Ch. 01 – The First Part
Hrmm…. Where should I start my story? Should I start from that so-called coincidence at Kak Nong’s? No, that’s way too soon. How about from secondary two, when she moved to Mesapol? Yeah, let’s start there.
But actually we knew each other way back since childhood. Maybe this is what you call a childhood friend, kan.
When I was six, my family moved to a new house. It was just a few streets away from our old rental, but its way better. The people are nice, not like at Street 1B where our neighbours are, err…. quite rough, to say the least.
And the reason for me saying the people here are nice is because of her.
Annabelle Claris, the girl who lived next to us.
First day moving in, she ran to the fence between our houses and shouted ‘Hi!’ when I came out of the car. I didn’t reply (or did I? Can’t remember exactly) because I was the lonely shy type back then. I’m quite small, and unfortunately, the smallest on Street 1B. So I normally get picked by the other kids on the street. Be it boy or girl, they’re all the same.
Nasty kids. Urghh… Bad memories.
So when ABC said hi out of nowhere, I just shove along into the house.
Not long after that, the neighbours came by, greeting us with cheerful faces and merry voices. Uncle (or should I call him Cikgu?) Jerome and Aunty Betty came with their two children. I peeked from behind Mama and could see a boy and a girl.
The girl who said hi earlier.
I remembered that time clearly, cause in later years, ABC would always tease me and call me ‘the boy behind mama’ and ‘anak mama’ in memory of our first (or second) encounter.
“These are our children, Xavier and Anna. How old’s your son?” asked Aunty Betty with her sweet lumpy voice. The first time I heard her voice, all I could imagine is tasty butterscotch bread. That’s how Aunty Betty’s voice tastes, err…sounds like.
“He may be a little small, but he’s actually six already,” replied mama with her ever soothing voice. Mama’s voice, on the other hand, is like blueberry covered in fresh ice. It has always been that way.
“Owh, so he’s the same age as my little Anna!”
They chatted some more, while Cikgu Jerome and papa talked about the weather or something like that (actually, I can’t remember. Didn’t even bother to hear the details. You know how grown-up men converse when they meet each other, kan? A little bit of politics, last night’s football match, so so).
And at that particular moment, XYZ and ABC came to me. Mama pushed me towards them, saying ‘be nice to each other’ in her little voice and patted my head lightly, and for some reason I can’t just walk back towards her. Normally I could, but this time, I dunno.
XYZ came closer and patted my head too. I look up at him, thinking ‘wow, he’s so tall…’.
He was a tall boy, and I’m freaking scared of him at that moment. You may call it traumatic, since all the other children I’ve known before are taller than me and at the same time mean to me.
But then, he flashed a smile.
And I, somehow, felt at ease instantly.
“Hello, adik! My name is Xavier Y. Zachary. I am eleven years old. What’s your name, adik?”
What’s that ‘Y’ for? Is it ‘Why’ or ‘Wai’, or is it just the letter Y? I dunno.
“J-J-Jeremy…” I replied.
Oh no, I stuttered!
“Nice to meet you Jeremy! My name is Annabelle Claris.”
The girl, suddenly standing beside her brother, said with a big smile on her face.
“N-N-Nice to meet you two. Eh, I mean… t-t-too…”
And that is how we met.
That is the beginning of my story.