I am in the midst of writing 3 books simultaneously under the moniker Siti Britney.
It’s a long, slow process because I write with my mobile phone whenever the muse strikes me, mostly during taxi or train rides.
Look me up on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sitibritneysayang/
Here’s an excerpt, from *** MENCARI YAMAZAKI ***
What does Mr Pink Shirt do?
Well…he used to build airports. Not anymore. But his work takes him to and through a lot of airports.
He likes sending me photos of airports that he happens to be in and explaining to me the beauty in each one. The curvature of the roof, the way light and air flows through the structure, how the foot traffic is designed. Kansai airport is his favourite. I have been in love with it for twenty years, he told me.
He loves Towers – Tokyo, Twin, Eiffel. The first time we met, as he was leaving, he told me he was heading to Paris that night for a bespoke dinner at the Louvre. I replied, I hate you. The group laughed. I don’t know if they saw or realized that as we shook our hands good bye, he ruffled my messy hair like I was a child and said we should have dinner there someday. I am short, it’s not very hard to do that.
It would be 4 months after that first meeting before he sent me a text to say he only realized he was in a seafood restaurant in Subang when he passed by my office.
Did you send this text to me in error, sir? I replied, puzzled at the sudden appearance of the uninvited text. Because if this was intentional, then I am highly offended that you would talk about seafood restaurants and not invite me along for dinner.
He speaks several languages. He switches mid-sentence sometimes, the show-off. I know who he is, his legacy, the burden of the name that he carries. I don’t remember how I know, but I knew right from the beginning. It is intimidating, he said, now I am back in my kampong where I am judged not just by how well I do my job, but mostly by how well I carry my name. We don’t talk about it all that much. He is not comfortable and I don’t pry. Maybe you could write a book about it someday, he joked. Hah. Little did he know….
He wears colors. Orange, blue, pink, green, mustard. He is so skinny and fit he makes me sick (not really). One time as he kissed my cheeks goodbye and his scruffy 5-o’clock shadow scratched my face, I whispered, comel sangat. I have never seen him clean-shaven since.
He says I am naughty. Madam creative genius, he once called me from across the room. I don’t take photographs with old people, I told him when he tried to take my pic. Especially old people with iphone6s.
(He is not old. If we fill up a form, we tick the same box.)
I know he steals a look whenever we are in the same room. When I catch him, he doesn’t look away. He just breaks into a smile in the middle of whatever yarn he is spinning to whomever he is talking to.
He lightly touched my hand once as I sat across him at the dinner table. I was trying to catch the eye of the waiter to ask him to refill my glass. He lightly touched my hand to get my attention and then poured half of his drink into my empty glass and simply said, share. Then he stole the sous vide chicken from my plate.
Mama sends her love, he texted the night that I did not turn up for the waltz concert. Can I please arrange for tea, at least?
He once offered, if you’ll allow me, I’ll speak to someone to make sure that no harm will come to you. I can have someone look out for you to make sure you will be alright.
(We were talking in the context of work).
No, I told him. I don’t need anyone to save me. If I sink, I sink.
The only thing he knows about me is that I like to eat chicken rice.
It’s not fair, he protested. You know so much about me.
That’s how it works, I told him. Everything you need to know about me, you have to learn. I will not tell you.
Wakarimashita, he replied. Understood.
We’re not in a relationship. We are not in any —-ship. We don’t talk, meet or text that often. Please. Lots of planes to catch and bills to pay. What we have is an understanding. When we are in public, we don’t even talk to each other. I mean, we do. But respectfully and sparingly. Listen, this is not antara dua darjat nonsense. The simple fact is, in our individual, official capacity, we are defined by the title on our business cards. That’s the kind of world that we operate in. I am fine with that.
But if this was a friendship, he’s putting in a lot of work to keep it alive while I giddily share his texts with friends and discuss challenges that we would throw him or things we’d like him to buy the next time he flies to Japan. I have only been speaking about him recently, but the truth is I have known him for a year.
I like him. Can you tell?
He is my Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013. Hard to find. But not impossible. Just elusive.
Di mana kan ku cari? I don’t know. But if Mr Pink Shirt exists, there must be more from the tribe.
In the meantime, I’ll worry about what to wear next week. Meet or hide, buying new clothes is always a very nice thing to do for myself. Duit banyak2 nak buat apa? Shopping la.
Don’t you agree?
…to be continued.