“Shi Bu Shi Ni You Liang Zhong Gan Jue....Suo Yi Ni Bu Xiang Zai Rang Zi Ji Wu Fa Zi Ba?
With the TV remote control in his hand, Wei Lian switched channels restlessly while having his lunch. This afternoon, he is scheduled to perform at the first of a two-day gig at Crown Hotel, which Granny Gin owns. Granny Gin always has requests for such engagements and the first person she will approach whenever there is a need for singing performances will naturally be Wei Lian.
Tucking into his packed lunch of curry rice, he was at the same time preparing his stuff and the clothes he needed for the gig. As it was a two-day event, Granny Gin had thoughtfully checked Wei Lian into a hotel suite so that he need not have to shuttle between home and hotel.
Feeling strangely moody, he dug uninterestingly at the rice, barely finishing half of it. He felt bloated when he usually has a hearty appetite. So soggy and tasteless how to eat? Later eat already get the runs, no energy to sing, that would be even worse. Wei Lian found an excuse to throw away the curry rice. Don’t know why, but lately, everything he ate seemed tasteless to him. He just ate for the sake of eating. Upon finishing packing his guitar into the guitar case, he grabbed his bag and guitar, ripped a banana from the already-ripen bunch lying on the dining table for days, gobbled it fast before setting off to the hotel.
Fiddling with the parcel in her hands, Fang Qi was in a state of deliberation. She reached for her handphone and scrolled into her address book. Wei Lian, the screen showed. Her finger was on the Call button, just waiting for the courage to press on it. She did not want to call him at all at this moment, but Ah Ma had sent a present for him and wanted Fang Qi to pass it to him. She didn’t want Ah Ma to call Wei Lian only to find out that he hasn’t got her present. Then Ah Ma will be sure to grow suspicious of their act.
“Iya call la call la, scared what, why should I be scared of that heartless idiot…” In actual fact, as much as Fang Qi tried to deny, she just wanted to hear his voice. She wanted so much to talk to him again, even though she thinks he won’t want to hear her voice. Fang Qi pressed the Call button, listened to the monotonous ringtone and waited. Her heart pounded furiously.
“Hello!” A cheerful voice sounded through the phone.
It was Cherie. She could recognize her voice. Oh gosh, is Cherie really so into his life now that she is even picking up his calls. A sudden surge of jealousy overcame her…
“Erm…” she was wondering what to say next. All she really wanted was to hang up.
“Fang Qi? Looking for Wei Lian ah? He is preparing for a performance later leh.”
“Orh, nothing la, I just wanted to pass some stuff to him.”
“Hey, you free anot? You want to come over and pass it to him?” Cherie explained to her that Wei Lian is performing at the hotel today and tomorrow, doubting he will have any time to meet her anywhere other than the hotel.
Scribbling down the hotel address, Fang Qi ended the call with Cherie.
Enthusiastic applause filled the hotel ballroom. The guests were obviously awed by Wei Lian’s astounding performance. Wei Lian had impressed everyone with his strong and down-to-earth voice, which has in it a unique element that touches the hearts of all.
While Granny Gin and Cherie were busy mingling with the guests at the post-event reception, Wei Lian was not in sight. He had quietly slipped out of the reception area to take a stroll outside. Deep in his thoughts, he was really not his usual self today. He did not know why but he just wanted a breath of fresh air.
Stretching his arms for a deep breath, Wei Lian strolled along the hotel swimming pool with his white cane, enjoying the breeze in the quiet atmosphere. He could hear the soft ripples of the pool with the rustle of leaves from the trees surrounding the pool. There was nobody at the pool at this time, since most guests were at the post-event party. He folded up his white cane and listened to the water ripples. Surprisingly, the combination of sounds from the rippling water and the rustling leaves sounded oddly good to him. His lips curled up as the soft breeze touched his face.
There he was, drowning his thoughts in the comfort of the calming surroundings when suddenly out of nowhere, someone whizzed past him. A waiter was pushing a trolley full of snacks and drinks from the hotel kitchen to the reception area as the reception was at the adjoining tower. In a rush, he accidentally pushed and knocked Wei Lian into the pool. Wei Lian let out a cry as he lost his balance. His white cane fell onto the floor and became disassembled under the merciless wheels of the trolley. Not realizing that he was blind, the waiter just shouted “Sorry, sorry!” and hurried to the reception, thinking that the guy will be able to come up on his own.
Fang Qi was wandering in the hotel premises, still reluctant to make the move to look for Wei Lian. When she reached the hotel, the performance had already ended. She just couldn’t bring herself to call him on the handphone. What if Cherie picked up again? Hai! Just as she turned towards the swimming pool, she watched in horror as Wei Lian fell headwards into the pool. Her heart skipped a beat. She remembered him saying he didn’t know how to swim during one of their squabbles.
Seeing Wei Lian in the pool, his hands waving in desperation, Fang Qi was in a state of fright at that moment. Everything came too fast and she least expected such a thing to happen. She didn’t know what to do amidst her anxiety. There was no one around then. She panicked and mumbled Wei Lian Wei Lian, helpless tears forming in her eyes.
Her heart dropped as she saw Wei Lian’s struggle weaken and without further ado, she jumped into the pool, swimming towards Wei Lian with all her might. She managed to catch hold of Wei Lian’s arm and pulled him to her side. As his head lay on her shoulder, the familiarity of the closeness she once shared with Wei Lian overcame her. She fought back all the confusion invading her mind now. She only knew she had to get Wei Lian out of the pool immediately.
Wei Lian was already in an unconscious state. While moving towards the side of the pool, flashes of the moments between Wei Lian and her came flooding into her mind. She had failed to block them out. She realized how important Wei Lian is to her. Please, please, nothing must happen to you, I still haven’t bickered enough with you yet. I still haven’t told you I don’t want this to be an act anymore. I….
Fang Qi pulled Wei Lian up from the pool with all her might, wailing his name and for help in between. His face was as white as sheet. He must have swallowed too much water. Using the basic knowledge of first aid that she had just acquired during her days as a volunteer, Fang Qi pumped on his chest. After a while, a flow of water came out of Wei Lian’s mouth. He was still unconscious. She had no choice but to do a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. As her mouth met his, her hot tears fell on his wet face. Wake up! She screamed in her mind. You better wake up you silly idiot!
Finally Wei Lian stirred and regained consciousness, coughing as he was choked with water. On seeing the color returning to his face, she heaved a temporary sigh of relief. Suddenly she heard footsteps approaching. As she looked up, she saw Cherie walking towards the pool, looking around worriedly. She realized Wei Lian was not around with her and Granny Gin at the reception. Only after quite some time did she find him missing. Thinking he would be at the hotel room resting, she was worried when she couldn’t find him there. Where has he gone to without a word?
Fang Qi’s first reaction upon seeing Cherie was to hide. She didn’t want anybody to see her in this flurry state. Wei Lian should be fine now. Throwing her emotions aside, she took one last look at Wei Lian and ran off to hide behind a pillar.
“Wei Lian!” Cherie was instantaneously shocked to see Wei Lian lying at the poolside, all drenched and coughing profusely. She quickly helped Wei Lian up and brought him back to the hotel room. Wei Lian was still in a state of shock and was not aware of what was happening at all.
Seeing them disappear behind the hotel side entrance, Fang Qi finally turned away. She hid in a corner behind the pillar and succumbed to uncontrollable sobs. Her legs weakened and gave way under her, and she fell onto the ground, with her head buried in her body. She wanted so much to be by Wei Lian’s side. She wanted so much to be the first one to talk to him when he regained consciousness. She wanted so much to tell him she missed bickering with him. But she couldn’t do any of those. She knew she had to let go when she saw Cherie. She knew she had to.
What Fang Qi did not know was that all that had just happened was witnessed by Jason who came by to look for Cherie. Jason saw Cherie stumbling back to the hotel with Wei Lian. He did not know what to react, staring at their backs as they staggered back into the hotel. He too did not know what to think of the relationship between Cherie and Wei Lian. And now Fang Qi. His mind was a total blank.
At the hotel room, as Wei Lian slowly regained consciousness, he felt someone holding onto his arm tightly. He cocked his head to the side and tried to listen who was with him.
“Wei Lian, how are you feeling? Don’t frighten me hor...” Cherie’s voice.
Wei Lian managed a weak smile, “I’m ok la…”
Wei Lian tried to recall what had happened. He vaguely remembered that he was strolling by the poolside when he was pushed into the pool. During the ordeal, he bizarrely had an indescribable feeling, one of throbbing pain and yet reeked of familiarity. It was not physical pain. No lay, he wasn’t hurt in any way. He couldn’t apprehend the feeling that was going through him. Pushing his thoughts aside, he faced Cherie.
“Thanks ah…” muttered Wei Lian. He assumed that Cherie was the one who saved him.
Cherie put her hand to his mouth and whispered. “Shhhh, come on, don’t talk any more, take a good rest ok? You are tired already.” She proceeded to tuck Wei Lian to sleep. Under his tired expression, his heart was smiling quietly as Cherie fussed over him. He felt he was the happiest man on earth.
At the poolside, Fang Qi’s tears were running dry. In a weak struggle, she pulled herself up. Jason witnessed her true feelings for Wei Lian. The rude and rough big-time gambler whom he knew so little about. She actually has her fragile side, he thought. He really felt for her, seeing her crying so sadly. He loves Cherie but she loves Wei Lian. Fang Qi loves Wei Lian but he loves Cherie. Where does this leave both Fang Qi and himself? Irony. Wei Lian. Two girls loving him. How fortunate he is. He smiled bitterly.
Finally, he stepped out of his hiding place when he saw Fang Qi shivering with cold from the wetness on her body in the chilly evening breeze. “Erm you okay? Shall I send you home?” His tone was gentle with concern, not the unwilling rude tone he had always given her.
Fang Qi was shocked upon hearing Jason’s voice. She turned and looked up fiercely at him, uncomfortable with his presence. Why is he here?! Did he see anything?! She wanted to ask, but brushed the thought aside.
“No need!” she replied curtly, with one hand wiping off her tears. With that, she staggered away weakly but her right knee hit against a suntan chair. She put her hand on her bruised knee as she picked herself up again. Cold! The soft breeze is getting to her. But she could not care less. The crying earlier on had numbed the whole of her. She no longer knew what was pain.
“Hey, careful! Come on, you need to have a hot bath now.” Jason followed behind her and grabbed her by the arm. He insisted that she went up with him to the hotel room he booked. One person hurting deeply inside is bad enough. There isn’t a need for another one.
“Leave me alone! Go away can?!” Fang Qi shouted uncomfortably.
“Don’t be stubborn la. You want to fall sick is your problem, not mine okay! I just don’t want to be accused of not helping someone who is freezing to death. Want to die also don’t die now. Die when I am far away from you can?” Jason decided to snap at her. This girl needs to be shouted at.
Silently, both stared at each other. Finally, she relented and allowed Jason to bring her back to his hotel suite.
Darkness fell. Fang Qi was still at the hotel. Jason had forced her to have a hot bath. She too relented. But she sneaked out the moment Jason fell asleep. He had been too tired and had fallen asleep while waiting for her to finish her bath.
Strolling along the pool, she still felt weak. Her eyes felt terribly swollen. Her head felt horridly heavy. She wasn’t in a stable state of emotions. Feeling angry with herself, she jumped into the pool and stayed under the water for seconds before surfacing. She needed to cool herself down. In a fit of anger, she threw the present Ah-Ma had for Wei Lian --- a stylish man’s bracelet, into the blue sparkling water.
Fang Qi woke up with a stinging headache. The noon sun was beaming through her apartment window onto the foot of her bed. She thought of what she did at the hotel last night. Ah Ma’s bracelet for Wei Lian! All at once, she jumped out of bed, changed into a set of fresh clothing and ran out of the house without even brushing her teeth.
Seeing no one at the pool, Fang Qi leapt into the swimming pool and searched frantically for the bracelet. She regretted throwing it away. She was always regretting things that she had done, or not done. What’s wrong with me, she questioned herself, as she tried to find the bracelet.
After almost an hour of searching in the pool, she finally found it. The metal surface of the bracelet was badly scratched. After all, she had thrown it into the pool with all her might. But she was glad to see that it was still in one piece.
As she climbed up from the pool, her whole body dripping with water, she smiled weakly to herself. Holding the bracelet close to her chest, she walked away from the pool. Almost immediately, she sensed the ever so familiar feeling as she almost bumped into someone who was walking past. She didn’t have to look up. She knew it was Wei Lian…