In the name of Allah, the most Glorious and the most Compassionate
“This dunya is like a shadow. If you try to catch it, you’ll never be able to do so. If you turn your back towards it, it has no choice but to follow you” – Ibn Qayyim
I just hope things would work out differently - A thought which had never seemed to take its course, not in her conscious mind anyway. Those seven minutes before happiness left her, Sasha lay still in bed, listening to her White Cockatiel singing merrily; melodious and solaced.
“Sasha! Get down here now!” A high pitched voice yapped from downstairs.
Groaning, she threw her pillow aside and sat up on the edge of her bed, rubbing her eyes groggily.
“You’ll be late again” The voice continued to bellow.
She stood on her feet and padded to the toilet, tripping on a couple of overthrown magazines and clothes on the floor.
The thought of school had always managed to coil her stomach. For her, school was nothing less than an inmate. Mr Maleek; the strict principal, Mrs Dalia; the discipline teacher and the school rubrics were the things she wished she could dodge, but she was Sasha. She couldn’t help herself but to rock the school, as one of the students with red heavy marks in the academic report all year around. Not only that, but she was also the school’s much loved after-school detention club members. Ever since she moved to the little town in Ipoh, she’d fit in straightaway. Not like her former school in Kangar, Ipoh high school was more of a challenge if you like; it was a place where the rebels were on the top ranks, while the geeks and the nerds were on the bottom. It wasn’t unruly for someone like her. She’d always been on the bottom in her former school but now, not anymore. She felt as if she could breathe again.
“I’m coming for God sake!” Sasha slipped on her white stockings then stood in front of the mirror, smoothing out her perfectly braided hair.
“I’m coming up if you don’t get down here in three seconds” The desperate tone turned into a hostile one.
Rolling her eyes, she grabbed her school bag and headed to the door of her bedroom. She took a short journey down the stair.
“Mum, I need a ten note”. She announced as she entered the kitchen.
“What do you need that for?” Her mother was opening and closing every cupboard in search for God knows what.
Sasha stopped short and scrunched her nose. “What’s that smell?” She looked around to detect the source of the bad odour. On the counter she could see a basket full of dirty clothes, a stack of greasy plates in the sink and the overflowing garbage bin.
“It’s the rotten eggs from the fridge” Her mother gestured to the eggs in a bowl on the dining table. “I thought you said you want to clear all the things that have passed their use by date?”
“I didn’t say that” She pointed out.
Her mother sighed. “Anyway, where are the damn pills?” She closed the door of the last cupboard compartment and turned to face her.
Sasha shrugged her shoulder. “Why would I know?” She went to the sink to grab a glass.
“I’m sure I keep them in here” Her mother muttered.
“Do you have a ten note?” Sasha asked as she poured some water into the glass and drank.
“If you’re intending to buy cigarettes, then I don’t”. Her mother was starting to search the pills in the drawers, silverwares clinking as she fumbled in the chaos of the spoons and forks.
Sasha intentionally slapped the glass in her hand onto the counter. “I’m not as naïve as you, mum. I’m telling you for a hundred’s of times, I didn’t buy the cigarette packet for myself but for Joe”.
“I don’t care Sasha. I know you’ve taken one too”. Her mother straightened up and racked through her messy, wavy hair.
“No, I haven’t. I was lending Joe some money”.
But before her mother could contend any further, a loud horn was blasted through the warm morning atmosphere. Knowing that it was for her, Sasha turned on her heel and lead away from the kitchen.
She shut the front door of their flat with a bang. Her mother may be seen as a liable single parent for some but she clearly wasn’t. She was full of hypocrisy. She forbade her of smoking yet she smoke a dozen stick of cigarette a day, she compelled her to get good grades and make it to college but she hadn’t even appeared to be making an effort of going to college herself.
“Hey” She mumbled as she reached her friend of four years, Johan. But she’d rather call him Joe.
“You don’t look so good for the first day of school” Joe handed her a helmet.
“I think it’s obvious. I hardly wanted to get out from my bed” She fitted the helmet onto her head and fastened the strap.
Joe grinned. “You want to know what I think? I think there’s more to that grim face of yours”.
“Like what?” She snapped.
“Like your mum”.
Sasha sighed. “Let’s not talk about her”
“Fine” He shrugged. “Hop on. We don’t want to be late on our first day”.
Jobless. An attempt to cooking lunch. A cut on the finger.
“Just great” She muttered then winced when she inadvertently pinched the side of the deep, long cut on her forefinger. She’d thought of cooking something from scratch for a change but it appeared that slicing red onion was enough to prove a point. She really can’t cook. All these times, her household had been kept going with fast foods or takeaways. She’d never really cook before except for being a great hot drinks maker. Most people had said that to her though she doubted it.
Rania dropped the knife onto the chopping board and ran the tap water. She winced again as a hot pain speared along the cut the moment she let the water washed away the red blood.
“Aah…” She inhaled then quickly removed her hand away from the tap. She grabbed a tea towel and wrapped it around her finger, applying a bit of a force onto the cut.
Turning the tap off, she went to sit at the dining table.
The clock’s hands were showing a false time. She wondered when was the last time she’d had the AA battery changed.
Glancing at the time on the screen of her Samsung, she realised that it was only twelve in the afternoon. The day seemed unusually long, infinite and tedious ever since she got sacked from the bookstore where she was working for about two years. She’d spent all day looking through the job advert in the newspapers the other day and had found two jobs suited to her dismal academic background. One had unfortunately turned her down after the interview session probably due to violation of dress code. She’d wear a black knee long skirt and a white blouse while a few other women who were sitting in the waiting room with her were wearing black long trousers.
She really hopes that the second job opportunity as an assistant librarian would spare her time from wasting. And yes, she has to think hard about what she should wear tomorrow.
Rania grabbed her cell phone the minute it rang.
“Hello Lia”. She greeted, puzzled that her friend, Dahlia was calling in the afternoon. She’d often called during the night, after finishing her night shift at the restaurant she worked.
“Nia, I’ve just lost my job” Dahlia’s voice sounded miserable.
She didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. “What happened?”
“I came in late again and the manager fired me on the spot. Can you believe that?”
“I thought you said you want to work on the late- in- arrival to work thing?”
“Yeah I know but I overslept. I came home late last night”.
Rania sighed. “The manager had every right to fire you. If I was in his shoe, I would have done the same”.
“Would that make me feel any better?” Dahlia was scowling.
“Fine. I’m sorry”.
Dahlia drew a deep breath. “Where are you now?”
“Home” Rania scoffed. What a puerile question? Dahlia knew that she’d lost her job two weeks ago.
“I thought that I could do with some company” Dahlia said.
“Yes. Come and drop by. Besides I need your help with something”.
“Just don’t be late” She warned.