Friday 8 April 2011

Short story by me (!) in the 19th issue of SELANGOR TIMES

Cinta Satay
by Amir Muhammad

She had six months to find him. She would be reaching a milestone birthday then and if her friends gave her another surprise cake, it would come with the customary joke that a fire extinguisher would be needed to extinguish all the candles. She didn't need a fire extinguisher; she just wanted a guy beside her to help her blow.

Getting dates was the easy part, as she was an eligible bachelorette. But each guy would need to pass the satay test to go further.

The satay stall was a semi-autonomous region across from a restaurant near her apartment. The restaurant really came alive at night, which meant that it was more fun to be there with someone else. Satay orders could be made to the restaurant staff but payment had to be made separately, upon delivery, to the satay-maker Sam. His stall closed only on rainy nights.

On a dry night in the first month, she brought a guy named Rais. He was full of florid praise for everything about her. But she noticed he didn't even look at Sam when ordering. Worse, he complained too loudly when there weren't enough
nasi impit cubes for his liking. You could tell a lot about a guy from the way he behaved to people he considered beneath him. Rais was rude, and so he didn't go further.

On a dry night in the second month, she brought a guy named Daniel. He was punctual when he picked her up, which was such a rare quality. But she noticed that he didn't eat any of the
kuah satay. When she asked why, he said, "It makes things messy." This made her look at him in a new light. A man who couldn't handle messiness would also be less fun and spontaneous later. Daniel was dry, and so he didn't go further.

On a dry night in the third month, she brought a guy named Ivan. He had great taste in clothes and aftershave. But she noticed something off-putting when he ordered the satay. "We'll have only the beef. Chicken's lame, and mutton's gross" he told Sam (and also her). She was taken aback. Did she have no say in the matter of which slain animal she might like? Ivan was inconsiderate, and so he didn't go further.

On a dry night in the fourth month, she brought a guy named Prakash. He had a very nice car, the kind she could imagine disappearing into while forgetting the congestion that might be on the road or in her head. But something happened as soon as he ordered 10 chicken and 10 mutton sticks for himself (she was not hungry this time).

"I don't really like mutton, but I make sure to always order it," he said. And he paused.

"Why?" she asked, since it seemed to be expected of her.

"It's to remind myself that, in Life, we can't always get what we want. We have to deal with even negative eventualities. So if I ordered only chicken, which is what I love, I'd be lulling myself into a false state of comfort. So I force myself to also eat mutton." He went on and on, not noticing that her eyes were glazing over. He didn't want a date, but an audience.

Prakash was ponderous, and so he didn't go further.

On a dry night in the fifth month, she brought a guy named Ghani. He was in an industry that was related to hers. So they had many matters of mutual interest, and that helped to keep the conversation lively. In fact, everything seemed to go swimmingly. She thought she'd finally found the ideal guy for the birthday party, which was only a month away. She had no problems with how he chose, ordered or ate the satay. It was only when he ostentatiously used a stick, now stripped of meat, as a toothpick that she felt dismay. He kept doing it for the rest of the conversation, which grew less scintillating as it progressed.

Ghani was gross, and so he didn't go further.

Almost a month later, she was at the restaurant alone. It was raining.

Sam, who couldn't open his stall, asked shyly if he could sit with her. She was surprised but was happy for the company.

They started talking. They'd had no reason to speak to each other before; aside from the capitalist barrier of customer/provider, she had always been busy with her dates and he with his orders. But now that they were unoccupied, she found herself having fun. She didn't even mind not having satay, because they ended up doing other things later.

Sam was sexy, and he skewered his way to the next stage perfectly.


* The rest of Selangor Times can be downloaded riiiiight here.
* This story was inspired by the Selangorlicious campaign (which I also plan to join).
* This is my second Selangor Times story, after Land Where My Blood Spills. I am happy that little idea I had (for a newspaper to have a Fiction column) has been chugging along quite well. Long may it continue!


izahamusa said...

Land where my blood spills is easy to fathom, but this one, no can do!

Uthaya Sankar SB said...

Hey! Where's the LIKE button?

Anonymous said...

Sweet story! I like the fairytale vibe to the storytelling.

Thanks for writing it.

Puravin said...

It's a good story and an excellent reflection of our current state of being...What are we all in search of? Things have become too mechanical and artificial...

Anba said...

nice like ice in a hot day

Mima said...

Where does the pontianak fits in this one. "In the midst of reading your 120 malay movies"

John Ling said...

Excellent, excellent story. Is it too much to ask for another? =)

Leana F M said...

*suka* :) Unexpectedly entertaining.