The clock at the side of the street showed 7 p.m. The sky was getting dark. We were waiting for the bus to take us back to our backpackers’ lodge after a productive day at AFA. We were all incredibly exhausted, but we had an amazing time and we were incredibly satisfied with our loot.
Out of nowhere, a group of guys ran past me, pushing me so violently that I fell, and I instinctively broke the fall with my left palm. I could feel that intense pain that ran up my arm, and the soft trickling of blood that had already started. I was slightly disoriented, and cursing those stupid fuckers as they ran off to somewhere, oblivious of what they did. No-one came to help me up… but a hand came into view. I looked up at the owner of the hand, and I went speechless. I was numb, I couldn’t process what I was seeing. There was no way in hell this was real. No fucking way. I recognized him immediately. I haven’t seen him for more than 5 years, but I recognized him immediately.
“Hey fucker, remember me or not?” He was smiling when he said that.
I grabbed his hand and got up. I just stood there, looking at him. I was still gripping his hand, so I knew this sensation was real. But it couldn’t be real. I gripped his arms, his shoulders. They all felt as solid as the blood that was dripping down from the palm of my hand. And all the while, he was still flashing that goofy perverted smile of his, calmly waiting for me to reply him. My head was shouting THISISNOTREALTHISISNOTREAL over and over again, but all the sensations I was getting, everything I was touching and seeing at this exact moment was telling me that this was INDEED real.
“So? You still remember me right?”
The shock quickly turned to anger. I grabbed both his shoulders and violently shook him. “Motherfucker I thought you were dead! Everyone told me you were dead! We all thought you were dead you stupid fuck!”
“No la, I’m working here already la!”
Eventually I stopped shaking him. I was feeling overwhelmed, disoriented. I was trying hard not to burst into tears. I don’t know if it was the shock of seeing him alive and well when he should’ve been dead or the pain from my left hand that was getting worse, but my head was starting to spin. It was way too much to handle, too many things assaulting my senses at the same time. No no no no…
I remember him laughing heartily, patting my arms and telling me to calm down. His girlfriend was standing behind him, nodding slowly and giving an understanding smile. I was having trouble standing straight. I called Munirah over; I had to share the good news with her. She came over to where I was standing. For some reason, she never looked at the person that was holding me up while I told her what happened to me. I find that odd, now that I think about it. When I finally pointed to him, she slowly looked up until they had eye contact. The recognition hit her almost immediately, tears started falling down.
I knew how she felt. I put one arm around her (unfortunately it was the bleeding one), and the other arm was still holding his shoulder tightly; I didn’t want to let him go. He was half-laughing, half-consoling, convincing her that he was indeed real, that he was alive and kicking. Munirah was hugging him tightly, probably thinking what I was thinking: that if she let go, he would disappear.
“Where the fuck have you been la?” I asked.
He turned to me when the sobbing had subsided. “I’ve been here la. I’m working here. Been here for a few years already.”
“But we thought you were dead!”
He smiled. “No la dei, I got better.”
I sighed. “Fuck you man. Really, fuck you.”
He laughed his hearty laugh. “No man, I don’t like dicks. Only tits and ass.”
That seemed to change the somber mood, because Munirah and I burst out laughing. His potty mouth was still the same, thank God for that. We were still holding each other, thankful that the last few years had just been a horrible, horrible misunderstanding.
And then I woke up.
It’s evening. The curtain was flapping gently in the breeze. I could see the faded brown ceiling of my hostel room. I could feel the dried tears on my cheeks. Goddammit, I thought. You sneaky bastard, still can troll me one. I felt hunger, but I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t feel like getting up, I didn’t feel like washing my face. I didn’t want to believe what I saw and felt was nothing more than a vivid dream. It happened. IT FUCKING HAPPENED.
It happened. It really happened.