previous part of the story...Not taking his own medicine
The car's thermometre implied that the air outside was 22 Celsius.
He stopped at the local 7-11 to grab some milk.
"Evening Dr!" chirped Grace the cashier. "Evening.." was the tired reply. "Tired" was strengthened by the panda eyes, that haggard appearance, the 2-day shirt. The unruly sorry excuse for a hair.
Tired! Was the unanimous equivocal statement.
"Are those Good Day ones in stock, Grace dear?" "Sorry, sold out for the day. But the Dutch Lady's are at the back."
He cringed. Dutch Lady is a bit expensive. All the same, he took two of the Lady's.
"Working late Dr?" "At the end of a 2-day shift. Going home for a while to have my 40 winks," he replied with a wry smile.
"So, Dr, when is our big date?" Grace said with mischievous eyes. He smiled. "If I have told u, I have said it a million times. I am too old for you. Wouldn't want to be charged with a minor."
"Aww, too bad. I was hoping that we can go to somewhere cozy..." "Bye Grace!Nite!" Grace's advances was cut short.
That last 1 km drive home was uneventful. "Damn that Grace!" Always teasing him. Another tired smile. Rounding that last cul-de-sac, parking his Toyota Vios.
"Assalamualaikum. Sabine! I'm home!"
Down came Sabine from upstairs, prancing gracefully. Quite the feminine grace. With that haughty blue eyes. Colour of lapis lazuli. Striking.
Air of confidence. Like she commanded the room. Sucking the very air into her. Like an endless vortex.
That silky hair. Soft to the touch.
Those lovely curves. Shapely.
"There you are! Do you miss me? Hope you have eaten those dishes that I've prepared for you." He stroked her hair. "I've got you some milk" he added. She eyed him thoughtfully.
And he went to prepare himself his first square meal in days. Nothing sashy. Just fried rice with omelette. The one that everyone can whip up in 20 mins. He also cooked for his dear Sabine.
They had a simple dinner together. Of course, Sabine must have her dinner with milk. All the while he was regaling her about that difficult specialist Dr. Ifrinda, or about Puan Malika's improving conditions, or Azzim's new son, or Angah's salary increase, Adik's new job, Dad's new golf set, and about Mum's impending retirement.
He was content after that. For Sabine is very a good listener. She makes the speaker feel appreciated.
He cleaned things up. For eventhough Sabine is a good listener, she was no good in tidying things up. Some might consider that a fatal error. It was fine by him.
And then he went to his armchair by the hi-fi.
Next to the armchair was a bookcase stuffed to the brim with books. All kinds of books imagineable. Most of the books are well-worn. Testament that he has read them countless times.
He plucked a cd into that old hi-fi. Out came the classic song I Dont Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith.
To the tune of that song he picked Tere-Liye's Bidadari Surga from the bookshelf. Tere-Liye is an Indonesian writer. His writings are about slice-of-life. Perseverance. Hope. Struggle.
He read it for the umpteenth time. While absent-mindedly stroking Sabine's hair. Steve Tyler's voice in his ears.
Past the half-hour mark, he fell asleep on that armchair. Upon closer inspection, that armchair too seemed well-worn. As if the owner constantly fell asleep while reading there. And that was the case actually. Has always been for years now. He rarely sleeps in his bedroom anymore. Preferring this sanctuary of armchair/hi-fi/bookcase to the splendor of his bedroom.
He is more contented this way.
"I dont wanna close my eyes...I dont wanna fall asleep..coz I miss you baby..and I dont wanna miss a thin'.."
But he did fall asleep.
Sabine, seeing him slipping into Morpheus' realm, slowly yawned herself. But she was not quite tired. She's not diurnal anyway. Nocturnal is her biology. And then she pranced on her four legs.
Yes, four. For she is not Homo sapiens. More like Felis domesticus.
The book Bidadari Surga slowly falls from his lap. The upturned page is page 290. A sentence commanded our attention.
"Ia sudah terbiasa dengan kesendiriannya..."
continued in...A dear friend's visit