[Yanti & I, 84 Stafford Street, Spring 1998]
Scene: Can’t remember the house number, Stafford Road, Sheffield
Season: Winter 1996
Temp: Freezing cold!
Background: Clueless the movie blaring from a distance. Zeera relentlessly cooking a dish with Yus the ever-obedient helper, hovering near. Something good was bubbling on the stove for dinner. Me lazily reading Yorkshire tabloid with yet another juicy gossip of the famous royal family. Nurul was strumming the guitar on a battered sofa – completely oblivious to her surrounding. Yanti came down, fished a jacket out from the rack. Where this insane woman could possibly be going in this kind of weather?
Yanti: “Mish, nak ikut aku gi train station?” she asked nonchalantly.
Me: “Why?” I shot back at her with a frown on my face.
Yanti: “Because En is coming!“
Noren, our dear friend would religiously endure the 5-hour-train-ride from Cardiff to Sheffield every fortnight to spend time with us.
Me: “Why do I have to go? Apsal Nurul tak payah? Apsal Zeera tak payah?” I childishly confronted her. Please take note that it wasn’t me talking at this point, it was the narcissm in me.
Yanti: “Apsal ko nih? Zeera kan tengah masak, yang ko dengki kat Nurul tu apsal?“
I could see Nurul poking out her tongue at me. The brat!
Me: “Okay lah…“
Off we went to pick En at the train station. First we passed Amin’s sundry shop, then the Cho Suey bar, then the Barracuda fish shop. Further up, we crossed the council flats. Stop for a while to catch our breaths. It was so freezing, conversation would be a torture.
We trudged down hill, passed the supertram station, went up the connecting bridge between the tram and the actual train station. Ah, finally! A glimmer of the platforms. A sure sign that this torture would soon end.
Ten minutes later, a British Railway train from Birmingham pulled over the platform. Hordes of travelers alighted from the coach. One small figure in a brown bubble jacket carrying her overnight suitcase rushed over towards us. We hugged. I took En’s bag and we headed back to the house. The rest of the weekend in this far away place was great with En around.
That’s Yanti. Who is always quick to slap me with a dose of reality. Who sees logic in all circumstances thrown to her. Yanti, who cheekily pushed the window beside her bed every morning, wiggled her hand through the small opening to know the extent of the day’s coldness then decide what to wear. As to why she didn’t believe in the room thermometer back then? Don’t ask me, I don’t know.