Fakhrul leaned forward, balanced his stomach on the flatness of the chair and tried his best to scoop the last oily plastic wrap underneath the table. He puffed out some air and looked across the empty room. Finally. I can relax now.
He wanted to sit down and rest. It's been a tiring week: preparing for a wedding ceremony, taxing himself to do the things he hate the most and allowing himself to accept the fact that his mother married again.
Fakhrul stood up and turned around at the empty room and something sad dawned on him as he looked at the corner of the room. A figure, almost blurry and incomplete, seemed to stand there for a moment. It wasn't a ghost. It was the image of his late father when his father was in his 40s dreaming to become the top officer in the government sector.
"One day when I become the permanent secretary, I want to expand this room, and perhaps build your room and your future wife right over there..."
Fakhrul looked across the darkened room again. Memory seemed poisonous when it was met with doom. The space that his late father had in mind now turned into a classroom. It had helped him generate income for himself and his wife. Last year, he had his wedding in a hotel. It was not his idea to spend his savings for a wedding at a hotel. It was his mother, who had just married today.
Fakhrul could not help but held back tears and pulled the door close behind him. The night air was damp. It was raining all evening. I think the night understood how I felt about all these.
Fakhrul followed the rough voice. It came from the veranda. It was his uncle. A man in his late 40s who never got married but always seemed to have great advises about marriage life than the married people.
"Good" Fakhrul quickly rubbed the beads at the corner of his right lip and smiled at the man. "Very quiet huh. Tonight."
His uncle studied him for awhile before checking the night sky. "It does." He let the silence walked past and added again: "It does."
The two walked towards a set of tables and few chairs by the pillars in the garage and Fakhrul sat down without saying a thing.
"So it's going to be only you, your wife and your brothers living here."
"Yes uncle Jeff...But...Just me and my wife I think."
"Tim and Lim?"
"My brothers aren't staying."
Instead of asking why, Uncle Jeff met Fakhrul's eyes again and reached into his pocket. He let out a short laugh and asked: "You don't mind huh?" He lit up a cigarette and blew some out.
Fakhrul didn't mind at all. Instead, he felt secure for the first time in months. Having his mother's brother to accompany him throughout the night felt refreshing. His uncle wasn't a talker. He was a smoker. But never a talker. Tonight was exceptional. It was strange to see his uncle wanting to talk. He hardly talked to someone.
"I know it's a hard pill to swallow..." His uncle began. "And I'm not sure if you would call it a pill or...." White clouds spread out from his face like morning fog engulfing a stony mountain. "...a stone...Just. Sometimes life isn't what you really want."
Lips pressed and eyes heavy from lack of sleep, Fakhrul leaned back and felt weirdly relax. Was it because of an adult sitting beside him? He missed his dad. So much. It had been 5 years since he passed. Having to spend the evening with his uncle outside of his late father's mansion felt nostalgic. "I wish her good luck....and just die somewhere in Yemen." Fakhrul wanted to say mom. He wanted to pronounce it. Yet, something held him. Was it out of respect?
Fakhrul waited and sat.
He waited for a response.
A minute passed. No response.
Fakhrul smiled. That's the thing he like about Uncle Jeff. He wasn't a talker. He understood.
"People will die," Uncle Jeff coughed and examined his almost finished cigarette. "Like this. Dying and hopeless."
Fakhrul remained at his seat.
"Your mom will die one day. You don't have to worry about it. People will die soon."
"Yeah. Just like my dad."
"Just like your dad."
"But..." Fakhrul stopped.
Silence came in between them again; a curious entity.
"I'll be dead too," the old man smirked and stomped on his dried stick. "Funny enough that I have thousand things I want to accomplish in this world, and none of them seems to make me happy than seeing my love ones happy." He turned and smiled at his nephew. "Be happy lai. Life isn't always what you think it would be. But if it means to make the person who once made you happy, feel glad about it. I've never understood happiness because I never get to experience the norms like getting married, having children, or being rich." He surveyed across the starless night, reaching out for an answer. He smiled and got up. "At least you have this mansion." He laid his palm on his nephew's shoulder. "At least you have one thing that I don't."
Fakhrul remained like a statue.
"You know that one thing right?"
"A married life."
Uncle Jeff let out a laugh; a sincere one for a heartbroken man. "I wish you're right."
"I wish you're right my boy."
"What is it?"
"You know what it is. It's the one thing that you hate the most right now."
Fakhrul sniffed heavily and let them out.
"At least you have a lovely mother all throughout your life my boy. Don't think about the decision she had made. Think about the time she had done for you when you're growing up and still a child."
Fakhrul checked the ground. It looked blurry all of a sudden.
"When was the last time you remember about the thing she had done in the past that you cherish until to this day?"
Tears clung and slid down his cheek. A soft finger suddenly rubbed it off. It felt like his mother's. He turned around and smiled.