Rina and Rizal
Mr. Hidayat hums merrily while putting a file on our desks. No one dare touching the file yet. I stare at the blue file in front of me. I wonder what kind of assignment that Mr. Hidayat assigns this time. He trots quickly to the front after he finishes distributing those files. He claps his hand once.
This is it. The moment of truth. Everyone can’t wait to know what’s inside the file.
“You may now open your file,” he smiles cheerfully.
I gulp and open the file slowly. I know the meaning behind his cheerful smile. A killer. My eyes nearly pop out as I see what’s written on the front page. 100 Questions. Everyone gasp in horror. Mr. Hidayat snickers.
“This is your homework for this weekend. You must hand in to me on Sunday before the first bell rings,” announces Mr. Hidayat.
Everyone groan in frustration. Well, not everyone. But most of us do. I think the end of the world’s coming. How can I finish these questions in two days?
“Those who hand in late will be punished as usual,” says Mr. Hidayat in a warning tone but the smile never fades from his face.
The last bell rings. Mr. Hidayat wishes us a happy weekend before he leaves. I put the file in my bag, still thinking of how to finish this assignment before Sunday. I have acrobat practice tomorrow and I never ever miss the practice before.
Someone calls me and I turn around. It’s my twin brother, Rizal.
“What?” I ask coldly.
“It’s your turn to send the attendance booklet to the office,” reminds him.
I look up at the duty roaster on the notice board and sigh. I take the booklet and ready to go to the office.
“Don’t worry, Rina. I’ll go with you,” says Rizal and helps me carry my books.
We go downstairs where the office is. I knock on the door and give salaam before entering. We have to take off our shoes before entering the office. The office looks neat and tidy. The staffs are all friendly and some of them greet me as I walk to the pigeon hole for the booklet.
The Principal room is at the end of the office. That’s the scariest place in this school. It really gives us goosebumps, and our class is just right above his room. He’s a very nice man even though he’s very strict. I shouldn’t stare at the thick wooden door for too long. The Principal might came out and saw me and probably will call me to his room. So, I hurry to the door where I come in and quickly put on my shoes. Rizal is waiting for me outside, holding on to my bag on his other shoulder.
“I’m done. Let’s go!” I grab my bag from his shoulder and run downstairs.
I need some plans. I can’t just sit down and start doing it immediately. This is serious matter. I tap a pen to my head as I’m thinking of the plans.
Plan A: I can go to the library. The library is not very far and there are a lot of reference books that I can refer to. It’ll make it easier to finish half of the questions, at least.
Plan B: I don’t have to waste my time cycling to the library. I just lock myself in my room and try to finish at least half of the questions. Plus, I can eat some snacks while doing it. It can prevent me from getting sleepy.
Plan C: I will join Rizal and his group in his room even though I don’t like doing Maths with him much because he’s good and I’m not.
Plan D: I can –
“Rina!” Rizal knocks on the door. He won’t dare entering my room before I tell him to.
I walk lazily to the door and open it. “What?” I stare coldly at him.
“Want to go to the library together? All of us are going there,” he asks.
I don’t have to think long. I nod and tell him to wait for 5 minutes. I change my t-shirt to a dress and jeans and stuff everything that I need into the bag. Before leaving, I look at the mirror for the last time to check on my tudung. Then we dash off to the library.
It takes only 15 minutes of cycling to the library and we park our bikes at the bicycle parking lot provided. I follow Rizal from behind as we enter the library. Most of our classmates are already here and they are happy to see us. Rizal is one of the Maths Elite – that’s what we call for our mentors. I’m not as the same group as his because I end up being one of the mentees of Khairul’s group. It’s Mr. Hidayat’s fault, actually. He knows that I hate Khairul and he made me end up in his group.
We wait for the others to arrive and we – excluding me, decide to sit on our mentor’s group. So, here I am, sitting exactly in front of Khairul. He’s my mutual enemy ever since I know him. He always makes fun of me every time we meet especially in Maths class. I don’t like Maths as much as I like English. I don’t go much with numbers. They make my head dizzy. I have to memorize all the formulas and sometimes I was careless in using the correct formula. Khairul always says that my brain is full of words and sentences and that’s why numbers cannot get in. I know what he means; I’m a Maths dumb.
Khairul explains to each of us starting from question number one. The first 20 questions are easy as a pie, even though I never bake a pie but I know it’s easy to bake a pie. When it comes to Algebra, my brain begins to malfunction. Why? Because Algebra consists of letters and numbers which makes me difficult to distinguish them. I start to feel sleepy. Khairul pokes my hand with his mechanical pencil as he sees me falling to sleep. He can’t bang the table as he always dos in the class because this is library. I wish he did because I want him to be kicked out by the librarian.
Two hours passes by and still I can’t even finish the first question of Algebra. I give up! I stand up, grab my stuff and leave my group. I have to go home because in 30 minutes, my favourite drama will be on TV. I cycle back home as fast as I can even though it’s not very far. When I reach home, I am not surprise to see a police car parked outside of the gate. I put my bike near the garage and head to the kitchen door.
“Hi, Pak Su,” I greet him with the widest smile.
“Well hello there, Rina,” he beams. “Where have you been?”
“The library. We’re doing Maths assignment and it’s killing me!” I reply and sit next to him.
“She hates Maths, Ali. The only thing that she loves is doing a monkey bar,” says Papa, my beloved father. Pak Usu laughs.
I open the fridge and see what’s inside. Then, I grab a milk carton. “Papa, we’re run out of milk.”
“Why don’t you buy the groceries with Pak Usu? Here’s the list that your Mama gave to me this morning. I need to finish up my work by this evening,” Papa hands me the shopping list.
“But Papa, my favourite drama will start in 15 minutes!”
“I’ll record it for you, honey. You can watch your favourite drama tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Why not tonight?”
“Because my favourite show is on TV tonight and I’m not going to miss it. Now, hurry up and go.”
I sigh and roll my eyes. Pak Usu chuckles. We go to the grocery store nearby. Everyone stare at us, especially me because they think I’m some kind of criminal. Pak Usu is wearing his uniform and I’m riding a police car. I wish I could poke their eyes from the socket for staring at me like that.
As Papa promise, he records the drama for me. Pak Usu drops me and drives to his house which is two blocks away. Pak Usu is Papa’s youngest brother. He always stops by our house if he’s not busy.
I put the groceries away and Amran, my youngest brother helps me as comes back from Pak Usu’s house. He always does homework with Malek, our cousin. They’re in the same class.
After taking a shower, I switch on my PC and check my email. I receive an email from my mysterious pen-pal. I call him/her mysterious because I don’t know the exact gender. But my pen-pal is a very nice person and I wish that she’s a girl. We share a lot of things together since I was 13. We made acquaintance when I joined Kampung chatroom and we exchanged email.
Guess what happen to me today? I got Maths assignment and there are 100 questions to be done in two days. Two days! I think I’m going to die! The Maths teacher, Mr. Hidayat, the one I told you about his generosity, said that he will punish us if we hand in the assignment after the first bell rings.
I went to the library with Rizal after school and I have to sit with my mentor, Khairul. He pokes me hundred times with his mechanical pencil as I was feeling drowsy. You know I can’t stand too much numbers. He couldn’t nag too much today because we’re in the library. The librarian is very strict. Once she caught you talking loudly, she will kick you out. Oh, the librarian is an old woman with strength of 10 men. Seriously.
Then I have to buy some groceries and missed today’s episode. Lucky me, Papa recorded it but I can’t watch it tonight because Papa’s favourite show is on TV. He and Mama love Maharaja Lawak so much. Their laughter can be heard in this whole residential area! I can’t wait for tomorrow!
So, how’s your day today? Any interesting things happen? Share with me, all of it. Have to stop here now. Need to continue the Maths work.
Your best pen-pal