Her soul had started to be filled up with the feeling of boredom. Her life today was just like the days she had been through before. Empty, meaningless, and lonely… Only this loneliness that could never be described by any words on this green earth that completed her everyday`s routines. Her weak skinny body that sometimes looked like a skull was lying on the broken wooden-made floor. Her eyes balls were directed to her father`s old, crumpled brown shirt that was hanging by the window that was slightly opened, letting the wind to pass through the shed. The sound of the wave that loyally beating the beach floor was just like the mother that was patiently waiting for his son, Tenggang to come home from his journey on the sea. The yellow golden rays of the sun was seen through the cracking of the bamboo-made wall, lighting the house into a new day. Her life was so poor, with a very limited livelihood that she could live in. She squatted in the middle of the shed, unpurposely. Probably her boredomness had reaches her nerves. Slowly, she crawled on her knees to a small deeply sleeping body at the corner of the shed that did not have any room inside of it. “Cruck, cruck”, the wooden floor shouted as the skinny body crawled pass through it. The shed that was build traditionally and manually without any modern materials was just waiting its time to collapse, back to the earth. She scratched her curly, short, dried hair that had not been washed for almost three months delightfully. Then, she scratched slowly her itchy body that could not be stand anymore. Her eyes were still stuck to the small body, covered by soiled, adult sized shirt, without any pants, that was lying like a prawn, trying to get some heat in that cold morning wind. She approached the body and slowly, hugged her little step-sister closely. A moment after, the smell of stinky dried fish sunbathed by Mak Tijah, her so-called neighbour piercing into her nose. She was used to the smell. Her mind slowly flying away from her surrounding... thinking of something which she herself was not sure of it.
“Prangg!!” “You stupid, useless thing! I asked you to wash those dishes, not breaking them to thousands! You do love to ruin up others’ life huh!” She lied weakly on the white shiny sand behind her house after her body was chewed by the 100cm rattan by her heartless stepmother just because of a free glassmade bowl. Her stepmother was scarlet with anger. Petrified with fear, she stood rooted to the ground with her eyes glued to the shadow. Tiny drops of sweat appeared on her brow. She knew her weakness, her shortage of thinking ability. Even though she was already 20 years old, her characteristics were just like 8 years old children. It was all because of the serious cold she had while she was still a knee high to a grasshopper. The cold she had was related to her mother`s death 14 years ago. Her mother succumbed to lung and breast cancer after a protracted illness. To think of her is to think thoughts mingled now with sadness and joy. The sadness is real because the pain in her passing is real. Yet, the joy is real as it reflects a life lived fully. To think of her is like thinking of a powerful force of nature; for her love was as wild and wonderful as her rage. This dear woman had a profound love for people – poor people, black people, anyone who rebelled against injustice. She simply loved real people. But phonies beware! She could read you like a script and blast you with the heat of the summer sun. And like the force of nature, her great and terrible gifts left many people in awe and wonder. She passed away in June, after a long battle with both cancers. Although she has left this world physically, she continues to live on in the hearts of those who knew her. Death is never easy to deal with. And death is something that you cannot help. If anyone close to you is ever on his or her death bed, you should not expect everything to be good and everything to turn out just like it does in the movies. Although she was still an innocent, unknowing child, she could feel the absence of her mother. She knew her mother had gone away, far from her and would never come back again to caress her smoothly, to wipe away her tears, to teach her
the alphabets. Starting from that point, she waited for a miracle that would never ever come to her life. Chances are everything that won’t turn out and you will end up having a lot of hurt and a lot of resentment from being naive like she was. Death is an irreversible event and it is better to adjust your life accordingly and live on, instead of being miserable for the rest of your life. Every life is a gift and every love is a joy. Death seems to take it all away. The love that born naturally from a daughter who miss the love and attention from the one who hold her in the stomach for 9 months burgeoned up the longing for her mother until that brought her under the weather. Her small body was burning hot. She felt as if her head was an elephant`s head for its weight. Everything around her seems like moving upside down, and even worst, she could not move her hands and legs freely like she used before. In order to put her back in the peak of health, her dad had met with countless numbers of doctors, and not to forget, traditionally medical men. Things only got worse. She grew more and more belligerent as the disease progressed. Her illness never seems to recover, and her health turned worst until she suffered from syndrome down disease. Her father was in low spirits when she was confirmed suffered the disease. Unwillingly, her dad accepted the fate that the Almighty had wrote for her daughter. ******** In their small, uncompleted shed, they both lived in such a poverty life but harmoniously. There were thousands of lackness with the shed, but Zaza could still understand how their level of life was and she had not even once complaint on anything to his father. Even sometimes, they both tied up their stomach, as there was no food to be eaten. In such a deficit surrounding, Zaza was holding with a reason to stay strong, to keep on living, it was her father. Even though at other`s eyes, Zaza looked brainless, sluggish, annoying, and dirty, she still could understand how was the feeling of being abuse by all
those people around her. Her face was not as pretty as any other girls around her age, with dark-coloured skin, and numbers of pimples on her skin. “Smelly Zaza, Stupid Zaza, Monster Zaza,” Thousands of jeers were thrown to her. Even the only 4 years old boy dared to jeer at her. What`s with the naughty boys around the village? Lumps formed in her throat as she tried to swallow them into her churning stomach. Hundreds of questions raced through her mind. She knew that she should fight back, throw back the stones to those who threw them to her, spit back to those who spitted to her. She knew… She knew that enough, but she did not have any guts to do that such things. In her situation, what she could do was only run, run, and run. She ran from the reality that made her life meaningless. Her eyes became watery, obscuring her sight, and tears rolled down drop by drop. She tried to keep her lips closed tight to avoid an outburst of crying, and she tried to stop shaking but she failed. The pain in her heart was excruciating. She knew she was a coward. Her hands and legs that were always shaking made it difficult to her to move normally as others. She could not do anything appropriately by her own hands. She felt like her life on this earth was meaningless, useless, but not her father. For her father, she was his everything. There was nothing else more important in this world except for her. He was the only one who accepted Zaza for what she was. And he was also the only one who did not take Zaza as a burden. In such a dark life she was going through, there was, even only a little, bright rays that promised her a new shine of her life that would come soon. ******** Back to her stepmother, her dad got married to Sarimah after 9 years he lost his life partner. The widow he had been married to was one of the villagers that always bought fishes from him. That was how they got to know each other, and also the starting point of the existence of a little hell for Zaza in that old shed. She was really excited when
she first heard the news. She never expected what was waiting for her in the near future with Sarimah. Hoping for a bright live as what her mother had given to her before, what she got from Sarimah was totally a disaster. She never had the chance to say any second words when she made any mistakes before something reached her. Broom, pipes, rattans, belts… Her body had felt all those things, scars and bruises were everywhere on her body. She had suffered a lot, but she had never throw any single word about Sarimah to her dad. In front of Zain, Sarimah behave like the mother of the year, but once Zain was out to the sea, she turned to be the real her, the one who you would not ever wish to live with. She looked at Zaza with a killing look, full of hatred and disgusted. She would find every single mistake that Zaza had done. For about two years, Zaza was living her life unwillingly with Sarimah in the same roof. She would stay under the house, alone, playing with her doll just to avoid Sarimah from seeing her freely without doing any house works. Sarimah treated her as an Indonesian maid, who was just deserve to be scold, to be instructed and to do works 24 hours a day. Once in an hour, she would hear her name shouted by Sarimah. There would always works for her to do. Sometimes, when Sarimah was thirsty, she would shout for Zaza to bring her a glass of water, even at the time, she was totally free, enjoying watching Hindustan movie on the 23 inches television. Sarimah was just like a queen in that shed. After Sarimah gave birth to Zaharah, Zaza was the one who responsible to take care of all Zaharah`s needs. She was the one who made milk for Zaharah, who calm Zaharah when she was crying, and washed Zaharah`s dung. Sarimah would never do things that she thought them as dirty jobs. These memories still sting like a violent slap across the face. One fine early evening, Zaza heard her name was being shouted again. Unwillingly, she left her doll in front of the stairs and rushed to Sarimah`s room, where the voice was being heard from. Zaharah was comfortably sleeping in her swing, while Sarimah was standing right in front of the door with hands on her waist. Her mouth was starting to move.
“What take you so long to reach here? Are you deaf?! Now, go and get me a cup of tea,”
Sarimah turned and slammed the door right in front of Zaza`s nose. Without uttering anything, she walked slowly to the kitchen, and start making the tea for her socalled mother. ****** She knocked the door slowly, enough to make sure Zaharah would not be disturbed from her dream, before Sarimah shouted from inside, instructing her to come in. She opened the door, hold the cup carefully even her hand was shaking to death, and slowly step inside, approaching Sarimah who was lying on the bed, from the side of the bed. At the time she wanted to put the cup on the desk, Sarimah`s hand accidentally met with hers and drops of tea fell down to Sarimah`s clothe. In just a blink, Sarimah woke up from the bed, her hand fetching a long, black belt from the table and without any sense of humanity, she swing the belt with her Herculean strength right to Zaza`s back. Zaza screamed in terror. She cried her heart out. She must have been in tremendous pain. When she tried to stand she was unsteady, her little legs were shaking much like that of a frightened puppy. Her eyes became watery, obscuring her sight, and tears rolled down drop by drop. She`s begging for Sarimah`s forgiveness, but Sarimah ignored her and keep on hitting her. At the spur of the moment, a voice shouting for Sarimah`s name was heard. It was Zain. His eyes were scarlet with anger. Sarimah held her breath and her heart was pounding wildly. She stood rooted to the wooden floor with her eyes glued to Zain. She try to hide the belt she used to hurt Zaza behind her back but it was useless. Zain had saw everything, and there were no chance for Sarimah to hide the truth anymore. With Sarimah trying to screwed up the truth, Zain rushed to her daughter, caress her head, checked her back to see how bad she was injured. At that time, he revealed the truth
about her daughter, how Zaza was hurt by Sarimah all these while and how cunning was Sarimah in pretending to be an angel in front of him. Zain could not stand to see anyone hurt his daughter, even his hand had never once landed on Zaza`s body. Zaza was his everything. With the eyes burnt with fire, he stepped to Sarimah and raise his hand to slap her pale-face. “Praapp…!!!” “Pack your things now and don’t let me see your face again!!” Zain was determined. He would not take back his words. Without any second word, he pushed Sarimah to the room, pointed his finger to the cupboard, signifying that he was not playing with what he said. Sarimah tried to apologize, giving thousands of invalid reasons to Zain, but Zain ignored her. Unwillingly, Sarimah did not have any other choice except for moving out from the house. She wanted to carry Zaharah with her, but Zain once again raised up his voice, warned Sarimah not to take Zaharah with her. Zain rushed to the bed, lifted Zaharah and keep a distance from Sarimah. Sarimah saw Zaza roll her eyes at her in disgust. This made Sarimah’s blood boil. Sarimah charged at Zain, shaking her finger in Zain’s face. In anger she uttered, “I’ll cost you up for this!”. Those words incensed Zain and he retorted, “Be my guest!”. The burst of anger hung over them for a moment. Most probably, anger had conquered Sarimah’s mind and she wished illogically that she could have the courage to fight back with her husband, or to kill the whole family, in order to vent her anger. With a cruel looking face, Sarimah jerked at Zaza before she left the shed. She clenched her fists in frustration and gritted his teeth in desperation. Zain then took a look back at Zaza. He could not stop the tears that started to flood in his eyes from flowing down through his cheek and then fell to Zaza`s hair. He hugged Zaza tightly, keep on saying sorry over and over again. He regretted for believing in Sarimah to take care of Zaza for two years. He never knew how much Zaza had suffered for these two years. Two years were not a short time. He kept on blaming himself for causing Zaza to live in a world like hell for almost two years. In other place, Zaza was speechless. She had
no strength to utter anything to his father. She did not know why her father was crying like a baby, and why his father kept on apologizing from her. She was blank, her father had not done anything wrong to her as long as she could recalled. Zaharah was then crying, like she understand how Zain`s feeling was. ******** Four months had passed after the day Sarimah left the shed. Now, in the shed, during the daylight, there just Zaza and Zaharah, while Zain was out to the sea like he used to do before. Their life had turned back to normal, no more Sarimah to hurt Zaza like before. Zaza took a good care of Zaharah whom she loved so much. Although she could not act like an adult, the lackness in her could still be covered by her love to those around her. The inside of shed was once again, like a chaos. No one care to clean up the shed, but they could still live harmoniously. Once she had bored staying in the house, watching whatever programs shown on television, she would take Zaharah outside, playing with doll together under the house, the place where she hide from Sarimah before. Every evening, there would be some naughty children passing by their shed, jeering at them from a distant. Zaza was used to it, but deep inside her heart, she was guilty to her sister. Because of her, no one wanted to be friend with Zaharah. She was the only friend that Zaharah had. It could not be help. ********** It was evening, the same evening like any other days where Zaza would bring Zaharah down to play doll together under the house. The air was crisp and there was a rainbow in the sky. The sun was setting and soon night would be upon them. The sky was dotted with birds in large flocks flying to their resting-places. While they were playing happily together, suddenly Zaza felt something knocking her head. She turned back to see a group of children, were standing in quite a distance, looking at her. Suddenly, one of them called out her name, waving his hand calling for Zaza to come to them. Zaza
innocently, and curiously walked towards them, without thinking what they wanted from her. Once she stepped near them, one of them showed her a bar of chocolate. She suddenly turned to be so excited as she thought they wanted to give her the chocolate bar. Chocolate was something that rare to her. Seeing her turning so excited, the group smiled to each other. Then, the one who hold the chocolate opened up the chocolate wrapper and showed the content to Zaza once again. “Want this chocolate??” After Zaza nodded her head, the boy chewed the chocolate in his mouth before he spitted it back to his palm and showed it to Zaza again. “Eat it!” Zaza was blinded by the chocolate. The boy`s palm was just some inches from her mouth. Without thinking any further, she let her mouth to be nearer to palm and eat the chewed chocolate from the boy`s palm. The other children were laughing at her for her dumbness before suddenly, Zain came, scolded them to death and chase them away. He seethed with hatred when he saw what had just happened to her daughter. He could not take it anymore. Her daughter was not a doll to be play with, to be laugh to, but why did they did not understand? He fell on his knees, hugging Zaza with tears rolling down his cheeks. He thoughts Zaza would never be treated in such a way after he chased Sarimah from home, but he was wrong. Sarimah had gone, but not the people around them. Grasping at his chest due to lack of air, Zain regained his breath and started to evaluate the situation and think about what his next move would be. He kept on thinking of her daughter`s destiny until he turned to be emotional. He shouted out loud and raised up the knife which he kept in his pocket. “BANG!!”
Zain fell to the ground. Red-coloured liquid flowed out from his back. Zaza was shocked, speechless. The one who just hugged her just now suddenly lost his life in just a second. An unknown people mistakenly shot Zain for he thought Zain was going to kill people as he raised up his knife. Zaza shake her father, begging him to open back his eyes, continue living like usual, but there was no other chance for those who died. She felt her world going to pieces. The crowded around Zain and Zaza keep on increasing until the ambulance came. By the time the ambulance arrived, Zain had already passed away. When Zain`s body was taken away by the ambulance, Zaza ran back to her shed, refused to talk to anybody and lifted Zaharah, who was crying continously without knowing anything, and walked to somewhere which she did not know where. She just followed her steps. At the time, she could not think of anything except for the scene which she saw her dad was shot in front of her own eyes. Without being realized, her tears rolled down her cheeks while Zaharah just stay quiet, not knowing where Zaza was bringing her to. After some minutes of walking, they reached the beach. Zaza put Zaharah down on the sand, letting her to move freely. Zaza`s mind was brought away by the wind from the beach. She closed her eyes, and many images started to play back in her eyes like a movie without sound. Suddenly, she saw an image of a woman, as beauty as an angel, waving her hands at her, like calling her to go somewhere. Mom… It was her mother, the one who she had been missing for the most of her life. She then heard the woman calling for her name, asking Zaza to come to her. She stepped ahead, slowly, with her eyes closed… “Mom…I`m coming…”
Zaharah was playing with sand, when she suddenly saw her sister was walking away from her. She called for Zaza but Zaza never answered. She then ran to Zaza and pulled Zaza’s jeans, but Zaza still did not response. Zaza kept on walking and Zaharah kept on following. Zaharah`s step was stopped when Zaza finally reached the sea. She did not dare to follow Zaza anymore. She just shouted for Zaza, but Zaza was ignored. She started crying, worrying for Zaza who was still moving ahead in the sea. She kept on called out Zaza`s name until slowly, Zaza was gone from her eyesight. She kept on crying, hoping for Zaza to come back, her dad to come to help or anyone to lend a hand. She did not know what to do, as she was just a child. Zaharah shouted and cried his heart out, “Zaza………..!”.