“THE NUMBERED DAYS”

Sometimes life is a bunch of numbered days. Everyone waits, as if there’s still plenty of time. That includes me, you, and the kids. All of us.

I know, I’ve always been impatient. You also know, even have long before we got married. Many have thought of you a great woman for putting up with me. Three decades and a half aren’t short.

However, time can also be very strange. Waiting can also mean waisting time. There never really is the right time, unless the kind that we make.

Oh, there are still many I’d like to do – just for you. Even the simplest ones, like showing you my love and gratitude…every day. Man and his ego. I’ve even lost a chance to say ‘I’m sorry’.

 

Is it all too late?

Sorry I’d scared you half to death that night. I had no idea what had made me collapse and unable to get up again. Perhaps I’d been (too) exhausted and only realised that too late.

Honey, our struggle is still far from over. This is hard on all of us. You, me, and the kids. I hate having to sit on this wheelchair. I hate feeling helpless, having to learn again, repeating all that I used to be able to do. This is unfair! How could this happen?

As usual, you’ve never stopped to ask me to remain patient. It’s fortunate that you’ve never had to take care of me all by yourself. I truly have no heart in seeing more lines on your voice way (too) quickly. You should be smiling more that your eyes shine, like old times. We should be having these twilight years together with more laughter…

— // —

Life is indeed a bunch of numbered days. Sometimes I’m tired and bored. I’d rather do something instead of just waiting.

Like that time…

Oh, what day is it today? I think I’ve lost a sense of time. Every day looks the same to me.

Then I see you. Hi, Andhara. Some have accused me of overly spoiling you. Have I? I don’t know. I’ve forgotten. If it’s true, I’m very sorry. I suppose I had been too happy the first time I was a father. Whatever you asked of me, I simply gave you.

But back then, I was also too hard on you. Not only drifting away, you started turning to be just like me. Don’t you see? Ara baby, I don’t want you to be…

“Stop being a cry-baby, boy!” That handsome little boy was crying harder after you yelled at him. Gandhi, my four-year-old grandson – your eldest son. “You know, I hate to have a weakling cry-baby boy like you!”

 

I started hyperventilating. The warm liquid filled my eyes before rolling down my cheek. I’d wanted to scold, but…oh, where was my voice? I hadn’t been able to talk since the night I fell. I’d wanted to call out to you:

Stop it, Ara! You’re only pushing him away from you…

 

I’m sorry, baby. Daddy didn’t mean to yell at you like that too when you were little…

 

My chest felt heavier. My vision started to blur. Vaguely, two people came running to me. (Who? Where??)

 

“Daddy!”

 

I felt someone putting something on my face, before everything around me turned darker…

— // —

 

Lately, my life has been nothing but a bunch of numbered days – and a long, heavy struggle. I don’t know how much time I’ve got left. I still have to (patiently) wait.

 

So do you, Andro. Not only Mama, you’ve always been there for me. Thank you, son. I am very grateful for an amazingly mature and responsible son like you are. You’ve always been reliable. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to tell you all that. Your mother has raised you well. A real gentleman doesn’t talk much nor give empty promises. A real gentleman walks the walk to make others feel happy, especially those he truly loves. He’ll never hurt anyone easily, especially women and children. Remember, they’re gentle beings that you must protect…

A real gentleman must also respect and appreciate women. Always look after your mother, son. Mama’s going to need you more than ever after all of this. I don’t know how long I can still be here. They’re all everywhere, waiting. I can’t tell you. It’s not the time that you know all.

May someday you can be the man and also imam (the leader) much better than your old man here, son. Especially when you have a family of your own.

Always remember, Andro. Besides me, you’re the only one who can lead this family. Nobody else…

— // —

We’re all still waiting. In this house, although there isn’t much time anymore. I know it’s still really hard for you, waiting to find out where I’ll be returning. I can feel it from your anxiousness. You’ve always been so strong, hiding it all.

You’ve been hiding a broken heart behind your silence, Ariana. I used to think you were just overly sensitive. (In fact, I had even thought of you a weakling cry-baby.) I remember, you’ve always hated to be caught crying in public, so you prefer locking yourself in your room every time you worry that your tears might fall. You’ve always thought that if you do it that way, you would be as strong as a man and not a weakling cry-baby like some women I never fancy. You’ve tried to make me feel proud of you.

 

I was wrong. I had misunderstood terribly. You are sensitive and that makes you a talented artist. Mama loves your writing very much. So do I.

Oh, you also rarely ask. You often wait to be asked. In fact, I often find out about you once your mother tells me. Maybe because you’ve always felt that you don’t want to be anybody’s burden. Maybe because you often feel left out – often unnoticed and misunderstood. Many have said that’s how middle children are like.

I’m sorry, Ria. Mama has always said that we’re both stubborn and temperamental. Impatient and always refusing to yield. You’re like the mirror of my past…and I’m afraid. No, you cannot end up like me – perceived as strange and difficult. You have to be better than your old man, kid. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Baby, I was too emotional. If only I could take back what I’d said…

If you were such a freak like this, then who would want to be with you?”

 

I had no idea what we’d argued about that day. I forgot. I only remember that hurt look on your face. You went all quiet and looked at me without blinking, as if I’d just slapped you. You didn’t even cry. Your eyes went so…cold. Cold and distant.

 

Then like a robot, you just got up from your chair, turned around, and left rigidly. You said nothing more.

Since then, you stopped sharing stories. We still talked, but everything felt different. There was a distance, an invisible wall that you’d deliberately built to keep me away. I could no longer delve into your ‘world’, because you no longer let me. You were afraid I’d be as judgmental as I’d been.

 

Is it too late now? Your mother told me, what I’d told you back then has badly affected you. You have a hard time trusting men, even when you’re still friends with them. You have a hard time believing that they can be really attracted to you as more than a friend, because you’re worried they might find you strange. You’re afraid that it’ll always be the same: every guy that you’ve (ever) loved will eventually end up with another.

Your mother had told me something a few weeks after I’d woken up at the hospital. The previous man you’d ever loved ended up choosing your best friend. Both had apologised to you. You didn’t even cry when you told your mother, as if you’d been resigned and used to it. As if you hadn’t felt hurt at all.

At that time, my tears were streaming down again. Oh, if only I could still talk. Nothing wrong with you, kid. That man wasn’t meant for you, that was all. God loves you very much and will replace him with someone much more special. You’re only asked to wait patiently, because He believes you’re much more patient than I was back then.

Don’t listen to people’s rubbish talk, Ariana. Don’t believe way too much in an old man’s wrath before he could even think, because people make mistakes. Once again Daddy’s so sorry, baby.

I’ve seen and heard you lately, Ariana. Your prayers are reducing my pain. I also love the writing you’ve composed and read to me. Thank you, sweetheart. I believe, one day – you’ll be a great writer. You’re very talented. Perhaps I can’t see that now, but I can feel it.

I’m praying that one day, you’ll meet a man who’s really right for you. Leave it all up to God, kid. Resign and submit to His Will…

Yes, we’ve met in dreams more often recently. That’s my only way to talk and convince you. Have no fears, you’re strong. You’ve proven that. I’m sure you’re going to be alright.

Don’t worry, crying doesn’t always mean you’re weak and a cry-baby. Only the so-called tough ones think so. Look, I’ve been doing that a lot myself lately…

— // —

Hidup ini sebuah penantian. Kita semua menunggu, meski tak semua punya waktu.

This life is a bunch of numbered days. We all wait, although not all of us have time.

“It’s time.”

 

 I know, all of you are still waiting for me patiently, not knowing where I’ll return.

Don’t be sad. Whatever it is, your effort and waiting will never go to waste. Thanks to you, now I know how much you love me.

I hope you know that I…love…you…to…

— // —

“Daddy!”

 

“Let him go, Ria. Daddy’s been so tired. Have mercy on him.”

 

The woman was sitting by the bed, gazing at the love of her life now peacefully asleep. Beside him, a girl with dark, wavy hair was kneeling on the floor, her face pressed against the bed. The woman gently stroked the girl’s shaky back, then stared outside the room. The door was wide open.

Outside, her only son was making phone calls. With a choked voice, he delivered the sad news.

And that day, his numbered days were done…

-the end-

 

(Translated from: https://www.perjalanansenja.com/sebuah-penantian-panjang/ )

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