Sunday, December 16, 2007

Spinning Around

I met up with an old friend of mine, Anthony, last weekend. It has been months since we last chatted and it's always fun to catch up on the adventures he's been up to. He's kind of a rolling stone actually and as such always seems to find himself in different and challenging situations, in work and socially. His enigmatic personality is always refreshing and never fails to put a smile on my face.

So, imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting across him in a small cafe in the city centre and he's just sitting there, quietly, with barely a word spoken for about twenty minutes. He was lost in thought, and somewhat distracted. He was almost never like this... except when....

"So, I guess she's back?" I ventured an enquiry.

He heaved a sigh, and puffing out a cloud of smoke from his cigarrette, said, "Back.... and gone....again."

"Oh I see." The person in question was Brenda. The Brenda. The one that got away, well, sort of. The thing is, Anthony and Brenda have been having this on/off thing going for almost four years now. Brenda lives and works in the States, but calls Melbourne home. So once every year, Brenda would fly in to KL, spend a couple of days here, and then continue on her way Down Under. And every year, those couple of days would be spent with Anthony, whom she met back in 2003 at a convention in Hanoi.

Afterwards, Anthony would get into a sombre mood for a while before he shakes it off and gets on with his life as if nothing had happened. Still, this was the first time I was privy to his melancholy up close. I was determined to cheer him up.

"Well, I guess you guys had fun?"

He smiled but did not say anything. This was going to be harder than I thought.

Then, five minutes later, he let out a chuckle, and turned to me to say, "they're playing our song. That is the only song she would get up and dance to in public."

I strained my ear above the din to figure out what song was blasting out of the cafe's speakers.

"What, you mean, Spinning Around?" I asked in disbelief. Somehow the image of Ms Minogue strutting her stuff in hot pants wasn't exactly my idea of a romantic situation.

"Yeah, in fact we met while dancing in a disco in Hanoi, and the DJ was playing this song."

And with that, he returned to his contemplation leaving me to try to entertain myself by observing a squabbling couple two tables away.

Later, when we were trying to decide what to have for dinner, he said," You know, she was absolutely hilarious the other day, when she was trying to pick up a very fragile piece of banh cuon, with her chopsticks and failing miserably, " and began to laugh. It was a relief to see him in a lighter mood even if she was clearly still on his mind.

Then, over a plate of piping hot roti telur which he insisted on eating with his bare hands 'like the Indians do' and then started to yelp like a lost puppy, I asked him, "So, Anthony, what is it about her that you find so captivating?"

He put down his latest skin-scalding morsel of roti, thought for a bit, and then said,"you know, she's got this pair of really beautiful grey eyes. And when it rains, it turns into a mesmerising shade of blue. Imagine waking up on a cold and wet morning and the first thing you see is that pair of incredibly beautiful eyes looking back at you." I could only smile. This guy's got it really bad.

"Look, I know what you're thinking," Anthony began to defend himself.

"This is not one of those wanting something I can't have type of deal. I know where we both stand. And I do realise that the last time I saw her may be the last time I'll ever see her. But rather than pining for her, I feel that it's Providence's way of giving me a taste of what heaven is like, every once in a while...."

As I was nursing my half-eaten rawa tosai, he continued, "...and whether you believe it or not, I am grateful for being blessed with the opportunity to be with her, even if it's only for a few days each time. True, I may look sad right now, but who wouldn't if they were pulled back to earth after floating on cloud nine, right?"

"Erm....well..." I started but was cut off.

"Don't worry, buddy. I will bounce back in a couple of days. I always have. Be a friend and let me wallow in this bittersweet bliss for a while longer, cool?"

An hour later, as I dropped him off in front of his house, I couldn't help myself and asked him one last question, "Anthony, be honest. Is it really worth it? I mean, all this waiting and melancholy just to meet up once in a blue moon?"

Without batting an eyelid, he turned to me and said," Yeah. Absolutely. I wouldn't have it any other way." No hesitation. No regrets.

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