Disclaimer: this post is inspired by one of the chapters of Nicola Yoon’s masterpiece, Everything Everything. I loved that chapter (it might be my favourite but I can’t say so exactly because there were so many chapters that I fell in love with for the beautiful writing style). And because of that love, I wanted to give something like it a try. So here goes.
Like many other nights that came before, tonight is spent on cooking dinner for one.
Butter sizzles on the pan and I rush over to pick the garlic cloves I’ve sliced; shove them all in. The sweet scent wafts up. My stomach grumbles; it’s been a while since I’ve eaten – I’ve specially saved my appetite for this. Chili, shreds of lettuce, a bowl of washed and drained spaghetti – all of them go in the pan. A sprinkle of salt and a bit of cheese could do, too.
While everything is cooking, I find that my attention is divided. One eye on the pan and the food; the other on my phone that is leaning on the kitchen utensils holder. It was playing another vlog of Zoe’s. Another vlog, I say, because nights spent cooking dinner for one, are nights spent listening to her videos at the very same time.
Zoe’s voice booms out of my phone’s speaker, occasionally drowned out by the sounds of cooking – but that doesn’t bother me. These nights come by so often, that I’m more than happy to watch – I mean, listen! – to her vlogs over and over again. They give me company. A background noise that keeps the loneliness at bay.
When the food’s done cooking, I wash the dishes – a tedious task, but I’d rather have it done so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. So I wash, and wash, and wash – how many things does one person need to cook with for me to have this many things to wash? Once it’s done, I take a cup, open the fridge door and fill the cup with Iced Peach Tea. A drink that has grown to become my favourite.
I take a sip, feel the coldness make it way down my throat and with one hand holding my bowl of spaghetti, and the other holding my cup, I make my way up the stairs – quietly, quietly – and into my room. Once I get inside, I put everything on my desk and ease the door shut – quietly, quietly. I spilled nothing, slammed no door. Clumsy a person as I am, these things aren’t easy to come by.
And then I’m turning my laptop on – a Korean drama is on pause. And I indulge.
The clock strikes 10PM – which means that it’s 8PM back home in Brunei; which means that it’s time.
I check my phone, hoping to see the notification of a new message coming in. Nothing yet. So I browse through blogs on my laptop, letting the time pass by before- a chime plays on my phone, a sweet lilting melody to let me know that I’ve got a message. I quickly grab my phone, swipe left – “we’re ready,” it reads.
“okay!” I type back excitedly; fix my hair a bit. And then there was the the sound of Skype’s ringing – a call coming in.
With a click, and a last fix of my hair, I look at the screen. My heart explodes in warmth; overflows with happiness. Two smiling faces are looking back at me – my mom and my dad. And before I realize it, I’m smiling right back at them.
It’s been two weeks since that Skype call.
Now, I lean on the trolley that held two of my luggage, waiting for the baggage carousel to bring my third and last luggage close enough for me to carry. It’s a while before it comes – a while that I spend nervously jumping on the balls of my feet: it’s hard to stand so still when you’re so close to-
Here it comes! Here it comes!!
I push myself away from my trolley and approach the brown bag – oh, why did you take so long to come to me?, I thought, but I don’t say it out loud. I already look out of sorts without trying. I bend my knees, carry the luggage I’ve been waiting for, and place it on my trolley, groaning as I did so.
And then we were off – four sleep-deprived girls pushing their trolleys and laughing with anticipation. I took in a deep breath, and I swear that the air smells different here and now – it smells like home. And then I take one step, another, then a few more before-
I see them.
Excitement bubbles inside of me and I feel like I’m being hit by everything all at once – the smell of home all around me; what the airport looked like that I see only so little of through my teary eyes; the thud of my steps echoing on the tiled floor; and the taste of salt from the tears that touched my lips.
But most importantly, I see them.
Behind the glass is a crowd of people, all waiting to pick up their beloveds. How many there are, I don’t notice – no, through my blurry vision, I don’t notice a lot. I only see the two – the two who matter.
I push my trolley harder, willing it to go faster. Faster, faster-
I leave the trolley by the side, feel the tears spilling over as I close the gap that separated me from my parents. I wrap my arms around my mother; hug her tight. A sound comes out of me – something that sounds like sobbing; something that sounds like laughter. It was a little bit of both, I then realize. And then I hug my dad, and I laugh at the tears that won’t stop falling. A thought slips in my mind, barely louder than a whisper.
That was part four of the seven part series I’m doing on Wendystrucked for this week. Just a relaxed, chilled post. I realize that I write a lot about homesickness and things along that line. I guess it feels right to talk about those things – far too much of studying abroad is focused on the ‘glamour’. While I’m not an advocate for negative thinking, I am a strong believer of the realness of life. And that includes all the ugly, the harsh, the not-so-glamorous and most especially, the truth.
See you tomorrow, In sha Allah. With love, Iween.