jam menunjukkan pukul 6.15 pm. kucapai henfon asusku lalu whatsapp uncle sam teksi yg sebelumnya sudah kuhubungi,
"uncle, saya da sampai ni. betul2 kat depan seven E."
10 saat kemudian dia membalas,
"ye, sekejap. jalan jam nie."
aku terus berdiri di depan seven e sambil memegang plastik berisi air mineral dan muffin coklat beserta jajan green peas. jajan kegemaran adik gue. agak janggal bila memegang plastik makanan di bulan puasa. mujurlah masa tu dah hampir waktu berbuka. mataku melilau mencari teksi uncle sam yang femes ala2 femes amos. mujur sahaja leherku tidak memanjang seperti zirafah dek kerana menjengah2 kelibat beliau. seminit dua berlalu. uncle sam pun muncul. kutarik nafas lega.
"jemputlah naik impala ku," ujar uncle sam. (lols) soheh takmo turun dari teksi kalu sam winchester yg drive weweweeee~
aku pun melabuhkan punggung ke seat belakang teksi. aku riba beg merah kiplingku dan meletakkan plastik makanan di kaki. beg faux leather warna brown ku sisipkan ke sebelah kanan aku. aku senyum kepada reflection uncle sam dalam rearview window. uncle sam pun senyum kembali.
"apartment ***** universiti ***** ye uncle." (nama dirahsiakan)
teksi kuning itu pun terus menderam ke simpang luar stesen komuter. banyak sungguh kenderaan, getusku dalam hati saat melihat trafik yg sibuk.
"awak student ke?"
uncle sam memecahkan kesunyian. the air trembled with his voice, breaking the calming silence we had just now (okay mode menulis in english ON).
"yeah. but not student here."
uncle sam nodded. he smiled.
"i know from the first glance you are not from here. not a degree student either. i figured this much that you are a visitor."
he continued. he surely had such confidence in his speech. and sure he is someone who loves having small talk, something i don't find amusing myself. small talk is such a pain in the ass. you gotta level yourself with some strangers and had to have hard time finding suitable topic of conversation. it's almost impossible to avoid awkwardness. to me, at least.
"i am familiar with all students here, u know?"
err. UKNOW Yunho? (lol)
uncle sam continued,
"so you are either a postgrad student or come to visit. am i right?"
i nodded. he surely talked a lot. the yellow car was slowly traversing the four-lane asphalt due to the heavy traffic. it was surely a hectic road. and our conversation continued to fill in the stillness inside the humble cab.
"what's your name, if I may..."
"how old are you?"
"27 year old."
"when you gonna get married? you must have male friends right?"
i started to get uneasy. the smile i had on my face gradually fainted away. some stranger suddenly shoot you with a personal question. so whaddaya expect me to feel?
"no, i don't know many male friends in my school."
i grinned forcefully while tilting my sight to my left. my face started to contort with sense of displease, which i could hardly suppress. like when you try to shove all your one-week worth of clothing and other things into one tiny small backpack.
"you got brother? or older sister?"
i stared him back into the rear-view mirror, trying to pull a straight face.
"my brother got married just last year. he was 29 at that time."
there was a forced tone in my voice. i went from looking at him to tilting my head away in a split second.
"oh, 29. that's old age already. to get married i mean."
i made a poker face, trying to make an indifferent stance for once. for men, it's okay if they'd get married at 39 or 45. to me at least. so my brother getting married at 29 is normal i think. men - they usually stall their marriage in order to build a stable empire first of all other things. even women do the same. only probably in a different manner.
"you just imagine. if you get married at, urmmm, let say 35, your child will be at best 1 year-old when you are 36. it's not good lah..."
i sensed a hint of judgmental tone in his reply. by then, i felt slightly irritated. i am usually stoic about this matter but that day, i just can't help but feeling annoyed. was i hormonal? i know what he said was nothing but truth. but still, it's something personal to me. personally, that matter shouldn't ever be brought up in the first place let alone by someone you just met.
"you see, jannah. maybe you're too garang (that you don't get to have male friend and/ or boyfriend)"
see? another judgmental statement from him. i saw his reflection grinning at me. my face was sour at that time but i forced a light smile. nevertheless, inside, i was burning.
get a hold of yourself jannah. don't go bursting into fire just yet. i did have a thought about giving a statement as to justify why i haven't met my other half yet and why i have little to no male friends or trying to knock some sense regarding fate/destiny into his head but i abstain myself. just cool it jannah. no need to go for a silly fight. don't sink to his level.
then there was an awkward silence. i kept my lips taut, the same thing i tried to do with my anger. at that time i was absorbed in my own thoughts. my brain was soaked with a purge of monthly hormones that i had this inner struggle, trying to make sense from such vexing experience i was having. there were so many things that got mucked up inside that i went into a pensive state.
yeah i know people are all in the search for their other half. just like what i read from Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, about how Aristotle came up with a philosophy on how we humans are initially made of male/male, female/male and female/male halves until one day God cut us clean to two and we all have to go on the search for the other half. i get it at female/male part yet still cannot brain the male/male and female/female part. i am really not a fan of LGBT though. in this life, we are definitely looking for something, something only we know, and finally we'd be settling down with what we have been searching and hopefully live life contently.
"tell me jannah, how'd you know a guy is good or not?" he suddenly opened his mouth while making a turn to the left road at a junction.
what? you giving me a quiz old man? it was out of the blue.
"you mean, men?
i asked him while trying to keep my cool. again, i could detect that he was kind of testing my social skills and whatnot. i was a bit mentally challenged at that time. i don't like being given rhetorical question. i could hint that that question was rhetorical due to his tone.
"no. either one. man or woman."
he corrected me while having this deadass serious face on.
"hm, i don't know. maybe i need to get to know him. befriend him, see how he talks, see how he faces problem. see how could he get mad. blablabla,"
i don't remember what gibberish i said after that. i didn't put much thought in answering his question. neither did it bother me - getting to know men that is. coz i don't find myself liking to make friends with men. men are mean you know. i don't like men. they objectify women. and they are deadass bold in speaking. i donno i just have this kind of stereotype over men in toto. that's how much i surmised. based on past experience that is. even if i had to deal with men, i tried to keep everything professional, no special ties whatsoever.
and i thought it was not like a MCQ, you know like the one in exam sheets when you can have elaborated answers instead of keying in A B C or D. but it turned out like it was MCQ. like it had to have only one definite answer.
"no. you're wrong. you can know a man or woman just by their first impression."
what the hack, are you kidding me ojisan? i screamed in my heart.
"yes. it's true jannah. by looking at you at first glance i could tell how you are and what you are right away."
saying as if he knew i was in the state of disbelief. surely it was apparent due to the puckered lips and twitched brows on my face. i always have hard time to mask my feelings. those things would easily curve on my face when i go into state of shock or befuddlement. he tried to emphasize his point by nodding several time. to that i say malarkey, hogwash, balderdash. but those words echoed in my mind only. just trying to make out for the vocabs i gathered all this while regarding anything nonsense. needless to say, everybody knows what first impression means and how far it can go. looks can be deceiving you know?
just like when you see cute V, nobody would expect he has such a low & deep graveling voice which is akin to a manly 40-year-old's who'd drive 18-wheeler truck.
"like when i saw you. i know right away what kind of person you are."
i rolled my eyes. was he a mind reader? or can he read people? is he psychic or what?
i actually don't like being ogled. hearing his answer, i kind of felt like he'd been observing me since the very first moment i clambered into the cab. there's no way he is a mind reader. some people just love to claim that they are good at reading people, but they are actually just shooting blanks. in another sense, they love to describe people based on a concept of generalization. i used to be like that but my friends don't really appreciate that talent even when i correctly describe people based on what they appear to be. indeed, most people won't thank you for reading them. it's like trespassing into their private territory, guarded by high fence of pride. i don't like to be read like a book as a matter of fact, particularly by strangers. well, does anyone?
what made me a bit disgusted is how ignorant people could be when it comes to asking such sensitive question. i don't think the ones asking are concerned about me. instead, they are just trying to judge me and try to knock their own brand of principles into me instead of trying to understand what reality really is. i might look reserved at most of the times, but it doesn't mean that such nonchalance will not wobble when provoked. i could also be affable, but people tend to patronize me, perhaps testing how resilient I could be. i don't mind talking about it, it's just some of these days i hope people respect my privacy, as much as i'd do with theirs.
p/s: somehow the episode reminds me of the first chapter from Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 when Aomame was riding a taxi and had this conversation with the friendly driver. only that in mine, there was no Sinfonietta orchestra breaking the stillness of air. Instead, the air was filled with the staleness of classic indifference and reek of judgmental words.
(maybe i gotta learn to burn it all to the ground just like Fire song by BTS. burn all those prejudice and chauvinism to dusts).
kita bakorr jew!
P/s: how poignant the irony of life is when i hate people generalizing me while at the same time i am having my own sweet time generalizing men. So no wonder what goes around comes around. Actually, my tendency to stereotype men is due to the sickening episode of my childhood which had inflicted me with irrevocable scars. The scars were so deep they formed a massive hole inside, causing me to build a shell so hard no ordinary people could easily crash and burn. I am truthfully sad as to see how my life is so full of ironies. I don't even know what to make of myself.