“Have you ever think about the possibility of our death?” she mumbled, I moved my head a bit, clearly in a state between being not interested and being confused. Why in this particular night? And most importantly, what’s with that particular question?
“Ah, c’mon you little shit, it should have crossed your mind, even though a little bit”
“I am not interested in the topic, dude. I am hungry……and pissed off and sleepy,” I answered her question while burying my head under the smelly bed cover.
” You are hungry and pissed off and sleepy all the times, though. Why bother.”
Right. I did not have any single counter-argument about that.
“I used to wonder, oh uhm, not used to….because until now I am still wondering. What is it to be there after life is leaving us, or is it us leaving our life? Why is it called ‘passing away’? Away where? Is there any place for us after we die?”
“It’s graveyard,” I said, instantly.
“Not if you are cremated, or you lost somewhere and your body could not be found,” she said. “Look, bro. There are religions, and bunch of philosophers, and scientists, that are trying to figure out this, but no one has ever close to convince people about what’ll be coming after death”
“At least religion, in some case, does the job. Most of those who converted into a religion, are crazily chasing – what is it called again? Heaven?” I obnoxiously replied to her “Even though it means that they have to hurt others, they are chasing it for themselves….and we have eye-witnessed plenty of examples of it.”
“Not all religion believes in heaven, bro. Anyways, there are people like us who are still not convinced by what those religions teach, right? For example like the natural philosophers said. Oh! For God sake, if you ever read about Democritus and his theory saying that, after we died we would just teared back into atoms….” she said in between her chuckles, “I feel funny,”
What’s so funny, I don’t think the theory is worth the laugh.
But then I imagined if I died, one of my atoms dispersed in the air and then one day it got merged with some other random atoms, and then suddenly I became an ice cream.
Then I laughed with her.
“Not bad at all, huh? I think one of my atoms would be reincarnated into a soybean,” she continued with trembled voice, “and I got harvested and turned into a tofu,” I thought she would death from the guffaw, but she continued in inhumane voice “a god-damned stale white tofu,”
We continued to laugh. Really hard.
I started to imagine she boiled in a miso soup, and that made me could not help tearing my eyes while laughing. Until a deep bass voice shouted from the outside “It’s not an amusement park, little kids. Shut up!”
We stopped almost spontaneously. But then we giggle, in the lowest volume possible. Then I decided that it was enough amount of laughter, so I bid her a goodbye and buried my head again under the bed cover.
“No, don’t sleep. This is way too early to catch the zs. We still have to figure out what was there after life,” she insisted.
This girl is truly helpless.
“I am not sure if I ever catch any z tonight, but I am sure that you will catch some cold if you are still laying on the floor like that,”
She smirked. “Funny, young lady,” she said while climbing up to our bunk and lied down beside me. Then she was pulling some part of bed cover to her body.
“At least I don’t want to keep sneezing tomorrow, you know.”
Yeah I know. I clearly understand.
“I don’t want to look ugly in an important day,” she said.
“You always look pretty on most of your big days, actually. I often get jealous when you look better than me, I must admit, but it was always my fault. I never took my appearance seriously,”I confessed to her.
“You should have done that,” she stared at the ceiling. The first glimpse of pain in her eyes today. And I hate seeing that.
“I am thankful that there’re no curling iron and cosmetics here, or else you would wake me up before dawn for your stupid make over,” I effortlessly made up a joke, and she laughed, but the pain in her eyes wasn’t tossed away.
“Where will we go after this useless life?” she said, she seemed like talking to the ceiling, and not to me. “What if we just trapped on a constant and eternal darkness? No, that would be much better! What if I burned in hell? I deserve it, but oh well!”
“What about playing a game? So you wouldn’t have to ask that silly question over and over again,” I said.
“What game? I always hate games, you know me so well or don’t you?”
Despite of her complains, I continued.
“The game called ‘unleash hell’, I just made up the game, aren’t I brilliant? So the rule is: you have to tell the darkest secrets we kept from each other, one by one,” I said. She looked annoyed with the idea, “And what if I don’t want to? What are the consequences?”
“Nothing,” I said,almost unbelievably laughed at my own idea.
“Ok, I am in. Who got the first turn?” I kinda knew that she would play the game, since nothing left for us to do here.
“I did. So this, I want to confess that I actually had stolen some cents from your piggy bank. Once. Back then when we were in a journalistic training and I have to stay at your apartment. I did that because I haven’t got any money left when I have to hurriedly ride the bus home. There I said it.” I looked at her, she was pouting her mouth, “Yeah, I think that’s not really bad. Just bad bad, not any worse than that.”
“That’s counted as fair, since I had eaten a half jar of Christmas cookies you brought along with you, when we had to do some work in Thailand,” she giggled.
“What?! I thought you really gave those cookies to that porter!”
I remembered that I brought a jar of delicious pineapple jam cookies, freshly baked from my mother’s oven. My mom packed my favorite cookies since I couldn’t stay home at the second day of Christmas, due to some work abroad. Yes, being a researcher for the biggest news company, needs hard work. So yeah, after we arrived at our hotel in Bangkok, I left the jar of cookies on coffee table. I went outside for a few minutes to ask for a spare roomkey to the front desk, and then our porter came and began unloading our suitcases. When I got back, a half of the cookies disappeared, when I asked the dumb ass, she said that she gave it to the porter because she hadn’t exchanged her money to any Baht to give the porter some tips.
“Ah, you filthy liar! Those are my precious cookies, i only stole some cents to ride a bus home and you robbed my cookies, it’s clearly not fair!”
We laughed again.
Then suddenly she broke in tears, she cried loudly, almost hysterically.
I could not do anything but to hold her, wrapped my arms around her shoulders, as I was trying to hold my own grief. “Shhh, everything’s going to be alright, bro. We will go through this, together, as usual.”
“I haven’t even answered the question, and…..we have to go…in several hours,” she said in between her sob. How fast a situation change in just few seconds here, we laughed then suddenly we cried our hearts out. Only God knows what would happen next.
“Whatever happens, mate, it would be a wonderful journey, and I would exactly stay by your side, like I always did”
She nodded, and then when she calm down she said,”If you lost somewhere in our near future, I would find you like I did in Jakarta, remember?”
Of course I remember, that was the first time we went abroad together as partners,to do some interviews and stuffs for our research. We waited at a bus stop and then suddenly a bus arrived, and a lot of people behind me suddenly entered it, I was so nervous that I recklessly entered the bus. Then I noticed that I was on the wrong bus, but it was too late. I saw her confused face, she did not entered the bus, she was staring from outside as the bus began to move.
I got out from bus at the next stop, feeling really upset about myself, since both of us did not bring any mobile phones and there was no wifi around. I had no map with me, and I did not know the name of the place we’d go to or the name of hotel we’d stay at. I waited and waited at the bus stop as the buses passed. One, two, until three buses passed, but there was no sight of her at all. And when my feeling grew from nervous to fear, she appeared from a bus, running for me and hugged me really tight. I was so relieved. And I think she was relieved too. Since that day, we became a really close pair of friends.
When the morning came, we realized that we were just holding onto each other’s hands while laying on our bunk.
“This is the time, mate,” she smiled weakly. “I really wish that today will pass really fast,” she added.
“It will, and when the day ended, I will still be by your side,”
Some group of people with masks entered our cell, they put some handcuffs to our wrists, saying some instructions in English, then hauled us through the dark jail’s corridors.
No yelling, no violence, no resistance. We followed them quietly. I felt nothing, no sadness, no anger, no fear, just nothing.
As we reached outside, the sun hit our eyes, it made me lost my sight for a moment. Being in a dark room for several days, made me lost the ability to contain such amount of sunlight. The grass field this morning was too green to be true, that I started to be amazed. More people with masks were already waiting on the field, they hold their guns. I stared at the people, slowly, trying to capture the moment, trying to wonder what’s behind those masks. But I should have cared less about that.
I realized that there was a camera, too. A black camera with a tripod and a masked cameraman behind it.
I was very nervous at that time, I turned to saw that dumb ass’ face, trying to hide my throbbing heart.
She was as calm as stiff water. She caught my eyes, and smiled. I couldn’t do anything but to smile back at her. She wasn’t afraid anymore, and suddenly I felt a little bit happy and relieved. Did anybody ever feel like this when the death was so near?
We were forced to kneel in front of two masked people facing the camera and the crowd. Then the people who brought us outside had a conversation with the two masked people behind us, in a foreign language. And then the camera was set. And then some more foreign language conversations between people behind us and the cameramen. And then some other protocols that I did not care about.
Then one of the masked people wearing a sinfuly bright white long coat -clearly the leader of the group- suddenly appeared from nowhere, walked in front of the crowd of masked people, stand next to the place we kneel, and delivered some speech with the foreign language.
Suddenly she called me in between the speech “Pssttt, pssst,” I turned to her and I saw that her eyes were pooled with tears, but I noticed that those weren’t the tears of grief, that were the tears of relieve. She smiled brightly at me.
“Let see if I turned myself into a tofu,” I was in a state of blank for few seconds. But then we laughed. We laughed so hard. Those crowd of masked people looked so confused, even the leader had to stop and stared at us. They might think that we’re going crazy. But whatever, we laughed really hard that it might hurt our brain.
When the gun was aimed on the back of our heads, I said, before it was too late, “I know what is funnier than a tofu,” the people with masks started to pray in some strange words. Whatever might happen after the death, at least we laughed at our life for the very last time. Together. At least we made those masked men confused. At least we’re not afraid of the death, and we are okay with what is coming after.
“Miso soup,” then we burst in laugh again.
And then the loud bang.