Her sneeze cut through the silence, followed by the rhythmic sound of falling raindrops. She felt a touch at her elbow, which startled her and caused her to turn around.
"Do you need a tissue?" the man asked. His eyes were looking straight into hers, when she suddenly sneezed.
She expected him to laugh, as most people when they heard her sneeze, so she was surprised when he was looking calmly at her. "Do you need a tissue?" he repeated, as if the sneeze wiped her short-term memory. She grabbed his offer, took the plies out and clumsily gave the rest back. She wiped her wet hands with her back to him, away from the man, for she was embarrassed of herself. After she dried her hands, she sat up straight and looked towards the road, as if nothing happened. Suddenly she remembered her manners and turned to thank the man. Her gratitude however stopped halfway, as her books fell off her knee in her rush.
She quickly picked them up before he could even react, piled and sat them back on her laps. She didn't turn to him, instead stared straight into the road and stuttered her thanks.
"T-t-thank you. Thank you for the tissue," she said while her mind cringed, 'hey, they rhyme!'
"You're welcome," the man replied. From the corner of her eyes, she saw a thin smile on the man's face. The smile slowly fades out and the silence began to crept in. The awkward silence, the one which is filled by an OST in the movies. However, he suddenly spoke, to which she was grateful.
"You have quite a lot of books," he said. She nodded, eyes facing the road, "I worked at The Borders."
"Aha, I see. I always wanted to work in a bookstore," he added. "It's fun," she answered stiffly.
"That seems like an interesting book," he said, his eyes pointing at her stacked books. Her eyes followed his as she dumbly read the titles.
"Oh, this. Yes, it's quite interesting."
"Quite? 'The unicorn who yelled curry!'" he read it out loud. "The title isn't really something you might say quite interesting, right?"
"Well.. well, it is VERY, interesting," she answered as he turned to him.
He smiled at her and asked, "What is it about?"
"Urm, it's about.. the book is about a unicorn.. this unicorn sells apples in a market, so one day he went to the market to sell his apples. I think it's his, because it doesn't say what the unicorn is. Then..."
Then she sneezed.
Promptly a pack of tissues was offered to her and she was about to take it when it was pulled away. She looked up and saw him standing, looking at a bus coming towards their direction. He waited until the bus was closed enough to read the numbers before sitting back. A few passengers got off the bus but they quickly scampered away into the rain, leaving them both alone as before.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Here's the tissue." She took three plies, stopped, and took a few more just in case, and returned them back.
"Thank you." she said. "Anyway, where are you going?"
"Oh, I'm going to Shah Alam."
"Then why didn't you take that bus?"
"The bus wasn't going to Shah Alam."
"Yes it was."
"No it wasn't. It says going something jaya, not Shah Alam," he said seriously. She however, began to laugh.
"Sorry for laughing. Of course it didn't say," she stopped to breathe, "because there is no bus that goes directly to Shah Alam. You have to change to train and trams."
She smiled and he blushed.
"There. Here comes a bus. This bus can take you there. It's my bus too."
"So, why are you going to Shah Alam anyway?" she asked him as they sat in the almost empty bus.
"To visit my mother."
"So, your mother also came to Malaysia?"
"Came? What do you mean, came? She lives there."
"Urm I mean, did she came with you to Malaysia?"
"CAME? She never left Malaysia."
"You mean she's born in Malaysia? She's a Malaysian?"
"Of course she is! She lives there all her life," he said, to which the girl laughed.
"I honestly thought you were not Malaysian, plus you didn't know how to go to your own hometown and when you speak..." she stopped as she saw his face.
She puckered her mouth and stared straight forward. It was he who spoke again.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't be mad at you. It was a normal mistake."
"No, no. I shouldn't have laughed at you. I.. oh no!" she said as she pushed the stop button. "It's already my stop, got to go. Don't forget to take the number 34, okay. Bye."
She rushed down the bus with her books in her arms and sneezed as she climbed the building's steps.
"Awal balik hari ni."
"Yala, takkan nak balik lewat lak, birthday papa kan hari ni," she said as she smiled to her father.
"Kenape sampai lambat sangat?"
"Tadi tak reti la nak naik bas, tunggu sejam sebab dunno bas mane nak ambik. Next time, mak suruh la adik g ambik I balik kerja. Bagi rosak kereta orang reti."
"Where are you going man? Don't want to eat with us a?
"Haiya, he want to go to borders again la, you don't know?"
"Which borders? Why? Got cun one cashier there?
"Which borders?" he suddenly chipped in. "You mean there's another borders?"
"Yeah, the one in Tropicana. You tak tahu?"
"Jom, tinggal lah buku tu dulu. Hari ni hari last kan?"
"Aah, sedihnya rasa nak tinggal tempat ni, kak, " she said.
"Nanti bila dekat negeri omputih tu, ingat-ingat lah kami kat sini."
"Tu lah, nanti bawak la boipren omputih sorang untuk aku."
"Bawak balik untuk ko buat ape, die mesti cari untuk sendiri dulu, ye tak?"
She laughed and replied, "Pandai lah akak ni. Dah la, jom kita duduk. Ambik seat belakang pokok tu. Hari ni I belanje."
"Wah, seronoknya orang nak fly, belanje!"
"This group behind us so noisy lo, from we came until now, still talk talk talk."
"Of course la, pompuan ma. What do you expect. Many also."
"What do you guys want to eat?" he asked.
"Wah, you want to belanja us eh?"
He smiled and was about to reply, when his friends cut him off, "Mesti lo. He forced us to come and eat all this way. Went searching in the book store for what book I don't know. Now mesti belanja lo. So penat come all this way."
"Okay, okay. Sorry guys, I led you guys to a wild chase. Wanted to find someone who I think, works at Borders," he said. One of his friends said, "There's another one in Penang.."
He laughed. "I don't think she lives in Penang and commute to KL."
"Sheee.. No wonder la this guy act like this. Awek loo. No wonder so angau."
"I thought already awal-awal. Awek borders nia."
"It's not like that," he said with a smile, "she was just some girl I met at a bus stop. It was raining and she.."
He stopped, stood up and went around the decoration plants.
"Do you need a tissue?" he asked with a smile.