It has been quite a difficult week after I turned 29. Maybe 29 was a jinx. Maybe 29 was a signal when I should actually change something about my life. Maybe 29 was an indicator that I was eventually a qualified spinster. Or maybe...29 was a pure and simple saying of "I'm old."
I'm not too sure about that, folks. Maybe I was just being tired. Tired of people saying...
"Aku cantik dari kau..." or "Aku lagi kaya dari kau..."or "Nak buat macam mana, aku lawa...engkau tidak..."
Comparison after comparison have been the song that I heard over and over. I tried to pretend that those comparisons were actually my favourite song. Okay, that was a tough statement, actually. I had several favourites songs! Few hours ago, it was Marry You by Bruno Mars. It made me think of the message that I have received from Sepet last weekend.
Well, Sepet was being Sepet. He never got the point. When he talked to me, it has always been the first verse of Marry You:
It's a beautiful night,
We're looking for something dumb to do.
I think I wanna marry you.
We're looking for something dumb to do.
I think I wanna marry you.
Haaaaiiii...pity me. I spent over five years of loving someone who did not really have the same view in life:(
Oh, stop being so pitiful, Sha! You're worth more than 29 cents! So, let's talk about what happened on the night where the night was dark and the sky was without stars. Let's recap on the rainy night which was making the floor slippery for my stinky Hush Puppies to walk on. Let's recall the time when I got headache and runny nose or when the water was pouring down my face.
What did I do?
I went for a celup-celup session. That was the time when I've decided for something hot. Indeed, exhaustion brought me down. Too many things to do, too many people to deal with but I was still positive that something inexpensive would made me a happy girl.
When I reached the front of Ampang Park, my tudung was wet. I knew Abang Celup-celup was there with his bike and simmering broth. My colleague started to feel giddy about it but we were held by the thought of dipping sauce when we saw two girls eating under the hawker's umbrella. Damn. If only the weather was clear, we could just sit somewhere nearby without even depending for the umbrella!
The Abang was very patient. He prepared his sticks with speed yet such efficience and neatness. I loved the way he prepared his kangkung. He folded the vege with such skill until I wanted to request for training!
"Dik..." he acknowledged us.
"Takde tempat ni bang..." my colleague was acknowledging our situation.
"Hujan dik..." he said slowly.
The two girls under the umbrella appeared to be so decent until I felt guilty of disturbing them. So, I nudged my colleague and said, "Takpe bang...kitorang jalan-jalan kat dalam dulu...nanti kejap lagi kitorang sampai!"
And we ran into Ampang Park and browsed over tudung and colourful attires. But things looked so bleaked with moneyless pockets and pouches. Shopping was an impossible theraphy at that very moment.
Fifteen minutes have passed. The two decent girls were still eating under the umbrella. We held our breath for their feminism; for their lack of speed in eating. We controlled the urge in our growling stomach and laughed at stupid jokes...until...
The girls were leaving! They left! Yeay!
At the time we settled on the stools, I saw the Abang's wide grin. He must have found us hilarious: Two wet girls were sitting on the stool and looked like big bad wolf.
"Baru balik kerja ke, dik?" he handed out the paper plates to us.
We nodded while we stared at the sticks in front of us. Fish balls, quail eggs, prawns, tofu...yuuuuuumm....
Our hands grasped the sticks and put those into the pot of boiling water in front of us. I took the tofu, the balls, kangkung, and chicken liver. 5 sticks.
"I will spend RM5 for the celup-celup," I made some mental calculation while watching the hardworking Abang who was trying to make his place neat and tidy.
"Mana satu sos pedas ni bang?" I asked.
"Yang hujung tu...yang tengah kuah kacang...tepi tu sos hitam..." he explained while helping me with my sticks.
Once the balls have been cooked, he put the sticks on my plate. I smiled at him. Most of the time, celup-celup is a DIY (Do It Yourself) dish. But this man looked so worried about his business today, he spent his time helping the customers in the rain!
I poured the hot sauce onto the sticks and started to put the hot balls in my mouth. Mmmmmmm...nice...hot...chewy...and salty...mmmm....
It was such a perfect occassion. The rain was pouring down heavily around us; things were so cold and wet yet we settled down for something which was totally the opposite. The Abang, from my point of view, had his own strategy in business. Jalan Ampang was the place where things could be busy because of the offices, yet the foreigners loved to stay in the hotel nearby. The karaoke and clubs were opened until midnight. So, he would certainly got lots of customers.
I munched my kangkung and watched him took care of the rose syrup container. He has thought about it. No other drinks, just plain rose syrup which would quenched the thirst after having hot balls in the mouth.
"Tutup pukul berapa bang?" I asked.
"4 pagi dik," he replied simply.
"Tak tidur bang?!"
"Dah biasa kerja malam, dik," he smiled.
I smiled back. Definitely lots of customers if he stayed hardworking.
I saw my colleague took three more sticks into the pot. I did the same. While we were munching, we saw a white MyVi parked nearby. Three chuuby girls went out of the car. I thought they wanted to go to Ampang Park but they went to celup-celup instead.
The girls were speedy. They took some sticks,boiled them and put lots and lots of sauce. After they have prepared everything, they went to their car and ate. My mind was calculating the number of sticks that they have brought in the car. Surely, they must have taken those a lot. Their desire of eating has shown directly at their figure. None of them were wearing jeans sized less than 30. So...we were not alone in this hunger of hot balls. I bet it must have been twenty. Or thirty.
But, I was mistaken! Ten minutes later, when Abang was counting the number of sticks on their plate, it was twelve. Twelve sticks for three girls gave an average of four sticks per person!
I dipped the quail eggs into the hot pot and continued eating. My mind was still working. My lecturer used to tell me that the reality of baby boomers was that there was less entertainment back then. No astro, no pubs, and no video games. So, instead of watching football or go for celup-celup, a husband would rather settle down early and perhaps, make babies.
That's why they had twelve children. Or eight. Like my grandparents from both sides. I believed that the situation must have been too romantic, like how P. Ramlee phrased it, "di bawah bulan purnama...bercengkerama..."
And part of the reason why people settled down early at night was the rain. It was cold, so you would want something hot and calming...like celup-celup. Or celup mencelup...
I realised that I have gone very far. So, I asked the Abang about our bill. He answered:
"20 batang...RM20 dik!"
Hahahaha...we ate more than the three chubby girls just now. In average, we ate ten sticks of celup-celup per person!
Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was the rain. Lucky, it was celup-celup. The hot thing that we were eyeing for. The hot balls we chewed.
What if we were borned in the olden days. Where when it was cold, we searched for celup-mencelup..
Aaaaaah...I would certainly get ten kids out of that sporting activity.