I recalled I was sitting in the long darkly painted custom made wooden chair at a saloon where a new friend of mine works.
'Now, show me your armpits,' he commanded, emphasized it with his chin lifted up, another friend looked at me with a funny look.
Granted: I won't do that. I shrugged and gave them the big no look. Two men, one muscular and another one slim, share the same grooming rule: get those armpits and legs hair-free.
I did it once back in those univ years in Medan. My shaved legs gave me a what-the-fuck look from my housemates when I sported it with my shorts.
I looked at my legs, those thick curly black hair crawling...I'm fine with that. This stupid early-morning thought took me 20 minutes to six. I carefully undressed my legs and covered Udin with the blanket. He moved a bit. I knew he was awake.
The door was open, Adam was nowhere to be found on the second floor.
Two hours before lunchbreak, I saw mom's number on the mobile. There was no one else in the office and I was waiting for a client to collect some stuff soon. Cleared my throat, I pressed the green button.
A hello and a shalom, the she jumped right away to the things she wanted to say, 'Do you know what day is today?'
I straightened up in my chair, failed to feed her enthusiasm, 'It's Weds the Tenth,' I said less convincingly, 'November,' I added.
'It's the Patriotism Day,' she
Okay...I said to myself, tried to decipher her real intention. A birthday? I wondered.
She cannot wait any longer, with a suppressed hysterical sadness in her voice she asked, 'What else?'
I don't want to fail her this time, I got up and pressed my right thumb on the black glass on the table and looked outside, at the lazily swaying small leaves of trees on the edge of the harvested rice fields. I raked my mind, she let me thinking.
I suddenly felt weak, found a refuge on the chair again, cleared my throat and carefully listened to my own voice, 'It's the day when Dad died.'
She cried. I can see her tight closed eyes and shaky shoulder...she would run to me and hug me if I were there.
'Mom,' I said, glad I could hide my own trembled voice, 'It's okay.' She is alone in the house, maybe in the living room where old photographs of dad and ourselves when we were kids posed behind the big fake Christmas tree. There she is, surrounded with a living memory, a strong melancholic air everywhere, alone.
'I'm okay,' she lied.
'Your auntie asked if you could come home this New Year.' Mom knew the answer is a no.
She hesitated but then she said it, 'You'll be away for two years.' She meant the second Christmas. I told her I can't afford the return flight tickets during such peak season, 'I will see if I can make it later next year, on March or on Easter,' I explained.
Mom sighed and said she understands about it while secretly still holds the hope.
'We all are going to be just fine, mom,' I said, missing the old scent of pleasures and simplicity of every Christmas we'd spent back home, 'I know,' she replied then said Shalom and Bye.
We're going to be fine.