Post No. 7 in the #writingchallenge.
I remember the first time I bought him a birthday present.
We were not going out or anything like that.
We just magically became very close with each other.
I met a boy during the first week of my stay in Perth. It was the last day of orientation day for all Year12 students from Tuart and Canning College. There he was looking so gorgeous, a friendly grin on his face. I heard him speaking with some of the Singaporean students. I immidiately lost my appetite. “He must be Malaysian!” I thought. Hahahahahaha. Rese banget sih.
A year later, that same smile caught me by surprise.
I was out to a movie – a Star Trek movie – with Simeon and Vladimir, the Australian and Russian geeks I always hung out with after Math class. We were walking down Northbridge area – getting ice cream at Gelare. There he was, with his friendly grin, speaking in full Jakartan accent with Alex and Arief – two Indonesian boys I went to school with at Tuart College.
Apparently that young boy with a friendly grin was Indonesian! He was from Jakarta. But he used to go to school in Singapore. He was finishing Year 12 at Canning College.
Months later, Dondi – his name was, came to my apartment often.
My roommates were rolling their eyes. They could not understand how I did not see all the moves! I thought for a boy like that, there was no way he would be interested in a girl like me. I was – and still am – a geek. He looked more like those club goer party hard Jakartan boys. I was really nervous about a boy like him following me around.
I asked him to see me after class.
We were already at university. My campus was down south, at Bentley area. I entered Curtin University after finishing Year12. Dondi got accepted at University of Western Australia – all the way at Nedlands, near the city. So it took him awhile to catch the bus to come and see me. Okay, he passed the first test. He was determined enough to see me!
I texted him to wait by the Tavern. It was late afternoon. My last class for the day had just finished.
I walked my way to the Tavern. It was closed already. There was nobody around. I caught his smile. He was wearing an oversize jacket with a hoody. His sunglasses hung on his head. Tropical islanders like us would not last long outdoors during winter like this.
We sat together at an empty bench. Cold breeze got on our hands and noses. He sat closer to me. I was very nervous. I handed over a box. He was very surprised.
My first birthday present for him was a watch. I could not remember the brand.
“Happy 19th birthday!” I murmured shyly.
He smiled. That smile gave me comfort. I remember thinking whether this feeling would last. I wanted to catch that smile everyday.
That same boy just turned 40.
We still celebrate his birthday together.
I threw him a surprise birthday bash after his Sunday basket ball game.
Just a few familiar faces. 3 other couples from our mosque. The Liverpudlians and his business partner. And the crowd at basket ball. We all went to the place where he played basket ball. Surprised him at the parking lot. Ate nasi kuning and a cake. Just easy smile, joy, and happiness around him.
Grey hair and 3 kids later.
The much older boy, still has the same friendly grin.
Happy birthday to the object of my affection.
I am glad I get to catch that smile all these years.
With all my heart.