Chapter Nine: Rejection
The family left their home later than usual that day.
Standing in the middle of her porch, Nadiah drank in her surroundings; noticing the windows and doors of the neighbouring houses were shut and the bicycles chained. It was of no surprise seeing that evening was already mid-way. Her ears picked up the sound of crickets hidden in the tall thickets and a sudden movement in the bushes nearby attracted her attention until --
"Nadiah! Buat apa termenung tu? Ya Allah! Kita dah lambat ke surau ni. Anak dara ni...sempat pula dia nak jadi minah jenin (Nadiah! Why are you daydreaming? O Allah! This child...We are already running late and you still got time to daydream like Mat Jenin?) Aminah exclaimed, shaking her head. "Tsk, child I don't know what to do about you sometimes."
*Mat Jenin : A man in Malay folklore who loves to daydream and fell to his death doing so while plucking coconuts*
"Mak!" Nadiah protested. "Don't talk nonsense lah, mak! I thought I saw something in the bushes..." She had a strong suspicion that it was probably a lizard.
"Hush! Nadiah!" Aminah reprimanded and Nadiah immediately fell silent, knowing what her mother meant. It was a Malay superstition that one should watch their tongues and not discuss about anything unusual -- whether seen, felt, sensed, or heard -- as it was possibly affiliated with the supernatural especially when it's evening or night time for they might just offend or attract one's interest.
Aminah was already watching her husband and Nadiah followed her mother's gaze. Hassan rattled the lock before giving the front door a slight shove. It didn't budge.
Satisfied, he descended down the steps and slipped on his slippers.
"Come, let's hurry. It will be Maghrib soon," Hassan said, adjusting the midnight black songkok (headgear) perched on his head before beginning to lead the way down the path with his wife and daughter trailing close behind.
The walk to the surau was accompanied by silence, saved for the sounds of leaves and twigs being crushed under their weights and buzzing of insects. As predicted, they were the last family to arrive. Most villagers were already settled inside waiting for the call to Maghrib prayer. The few men remaining outside stopped talking and turned their heads upon hearing their approach. Among them - Nadiah recognised - were Harun and his father, Pakcik Yahya. Hassan gave the salam and the group returned his greeting.
Sauntering forward, Harun took her father's hand in his before anyone else could initiate the handshake and said, "How are you, Pakcik (Uncle) Hassan?"
"Good Alhamdulillah." (Praise to God)
There's something different about him, Nadiah thought as she watched the man who'd proposed marriage to her release her father's hand and lowered his face slightly. The tone and the way he carried himself. Goodness, was he being humble? She thought, puzzled at his demeanour.
"Makcik, (Auntie)" He said to her mother, nodding his head in the same manner while Aminah returned the acknowledgement with a smile and said, "How are you, Harun?"
While they exchanged small talk, Nadiah found herself questioning his behaviour. This stark change in Harun was not at all appealing - at least not to her. Normally girls would be awed by a man's humility but the way he did it, it seemed unnatural and pretentious to her and she was even more repulsed. Then she stopped herself. It's not nice to think negatively of people, Nadiah. She scolded herself mentally while still looking at him.
That's when Harun turned and locked gazes with her, saying, "Nadiah, how are you?" Instead of answering, she simply cracked a small, reluctant smile and quickly dropped her gaze while still feeling his eyes burning on her. This was not the Harun who took pride in catching and torturing insects with elastic bands at nine years old, proudly showing her his collection of captives much to Zainab's horror and her own disgust at his utter cruelty.
When the call to prayer was cried out a moment later, gratitude filled her for she could not stand to have him eyeing her any longer.
|Herjunot Ali||as Maa'rof Bin Haji Ali|
|Laudya Cynthia Bella||as Nadiah Binte Hassan|
|Teuku Wisnu||as Harun Bin Yahya|
|Dato' Jalaludin Hassan||as Haji Ali Bin Osman|
|Liza Othman||as Nur Melati Binte Yaakob|
|Widyawati||as Aminah Binte Razak|
|Niken Anjani||as Zainab Binte Amir|
|Didi Peter||as Hassan Bin Yusof|