January 30, 2013

(Alternate Storyline) When the Autumn Leaves Blush - Part V

As dictated by Faranza Syns

This time, it's apparently because I owe someone a longer chapter.

When The Autumn Leaves Blush
Faranza Syns

Chapter 4

Ten years later

Sean paused as he tried to take in the vision before his eyes. He was tongue-tied for about a moment, then he gaped widely.

Sophia beamed at the reaction she was receiving.

Putting on a stern face that looked fiercely wild on him, Sean approached her. "Who are you, you impostor? My friend isn't this pretty. You'd better give her back or she'd rain hell on us for making her waste precious wedding-planning time."

"Very funny," Sophia ran her hands down her the side of the cream-coloured dress of light, airy chiffon. "Do you think it's too much for an engagement party?"

"Are you kidding me? It's smashing! The other Dorwood's will eat their million-dollar slippers to look like you," Sean grinned. Then he leaned forward with a wink. "Thank god Cole's not here yet. He'd have had epileptic seizures looking at how beautiful you are."

Sophia gave him a droll look. "I thought military school would've made your tongue a lot more stilted, but somehow, it just got a lot more charming."

"Why? Are you falling for me?"

"Nonsense. Cole is ten times more charming."

Sean laughed at that, thinking of Cole being charming in a courtroom. His nickname was Ball-Grinder. Just him staring at you could make you sweat through seven layers of clothing.

"So," Sophia said as she walked into the changing room once again to remove the dress. "Why aren't you working today?"

"I called in sick."

Sophia pushed aside the curtain enough for her to peek out. "Tosh. You're a freelance artist-cum-interior designer-cum-carpenter. You don't call in sick."

He raised his hands. "Caught me. Actually, I've to go see one of my ... benefactors. He wants to commission something, I suppose. Dorothy says it's worth big money so I should just go along with what the big boss says."

"Well, she's right. You're living like some homeless person."

"I have an apartment."

"That is practically just a closet," she continued for him. "You sleep on a couch and eat takeout," Sophia stepped out and passed the dress to the attendant, smiling at her in thanks. "You work at your studio twenty-four-seven and come up with brilliant designs, art and occasionally revolutionary furniture à la mode. This, naturally, would bring in a lot of money. But I don't see any evidence of that money anywhere. Pray tell, where has it all gone?"

"I gave it away. It's really good for the soul to donate."

Sophia glared at him. "Well, save some for your fiscally needy self."

"I do have money in the bank."


He grinned again, showing off deep dimples on his clean-shaven cheeks. "I'm not telling you anything about my money. You'd kill me off and somehow forge a will with some other corrupt people and get it all, building a mansion over my grave."

"Like I actually need your money, Sean. And that sounds so melodramatic - even Danny wouldn't use that cheesy a..." Sophia's spoken thought trailed away and she stared at the turquoise dress in her hands. Slowly, she lowered the dress, a look of dejection coming over her beautiful, somewhat patrician features. Sean looked up from where he sat, hands clasped before him, elbows on thighs. "I haven't talked about her in months," Sophia said without looking at him. "It's been so long... and I wonder if she's dead."

Sean merely nodded, not taking any of it in. He had remained neutral about the whole affair since when he found out Danielle had gone missing. He had stayed faithfully by Sophia's side through his letters, being the brother and the shoulder she needed to unload her woes upon, patted her hand at the occasional trips down to Harlow's Bayou and nodded in understanding. But never once had he truly cared what happened to Danielle. To him, she was just what she was - a stranger.

"Uncle Ryan didn't care at first, you know." Sophia said, smiling sadly. "He was the one who stopped my dad from getting into the car and looking for Danielle. He was so certain that Danny was just being dramatic. Then, we couldn't even find her."

Sean noted a different tone in her voice. It sounded a bit ... off. His eyes narrowed as he studied her face, but relaxed when it still had the same look of sorrow she had whenever she spoke of her estranged-and-missing cousin.

"If she's missing - and can't be found - I guess she doesn't want to see you guys. It happens," he brushed it off and stood up. "Anyways, I've gotta go. Dorothy's gonna murder me if I'm late."

"Oh, make sure to remind Cole that we have dinner with my parents tonight."

"Is Watson okay with that?"

Sophia chuckled. "Most of the time, Papa wants to kill him. But then again, it's because he thought he'd somehow brainwashed me enough so that I'd stay away from males for another ten years more."

"See, that's the reason we never got it on together. You dad brainwashed me too."

She laughed and sent him on his way. Sean smiled at the sound of her laughter. Since Danielle's disappearance, that sound presented itself very rarely.

Sean shook his head in disapproval as he walked to his meeting. Selfish person that she was, she never gave a thought to what damage she could do to Sophia's tender feelings. To feel that her own cousin did not trust her enough was something Sophia had found extremely hard to swallow. Sean's perception of Danielle, though he had vowed to remain untouched, sunk lower.

He added another strike against Danielle's morality.


"A little to right. That's nice, pumpkin."

Haley beamed up at the beautiful lady currently bent beside her. "I like drawing," she said haltingly, testing the sound of the words on her tongue.

The lady nodded and smiled. "How about another sun, Haley? It looks awfully nice, don't you think?"

"There's no such thing as two suns, silly!" a boy sitting across Haley exclaimed righteously.

Haley did not like the tone he took with the pretty lady. "Yes, there is!" she shouted in pure, mindless defense of the lady who watched on. She was a nice, kind person who had given her sweets and toys. Haley loved the lady. To show her loyalty, Haly spread her short, but no less threatening arms in front of the lady, leaning to the side to more efficiently cover the lady from harm. The five year-old gave the boy a defiant look.

"No!" he shouted back. "There's only one Sun, dumm-dumm!"

"No!" Haley responded. There's one that comes out at night, too! That one's not as strong as the one that comes out in the morning! Haley could feel the words on her tongue, but she didn't want to sound stupid, because every time she opened her mouth, people laughed. And she didn't like it.

"Thomas," the lady intoned. "Remember what I told you yesterday?"

Thomas looked like he swallowed some sour candy. "Sorry," he mumbled.

Haley nodded, accepting her victory without question. Somehow, since the lady was around, people laughed at her less. And Tommy became a bit nicer. He didn't laugh at her like he used to.

Haley loved the lady, no matter what people said.


"Miss O'Connor?"

Danielle rose from Haley's side and faced the orphanage's manager. "Yes?"

"We can't thank you enough for your donations. It has helped us beyond what we expected."

"It's alright," Danielle halted the manager, smiling. "I did my research here, so it was only right that I gave away half of my commission to this orphanage. Drop-Down Haven was a hit."

"It was," the manager agreed. "And many potential parents have come over to look at the children lately, and it's really been much, much better since you helped out - "

"It's okay," Danielle reassured. "I like doing this."

The manager nodded, then, hesitating she looked at Danielle. "Ms. O'Connor, if I may ask you a very personal question?"

"I'll try and answer as best as I can," Danielle said truthfully.

"Were you once an orphan?"

Danielle paused. Then, she nodded. "Yeah. I suppose you could say that."

"Your parents died?"

"Not really. They just abandoned me."

"That happens a lot."

"Yes, it does, doesn't it?" Danielle watched Haley as she lorded over Tommy who looked uncomfortable at one moment, yet affectionate at another.

Haley reminded Danielle of Sophia. To distract herself, she looked at her watch. "Oh, I have to go. I have a meeting with one of my stronger supporters. He says he has something that could benefit the orphanage more."

"Oh, you shouldn't - you don't have to -"

"These children deserve a better chance. I'll do anything I can to help them. Trust me," Danielle winked. The manager gave a helpless smile, then nodded. Danielle returned it, and waved goodbye to her kids. They waved back with an exuberance that could only be afforded by the untainted.

It was one thing Danielle will never be.


Weary of waiting so long, Sean took out his small notepad and pen, and began scribbling on it in hopes of being struck by inspiration. Lately, he'd felt more, and more restless, like there was something he was supposed to know, yet he did not.


Faranza's Notes: OMAIGOD. I never knew I had this. Puhahahaha. This was the version that was written before I went away to National Service and so it has a waaaaay different feel. Man, trawling my old drafts really gives me a lot of old forgotten things to re-post. Haha. This is an alternate storyline. If you like it, tell me and I might just dump the Military School storyline.

Nah. Just kidding. But I CAN work on both at the same time.

Kay, being a bit too ambitious again. Either ways, a shoutout to Tikay who made this possible. Hehe. I bet she's steaming now. "Farhana, sikitnya you tulis!" Alas, I am lazy. It's just the way I am. 


Rentetan Solo

As dictated by Faranza Syns

This is actually a repost of an older blogpost. The older post had a bit of a ... well. Lulz. Let's just say it was a bit too overwrought for my taste. Hence, a repost - a more lucid one. Here goes nothing.


Melodi pilu bermain di segenap penjuru, selembut titisan air mata ibu, bercucuran membasahi bumi. Tangisan tiada kedengaran, hanya sayup-sayup jeritan hati meronta-ronta, mencari jalan keluar dari kurungan kepedihan nan terpendam.

Jeritan suara anak kecil, hati muda membisik kalimah suci… nama ibu. Jari-jemari halus menggapai udara, tercari-cari. Ke manakah perginya ibu? Tubuh lemah ketandusan kasih ibu. Ibu, aku kelaparan! Di mana kamu, ibu? Ibu, segeralah pulang!
Tidak, anakku! Ibu tidak rela! Ku lontar dirimu jauh dari sisiku, dari jiwaku, dari hatiku. Biarpun hujan turun membanjiri tanah merekah, mengusai kemarau nan panjang, luka di hati tiada pengubatnya. Biarlah darahnya mengalir, hangat dan pekat. Mungkin pada waktu itulah akan selesai kepahitan yang terbuku di hati.

Angin meraung-raung, mencari memori indah detik-detik lalu, ingin ditiup jauh kesengsaraan yang meretakkan hati. Si kecil melepaskan raungan jiwa, merintih, meminta, memohon dileraikan simpulan rindu di hati. Perlahan…perlahan…cengkaman pilu di hati melembut, lantas rebahlah dia ke alam mimpi, dibuai seribu bintang, dilindungi awan mendung malam. 

Oh, si ibu! Penderitaan yang datang bertubi-tubi bak hujan batu telah meranapkan hatimu. Sunyikah hatimu kerana dicemuh, dihina, dan dibuang bagai sampah? Runtuhkah mahligai kasihmu kerana kehadiran anak kecil itu? Lahir si anak ke dunia bak nur yang indah, tapi duniamu bagai dibayangi kegelapan malam, sesalanmu mencapai langit yang ketujuh. 

Oh, terimalah diriku, ibu. Tiada lagi yang ada untukku di dunia yang luas ini selain dirimu. Belailah rambutku dengan jari-jarimu yang lembut. Sentuhlah jiwaku dengan suaramu nan merdu. Hilangkanlah pedih di hatiku dengan ciumanmu yang halus bak awan. Usaikanlah keraguanku dengan senyuman manismu yang tidak ternilai. Ku tiada berbapa, hanya sebatang kara, hanya tubuhmu yang mampu menghangatkan duniaku daripada kesejukan. 

Rantapan si anak tidak dihiraukan. Si ibu memekakkan telinga, dibiarkan sendirian darah dagingnya yang menangisi pemergiannya, menangisi ketiadaannya. Wahai ibu, biarpun seluruh dunia memerangimu, anakmu tetap mencintaimu. Baginya, kamulah bumi, kamulah langit, dan segala kebahagiaan yang dapat dicipta hanyalah akan tercipta bersamamu. Madahnya buat dirimu tinggi, cintanya buat dirimu tulus. Sakit yang menjerut hatinya benar. Mengapa engkau sanggup meninggalkannya? Mengapakah engkau sanggup meninggalkanku?

Sepurnama demi sepurnama, penantianku tiada terhenti. Menanti saat kau kembali, meninggalkan segala-galanya buatku. Tetapi kau tetap tiada, dan aku tetap sendirian. Masih kekal madahku buatmu, namun kepedihan hati menghancurkan segala-galanya. Kau pergi, tidak kembali, langkah tersusun, mengejar alam yang fana! Si anak di sini menangis, menanti bunga yang tidak berputik. Senja nan sayu, merangkak menutup mentari. Mendung berlabuh, bertabur dan berlalu. Siang berganti malam, namun kau tetap tiada. Di sinilah berakhirnya segala-galanya. Di sinilah noktah terakhir madahku buatmu.

Di sinilah berakhirnya rentetan soloku nan pilu. 


Author's notes (A.N): The work is a bit heavy. And is actually meant as a social critique. It was written during a time when baby dumping was a "trend". It was my first try at "abstrak" as requested by my Head of Department (who remains awesome till this day in his works of abstractness). Well, at least now I can add a Malay section to my Words of Art. Haha

Salam and peace be upon you.


January 29, 2013


As dictated by Faranza Syns


by Faranza Syns

What is it about her that makes me love her? Now, that's a funny question – one that makes a man freeze and see red flashes of warning signals that say: "WARNING. WARNING. SEND BLOOD TO BRAIN. WRONG ANSWER LEADS TO BLOOD-FILLED DEATH. OR LIFE OF ETERNALLY STRIPPED MASCULINITY." The laden expectation in that question is like a minefield of explosive potential – it could go eitherway, but both ways are going to result in extremes.

It's really a funny – almost inapproproate – question to just ask someone out of the blue. People pose the question with lackadaisical nonchalance, but really, the weight that their stare bears after that question is made to echo in the space around you is enough to make your mind blank out. The question is asked as if it is part of the basics of a relationship that you spend sleepless nights staring into the warm, humid darkness, listing out all the reasons in your head for having "fallen” for that one extraordinary person.

How does anyone fall for anyone anyways?
A typical answer would be the "she's the most beautiful woman I have ever met” response. But that usually leads a man down a treacherous road where he would need all his wits about him to navigate, despite the heart-moving sincerity of his proclamation. And due to the fear the aforementioned choice of answer resulting in illogical female outrage (because really, we just praised you) another more self-righteous (and probably very heavily censored) answer is used: "she's so kind, she has such a beautiful soul.”

Really, both answers would probably score unsatisfactory marks after intense judging. Most probably because the question requires silent moments of introspection and time for you to really watch her in her own space, apart from you, for you to truthfully, rightfully answer. Really, that kind of question cannot be answered at the bat of an eye.

But… if you asked me the precise moment that I knew a future with her is what I want, I can tell you.

Have you… ever taken note of her eyelashes?

Such nondescript things, the eyelashes. Especially hers.

They weren’t thick, nor were they voluminous. They were sparse, spaced way apart and went down straight like a pin. I never knew eyelashes could be that straight. Anime eyes always made it all seem so …flicky – I mean, it always flicks upwards. But hers looked like a basic zinc roof, swooping down, shading her equally nondescript brown eyes (not surprised here. We are Asians, it’s expected).

I don’t really need to give you the time, the place, the context upon which this is all happening. It does not matter in the grand scheme of it all. I do not have to tell you if we were sitting at the library, studying for our finals; or if we were sitting around at the local mamak stall, nursing a hot cup of teh tarik while waiting for our roti canai; nor if we were sitting around the hexagonal meeting table at our office, experiencing a lull in activity as we rest our weary brains after a juice-draining session of brainstorming. These are all just residual noise in the background. What matters is the experience, the thoughts, and the feelings.

And at that moment, my mind and my soul were all still and muted. All I found myself doing is staring unblinkingly at her eyes. Just her eyes. Her plain, downcast eyes. Then, naturally, my focus slipped languidly to her eyelashes. I studied each lash, one strand at a time, amazed in all my stillness at the sheer fascinating plainness of them.

Then i saw it: the one lash – the one lash that defied them all. The one lash that curled up, like the lilting song of a nightingale against the ferocious beat of the wind. I was amazed, stunned – bewildered – at the existence of that one lash that curled.

I stared longer and revelled at the strength of such individuality of this one, lone lash that curled despite its numerous siblings falling victim to the gravity of genetics. I stared, and stared.

And then she looked up.

I froze, caught and petrified. My pumping heart could have pounded out of my ribcage and rolled all over the floor and I would probably still have been too scared to pick it back up and put it back in its place. To have been caught staring at someone was a social faux pas that cannot be easily justified – what excuse can you make, anyway? Sorry, was just looking at this eye booger you had near your eye? I cringed, feeling the rising red heat of embarrassment spread like wildfire on my face as she continued to study my face.

Then, those eyes – those plain, unimpressive eyes that I had just studied in their unguarded moments, shadowed by pin-straight lashes – did exactly what I did not expect them to do.

They warmed up. Those eyes – her eyes – slowly reached out to me with their subtle warmth, enveloping me, calming the growing echoes of my embarrassment.

Realizing that there is no shame in store for me, I sat up straighter, forcing the remnants of my disgrace to the backburner, and I took it all in: those smiling eyes, the equally bright smile carved on her lips, and the little chuckle and slight shake of the head that said volumes for me. "This guy is weird, but I like him".

(Or so I'd like to think, that is.)

She didn’t make things awkward. She didn’t make it weird. Instead of being instantly repelled by my clear inability to maintain acceptable social behaviour (i.e., not staring the heck out of someone), she chose to take my little blunder in stride, to laugh it off, to let me maintain a semblance of dignity at a time when I should be curled up into a ball of self-shame. She gave me a chance, the benefit of the doubt, and she chose a road where missteps are merely missteps.

She is so beautiful, in ways that I can’t really describe. Just because she was just so different. Like that lone lash going against the downward flow. Life with her would be a life of light-heartedness and infectious positivity.

She was special. And my heart knew it. My mind grew to recognize it later on, but it was at that moment that my heart decided who it was going to bare itself to.

And all it took was one eyelash.


 Note: If you still think I am lesbian after having read all that, then, no. I am not. It's a male's perspective. Lulz.