He comes in without knocking the door, as he always does; of course, interrupting, and annoying me, at the same time. “Look at this photograph,” he says. I pause from typing my story, and then move my head to his direction.
“Wedding photo?” I say.
“Last week I went to my friend’s wedding. We took a group photo with the bride and bridegroom. I’m in the back row, second from left.”
“Now, you must be straightforward,” I look at him, “What is so special from this otherwise ordinary picture.”
He grins. “Thank you for your time, my friend. It will take sometime to tell you.”
“You’d better make it short,” I say. “My editor asked me to submit a story by this afternoon.”
“To cut a long story short,” he says, “this is not an ordinary photograph, I warn you.”
I gave him a wry smile. “You think so?”
“What is so special about this photograph is that standing here with me are four…” he lifts his right hands, four fingers are pointing up, the thumb bows behind them, “…four women that I love.”
“Whuaatt! I don’t know that you’re such a playboy!”
“How you explain the coincidence that all of them being in the same place with you, at a particular time in your life?”
“If you date classmates, or women of the same neighbourhood, I guess you can do it.” I say.
He says, “They don’t even know each other; each one of them hails from different city.”
“You’ve got the talent for a lustful polygamist.” I give him an amused look, and then look away from him, to find the cigarettes. When I turn my back to face him again, he’s now sitting crossing his legs on the sofa, looking very relax. “This is getting interesting. Would you mind if I smoke?”
He bursts into laughter. “Would you mind if I turn this exhaust fan on? I can’t bear the smoke. I would have kicked you out, if this were my room.”
“Six degree separation theory at work,” I say. “And you turn out to be the linker.”
“I went to the wedding because the bridegroom is my high school classmate,” he says pointing to the bridegroom in the middle of the picture. “Rio is the last one, among boys of our class, to get married.
“Mira, my first love, was also our classmate; so that was obvious why she was present at the wedding. She stands in the front row, fourth from right. “She’s quite pretty, don’t you think? You can’t really get over from first love, I tell you.”
“Luna, the girl after Mira, my college romance, -surprise…surprise…- is the bride’s close friend. She was the maid of honour. Here she is cuddling the bride from left.
“Zarah, the girl in the blue dress at the back row; yes the tall girl, I…,” he looks hesitate. Hesitating again. I frown at his sudden awkwardness. He begins again, slowly. “Okay. I can tell you more on this, next time. But the brief version is this: I felt guilty to have met her again.”
Now, I’m the one who burst into laughter. “You can really feel guilty? You said you were almost robotic.”
“Jeff this isn’t funny!” he says.
“Did you say something to her?”
“I double dated Zarah and Imelda. Zarah eventually discovered this, and asked me to choose. I loved both of them, honestly. But at the end, you’ve got no alternative. So I said good bye to Zarah and, four months later, marry my wife Imelda.”
“Did Imelda ever find out, too? Or did you ever tell her?”
He doesn’t answer my question, and it annoys me more than anything. “I know that double, (or triple, or multiple), dating was bad, but that’s how you would do it, to make sure that you get what you really want…”
I interrupt him, “Typical ‘Collect and Select’ Principle. ‘Want’, ‘want’, what you really ‘want’, huh? I don’t want to argue with that, but I smell something amiss in that reasoning.”
He continues, “I went first to greet Zarah. Well, we talked a bit longer but I could see from her eyes that it’s still hurting her; perhaps that’s why she still remains single until now.”
I burst into laughter again. ”Is this your way of saying Zarah still loves you, that she can’t let you go? And the reason she hasn’t got married, yet, because of you? Come on, my friend, get real!”
“Well…People want to believe what they want to believe; they hear and listen what they want to hear and listen; so at the end they are muted and blinded by their expectation.”
“I don’t want to argue with you,” he says, “because I need your help.” He grins at the end of his sentence.
But I can’t even smile at him.
“I want you to write this story. That’s why I came here, at first place, to you my writer friend. You even can write a novel out of this, I guarantee. I’ll share, and tell everything you need. But please, no argument.”
(Gelora Bung Karno, Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 14.30-17.30 hours)