|From:||that frolicsome kid|
|To:||Whom this may concern|
|Date:||1 December 2006, 14:59|
|Subject:||Kinderella - Chapter 7|
Click on No. above the Date field to view the story.
If you're eyes tire after reading such long blocks of text, I have divided this chapter into 2 halves for your convenience. Words in bold mark where the anchors lead to.
Kinderella opened the refrigerator to prepare lunch later for the day. Unfortunately, the refrigerator had very little stocks of food left. He groaned. He hated going back to the marketplace again. The people, the cacophony of loud voices, and the weird odours of food; it was all too much for him to take. But he had to do the job, otherwise who would? Besides, if he did not whip up something for lunch, he will face the wrath of his stepmother, who he began to call Empress Dowager after accidentally encountering the word ‘Dowager’ in a dictionary just now.
Even though he did not go to school, his burning desire of wanting to expand his knowledge did not die down. So he made use of the Internet and followed the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) Board syllabus for ‘A’ levels as a guide to aid him in his pursuit of knowledge. He hoped that one day, he would be able to sit for the examinations and continue his education up to tertiary level and earn himself that prestigious PhD even though it was not possible now seeing the mental state of his stepmother and stepbrothers. Sometimes, he wished he could step on their heads. That was what good for nothing step-family members are for!
He sighed. He has got approximately an hour, before his stepmother comes home, to rush to the market and get some groceries. Then he has to rush back and prepare at least a simple lunch, all within the allocated time frame. He quickly prepared a mental list of ingredients and food needed and was soon on his way to the marketplace. Luckily for him, he managed to catch the bus at the bus stop which was a few blocks down his street.
Amy and Mary stopped in front of a booth with neon signs glaring “Peripherals Galore!” They both scanned their eyes at the display racks which showcased many different kinds of input and output devices as well as storage mediums. They were awestruck by the vast choices offered by the shop.
“Hi, may I help you two young, fine ladies?” asked a tall man in a business suit. His hair was gelled back meticulously, and he expressed a look of professionalism.
Mary looked up, and saw one of the most handsome guys in the universe. She immediately added him to her Top 10 Hottest Guys list, and was gagaing over him. She whispered into Amy’s ears, “Did you see that? He’s hot!”
Amy nudged her with her elbow, and Mary retaliated silently while rubbing the contact point.
“Hi! I’m looking for a new hard disk drive. Can you show me some of yours that are for sale today?” inquired Amy.
“Certainly, Miss. The rack here has some of them. How many gigabytes do you need?”
“Er…” Amy pondered for a few seconds. “A hundred and above gigs will do. Preferably one that can do perpendicular recording, and also consumes little power.”
“Why, certainly.” The man tried to reach up for the hard disk drives that were displayed at the topmost rack. Amy took the opportunity to question Mary’s immature behaviour just now. “What were you doing?”
Mary smiled sheepishly. “Nothing, My, he’s so gorgeous looking.”
“It’s Zuleikha,” Amy harshly reminded. “But he’s definitely not my type.”
“He so is mine,” mumbled Mary who was now lost in puppy love.
The man cleared his throat. Amy looked up at him, embarrassed and scared that he might overhear their conversation and she apologized. He gave her a grin, and proceeded to tell her that the brands available at the moment that matched her specifications were Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi. Amy thanked him for his help, and politely ushered him away. “I look for you if I need help.”
“No problem.” The man left the two girls alone to do comparisons of the hard disk he gave to the Persian teen while he entertained other customers who were now browsing through the store’s products.
“Mary, you know I’m a sucker for Samsung. But I need your reviews on these hard disks, please,” asked Amy.
Mary flipped back the hard disks and studied the characteristics of the hard disks printed on the stickers. “Well, Zul…Zul…Zuleikha! To me, I prefer Hitachi’s in this case, because it has the highest RPM compared to these two.”
Amy smiled, happy that Mary was finally able to pronounce her personating name properly. She quickly moved that thought back behind and replied, “RPM’s rounds per minute, right?”
“No, technically it’s revolutions per minute, but you can more or less say that.”
Amy tried to spot for the list price of the hardware Mary has helped her to choose. She spied the sticker at the place where the storekeeper got the hard drive from. She reeled back in horror as she learnt the price.
“Amy, what’s wrong?” asked a concerned Mary.
“It’s Zuleikha for you, Mary!” scolded Amy. She moved her friend’s face and pointed out the price to Mary. See? It’s so expensive. It costs higher than the manufacturer price in Japan!”
“And how much is it?”
Amy hesitated to answer her question. Finally she let her breath out. “About ¥30,000.”
Mary converted the yen figure into the local currency figure. She whistled when she heard of the price. “Are you going to buy it?”
“Yea! Of course! This had better worth my money, and 3 years without upgrades,” replied Amy quickly. She called upon the storekeeper who entertained her just now, and requested him to open up a bill for her.
“Your name’s Miss Zuleikha, yes?” asked the man.
“Yes, it is. How do you know?”
“This friend of yours here seems to have difficulty saying your name out,” he replied. He winked at Mary, and Amy could swear small pink hearts began to appear all around her. She cannot believe that guy just turned her on. She drummed her fingers impatiently on the counter while she waited for the man to finish up his writing.
“That would be $575 please,” the man said. He tried his best not to laugh at Mary who was infatuating over him. Unbeknownst to her, she was beginning to act pretty silly.
Amy handed over the paper money to him. The storekeeper counted the money carefully with his callused fingers. He then placed the money under a counterfeit money detector to check for forgery, and he then cashed in the money.
While Amy was waiting for the receipt and the invoice, she could not help but shudder a little. Strange, she thought, why do I have a feeling that someone is watching me? She looked behind her, and she saw June, another friend of hers, waving at her from a distance. She waved back at her. The storekeeper than placed the hard disk drive, the receipt and the invoice in a black plastic bag and presented it Amy. Amy smiled at him and she almost have to drag Mary away from the store. She was rooted to the ground, and she would not even budge if she was to tell her to go.
“Did you look at his eyes? It was baby blue and when it focuses on you, suddenly, your whole world fades away. You find yourself in the arms of a man, so macho, so dreamy, so…perfect…” sighed Mary. She clasped her hands together and thought of her fantasy. She envisioned herself alone with him in a deserted island, where the hot guy would kiss her passionately in the white sandy beach, under the dreamy sun, sea and sand. It was simply a perfect haven for romance.
A loud commanding voice suddenly surrounded mouthed from her lover. “Mary. Mary? Mary! Are you listening to me?”
“Huh? What? Hey, where’s my lover? I need him.” As she drawled on, she embraced herself with her arms, pretending her arms were his arms, hugging her tightly, not wanting to lose her.
Amy shook her friend violently. “Mary, I’m asking you what you want to do now. Are you back to Earth now?”
“I’m always here on Earth! What a stupid question, Zul! Anyway, I think I’m done with shopping here for the day. Hey, Zul, can you bring me to that booth again? I want to exchange telephone numbers with that guy.”
“No?” answered Amy playfully.
Mary shook her friend’s shoulder. “Come on, Zul, please? Pretty please?” begged a pleading Mary.
“I suppose we can, seeing I don’t really have anything to do now,” said Amy. “Do you want to go to the marketplace with me later after that?”
“No! I hate that place! But I shan’t bother you about you-know-who anymore, okay?”
“Come on, girlfriend, you got a serious flirting to do!” Amy grabbed Mary’s arms, and they both walked back to the booth where Amy purchased the hard drive. Little did they know that someone was watching their every move, and he began to do so when Zuleikha bought the computer storage device.
“Hey, ah…ah…ah…, umm…” Amy was surprised that Mary suddenly became tongue tied and she could see her legs becoming wobbly like a jelly. Amy quickly came to her friend’s rescue.
“Hehe. What she means is that she wanted to have your phone number,” said Amy.
“Sure, no problem.” The handsome storekeeper scribbled down his phone number on a small piece of paper. Amy noted his nice penmanship.
Mary suddenly brightened up when she received the paper from her. “Thank you so, so much! Here’s my phone number.”
Mary without thinking grabbed his hand, his warm hand, and wrote her mobile phone number on it. She smiled sheepishly when she realised she had just taken his hand without his consent, but the man smiled anyway. He found her shyness attractive.
“Leon,” he said, extending his hand.
“Ma-ry,” Mary enunciated. She shook his extended hand. “I think you’re hot.”
Leon blushed when he heard her compliment. He replied, “You’re cute when you’re shy.”
Unwarily, they both stared into each other’s eyes, and sparks zapped out from them. Amy thought the couple looked cute and she broke into a smile. Without wanting to disturb the two lovebirds, she walked out of the store, happy that her friend had finally found her first love.
Kinderella stared at the many different kinds of stores set up at the marketplace. Throngs of people dispersed themselves at the marketplace. Cries of discounts, offers and advertisements echoed from one store to another, persuading customers to come and take a look at their goods. A man suddenly extended his arm towards Kinderella, and his hand grabbed a living chicken, desperately flapping its wings in desperation in its futile attempt to escape.
“You want one? Fresh, live chicken, only for ten dollars!” offered the stallholder.
Kinderella ignored the man and walked past the people who were gathering at one particular store selling food and drinks. It was a hot, sweltering day, and close to lunchtime too. The word ‘lunchtime’ reverberated in his brain, prompting him to quicken up his shopping. He wandered around in search for spices; chilli powder, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, garlic and pandan leaf, he recalled. His nose caught the smell of spices and he sneezed. He looked up, and there was the big sign ‘Little India’.
“Yep, this is the place,” he told himself.
He politely asked the Bangladeshi man for the spices that he wanted to buy. The man placed all the containers and cans into a plastic bag, and Kinderella handed his money to him. He merely nodded, and returned to sit on the stool. Kinderella entered a butcher’s shop at one of the blocks of shops by the marketplace.
He was greeted by a vast selection of fresh meat, at least that was what the sign outside says. He asked for some lamb chops. The butcher took his order and asked him to come back later in ten minutes time. Kinderella made a mental note of coming back to the shop, and he wandered off in search of a poultry stall. Once there, he bought a dozen eggs and few pieces of chicken wings.
He then went to the fruits stall and bought oranges and apples that he could serve later as dessert. He thanked the man profusely for helping him to choose the freshest fruits for him. Lucky there were no customers around, and he must be pretty bored himself, he thought. He went to the vegetables stall nearby and bought a few spinaches, cabbages, and other kinds of vegetables.
Kinderella found a bench at the side of a building and rested his sore feet and hands. He heaved a sigh of relief as he was near finishing his shopping. All that was left was to fetch the lamb chops from the butcher. He took in the sight of the busy marketplace buzzing with lots of activity. He spied housewives bargaining heavily over the price of vegetables, children playing hide and seek, and an old elderly man hobbling along in the crowd.
Looking at his watch, he realised he spent more than enough time sitting down, and he will have only got moments to spare to cook before Mdm. Sweet comes back home in a foul mood, as always. She always does that when she is hungry. Hungry and angry, they are not a good combination.
Kinderella heaved up the groceries, and walked like a duck back to the butcher’s store. He tried to retrace his steps back when all of a sudden, a bell began to ring from behind. Kinderella turned and look but it was too late to evade from the bicycle. He was caught in the path of the cyclist, and by instinct, he jumped away from the oncoming bicycle.
Eggs splattered and some of the albumen and egg yolk flowed out from the carton. Shells broke into many fragmented pieces, and cracking sounds followed suit. The fruits landed with a thud, and the oranges rolled out from the plastic bags. The apples, on the other hand, got bruised badly, creating depressions on their smooth and rounded surface. Some of the spices scattered on the streets.
The bicycle stopped just when it was about to hit Kinderella. The bicyclist looked at Kinderella, and began to curse him because he blocked his path. He composed himself and cycled away in the distance. The children laughed at Kinderella, only to be hushed by their parents who appeared to be concerned about Kinderella. At that short time, the whole marketplace ceased its activity when the small accident happened. And very quickly, the pace of activity quickened up and the people resumed to their activities. The scene familiar to Kinderella began once again. People walked past him, too busy to help him. Some curiously looked at the poor boy who had to clean up the mess he created by himself and gave him sympathetic looks, but that was it. Everyone was too busy running their own lives.
Kinderella picked up the containers of spices and shoved them into the plastic bag as he struggled against his embarrassment. He nearly wanted to choke on himself as he overheard a rude comment by a passer-by. “Tsk, careless he is!”
He wiped off the sweat from his face, and continued to pick up the groceries that he dropped. “Of all days. Ma is so going to kill me. Stupid. Stupid me,” he scolded himself.
He was about to pick up the oranges when he realised that they were no longer on the floor, but instead put away into the plastic bag. He stared at the ground, and he slowly looked up, half-expecting to see his step-mother smirking sinisterly. But the image of her quickly dissolved away when he saw the kind, young face of a lady.
Kinderella guessed that she was about of his age as her appearance looked youthful and cheerful. It exhibited the kind of jubilance that can make one smile after a long hard day, and that was what Kinderella did. Her almond brown eyes with eyelashes that curl just nicely, and some light freckles dotting on this woman’s cheek did not fail to escape Kinderella’s vigilant observation of this young, pretty girl. Her lips were as voluptuous as herself, red in a pretty sense, and not very overdone. The few fringes of her hair peeked out from her blue headscarf and it covered part of her forehead, making her beautiful yet mysterious in a way.
“Are you okay?” the girl asked him with utmost concern.
“Umm…yeah. I’m fine now.” Kinderella never took his eyes off her face. “Thanks.”
“Look, let me buy you another carton of eggs,” the Persian girl offered, and without waiting for Kinderella’s answer, she wandered off to buy him another replacement. Kinderella guiltily looked at the floor. He did not have enough money for himself to pay for the replacement, and worse thing, he had to wait for her to come back. He sighed. He would not have sufficient time to even come up with lunch meat sandwiches for lunch, and even that will not meet Empress Dowager’s expectations.
While he was deep in his worry, the girl dressed in a beautiful aquatic Islamic wear handed to him the carton of eggs. Kinderella hung his head in shame, and refused to accept the replacement. “I don’t have enough money with me. I’m sorry.”
“No need. It’s for you. My treat.”
Kinderella bravely look at her face. He felt at ease when he saw the smile, a smile so sincere that he had never seen for many, many years. He wiped away the tears that once again begin to form in his eyes, and uttered a word of thanks. He felt like throwing himself into a hug with this girl here, the girl who saved him heaps from his embarrassment. He really did not want that special moment to fade away just like that, but unfortunately, such good things do not last for long.
“Be careful next time, okay? This part of city has many ruthless cyclist,” said the girl in her melodious voice. “Wa’alaikummusalam.”
She gave a small nod and walked off, leaving Kinderella behind who was still awestruck by her beauty, her charm and her kindness. He thought such things have completely disappeared from his life. One day, he would look back to this day, and thank God that it happened. What was to come was that, his life would begin to change from that on. And it will be for the better.
(Catch Chapter 8 soon! Comments and criticisms very much welcomed =). Thanks for reading!)