At 2.30am my phone rang. It was a strange number so I killed the call and threw the mobile phone to the far end of my bed. A few seconds later the beep beep sound to notify the arrival of a text sounded. Come downstairs, the sms said, I know you are awake. I redialled the number, a bit annoyed with the presumption and a bit curious about the sender. Come downstairs, I am taking you out for a drive he said. I instantly recognised the voice. Hey, I said. What the hell are you doing in my city? He chuckled a little. Come down down or I will go up there and make you. It was in the kind of tone that would not have entertained any protests. So I threw a sweater on and grabbed my keys.
He simply opened the car door, strapped me in and drove. As we were making a turn into Federal Highway, he turned off the radio and wound down the windows. It had rained earlier so the weather was warm. The wind felt nice on my face.
I was surprised when the drive took me to the Mamak shop near my old apartment. Mostly because he had only been there once yet could remember where it was. My arrival caused a minor fuss. You see, here I was a celebrity. The waiters were trying to outdo themselves, first by trying to guess what I would order, then by interrupting each other to tell me what has been happening since I was gone. They asked if I have a new favourite mamak hangout (no and they said, of course, we are the only one that would provide home delivery for you), if my new place is any good (yes), if I miss them (yes). After the meal was over we sat for a while at the lake nearby. We talked. Then he drove me home. It was just before 5am.
We sat in the car for a while. That’s a long drive, I said, and peered at the odometer. What 3, 4 hours?
He just shrugged and smiled and then lighted up a cigarette. The scene felt so cliched that I could not help but laugh. What, he asked? I don’t know, I said. I still can’t believe you drove all the way here just to take me to a crappy Mamak in Sunway.
I read your email, he said, f*cking long by the way, he muttered under his breath. I thought you could use some food since you said there’s nothing in your fridge but cheese donuts.
He turned on the car engine. I have to go now or I’ll be late for work, he said, and you have to go back to bed.
We hugged and he patted my back. Thank you, I told him as I teared up a little, you are an absolutely incredible human being.
F*ck that, he said. You know how much I hate writing emails. This is much easier.
I watched him drove away. 307km away, to be exact.
As I slipped under the covers and zolpidem worked its magic, I thought to myself… this is the kind that you take a bullet for.
When I woke up this morning, I remembered what he said.
Forget those people who take you for granted. Remember the ones who don’t.
This too is a true story.