XLII | Confession

Kumar texted me
the night Rowan declared
‘I hate you.’

He’s not using Rowan’s phone anymore.

I read the message,

It’s another report
on Rowan’s mood.

I don’t know why

Kumar’s sending these.

I told him
he doesn’t have to.

That Rowan
won’t appreciate him
doing so.

He just sent me the crying emoji in response.

Kumar said he’s going home

Him: HAHA.

He’s honest.


It’s too early in the morning
to be awake

but I had trouble sleeping last night.

So for once,
I’m the one waiting for Kumar.

‘Cause of Rowan?’ Kumar teases.

The moving bus wobbles.


‘Confirm is not because of school work one.’


He looks at my tired face
and tells me to sleep.




When I wake up,

Kumar’s face is pale
and I feel like a bad friend again.

‘It’ll be fine,’ I tell him.

Show him my fist.
‘I’m here.’

An uneasy smile.

We get off the bus,
take the lift,
stand in front of a neat and tidy door.

The only one with no potted plants.

I ring the doorbell
(because Kumar has turned to stone).

His mother answers the door,
only a crack opens.

Then, she starts to cry.

(Without opening it!)

We stand helplessly,
unable to do anything,

too shocked to say anything.

Why is everyone
these days?

the man with smooth hair
comes to
the door.

Pulls it open wider.

Revealing his nervous face.

‘Kumar!’ he calls.

In a hurry,
the door is opened,

Kumar is pulled
into their arms.

‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’
his mother is saying.

Touching his face
again and again

to make sure he’s real.

His father just stares

squeezing them to death.

Not wanting
to let go.

There’s a sour lump
in my throat.

What was Kumar worried about again?

I’m ushered into the house,
door bolted behind me

—habit, Kumar explains.

His parents
haven’t cleared their debts.

So they didn’t expect

Kumar to return.

He hands his father
the pay he received in advance.

‘What’s this?’
his father asks nervously.

Kumar shakes his head,
presses the packet into his hands.

‘My friend’s father gave me.
‘I’ll work part-time at their chicken rice shop

‘until i pay it off!’

Can you earn this much
running a chicken rice shop?

I wonder how much
is still left

since Kumar’s paid up
most of it already.

He whispers
the seven-digit figure to me.

I frown.

A chicken rice shop
that can’t afford to redecorate

can’t have
that kind of money
lying around.

Kumar smiles.

‘Uncle Lee said
‘God told him to save

‘this exact sum of money
‘twenty years ago.

‘He’s been saving it ever since
‘he got married.

‘Never redecorated the shop
‘so that he could reach that amount this year.’

Kumar’s father stands up,
holding Kumar’s hand.

‘I need to meet this man.’




His parents
hand the money over to their shady friends.

Kumar says he didn’t ask
what happened.

Just that they accepted the money.

His father threatens them,
thanks them,
apologises to them.

Threatens them again.

The next day,
they follow him

to the nameless chicken rice shop.

His mother
won’t let him out of her sight.

His father wants to meet Uncle Lee.

I meet them at the ulu bus stop.

My feet turn to concrete
when I see her.

She pretends not to see me.

Goes up to Kumar’s parents.

‘I’m Rowan Lee.
‘Kumar’s friend.


Kumar’s father asks to see
her father.

She gestures to the winged donkey
behind her.

‘Follow Nya-Nya. She’ll lead you to him.’

The Eeyore bows its head.

Kumar’s parents bow back.

‘This way,’
Eeyore says.


I watch Rowan watch them leave.

She doesn’t follow.
But she doesn’t look at me either.

She’s wearing
the red skirt

she wore
that first day

I saw her under the rowan tree.

Even today,
she has a book in her hand.

Her hand covers the title
and I don’t recognise it.

It’s not the Bible.


I stare at her.


she’s looking at me,

staring with those expressionless eyes.

I find myself closing the gap
between us.

‘You really,
‘don’t want to see me again?’

She doesn’t speak.

Her eyes examine me
like she’s checking for injuries.

Does she know
I followed Kumar home?


‘I didn’t say that,’
she says. ‘I said I hate you.’

I shrug.

Isn’t that the same thing?


Her coal-black eyes
fill with a familiar emotion.

It’s familiar to me

because I’ve seen it
in the eyes of the girls
who want to sleep with me.

She averts her gaze

Steps back.

‘I just…
‘can’t stop worrying about you.’

It’s quiet.

And now,

we’re standing

too far apart

for two people



to each other.


‘I’m sorry.’




error: Content is protected!!