Dinner was fun, as usual, although I have started to feel the sadness of him leaving creeping in.
– – –
Two years is not that long, he said, adding that he’ll still come back for the holidays. I am in no position to stop him from going away. You see, he too has the wanderlust. That was how we connected in the first place, by our own travels. Too bad we never went on a trip together.
This week, the last before his departure, he seemed to prefer my company rather than his best mates. I accompanied him on several shopping trips, a couple of movies and many, many kopi / makan sessions. Kuala Lumpur weather has been as gloomy as my thoughts, and I guess he sort of sensed it although I tried to hide it by being my usual grumpy self.
– – –
After dinner that Thursday evening, he was supposed to send me home and do another round of drinks with his mates. I didn’t pay attention at first but then I noticed we were on the highway, heading north-east.
“You plan to take a longer, more expensive route back to my house?,” I ventured. Not alarmed, just curious.
That was it. I knew better than to probe further, he will tell me, eventually.
“I’m guessing the guys will miss you tonight.”
“Let them. I have a more important thing to do right now.”
That silenced me for a good ten minutes. Luckily the radio was on. I didn’t know what to think or say, so I ended up singing along to the song that was on. John Mayer’s songs are so made for road trips. He sang along too, and I was glad the awkward moment had passed because the conversation flowed easier after that.
After another half hour, I thought I could guess where we are headed. It was almost 11 when I saw Kuantan town in front of us. I smiled to myself.
“We had planned a trip to the beach once, didn’t we?” he asked. I just nodded, touched that he remembered.
He wisely chose to park at one of the hotels along the beachfront. Just in case. He took his rucksack from the back seat and we headed in the general direction of the beach.
We looked around for a good place to park ourselves and found the stretch fairly deserted as the weekend would only start later the next day and it was still early in the year, the tourist season would only start in about month or so.
After walking around for a bit, we decided to grab a couple of deck chairs and drag them nearer to the water. He came prepared and pulled out from his rucksack a couple of blankets and two cans of coffee.
“This is really nice,” was all I could say as I lie on the reclining chair, staring up at the starlit sky.
“You looked like you needed cheering up this past few days,” he said slowly. He too was looking upwards to the sky and I waited for him to continue.
“I am the one leaving, you know.” That instantly brought tears to my eyes.
“Hey, sorry about that. It’s just that with the others also gone, I feel like I need a whole new set of friends. People in my own time zone.” He laughed at the last bit.
“You can always plan a round-the-world trip to visit me and the rest. There’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, too.”
We make plans all the time, don’t we? I didn’t say that out loud, just kept silent and stared at all those stars above us.
“Can we stay here until sunrise?” I asked.