Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Broken Wings: 4

Chapter 4

Mr. Johari was a man with few words. He seldom talked unless it’s important and his hobby was reading newspaper every morning during breakfast. His breakfast meal was the same; toasted bread and coffee. Blessed with three children, he tended to work harder than before. He owned a timber company, inherited by his father. He’s one of the richest man in this small village and everyone respected him.

He married Rohaya when they met at the university and his first gaze locked to Rohaya when they were in the same class in the second year. He loved Rohaya so much until now and always did whatever she said. He was strict towards his children, especially to Kalsom, but he never been strict to Rohaya. He sometimes neglected his youngest child and let her being scolded by his wife even though he knew that Kalsom didn’t do anything wrong.

Rohaya was scolding Kalsom because she didn’t get all A’s in her Standard 6 Exam and this made Rohaya very frustrated. She screamed and yelled at Kalsom, telling her that she’s too stupid to get all A’s.

“I told you for umpteenth time that you shouldn’t be friend with that brat, Asiah! Now look at your result!” she banged on the dining table where Kalsom was sitting.

Kalsom looked at the result than to her mother. This time, she didn’t cry liked she used to.

“That poor girl affecting your brain!” scolded Rohaya, her hands on her hips.

“That poor girl is my best friend!” Kalsom talked back. She stood up from her seat.

“How dare you talk back to me, you insolent child!” Rohaya was enraged. She was in the verge of her anger. “This is that poor brat’s fault. She told you to do this, didn’t she? Didn’t she?”

Kalsom left her mother and went to her room. She was totally annoyed of the screaming and yelling. And the thing that she hated most was her mother insulting her best friend. Asiah didn’t do anything to her. She got good grades and she’s better than her. Asiah will further her study to the boarding school, just like her brother, Marwan. Kalsom will be left alone in the new school.

She sighed heavily and sat on her bed. She has gone into overdrive two months before the exam. She studied with Nazatul, especially Mathematics – the subject that she weak the most. Asiah always helped her in doing revisions and she even gave her spirit not to give up. She mostly spent her time in the library until late evening – and still she got an earful from her mother because coming home late.

She crumpled her result paper. She wanted to throw that thing away. She wanted to scream and shouted to everyone in this house that she had worked so hard and yet she didn’t get what she had hoped for. Sometimes, she got this ominous feeling that she should ran away from this horrible house. She had had enough with this miserable life where nobody cared about her feelings, except for Nazatul. She knew that Nazatul was the one that she believe in.

It was end-of-the-year school break. Everyone was very happy for the school break, including Kalsom and Asiah. Both of them were looking forward where to spend their holidays. Kalsom told Asiah that she’ll be staying at her paternal grandfather’s house in the other district and she’ll come back few days before the end of the school break. But Kalsom never told her that her family will be going for a vacation to Singapore.

“Before we going back, can you accompany me to the main hall?” asked Kalsom as they walked along the corridor.

“Sure. I know you want to say goodbye to the piano there, am I right?” Asiah smiled. She knew that her best friend loved that piano in the main hall.

Kalsom nodded and both of them walked to the main hall. Kalsom was a little bit sad because that day was the last day of school and she won’t be able to see that grand piano that caught her heart anymore.

They heard the sound of piano when they nearly reached the hall. Kalsom and Asiah looked at each other and guessed who was playing it. They slowly took a peek inside the piano and saw a boy was playing it smoothly. The melody was flawless and mesmerized both Kalsom and Asiah. They walked further in silence for they didn’t want to disturb the boy.

“Ah, it’s you, Kalsom, Asiah,” the boy noticed their appearance. “What are you doing here?” he asked and stopped playing.

“Ah Ken? You can play the piano?” asked Kalsom with shining eyes.

The boy, Ah Ken, nodded. Ah Ken was one of Kalsom’s classmates. He’s smart and friendly, and good in sport too. This was the first time Kalsom saw Ah Ken played the piano.

“That’s great. I haven’t seen you play before,” praised Asiah.

“I learned with a foreigner teacher. He always comes to my house every weekend,” Ah Ken smiled.

“Can you play something nice for us? Today is the last day we’re here. I really like piano but I don’t know how to play,” asked Kalsom eagerly.

“Sure, Som,” Ah Ken nodded and started to play ‘Auld Lang Sine’. Kalsom and Asiah were fascinated to see Ah Ken fingers touched smoothly on the keys.

They listened to the melody until Ah Ken finished playing the piece. It was sad but Kalsom was satisfied and happy because she could hear the music produced by the grand piano. They said goodbye to Ah Ken and walked home.

Before they departed, Kalsom hugged Asiah as they wouldn’t e able to spend much time like usual. She knew that Asiah will go to boarding school after the school break. They had been friends for 6 years.

Dear Diary,
I am so sad today because I won’t be seeing Asiah like I used to be. Mama and Papa didn’t talk to me after the result came out last week, even during the meal time. They ignored me like I don’t even exist in this house. Only Kak Naz is talking to me.

I know that I’ll be spending my time at Tok Wan’s house soon. I can’t wait! I miss Tok Wan and other cousins. We’ll be having a lot of adventures there.

Oh, by the way, Ah Ken played the piano before we left the school. I never thought that he can play the piano. He said that a foreigner teacher taught him. I wish I could go to his house and learn with that foreigner teacher. Then I’ll do a performance and my family will be proud of me and accept me as who I am. But I think that won’t work since Mama doesn’t like anything that I can do.

I don’t mind. As long as I have Kak Naz and Mak Mah with me, everything should be fine. I know they won’t be deceitful like those three.

It was midnight. Nazatul suddenly woke up and looked around, rubbing her sleepy eyes. She saw Kalsom sleeping soundly beside her. She wanted to go to the toilet. She gently placed her hand on Kalsom’s shoulder, trying to wake her up but Kalsom didn’t budge. Kalsom might be tired since she had been scolded by her mother. She sighed heavily and reached across the desk beside the bed to get the torchlight.

She slowly tiptoed to the kitchen, holding the torchlight nervously. She’s kind of afraid of the apparitions that she heard from her friends but she never encountered one. And she didn’t want to encounter the apparitions in this kind of situation. The toilet was situated at the kitchen.

She went back to her room after having a pee. As she walked to her room, she saw a dim light in the living room. She tiptoed silently and heard noises. She peeped to the living room and saw her parents were talking to each other. They didn’t go to sleep yet at this time. Nazatul was curious. She hid behind the wall, trying to hear what her parents were talking about.

“We must do something, dear. That girl is being so difficult lately!” Rohaya grumbled. “Look at her. She now dares to talk back to me. It’s all because of that poor brat!”

“Now, now, honey. You must stay calm,” consoled Johari. “We can’t blame that poor girl because she got the good result, better than Kalsom. I think the problem is from Kalsom herself.”

“Yes, yes. You’re right, my dear,” Rohaya was calmed a little bit and sat beside her husband. “I think we should put her in your father’s care. Your father loves her very much and I don’t know why he loves Kalsom. She’s not as smart as our two other children yet he cares Kalsom more than anything.

“I have enough bringing up that insolent child! We must get rid of her from this house at once, before she influenced Naz. You see, Naz is very close to her and I don’t want Naz being not smart as her,” said Rohaya.

Nazatul gasped. She never thought her mother would do that to Kalsom.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Broken Wings: 3

Chapter 3

16 August 1971

Mama scolded me because I went to play at Asiah’s house. She heard me when I was talking to Kak Naz about Abang Marwan who came back for the weekend. Mama pinched me on my right arm and she forbade me to eat together so I have to wait until they finished eating. But I’m not hungry because Asiah’s mother invited me to eat goreng pisang before I left. Asiah’s mother is very kind. Her father is kind too. Papa and Mama never talk to me like Asiah’s parents do. I don’t know why. Mama keeps blaming me for almost everything. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really belong to this family. Maybe I belong to someone else.

Then the idea hit her like a storm. What if she was adopted? Or her mother had to raise her because her real family has gone forever. Those crazy thoughts were playing on her mind. She wanted to ask her mother but she didn’t dare. She asked her sister once, but her sister said nothing. Let alone Azlan, he never talk to her since she was very small.

She then wrote something in her diary.

I need to find out who I am and where do I belong if this family is not my real family.

Weekend was Kalsom’s favourite. Although she had to do all the house chores, she didn’t mind as long as it’s weekend. Her family will go for outing somewhere in town and be back in the evening. Those two days were sacred to her. She didn’t mind if her family left her alone in that house. She didn’t mind if her family came back with smiling faces and laughter. She didn’t mind if they didn’t buy anything for her.

She’s happy because there’s one person who will accompany her – Mak Mah. She’s the cook and she worked there since Kalsom was a small child. Kalsom treated her like her own mother and Mak Mah did the same. Mak Mah worked from dawn until dusk. She’s the best cook in the house and Kalsom learned cooking from her.

Sometimes Mak Mah pitied Kalsom because her mother didn’t treat her like she treated Azlan and Nazatul. Her mother, Rohaya, always blamed Kalsom for everything. If there’s something wrong that day, she’ll say that it was all Kalsom’s fault because she brought bad luck to the family. But Kalsom couldn’t say anything, neither did Mak Mah.

“Mak Mah, what do you want to cook today?” asked Kalsom as she finished sweeping the backyard.

“What do you want to eat for today? Your mother asked me to buy a chicken this morning. I bought it from Pak Jamal.” asked Mak Mah back with a smile.

“Hmm…let’s see,” Kalsom had a thought for a while. “I really want to eat chicken soup today. It’s my favourite. Plus, I don’t think Mama and the others will come back this afternoon. They usually come back late,” she replied.

“Okay then. I’ll do the chicken and you do the spices,” said Mak Mah.

Kalsom nodded happily and they cooked together. Kalsom was good in cooking and all the handy works. Even though she was slow in her academics, but when it comes to handy works, she was the best. She could even sew too! Mak Mah taught her sewing and also knitting but Kalsom loved sewing the most.

She showed to her mother embroideries that she sewed but her mother didn’t praise her work but told her that she couldn’t make money by doing that. But Kalsom never gave up. She wanted to show her mother that she got another talent besides not to be number one student in school.

After finish eating, Kalsom took a short nap for a while. During weekdays, she couldn’t take a nap because her mother forbade her not to. Sometimes Nazatul will persuade her mother if Kalsom was very exhausted. Nazatul loved her sister even though they argued and Nazatul was the only sibling whom Kalsom could rely with. Unlike her brother, Azlan, he never cared about Kalsom nor talked to her.

Dear Diary,

Mama and Papa came back home nearly dusk and they looked happy. Kak Naz told me that they went to the beach for the picnic and after that they went to town. Mama bought a lovely dress for Kak Naz and she said that I can have it when I become a little bit taller.

Kak Naz always let me wear her old dresses. They seem old but for me, they are still beautiful. Mama never bought me lovely dresses like Kak Naz but she always bought me one pair of baju kurung for Eid Celebration. I don’t like the colour and the pattern but I can’t say anything because Mama will scold at me and throw away the baju kurung. She’d done it once, the night of Eid Celebration but Tok Wan bought another baju kurung for me.

I miss Tok Wan very much and I can’t wait for the school break. I don’t know why Mama doesn’t like to go to Tok Wan’s house, or Mak Ngah’s house. She only sends me there if she wants to go for a family vacation.

Kalsom was interrupted by her mother who’s yelling for her name. She quickly hid the book and rushed out of her room which she shared with Nazatul. Rohaya scolded her for not wiping the dining table. She wiped the table earlier but Rohaya didn’t satisfy. She pinched Kalsom’s arms and slapped her on her face. Kalsom held back her tears and wiped the table until it clean.

“You’re worthless child! There’s nothing you can do perfectly! You have small brains and stupid!” her mother yelled at her, pinching her arms again. “Why can’t you be more like Nazatul. She’s beautiful and got brain. You have no brain and ugly!”

Then Rohaya insulted her again and again, telling her that she’s worst than a worm. Kalsom ignored the insults and went to her room. She didn’t cry because crying won’t change anything. Nazatul consoled her but she felt nothing. Inside her heart was empty.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Broken Wings: 2

Chapter 2

 She quickened her pace as she was getting near the main hall. She came to school earlier than usual because she was eager to see the thing that she had seen yesterday closer. She urged her sister, Nazatul, to send her to school early. She didn’t tell her the main reason she wanted to go early. She and Nazatul had a row from their room to the kitchen, driving their mother mad. But the mother only scolded Kalsom for she hated her raising her voice, especially in the kitchen early in the morning.

Kalsom ate her breakfast as quick as she could and gulped down the tea. Her mother prepared lunch box for each of her children but Kalsom’s lunch box was fewer than the rest. But Kalsom didn’t mind at all because she knew her mother didn’t love her as much as she loved her brother and sister. Her brother, Azlan, always woke up late but her mother didn’t say anything but greeted her nicely. But when Kalsom woke up late, she scolded her plus giving few slaps on her back.

Kalsom trotted behind her sister as they wanted to go to school. This time, she didn’t nag her because she knew that it was still early. Nazatul waved goodbye to her mother and paddled her bike which was called basikal tua (Malay for old bicycle) and it was quite popular at that time. Kalsom loved riding it because the bicycle was a little bit taller and she felt like she’s riding on a wind.

As she arrived at the school gate, she quickly hopped down the bike without waving her sister goodbye and rushed to her class. She put her lunch box inside her table, which was situated near the window, facing the assembly court. She then put the bag on the chair and looked at the duty roster pasted on the notice board beside the blackboard. It wasn’t her turn that day so she still had time to go to the main hall. She glanced at the clock. It’s still 7.06. She smiled and walked to the main hall in fast pace.

She peered inside the main hall which was a little bit dark. She trotted slowly towards the thing that she saw yesterday. It was a grand piano and this was the first time she saw it with her own eyes. She was fascinated with the vibrant black of the grand piano. She ran her hands on it. The piano was very smooth and for her, this grand piano was seamless. She took a seat and looked in amaze at the keys. She gently pressed her finger to one of the keys and it produced the sound. Her smiled widen as she heard the sound.

She pressed another key and she pretended that she’s playing a song. The crowd watched her performance and she played the song smoothly. She also imagined that she was wearing a light blue gown, which was her dream gown, and the crowd applause in amazement. But her views shattered like small shards as the first bell rang.

Kalsom told her friend, Asiah, about the grand piano in the main hall during recess. Asiah was her only friend that she had in that school. Even though they were not in the same class, they always stick together during recess and they shared a lot of interesting stories. Kalsom also shared her food with Asiah because Asiah came from a poor family. She couldn’t afford to buy food at the canteen. So, Kalsom was willing to share her food with Asiah without her mother’s knowing.

15 August 1971: Thursday

Dear Diary,

Today is the happiest day in my life! I touched the grand piano! I really touched it! The surface is so smooth, the colour is elegant black. I even pressed some of the keys and it produces a very nice sound. I wonder who can play the piano in my school. I never saw anyone plays that piano yet.

I told Asiah about it and tomorrow we’re going to the main hall because she also wanted to see the piano with her own eyes. I’m going to her house this evening but I need to finish the homework first. I hate homework! But I have to do it. Teachers said that if we want to excel in our study, we have to finish our homework. The Standard 6 examination is around the corner. I have to do my best.

Please pray for me!

Kalsom looked around the living room and the kitchen before going outside to play. She glanced at her sister’s room right next to hers. The door was shut. She then looked around again. No sign of her mother’s appearance in the living room and the kitchen. She shrugged and walked to the door. She grabbed her slippers and went out. She didn’t have to ask permission from anyone because no one even bother whether she’s home or not. But she had to come back before Mahgrib. If she came back late, she had to sleep outside of the house and she didn’t want that happen. She’s willing to be nagged by her mother, or get a few slaps from her but she didn’t want to sleep outside of her house. It was nightmare!

She went to Asiah’s house which was not very far from her house. She promised Asiah that she would play together with her. They usual played masak-masak (Malay for cooking) and they played with other neighbours. Her mother forbade her to play with them because they were very poor but Kalsom ignored it every time her mother scolded her not to. She liked to be friend with them rather than Shima, the friend whom her mother wanted her to be friend with. Shima was a spoil girl and Kalsom hated her so much because she’s arrogant.

As they were happily playing masak-masak, a green-coated Volkswagen Beetle slowly strode to Asiah’s lawn. Asiah, who recognized the sound of the engine, joyfully dashed towards the car. It was his uncle’s car. Asiah was happy because his brother, Marwan, was coming home for the weekend. She hugged her brother as he stepped out from the car. Kalsom looked at both of them and smiled. Asiah has a good brother and Marwan loved her so much. She wished that Azlan will do the same for her.