We had a road trip. In many years of being together, this was the first time we took a road trip together. We had traveled separately many times before, sharing stories from abroad, moments that we captured. But we had never done it together.
It was a disaster right from the start.
We decided for a local trip to Kellie’s Castle in Gopeng. Somewhere local where we thought nothing could go wrong. All we needed was a fuel-loaded car and us. I decided to drive my coupe with the prospect of speeding, you objected because the sport suspension will give you a backache. You said my coupe was not suitable for long-distance drive, and I said you will not notice the distance because I will be speeding all the way. It would be bearable.
You argued that wasn’t the purpose of having a road trip. You won that point.
But I wanted to get even with you for making me drive a boring saloon. I insisted that I knew a better route to get there. Since this would be a road trip, we might as well take a longer and scenic route. I said we should spend our time on the road making it trip worthy.
I drove through the rural areas, the forest reserve which usually flooded during monsoon season, the famous Jalan Bendang where strips of paddy field turning golden along the road, the small local towns where bicycles, tractors, plantations lorries made up the local traffic. And monkeys you said, sitting unfazed by the road side.
We were in the middle of nowhere.
You were fuming because it was getting late and off-schedule. I knew you were mad at me. I admitted that I too underestimated our journey and did my best to adapt to the circumstances.
You wanted to strangle me. Not just out of anger but also annoyed that I enjoyed getting lost out here.
It was pretty tense for a while. You refused lunch at the local stalls. Refused talking to me too.
Then we stopped for a toilet break. I left you in the car. Unresponsive.
When I returned, you already had your hand wrapped around your camera. Adjusting the lens focus on the calming scenery around us. Your hair tied back, white shirt and blue jeans. You were taking it all in.
Watching your steady composure with such intensity behind the camera, stirred something in me. My footsteps didn’t disturb you the least. You ignored me for a good minute or two. You excluded me from your view on purpose.
liyana, I did not know how you tamed me. I have had girlfriends before. I found their companionship enjoyable. Not necessarily lasting but it was great while it last. I always had it easy. I had it all figured out when it comes to girls.
But you were a hard work. You were someone that I had to make an effort to be with. At times I thought we could simply just bail out and escape these incessant conflicts. Maybe we did many times, but here we are again breathing down each other’s neck. Stepping onto each others’ toes.
I remembered a certain tender feelings roused inside me as you lowered your camera. Strands of hair fell down your face. I remembered pushing them aside gently behind your ears. I wanted to kiss you.
You saw it too in my eyes.
I have always wanted to be with you. Without realising, all the efforts that I made were simply because I did not know how to give up on you.
A fact that you have known all along.
Looking into your eyes that day, I could not bring myself to tell you how much you mean to me.
And how life without you would be unthinkable.