Selasa, 15 April 2014

Short Story (dimuat di The Jakarta Post, edisi Sunday Post)

Let the song play out

We don't have to say the words... We live by the love that's in my life, if we're feeling good or bad, We don't have to say ...We don't have to say the words...

It was a starry night. I was in a dimly-lit cafe next to the swimming pool at a five-star hotel. A pair of eyes gazed at me with great intimacy. I was thrilled, a feeling that had been absent from my heart for about a decade.
I thought I would never have the feeling again. No words were uttered. There was only a meaningful look. The song the singer in the cafe was singing made me hope that this night would never end.
"You like the song?" he suddenly asked me.
"Does it remind you of any particular memory?"

Yes, 15 years ago, I heard this very song when I first met Aswin, my husband, I said to myself.

"No." My God, how can I tell a lie?
"Perhaps this song will remain as part of our own memory lane," he said, smiling meaningfully.
"Yes," I replied, smiling back.
He reached out to hold my hand, and I let him. He put his face close to mine and kissed me. It was the first kiss from Bara, the man that had made me forget Aswin and my two children, Meta and Jingga.
His passionate kisses were different from thousands of kisses from Aswin. His made me quiver.

A week ago, Aswin saw me off at the station, leaving Bandung for Jakarta for a two-week training course. I had met Bara, a participant from our bank branch in Medan, at the hotel.
At first, we only chatted about the usual topics, from our jobs to our family affairs. He had three children and his wife was a full-time housewife. He was not handsomer than Aswin and I was not prettier than his wife.
We had a nice chat, a pleasant dinner and then thrilling touches, intimate gazes and passionate kisses.
"Have you had an affair before, Bara" I suddenly asked.
"No," he said firmly. I looked at him, feeling doubtful.
"I'm a faithful husband, Intan. But suddenly you have come into my life," he said.
I was not sure why I had asked the question. Am I just trying to escape from reality now?
"What about you?"
"Never before," I said. "But you are a man and it is just natural for a man to have an affair, right?"
He smiled. "Well, I can feel what you have in your heart now because I have this feeling too," he said.

We don't have to say the words... suddenly the words from the song, very touchingly, reached our ears.
Aswin called me every day. Bara called his wife every day, too. We both told our spouses that everything was all right.
I had married Aswin out of love. Oh God, do I really love him now? I don't know. I have always done my duty as a wife. Five days at the office, taking care of the regular chores at home, brief sex in bed a couple of times a week, going out with the kids and discussing family matters, the office and so on. But it's been a long time since we last talked about love. I simply have no time to have a heart-to-heart talk with him.
Now Bara had turned up with all his warmth and passion. Suddenly I had desire again. Bara was like a piece of chocolate or an ice cream that I wanted to devour. Suddenly, images of Aswin, Meta and Jingga became blurred, and in their stead I had Bara before me.
"My wife is a good mother. She is a good housewife and can take good care of our household matters. She also takes good care of me and our kids. But now I feel my life is like that of a robot. She is quiet and I used to like her for her quietness. But now I cannot have a chat with her because she is too busy taking care of our house and our kids.
"Then suddenly you came into my life. You are quite a different woman, Intan. Full of life. You can talk about many things and you ...."
"What do you mean, Bara?"
"Intan, I have fallen in love with you and want to possess you. You have rekindled my passion. You have made me a true man again. I know you have the same feeling, Intan."
I closed my eyes. I suddenly remembered his passionate kisses and hugs. Oh God, I have allowed another man to touch me.
"You're crying, Intan. Sorry, I didn't mean to make you sad. I just don't want to lose you. I want to start life anew with you. I want to have your love. I mean it, Intan."
"But, we have only just met. Are you sure you are ready to abandon your family?"
"I feel as if I have known you all my life, Intan. You are very close to me. I have the right to feel happy and I believe my wife will understand."
"Are you ready to lose your kids, Bara?"
"Why that question, Intan? Are you not ready to be with me all your life? Don't you love me, Intan?" He gazed at me and I saw deep pain in his eyes. I said nothing.
After a long silence, I finally said: "I'm not ready, Bara. I feel happy with you but I have never thought of leaving my husband and my kids."
"Love comes unexpectedly, Intan,"
I knew he was disappointed but I also knew I could not leave my family. It was sheer pleasure that I got from Bara but the image of Meta and Jingga stayed in my mind.

"We don't have to say the words...."

On my last day in Jakarta, I made a decision. I could not hurt Aswin. I did not have the heart to leave my Meta and Jingga; their innocent look pierced my very heart. I knew I did not love Bara. I realized intimacy was not just passionate kisses or making love.
Isn't intimacy when Aswin prepares a plate of fried rice for the two of us late at night as we watch a movie together in our bedroom?
Isn't it intimacy when he says "thanks" every time I do him a favor? Isn't it intimacy when he shouts outloud for joy after coming home from the office that he has got a bonus and that we can take a trip together with the kids?
Why do these trivial things suddenly give a strong feeling of intimacy when you think you are going to lose all? Must love always be expressed in words or in kisses and hugs? I'm sorry, Aswin, I lost my way briefly. I promise I will make amends. We don't have to say the words....

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