Based on a true story/experience of mine.
My shoe was ripped when I walked and tripped on a carpet. I went to a cobbler by a street and asked him to fix for me. And thus we exchanged a few words. More than a few, I assure you.
He came from Indonesia, and he is currently taking over his uncle's job as his uncle has gone back to Indonesia 'balik kampung'. He is a very shy guy. He quietly sits by a low stool and stare at passerbys with his big mouse-like eyes, hoping one of the busy business people would stop by and have their shoes cleaned or fixed.
I remembered the moment he smiled when I approached him.
'Kasut rosak?' he asked, staring down at my right foot.
'Dua-dua pun mesti buat,' he said firmly.
In my heart, I was thinking: what? This is a cheater! How can he fix both my shoes when only one of mine is spoilt! I looked down to my left foot. The 'unharmed' one. He pointed at it and instructed me to take it off. At first, I was very reluctant. Then, just for the sake of getting my shoes done quickly so I could get back to work, I took of my left shoe.
To my surprise, I realised my left shoe was cracked (quietly) along the sole and the leather. It was barely noticeable unless I twist my shoe in an odd angle! How could he know!
So I took off my shoes, sat on another stool and began a conversation with him. But he told me to have my meal first. I couldn't refuse. I went to gobble my food and ran back there and continued our talk.
Through the conversation, I have begun to understand more about myself: I am introvert. Very introvert. I prefer to get myself smiling for tiny little deeds and never laugh out loud. I love joining small companies and have a nice and neat chit-chat, rather than a thunderous laughter and roaring shouts of parties. I don't like beer, as such. I don't even like my close friend touching strong alcohols. I mean, you can have a can, but don't drown yourself with a dozen.
I take care of people, but I require the same, because I am taking pieces of my heart to care for people, and so I need them to repair me as well. Reciprocity. That's who I am.
I want people to feel warm when they are with me. I stick very close to a particular group. I belong to that group and that group must have me. I cannot tolerate that group going off finding others and be grouped with them.
And because of such needs, I need a close companion. Not of a lover, but something different. Unfortunately, in this world, people like such is very rare. So rare that till now I have yet to come across with such. Maybe I should visit institutes for the special people and autistics. Perhaps I can find there. It's not an insult, it's true.
'You tak suka happy dengan banyak orang?' I asked, forgive my broken language.
'Tak,' he shook his head as he sewed my shoes. 'Sorang happy lagi best dari dibuat happy oleh dia orang.' He flashed me with a semi-toothless smile.
So did I get my right companion that I wish for? I don't think so. So far, that Z. Yang is like a flashbulb. Sometimes bright and sometimes dim. Sometimes warm and sometimes cold. Sometimes near and yet so far because I know he has a lot of people he needs to shine at.
So definitely not him. Perhaps I got myself a wrong wish. But at the first place, why do I have such wish?
My last semester is coming, part of me want to spend this entire semester alone. Just some tag-alongs and piano friends. I already made two mental trips down to Kuala Lumpur secretly. I didn't make it last time, but this time round, I have already made such bookings. I love Kuala Lumpur for one thing, it gave me the warmth of being alone. The fire of solitude.
My shoes got fixed in 30 minutes. Something struck in my head. The cobbler smiled at me again. I asked him to wait, took a pair of spare slippers from him and dashed to a bread shop, bought a RM5 wholemeal cereal, cheese + chicken + lettuce burger and ran back to the cobbler.
'Berapa?' I asked.
'Dua kasut, RM15,' he said with a nod.
I took out RM20, and handed him the burger. 'Makan kenyang-kenyang. For you.'
He was surprise. Maybe I was imagining, but I am sure his eyes was wetter by 5%. He grinned from ear to ear, with reddened cheeks. 'Tuk saya?'
'Ya, from me, to you, with love and thanks,' I am not sure whether he understands that, but he kept nodding. 'Makanlah, saya nak balik kerja. Thanks, bye!'
And I spun, taking my petty careful steps - not to spoil my shoes again - to my office.
In the crowded streets of CapSquare, Kuala Lumpur, the body heat maybe intolerable. But I am sure that I am giving something of heat that's not quite the same:
The heat that smiles.