Chapter 16: Iced lemon tea

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The apartment smelled of burned pizza when we entered. I went to open the sliding door and pulled the curtain before switching the fan at full speed. 

"What happened in here?" Asked Nazrul as he covered his nose with his hand. 

"Let me check the kitchen." I ran towards the oven and pulled the door open. It was turned off but the a cloud of smoke rushed out when I took out a plate of very dark slices of pizza. There could have been pepperonis, onions, olives and cheese on top, but none were recognizable as I dropped them in the waste bin. 

"Is that the emergency?" Nazrul appeared in the kitchen, looking worried. "Burned pizza?" He helped to open the kitchen window to let the smoke out. "God. Somebody could have been killed," he said in a rather teasing tone.

"Please forgive my housemates. They're all un-domestic goddesses. One minute they're heating the pizza, then another minute they're out partying - and totally forgotten about the pizza. The house is such a mess because none of them cared to even vacuum the carpet or pick up the newspapers lying on the floor." I gritted my teeth as I tied the garbage liner and replaced it with a fresh one. 

"You should be in their shoes once in a while, I think. It's not easy for pretty women to survive in this big city." Nazrul helped me with the garbage bin. Then we washed our hands at the sink. 

"Are you suggesting that I'm not pretty, or that I live an easy life?" I stared at his penetrating eyes but could only stand it for a few seconds before I shifted my gaze on the oven that was still smoking. I took a damp cloth and started cleaning its interior. 

"No. What I'm trying to tell you is that as housemates, we should try to understand each other's job. The girls have to rush for shows, photoshoots, grooming sessions and what-nots. Have you ever thought how little time they have for themselves? Do you see them watching soap opera in the kitchen every afternoon while baking muffins?"

I shrugged; hadn't seen it and couldn't even visualize them doing it. 

"They could at least be a bit more responsible, especially when it involves safety - like this oven incident." My gaze travelled back to the oven. 

"I don't want to lecture you on this, Allysa. I'm sure you can handle it." Nazrul returned to the living area and sat on the sofa. "So, can I leave now? No more emergencies, right?" 

I quickly turned off the water and ran to the living room. "Hey! Wait! Not yet. I still haven't told you what I need you to do."

"What? There's another emergency?" Nazrul stood up and put his hands on his hips, looking at me as if saying, 'This is ridiculous!'

 "I don't know how to say this but I need you to help me make a mess in this house. I want it to look a lot messier than this."


I switched on the TV and signalled for Nazrul to sit while I tried to find the suitable words to start with. 

"My mom is in KL, in the hotel at Jalan Pudu," I said. 

"You left her there and asked me to bring you here? I smell something fishy." Nazrul rubbed his chin to appear like a private investigator thinking hard about a case. 

"Wait. Let me explain. She wants me to quit my job and return to Kedah...."

"Hey! I've told you not to take that bold decision."

"Yes, I know! So, shut up and listen!" I snapped. Nazrul leaned back on the chair. "She actually wanted to spend the night here and meet my housemates. But I told her that there are so many things lying around the house; it's invoncenient for her. I also promised her that I will bring her over tomorrow afternoon."

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