Chapter 22: Poori

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Our churros outing was a disaster. I had to wait for Elaine for 25 minutes as she was held up in a long meeting with her bosses. When we arrived at the newly opened hipster café, the queue was about 50 metres long.

"You wanna queue?" Asked Elaine. "My stomach is growling already."

I looked around and said, "there are many seats but the service is just too slow. What do you think?"

"Perhaps we should come back when they have learned how to serve and cook more efficiently," she suggested. It took me some time to decide. Actually I had been craving for churros since that night when we had ice cream together.

"Hey!" A familiar voice jolted me. I turned to find Nazrul walking towards us carrying his laptop bag and a few files. "I heard the churros and hot chocolate here are good. Look at the queue. Wow!" He wiped the sweat on his forehead. I found him looking rather rugged with his disheveled hair, rolled up sleeves and loosened tie. He looked less intimidating and definitely less annoying that night. 

"Hello! You must be Nazrul!" Elaine was ecstatic seeing Nazrul for the first time at a very close range. They shook hands as I introduced them. 

"Your friend here really want to have churros, she's been craving it for some time, but I'm too hungry. So, I suggested to her we go eat elsewhere. What do you think, Nazrul?" Elaine can be a little too generous with information sometimes. I tried to pinch her skinny thigh but she was quick to hop a little to the side. 

"Oh, by the way I'm hungry too," said Nazrul as he gave me a rather mischievous look. "Perhaps we should go Allysa's favorite mamak stall. I know she'll never say no to a set of poori with teh tarik kurang manis."

Nazrul could be annoying at times but that night I realized he could read me like a book. Maybe now he knew me better than most of my friends. 

"Ok, let's go have some poori." The night was hot and my blouse had started sticking to my back. I just wanted to be some place with a better ventilation.

Nazrul drove us to Restoran Makbul that was about five minutes from the office. As we sat at a table facing a giant screen, I noticed he had taken off his tie and looking a lot more casual. 

"I have a big news to tell you, Allysa," he said after we placed our order. Elaine shot me a sharp, exciting look.

"Good news or bad news?" I asked. Well I'm so used to frustrations that I didn't really care whether the news will hurt.

"Oh, it's a good news, followed by another good one!" Nazrul's eyes twinkled. 

"Tell us the better one," Elaine was getting a bit too excited that I thought she might over-react soon.

"No, tell me the one you think I'd really want to hear," I said and Nazrul nodded with a smile.

"Congratulations! We just got the Dubai project!" Nazrul held out his right hand to shake mine. I was in a daze. We shook hands for a few moments as I tried to process the information.

"Wow! That is a really good news," I finally found my voice and pulled my hands while Elaine was eyeing me with a knowing look. She was hiding her smile as well.

"I'm so happy for both of you." Elaine patted my shoulder.

"And the other good news is, we are all going to Istanbul on Friday. It's Ku Na's treat. She said we all deserve some good rest and a little bit of exposure to European culture," said Nazrul as he stared right into my eyes.

It was such a jaw-dropping news that I had to hide my face behind Elaine so that Nazrul didn't see my reaction.

"Yeay! Allysa, you'll get to travel! This is such a nice surprise!" Elaine moved a bit to the left and I was exposed.

Nazrul must have noticed my flushed face when he said, "I've never seen you this happy, Allysa. We'll have a great time there, I promise you."

Now that's not the usual tone he used whenever he spoke to me. I didn't know whether it was him or me or the weather that night or the mamak stall, but Nazrul was like a totally different person. He seemed warm and caring, so unlike the selfish, annoying and narcissist Nazrul that I used to know.

Was I seeing the other side of him that I ignored all the while? It suddenly made me uncomfortable. Why did I have the feeling that I should get to know this man better?

Now, how am I going to stage our break-up and convince mom that there's no future of this 'relationship'?

At that moment, I was suddenly hoping for Dwen to visit. There were so many things I'd like to ask him about Nazrul.

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