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They Can’t Take That Away From Me : the fiction (part 3)


The Ceremony : Chandra Story

we may never never meet again on that bumpy road to love
but I always always keep the memories of…

I was Jade’s mate of honor and walked down the aisle in the processional right before Jade and her dad. During the rehearsal the night before I was told to arrange my pace so I would arrive to my place right when the guitarists ended John Denver’s Perhaps Love. As I walked down the aisle I thought about the feeling I used to have for Jade and the agony I used to have when learning about William and Jade’s engagement.

Jade had broken my heart for the first time when I was 15. It had taken a lot of courage for a fifteen-year old- boy to ask a girl out on a date. In which she replied, “Us? Out on a date? But we’re best friends, we’re like siblings”
She had broken my heart again when I was 18 when we had been dating for 3 months. I was driving her home after we went to a movie one Saturday night when she dumped me.
“I still don’t feel any real chemistry between us”

Over years, Jade had over and over again broken my heart. Back in her early university years (I was in Kansas at that time), she kept telling me about Chris ‘my cute senior from the hiking club with great taste of music’. I didn’t feel that there was any romance between them though. Chris, in short was my substitute for Jade. Man, I felt for him. But I was still jealous. And there was this other guy, that German guy Timm Neumann. Jade said that they were just friends, ‘Timm’s more like my travel companion’. He was there in Bali when Jade celebrated her 25th birthday; Jade had celebrated Christmas with Timm’s family in Munchen; they travelled to Morocco together and as if those were not enough to make me jealous, they traveled to the US to attend my graduation.

I thought I could never hate a man as much as I hated Timm until a little bit over a year ago when she asked me to pick her up at the airport so that I could meet William. I almost didn’t recognize Jade when I saw her at the airport. She looked unbelievably beautiful and radiant. A guy behind her gave me his awkward smile. I remembered that for a moment I shut myself from Jade and the rest of the world and tried to concentrate on that guy. Medium height, had a messy dirty blonde hair, and a pair of boyish green eyes underneath his tortoise square glasses. The word ‘nerd’ crossed my mind right before Jade knocked my head with the 750g Toblerone bar and said, “Chandra, this is William my boyfriend. William, this is my best friend Chandra”.

Thus began my love and hate relationship with Jade & William. Listening to how they met (at a party when they were seated next to each other and ‘William was the one who saved me from dozing off in that party full of snobs’) to how they got engaged a few months after the airport moment (‘like an Easter egg hunting, but instead of finding a painted egg I found his granny’s Faberge egg with “will you marry me” note in it’) until she requested me to be her mate of honor had made my friendship with Jade in a very awkward situation. I had still expected Jade to return home after getting tired of her abroad adventure and married the guy next door who had known her since her preschool days. What exactly that William had and I didn’t have except for that hyphenated surname? Wasn’t it easier to marry someone from the same cultural background? I had all those questions crowding my head until I got a series of birthday presents from Jade on my birthday.

She showed up in my house with a box of good cigars at breakfast with notes “a mate of honor should always enjoy cigars with the bride”. She surprised me again by giving me the latest Kindle device (which was a useless little device in Jakarta), a pair of cuff links with my birth stone and had arranged to rent a boat for the whole weekend which we could use for fishing – a memory of our childhood weekend. After gulping down uncountable cans of beer, on the deck of the boat she produced a stack of cards from her purse which I immediately recognized her birthday cards from me over these years.

“You know, at the end of any of these cards you always wrote down ‘I wish you nothing but the best’. Through our ups and downs, you always wrote that. Lately knowing you always sulk when we talk about my wedding, I wonder if you really meant them”, she startled me with her words, I mumbled saying that of course I meant every word I wrote.
“Well, thank you for that. I think that because of those wishes you wrote me every year, I had found my best partner in life as I had found you as my best friend in life. I just want to tell you that I also wish you nothing but the best”.

As in cue, my 3 minutes long walk had come to an end as the guitarists finished their song. I took my place beside Lauren and winked at William as we both facing the aisle waiting for Jade and her dad to enter the ceremony site.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Fiction

 

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They Can’t Take That Away From Me: the Fiction (part 2)


The Invitation: Timm’s story

“The way you smile just beams
the way you sing off-key
the way you haunt my dreams”

The driver politely told me that we were at terminal 3. I told him to drive around first since I had an important email to reply.
I didn’t. I was just surprised to see Jade’s name in my inbox. I hadn’t heard from her in years. Of course I blamed this whole grown-up world where I have to be either on the plane flying somewhere, in a meeting, lobbying some hard-to-meet politicians and have to be home for my girlfriend in weekends.

From: Jade
To: Timm
Subject: just open it will ya

Hallo Timm,
Wie geht’s?2
Gee, I had to open translate Google for that very simple ‘How are you’!  Can you believe it? Well, I’m sure you can believe it.
The last time I met you my German was non-exist, why should it get better now that I live in London. (Yes, I’ve been living in London for a year now, you arrogant bastard who actually live less than three-hour flight from me and never reply my email. Wow it feels so good to actually say that!)

I know that you’re still an important Sales Director for some big name company (I know that you’re still very much handsome) and hence you’re busy. I’m not asking lots of your precious time. Now, you see that little tiny attachment icon in the corner (or is it the bottom?) of this page? You gotta click it, as in now, jetzt.  It’s my wedding invitation. Enjoy reading it.  And don’t forget the RSVP. The bride to be needs to set up the seating arrangement.

Please please please come, Timmo.
Ich vermisse dich so sehr3. (I’ll make sure something Barry White will be playing in the reception)

Xoxo
Jade

I knew now how Julia Robert’s character’s felt in My Best Friend’s Wedding when she learned that the guy is marrying Cameron D. I was glad that I was not standing up when I read that email. Even so, I felt disoriented I didn’t know where I was. Only after reading it several times did I realize I was supposed to be at the airport terminal checking in to my flight back to Hamburg. Out of habit I tipped the driver generously, silently praying that he wouldn’t tell anyone in the branch office that Timm Neumann had an awkward moment with him.

My flight from Singapore to Hamburg was a little bit more than 16 hours. How much sleep did I get during this flight? Nil.  Der Flugbegleiter4 was kind enough to never let my drink get empty and let my mind do their wander.

If there was one thing I thought I can be certain of, it was that Jade remain single until she was at least 40. It is so unlike her that she is marrying some guy in her 30s. There’s no picture of him in the wedding invitation but I am sure I’m better in the looks department than him. How do I know? Because Jade wrote that I’m handsome. Oh but Jade is always good with words with the guys.

We met in a remote place in Northern Thailand in our early 20s during an international volunteer camp. Her outgoing personality and her laugh attracted me. The icing on the cake: she was easy on the eyes too. We were inseparable during the camp; it was the best time in my life. She didn’t have time to maintain a serious relationship at her age, she told me when the end of the camp was approaching. She had to be more serious in pursuing her degree in journalism. We promised that we would keep in touch, though.

We did keep that promise. We always met 2-3 times year for 4 years. She even travelled to Germany to visit me twice! Optimist (and good-looking guy if I may add) that I am, I somehow knew that she would eventually follow what her heart would tell her and be with me. For that reason, I always made sure that I was always single at least a month before and after our holiday together.

And Barry White, we love him so much. We could sing every song perfectly from any singer, but for our love to Mr. Barry White, we always sang off-key (except for the obviously sing-able part like “Let the music play”5).  We know Barry White’s lyrics by heart and we applied it in our daily lives (Example: a friend asked me if Bali was THE place to go, I’d reply by singing “satisfaction guaranteed6”. Followed rolled eyes were inevitable). When we were together it was crazier. We were stuck in 1970 disco music in the 2000s. Those were good old days, the post graduate days. I blame my grown up world for losing her.

I’ll make sure something Barry White will be playing in the reception.
Well Jade, I’ll make sure I’ll come to your wedding. I’ll come to dance to Barry White’s song and of course to really see what kind of guy is this William that you’re marrying.

Note :
2. How are you doing?
3. I miss you very much
4. The flight attendant
5. Let the music play. Album : Let the music play. 1976.
6. Come On. Album : The Icon is Love. 1995

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Dating & its nitty gritty, Fiction, Music

 

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They Can’t Take That Away From Me: the Fiction (part 1)


The Facebook Chat: Chris’s story

“the way you wear hat
the way you sip your tea”
“Do you remember Jade?” I asked my wife
“The one who lives overseas and always moves away? The one you often lose track of?”, she replied.
“She’s in London now. We just chatted over FB. She’s getting married in July”
“Good for her”
“She’s inviting us. She knows we’ll be in London in July for my sister’s graduation”
“How does she know?”
“Well, I told her”
“So are we going to her wedding?”
“Yes, of course. Why shouldn’t we?” I replied, “She’ll be sending the actual invitation next month”

My wife then gave me a lecture about the importance of discussing important matter with your spouse.
She’s like that, my wife. She thinks that going to London a week earlier is “something important”.  She must be thinking about the extra expense for the UK trip. I know that she’s been eyeing a new handbag from some designer whose brand is difficult to pronounce (and with a more difficult to digest price tag on it).

The lecture continued into our bedroom right up our bed time. She now thinks that “something important” is related to going all to London to attend a wedding of a woman she hardly knows, a woman who doesn’t mean anything to us.
“She’s not even your best friend right, Sayang1?” she asked me.
I turned off the night lamp above my head and closed my eyes.

The image of Jade is more vivid with my eyes closed. She’s not my best friend alright, but I always wish I were one of hers.
I have adored that gal ever since we went out hiking together my junior year (her freshman year) in university.  She was still the only gal on that 3-day trip and she really amazed me. She didn’t complain despite the trail we picked out was pretty hard for a petite girl like her. She was a great cook – she put other stuffs when cooking the instant noodle so it didn’t only taste like MSG and fake chicken flavor. And she made good tea.

Ha ha ha, the tea thing. She is a tea-lover and made a fuss in making and drinking it.
She snapped at me the first time I drank her tea, “That’s not how you drink MY tea. My tea should be sipped, not gulped down. Can’t you be a classier guy?”
She then showed me how HER tea should be drunk.

Jade had never dated anyone exclusively before that hiking trip (yes, I did some thorough research) and alas, not after the hiking trip either. We went out to movies and concerts a couple of times but nothing happened afterward. I thought she’d fall for me, but no. I was just one of her many “victims”.  She pointed out to me after one late jazz concert that I am one of her go-to guys. A guy she could really count on. Damn. And I thought she with all the charms could be my something special.

Well, after all I guess she’s right. I’m her go-to guy. She could really count on me coming to her wedding despite my wife’s complain.

Note : 1. Sayang : darling

==to be continued to THE WAY YOU WEAR YOU HEART : The fiction (part II)


 
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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Dating & its nitty gritty, Fiction, Music

 

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This Book = Blah


I blamed the book review. I don’t blame Mr. Martel.

The book reviewer kept writing about how confused Pi was, spiritual-wise. Pi went to Catholic church, prayed 5 times a day (as he tried out being a Moslem), then went to the Hindu temple. Imagine a teenage boy tried to live practicing this belief. This piqued my curiousity. And I bought the book.

The book however is not focusing on Pi’s spiritual life. More than 60% of this book writes about Pi’s adventure and how frightened he was being on a boat with a tiger.

I would like this book even more if only Pi remembered about the teaching of Christ or Mohammad or gods he once learned in his frightening moments with the tiger. Or he could wonder what became of his drown family members. But what I remember from his adventurous days is Pi – an “alpha male” who (in order to survive his days at the sea) tried to show the tiger that he’s the boss.

Once I got used to this book (once accepting the fact that this book focuses on the adventure of Pi and not his spiritual life), the book is very OK.
But I feel disappointed all the same.

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Posted by on August 26, 2010 in Fiction

 

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Take Five : the story


Monday
08:25 AM

She’s not here.
How can this be? She should be here. I haven’t seen her for days.
She’s my morning treat.
To see her smile makes my latte taste like the café au lait back home.
I’m going to chew my croissant slowly. Hopefully she’ll be here in 5 minutes.

08:28 AM
He is there in the café.
I know the back of his head very well.
Oh but I’m late I can’t waste another 10 minutes of my time to go inside there.
I just walk slowly so he can see me from inside. I hope we can walk together to the lobby.

Stop your busy day and take the time out to see
that I’m alive

Tuesday
12:52 PM
If the universe is kind, in less than 10 minutes, he’ll walk this way.
He’ll walk in and sit there in the corner.
Like last week when I spotted him sitting there smoking.

1:10 PM
I don’t like having a lunch meeting with clients. The lunch time will be over but I will still have to listen to them.
Then I can’t go to the park to smoke. I don’t like to miss my smoking after lunch session.
Most of the times when I smoke in the park I will see her. She will pass by as she gets into the building with her friends.

Thursday
07.00 AM
I have to leave now for work.
I’m going to have breakfast in the café. And I want to see him.
It’s been too long not to see him face to face, I’m going crazy.

07.55 AM
I can tell that she lives quite far from here. She never comes to work too early like me.
Not that I live around the block, it’s just I like coming here early. I have enough time to have my breakfast AND to look at her while she orders her hazelnut drink.
Holy cow! I can’t believe my eyes. What’s she doing here this early?

Though I’m going out of way
Just so I can pass by each day
Not a single word do we say
It’s a pantomime and not a play

12.56 PM
I used to like having my boss around in the park during the smoking session.
I at least had someone to talk to, rather than constantly looking at the pathway waiting for her to walk by.
But I don’t like him tagging along today.
Unlike any other day, today she’s sitting on the bench in front of me. She’s not alone though.
My boss keeps talking but I can’t understand what he’s talking about (and yet we speak the same mother language).
I am concentrating in what she’s doing. I think I hear her humming a jazzy tune to her friend, and then he hums another song to her.
Then they laughed.

12.58 PM
I am finally able to talk my boss into smoking at the west park.

He was already there when I sat down on the bench right in front of him.
His friend keeps talking and requires his attention. I don’t understand their language. Maybe they’re talking about work.

I tell my boss about an upcoming jazz concert in town. Tickets are sold out so there’s no chance that we can come.
I start humming a tune and ask him to guess the title. He then hums another and asks me to guess the composer.
It’s fun. I love it.

He’s watching me.

Still I know our eyes often meet
I feel tingles down to my feet

8.13 PM
If only I came down here thirteen minutes earlier, I’d be able to see him.
Maybe I’d smile and wave good bye. I’m going to miss those green eyes for some times.
Duty calls and I’m off for a week. An impromptu business trip.
If only I finished my work earlier, I could do all that.

Hey, isn’t that his car in front of me? Does it mean that he’s still working?

8.15 PM
I work long hours every day. 12 hours of my day are spent in this building.
I don’t know why I love spending my day here. Not because of her, of course. It’s simply because I love my job.
I love its challenges.

Wait a minute.
I think I just saw her. But maybe it’s just a wild imagination of mine. Why will she be working until this late?
Well, maybe if I knew her better I’d be able to know what her job is. Then I will know why.
It’s an irony though that I can solve the most challenging problems at work but I can’t say hi to her.

Start a little conversation now it’s alright
Just take five

Friday
07.22 PM
Friday is always the longest day of the week. It feels like Saturday is the end of the world so all tasks have to be completed by Friday.
This Friday feels even longer because I don’t see her today.

Stop your busy day and take the time out to see
that I’m alive

Wednesday – a week later
09.21 AM
The baristas ask if I’m OK. In 2 hour, I already visited the café for three times.
I’m sure they know where she is, she’s always friendly to those baristas.
But how can I do that? I don’t even know what her name is

Won’t you stop and take a little time out with me?
Just take five


Tuesday – two weeks later
11.11 AM

I’ve planned carefully that I’d fly the first flight then I came straight to work.
If things work as per plan, I could be in the café at 8.
I could flash him my brightest smile then he’d come up to say hi.
Ha! Maybe he’s not going to say hi. He never did, why would he do it now?
Maybe he smiles back this time. I can live with that.
His smile is enough for me. It’s something that can instantly boost up my mood.

But thanks to the delayed plane, all is just a dream away.

When you smile, that’s much too discreet
Sends me on my way

12.08 PM
I just have to live with the fact that she’s no longer working in this building.
Not that I’m counting but she’s been MIA for 2 weeks.
The last time I saw her it was that day when she sat in the park and humming the jazzy tunes.
I still remember the tune. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I looked it up at the internet.
It’s a classic jazz tune called Take Five. A very nice tune, and apparently a very famous one as well.
Last weekend, I printed the music sheet and played it on my piano.
If only I could tell her the story, she’d love it.

Well, I could tell her that story. But where is she?

12.28 PM
My report can wait. My lunch can wait. But I’m dying to smoke.
I know I should wait until another 30 minute to smoke in the park.
My chance for bumping into him would be bigger if I did that.
But at 1 PM I will have to start training people.

The park looks deserted. I guess no man or woman in their sound mind will want to sit in the middle of a hot day smoking.
But I will. I will sit under the shaded tree.

Oh. It’s hot and humid. I don’t care.

Very cute, I left my lighter upstairs.
No worry, I’ll ping my boss so he can come down.
Now I just have to wait. Under this shaded tree on a hot and humid day.

12.37 PM
Have you ever waited for something to happen but it’s not happening for a long time?
Then you tell yourself that you’re going to stop waiting, and out of the blue it just happens.
I’m having it right now.

I can’t believe my eyes.
She’s there in the park, not sitting on the usual bench, but it’s her.
She’s alone. Is she waiting for me? Is that a cigarette that she’s holding?
She turns her head and flashes me her smile. The biggest I’ve ever seen.

Wouldn’t it be better not to be so polite.
You could offer a light


“Hi, It’s been a while. Where’ve you been?” I ask while lighting her cigarette.
“Business trip” she replies back smiling.
Pause.

“I have a story to tell you about Take Five”
And that’s how we begin our long conversation.

(Jakarta, July 22, 2010)

*Take Five was originally composed for Dave Brubeck quartet. It’s sung by several jazz singers. The most notable versions are Carmen McRae’s and Al Jarreau’s.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2010 in Fiction

 

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