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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 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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#3 My soon to be missed architect guy


Note : the series #1-#7 is the introduction to stories about the best friends I met during my high school years. They decorate my life so beautifully and they deserve their own category in this blog

You must know the drill, right? #3 is younger than #2, hence #3.

He’s also a good friend of #1. I met him the first time on that first Sunday in my freshman year in that dark and dreary classroom of the Photography club. He’s so tall and quiet, he gave me the impression of a quirky mysterious guy. He’s a great photographer, he knew all about the basic composition one-third rule, depth of field and all the basic photography theories, I told myself that he actually taught us better than the official photography tutor did.

Surprisingly, I am encountering problem in continuing this article. I thought we were really close during our freshman and junior years but I guess we started to bond during my senior year in high school. He sat behind me throughout that year -there was even a time when we sat side by side for a full week. From that moment, I learned that the first impression was all wrong. He’s not that quirky, not that mysterious. He’s an intriguing guy, a bit vicious in fact (but in a good term, go figure), and we shared loads of laugh since then.

He mentioned swing, Ella, Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick and Dizzy Gillespie. For a 17 year old girl, those are new names and had to be explored. I might have listened to lots of jazzy music in my younger years, but #3 is one who inspired me to really listen and enjoying jazz. He’s one to blame for my jazzy life. Not only we share the same taste in music, we also share the same opinion in TV series and films. During our college years, though miles (and 3 hour drive) apart, we sat quietly in front of our TV to watch Friends (on Sundays) and Ally McBeal (on Mondays). Episodes were discussed over text messages afterward.

A visit to his college city always filled with a private architecture tour in his jeep. Architect is his major passion and it’s one of my most favorite things to be photographed. Over the ride, the conversation was flowing from jazz to TV series, from chicks he liked to guys I flirted with. When staying over at his place, #7 would always interview us late at night (or very early morning) to get some inside scoops about things I can’t write here. My first impression about this guy was once proven right (mysterious quirky guy) when he drove a more than four hour drive from his college to our origin city just to spend a good 2 hour with me before taking me to see my date that Saturday night. Sometimes there are things best to leave unexplained.

He has become the hottest architect in town, and soon to be the hottest one in the region, I have no doubt about it.
I still have millions of things to write here but one has to stop writing when tears are hanging in the corner of one’s eyes.
For some beyond words reasons, he’s the guy I’m going to miss so much very soon.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Le Cirque

 

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BASIA’s Go For You (& losing bet to yourself)


(Lyrics are available below. But here is my two cents about falling in and out of love.)

Relationship goes wrong. After all the madness, the fights, the dramas, the puffy eyes, we bet ourselves not to give our hearts (and mind and soul) to someone else. To fall in love is like a nostalgia. Let’s just (put our bad habit here) like crazy until we can forget his/her phone numbers.

Life is back to normal when we can pass 3 days in a row not thinking about our bad habit (FYI : I was abroad and I didn’t have a will for 3 days in a row to shop). Life’s good. We survive major heartbreak. We’re survivors!

Then a someone new comes in our way.

We can’t tell which one of these elements tell the other two (mind tells heart and soul?) that this someone is so nice that we don’t mind spending more time with this person, he/she looks so cute, etc (we all know the standard operation procedure is, right?). We’re about to lose the bet. Or are we?

It’s your call.
In my case, I lost the bet.

Now let’s sing.

(Lyrics)

I’m through with love
It’s only a madness
I’m finished with this
This moment was never my joy
Who needs a heart break?
Don’t want anybody to call my own

But when you’re near
The sweetest sensation
Takes over my heart
I feel like I’m losing control
These moments of weakness
Allow me a glimpse of heaven

But I’ve been so strong
Can it be true
It’s like a mystery too soulful
For you broke my resolve
Now I’m fighting I try
but I cannot deny
that I could really go for you
I’m looking for clues
What else to do
I take leave of my senses
Give back all defenses
I have to comply
Can no longer deny
That I could really go for you

It could be so good
I’m wishing anew
oh why should I resent
something I’ve always missed?

What’s the point in my pride
if I cannot deny that I could really
go for you
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Dating & its nitty gritty, Music

 

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If I Were a Genre of Music…


I would be jazz.

[Portrait of Deryk Sampson, Lynn Carver, Justin Arndt, and Clair Dorward, Famous Door, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947] (LOC)
I sing in my spare time. I sing jazz, R&B, a bit of rock and roll, and some showtunes. I can’t tell which one of them is my most favorite genres, luckily I’m not a professional singer having to choose one only. I find that they’re all beautiful and they’re all challenging. But to have a music genre as a metaphor for myself, I must say it’s jazz (with a twist of rock and roll).

I understand that jazz is not only about singing and not also about just playing an instrument.

My understanding about jazz is that you have to know the ground rule of the original composition, you put your heart and soul in performing it, and you perform it beautifully with your own interpretation and improvisation.

Most of the times, I know what I want to do in life. Obstacles are met here and there. I just have to compromise with them, make some slight improvisation in life. And I hope people see me living my life as an entertaining one, like watching a jazz concert.

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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Dailies, Music

 

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Jakarta is a nice place – you just have to keep on reading


I live most of my lifetime in Jakarta. If you don’t know where Jakarta is then you should look up at your atlas. Or google earth it. It’s a pretty big place. In fact it’s one of the biggest cities and one of the most populated cities in the world. By this time, I hope you know where Jakarta is. Because I’m gonna share with you a thing or two about this Big Durian.
It’s not the best place to live in. It’s located in the tropic, so there are only 2 seasons: the dry one and the wet one. Decades ago at school we were taught that dry season starts from March till September, and October till February is the wet season and you have to prepare the rain coat and umbrella. Thanks to the global warming, thunderstorm still hit the city yesterday (if my calendar is right, the month is April). The drainage system sucks so rain will affect the traffic. I’m not saying that during the dry season the traffic is bearable, but rain usually worsens the traffic condition that during the Morning Prayer Jakartans usually ask universe for extra patience just to bear the bumper to bumper traffic jam.

Depends on the distance between your residence to your work, commute time varies from 30 minutes to 2.5 hour. Traffic starts from the suburban areas to the central business district area. There are trains, buses, motorcycles, bikes, and cars in the road. The traffic image is not pretty. I usually have to check out the Traffic Management centre twitter account first before going to and from work to know which route has less traffic. Otherwise the bad mood stays for the rest of the days/nights.

There are lots of Jakartans who love this city so much that those 2 things don’t stop them from making this city a nice place to live in. The city has lots of big and beautiful modern parks. Though not a very sociable person, I like to see how people mingle in the park. The haves and the have-nots enjoy the park all the same. In the morning, people come there to have a morning exercise. On Sunday afternoons, a chamber (yes, chamber) orchestra regularly performs there. The parks can be rented for art exhibitions and weddings as well.

The old town of Jakarta –famously known as Batavia- is one cool place that the city has as well. We still have to do lots of restorations and renovations, but currently when I step into it, I instantly felt like I’m in the early 1800s when the Dutch still occupied Batavia. Beautiful old buildings, museums, and cafes are perfect. I used to hang out in this area on Sundays. In the morning I join the historical morning walk with a historian as my guide, sipping cool drinks in the café before hitting the museum, and on Sunday afternoon having a photo shoot with my goofy friends.

And one must not forget the only biggest jazz festival in Asia. The annual Jakarta Java Jazz Festival is held in the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in March. Musicians all over the world come to Jakarta to attend this event and thousands of people (including tourists) come to see the performers. Come March, and Jakarta looks and sounds a whole jazzier than ever. Perfect.

These are not the only 3 good things about Jakarta. There are a whole lot more reasons why I sometimes drift away and think about home when I’m away. Like right now, I’m thinking it will be nice to go to Chinatown area and hang out there for a Saturday breakfast with my ma. Ah, if only I were there. I miss being there. I miss home.

Next week, I’ll go to that park where the chamber orchestra plays. My dog will sit quietly there as usual. And I’m going to really suck the air into my lung and commit it to my memory that I am in love with this city.

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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Dailies, Indonesia

 

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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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