You, who knows this smile of mine

Out of blue where mother came into my room and wake me up from my slumber. I was confused because mother has never waking me up at a certain odd time and usually she will never complain whenever I want to wake up. I look at the clock on the wall and it was 12 midnight. I rubbed my eyes and trying to focus on her.

Mother took a seat at the corner of my bed and I saw her face expression doesn’t seem usual. “What is it mother? It is very unusual for you to wake me up at this hour.”

“Sorry, honey. I know this might be a surprise for you but I have to tell you as soon as possible. Your father told me that, his friend; Firdaus and his wife, Ainaa is coming to propose a marriage for their only son, Adiel tomorrow in the afternoon. Do you know Uncle Firdaus and Aunt Ainaa?”

“Yes, I do. I have meet them once a while. When I was small, I met them during family day trips or stopping by at father’s office.”

“I see. I disagreed with your father about this but he said that he would like to hear from you and they will respect your decision whether to accept this proposal or not. You barely know Adiel in the first place. I don’t want to make you as if I’m selling you away to the family.”

“I understand. Whatever it is, we will listen it tomorrow.” I said to mother. She nodded her head and let me continue my sleep.

After hearing this sudden news, I couldn’t get myself to sleep in peace; thinking what is going one actually and is this some kind of joke? I’m only 18 this year. I just got into one of the local university, trying my best to get a scroll for my diploma and now getting proposal from an unknown to be my husband.

The next day, I woke up early to help mother in the kitchen. I walked down the stairs and saw father is drinking his usual tea on the dining table while scrolling down to his tablet. “Assalamualaikum father.”

“Waalaikumussalam, Ma’ira. Come, sit next to me. I was about to have my breakfast. Dine with me, Ma’ira” Said father. Oh, I have forgotten to introduce myself. My name is Nuha Humaira and I’m the sole daughter in the family with a nickname ‘Ma’ira’. I have no cousin, I have no grandparents but just my father and my mother in my family tree.

It was a coincidence that father and mother were the only child in their family. Sad to be truth that both of my grandparents from both side is no longer in this world. My grandfather from father’s side were killed during Japanese occupation in Malaya in 1942. He was sent to defend from the Japanese to invade one of the district in Johore but he was killed for being suspected as the anti-Japanese-Chinese community. Late grandfather had a fair skin, dark mixed with brown hair colour, nice and tough sculptured body that almost look like a Taiwanese. Due to his death, grandmother and father was brought in by mother’s family and they lived under the same roof for more than 10 years.

Basically, grandmother was still pregnant and father was only a few weeks in her womb. 5 years after father was born, mother came into this world. That was how they met and basically father and mother were childhood friends and ended up with a marriage. Grandparents from my mother side passed away due to typical sickness for being old. I heard from mother that I have a few siblings before me but it was said that they passed away before being born and another one died due to internal organs malfunctioned. It took years to get me and finally I was born. I’m not sure but I believe this is a family trait where we don’t really mix around with people.

I don’t really have friends because we kept on moving from one place to another. I remember when I met a boy from next door named Ashihara Sachihiro in Japan. He has been my childhood friend for almost 5 years but after that, father was transferred back to my homeland and since then I never know Sachihiro’s whereabouts. He was the most wonderful and cheerful boy that I have ever met and he probably my first and last having head over heels on him.

With just one step, such a step changes everything
As I watch your little shoes, they suddenly become so dear!
Shall we hold hands and go home? Until tomorrow’s light shines
You are the only one who knows this smile of mine
Even in 100 years!


Ma’ira… Ma’ira…

I cleared my mind and turned to the source of the voice. “Yes?”

“You seemed to space out for some time.” Said father. “Are you worried about the marriage proposal?”

“No. It was nothing on my mind about that proposal.” 

“Are you sure, Ma’ira?”

“Yes, father.” I flashed him a smile. As sincere as it can be. I don’t want him to think of me being inappropriate for thinking about another boy while I’m going to be a wife to someone else.

“About the proposal, I actually not sure why they suddenly gave me a call to see you. They merely explain in details and the three of them will come this afternoon after zuhur. Anyhow, I won’t force you to agree and we will always support your decision.”

“Yes, father. I understand.”

Later in the afternoon, I heard voices from the living hall. I washed my hands and dry them with a towel. I walked out of the kitchen and stand in between of the living hall and the hallway to the dining hall, watching the guests exchanging handshakes, hugs and taking seats. Except, I was stunned and froze in the same time; my eyes were fixed at a baby boy around 2 years probably. He was standing behind Aunty Ainaa’s legs, looking shy and scared.

“Ma’ira! Come here, honey. Shake hands with Aunty Ainaa.” Said mother. I walked to the guests and shake my hand with hers. I cupped my hands around Aunt Ainaa’s hand and pulled it to my lips; kissing softly at the back of her palm.

“How do you do, Aunt Ainaa and Uncle Firdaus?”

“We are good. You have grown tall and became a fine young lady, Humaira” Said Uncle Firdaus.

“Thank you, Uncle.”

I looked down at the young boy and almost tear up when our eyes met. Somehow, deep inside me is going berserk and wants to hug this pretty boy but it might scare him. I just give a warm smile to him and his eyes sparkle, his mouth formed a small ‘O’. He seemed to get accustom to my presence.

I took a seat next to mother, facing the guest. The young boy is sitting nicely in between Uncle Firdaus and Aunt Ainaa. “The reason we came here is to propose Humaira to be our daughter-in-law. I know this is sudden but we really want to give the best for Raffif.”

The three of us remain silent and still waiting for them to finish their words. “Adiel Raffif is our only son and he is 23 years old now. He just graduated from a university with a scroll of degree and now he is working as a pilot. But foremost all, Raffif is already having a son and this is his son. Abel Mikael.”

“Wait, isn’t Raffif already has a wife? Are you trying to make my Ma’ira to be his second? Is he practicing polygamy in his marriage?” Suddenly father interrupted the conversation. Hearing from father’s tone, he doesn’t like me to get married with a man who already has a wife. Well, of course I don’t want to be second neither want to share my love.

“No! Certainly not, Luqman.” Aunt Ainaa spoke out. “It is true that Raffif is married but his wife passed away when giving birth to Abel. This pity boy here needs a mother’s love and we agreed after lots of discussions and arguments to take Humaira as Raffif’s lawful wife. Not just that, we believe that Humaira can bring back Raffif’s cheer and spirit like before.” Said Aunt Ainaa while stroking Abel’s head.

“We can’t say anything in this matter but we will leave everything to Ma’ira’s decision. So Ma’ira, do you want to agree this marriage?” Mother asked me and this is going to be a tough decision to make.

“Uncle and Aunty, I know you have good intentions but this is too sudden for me. I just entered university and I’m still 18. I’m not sure if I can be a good mother to Abel or bring back Raffif to the family. All I can do for now are give me some time and I would like to come to your house to see Abel before I say yes. That is my decision at the moment. Is that okay with you?” I told them.

“Certainly. This is our address and my contact number. If you want to visit Abel, do tell us. We will definitely give a warm welcome and prepare some things for you.”

Father and mother invited them to have lunch here. I looked at Abel silently as Aunt Ainaa fed him. He is seem to be an obedient boy but something that makes me can’t avert my eyes is his features. I have this one kind of feeling and a strong bond between myself and this boy.

I finished my last piece on the plate and offered myself to take care of Abel. “Hello, Abel.” I started as my body bent slightly to match his eye level. There is a pot of flower that I want to show you. It is very pretty, you know. Would you like to see them?” I offered him my hand and he slowly hold my finger. He followed me out of the house and we stopped in front of the pot.

A sunflower. It is quite difficult to plant them under this hot and damped weather. “This is a sunflower, Abel. The colour is yellow. Same colour as your t-shirt now.” I point the sunflower and point at his t-shirt. His small hands rub his chest and his eyes looked at the sunflower and his t-shirts. He chuckled and covered his mouth.

Ma’ira… boku to, tomodachi ni shinai? (Ma’ira, do you want to be my friend?)

Un! (Yes!)

Hehe.. arigatou! Zutto tomodachi ni shite ne.. (Hehe.. Thanks! Be my friend forever, okay..)

The image of Sachihiro played in my mind. He waved as his back turning to me. Abel really reminds me of Hiro-chan (Sachihiro’s nickname)

“Ma… Ma…” Abel startled me as he kept on pointing at the butterfly, flying around the sunflowers.

“Butterfly!” I screamed joyfully. Abel muttered something and he tried to pronounce the word but it would be difficult for a 2 years old boy.

“Abel, this is Chou chou. Butterfly in Japanese”

“Cho.. cho..”

“Yayyy” I clapped my hand and he claps his hands too. He tilted his chin up to look at me and smile cheerfully. The image of Hiro-chan appeared again. Sachihiro… I wonder where you are now.. I pulled Abel into my arms and wrap him as close to me. Hugging Abel made my eyes pricked suddenly. The emotion of guiltiness, pitiful and sad is mixing into one feeling that makes me want to cry and do something for this child.

Now, to you out of one hundred million,
If I say ‘thank you’ honestly, then surely,
This is called ‘being yourself.’ I want to open this birdcage!
The orange days slowly grow dark and end, I’ll continue to paint this dream called ‘you’
‘Accepting your own weakness is the beginning of strength,’
You suddenly joke to my right.

A week later, I went to Uncle Firdaus and Aunt Ainaa’s house to give my final answer. I was greeted at the living hall and I saw Abel was running from somewhere as I kneel on my knees and spread my arms. “Ma… ma..”

“Hi Abel. How are you doing?”

He chuckled and cover his mouth with his palms as a response to my question. He suddenly pulled my hand and pointed outside of the sliding window. “Cho.. cho..”

“You found a chou chou? Okay, okay.. We will go and see your first chou chou.” I rose from the ground and shake my hand with Aunt Ainaa. Before we go out of the house, I saw Aunt Ainaa’s eyes were watery and she is about to cry to see Abel is so happy to see me. I gave them a smile and they understood my message.

Abel pulled me towards the white daisies and they looked really beautiful. Abel tip-toed and peek under the bushes of white daisies to look for his butterfly but sadly the no butterflies can be found. These flowers are very beautiful.

“Don’t pick the flowers!” A deep voice startled me and made me pull my hand away. I looked up at the second level of the house and saw a man, looking down at me. His eyes pierced through my face making a hole. He looked angry but in the same time... empty.

I can’t see his full face because of the bright sun shines. “Sorry”

“Abel, let’s go into the house. It is too hot here.” I carried Abel into my arms and we walked back into the house.

Aunt Ainaa offered lunch and I placed Abel on the baby sit next to me. Then, I heard Uncle Firdaus called someone who was walking down from the stairs. “Raffif! Join us lunch. Humaira is here with us too. She agreed to be engaged to you.”

Raffif did not say anything. I turned around to see this Raffif guy and something struck in my head. Both of us seem to be frozen at our spots and eyes widened. Do I know this guy? Have we met somewhere? I avert my eyes and took a seat at the dining table. Raffif took the chair next to me and we pretend that the message that has just conveyed to each of us was never happen.

“Raffif, did you hear what daddy have just said?” Aunt Ainaa asked.

“I did.”

“What is your answer?”

“Do anything as you please..”

His reply towards his mother really boils me up in the inside. “Hey, what is with that attitude? Can’t you say politely? She is your mother.”

“You.” He said, putting down the utensils and turned to me with his piercing gaze. “As an outsider, act as one.”

My mouth fell apart. Rude much! He left the dining table and the image of Sachihiro appeared again. No.. It can’t be. This guy is not near to Ashihara Sachihiro. Sachihiro is a nice boy and I bet he still is. I left the dining hall as well and ran after him. He was about to open the door of the car driver but then I pushed the door harshly.

“What do you want?” He sounded annoyed.

“What I want? I want you to get back at the table and apologize to your parents for being rude. Have some respect a little will ya?”

“Make me. I have told you just now. You are nobody to meddle in my family business. Now back off or I have no choice to force you to stay away.”

“Make me, you disrespectful child!”

“What did you just call me? Do you know what you are doing now can cause us to call off the engagement? You better not or you will be crying for losing tons of money they have given you just to make yourself my wife.”

Out of my conscious, I slapped him right at the cheek. He was surprised at my sudden action and his eyes widened. I couldn’t control my emotion and broke into tears. Suddenly Abel came and hugged my legs. He cried so hard and pulled my pants. Raffif looked down to his son and stunned at how attached Abel to me.

“I’m not as cheap as you think I am. I did it for the sake of Abel. Don’t think so low about me.” 

-End of Part 1-