’s not Tesa. But, Selina! Yes, I know, how bad I was at that stage. This was wrong, that was not right. This was not done yet, and another order had come along. I was like the very devil, evil and jealous to every healthy person at that time. But Selina patiently followed all my orders. Her graciousness and warmth infiltrates so deeply into my soul. I often thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I was accompanied by such a girl all of my life! I would be so thrilled if Pika could be like Selina! That’s why I was so disappointed when I heard she had gone back to Jakarta without seeing me anymore. No one knew her address. Most had even never ever heard of her name. But she’s always on my mind. Often I sit in front of the window, thinking about her. Where is she now? What she’s doing? When will she be back? If it’s about cost of living, I’m willing to help her, because her short-presence in my life is more valuable than any other girls’ presence had been all my life. And now… after I found her, do you think I will let her go again?”
He looked intently into the dark beautiful panic eyes that looked like an endangered trapped puppy. Tesa wanted to lower her face, but her chin was being held all the time. She had no power to get away from that intense deep stares that were zeroing straight to her heart. She shivered.
“I… I don’t understand at all what short story you’re trying to tell me just then!” she said bravely.
“Ah, ah, ah, so you don’t get it? Uh, uh, uh, poor girl! Should I teach you the a-b-c from the beginning? Selina, I know you’re not that dumb! Come on, admit it that you are Selina!”
“Huh. No way!” Tesa pretended to laugh while her heart was beating hard, looking for escape route. If this tiger became desperate enough and asked Pika’s explanation, ah, she’ll be finished! Her name, her future! Finished, doomed, ruined! So, how could she make him believed that she was not Selina?! Huh! It’s all because she’s daydreaming, mind flying away to home, so she’s not prepared!
“If I’m not Selina, why should I admit it? Do you want to make me red-white porridge, huh?!” (Indonesian tradition is to make red-white porridge when someone wants to change his/her name.)
For a second, a cloud of doubt hovered over him. And Tesa caught that chance to free her chin and sneak out from under Pasha’s arm circle.
But her moves brought back his alertness.
“Oh, oh, oh, if you’re not Selina, please tell, why are you so eager to come here?”
Tesa was at loss of words. She couldn’t find an answer for that. In her room, before sleep, she often asked that same question to herself. She felt bad; what had made visiting other girl’s boyfriend’s place her hobby?! She felt embarrassed if she imagined Pika accusing her in front of the others in the kitchen. Oh, where could she hide her shame then?! But still, it’s fruitless to find the reason for her new hobby. She loved to come to Pasha’s place, and that was it. And as long as she considered him to be like Markus, her big brother, what was the danger in it?! See, no unwanted event had ever happened. Until now…
Suddenly she realized Pasha was still waiting for her lips to form an answer. Her eyes stared back at Pasha’s without blinking. And in the end, she only lifted her shoulder.
”It’s not me who’s eager! You’re the one who forces me to come here. Fine, I’ll go now. And you don’t have to worry, I’m not going to come anymore!” Tesa moved to escape, but she was stopped.
“Eh, eh, eh, not that simple. Before you say adios, this matter has to be made clear first. Do you know why I insist you to come here all the time? Because there are so many things that make me suspicious you could be Selina! I don’t know why Pika hides you from me! But I will never give up before I know who my real angel is. Selina…”
“How many times do I have to say that my name is not Selina?! Do you want to see copy of my birth certificate and ID?!” shouted Tesa angrily. And what she hated the most was, if she got so angry, her tears would also start to come down.
“All right. I understand your name is Tesa. But I also know that Selina is you! Why this thing could happen?” asked Pasha softly; his eyes were drilling into the girl’s eyes even deeper.
Tesa was so annoyed being interrogated like that, as if she had done some unforgivable sin.
“Go ask Pika!” she blurted out without thinking. This was a weakness that had always caused headache for her. She often talked without thinking, giving her bad bad consequence to deal with.
“Aha!” The tiger now roared happily. “So, there is a game between you and Pika? In another word, you finally admitted, that you are Selina even though your real name is Tesa. Am I right?”
Tesa couldn’t form any reply. And her silence made Pasha laughed even more. His face, which had been clouded with doubt, was now shining and turned bright like a moon on the fifteenth day.
“And now, after I found the person that I missed so so so much, do you think I will let her go just like that? ‘Don’t you worry, I’m not going to come anymore!’” Pasha laughingly imitated what Tesa had said earlier.
“So, what do you want?” finally Tesa asked; she was at the end of her wits and wanted to be let go ASAP. She felt clammy being so close with this male puma; moreover, her heart had been flipping about for a while now. A few more minutes, she’s worried that the thumping would be unbearable and her heart would keel over and die!
But just like a cat who just cornered a mouse, he didn’t pounce or let it go straight away, but playing with it first, asking for a running game.
“Hm, so Selina has chicken-pox marks on her face, huh?!” teased Pasha, chuckling. “Where, let me see?!” Then without permission, his hand moved from her chin to push aside some hair that was covering part of her face and forehead. His forefinger stroked her cheek lightly.
“Hm. How smooth. Can’t feel any chicken-pox marks!”
Tesa gritted her teeth, praying that a flash of lightning would come and make him go away, jumping from shock. But heaven apparently was having a rest and the situation stayed calm.
“What do you want?” repeated Tesa, insisting. She felt so irritated that she could not get away and had no choice but to let Pasha played the cat-mouse game with her.
“Oh, I want a loootttt of things!!!!!”
“Say it! I will just ignore them!”
“Really?” This puma grinned as if he didn’t completely believe her. As if he wanted to say, how could anyone refuse a lottery with number one prize already attached on it?!
“Wanna bet?” challenged Tesa crossly.
“I want you to replace Pika in my heart!” whispered Pasha, without a smile on his face.
“Huk!” Tesa almost chocked on her own breath. She was shocked out of her wits. Replacing…! Oh, God, was it the end of my world already?! Are You going to let me got reduced to rubble just because of a love of a man?! And… was it really love?! If it’s love, how could it’s so easily transferred, just like buying and selling a piece of land in front of the notaries?
“Do you want to kill me?” she asked hoarsely.
”What?!” Of course Pasha was confused. “Why does it have to be that tragic? I have no disease, Tes. My body does not smell rotten either, right? How come dating me will make you dead?”
Ugh, MEN! she grumbled inwardly. They can never understand women’s heart.
“Pasha, don’t you play around, ok? Don’t dream such a useless thing. You are the boyfriend of Pika, my friend! You will be engaged with her soon, a few more weeks. Don’t think you can force me into it. I will ignore you if you ever break up with Pika! I will never come here anymore!”
Eh, eh, eh, why things turned out like this?! Pasha got confused. As far as he knew, at least 2 girls in his college were willing to jump without parachute to Swan River if only they could get his love. Not to say when it’s offered freely! Was Tesa too proud or was she playing hard to get? Did she think love could get devalued that it had to be held on like that?!
“Wah, wah, wah, how could you be so reckless, Tes? You’re surely not serious huh?”
“Of course I am serious!” snapped Tesa. Than she looked at Pasha with misty eyes. Ah, if only her destiny was in her own hand! She sighed. I have tasted the bitterness that I drank from my own friend’s hand, she thought. How could I do this revolting action to my other friend, even if that person is not that close to me?!
“Pasha, I consider you as my own brother. That’s why I don’t hesitate coming to your place. I feel peace near you, because I imagine you’re like Markus, my dear big brother. Why do have to ruin this nice situation? Can’t you take me as your younger sister? Or, you’re probably ashamed to have a little sister like me?”
“Why do you have to ask such a stupid question? Of course I do! I do, I do, I do! Like Pika, I’m an only child. Even if I already have a sister, I would be happy to have you as my sister! Buuuuttttt….”
Her calming and relieved heart went back to thump loudly when she heard the last word. That’s a long BUT! The end wouldn’t sound too good for sure!
“… I want more than just a sister! I want you to be my side forever!”
“Oh, that can be arranged! No problem!”
“Really?!” Pasha’s eyes went wide, full with hopeful light.
“Really!” Tesa nodded. “With a condition…”
“Ah, ah, ah, that’s easy. Just tell me! I’ll do it all!”
Tesa look at him with amusement mixed with… she’s not sure mixed with what. Slowly she said the word. To make it clear, she said it one word at a time.
“… as long as… you … keep … going … with … your … relationship … with… Pika!”
“Aaarrghh!” Pasha groaned like a sheep being sent to the butcher. He shook his head, apparently confused and upset. “If you are here already, what do I need her for? Did you hear me wrong? I want you to be by my side forever! Of course taking her place!”
“And I’m only willing to be by your side, come here everyday, if you stay with Pika! I’m your younger sister, remember! Or you heard it wrong too?”
Pasha winced listening to her chiding. But Tesa didn’t give him another chance to reply. She kept going with her attack without mercy.
“Once you break up with Pika, I will also disappear from your life! Don’t ever think you can come after me afterwards! And especially not replacing her place! Love is a treasure that can not be moved around just like that. Just like a bonsai plant, it needs a special treatment and food-plant to keep it fresh and alive. You and Pika actually love each other deeply, but perhaps you two are just too lazy to look after it and to take care of the relationship. I know you actually adore Pika…”
“… but you’re just too lazy to sweet-talk her. That’s why in the end, she also wasn’t concerned about you as much, when she actually really loves you. What will happen if you leave her? Can you imagine how disappointed and bitter a woman’s heart is once she’s betrayed like that? Moreover, you have already had a future planned!”
Tesa still wanted to give a longer lecture when Pasha stopped her with a knock-out sentence. “Seems like you talk from experience, huh?!” he said; his eyes on her.
Tesa felt her face became warm. She cursed herself inside; how could she’s so careless as to reveal her own secret. Well, there’s nothing she could do; it already happened. As long as it could stop Pasha from changing his heart, she didn’t care, as long as there is no earthquake in this world! Let it be! She would even be willing to throw up the insides of her stomach as long as there was peace on their world.
Tesa shrugged her shoulder. “It’s not my concern what you deducted. The most important thing is, you have to understand this clearly: I’m only willing to be friends with you if you stay with Pika! Once you broke up with her, I won’t see you anymore. So, don’t you ever dream you can take my heart! Not now, not ever! And definitely not by hurting Pika’s heart!”
Pasha sucked in a deep long breath and held it. His eyes were full of rage when he hissed, “Don’t you think you have enough lecture for me already? May I be excused and suggest you go back to the kitchen?”
Tesa was so relieved being let go without anything further that she half ran to the back. Only when she’s mixing the cake batter that she just realized Pasha had never said he’s agree with her conditions!
So after finished eating pie, she promptly asked for his promise. Pasha sighed, lowering his head. “Yes, Ma’am, if that’s what you want. I will stay with Pika, as if Selina had never come into my life. But remember! You have to come here as usual!”
Tesa nodded. But she wholeheartedly promised herself. She would come there until Pasha and Pika’s engagement. After that, things could be considered safe and she didn’t have to involve herself with Mr. Solem anymore! She wouldn’t come to his place anymore!
Spring Summer Autumn Winter.
Pair ducks nest fly together.
Clemencies. Summer life, feather winter white.
Green meadow in spring, before the autumn bite.
Watching the red gown.
And none else, alone.
Things are getting really interesting now!! I can't wait for the next chapter. I hope you update soon, thanks for translating this story!
soo goooodddd... !!
where is the update now????? pleaseeeee please update faster
Sorry for the late update... this chapter is so hard to translate...
Without mentioning Tesa’s name, Pasha insisted that all – a-l-l – Indonesian students were invited to their engagement party. Pika actually had a plan to invite close friends only. “Just invite special friends only, Pas,” she said, and of course Tesa wasn’t included in it.
Now, after seeing the list Pasha made where Tesa’s name was naturally listed, Pika had no other choice but to change her plan. “Then we will have to hold the party twice. I don’t want that many people all at once. Besides, the dorm kitchen wouldn’t be able to accommodate all of them. So, one for the Indonesians, and one for the foreigners. Okay?”
Pasha knew when to stop bargaining with Pika. He’s thankful enough that Pika agreed to invite all the Indonesians, so he would have to accept her idea to hold two parties. Even though it would be a huge waste of money. But for the second party, he promised that it would be simple. No need to show off, since that kind of attribute wasn’t important here. Not like the Indonesians who sometimes liked to gossip, he thought. If he put limitation on it, they would say him Uncle Scrooge-y.
“How about if we hold the second party in my place, Pik? So the Indonesians wouldn’t find out. I’m afraid they will crash into it again if they heard there’s music and beer. Your kitchen will explode. Also, two parties back-to-back, I’m afraid the other residents will protest the noise.”
Pika thought about it and then nodded. She knew how noisy such party was. And usually, it lasted until late at night too. Their laughter could probably be heard miles and miles away.
So, for two different reasons, they agreed to divide the party into two. Pika agreed, because she didn’t want any of Pasha’s classmates would recognize Tesa as Solem’s Angel – Huh! Angel!! She scoffed inwardly. Yeah, right! How could she be compared to me? Solem’s angel?! Hm. But not anymore, right? I had sent that angel back to Jakarta! Ha! – so that Pasha would know who Selina really was! Of course, not even in her dream she had ever thought that Pasha had already known it long ago!
Pasha agreed, because he didn’t want any of his classmates falling for Tesa. He was sure, they will be attracted to her. Who knows, there might be some bold one. Wah, he would be done for.
Outside, the sun shone brightly. Sky’s blue. Flowers in every color were blooming cheerfully in the dorm’s garden. Trees were green again, leaving the grayness of winter behind.
The students were rejoicing. The dining room had been decorated. Everyone wholeheartedly helped Pika, because she didn’t have time to arrange for the party at all, moreover decorated it. Ordering food fell onto Sabita’s shoulder. After comparing prices, they decided to cook it themselves. Not only it’s cheaper, but the taste also fit their tongues better than outside catering. Pika only nodded her agreement, half listening to their decision, as if wanted to say, “You’re the ones who want to eat. So whatever you’d like to eat. I’m not that picky.”
Tesa, famous for her cooking skill, immediately was voted to cook. Since Pika didn’t limit them money-wise, so Nopi, who hold the cash string, decided to spend it all. If it’s not enough, he could ask for more, of course along with the receipt. Even though Pika didn’t limit the budget, she was a pedantic person. Everything had to be accounted for and ready, everything had to be placed on its place, from punctuation mark to make-up bottles, and especially receipts.
To make Pasha happy, Pika sought Tesa out and specifically asked her to make the chicken roll with brown sauce.
“No problem,” Tesa replied lightly, even though inwardly her heart bled. We’re not meant to be, she comforted herself. Her fate was not that bright to begin with. If it’s not meant to be, there’s nothing to regret for.
To not spoil the happy atmosphere, Tesa of course wouldn’t let herself to be in the middle of her whirlwind daydream. Enthusiastically, she joined in the festive.
There were six dishes in all. Each of them cooked one dish, according to their own specialty. Atina who was good in decorating promised to make plants and animals from various vegetable. Sabita, Ria, Nurul, Pualam and Dita would dispense their own skill. The atmosphere reeked with competition because Nopi promised to give a prize to the cook whose cooking attracted most patrons.
Different from Pika, Pasha made time to help taking care and arrange the party room. Hearing Nopi’s promise, he laughed. “Don’t play with fireworks, Pi! It can cause war, you know?”
“Ah, that way the world would be more exciting, Pas. If it’s too dull, our passion for life would turn bland too!” he said, gluing spiral papers on the wall.
“You mean your life, maybe? My life would never turn bland.”
“Of course you say that. Soon you will be engaged. But me? Keep deteriorating, consumed by age.”
“That’s why you should put yourself out there more. Who knows, there might be someone who still likes gorilla…”
“Geez, just because your hair-do can be compared to Mr. T! I’ll let you know that there’re some looking at my direction. But they’re all DC (direct current). No reciprocal AC (alternated current) I mean,” Nopi, the wire expert, said.
“Better not too picky than picking up AIDS. Just pick whoever’s coming. No problem if she’s a little unsightly, as long as she’s virus-free.”
“Yeah, right. Just picking up whoever’s coming like that. If her motor ran smoothly for life, then it posed no problem. But what if just in a couple years it had already short circuited? And what if it connected wrong? It can cause fire, you know?”
“If that’s so, then your prognosis is rather serious, Pi. Looks like there won’t be any causal therapy all your life, only palliative therapy. Like I said before, the later can cause AIDS.”
“You a*s! You think I like ‘snacking’? Ew. I’d rather buy some soap for…”
“For…?” asked Pasha, grinning, pretending not to understand when he knew what his friend meant one hundred percent.
At that moment, Atina and Nurul waked in, so Nopi had to cancel his plan to curse Pasha and Pasha couldn’t satisfy his urge to make fun of his friend.
“Work hard,” Atina pointed her remark to Nopi’s address, “if you want to be fed later.”
“Aw, how mean!” Pasha said, shaking his head.
“You see?!” Nopi groaned. “How fierce girls are when their noses even a little bit tall? So how to change DC to AC, I ask you?”
“Oh, so this is one of the wires?” Pasha said, glancing at Atina, causing that girl to look around in suspicion.
“I smell sarcasm in the air here,” she growled. “I hope it’s sent to the wrong address.”
“Oh, wrong address. Wrong address!” Nopi hastily said. “Bad messages always come to the wrong address, right?” Then he added more softly. “If I kept getting scolded like this, I wouldn’t be able to reach old age.”
“What did you say? Who loves to scold?” asked Atina, who turned out have a sharp hearing.
“Eh, Tin, let me give you a good advice,” called out Pasha, who was arranging microphone in the corner.
“What?” Atina got baited.
“If you want a guy as good-looking as him, you have to be gentle and demure. Retreat to win! See, if you win already, then you can show your power…! Am I right?”
“Ew, who wants…” Atina protested, but cut off by Nopi’s shout.
“What kind of friend you are! Giving such a bad advice! What would happen if someone took it? I’ll be dead. Thinking my heart was caressed by a lamb, when it turned out to be in the claw of a tigress!”
Nurul giggled, walking to the kitchen, followed by Atina. Not long after, from the kitchen direction Tesa appeared, walking hurriedly. Her eyes flew to the clock on the wall, then glanced at her watch.
“Where are you going in such a hurry, girl?” Nopi greeted with a voice so different from his usual one, giving Pasha a clue on who moved his friend’s magnet. But strangely, Tesa stayed just cool.
“I have to go to class,” Tesa said without stopped walking.
“Is the food done yet?” Nopi shouted.
“Beware, if my chicken roll was medium-rare in the middle!” threatened Pasha.
Tesa glanced at them and threw a smile, causing Nopi to immediately press his chest, as if he just got an attack.
“I’ll be back shortly. The party is tonight, so I still have time. If it’s not done yet, you can slice my ear!” Then she disappeared on the corridor corner, leaving a couple of dumbfounded faces. But Pasha was jerked awake by Nopi’s long groan.
“Ugh! Strange, how that lovely a girl could have no heart. Cold as snow.”
“Hm. So this is also one of the wrong-current wires?” Pasha sneered.
Nopi shrugged. “But this one is my wire. Not hers! Tesa doesn’t have feeling. Gentle as she is, but even one ton of dynamites wouldn’t make her run to our arms, seeking protection.”
“You mean your arms. If it’s my arms, she’d probably still be willing.”
“Ugh. Wanna bet?”
“Ah, no. I love peace, especially domestic peace.” Pasha said. Then he added more seriously, “Yeah, sometimes life is so tragic. What we don’t want, we could get easily. What we want, we probably wouldn’t ever get…”
“Is this your own experience?’ Nopi mocked back, causing Pasha to curse himself for his carelessness. What if his secret got revealed? If it’s only his reputation that got tarnished, he wouldn’t care less. But if Tesa’s also went along with it, he would never be able to forgive himself.
“What?” he said, pretending to be surprised. “We’re talking about your problem, weren’t we?”
“So you’re saying that I will be this unlucky my whole life?”
“Depend on your own heart wire. If you can direct it to the available channel…”
The phone in the dining room rang. Nopi picked it up then said, “He’s here.”
“Your wife,” he told Pasha.
That’s how the matchmaking session was forced to an early death.
Tables were joined together until they filled the length of the dining room. Besides Indonesian students, all the dormers on Pika’s level were invited too. They’re delighted to come because the party would have wine from the well known Seppelt winery, which Pasha bought just for them.
The top table was reserved for Pika and Pasha, along with a few chosen friends, especially from Pika’s side. Tesa intentionally came late—blaming the class time she had lengthened herself by going to the library; she had called Sabita and told her how to serve the chicken roll—so that she didn’t have to sit in the same table as Pasha. But just like luck would have it, the only seat available was at the bottom table, and its location was face-to-face with Pasha.
Without anybody realizing it, Pasha often looked at the end table near the door, causing Tesa to often pretend to be busy spooning food into her plate or turning to her side, pretending to be engrossed in conversations that bored her.
If Pasha was involved in the laughter and jokes with the people around him—which happened most of the time—then it was Tesa’s turn to watch them. How colorful youth seemed, judging by their actions. But was it how it should be for everybody? Like… herself?!
One time their eyes met! Tesa was so lost in her daydream that she didn’t realize it. Her eyes were staring forward, but she didn’t see Pasha. In contrary, Pasha was totally watching her. He knew that girl was in her own world. Her dark eyes looked like a bottomless lake, drowning whatever fell into them. Her oval face looked relaxed, but melancholy was shadowing the soft smile on her lips. What you are thinking about, he asked silently. Do you have any regret? Do you want me to change this situation?
As if shot by telepathy, suddenly Tesa realized that someone was gazing at her. Her eyes blinked. When she saw a pair of eyes from the top table, her heart was shaken. The minute her eyes met his, she immediately looked down. But the messages from the eyes under those thick eyebrows had already touched her insides. And she understood the messages, and in the same time, it made her anxious.
There were regrets there. Was he regretting her decision? There were demands in them. What more could he demand from her? Why does she have regret anything? Wasn’t that the road she had chosen from the start? She had even firmly pushed whatever thorns and barbs aside to do what she had chosen. Why did she have to feel regret now when the road was smooth and free?
What could he exact from her? She didn’t owe him anything, nor did she have anything to give him. The secret memories they had together would have to be enough. That’s the reward for her. Tonight would be the end of it. She wouldn’t visit Pasha’s place anymore!
Because of many difficulties, Pasha’s family from Jakarta couldn’t come. It’s only engagement party after all. But in Jakarta, the wedding and the reception would be attended by his whole family, his mother wrote in a letter.
Luckily, Pika’s mother could still come. Even though she only attended for a short period, but it’s enough of a brake to prevent Pasha to do things he might regret later on. If the future mother-in-law wasn’t there, there’s no telling what he would do that night. Wine had risen to his head, making his heart felt light and wanted to chuck fidelity to the ocean. The later the night went on, the oval face a distance away from his table looked even more appealing. On the other hand, the loud voice on his side sounded more demanding, flat and couldn’t be ignored. Even her laughter seemed to be out of place.
But fortunately, on his other side—even though only for a short time—reigned the dowager queen who put restrain on him. Pasha tried to forget life disappointments by pouring more and more wine into his belly.
Seeing the atmosphere was getting hotter, Pika’s mom finally excused herself to take a rest in her daughter’s room. As if the one who had walked away was a spy, the party exploded into another level. Shouts and laughter mixed until they couldn’t be distinguished anymore. Edo played his guitar with fingers trembled by the flowing Seppelt wine. And Thamrin joined in with his voice, which was not good enough to begin with. But now it sounded like a leaking muffler. But nobody cared.
Pasha kept trying to fill the hole in his heart with Seppelt. As the result, at the end of the party, he toppled down. Pika grumbled.
“Ah, this bothersome guy,” she accused. “Stand up! You’d better go home now!”
Pika held on his arms and forced him to stand upright. But the moment she let go of her hold, he fell with a thud again like a sand bag. Pika muttered crossly. “What are we going to do?” she asked no one in particular. “Clearly he couldn’t go home. So where could he sleep tonight?”
“He could bunk in my room,” Nopi said immediately. “But he had to sleep on the floor.”
“Ah, your room is not carpeted. He could catch cold,” Edo said.
“Who has sleeping bag?” Nopi asked around.
“Tesa has one,” Atina said.
“Ah, no!” Pika cut in, half angrily turned around to Tesa. “He has to sleep on a mattress.”
“So, who wants to make the sacrifice?” Thamrin challenged.
Nobody was willing.
“Too bad our room is at another block!” Edo said, pointing at himself and Thamrin.
“I have given my bed for Mom,” Pika moaned, as if explaining or saying sorry before she made her demands. Because in another second, she had looked at Tesa and said, “Tes, you have a sleeping bag. How about you lend your bed to him?”
Pika’s way of saying ‘him’ made Tesa shuddered inwardly. Does she know? Does she understand? Does she feel suspicious? But Tesa couldn’t think too long about it. Every eye was on her. No other choice, she could only nod. What else could she say? She couldn’t possibly refuse. Pika looked so sure that she would agree. About where she could sleep tonight, it didn’t seem to be Pika’s problem. Luckily Atina still had some human feeling.
“Sst, Tes. You can bunk in my room tonight. My room is carpeted, so you wouldn’t catch cold.”
The next morning, Pasha was awake with the sense of unfamiliarity. How come the mattress is softer? And the pillowcase is so fragrant. Eh, eh, eh, where is this?
He opened his eyes. No, this is not Pika’s room. Whose room is this?! He jumped from the bed and looked around. He immediately knew that it’s a girl’s room. Even though there’s no clothes hanging haphazardly, but below the bed there’s a pair of red slippers, there’s a shoulder bag hanging on the door, and there were shoes beside the closet.
His eyes were attracted by the desk. He wanted to know whose room this was. The book that was lying open on the desk was left alone. Class notes. Wouldn’t give him many clues. The pile on the left, all textbooks. And on the right side… ah-ha, this top one would be a diary, right? Seemed like the owner didn’t get a chance to tidy up last night. Or, she had never thought her guest would be so ill-mannered as to violate her privacy! Hm. It would be very rude. Not only had he slept in her room, but he also…
He had lowered the book back to the desk when his eyes were caught by a name. Tesa.
Hm. Hm. Hm. So this is her room?! Hm. Hm. Fi, Fa, fo, fum! The strange secret surrounding her started to come out now, he thought happily. He pulled a chair and invited himself to sit in front of the desk. Soon, he was engrossed in his reading. Too bad, it had only news from home. In between pages there were some pictures too. There’s a picture of puppies. There’s another one of a house being renovated.
Suddenly his heart skipped a beat. A picture of Tesa in a gorgeous guy’s arms! Hmph! So this is why, he grumbled inwardly, irately. But when he found another picture, he laughed at himself. That guy was in there too. This time with the mother and father. Turned out he’s her brother! Don’t know why, it was as if a weight had been lifted from his heart. Crazy, he chided himself.
He had flipped the diary shut. But his heart was still curious. Ah, what the heck. Instead of having nothing to do, I’d better read this from first to finish. Today is Sunday, so people would think I’m still asleep. So he crossed his ankle to relax himself more, then he re-opened the book again. Right on the page he opened, his eyes caught on a sigh. Ah!
With heart beating hard, he traced words after words, and then sighed. Gloomily, he put his head on the desk, above the book.
So that’s why, he thought dejectedly. So Tesa loves somebody. So she rejected him not because he’s the boyfriend of Pika, her own friend, but because she has given her heart to someone else who doesn’t realize that. Where does this dumb guy live?! In Jakarta?! Is that why she comes here?
Let me see what she wrote about at the very end. He raised his head. He flipped that book open again. Hm. Two days ago! What?! Only a piece of sentence?! “Wish you happiness.” Hm. Is it possible that it’s her brother’s or one of her parents’ birthday?
He closed the book and put it back on its original place. But, eh, is it really her family member’s birthday? Hm. He had to ask her about it. He wasn’t sure why, but he had a feeling that it’s important. He MUST know the answer!
But Tesa had never appeared again. He had waited for her couple of times down the stairs, but that girl had never come. Once, he even skipped class, just to wait for her, but it was also fruitless.
Finally, he decided to call upstairs. Mr. Graham himself picked up the phone.
“It’s like this, Mr. Graham. I just want to know if you guys had stopped taking lesson from Tesa.”
“Oh, we hadn’t. We still learn from her. May I ask why are you asking?”
“Because I haven’t seen her for some time now.”
“Oooh, she asked to change days. Not Tuesday Thursday anymore, but Monday and Wednesday.”
“Hm. Is that so? I thought you guys didn’t connect well with Tesa, and I’m willing to find you another teacher,” Pasha said with innocent voice.
“Oh! We like Tesa very much! She’s like our own daughter.” Mr. Graham laughed merrily.
“That’s good. I’m glad to hear that,” he said, ending the conversation.
Hm. Hm. Hm. Fi, fa, fo, fum! So the fragrant princess changed days! So, it’s Monday and Wednesday now! Hm. Hm. Hm.
Of course Pasha didn’t know Tesa had decided to go through with her decision: after that guy got engaged with Pika (which meant there wouldn’t be any temptation for her any longer), she wouldn’t have to keep visiting Pasha’s place. Before, it was only to give in to Pasha’s demand: if she didn’t visit him, he would break up with Pika. Now that Pasha was committed, everything’s fine. That guy wouldn’t be a threat for her anymore.
Sometimes Tesa liked to daydream. Did she regret rejecting Pasha? If they’re in love with each other, who could blame them? Love cannot be forced, right?
Buuut, wasn’t that what had happened between Goffar and Shakira? They had fallen in love with each other! Who did wrong? If no one was the answer, then why she still felt loathing toward both of them? Why did she be repulsed by them and cut off her friendship with Shakira?
No! She didn’t want to be the breaker of other women’s hearts! She didn’t want to be hated by other women like she had hated Shakira. Well! If it’s not meant to be, it couldn’t be forced, she thought, comforting herself.
Turned out Monday and Wednesday also disappointed Pasha. Only after he called upstairs that he found out the Grahams were out of town. No wonder Tesa didn’t come.
Twice he had tried to call to the dorm. But it seemed like his luck was rotten, because both times, that girl was out. He really wanted to talk to her before his eyes got operated once again. His left one needed to be fixed for the third time.
He waited and waited, but even when he was admitted to the hospital, contacts wasn’t established yet. At the end he had no other choice but to write her a letter. He didn’t dare to ask someone to pass her a message. He understood, nothing could be kept under wrap in the dorm full of such nosey girls. At the end, Pika would know. Instead of causing civil war, he chose to write a short note: “I would have another surgery. Would Selina come and visit me?”
That letter made Tesa felt dilemmatic. Like a normal person, of course she didn’t have any heart to see anybody in such an unfortunate state and still not fulfill such a simple request. But as a girl, she was reluctant. There were so many doubts. Thousands and hundreds of “what if” were imagined by her apprehensive heart.
What if she ran into Pika there? What if she met all the other Indonesians and got reported to Pika? What if…
Ah! But not visiting him at all seemed so callous. After she almost got her head cracked open thinking about the solution, she ended up with the middle road that seemed to be the best solution all in all. She would go there with Nopi. If she bumped into the other Indonesians or Pika there, she would say Nopi asked her to keep him company.
Nopi, without a doubt, was ecstatic to be able to go alone with his dream girl. He didn’t want to think much about how many fishiness he could be smelling at the moment. What’s important was that this was the chance he had been waiting for. He didn’t even suspect that he might be involved in something akin to some play.
The moment Pasha heard Tesa’s voice, his face instantly blossomed to a smile. But luckily he hadn’t called her something intimate like Darling or Sweetie or something like that. Because he immediately heard Nopi’s greeting following Tesa’s. Silently, he groaned and cursed. Why did this girl have to bring a bulldog with her?
In the middle of their idle chitchat, out of the blue Pasha asked, “Whose birthday is on the twenty-fifth of last month, Tes? Your mom? Dad? Or siblings?”
“Um, none. Why?”
“Ah, nothing. I just remembered that date. Don’t know who told me, either you or Pika, that it’s someone’s birthday.”
After that, Pasha didn’t seem too eager to talk, as if he was drained out of energy. Visitation was shortened accordingly. Pasha’s condition wasn’t worrying in the least; he would be discharged next week. So there’s no reason for a long visit. Moreover, Tesa’s heart had been pounding hard. Pika could pop out any second. And what reason she would give for her presence there?
If she said Nopi invited her to come, this smart guy would smell something rotten. Because, clearly, it was Tesa who invited him to come, not the other side. If Nopi was mean or liked to take advantage, he could report the truth to Pika. Or subtly blackmailing her. Maybe he would intimidate her to become his girlfriend! Her heart had long ago received the signals Nopi had been broadcasted whenever they got together in the kitchen. Only her heart hadn’t been able to accept it.
She felt relieved when she could excuse herself. But Pasha didn’t seem to want to end things that simple. At the last moment, he still found an excuse to remind Tesa of his intention.
“Oh yeah, the book Pika borrowed from you is in my apartment. You can take it back whenever you have time. You’ll give lesson on Monday and Wednesday now, right?”
Hm. So he already knew I changed days, she thought exasperatedly. What book he was talking about anyway? She almost made the mistake of frowning. But at the last moment she swallowed back her questions.
“Okay. I will take it whenever I have time. I have read that book anyway, so it wouldn’t matter even if I don’t take it back.”
But Pasha protested forcefully. “My place is bursting at its seam, Tes. You have to take that book back!”
“Fine,” she said, just so that she could hurriedly leave.
Once again Pasha was waiting in vain. It had been more than a month since he’s back from the hospital, but he hadn’t been able to see Tesa.
Of course he didn’t even suspect that girl had made up her mind not to see him again. When she realized Pasha had known about her changing days, Tesa once again asked to change the days of the lessons. With an excuse of having evening classes, this time she chose Tuesday and Friday. If she’s lucky, Pasha wouldn’t be at home on those days. And for couple of times, lessons went on safely. She had never been detained.
That’s why she was bowled over when one Friday afternoon she found Pasha was leaning on the stair-walls. Inwardly, she let out a long-suffering sigh. Oh, if only she knew that Pasha would be home that day. She would rather have her fee got discounted than to come giving lesson!
Needless to say, Tesa had no idea that Pasha was waiting for her there intentionally. That guy had gotten new information from Grandma Graham, who didn’t seem to know which direction the wind blew.
“Hi, Tes!” His greeting was so normal.
“Hi,” she replied, praying that she would be able to walk past him without any glitch.
‘Eh, eh, eh, where are you going so hurriedly? It’s been some time since you visit this brother.”
“Other time, Pasha,” she tried to slink out. “I have tons of homework now.”
“What if he sulked and reported this to Pika?” Pasha went on without listening to her excuse.
Tesa groaned inwardly. She forced herself to look at Pasha. “What do you want?”
“Well, that’s how it should be. This brother of yours just recovered from his illness, you know. He needs to eat a delicious cake.”
Tesa laughed involuntarily. Men! Big as an elephant, and yet still act like a little boy. Always asked to be pampered. This is supposed to be Pika’s job too, her mind protested. But she knew, she had no way to refuse. First, because she had no idea how far Pasha would go, whether he would tell Pika about them. Maybe if he felt he’s cornered by disappointment and desperation, he wouldn’t hesitate to create an earthquake! Ugh, she had already felt her hairs stood to attention just imagining it!!
“Just wait here! I’ll go out and buy some for you.”
“No,” Pasha refused, sulking just like a real little boy. “I have already prepared flour, sugar, eggs and butter. I want the cake you make yourself.”
Grandma Graham suddenly appeared with her wheeled-grocery bag. Apparently, every Friday afternoon she would go for her weekly grocery shopping. While stepping down slowly, she smiled and greeted them. Of course Tesa felt awkward when Pasha ordered her to go in again. If she didn’t comply, there’s no way of telling if Grandma would get the wrong impression. She felt even more so when Pasha grinned widely and said, “This sister of mine is very naughty. Always refusing to make her brother happy.”
Grandma chuckled. Of course she knew that Pasha was engaged to Pika, because a while back she was invited to the engagement party too. She also believed that Tesa was Pasha’s sister, even though they didn’t look alike. But she herself didn’t look like her brother either, she thought.
Tesa understood that Grandma didn’t suspect the truth. And of course she wouldn’t want her to think otherwise.
“Hhh! This sister of mine is so lazy. Come on, make me some cake,” Pasha cajoled, then pushed Tesa into his apartment while Grandma chuckled.
Tesa didn’t have any choice but to go in, even though her heart burned with indignation. “This is more like a kidnapping!” she growled as soon as the door was shut.
“Oh, it can be more than that, Tes. If you always act so contrary.”
“Why do I have to keep following your words?”
“Because I’m your older brother! Remember that! Now, come on, go to the kitchen. Make me a delicious cake!”
Tesa pondered it for a minute. Clearly she wouldn’t be permitted to go before Pasha got what he wanted. Because it’s only pancakes, even thought it’s included in Pika’s list of duties, what the heck. She would do it as soon as she could, so that she would be able to hurry home!
With that thought, she immediately walked to the kitchen, leaving Pasha to write his report.
Because she really liked to occupy herself in the kitchen, soon her annoyance was already forgotten as she mixed the pancake batter. Even more so when the batter was being spooned into the pan. The aroma made her forgot where she was at that time. At that moment, she was so absentminded that she even started to hum, as was her habit when she’s cooking at home. And usually Markus, Daniel and Aster would be waiting for her creation patiently with Mopi. This time, it wasn’t Markus, but Pasha who was sniffing the air; his heart felt lighter and lighter. His ears caught the soft hum from the kitchen and his face broke out in a smile. Ah, if only this can last forever, he thought in yearning. Why is it that only him that was demanding this and that? Why doesn’t he try to make Tesa happy? But, how?
In the middle of his daydream, Pasha didn’t realize danger was coming. He really forgot that her fiancée sometimes came on Friday afternoon, although not always. And Pika had her own key, so she didn’t need to press the bell. Besides, in the afternoon, the apartment door was seldom locked. Unless he was out or sleeping.
Tesa was so engrossed in her hum and cooking that she didn’t hear the door was being opened by someone. And the door was well oiled too.
The moment she stepped into the apartment, Pika instantly knew there’s something amiss. First, her nose could smell the aroma of something cooking in the kitchen. Second, her ears heard the soft humming that was coming from a female’s voice-cord. Third, her eyes saw a man whose face was ashen white, even though a remains of a smile was still left on her face.
“Who is she?” she demanded.
“Tesa,” Pasha said dispiritedly.
Hearing that, Pika immediately charged into the kitchen. Tesa was stirring the batter to spoon it into the pan. Her right hand was holding the wooden spoon while her left hand was holding the orange plastic bowl. She was so thunderstruck seeing Pika’s arrival that all her movement immediately stopped. Even the bowl almost fell from her hold. Luckily she realized what she was doing.
With eyes wide with horror, she watched Pika putting her hands on her waist as she stood in the kitchen doorway. Behind her, she saw Pasha walking in weakly.
Thunder immediately struck without mercy. “Hm. Pretending to give lessons, turned out here’s your destination! Seems like you guys’ play is very neatly planned, hm?”
Tesa’s face went crimson being mocked like that. But her mouth was clammed shut, not able to find any reasonable excuse. Her mind was at a dead-end. Her sight seemed to get darker and darker. Only her heart felt galloping, as if protesting to get out, didn’t want to be asked for a fight.
Pika took a step toward her. Her finger was pointing at her, almost touching her nose. “Tes, didn’t you say before how painful it was when your boyfriend got snatched by your friend! Then you promised yourself that you would never do the same thing to other people. Why are you doing this to me then? Hhh. Have the talent of a thief apparently.”
Tesa’s eyes went red and hot.
“Don’t be rude to Selina!” Pasha snapped from behind her that Pika turned around in shock. “You’re surprised? Oh, oh, oh, I know who she is for a long time now.”
Pika looked at Tesa with hatred. She almost spit at her. At the end, her pursed lips only spewed more strains of accusation. “So you also told him who you were? You conniving brat! No wonder your boyfriend ran away with your friend years ago. Serve you right!”
The tears from Tesa’s eyes suddenly flowed free without restrain anymore. Usually, it was taboo for her to cry in front of audiences, but her heart was stabbed by Pika’s words too badly for her to be able to control herself. The clear droplets cascaded heavily into the bowl she was still holding in her hands. When she realized what she was doing, she put down the bowl hastily on the table. Then she ran outside, snatched her bag and notes, then wrenched the door open. She couldn’t bear to stay in that place any longer, not even to close the door.
Pasha, who was following her, quickly slammed the door shut before he turned to face Pika. His face was very cold and his eyes were deadly.
“You don’t have the right to accuse her that cruelly! It’s me who forced her to come here! For months now she has tried to avoid me; only today I managed to catch her. She didn’t want to come in, but I was craving for pancakes so bad that I managed to persuade her; and that had been like a battle between life and death! I had taken her for my sister, Pik! Am I wrong to want someone to make me pancakes? If I have to wait for you, when will you have time for it? She’s like a sister to me, so…” Pasha shrugged his shoulder.
“How come you never told me about it? I didn’t know about that,” Pika said, as if defending herself.
“Yeah, my bad. I was afraid that you wouldn’t understand then got angry.”
“Huh! Liar! Jerk! Sister? Grown-up ‘sister’?! Do you think I’m a dumb bunny? That easy to be fooled?! Player! And the other one has the talent of a thief! So fitting!” she sneered.
“Thief, you said?” Pasha’s forehead knitted that his eyebrows almost met in the middle and his eyes shot off murderous lights. His head lowered and got closer, causing Pika to take an involuntary step back in fear.
“Thief? Don’t you know that I almost cancelled our engagement before?! But Tesa was adamant; she would only stay friends with me if I don’t leave you! Understand? We’re engaged now because I was pressed by her! Got it?”
“Oh-ho, are you saying that you only got engaged to me only so that you wouldn’t lose her?” Pika roared reverberatingly.
Pasha only stayed silent.
“So you actually don’t love me anymore?”
Pasha still stayed quiet.
“And you think I love you? Bleah! I only felt pride, because you’re good-looking and my friends were envying me! Do you think I will have nobody unless I accept your pity? Hm. Here is your ring back!” Pika loosened the engagement ring on her finger and put it on the desk. “I won’t tolerate anybody pitying me! Just you see! Soon I will be engaged to Michael, whom I love!” She opened the door then dashed outside before her tears could burst out.
“Pika!” Pasha shouted.
But that girl had already disappeared downstairs. For the second time Pasha slammed the door shut then locked it. And that night Pika didn’t go back to the dorm.
Yey...finally! eeyore...it's your turn now...hurry...hurry...I cannot wait for the next chapter
A few days later, Tesa appeared on the third floor to give lesson. She actually didn’t want to come to that place anymore, but she still needed the money. Once she got another student, she would let Pop and Nan Graham go. Not because they’re lazy, but because she’s reluctant to visit this place. She’s worried that one day she would bump into…
Turned out that day was a bad day for her. She had just stepped her foot on the second floor when her eyes already saw disaster. Pasha was standing in front of his apartment. Tesa groaned inside. Well, hopefully he’s waiting for someone else, she thought, trying to pretend to act formal. She would smile, say good afternoon, then turn and go to the third floor.
But no. Seemed like Pasha was waiting for her! Oh, what a bad luck! Before she had a chance to turn, even a chance to say hello, the guy was already approaching her. His stride looked frighteningly long. In a second, he was already standing next to her, blocking her way. She could not go to the third floor, and yet going back down was also impossible. Behind her was a wall, and in front of her a pair of strong arms. Slowly, without her being aware of it, she was driven to the corner, to the front of the door, right under the stairs.
Tesa decided not to show him any fear. She tried to fix a confident smile. “Ah, hello Pas. Good afternoon. You have no class, huh?”
“I’m purposely waiting for you!” answered him without a smile.
“Oh!” Don’t let him know that you are frightened, she thought bravely. “Okay then, I have to go upstairs. I’m late, you know!” she said as light as possible, as if she missed what Pasha meant.
“They have some business outside, Tes. Both of them are not in their unit.”
“Oh?! Really? They didn’t tell me!”
“Actually, I have to call you this morning. Roger, the pop, had called your dorm, but nobody answered the phone.”
“I have an early class this morning. And it seems the others were out too.”
“No wonder. He asked me to contact you. But I purposely let you come today, because I have something I want to talk to you about. Go on in!”
“Sorry, I can’t. I have to go again,” said Tesa, as if she had a lot of things to take care of.
“Where?” asked Pasha with knitted forehead. “This is your lesson time, right? And now that it’s cancelled, that means you are free! Right?!”
Tesa sighed. She knew how stubborn Pasha was. Oh yes, she still remembered when he didn’t want to stay away from the window even though it was so cold outside! When he refused to take his medicine! When he…
“Let’s go in!”
Tesa shook her head. “Pasha, please don’t add Pika’s hatred to me! She becomes my enemy now, do you know!”
“My enemy too!”
“What do you mean?”
“Tes, I broke up with Pika!”
“That’s your problem! As long as it’s not because of me!” Suddenly Tesa’s head snapped up, realizing what she had heard. “Eh, what did you say?!”
“Yes, it’s true! She left me. She said, next week or next month, she will be engaged with Michael for sure!”
Tesa groaned. It’s all because of her! Why did she have to play around and come over to someone else’s boyfriend? Now, they’re messed up.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered with misty eyes. “If there’s anything I can do to persuade her…”
Pasha shook his head. “No need. I don’t want to force her. Her relationship with Michael is not news for me, Tes. I’m not surprised if she uses this chance to do what she really wants.”
“You mean… they’ve been a while…?”
Pasha nodded with grave face. “I’m sure they are! Ah, never mind. No need talk too much about other people. What has become stale has to be thrown away, no use to cry over it.”
Tesa went silent. She remembered seeing Pika and Michael together a few times. They had seemed close to each other, but she had never thought they were that close!
“Eh, why are you daydreaming? Come, let’s go in now. Please?!” For the first time Pasha showed his mega-watt smile.
Tesa stared at his black round eyes. She’s considering it for a while. She admitted she’s tempted to go in. There’s no lesson to give. She has finished her homework. Staying all alone in the dorm must be boring. And… Pasha is now a free-agent, right?! Nobody will get angry at her!
But she had to shake her head, making those bright eyes dimmed with disappointment. Tesa decided not to look for complication, because it seemed having a boyfriend always invited problems for her. “Sorry, Pas, I can’t”.
She turned around to go downstairs, but Pasha grabbed her arm and cornered her to the wall. He caged Tesa and brought his face closer to hers.
“You actually like me, don’t you? That’s why you could stand looking after me for over a year, right?” whispered Pasha while looking at her closely.
Tesa shifted her gaze away to the side and pretended to scoff impatiently. “Oh, I was just doing it for the money, don’t you remember? I needed money at that time! Very badly. Now, come on, let me go!”
But Pasha wouldn’t let go of his cage. “You really don’t like me?” he pressed on.
“If it’s the way you meant, the answer is no!”
“You lied!” accused Pasha with glaring eyes, but his voice sounded half desperate.
Tesa didn’t have the heart to disappoint him like that. She smiled.
“Of course I like you, boy-o!”
“Just like the way I like my other friends!”
“Ah, you’re lying! It must not be the same with me! Right?”
“It’s up to you, whether you want to believe me or not!”
“Right?!” shouted Pasha pryingly.
Tesa brushed away the arms that were confining her. “I want to go home now!” But his cage could not be broken through. She noticed this guy was becoming more determined to hold her.
“What is that person, eh, that devil’s name that has broken your heart? That has made you lost trust in guys?!”
Tesa’s face reddened. She’s almost barked, “It’s not your business!” but Pasha had already continued, “Or even made you afraid of them?! What is his name?”
Pasha looked at her with eyes started to sparkle again. Tesa turned away unconsciously. Suddenly, she felt awkward, even though this man had been under her care for over a year. How when he had been hungry, he would go on about for food! Sometimes he had had craving for pancakes like that of a pregnant woman! Even cried shamelessly if he had despaired about his condition! And now….! He dared to show her this attitude?!
“It’s not Pasha, right?” continued that guy, grinning, before Tesa could decide how to deal with him. All happened in a blink of an eye. Pasha lowered his head and kissed her. “I’ve been longing to do that,” he whispered.
Tesa lowered her head without a move. She really regretted coming here this afternoon. If only she had pretended to be sick and called Nana Graham…! Huh! She sighed. How could she feel even more awkward?! But rice had turned into porridge. What could she do?
“Tes, human body knows reorganization. That means, whatever broken or sick would be replaced with a new one. So would feelings. What was hurting before, it will eventually go away. Disappointment, frustration, doubt, heartache, they wouldn’t last forever. They will be reorganised to become joy, delight, happiness and contentment. As long as… we want to heal it. Broken and grow, gone and replaced [what's broken will grow back, what's gone will be replaced], Tes. Why do you keep thinking of that unfaithful person? It will only turn you hair white! One day you will realize, you don’t want to keep thinking about the past. It’s useless. And that jerk doesn’t deserve that honor. Why would you make yourself miserable for such a heartless person? Tes, let’s go in. You could help me typing my paper. I will make you delicious pancakes after that! Now, come and tell me, what is his name?”
“Goffar!” she whispered automatically.
Pika moved to Michael’s dorm which was located at the west side of town, near a beautiful garden. Not long after, everybody already knew that she had broken up with Pasha and was now dating Michael.
At first, Tesa wanted to cover up her relationship with Pasha, but that guy was not easy to be chased away. Every weekend, he would show up at the dorm, joining their meal time. As usual, every Sunday they cooked together, each person a dish, then they would eat them together. Of course her friends soon started to realize something fishy, and one who was most crestfallen about it was Nopi.
“There goes my hope!” he whinged without explaining what kind of hope.
“I’m still here!” said Atina, who apparently understood.
“Hold it right there! Wait until the end of the world! If I’m still not dead in nuclear war and the rest of the female population is immobilized, then…!” he said while shrugging his shoulder as if surrendering. Atina would really love to put a force-fed a spoon full of chilli sauce into his mouth. Too bad there’re too many people around and she wouldn’t want to be the source of gossip.
Tesa had no choice but to let Pasha come whenever he felt like it, because she deemed it would be preferable to staying in Pasha’s place alone.
“If you don’t want me to come to your dorm, then you would have to come to my place! Otherwise, we won’t get to see each other, and it’s not funny. We are dating after all!” said Pasha the other day.
Tesa was still not sure about their relationships. She felt uncertain. On one side, she’s not keen to have another relationship at all – after her history with Goffar; even more so with someone else’s ex-s. True, she did not snatch him – openly – but if she’s not there, would Pika and Pasha ever break up?!
That question often shadowed her thoughts and no answer could convince her that she’s not guilty at all. She realized Pasha fell in love with her ever since he knew about who she was: the Selina that he’d been looking for! Mr. Solem’s Angel! Oh, Pasha’s classmates still said that phrase whenever they saw her walking next to Pasha Solem.
While Tesa was always trying to hide it, Pasha, on the other hand, was keen on showing her off. Whenever there’s an occasion in his faculty, Tesa would be invited. But she was often taken there too even when there was no special occasion. The thought that Pasha probably just wanted to make his ex jealous had never entered her mind, since they often saw each other in the yard or in the university library anyway. Pika, who had never been courteous to her before, now didn’t mind acknowledging her, although not warmly, while Tesa tried her best to stay away from her. She could not really blame her. If Pika still loved Pasha, she must have born her a ton of grudge. Good thing, she seemed to be very close to that blonde guy.
Well! Tesa hesitated in one side to accept Pasha forever. But on the other hand, she could not deny her own feeling. Pasha really was attractive! Doesn’t matter how hard a rock is, if it’s battled by a storm all year round, the end result will be a hole. And that’s what happened with her own resistance.
Pasha was a strong-minded, enticing, attentive, warm, but firm guy. Ever since he had decided to get Tesa, it’s difficult for that girl to get away. That’s if she really wanted be go away…!
Amidst such turmoil of mind, their relationship kept on going. Even stronger than ever. When a month later Pasha got hit with a tennis ball, Tesa suddenly found herself already trapped. I can’t free myself anymore, she thought. I’m already in love!
Turned out that injury was so serious that his left eyes retina was dislodged at the place they had fixed it on the last time. Pasha was forced to go to the hospital once more.
During Pasha’s hospital stay, day and night Tesa could only think about his condition. Will this operation succeed?! Can his sight recover like before?! Will there be complication?! Does he need to be operated on one more time?! Will things like this happen again?! Does this mean he cannot play tennis for the rest of his life?! Will … oh!
She’s almost crazy thinking about that guy. Each time she had a spare time, she would hurriedly go to the hospital, checking on Pasha. Fortunately, he was hospitalised only for one week. When she came to take him home, that guy was already waiting for her. From behind his sunglasses, he was watching the entrance door of the room. When Tesa showed up, he quickly stood from his chair. Seeing his bright face, she could already guess that the operation was very successful. But she was not ready to get such a tight hug.
“Ouch!” she shouted teasingly. “I almost lost my breath!”
“Oops, sorry,” said Pasha shyly. “It’s because, I’m so very happy! Tes, my eyes are 100 % recovered! And I don’t need any more operation! Isn’t it a miracle?! I was so afraid earlier that my eyes would be finished and had to be taken away! Yikes! Turned out….”
“Oh! Really? That’s called for a celebration!” said Tesa, but she immediately regretted her words.
“Yes, yes, yes, certainly! We would cook in your place! We can invite all our friends!” shouted Pasha, almost dancing merrily.
Tesa cringed inside her heart. What she meant was just a dinner for two, with candles and flowers. Not a party…
“Eh Tes, I have an idea! Why don’t we get engaged all together?”
Tesa was so shocked. For a second, she watched Pasha without opening her mouth. When she forced herself to answer, she stuttered. “B…ut… Pika is st…ill… n…ot… marr…ied…, eh, en…gaged.. wi…th Mi…chael!”
“It’s their business! We are officially broke up! I have told my mom!”
“B..ut... not… my… mom! We cannot get engaged just like that, right? We ha…ve… to tell them first!”
“Ah, this is not a wedding ceremony, Tes! Just a symbolic gesture to show that you are mine, and so that pig-Nopi wouldn’t dare to have a crush on you anymore! To your mom and my mom, we will certainly tell them. Soon! Okay?”
“Pas, if it’s about Nopi, there’s no need for engagement. I can guarantee that he won’t be able steal my heart. If I want to be with him, I could do it long time ago, when you’re still with Pika, right?! In short, if it’s just Nopi, it’s alright. No worries. Eh, your face is less handsome frowning like that!” Tesa tried to joke around and changed the topic.
“Who knows that it’s not just Nopi, but also someone else?” said Pasha stubbornly.
“Come on, don’t talk about this anymore, I don’t like it,” said Tesa, pretending to be upset. Pasha, afraid that she would get angry for real and run away, had no choice but to comply with it and closed his mouth.
“Now, open your sunglasses and let me see your beautiful eyes!”
“My eyes can’t get direct light yet, Tes. Buutt, eh, since when you know that my eyes are… ehm… beautiful?!” His voice was like a little kid that Tesa almost could not hide her chuckles.
“Since long time ago, of course! Can’t be just all of a sudden! So, is your bag and stuff ready yet? We can go right now.”
Tesa quickly took him out of here while trying to ignore the bright smile of his handsome face. Today’s men, she thought smilingly. Still needed to be called beautiful and handsome too! Huh, just like a girl, she thought, chuckling, as she saw Pasha went over to the mirror near the basin.
“Whohoho! Even a girl can’t win from you!” shouted Tesa, of course meaning his vanity. But the prince charming turned shy, misunderstanding it.
“Ah, Tes, you’re just saying that!”
“What did I say? That you’re as pretty as a girl? Hiii, as if!” Tesa couldn’t help but teasing him.
“Watch out, you monkey! Later! I will capture you and keep you at… eh… eh… eh… don’t leave me alone! How do I get home by myself?”
“How could a monkey take you home?”
“My tongue was twisted. I mean, angel. Come on my angel, take me home… key!” [note: from monkey] Pasha added the last word with a soft voice. He’s kind of exasperated being made fun by her. If he didn’t get back at her, hm! His mind was already up above, thinking how to make a pretty girl begging for forgiveness, worshiping the Royal Highness Oh-so-great Pasha Solem!
To celebrate Pasha’s release from the hospital, a simple but merry party was held. Pika wasn’t invited, since she already moved out, but she somehow knew there’s a party in the dorm kitchen. Out of the blue, she showed up with Michael. Immediately, everybody went silent. But as if not realising what was happening, Pika kept on coming and shouted, “Can I join in the feast? Where’s the hostess?”
Tesa, who was standing in front of the oven with her back facing the door, turned quickly. Immediately, her face looked shocked and confused seeing who’re coming. She automatically glanced at Pasha, who was busy taking out the beer cans from the fridge. Pasha is busy and can’t be asked. I have to handle this alone!
“Oh, certainly, Pik! Please come in! Just our luck, we need extra people to wash the dishes later!” she said, glad she could answer quickly enough so that it didn’t turn awkward for everybody. The others shouted cheerfully, agreeing with Tesa’s suggestion.
“Man! That means I only come here looking for some trouble, huh!” Afterwards, the atmosphere got better. Even Pasha was already chatting nicely with Michael. They already knew each other from their classes.
And so, Tesa and Pasha’s relationship got even closer and cosier. “After your study is finished, you don’t have to go home straight away,” suggested Pasha one day. “Stay here to do some computer course, keeping me company while I deal with my classes. We can go back together later.”
Tesa didn’t mind. The only problem was that she had no funds left.
“I feel sorry for keep burdening my parents,” she said. “If I go home, I can find work and help to support the family.”
“About financial, you don’t have to worry, Tes. If we become official, I’m sure my parents wouldn’t mind funding you too!”
“Let’s talk about this later when the time comes,” Tesa tried to get away from the topic. It’s not the first time Pasha hinting that he wanted them to be married soon. No need to wait until they got back home. And Tesa still had no courage to tell her mom about her new boyfriend. She’s sure that her mom wouldn’t agree if she rushed into marriage. Marriage is a lifetime bond, that’s how her mom would advise her, so she would need to think about it thoroughly.
But later on, Tesa was not sure if that advice was right. She thought about it sometimes, ah, if only she didn’t waste too much time thinking things over! Ah! But at that time, she could only groan with regret.
They were planning to go to the zoo that day, only the two of them alone. Just like a little kid, Tesa had been so excited about it since the day before that she could hardly sleep. That morning, she was really like a worm in a hook. She kept humming or coming back and forward from her room to the kitchen with no specific purpose.
“Wow! You look very happy! As if you have just won a lottery, Tes!” said Sabita, wishing she could share it too.
“Are you waiting for someone? How come he’s not here yet,” said Atina.
“She’s not waiting for someone, you know!” argued Nopi snootily.
“You want to ask me for a date, but too shy in front of too many people! Right?! This pests just won’t leave us!”
“Who you called pest?” Atina buzzed noisily. “Even your face is not better looking than a mice!”
“Eh, if you don’t think you are a pest, why do you have to be angry?” Nopi laughed heartily.
“Okay, okay. Why do you two have to have a cat-fight this early?” Tesa was trying to be the peacekeeper, but Atina was glaring to Nopi while glancing at his cup as if she wanted to put poison inside. Tesa was about to change the topic, when suddenly Nurul and Ria came through the door as if there’s a fire, than stared at them, panting with short breaths.
Nopi used this chance immediately to widen his view. Both were wearing jeans and tight t-shirt, so the natural view was amazing. Ria soon realized it and barked at him, “Hey, you pervert! Stop staring at me like that! Or else, you’ll be cursed that your exam will fail!”
“Eh, I’m just counting your breath; why do you want to put curse on me?! If you breathe too fast, it will do you no good, you know!” argued Nopi while he’s actually having an eye tour. What other time he would have the chance to watch such beautiful hills coming up and down so beautifully, he thought. It’s highly recommended for your eyes! Better than boor water!
Nurul didn’t join in the fight; she could not wait to break the shocking news. “Don’t you guys know? Pika is in the hospital!”
“What?!” everyone was shocked.
“What’ wrong with her?” asked Sabita, Pika’s closest friend, her school-mate since high school.
Ria pulled a chair then sit. That way, her chest would be covered by the table and Nopi could not freely stare at her anymore. Her breaths also came more regularly. Nurul saw the point and followed her lead.
“Pika got into accident with Michael!” Ria began.
“They just returned from 3-days holiday to Michael’s parents’ house. I heard Pika had a major injury. We want to go to see her. Anyone feels like coming along?”
Everybody said they wanted to come.
“I let Pasha know first,” Tesa hurriedly went to the phone. She let the phone rang for a while, but it’s fruitless. There’s no one answering.
“He’s probably on his way here already,” Tesa returned to the kitchen, dejected. “But I’m coming with you guys. Let me leave him a message, so he can come to the hospital right away.”
But it totally caught Tesa off guard when they walked on the corridor and peeked from the window. Turned out Pasha was already in the emergency room, busily talking about a photo scan! He must not be on duty at the moment, thought Tesa. Because they had already had a plan to go to the zoo today!
“Too bad we cannot come in!” said Sabita crossly. “I want to see up close how is she doing!”
“That’s the rules,” answered Nopi who always accepted situation the way it was.
“Maybe they’re afraid we’re going to contaminate them with germs!”
“But we can wear that sterile outfit just like Pasha!” answered Atina, still not satisfied.
“Just wait what Pasha will say when he’s coming out later!” said Nopi, trying to calm everybody.
But the one they were waiting for didn’t come out for a while. Pasha really didn’t know that his friends were waiting outside. A nurse who was walking out from the room was soon held hostage by Nopi’s smile which was quite captivating for those lonely soft creatures.
“Nurse, why can’t we go in? How about if we take turn to go in one by one?”
“You can’t!” said the nurse fiercely. “Mr. Solem was not even allowed to go in. But the patient kept on calling his name, so he finally got the permission!”
When Pasha came outside the room, what he saw first was Tesa’s pale face. He quickly came over and hugged her, then asked her to sit. The rest of the group was following them like chicks afraid losing their mother hen.
“I’m sorry, Tes, our plan to go to the zoo has to be cancelled!”
Tesa shook her head. “How is her condition?” she whispered, trembling.
Pasha also shook his head and sighed. “Quite bad.” Then he clammed up.
“How bad?” Sabita stressed, unsatisfied with the short answer.
Pasha kept shaking his head. His face was so dark. Tesa looked at him closely and suddenly she saw tears coming from the side of his eyes. Pasha was crying! Oh, that must mean Pika’s condition was very bad indeed!
“Will she…?” Sabita didn’t have the heart to continue her sentence.
Pasha shook his head again. “I really don’t know,” he sighed painfully.
That accident turned out to be very serious and had a long result. Michael’s leg was limp, and he had to use crutches for God knows how long. Pika was finally saved from death, but the worst hit happened to Tesa!
Pasha purposely took her to his place so that they could talk with no interruption from their friends. He made Tesa her favourite pancakes, but she only managed to swallow one. Maybe her heart was apprehensive. Or maybe it’s Pasha’s heart that was vexed, so the result was not delicious enough.
He looked after his lover attentively, as if this was their last meal together. Pasha kept going back and forth from kitchen as if he wanted to prolong the time when he had to show the card, spill the truth.
Tesa got up, taking her glass with her.
“What do you want?”
“I want to get some more water.”
“Let me get it for you!” Quickly he grabbed the glass, leaving Tesa puzzled.
“It doesn’t seem like you to act crazy and busy like this!”
But Pasha ignored it, as if he didn’t hear it. When he gave her the glass, Tesa spilled a small amount of water to her dress.
“Oh no, I forgot to bring hanky!” she groaned. “Where is your tissue?”
“I’ll get it!” And Pasha returned to the back, half running. Frowning, Tesa shook her head. Looked like he wanted to compensate how much he missed her after looking after Pika for a month, she thought smilingly.
Finally when there’s nothing left for him to do, anxiously Pasha sat himself next to Tesa. The couch could be use as a single bed if his friends stayed over. Normally they would sit next to each other, but now Pasha took tens of centimetres away.
After holding his breath and groaning long and short inwardly, finally the time arrived.
Tesa was stunned as she listened to him, as if she couldn’t believe him or not even understand what he’s saying. Pasha repeated it once more to convince himself that he’s not saying the wrong thing.
“Pika is a disable now, Tes. She needs a long-term treatment. And… she asked me to come back to her. She wants me to take care of her!”
As if woken from a dream, Tesa stared Pasha with eyes aflame. “But she herself never wanted to take care of you when you needed her!”
“I know,” said Pasha patiently. “But I don’t have the heart to refuse her.”
“Didn’t she already reject you?!”
“He himself also needs help, so it’s impossible for him to take care of Pika. I heard he’s taking some time off to recover in his parent’s house.”
“Are… are they breaking up?”
“I think so.” Pasha sighed. Ah, it’s so hard to make Tesa understand.
“That’s why she wants you to return to her?”
“I guess … so.”
They went silent. After five minutes, Pasha couldn’t stand the tortured anymore. He couldn’t stand watching Tesa sat silently, like a person who was just struck by lightning. The quicker she goes, the better for them, he thought. If it’s God’s will, it cannot be hindered.
He touched Tesa’s arm. “Tes, please understand. I feel sorry for her. If you see her, you will feel sorry for her too.”
Tesa turned her head and looked at him closely. “Do you still love her?”
Pasha shook his head. “I don’t want to hurt your feeling with any answer. If I say yes, you will be jealous and upset. If I say no, you will also be upset and wondering. Both situations won’t make you happy anyway. If you think I don’t love her anymore, maybe you will wait for me, waiting for something that will never happen anymore. You will destroy your future. No, Tes! You cannot do that!”
Tesa clamped her jaws together. She really regretted ever involving herself with this guy. Why did she date again? Didn’t she know from the start that this thing would always be one mess in her life!? Looked like whoever’s “up there” was not pleased to see her happy.
She looked at Pasha with challenge. “So, what can I do?”
“Finish you study as soon as possible. If I’m not wrong, you only have four months left, right? After that, go home to Jakarta! Forget me!” Pasha clenched his fist hard, as if very angry to face the fact that he had no control over the situation.
It’s easier to be said than done, Tesa cynically thought. Pasha felt his heart was torn apart seeing that girl looked astounded, like she had lost her mind. If she was angry or screaming, ah, that’d be better, he thought. But Tesa just silently stared at the floor. Her eyes were dried. Her lips closely locked.
Pasha could not bear seeing her like that anymore. He pulled her into his arms. And Tesa neither accepted nor rejected it. She really looked like she had lost her mind.
“Tes, don’t lose hope, Dear. This is what the real world is. Life is just a play stage. And most of the scenes end tragically. There are more unlucky people like the two of us than the happy ones. But trust me, God is loving. Our misery won’t last forever…”
“Yes, that’s right!” suddenly Tesa’s voice came from inside his arm. “Just get a knife…!”
“Tesa!” Pasha was stunned listening to her thought. What he’s afraid of was really happening. Tesa’s keeping on silent was more dangerous than if she’s throwing tantrum or if she’s angry. A person who couldn’t show her anger usually would be eaten from inside. That could not happen to the girl he loved.
“You should never allow that thought to enter your mind. I wouldn’t let you!”
“Do you still have right to stop me?” Tesa asked cynically, then she suddenly let go from him and went to the corner of the couch.
“Tes, please believe me that one day you will be happy. Now you may angry, dissatisfied, and broken heart. But later when you find a new love, you will be glad that we didn’t continue with this relationship. You will know that I’m not good enough for you. I’m not good enough to receive your sincere love. Please forget me…”
Tesa looked at him sharply. Gradually, her eyes misted over. Her lips trembled. “Do you have to… have to… go back to her?” she whispered ever so softly.
Pasha steeled his heart and nodded. “Yes. I cannot abandon a person who has trusted her life into my hand. Remember, Tes, I’m a doctor-to-be. My future is tested at the moment. If I fail, I will never be a good enough doctor to them who need help. A doctor needs to make the most sacrifice. Please understand, Tes.”
“Why should it be only me who has to understand? Why not her?! Why it’s just you and me that have to make sacrifices?! It’s not fair! It’s really not fair! She shouldn’t ask you to do it! She can go find a caregiver, just like she had done to you?! She has no feeling! She really has no feeling!” Tesa suddenly sobbed heavily. She covered her face with her hand, and from her fingers her tears flowed down uncontrollably. Her breaths stumbled.
Quietly and tenderly, Pasha opened her hands, then he wiped her eyes and cheeks with his handkerchief. He hugged the girl again until her sob subdued.
“Now,” he finally said, looking at Tesa at an arm-length. “Do you feel better now? Let me take you home.”
“No need! I can go by myself!” Tesa brushed his hand away and stood. Without wasting any more time, she grabbed her bag from the table, then ran toward the door, and was gone.
Pasha closed the door, leaned his body on it, and then cleared his nose. His tears flowed down.
“I’m at the airport now! Are you sure you don’t want to change your mind?”
“Why are you wasting your time, Far? You’d better go to the waiting room, or your plane would leave without you.”
“You… you’re really stubborn?!” The voice on the other line sounded so frustrated.
“Good bye, Goffar!” Then Tesa put the phone back to its cradle. When she looked up, she found Boss was leaning toward her. Both his hands were on her desk, while his tie was swinging in front of her. His glance was intense when he asked, “Who is this Mr. Goffar?”
“A liar!” Tesa blurted out without thinking.
“Hm. Seems like you’ve been deceived by this guy!” Boss said, smiling meaningfully. “You look so upset. How about we have a dinner together?”
“Thank you, Sir. But it’s better if you eat with your wife at home!”
“Eh! I don’t have a wife yet!” Boss protested; his eyes almost jumped out from their sockets.
“Sir, do you want to be called a liar too?”
“Eh, eh, eh! I’ll ask for a letter from court stating that I’m not married yet if you don’t believe me.”
“No need, Sir. I believe you.”
“So, about our dinner…”
“Not now, Sir. I have headache; my mind is still unsettled.”
“Fine. But there’s no more excuse next time!” Boss said as he turned around and walked back to his room.
Tesa sucked in a relieved breath. Hhh! It’s complicated to have a single guy as a boss, she thought. Almost every week there would be such offers. Dinner, movies, fishing, or keeping him company to an out-of-town conference. Even to the overseas ones. Luckily she could still evade them so far.
“Sir, I can’t go out of town now. My mom is sick.”
“Sir, I don’t have the patience to go fishing. Just buy some at the market and grill them.”
“Sir, I’d rather watch movies at home than go dressing up to some theatre. I can’t stand the smoking, and the toilet sometimes is intolerable.”
For Tesa, they’re only excuses. But as a result, Boss almost bought a home theatre equipment to be enjoyed after work! Luckily Mr. Tambua, who was ordered to find information about new products, passed the information to Tesa. She then looked for a chance to give hint to Boss lest people would lose respect for him or he would be called crazy.
“I don’t feel comfortable to be pampered by my employer, like one of my friends’. I’d rather resign,” she said one day when they had lunch together.
“Eh, how come you don’t like being pampered? Are you a species from the Moon?”
“Just think about it. An employee who gets special treatment from the Boss will be avoided and talked about by the other employees. How can one work comfortably in such situation?”
Looked like Boss saw the truth in the “supposition” that sounded more like a threat. Home theatre plan was cancelled. And he’s not very persistent doing his out-of-office-hours-maneuvers anymore too.
Tesa smiled to herself. Almost three years she had become the President Director’s secretary. And it’s been a year since she’s safe from the maneuver. Looked like after hearing her firm voice on the phone just now, Boss got his crazy habit back. But let it be. Because she knew, Boss wouldn’t press on. He must be worried that his favorite employee would run away. Boss once had said that he’s willing to wait until the end of time or… until Tesa was snatched by somebody else?! Yikes! Never, she thought determinedly.
Ever since she got back from Perth three years ago, she had vowed never to get involved in love anymore. It only brought her headache. The end would be the same anyway: broke up! Maybe it’s her destiny to stay single all her life. And to a woman of this era, it’s not a tragic thing. It’s even more convenient; life wouldn’t be so complicated.
There were many reasons why she rejected Goffar, who begged for a visa to enter her heart again. One of the reasons was that: she didn’t want to be involved in love anymore!
When she just got back from Australia, her mom had already warned her, “Beware of Goffar. As soon as he knows you’re back, he will surely pester you. So far, maybe he has asked for your address in Perth ten times already. He said he wanted to see you. But I didn’t give it to him.”
Her mother’s guess turned out to be right. Phone started to ring often. Goffar didn’t seem to be afraid to pay phone bill. Sometimes, in one day, he could call her five times. Even though he was told she just went into the bathroom, he was determined to wait. He said he’s afraid Tesa would already leave if the phone got hung up.
Tesa had no other choice but to talk to him. But from the first moment she had told him firmly that their bridge had been burned to dust. Even if he waited until the world came to an end, she wouldn’t want or permit Goffar to come back to her.
“Your responsibility now is Shakira!”
“I have to see you,” Goffar demanded stubbornly. “When we see each other face to face, your opinion would change.”
Tesa was exasperated inwardly. How shameless this guy is, she thought. No matter how handsome he had been before, for her now, the zoo’s primate residence was more attractive.
At first, Tesa didn’t want to meet him. But Goffar kept on terrorizing her by phone. The whole house got disturbed. Her dad grumbled every time the phone rang, even though he didn’t know who was calling. Her mom would jump in fright and stare at the phone without moving. Tesa realized they all had suffered from nerve wars.
For the peace of the house, and to make Goffar realize that their past would never come back anymore, she finally agreed to meet him. Goffar tried to convince her how wrong he was to marry Shakira, how he still loved Tesa, how bad he wanted to fix again the broken ties between them, how… still tens of more “hows”.
But Tesa calmly ignored all those how’s. “Our past has been buried, Far!”
There’s nothing left of Goffar’s influence to her. That guy pounded on his chest, cried, screamed, forced, threatened, but Tesa was still unmovable. “What’s been buried, would never come back! Even if you cry blood.”
When she went home by herself in her second-hand car, Tesa’s feeling was mixed around. Happy, and yet sad. Her heart felt happy and light, because she could free herself of Goffar. Her heart, which was broken before, now had been glued back together. But she’s also sad when she recalled the sweet possibility of what she had hoped long time ago. Ah, if only there’s no obstacles, she didn’t know what kind of life they’d be living right now!
After that fruitless meeting, Gaffar started to persist through another way. Because Tesa had said that she didn’t want to accept his call anymore, so that guy started to send her priority-mailed letters. His act was even more ridiculous than teenager who had his first puppy love.
“If you don’t come back to me, I’ll kill myself,” once he wrote.
Tesa returned the letter without comment. She still had a mind to send it back to his office address, so that his household wouldn’t get into an uproar. She couldn’t imagine what Shakira’s reaction would be if she got a wind of it!
“If you don’t come back to me, I’ll kill my wife and children!”
That letter was also returned back. But the next and next letters came more unrelenting. At the end, Tesa didn’t bother to return them. Just tear them up and throw them to the trash! Done! What I respond to some mad guy for, she thought.
All the threats turned out to be just threats. Never got done. Only the last one was followed through. Goffar threatened to leave his family. He said he would go to the US and never come back. He said, to his wife and parents, he said he wanted to go to school again. But Tesa guessed, he only wanted to splurge his wife’s money overseas. When the money ran out, there’s no doubt he would come back begging to Shakira again.
Turned out her guess was correct. Five months after Goffar’s departure, his wife called Tesa, crying, begging for Tesa to come to her house. At first Tesa didn’t say yes. After coming back from Perth, she hadn’t seen Shakira yet. She felt reluctant. Moreover, having to come to her house. But Shakira kept persisting. She said she needed help to take her son to the hospital.
Hearing that, Tesa’s heart moved. It didn’t feel right to let a friend down when she was in difficult situation.
“Okay then. I’ll come there late this afternoon,” she promised.
“Now!” Shakira demanded.
“That’s impossible, Shak. Now is still office hour. Be patient; it wouldn’t be long before office hours are over. I will immediately take off at four thirty.”
Shakira indeed was calling her office. At first, she had called to Tesa’s house, but got told by her mother that she was still in her office. Shakira insisted on her office number, saying she had a very urgent business with Tesa. Truthfully, Tesa’s Mom hesitated to give it to her, but Shakira was very good in coaxing people. Besides, Tesa had never said anything about keeping her office number a secret.
“My son’s condition is very bad, Tes. He had diarrhea for three days now. I think he might have contracted cholera,” Shakira said between her sobs. “If we wait until late afternoon, it would be too late already. If he…sob…sob…sob… die, then what? Do you want to bear the guilt?”
Tesa felt cold sweat popped out. She bit her lips. Her friend was really good finding excuses. Who would want to bear such guilt anyway?! But why didn’t she take him to the hospital herself?
“Why don’t you take him yourself, Shak?”
“My oldest one is also ill, Tes. I can’t leave him alone. I don’t have maids. Neither do I… have… money…”
Oh God. She really didn’t have the heart listening to the lots of hardship her friend was facing. And that made her felt discomfited. Leaving her office just like that would mean her discipline would be questioned. But leaving Shakira alone without any help made her felt uncomfortable.
“Fine,” she finally said, after waging inner turmoil for a moment. “I will help you. Maybe my brothers are at home and I can ask them for help. Otherwise, I will have to come there myself. But don’t you worry, okay?”
“Oh, thank you, Tes. You’re so kind…”
Tesa quickly, softly hung up the phone, didn’t want to hear gratitude from the person who once broke her heart. Then she called home.
“Mom, is Markus at home now?”
“Your brother is on duty on the clinic today, Tes. What’s the matter?”
“How about Daniel?”
“Just went out, picked up by his friends. He said he’s going swimming. What’s the matter? It’s not like you to look for them this time of day.”
“Nothing. Just that, Shakira needs help…”
“Oh yeah, just now she was calling here.”
“I know. Okay then, Mom. I have to go now.”
No other choice, Tesa went to Boss and asked for a few hours leave. She speeded up her car so that she would arrive at Shakira’s house as soon as possible. Judging from Shakira’s voice, her son must have been in critical condition. And her guess turned out right.
That boy was reed thin, pale, and half comatose. He was lying on a bed, amidst the dirty linens that didn’t seem to have met water for a long time. The smell of the room was indescribable. Shakira herself wasn’t in any better condition. Tesa was flabbergasted and almost couldn’t recognize her old friend. How fast someone’s beauty could fade, robbed by the hardship she encountered, she thought in sympathy. Shakira’s body was skeletal, uncared for. Her hair was dull and tangled, uncombed. Her face was greasily unwashed. She must not have a bath yet, she thought. And then she knew the reason for it.
“How old this boy is, Shak?”
“One year over.”
Tesa forgot to ask how much over, didn’t realize that hospital would want the details about how many months over.
“If he really got cholera, you shouldn’t put his brother on the same bed,” Tesa said, indicating the older boy who was watching them from the corner of the bed with apathy in his hollow eyes.
If her calculation was right, this boy would be about seven years old. When she went to Perth, Shakira was already pregnant. It’s not a secret that she was already with child even before her wedding. But her eldest son looked like five years old now. His diet must have been very bad. But how could that be, Tesa thought, confused. Wasn’t Shakira coming from a wealthy family? Wasn’t that why Goffar was attracted to her? The penniless Tesa wouldn’t have a chance to compete. Wasn’t that what Shakira had said to one of their friends who then told her?
“The boy’s beds have been sold, Tes. So we have no choice but to sleep on this bed together.”
“But he could catch the disease too.”
“He already has,” Shakira answered weakly. “Only his condition is not as bad as his brother.”
Tesa didn’t like hearing the hopelessness in Shakira’s voice. She really wanted to get out of there as soon as she could.
“It’s better to wash this boy with a warm towel before I take him to the hospital,” Tesa said. Actually, she was horror-struck seeing how dirty the boy was and smelling the fishy smell that was coming from him. Ever since she had seen him, she had to force herself not to throw up.
“I don’t have money to buy water, Tes,” whined Shakira. “There’s only about a kettle left for drinking…”
“You don’t have water pump?”
“The electric water pump has broken down long ago. Goffar didn’t want to fix it. Oh! He didn’t want to take care of anything. What he remembered is only…” Shakira didn’t continue her words, as if afraid to blurt out something she wasn’t supposed to say. But her fisted hands and glowering eyes when she looked at Tesa made that girl understood what’s the continuation of her words.
“If I’m not mistaken, there’s a water hand-pump in the front yard, right? That one is broken too?”
“I don’t have the power to use it, Tes,” Shakira moaned, lowering her head.
Oooh! These wealthy people, Tesa thought resignedly. Not willing to pump water for herself! Even in a grave situation like this! But when she looked at Shakira again, Tesa sighed. Maybe her friend wasn’t lying. Her undernourished body must not be strong enough to do a work as heavy as that.
She regretted being too hurried to come here that she forgot to bring food. But she really had no idea that Shakira’s condition was this bad.
The ill child clearly had to be taken to the hospital immeditely. But strangely, Shakira didn’t look very insistent now.
“It’s alright if there’s no spare water; just change his clothes. I think this one is too filthy. I’ll wait outside, okay?”
Tesa walked to the living room without waiting for Shakira’s reaction because she really couldn’t stand the smell in that bedroom anymore. Only when she got in the living room she dared to draw a deep breath and then dropped her body on the couch that looked uncared for, even thought that furniture used to be an expensive one.
When she glanced when she heard footsteps, she was surprised to see Shakira behind her. Turned out her friend was following her out and was now standing in front of her. Before she understood what was happening, suddenly Shakira had already pointed her finger at her and her voice was full of loathing.
“This is all because of you! If only you will give in to Goffar’s demand, he wouldn’t run away overseas! I’m willing to be his second wife or even got divorced if only he’s still here! In this kind of situation, at least I will still be able to ask for his help. But because of your pride, he’s gone now! Now, you have to pay for my son’s medical bill!! Sob… sob… if he dies, I’ll kill you!” Shakira wept pitifully.
Tesa was so taken aback hearing the accusation that she couldn’t say anything back. She sat still, clamed up like a stone statue. Shakira’s weeping sounded more shattering to her ears. Only when she dropped to the floor that Tesa awoke from a trance that was worse than a nightmare. She didn’t know whether Shakira almost fainted or she purposefully fell down. In her surprise, she quickly got up from her seat and approached her. Instinctively, she hugged the cocoon of smelly, grimy clothes and her lips spouted out comforting words.
“It’s okay, Shak. Strengthen your heart. Don’t worry. Think about your children, who’re ill now. I will help you as much as I can. Forget everything else for now.”
“Oh, Tes, I’m sorry. Forgive my harsh words before.”
Tesa nodded her head.
“You can forgive me, can’t you? You will forgive me, won’t you? Hurting you is not intentional, really. It’s only a temporary burst of emotion…” Shakira looked at her from behind tears.
Tesa nodded. “I know,” she said softly.
“Oh Tes, if only you’re willing to accept Goffar back…”
“That’s impossible, Shak. I’d better take your son to the hospital now…” Tesa tried to divert the topic. She’s really worried about the condition of the boy, whose face was pale and blue tinged. But his mother didn’t seem to hear her.
“Why, Tes? Because you don’t want to hurt my feeling? Is that the reason? Don’t you understand that with your refusal you have hurt me and my sons even more? I am the one who have to bear the worst of it! While you… you still do fine. Free and happy!”
“Shakira, if you still want to mention that episode, I’d better leave now!” threatened Tesa, who finally got annoyed and fed-up.
“Don’t, Tes! You want to become my son’s murderer?” Shakira glared at her with blazing eyes. Tesa averted her gaze, not willing to respond.
“I was only upset, Tes. I know you refused Goffar because of your pride. Yes, you want to show him that you don’t need his love anymore. That you can live without him. I’m sorry, Tes. I have to let this all out to make my heart feels better.”
“Shak, where’s you mother?” Tesa asked with whatever thin patience she had left, determined to change the topic.
All of a sudden, Shakira burst out crying again. More pathetically pitiful than before. Her chest moved up and down; her breath sobbed out.
“She… she… died long time ago! Five years ago!”
“Oh! And your father?”
“He had remarried. Oh, Tes, if my mom’s still here, I wouldn’t suffer this much!” she moaned as she wiped her tears.
“Why don’t you ask your father for help?”
But Shakira wept even more that Tesa was worried she wouldn’t stop even when the world came to an end.
“Here, let’s move to the couch,” she said, half-dragging Shakira to the couch.
Her weeping had subsided now. She picked up the corner of her skirt and then blew her nose with it. Tesa lowered her head, couldn’t bear to see the scene. It’s as if the piece of beef she ate for lunch was now readying itself on her throat, ready to demand out.
Shakira stopped her cry, and then looked at Tesa. Her swollen and red-rimmed eyes didn’t make her soiled face looked better. Contrarily, in fact.
“Tes, will you listen to my life story?”
“Maybe next time, Shak. Now, the most important thing is your son.”
“No!” Shakira shook her head. “I’d rather tell you now. I have to tell it to you! If you hear how much I’ve suffered, maybe you will be willing to forgive all my offense to you.”
“I already have, Shak. Let me take your son right away!”
Tesa exceptionally wanted to get out from there. Of course she didn’t want to bear the guilt if anything should happen to the ill boy.
But Shakira couldn’t be denied. Ever since she was little, her whim had always been followed. It’s a matter of course, being the only child of a wealthy family. Because there’s no way out, Tesa sat there, ready to listen. In her mind she thought the quicker her friend started, the better, so that the wasted time would be minimized.
“Tes, my father didn’t agree with me marrying Goffar from the start. He said Goffar was a lazy bum and he married me only because of my father’s wealth. Too bad I didn’t want to listen to him then and just realized it now, when everything’s too late. When my mother’s still alive, our situation was not too bad, because she would secretly give us donation, so we didn’t lack for anything. But after my mother passed away and my father remarried, donation stopped. Every time I asked for help, my father would scorn me. My stepmother would also join him in mocking me. At the end, I didn’t go there anymore. It’s useless anyway. Instead of money, what I got from them was ridicule.
“Goffar’s work was not steady from the beginning. He got in and out of job all the time. He often quit jobs and moved to another one. His excuse would always the same: the salary was too low. But then, he didn’t have any special skill. How could he expect a higher salary? He would get angry if I criticize him that way. And ever since he knew that my dad’s wealth wouldn’t go to me, he started to get rough on me and the children. Jewelry from my mom got sold one by one. Only part of the money would be given to me. He would use most of them to party around. He even got a girlfriend once. That woman was so audacious that she dared to come here to look for him!
“After the jewelry’s all gone, he started on my bank deposit. At the end, he even emptied it all and took it with him overseas! Now I don’t even have one penny! I offered one by one of our wedding china to the neighbors. Expensive cups, plates… at most they would offer me three thousand, five thousand, when the real value is three, four times that. They knew I need money badly so they pushed me around. They acted as if they didn’t need those things, while their eyes turned green in glee. Yeah! Just to get food on the table. When those gifts ran out, I don’t know what we should do!” Shakira sighed heavily, just like a train on the last leg of its journey.
Tesa was so confounded hearing the story that she forgot she couldn’t stay there long.
“You want me to find you a job?” she asked when all her spirit was gathered up again.
“I can’t leave the children alone!” Shakira moaned with a final voice.
“If you have maid, maybe you could leave them. Do you want me to find you one?”
“But what can I do, Tes? I only have a high school diploma. I don’t have the will to learn to type. Bookkeeping and accounting were my weak subjects. I enrolled into English major for a year, but I couldn’t continue it. Too much foreign words that was hard to memorize!” Shakira lowered her head, looking at her wrinkled and thin fingers.
Tesa silently sighed. How hard it was to be born as a wealthy person but had the fate of a beggar!
“Then you’d better find a job that you can do from home.”
“Ah, what kind of work?” she whined without interest.
“Hm. What kind of work?” Tesa thought for a while, then tapped her forehead. “I know! Sewing! You can sew, right? My aunt’s neighbor opened…”
“But I can’t sew!” Shakira cut off, shattering Tesa’s hope to help her. “I have never got near a sewing machine all my life. All my clothes were taken to the seamstress. If there’s some that was torn or has a loose button, my mom would take care of it. Yah! I regret it now why I didn’t learn it before. But now it’s too late!”
“Why too late? You can still learn it.”
“I don’t have a machine. My mom’s was taken over by my stepmother.”
Hhh! Tesa understood there’s no use to continue on that subject. Shakira didn’t want to work. She’s too used to being spoiled, she sighed inwardly. But then, where could she get the money to feed her children?
“So, do you rent this house?”
“Oh, this was given by my mom. My parents used to live here. When my dad remarried, he moved to a new house. This house was under my mom’s name. So we moved from our rented house to here after my mother died.”
Still fortunate, Tesa thought. At least she wouldn’t got thrown out to the street. How could Shakira’s father kick her out like that? Even if he didn’t agree on her marriage, but after two grandsons, he’s supposed to forgive them, right? Tesa thought in confusion.
“Actually, why your father hates your husband so?” She purposely used that title, because she wasn’t comfortable using his given name.
Shakira sighed. Her eyes turned sharp. “It’s all Goffar’s fault!” she shouted irately. Looked like she didn’t want to defend her husband anymore.
“Once, he faked my father’s signature on a two-million check! He was forgiven for that. Then, he did it again! Fifteen million! My dad blew up. He disowned him then and there. My dad sent a letter to my parents-in-law, cutting off familial relationship. He asked me to choose: him or Goffar. And damn it all, why did I choose Goffar? So I was disowned too!”
Tesa stayed still, heart curdled. So that’s why! She couldn’t believe how low Goffar could stoop! And he still dared sweet-talked and forced her back?! Was he that shameless?!
“Yah! I need lots of money, Tes. To pay back the money I owed here and there. I haven’t paid the electricity bill for six months now. I think I also have to sell this house, Tes! When I got a decent offer, I will have to let it go.”
“Any offer yet?”
“Not yet, since there is no friend or relatives coming over here anymore.”
“Why don’t you put up an ad?”
“I don’t have the money.”
“Do you want me to help you with it?”
Right away, Tesa noticed that Shakira almost nodded her head. But somehow, don’t know why, she shook her head.
“Without ad, nobody would know. When can this house be sold then?”
“Ah, I don’t want to bother you!”
“I don’t feel bothered. I only need to ask someone from the office who often deals with our office’s ad.”
“Ah, but I will be indebted to you then. Not to count my son’s medical bill…”
Tesa muttered inwardly. In this kind of situation, she still wanted to hold on to pride.
“That’s simple, Shak. When this house is sold, you can pay me back for the ad fee. How about that?”
Tesa didn’t know that’s what Shakira’s afraid of! She stayed silent for a while. Tesa asked her two, three times, but she still didn’t reply. After she’s being asked again and again, finally she opened her mouth. “How much… will you ask?”
Tesa was caught off guard, didn’t understand what Shakira’s asking. So she couldn’t say anything other than, “What do you mean?”
“You know, in real estate dealing, the middle party always gets two percent from the seller and two percent from the buyer, buuutttt… I don’t think I can give you more than… ehm… half percent!”
“Oh, Shakira!” Tesa shouted between annoyance and pity. “I want to put up an ad only to help you! I don’t want to be the middle party and you don’t have to give me one penny!”
Shakira looked relieved and was finally willing to be helped. Tesa got up and then fished out her wallet.
“I think it’s time to take your son to the hospital now. You must need money to visit him later on. Here is five thousand.” Tesa handed out the money, but Shakira refused.
“Ah, no need. No, no. I won’t visit him. I don’t think it’s necessary. He would be well taken care of over there, right? And you will take him back home later on, right?”
“If I have time, sure. But you must have needed money for everyday life. Your eldest son would need lots of fruits and medicine. Come on, take it. Don’t hesitate.”
Tesa forced the money into Shakira’s palm.
“Since you want it that way, fine then!” she said with a sigh, as if she was forced to do so. “Buuutttt… if that’s the case… how about if I borrow… twenty thousand?”
The emergency section at this time of day was usually very deserted. But that day, coincidentally there were multiple collisions. Three cars crashed together. The victim was five people; two in very serious condition.
In the midst of the chaos, Tesa stepped in, with her neat clothes and pretty shoes, carrying a very filthy boy.
“Where do you pick that up, Ma’am?” one person asked in surprise.
“Hush!” Maybe it was his friend who cut him off. “Maybe he’s her own child! How could you say ‘pick up’?”
“Why not? He looks like a beggar from the side alley.”
“Hit by what, Ma’am?” asked a nurse, who was busy with her scissors and bandages. She only glanced at Tesa for a second.
“Diarrhea,” Tesa said, and some people who were crowding near her quickly moved aside, as if they’re afraid to catch the germ. Most of them even had already covered their noses with their hands.
“Just put him there,” ordered the nurse, pointing to an empty bed with her chin. Tesa quickly complied. She was worried that the boy’s condition would act up again and soil her clothes. She still had to go back to the office after all…
A senior nurse stepped out from the inside room. Her four eyes immediately knew that Tesa wasn’t there before.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, looking up.
“Diarrhea, Nurse. Could you please hurry up and…” whispered Tesa, who got more and more worried seeing how the boy stayed still. Even in the car just now, he didn’t move an inch from her spot at the back seat. She’s really worried that help was already too late.
The plump middle-aged nurse glanced a little then calmly blamed her. “Why are you bringing her now, not earlier? This boy is already soporokomateus!” (soporokomateus = half-comatose)
Tesa was even more afraid. She didn’t have to understand the word the nurse used, because the nurse’s face had already explained it all to her. She took out a piece of red paper, then sat behind a desk without offering Tesa a seat. There was no other seat anyway. The second chair was already occupied by the nurse who was busy playing with scissors and bandages, taking care of a guy who looked like one of the victims of the multiple collisions.
Tesa had no choice but to stand in front of the desk.
“Parent’s name?” the nurse asked, ready with her pen.
“Goffar!” she replied quickly, wasn’t given time to think. The nurse looked so busy. Her body moved around, as if she would get up from her chair any moment.
I’m dead! I forgot to ask who his name is. And Shakira didn’t tell me either. Now what? The nurse looked at her from behind her glasses with confusion. Of course it’s strange if she didn’t know the name of the boy that she took with her. What if she was accused of kidnapping him…
In this uncertainty, only one name popped into her mind. And that’s only because that name had never absent from her mind, even in sleep.
“A year and a couple months.”
“How many months?”
This sounded more and more like some quiz, she thought. She wasn’t given much time to think. Because the boy looked small and thin, she made a guess.
“A year four months,” the nurse mumbled as she wrote. Then she asked for address and parent’s job. After that, the history of the disease. Here, Tesa had no choice but to say whatever coming into her mind. Better than stuttering like an idiot.
After the nurse was satisfied with the interrogation, she approached the patient. “This boy had to be admitted, Ma’am.”
That she had predicted. But for how long? Since she was responsible for the bill, she had to prepare enough money for it. “For how long, Nurse?”
“Oooh, in his condition, at least ten days. That’s only if he gets admitted now!”
Tesa shivered hearing it. Inwardly, she prayed that God had mercy for this poor boy. “Please, Nurse, just admit him in right away.”
“Okay then. Go to the cashier and pay the deposit first!” Then the nurse walked away without giving her any chance to protest or ask.
No choice, Tesa walked away after asking around where the cashier was located. She didn’t bring much money. She had given Shakira twenty thousand. What’s left in her wallet might be about thirty thousand. Hopefully, it would be enough for a deposit. The rest, she would have to deposit them tomorrow. It was fortunate that she brought that much money today. Usually she only brought about twenty thousand, because she rarely needed more than that. At most, only for gas or just in case her car broke down and needed to be towed. Other than that, she had no need for more. After office hour, she almost always went straight home. On lunch hour, her colleagues liked to walk around downstairs, in the shopping center. Their office was located on the twenty-sixth floor. Sometimes, she would join them, but only to exercise her leg muscles.
Actually cashier demanded at least half of the estimated bill had to be paid upfront. Tesa asked for consideration.
“This is the rule, Ma’am. The money is not for me,” she said snappily.
“I know,” Tesa said as patient as possible. “But I only have this much money. I’ll bring the rest tomorrow morning.”
The thin and scowling cashier looked at Tesa from above her glasses. She took account of Tesa’s neat clothes and her classy look. Doesn’t seem like a poor woman, she thought. But who knows? Rich or poor, if there’s a chance to escape without paying, everybody would do so, she thought.
Tesa nodded. She took out her ID and handed it out. The cashier wrote down the ID number carefully. Her forehead wrinkled a couple times—and Tesa chuckled inwardly: serve you right—because some computer generated numbers weren’t printed too clear.
“But you really have to bring the rest tomorrow morning, okay?!” threatened the cashier as she gave back the ID card.
Tesa nodded, half-vowing. After taking care of the payment, she hurried back to the emergency room. She noticed an IV had already been fixed on “Pasha’s” leg, so she felt a bit relieved.
The senior nurse walked back from inside. Tesa showed her the receipt. The nurse tore the paper into two at the serrated sign then held one side. The other side was handed back to Tesa.
“Can I go now?” asked Tesa.
“You don’t want to wait on him?”
“I have to go back to the office.”
“Okay then. Your address and phone number is on the file already, right?”
Tesa nodded, then turned around and walked away. She’s only walking about a couple meters when she felt as if someone called her name. But since it’s so crowded there, and she’s sure that nobody there knew her, she thought it’s another name that got called. Maybe that person’s name somehow sounded similar to ‘Tesa’, she thought.
But actually, she’s mistaken. It was her name that got called. And the person who’s calling her stood rooted on the floor when that girl didn’t even look around. That person just got out from the room reserved for hospital’s staff when Tesa was just turning around to walk away. For a second, he was taken aback, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. But then he shouted, “Tesa!”
When that girl kept on walking, he took in a deep breath, as if sighing. The nurse, who’s watching beside him, handed the red status to his face.
“Dr. Solem, that’s the patient.”
The one got called turned around and cleared his throat to get rid of the awkwardness before.
“Diarrhea? One year four months?” Suddenly he stopped reading out loud. His lips were opened half-way; his eyes goggled at the nurse’s handwriting. Goffar! Pasha! So, he’s not mistaken! Just now, he’s not dreaming!
Ah! She came back to Goffar!
“What’s the matter, Doc?”
“Oh, eh, er… Nurse Rani, please bring the blood pressure monitor here!”
I really thought the story was going to end in college, but this is pleasant surprise. Thanks for the awesome translation, I hope you keep going this is a fascinating book.
wow...eeyore, shiro that's good job! i've read this novel many times and still like it. btw, would both of you consider to translate the other novel which wrote by Marga T too after finished Tesa story, the title is Namamu terukir di hatiku (Your name carved in my heart).
Last edited by yinyeksin; 11-19-03 at 11:02 PM.
Unfortunately we both on holiday, not together though. ( I wouldn't be mind go to europe )
it's only 3 chapters to go so hold on people. thanks for reading.
Spring Summer Autumn Winter.
Pair ducks nest fly together.
Clemencies. Summer life, feather winter white.
Green meadow in spring, before the autumn bite.
Watching the red gown.
And none else, alone.
Tesa couldn’t leave the office because she was so busy. Markus and Daniel were busy with their own matters too, so she had to ask the office courier to take the money to the hospital.
That afternoon in the meeting, Boss instructed Tesa to go to Bandung with the marketing supervisor to check some problems that arose with the setting up of the branch.
When Tesa knitted her forehead, Boss, who cared for her very much, thought she was reluctant to be apart from him. He immediately grinned widely. “At most, only for three days, Tesa,” he said, as if calming her, when what Tesa thought was that she couldn’t visit “Pasha”.
Later in the afternoon, Tesa called Shakira and told her about the news.
“I will go for about three days, Shak. I have given them the down payment. You still have some money left to visit your son, don’t you?”
Shakira mumbled something unintelligible. Tesa assumed she still had some money.
“If there’s an urgent need while I’m gone, you can ask help from my brother. I’ll let him know later.”
The problems in Bandung turned out taking longer than she’d expected. Tesa and the marketing supervisor were only able to return on the fifth day. In the meantime, the nurse and the doctor were waiting for “Pasha’s” mom to come, even though for different reasons.
“Nurse, has she come and visited him yet?” asked doctor Solem one morning.
“Not yet, Doc. I wonder, where is his mom? Did she mean to leave that child here? His mom looked like a rich person, but you never know, Doc. He might be illegitimate…”
“Hush!” the doctor protested.
“Really, Doc. In the maternity ward, there’s this superb patient. Her appearance looked convincing; the address was flood-free area. Rich person, in short. But then, she ran out, leaving her baby here. When they looked for her, turned out she had already moved out. After investigating, it was found out that it was a result of an illegitimate relationship! Now that baby was taken by Doctor Bujang. So, who knows this one is…?!” Nurse Rani shrugged her shoulder when she saw the doctor was not listening, was reading the status of the patient instead.
Actually, he’s memorizing a phone number. Ever since the first day, Doctor Solem had already wanted to contact the mother of “Pasha”. But there were always paramedic personnel around him, causing him to lose courage to pick up the phone. And there had been no reason really for him to make the phone call. But now, he felt there was a reason. And a quite urgent one too! This child could return home already! Why didn’t Madam come for him?!
But he didn’t dare to make that call when the nurses were around. If what was announced was the truth, that’s still all right. But if what were caught by ears were only bits and pieces, here and there like a puzzle, and the gap might be filled with nurse Rani’s own imagination, then oh, God helps him!
Later in the afternoon, when nurse Rani had gone home and her naïve and innocent replacement was busily reading reports inside the room, Doctor Solem boosted his determination. After making sure that no new patient would knock on his door, and that his workmates had all gone with their own cars, he threw his body on the chair. After muttering one-two-three (from walkie-talkie habit at home!), he lifted the phone and dialled the number he had memorized for hundreds of time.
It was ringing for a while with nobody picking it up. She might not be at home, he thought, starting to cold-sweat. But there should be someone else! At least a maid! Yes, they should have a maid. Maybe she was busy or in the middle of ironing clothes. Oh, no, she might be in the middle of boiling water, so she could not left it alone. She would come in another minute, running wildly to pick up the phone.
But seconds went by, and his hope was dashed. There was nobody at that house. He checked his watch. She must still be in the office! It’s just past three. Buutttt, how come the house was totally empty?! It didn’t make sense that Goffar would let his wife to work in the office without any maid at home!
When he almost gave up, without hope, suddenly the phone was picked up, and then there’s a half-barking voice, “Yes, hello!”
“Good afternoon…” Damn, what should I say! Hm. “Is Mr. Goffar around?”
The voice on the other line was suddenly barking more obviously now. Wow, so fierce! Is this the Tesa nowadays?!
“No! Where are you from?”
“From the hospital! I’m Doctor Solem.”
Did he hear a little bit worried tone just now?
“I’m his wife. What’s the matter, Doc?”
Really. Her voice softened a little. Verrrryyy little… but still rougher compared to what he remembered from long time ago. Or maybe his memory had already deteriorated? Was it possible to remember other people’s voices after that many years?
“Excuse me, Ma’am. Your son can be discharged already…” his plan to reproach why she had never come and visited him was withdrawn. He had no courage to say it.
“How soon, Doctor?”
She didn’t sound very excited, did she? Illegitimate?! Ah, Rani was really a gossip! Her tongue was really long!
“Whenever. This afternoon. Or tomorrow. Yes, it’d be better tomorrow. See me first. Yes, I need to give some prescription. Yes, tomorrow. Don’t forget to see me first!”
When he put the phone down, he realised that he was drenched with sweat. Dear God! What’s the matter, he thought, irritated but amused. Even when he’s going for an exam, he was not this panicky! How much more he would feel tomorrow?!
Would Tesa still recognize him? What if she denied knowing him?! Ouch, he’ll be humiliated beyond words if Tesa looked at him weirdly, and said she had never seen him before. Moreover, if she came with her husband and Goffar looked down on him! Where could he put his face if that happened?!
He suddenly wished the sun would never set down this afternoon, so the next day could be postponed…
In the meantime, Shakira did not hang up her phone, but punched the button, dialling Tesa’s office number.
“Hello, can I speak with Miss Tesa?”
“Oh, she still has not returned from Bandung, Ma’am. May I ask who is calling? Would you like to leave a message?”
Irately, Shakira slammed the phone down without answering it.
The next day, she took a special 2 hours to put make up on. Her older son had recovered from fever and bowels problem, but was still weak. So she left him to her left side neighbour who was easier to deal with and wouldn’t mind giving her some help. The right side neighbour was unknown to her. Its house always looked quiet, as if nobody lived there. The left side house was plain, smaller than her own house and a little worn out. On their front yard, they opened a small shop where Shakira often took a debt on rice and fuel for cooking.
After leaving her son with the neighbour, Shakira went out with her best clothes, a black silk tight skirt with white polyester frills-blouse.
About an hour later, Tesa’s office phone rang. Coincidently, she picked it up herself because the operator just had a break.
After hearing that it was Tesa who picked up the phone, Shakira immediately shouted angrily. “How could you, why didn’t you let me know how much is my son’s hospital fee? I have no money now!”
“He can be discharged now?” asked Tesa wondering while counting. Eh, not even ten days yet.
“That’s right. How long do you think it will take? I cannot afford it if it’s too long! Now what should I do! I cannot get my son out if I don’t pay off the bills! Why can’t you tell me from the start so that I can get ready for it?”
“Oh, I just came back last night from Bandung, Shak. Ten PM. There’s some delay with the train. But then, I didn’t think your son could be discharged that soon… hm, what to do now. Where are you now?”
“In the hospital.”
“Hm. What to do? Ok, let do it this way. Can you come to my office? I cannot go out. My work was piling. I’ll give the money to you. How much is the rest of the fee? I have paid the one hundred thousand downpayment.”
“All together is a hundred ninety eight thousand and four hundred rupiah! Well, it’s the most economical room! Pardon me, we are the poor people!” Shakira sounded so cynical that Tesa felt bad about it. When she had been there, she hadn’t mentioned she wanted a first class room, and so, the nurse automatically put him in the most economical one.
“Looked like I was in such a hurry back then, Shak, that I forgot to ask the room type. But it’s clean enough, isn’t it?”
“Of course, my child has to realize who he is, really. He’s still lucky that someone was willing to take him to the hospital!”
What is this Shakira really wants, thought Tesa annoyed. Is she in her loony mood?! Why does she keep talking cynically?!
“So it’s another ninety eight thousand and four hundred, right, Shak?” Tesa quickly changed the subject away from Shakira’s weird mood.
“That’s right! Eh, Tes, I didn’t want you to just give me the money, you know!” shouted Shakira.
This person was really creepy. If not, then why did she call her and fumed now?!
“I’ll borrow it!”
Dear God, how full of pride her voice sounded, thought Tesa almost giggling. As far as she could remember, back in high school, Shakira loved to borrow money even though she had a wealthy dad. She often needed more money, and then conveniently forgot the money she owed!
“Okay,” she answered back quickly to avoid too much talking. “I’ll wait for you.”
Since she didn’t bring that much money with her, Tesa had to take some loan (Red: like getting money out in advance before pay day) out from the office. Once she was given the money, Shakira quickly walked away as if she’s so eager to see her son again. When in fact, she did not even visit him once before!
The truth was, she actually couldn’t wait to see the doctor who had such a gentle voice on the phone. When she’s checking the mirror this morning, she knew her life still had some hope. Tesa was a little bit shocked seeing her friend, but she didn’t say anything. Shakira had put an extra dose of make up, a little too much for Tesa’s taste. Her lips were daring red, the rouge on her cheeks were just like the red dye on white buns, while her eyebrow pencil truly looked like a coal on wall vandalism. But the most terrible part was that it seemed she didn’t shake the foundation she had used, but applying it straight on. As the result, it looked uneven here and there, especially on the place where she applied the foundation first. Now mixed with sweats, her make up started to wear off. Maybe the brand she’s using was not bona-fide.
“Well then, Tes! I really can’t stay long! Byeee!” she said, laughing merrily. Tesa shook her head seeing her friend’s impatient manner, as if she was chasing the last train!
Doctor Solem was also impatient. Since early in the morning he had told Nurse Rani, “If Pasha’s mom comes here, let me know! Don’t let her go take her son without seeing me first! Remember! Don’t forget! I have to see her first!”
Hearing that cito (important) message, Nurse Rani was on full alert. So when there’s someone claimed to be the mother of the patient from room number three, that nurse quickly scurried to find her supervisor.
After jogging on the corridor for nearly ten minutes, she finally found him. Meanwhile, her breath was almost out; well, having no time for exercise, she had untrained body.
“Doctor… Solem…,” she shouted wheezingly, “the person you want to see is here!”
“She mentioned a different name, not sure what it is, I didn’t hear it well. But she said room number three, no mistake! There is only one person with digestion disease in that room!”
And so, the doctor quickly followed the nurse. His heart, which had been going wild since morning, now really pounded hard like a blacksmith’s hammer. But his flowering hope quickly hit rock bottom when he saw a woman whose make up looked like she was on the drama stage sitting in front of his desk.
“Mrs. Goffar?” he asked with mixed feeling. On one side, he’s afraid he was wrong. Mrs. Goffar should be Tesa, right?! And he knew that woman with Kabuki performer’s look was definitely not Tesa. On the other hand, he wished this woman was really Goffar’s wife. Because that would mean Tesa didn’t return to her old flame. But if that’s so, why did Tesa bring that kid here?!
“Uh-huh…,” replied Shakira playfully, shooting him a flirty glance.
“Oh!” Doctor Solem was suddenly so nervous that he was coughing. But he could not hide his relief.
“Ah, Doctor, you seem relieved. Why’s that?” asked Shakira boldly.
“Oh, ah… no… I thought Mrs. Goffar was someone I knew,” he said, quickly took out the patient card and started to flip through it to hide his nervousness. This woman is so aggressive, he thought anxiously. The quicker I get her away, the safer!
“Oh,.. really! That means Doctor knew…”
Oh, man, even her voice is getting more intimate! What the ….?! thought Doctor Solem.
“Excuse me, who’s the one who brought the child here?” he asked, cutting off the dangerous sentence.
Shakira laughed flirtatiously, merrily. She put her hand on the table, slowly moving it further, closer to the doctor’s hand.
“It was my friend, doctor. I was out of town at that time,” she said while she played with her handkerchief on the desk.
“What’s her name?” asked Doctor Solem as if it’s a part of routine question.
“It’s also because of it that I never came and visited,” Shakira kept on without listening what she was being asked about. Her head kept on moving back and forth, since she knew from the mirror that method would make her look good. Her hair pin would flutter about like a ship lamp.
“I just returned home yesterday. I’m working as my father representative to open one of our company branches. My father is currently so busy in New York, talking about more working capital. Where did you graduate from, Doc?”
“Australia,” he answered shortly while stealing a glance on Mrs. Goffar. Hm. This she-monkey doesn’t look too bad after a while.
In the meantime, Shakira was already thinking: Australia?!
“Which city, Doc?”
“Perth. Look, Ma’am, I will write…”
Hm. Perth?! Hm. He must know! Maybe more than know!
“My father also has a real estate in Australia. A graduate from abroad, like Doctor is, should find a wife who also has a superb background, Doc. I mean, smart, well-known, financially stable, has rich parents…”
“Ehm!” Doctor Solem cleared his throat, smiling a little. This young madam is really good in twisting her tongue! Not sure where that advice goes.
“Well! But then, one cannot always get what one really wants, right, Doc?! For example, my father. More or less, Dad is one of the well-know millionaires in this country. He’s always associated with the upper class. Last month, Dad received a trophy for golf tournament among the ministers and well-know conglomerates. The month before, he won first place in jogging competition among president directors for local and foreign banks in Jakarta. That’s why he’s very busy all the time and I have to represent him for important matters. But even though my dad is rich, there is one wish he can not realize yet. He wants to have a doctor as his son-in-law. And I’m his only daughter…”
What a woman! thought doctor Solem, feeling amused and yet annoyed. His valuable time was wasted just like that!
“Mrs. Goffar, your son can go home today, even though he needs further treatment. He has a chronic malnutrition.”
“That’s impossible!” Mrs. Goffar protested firmly. “My son cannot have malnutrition! We are coming from a rich family! His grandfather…”
“But Madam is always busy, so this child is apparently just given to the maid’s hand! Right? Certainly a maid cannot understand about proper nutrition like… Madam, for example,” Doctor Solem explained while looking at his guest. And he suddenly saw how thin this woman was. Her skin was dull and her face had wrinkles already, even though she was quite young. Does she also nutrition-blind?! The doctor shook his head inwardly.
“Right! Maybe my maid is feeding junk food to the children!”
“Truthfully, your son should still be looked after here, but we need more beds for patients that really need them. Besides, I believe the in-house treatment should be good enough, because there’re his mother and father…”
“Oh, we’re going to divorce, Doc!” cut Shakira, shooting the doctor her deadly glance.
Faintly, the doctor started to smell something fishy. Maybe this woman was still wondering how come her very rich father could not have a doctor as his son-in-law!
But he pretended he didn’t hear it. Surely, he cannot talk about other’s personal problem that has no relation to his work whatsoever!
“The nurse will give you a nutrition guidance to help improving his growth and development. And I will write down the prescription that you can get at the pharmacy. What is that boy’s name?”
Em. So “Pasha” was just Tesa’s creation only! Why did she mention that name? Didn’t she know what’s this boy’s name? Maybe not. As far as he could remember, Goffar was snatched by her own friend. So it’s impossible that she kept on befriending that woman! But why she didn’t mind taking their son here?
He grabbed the prescription block from the table side. He really wanted to have Tesa’s address. He glanced at his guest. If she started to have a crush on the doctor, it’s impossible she would give other woman’s address that was once her competitor. Well, nothing else he could do but trick this woman.
He postponed writing the prescription. Instead, he got the red card, then studied it. “Hm,” he said, as if examining it, then brought his face up and faced Shakira. “This form is not complete. Please tell me the name and address of the person who took your son here the other day!” This order was added with a serious face and eyes that were staring without blinking.
Shakira shook her head a couple of times. She thought, this doctor’s determination would melt away. When it didn’t seem like it, she sighed flirtatiously, “Ah, is it really necessary?”
Seeing that compromise was not going to happen, with unwilling look, she told him Tesa’s name and address, that were written down by the doctor on another piece of paper.
“Phone number?” That order was so firm that Shakira had no time to think what the need of it. She hurriedly took out her phone book from her bag.
Once satisfied getting what he needed, Doctor Pasha Solem wrote down the prescription. Then he gave it to Mrs. Goffar.
“The nutrition guidance will be given by Nurse Rani. Just wait, she will be here soon.” Then he got up and got ready to leave his guest.
“Thank you, Doctor,” said Shakira smiling, still trying it as the last seduction, and then added with a pitiful voice. ”If I need anything else, I still can see Doctor, can I?”
“Certainly!” said doctor Solem, suddenly winked his eye with a wide smile, making Shakira’s heart almost stop. She didn’t know that his happiness wasn’t caused by her, but by the notes on a piece paper that was quickly put into safety in his pocket!!
Spring Summer Autumn Winter.
Pair ducks nest fly together.
Clemencies. Summer life, feather winter white.
Green meadow in spring, before the autumn bite.
Watching the red gown.
And none else, alone.
Great job with this chapter Eeyore! Thanks for getting it up! I can't wait to see what will happen next. For being a story about love it is awfully suspensful, This author is great about keeping the reader in suspense! Happy New Year
“Hello, good afternoon. May I speak with Miss Tesa?”
“Who is this from?” asked Mrs. Rodan, Tesa’s mom.
“From Solem, Ma’am.”
“It’s like this, Mr. Solem. My daughter is in the bathroom at the moment. Just give me your number and I’ll ask her to call you back.”
Since Pasha Solem had a long-term project plan in mind, of course he didn’t dare to make even the smallest mistake, like being impolite and saying “No need, I’ll call again later”.
So just like a naïve teenager, he spelled out his phone number one by one clearly, and Mrs. Rodan repeated them, also one by one, as she wrote them down.
Until late at night Pasha stayed awake, waiting for the call, but his phone didn’t ring. The next morning, he tried again. Tesa must have not been going to her office yet, he thought. But the fact was just like that.
“Tesa had left for work half an hour ago. She said she’s afraid of the traffic if she left a bit later. Who is calling?”
“Solem from yesterday, Ma’am.”
“Oh yeah, Mr. Solem, I have given her your number. Strange, how could Tesa forget to call you back? Actually, may I know what you’re calling her about?”
“Ah, only a little business matter, Ma’am.”
“All right then. I’ll let her know about it this evening.”
That evening, Mrs. Rodan remembered her promise to Mr. Solem. “Tes, there’s someone calling for you this morning.”
“Who’s that, Mom?”
“The Mr. Solem who’s called last night.”
Weird. Tesa’s face immediately clouded over, but luckily, only her mom noticed it because all the others were engrossed with their watermelons. Hm, Tesa thought. Luckily he’s still modest enough not to use his title out of work hours! The thing was, her mom was a bit keen over that particular title. Just see, after Markus, Daniel would be led into medical school too.
“Mom, if that guy called again, please always tell him I’m not at home. I don’t like dealing with such a salesman. Only because he came to my office once, he’s already getting pushy trying to sell his stuff.”
“What is he selling anyway?” asked Markus.
“That thing. Um, magic pans. I have told him I’m not married yet, that I don’t need such pans and pots,” Tesa said so seriously that all her annoyance looked genuine.
“Then he would say just marry him and he’ll give you the pans for free!” added Markus chuckling, causing his sister to glare at him.
“But he sounds polite, Tes,” her mom said again.
“Ah, Mom! Where can you find a not polite, not sweet, not persuasive salesman? In short, in order to sell his merchandise, he’s willing to do anything. After the sale’s finished, then his attitude would change drastically. Like when we want to exchange it, then he will be very rude and snappish.”
“But he said it’s a business matter!” her mom persisted. “Important!” This one is her own addition. The woman was so very worried seeing her daughter hadn’t found her mate yet that she had the urge to invite every approaching male for dinner!
“Well, if it’s really a business matter, just tell him to call me at the office, Mom. Tell him, no need to go there; a phone call would be enough. If he doesn’t know the number, you can give it to him.”
“Are you sure he’s not your newest will-be Romeo?” chipped in Daniel while eating his watermelon.
“Ah, you! Two peas in a pod with mom! Your mind only focused on finding me a mate all the time.”
“Well, then what else?” her dad joined in. “You are old enough to get married.”
“Not only enough. Over, you mean!” Daniel added, grinning.
“Don’t be rude!” Mom chided.
“Don’t be rude!” the nine-years-old Aster imitated her mom.
“Ah, that’s an easy matter, Dad!” Tesa said offhandedly. “When the time has arrived, my soul mate would come for me. He wouldn’t go anywhere else.”
Pasha refused to give up. He called again.
“Mr. Solem, my daughter said she doesn’t want to buy your magic pans,” said Mrs. Rodan who knew squat about that matter, causing the one on the other line to smile exasperatedly, grimacing uneasily. What kind of joke Tesa was playing at, he thought.
“But if you really want to talk to her, she said you are to contact her at her office. This is the number, please write them down.”
“Er, Ma’am, may I know the name and address of her office?”
“Oh, sure. Sure,” Mrs. Rodan answered, then gave the information he wanted.
“Thank you, Ma’am. Good morning.”
“You’re welcome… eh, eh…” Mrs. Rodan suddenly jerked as if stung by a bee. “… eh, she said you went to her office to promote the pans. How come you’re asking for the address now?”
But Mr. Solem had already put the phone down.
The phone rang on the secretary table. Tesa picked it up then greeted it with the name of her company.
“Good afternoon!” the voice on the other line had this cheerful tone that seemed familiar to her. “May I speak with Tesa?”
“Which Tesa?” she said, fooling him. “There are two Tesas here.”
“Oh, Mrs. Tesa is not in the office at the moment, Sir. Do you want to leave her a message?”
“It’s okay. Ehm, when will she be back?”
“I couldn’t say, Sir. Maybe around three.”
“All right then. Thank you. I’ll call again.”
When at half pas three the phone rang again, Tesa asked her colleague to pick it up. “Psst, Cleo, ask who’s calling. If his name is Solem, tell him Mrs. Tesa is not back yet. You don’t know what time she will be back. You don’t know where she went. Ask him to call again tomorrow.”
“Who’s calling?” Cleo asked. “Oh, Mr. Solem?” She shot Tesa a glance and grinned. “Mrs. Tesa is not back yet, Sir. I don’t know what time. Do you want to leave a message? No need? Okay then. Just call again tomorrow. Oh, this is the secretary, Sir. Yes, yes. You’re welcome.”
They giggled together.
“Why didn’t you take the call, Tes? He sounded like he wants to cry,” Cleo chuckled.
“Hush! You’re crazy, Cleo. He has a wife already.”
The next day, the telephone disturbed the office again. Cleo answered it once more.
“Oh, Mr. Solem? Good morning. Oh, Mrs. Tesa? Um, unfortunately Mrs. Tesa is in a meeting with Boss. Oh, I don’t know how much longer it will take. Could you try again about lunch hour? Yes, you’re welcome.”
Cleo glanced at Tesa and shook her head. “He’s so determined, Tes. Just take the call, will you?”
“Just ignore him. He’ll get bored and stop,” Tesa said.
“Or you can hand him over to me,” said Tiara who just came in.
“Ewww, he already has a wife.”
“Who has a wife already?” asked Boss who miraculously appeared there. “Is this story-telling hour or work hour?”
“Sorry, Sir,” Cleo said. “But there’s this Mr. Solem who keeps disturbing Tesa. He calls here almost everyday.”
“Asking her to fulfill a promise she made maybe,” Tiara joined in.
Boss looked at Tesa. “What did you promise him, Tes?”
“Eh, I never promise him anything, Sir. I don’t even know him!”
“Hm.” Boss put the document needed to be typed on the desk and then walked back to his room. Near the door, he stopped and turned to Tesa. “Eh, if you don’t know him, how come he’s that single-minded? And how can he know your number?”
Tesa only shrugged her shoulder and grimacing innocently. Boss didn’t feel right fishing for information at that moment, since there were other people around. But later….!
“Ah, just ignore him, Sir. He’ll get tired of it and stop!” Tesa said to erase Boss’ suspicion.
Tesa’s prediction was wrong. Pasha didn’t know what ‘tired of it’ meant. Instead, he went to her office building. But the security officer on the twenty-sixth-floor didn’t understand compromise. On the twelfth-floor, they had a mishap once. A bomb substance was placed in the pot of some plant, but luckily it’s found out before it could explode. So now, the security on every floor was more careful.
Pasha wasn’t permitted entrance.
“Who do you want to meet, Sir? Just give us the name and we’ll call that person out.”
Too bad the officer came back with a bad news. “The person you’re looking for doesn’t come to work today, Sir.”
Pasha didn’t buy it. He was tempted to go to her house to check it, but then remembered that calling on there was forbidden. And he didn’t want to make any mistake to… future in-laws.
So he had no other choice. He had to wait in front of the office building for her to come out after work.
The next day, from hospital he didn’t go home, but straight to do his stake-out. Since he’s not permitted to park on the side of the street, he had to park his car underground and waited in his car. Of course the parking fee was not cheap because it was charged by hour. Also, all the strategic places were already taken. He could only get the hard-to-use dark corner as his watching post. There’s also another problem: he had no idea whether Tesa used her own car to come to work of using public transport.
So, the only choice he had was to go out the moment work hours were over. And that’s why at exactly half past four, Pasha left his car and walked out, waiting near the gate like a jobless guy. His eyes were prepared to watch each and every person and car.
But there’re so many offices in that building and of course, that meant there were huge amount of workers. Also, almost every car had tinted glasses. So, it’s very hard to find what he’s looking for.
Pasha groaned when he realized his mistake. How could he find Tesa in such situation? People were like bugs flying out from their nest after rain stopped!
The more people went out, the more his determination hit a lower notch. Besides that, his heart was full of doubt. Did he look like a mad guy already? The several times he had called her office, everybody had called her Mrs. Tesa. What did it mean? Wasn’t she a bit too young to be called that? Unless… unless she’s already…! Was he chasing after someone’s wife?!
His eyes were stinging because he hadn’t blinked for sometime, watching the people and cars lining up to leave the building. He’s afraid that if he blinked Tesa would pass by and he would miss her. Because he had to watch both the people and the cars at once, gradually Pasha felt frazzled. His head kept moving from left to right, but even when it approached half to six, he hadn’t seen someone resembled Tesa. He started to lose hope and glanced at his watch. Almost time to go home, take a bath and go to his private practice. From his watch, he lifted his eyes up again. Cars were still lining up. But now, they started to jumble together since the parking lot was huge but the gate was normal sized.
Suddenly his eyes almost jumped out from their sockets. On the opposite side, on the fourth lane, he saw a girl behind wheel. The window was unexpectedly down, so his sight was not hindered. And although the distance between them was about ten meters, he was sure who that girl was.
Hurriedly he tried to cross the street. But it’s not that easy. The cars didn’t have mercy for people who only had two legs and wanted to beg for road access. Nobody was willing to step back and let him slip in between. He could jump into the middle of the street once, then had to wait a long time until there’s some kind and cheerful soul who didn’t curse being inconvenienced by people crossing in front of them.
He stood in the middle of the street, standing still like a statue, waiting for the opportunity. At last, there’s some car who’s still two meters away. Pasha jumped again. “Go to hell!” cursed the inconvenienced driver.
Now Pasha was more to the middle, and closer to the fourth lane. But the cars were getting more chaotic. If a car in front of one was a bit slower, the driver would start getting impatient and pressed on the horn.
Pasha was standing amongst the cars, ready to jump whenever opportunity presented itself. Meanwhile his eyes were roaming the fourth lane. For a minute there, he panicked. The gray Honda Civic was gone! His eyes searched back and forth. Then he breathed a sigh of relief. Ah, there it was. It’s getting more to the front, closer to the gate.
Hm. From the look of her car, Tesa’s position must be very good. She must have made good money.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, there’s a car pausing, signaling him to cross in front of it. Pasha lifted up his hand in gratitude and nodded.
But too bad! The moment he got on the other side, the gray car moved to the main road then zoomed off. Pasha groaned in frustration. For five minutes he watched the car until it was out of his sight. Then with head lowered down, he stood on the side again, ready to cross back to his original stake out place, then from there, go back to the garage to take his car.
Somehow, one day the operator got careless. There’s a call mistakenly transferred to Boss’ room. But actually, behind everybody’s back, Boss had given a memo to the operator: “If there’s a Mr. Solem calling again, connect him directly to me.” Of course Boss didn’t say anything about him disturbing Tesa.
“Hello, good morning. May I speak with Tesa?”
“Who is calling?”
“From Solem. Pasha Solem.”
“Hm, it’s like this, Mr. Solem. I don’t want to know what problem you have, but I ask you not to call here ever again! You’re disturbing us, you know?”
“Huh? Who am I speaking with?”
“With the President Director himself. And Miss Tesa has already belonged to someone else!”
“Oh, I’m not looking for her. But the other one. Mrs. Tesa.”
“Mrs. Tesa? How many Tesa do you think we have in here?” Boss asked heatedly.
“Yes, that Mrs. Tesa. Tesa Rodan! Not the Miss Tesa who has already… er, has already…”
“Mr. Solem!” Boss cut him off furiously. “There’s only one Tesa! MISS Tesa Rodan. She’s my secretary, and also my future wife!!!”
Brukkk! His eardrum throbbed when the phone on the other line was slammed down. Now he had no other idea. When he had called last time, he also talked to someone who said she’s the secretary. Not clear whose secretary though. Usually in a big office, every head of department had his or her own secretary. He had no idea how many there were in Tesa’s office. But one thing for sure, her voice didn’t resemble Tesa’s. But then, after almost four years, could he really recall her voice that clearly?
And now, the Boss himself had told him that she was his future queen! That meant he shouldn’t go on dreaming. But could he really take those words? Where’s Tesa when her boss was barking at the phone? Was she sitting beside him, listening while playing with his tie?
Pasha took in a frustrated breath. Ah, he didn’t want to believe any of it before he heard it straight from Tesa’s lips! He didn’t want to give up just like that!
His own headache also increased because of Shakira. This Mrs. Goffar suddenly became popular in the hospital after her third or fourth phone calls. Both his colleague and the paramedics teased him mercilessly about it. When he showed up in the morning, Nurse Rani sometimes had already waited for him.
“Doc, just now Mrs. Goffar called. She said it’s urgent. Doctor was asked to call her back.”
Of course he always ignored it.
“What’s the story, Pas?” asked one of his colleagues if they passed each other. “I heard your girl is getting impatient looking for you. She said you have gone for sooooo looooonnnngggg that she missed you very much.”
“Did she say she’s still a girl?? My God! She has two sons already!” Pasha yelped, smiling forlornly like a criminal who had no way out.
The matter of Shakira, even though it made him maddened, was still ignorable. He instructed all the nurses who picked up the phone to say he’s not available.
“Oh, she didn’t buy it, Doc,” announced Nurse Rani. “She said, ‘Always not available! I don’t believe it!’”
“Just let her not believing it then. I’m not her husband anyway. Why does she have to believe me? Why I would want to tangle with someone else’s wife anyway? I still want to live a long life, Nurse!”
“Oh man, you’re so thin now!” commented another of his colleagues. “I heard you have an affair with… psst… a wealthy divorcee?! Broke up already? Tired of her? I heard she’s still chasing after you, right? You’re afraid to be caught red-handed? Is that why you look like a stick? Eh, why don’t you feed her acetylcholine cocktails with… you know…”
“Ah, I don’t want to become an agent for the trip to hell!”
But it was true; his weight loss was because of his stressed mind. But it’s not Mrs. Goffar who caused it.
After thinking about it until another white hair had popped up, he was sure there’s only one way out. Go to her house! Although it sounded scary, but just like someone who had a mountain of debts said, he didn’t know any other way. Had to live dangerously! Either that or…!
Even if he asked for computer’s help, he believed it’s the only solution. But this solution also led to another problem.
He knew, Tesa didn’t want to see him, although he couldn’t guess her reason. Well, what would he do if she ordered him to get out of her house?! What would happen if Tesa said she had never seen him before in front of her entire family members, maids, and her dogs-cats?! Could he still stay alive after facing that much humiliation?! Wouldn’t it be better to take the President Director’s words, and let the past stayed in the past?!
be prepared for the last chapter... Happy new year!
Here's the last chapter... enjoy...
Weeks turned into weeks. The unsettling phone calls had stopped. Tesa felt relieved although she didn’t realize she should thank her Boss for it.
Life went on as usual. The advertisement for Shakira’s house was placed. There were many interested on it. But the person who finally bought it was Shakira’s father himself.
One day Shakira called Tesa at home, telling her the whole story. “Tesa, my dad saw the advertisement that you placed, and he felt sorry for my children. He said he didn’t mind buying the house back and let us live here without paying the rent, under one condition. I have to divorce Goffar!”
Tesa held her breath. Oh no. This was going to be complicated. Goffar with a wife was already difficult to discourage, moreover Goffar without a wife! He might think there were no more barriers for me to return…!
“And, you agree to it?” asked Tesa carefully.
“Certainly! He has run away, leaving me, why should I stick with him? Who is he, really? There are many men in this world, Tes! One gone, another came! Moreover, he held no university degree! A lot of those university graduates have crushes on me. For example, Doctor… Solem!”
Am I hearing it right, thought Tesa, taken aback. But she couldn’t wonder for too long, because Shakira had already kept on talking.
“Do you know why, Tes? Because everybody wants to have wealthy in-laws! Ha, ha! Doctors included!”
Shakira didn’t sound well, she thought. Her laugh seemed piercingly annoying.
“Shak, you probably don’t know about it. But Doctor Solem has already had a wife! Her name is Doctor Pika!”
Unexpectedly, Shakira didn’t seem worried about it.
“Ah, they must have been divorced already! Even if they’re not, he must have wanted to divorce her now! After hearing who my father is, he won’t be able to sleep well before becoming his son-in-law! Yes, I think… no, I’m sure they’ve already divorced! You want to bet? Otherwise, he wouldn’t be that aggressive!”
Tesa was even more shocked listening to this. Pasha was aggressive toward Shakira now?! Really! She knew how aggressive he could be, but to a woman with 2 children?! As if there’s no virgin left in this face of the earth!
Eh, if she thought about it further, maybe Shakira was not totally wrong, she though bitterly. Wasn’t it just short time ago that Pasha was so relentlessly calling her?! If Pika’s there, he wouldn’t dare! Then, maybe since she’s ignoring him, he turned to Shakira?! This woman’s luck was always so good, she groaned miserably.
Actually, Shakira was not a hundred percent honest. When she said doctor Solem was aggressive, she meant the way he was asking for the information about Tesa the other day. But of course Tesa didn’t have a clue about it. Even more so when she listened to how Shakira kept on blah-blah-blah about her relationships with that handsome doctor, which seemed quite close; her heart felt as if it was sliced into small pieces.
Her hand felt lifeless when she put her phone down. Strange how she hadn’t fainted yet, she thought cynically.
Shakira was really enjoying her prattle that she didn’t remember to say thank you at all, moreover to return the money for placing the advertisement and her son’s hospitalisation fee! Tesa wanted to ask, but, somehow, her tongue went limp listening to Pasha’s latest adventures. Why it has to be with Shakira, she groaned in frustration. Did Pasha forget that Goffar was also snatched by that wicked woman?!
Ah, if that’s all there was to Pasha’s moral and character, she didn’t have to feel wretched listening to his behaviour. She didn’t have to regret not being able to become his spouse. Why should she miss that kind of guy! Bah!
But, the money she had loaned to Shakira, she didn’t get it from lottery. It was from her own hard work! It’s within her right to ask for it. But then, how?!
Shakira might think it’s all her responsibility, since she had made Goffar fled abroad! Maybe thinking like that, Shakira did not mention about the loan to her father. If so, then it’s big problem!
Luckily before she took any action, one day Shakira’s father’s courier came and gave her an envelope containing the money to repay the advertisement cost and the hospital fee. Apparently her dad knew his daughter had had no money, so he asked her where she had got all the cash.
And so, Tesa was drowned again in her monotonous daily life. Everything was back to routine. Sometimes she felt tired of it, but she didn’t know where else to go.
Shakira didn’t call her anymore. Apparently, she must be too busy with her new boyfriend, thought Tesa cynically.
In order to avoid her mom’s questions, Tesa purposely busied herself with her work in the office. Several times a week she came home quite late. Her excuse was overtime, when in fact it’s not compulsory. Her boss asked her if she’s willing to stay longer to type up the letters with word processors. Out of the blue, Tesa accepted the offer! And so, Boss was also busy looking for excuses to stay longer together, since it’s a rare opportunity to be alone in the office.
That time was rainy season already. Nearly every late afternoon, skies would open up, wetting the earth. When Tesa started to catch cold, her mom tried to stop her from doing overtime.
“Ah, I’m just having a common cold. It’s all right, mom. I’ll get better,” answered her.
Tesa was actually worried if she came home too early, she would have nothing to do at home. She used to like reading novel, but ever since Shakira “had stolen” Doctor Solem, that hobby suddenly didn’t seem appealing any longer.
One time, when the rain was pouring heavily, Tesa’s car broke down. Good thing it’s still inside the garage, so she didn’t drench herself. She had no choice but to let her boss giving her a ride home. And in front of the house, all who had been waiting for her in the front veranda got up from their respective chairs, watching the so-polite man greeted them with a nod.
“Is that your boyfriend, Sis Tesa?” asked Aster innocently after Boss had left.
“Ssshhh! Little girl!” barked Mom, but Tesa saw how her eyes were lighted with sparks of hope. When she felt nobody’s paying attention to her, she whispered, “Tes, who is he?”
“My boss, Mom. Handsome, huh?” answered Tesa with a meaningful laugh, causing her mom’s heart to bounce happily.
And those feelings intensified when the rain still came every so often. Several times, Tesa had no oter choice but to take a ride home with her boss. And on the latest one, Tesa’s mom was braving herself and inviting him to have dinner together.
“It is to show our gratitude for your attention to Tesa. What would happen if she didn’t have a ride home, as the rain’s pouring so heavily!” said her mom, but Tesa knew better. She knew what trap her mom was trying to lay, but she pretended ignorance. Inwardly, she cringed, dread mixed with amusement.
Since that night, Boss was “officially” labelled as Tesa’s boyfriend by her brothers and sister. She herself felt amused by it, but she didn’t say anything about it. She thought, just let it be if it made Mom happier.
At that time so many employees caught the cold in the office. Apparently the Air Conditioning did not make the body more resistant to virus invasion. And Tesa, who had already had a runny nose, tumbled down. Two days she still carried on and came to the office, even though with coat and shawl. But on the third day she gave up, couldn’t even get up from her bed. Her head felt so dizzy, her body was feverish and her throat felt like burning, hurting so much.
Late afternoon someone came to visit her. Who else, of course it’s Boss! From afar Aster had already recognized his red car, then she ran to her sister’s room.
“Sis Tesa, your boyfriend’s here! Quick, pretend you are sleeping, or he’ll think you’re not really sick!” she said, coaching her.
Needles to say how happy and glad Tesa’s mom felt. But Tesa didn’t seem delighted. How could she be delighted when her body was aching and sore all over? The flu tablet she’d taken only made her heart beat faster and made her felt sleepy. But the fever and headache didn’t go away. The next day, her suffering was also added by the dry cough that was making her chest painful. Its noise sounded kong-kong just like a bullfrog.
Next day in the afternoon, Boss came again. Worriedly, he suggested for her to go see a doctor.
“Oh, no need!” argued Tesa horrifyingly.
If other children were scared of ghost, then since she was little only two things she’s afraid of. Go to the doctor and the dentist! She’s really afraid of needles.
“Two more days, it will be better! My headache is gone already!” she lied.
“But your temperature is still over thirty-eight degrees!” added her mom. Actually since the day before, she wanted to take her daughter to the doctor, but she refused. She said, just wait for Markus to get home. Her brother was currently in Central Java, visiting some local hospitals.
Backed up by Tesa’s mom, Boss felt bolder.
“You have to go to the doctor, Tesa. If tomorrow, by the time I come here you still haven’t gone to the doctor, I’ll take you there myself!” He threatened her, and Tesa knew, that threat should not be taken too lightly.
The next morning, when Tesa’s mom brought up the subject of “going to the doctor” again, Tesa made some excuse that she wasn’t strong enough to stand and walk out the house.
“Well then, later in the afternoon, I’ll just get Doctor Yusuf,” said her dad.
Doctor Yusuf was their neighbour. His house was number fifteen, while their house was number twenty-six. Since her illness was not getting any better, Tesa could not argue anymore when in the afternoon her mom called across the street. She had changed medicine three times, but she’s not getting any better. And Markus still had not returned yet.
“Doctor Yusuf is taking a leave. He’ll be back on Monday,” her mom said after making the phone call. “But he has an assistant. He’ll come over soon. His nurse said, there’re still too many patients at the moment.”
“Why don’t we just wait, Mom? His assistant might not be good enough…”
“This is Friday, Tes. No doctor would practice tomorrow. Do you think you’re able to wait until Monday?”
Tesa had to agree to her mother’s point. She felt as if she wouldn’t be able to wait even for another hour. But the assistant only came after the sky turned dark. With face blushing, he apologized to Tesa’s parents, blaming it to the so-many patients that could not be left even for a minute. If he could be frank, actually the doctor wanted to say that he also needed to go to the loo since late afternoon, but holding it in.
“Doc, you can not go across the street right now,” his nurse had told him earlier. “We have too many patients. All of them want to get in as soon as they can; but when they’re inside, they don’t want to go out, want to tell the story of their lives to Doctor! Right, Doc? If they have to wait a little longer, they will start whining. Moreover, if Doctor left them to go across the street, Dear God, they probably will go to the Customer Association! Today’s patients are so fierce!”
The doctor only laughed a little, listening to his nurse’s wisdom. Now, when he’d arrived across the street, he just remembered that his need to go to the toilet had not been fulfilled. Would it be considered impolite to go to the toilet now?!
“Thank goodness you’re finally here, Doc,” greeted Tesa’s mom sweetly, then taking him straight to her daughter’s room. The doctor had no choice but to postpone what he wanted to do.
“Tesa!” she shouted from outside her room. “The doctor is here.”
The door opened. Her mom came in followed by…
Tesa was thunderstruck as if she saw a cobra coming in. Right away, she was ready to tell the doctor to get out from her room, but no voice came out. Just her lips opened up like a dazed person.
In the meantime, her mom had already closed the door and stood at the end of her bed, while the assistant was putting down his bag on the small table and busily taking out his equipments.
Not sure whether it was purposely or not, the doctor did not even mention his name when he shook hand earlier. For the sake of manner, Mr. and Mrs. Rodan did not ask his name either. But Tesa was really sure that her eyes had not gone blind. This man that was in the middle of taking out his stethoscope from that black bag was no other that Doctor Pasha Solem. And what was he doing here?
He was now coming to the side of the bed, and then sat on it with asking for permission. Having no choice, Tesa moved herself a little bit inward. Her jaws were tightly closed as she’s holding her anger back. Huh! If only there’s a way to blow her feeling out at this moment! But there’s no way! She even had to be polite and obey every order from the doctor….! Huh! What doctor! A playboy pig like him, is he really qualified to cure people?! Destroying something, that’s what he is good at! Huh! How dare he came here!
Without indicating that he recognized his patient, he asked Tesa to open her top.
This is too much! She really wanted to scream or cry! But her mom repeated the request with full authority.
With her jaws and teeth clenched tightly, Tesa had to follow the order, since her mom was there to watch. And she didn’t want to cause any suspicion.
There! Satisfy your playboy eyes, she cursed inwardly without looking at the doctor’s direction.
While lying on bed, Tesa certainly did not wear any bra under her pyjamas. After her buttons were undone, she had no other defence. She felt so helpless that she really wanted to wail. How could her fate have always been bad? In this worst of time, she still had to get slighted too! Her enemy’s helping her! Or, even if he’s not an enemy, at least this man had broken her heart too many times.
She knew, she had never been considered as fellow human being by Pasha. When Pika needed him, he’d easily ditch her, as if she could not break her heart. Oh sure, Tesa had no feeling! She was merely a stupid doll! Sweet to look at, nice to play with.
Well, if she wasn’t to be taken into account that long time ago, now it would be even more so. She was no more than a patient! No need to be greeted! Not to say to be recognized as old acquaintance! Don’t even dream he would shout with joy, “Ai, Tes, we meet again!” Huh! It seemed it’s just yesterday he was talking about love! Huh! Love?! Bullshit! Puppy love maybe, which still held some possibility! Odd, how could he coincidentally fill in for Doctor Yusuf?! Ah, her luck kept turning out bad!
With the appearance of a very serious doctor, that guy opened up her unbuttoned pyjama top. Then just like an expert cardiologist, he placed his stethoscope on a couple of places on her chest.
Tesa was sure her heart was healthy and her current illness didn’t harm that direction at all, but somehow, Doctor Solem was listening to her heartbeat for soooo long! She couldn’t see his downcast eyes, so she couldn’t guess what he was looking at or thinking about. To strike a protest, she felt reluctant, lest to be said a know-it-all. Besides, her mom was still standing at the end of her bed, so there’s no reason for her to accuse the doctor harassing her or something.
Unwillingly, she sustained the torment. But gradually she became irate. Just look your fill, she screamed inwardly. Because all this would never be yours! You can compare it with Pika’s later! Or, now with Shakira’s?
Such emotions of course made her heartbeat quickened. Doctor Solem knitted his eyebrows.
“Your heart rate is very fast,” he said to no one in particular, then all of a sudden, turned his head to look at the patient. He touched her forehead for a second. “Hm. Not too feverish!”
Since Tesa was still glowering at him, she didn’t have a chance to look away. For a moment, their eyes met. But Doctor Solem quickly averted his eyes as if nothing happened.
“Your daughter’s illness is quite serious,” he said, this time looking toward the end of the bed. “Why didn’t you call a doctor earlier?”
Mrs. Rodan immediately trembled in fear. Such words usually meant grave. Stammering, she said, “This… this girl… is… stubborn, Doctor. She… kept… saying… no… to go… to a doctor!”
“Hm. Why? Afraid of needles?” The doctor glanced at his patient for a moment. Of course Tesa’s not willing to regard that comment, much less to reply. Do you think it’s funny, she thought. Huh! In your dream!
“That’s right, Doctor. This daughter of mine fears needles the most!” said Mrs. Rodan, confirming.
“Hm. Could you inhale deeply? Now exhale. Once more. Go on. Once more. Once more. Inhale, exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhaleee…” But then the doctor forgot to give the order to exhale.
Tesa kept inhaling as deep as she could, until she couldn’t hold it any longer. But the command to exhale still wasn’t given. Her chest felt as if it almost burst out. She felt breathless, and then started to cough.
Doctor Solem looked at her, and then calmly said, “You should exhale the air; don’t hold it in like that!”
Damn you, Tesa cursed inside her heart. Why didn’t you say so?!
Apparently, stethoscope still didn’t give enough information, so that Doctor Solem felt the need to use his fingers to tap here and there. Oh God, she could feel her hair started to arise, being touched like that. She immediately remembered the beauty of summer in December, and the serenity of winter, alone together, sitting in front of the window…
Suddenly she jerked awake hearing her mother’s voice. Oh! Turned out the doctor wanted to check her throat and had been waiting for her to open her mouth. His spatula was ready at the tip of her lips.
Tesa opened her mouth as wide as she could, hoping she would cough hard and spit on the doctor. But it’s as if Doctor Solem could guess there’s some devilish scheme, or maybe he’s too experienced, impossible to be tricked. The moment she moved her tongue to cough, the spatula was pulled out and the doctor stood up. After throwing the wooden spatula to the trash bin near the desk, he went back to the bed. Then calmly, he buttoned up his patient’s pyjama one by one. At first Tesa wanted to refuse, but somehow she let him.
“Well, the examination is over! Now I want to write the prescription,” he said to nobody in particular.
As if that’s the clue to ask her to go out, Tesa’s mom immediately exited the room. The door was left open. The moment her mom disappeared from her sight, the situation of the battle field immediately changed. When Doctor Solem grabbed her wrist to count her heart rate, furiously she brushed his hand away. Her blank face, which didn’t show any emotion before, now looked forbidding.
“Well, if you have already had your fill offending me, then go home to your wife! Pika must be impatient waiting for you!”
Doctor Solem laughed instead, faced with the refusal. Firmly he took hold of Tesa’s hand, then he gripped it and counted the heart rate. After he’s done, he looked at Tesa, smiling.
“Aren’t you grateful to me that I didn’t give you a shot?”
“Hah! Wait until the end of days!” scoffed Tesa crossly.
“Don’t you know? You look more attractive when you’re angry!”
Then his face leaned closer to hers, so that Tesa could see how gorgeous Pasha’s dark eyes were. Oh, God, she groaned inwardly. This guy could smile with his eyes! His clean and handsome face looks so open. And there’s also the pair of glowing eyes! Ah, I can’t bear being stared like this. I can’t curse him even though I very wanted to!
“Cut it out, Pas. Don’t joke around anymore! I don’t know why you could come here this afternoon! How come you coincidentally fill in for my neighbour?”
Pasha looked like he wanted to chuckle delightfully, but noticing that Tesa’s face had not offered peace yet, he called off his intention.
“This is what I call luck, Tes. Usually it’s Doctor Harun who fills in for Doctor Yusuf. But suddenly he got apepe… er, his appendix had to be cut out. Doctor Yusuf had to take leave to visit his mother in Java, got news that she got old-age sickness. Also, I know you live on this street. I thought, if I fill in his practice for two weeks, maybe I can see you even if it’s only once. From afar! Today is actually my last day here. Saturday, the clinic would be closed, and Monday, Doctor Yusuf will be on duty again. But, just as fate would have it, your mom called…”
Blah! What fate, Tesa thought angrily. Men! Have a wife at home, still saying he’s looking for his fate outside!
“Just forget it, Pas. Quickly write me a prescription and then you can go home.”
“Am I not welcome here?” he asked with eyes still filled with smiles.
“I respect you!” she said softly, half groaning. “Don’t be an unfaithful guy!”
“If you only have respect for me, I, on the other side, still love you. Don’t assume things like that! Pika is getting better from her paralysis. She can use wheelchair now and…”
“That’s good,” Tesa cut off his words impatiently. “But I’m not interested to hear about your wife!”
“You have to hear it! Tesa, she’s married Michael a long time ago and lived in Perth now!”
“Oh???!” Tesa’s jaws almost dropped in shock.
“The moment Michael was well and could take care of her, she dumped me! Apparently she had never needed me.”
“Poor guy!” Tesa sneered mockingly.
Pasha leaned his head closer. “So, who did you call an unfaithful guy? Care to repeat it once more? Don’t mock me, okay?”
With threatening pose, he took hold of both of Tesa’s hands, then he gripped and shook them. Without their knowing, Aster had already slipped into the room. Seeing how her sister stayed quiet while Doctor Solem looked menacing, the girl ran back out to get her mother, shouting, “Mommy! Mommy! Sis Tesa is wrestling with the doctor!”
“How about Shakira?” Tesa asked half whispering.
The two people didn’t hear Aster’s panicky shout, so they didn’t realize there’re two spectators standing on the doorway.
“Shakira who?” asked Pasha as he reached for the prescription block and looked for a pen. He patted his every pocket. “Oh man, I think I left my pen in Doctor Yusuf’s office. Borrow me one, Tes?”
Tesa’s mom’s forehead crinkled hearing her daughter’s name. How come it looked like this doctor is very familiar calling her daughter’s name like that?
Tesa pointed to the desk beside the bed without actually moving to take and give it to the doctor. Her action also made the spectators on the doorway frowned again.
On top of the books and magazines there was some pen, pencil, and eraser.
“Like to do some crosswords, huh?” Pasha asked as he took the pen.
Tesa didn’t say anything. Her mom’s frown got deeper. What’s wrong with this girl? How come she’s so unusually rude?
Instead of answering, she heard Tesa asked what food she couldn’t eat. The doctor counted off some forbidden ones. Strange. Tesa sounded exasperated and annoyed.
“Those are all my favourites, Pas! How could you!”
Oh God, the tones, Tesa’s mom thought. She just realized how her daughter had this playful talent.
“And how come I can still remember what food you like!” The dark-coloured eyes were now looking at her searchingly. The smiles in them had disappeared although the warmth was still there.
“How about pancakes?” asked Tesa, suddenly really wanted to be playful.
Had her daughter lost her mind, thought Tesa’s mom. Since when did she like pancakes? When was it ever been served in their house?
“You can make it, but don’t eat it!”
Well, well! Now the doctor seemed to lose his mind too.
“Ugh! You’re picking on me!” exclaimed Tesa as she pummelled on Pasha, causing her mom to hold her breath in surprise. What was this? How come doctor and patient were joking around like schoolmates? But her eyes were opened when she heard Pasha’s next words.
“Twelve times I have called here, and they’re always rejected. Who could ever guess that I had a chance to enter the princess’ chamber instead? What’s that called if not bright luck?” Pasha said delightedly.
She now knew who this doctor was. She quickly held Aster’s arm and dragged her away. “Let’s go, Aster. Don’t disturb them. Your sister is all right. She’s being healed.” Then she closed the door.
“Don’t be too happy yet!” Tesa threatened.
“Hm. Why not? You’re not going to reject me again, right? On what reason? I’m still single. And had never been unfaithful!”
“How about Shakira?”
“Shakira again! Shakira again! Who is this creature?”
“Oh, the one whose child was in the hospital before? Well. If it’s her, then… I heard she’s been ordered to get a divorce by her father. She said her father really wants to have a doctor as his son-in-law. Last time, she offered me a chair in the parliament. Ah, why would I want to play in parliament? If she could offer me a chair as the hospital director, then maybe I’ll consider it seriously. I haven’t refused her after all!”
“Why should I care whether you refused her or not?”
“Of course you don’t have to care about it!” said Pasha casually with raised eyebrows, but his eyes were still smiling. “That woman is very impressive. She travelled all by herself representing her father who rather seems to spend his time playing golf with important people.”
“When her son was sick that time, she’s very lucky you’re there! She herself was out of town at that time, opening another branch while her father was still in New York for business also. That Shakira is very dynamic. Fast! Sharp!”
“Oh?!” Tesa was so shocked hearing Pasha’s story that she couldn’t say anything for a while. How impressive Shakira could turn facts around that she made Pasha praised her! Fast? Hm. Someone who didn’t want to work in an office, and not even willing to work at home. Representing her father?! Hm. Hm. Who had been disowned by her own father not long ago?
When she could speak again, Tesa decided not to tell the real truth about Shakira. “So that’s what she told you? She didn’t tell you why it’s I who brought her son to the hospital?”
“Yeah, I’m also curious about that. Were you by chance visiting Goffar because you knew her wife was out of town?”
Tesa cringed hearing the accusation that was more like condemnation. “Later, I’ll tell you all about it. Now I don’t feel like it. I don’t have the mood to say something bad about her, lest people would say I’m jealous of her. Or that I want to break the both of you up!”
“Dear God! Tesa, how dumb can you be! You think I haven’t realized who this Shakira is? This woman might not be right in the head. But obviously, she has a crush on me. Almost every morning she would call the hospital. So much that I become the laughingstocks of my colleagues and the nurses. ‘Pas, how’s your girl? This morning Nurse Rani said that she’s almost wailing in the phone looking for you! You’ve been running away for so long now. You’d better go home; have pity on someone’s daughter!’ Ugh! They have various ways to tease me. They thought I had an affair with a wealthy divorcee! When in truth I have never taken her seriously. I haven’t even taken her phone calls even once!”
“Is that right?” Tesa sneered. “From what she said, you’re crazy about her! She said, you’re in love with her dad’s wealth! Actually, as far as I can remember, her dad is a normal wealthy guy. Meaning, he had no connection with parliament or whatever. Eh, how come I talk so much? People would think I want to speak bad about somebody else!”
Pasha laughed. “Seems like so!”
“Eh? You’re accusing me?”
“Well… From her own lips, she admitted that her father is a friend of some ministers, bankers and all the upper-class people. Her father also has business overseas. In short, according to her, the father was one of the top millionaires in this country. Ha, ha, ha! That’s why she’s offering me a chair in parliament so easily. It doesn’t matter how much I want, I will get it! And you say… ha, ha, ha! He’s just a normal wealthy guy?”
Tesa joined in the laughter when she understood Pasha’s meaning. “Whatever! Don’t talk about other people behind their backs. Not good. I’m happy that it’s all only Shakira’s imagination. At first I thought you have already…” Tesa’s voice was filled with relief.
“Have already what?” continued Pasha demandingly.
Tesa only shook her head. Pasha didn’t insist.
“So now, Shakira problem is cleared too. Our relationship is clear too, right?”
“Not that simple!” Tesa said softly.
“Eh, what else? What more reason do you have to refuse me now? I’m still single!”
“That’s your own fault! Don’t point finger at me! Well, why haven’t you got married yet?”
“I’m waiting for you. Now that we’ve met again, of course we would get back together, right? You’re waiting for me too, aren’t you?”
“N…o!” denied Tesa, suddenly nervous.
“Don’t lie to me! Then why haven’t you got married either?”
Tesa looked away from the penetrating gaze. Her lips suddenly trembled as if in fear.
“I don’t know. I feel… I… have… no courage… to get into relationship again! Always brings me misery. I feel, I don’t have what it takes to date you again!”
“Tesa!” shouted Pasa firmly, then grabbing her chin to force her to look at him again. “We’re not going to date anymore!”
“We will immediately get marr…”
“Sis Tesa,” all of a sudden, Aster’s voice came into their hearing from outside the room. “Your boyfriend’s here!”
At the same time, the door was opened and… Tesa and Pasha turned their head together. She fell into shock seeing Boss entered the room with a bouquet of red roses in his hand. Blood immediately left her face. She became more nervous when she noticed Pasha was glancing sharply at Boss and herself in turns.
Hm. So this is the dumb elephant who shouted at me that day on the phone, thought Pasha as he took a measuring look from top to toe. Hm. His tie was attractive, but too bad he’s too fat that the tie looked unfit. His hair, which was parted in the middle, was still neat even though it’s already late, must be because of pomade or another. Too bad his moustache was too thin, like uncared-for plants; cat’s moustache still looked better!
“Hi, Tesa, my darling! How are you today? I see your face is very bright today! Here’re red roses for you, a sign of… eh, doctor’s still here!” Boss said confusedly as if he just saw another person in there. He put the bouquet on the desk, then he looked at Doctor Solem.
“How’s my fian… eh, her condition, Doctor… ehm?”
Pasha didn’t want to mention his name. He muttered in passing something about his patient’s condition, as if it’s a confidential matter that was only for a need-to-know basis.
“Thank God. So it’s not dangerous, right?” said Boss, who didn’t notice somebody’s dislike of him. “The thing is, Doc, this Tesa… er, is my future bride! So I’m very worried seeing her like this! Don’t want anything to happen to her!”
Then, as if by habit, he wanted to sit on the bed, but effectively and yet subtly, Pasha beat him to it. He pretended to take the prescription block that was on Tesa’s side again. Behind him, Boss was waiting for the doctor to get up to write the prescription somewhere else. But the doctor stubbornly didn’t want to get up.
When Boss was still standing there like a statue, Doctor Solem turned around at last and said politely but firmly, “Please wait in the living room, Sir. I haven’t finished examining you… ehm… future… wife!”
“Oh, yeah, yeah, sure, sure!” Doing what the doctor told him, the male rooster went away. Not even in his dream he ever thought that he wouldn’t get any permission to enter back ever again.
The moment the door was closed, Pasha hissed fiercely, his eyes looked at Tesa sharply, “I don’t want to know how you’re going to do it! But you have to be able to let yourself free from that male rooster. Worse come to worst, Tes, you have to resign your job this evening!”
And how could she possibly refute such an explicit command?
Thank you all for reading...