A stranger and a penniless diner
I walked out of Ramunia Fabricators yard 10 minutes to 5 pm. I hope to reach Sultan Ismail Hospital around 6.30. While I was on the way, Lokman once again called. He conveyed the news he got from Rashid who had visited S this afternoon. According to the Doctor, S's chance to survive is 50-50. One of his lungs was badly infected and it does not spare the other one too. S was still unconscious and shows no signs of improvement. The journey was smooth except the usual snarl upon entering Johor Bahru Metro area. I made it to the hospital exactly at 6.30 (see, no wonder I got A for Time Management at QUT). 'Main building, Level 5, ICU ward', that was the direction I got from Lokman.
Adi was there by S's bed weeping while he holds S's hand. They were good friends. He asked me, in tears why this unfortunate fate happen to S. I had to calm him down. How do we expect S to be strong when we are not. I myself had to struggle to hold my tears from falling.
There he was, my dear friend S. Laying before my eyes, wired, looking so fragile. He was surrounded by life support machines that produce an orchestrated sounds and rhythm. His eyes swollen, tightly shut. His lips cracked and blood blotched. Both of his hands were straped to the sides of the bed. S was not in coma. He can hear us. He responded to our conversations. We saw he tried to open his eyes, moved his lips, tighten his grip in our hands and at times looks as if he tried to break his hands free from the strap. We had to calm him and offered some words of encouragement. I saw tears flowing down his temples. But he was not able to speak nor open up his eyes. The person laying on the bed was not S that I know. He looks more of a stranger to me. S was always jovial and healthy. Why not, he has a collection of Ossim's stuff, consume a lot of suppliments and he was a clean freak,very anal. His place was always spotless.
I said good bye to S and promised him that I will visit again. I told him to be strong and get well soon, then we can travel together. S loves travelling. He wanted to visit me in Miri with Lokman but I guess It has to wait.
Part 2 : Penniless Diners
I did not go back to Ramunia last night. Instead I went to Sam's. He was not around when I got to his place. I let myself in (I have the secret code to his place). Sam was at his mum's. I texted him, "Balik rumah cepat, Shell nak belanja" and he replied "k". Sam was already home when I finished shower, well I know he cannot resist free dinner, and I could use some company. See win-win, or is it?
We went to Sutera Mall, a spanking new shopping centre in Johor Bahru. I wonder why JB needs so many shopping malls, while some old one dies, new ones keep thriving just like forest fire. The place is nice, spacious and hmm it has Carrefour as its anchor tenant. I cannot think of any other cities associated more with hyper markets than JB. Realising that I have no Ringgit in my wallet, I looked for ATM machines but could not find any. I proceed to the information counter and asked the receptionist. "ATM ada?" and she replied "Hmmm ATM machine belum ada lagi, coming soon" in a thick chinese accent. I responded "What?? Habis tu macam mana saya nak shopping?". My response brought Laughters to the receptionist and few other visitors there.
Well its okay Sam, lets dine at an establishment that excepts credit card. We then had dinner at Secret Recipe. The meal was good, I had Thai fried rice while Sam had Vietnamese Pho. We dined by the balcony overlooking a fountain with cascading artificial waterfalls. It was a nice setting, we enjoyed looking at the many big arapaimas in the pool by the fountain. Kudos to the developer. They even gone an extra mile, there was frog cries too. Golly. Our waiter was Alif he was friendly and attentive.
9.30pm they starts cleaning. Okay, time to go, we asked for the bill. A waitress came. I was surprised It was only RM51. I placed my Credit Card in the folder and continued chatting with Sam. The waitress came back telling that the credit card machine was not working. I told her to try again. From outside I saw 3-4 of them busy working on my credit card. Hmm they were just so inexperience I said to Sam. Not long after that, their supervisor came out, and told us that the machine was offline and requested us to settle the bill with cash.
I was half angry half embarassed. I have no cash and there is no ATM machine here. I told them. I showed them my wallet. I open another slot of my wallet and took out all the foreign currencies I have left over from my prevous oversea trips. I have Bahts, Rupiahs, Sing Dollars, Brunei Dollars, US Dallars all in small notes. I turned to Sam, He turns out only has RM30 with him. I pulled out 400 Bahts and 5 Singapore Dollars, that should cover the bill I said. They thought I was serious, They were willing to change the money, but I doubt the money changer is willing to accept small notes. I almost panic and strive for ideas. I slip my tongue and said to them 'Awak jangan malukan saya, saya orang kaya tau'. He replied 'Saya tahu encik, tapi maaf mesin kami tiba-tiba offline' . Suddenly an idea came. Okay why dont I go find an ATM machine and come back. Sounds excellent. They agreed to wait. Then I have another Idea, a better one. I said, as a customer, I want to save my self from the trouble to come up here again, why dont I bring one of your crews along. Guess what the supervisor said? "Encik nak bawak yang mana?" He does sounds like a pimp doesn't he. We ended up abducting Alif to Taman Tun Aminah, withdraw some money off the wall, pay the bill then drop him in front of the restaurant. We cannot stop laughing a long the way, and thinking what an experience we had tonight.