“Putri & Amanah


Maaf (verb)
‘Sorry’; to apologise.
, walking here took longer than I expected.’

‘Tak ape lah,’ I reply, trying to sound light.

I know you love your parents very much. I admire that part of you. It’s easier for me to leave my parents, because I know I have five other siblings keeping them company back home.

‘Are you alright? Are you tired?’ I ask, but you only shake your head.

You’re wearing a
kebaya (noun)
a light, loose tunic worn by some women in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other SE Asian countries.
in light tangerine, softening your firm frame. A cream white shawl adorns your shoulders and the sides of your arms. You tie your hair up into a sleek ponytail, brandishing your square jaw. You give me a tight smile, your perky cheeks lift up, dimples appearing underneath them. But I feel the restraint behind it all.

The other girls at the garment workshop have been relentless with their spite ever since they realised we were always together. They constantly chided us for always having lunch by ourselves. They gossip that I have fallen for you only because you look like a man.

‘An ugly man can only settle for a whore, I suppose’, one of them said to you when I wore a miniskirt to the workshop. Another said to me, ‘Well, it's about time you find a man and settle down too,
puteri (noun)
"daughter, princess" in Malay.

I returned her unkindness, ‘Well, at least we won’t die alone. After all, I hardly see any of you hanging on to any man.’

They continued to pester us. And you began to keep your distance. It’s like those countless workday lunches and Friday night dinners were simply illusions. Whenever I tried to talk to you at the garment workshop, you only looked at the empty space beside my feet.

The rest of them would always heckle behind us. I felt like the tiniest of ants scurrying for shelter in the monsoon. Now, again, you’re staring at another empty space beside me.

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