Ice Kacang Celebration
Copyright © Patrick Khoo
"Hey Alex!" she called out to him.
Alex turned around and looked at her. He was tall and dark, but not so much handsome as he was boyish looking. His dark skin came mostly from his many hours at the university pool. Swimming also gave him his broad shoulders and strong arms. It was in fact at the university pool where he practised that he had first met Mui Fong.
"Mui, hi!" he called out to her. She walked quickly over to him and hugged him. As they parted, she looked into his eyes and smiled.
"Alex, I had such a great day today!" she was still smiling.
"Oh you did? That’s good. Listen, we have to talk about something else."
"Oh? Okay, okay, but let me tell you what happened today. See, this morning, I went to talk to Prof Tan about the senior project I wanted to do, and you know what he said? He said it was a great idea!" Mui Fong touched his arm. Alex could see the sparkle in her eyes.
"And best of all, you know what? He thought it was such a good idea that he said he would ask the AARM Council to help fund my project! It’s more than I could have hoped for!" Mui Fong hugged Alex again.
They walked over to an empty table in the Engineering Cafeteria. The canteen was mostly deserted at that time in the afternoon. A few students were sitting nearby, probably having their tea break. Alex sat across from Mui Fong and looked at her as she sat down.
"Mui, what do you want to eat?" he asked.
"Oh, I feel like celebrating! Give me the ice kacang please."
"Sure, I’ll get it." Alex got up and walked towards the ice kacang stall. Mui looked at him as he disappeared around the corner. He seemed a little preoccupied with something. But then again, Alex had seemed a little distant for the past few days. There must be something that was bothering him. Didn't he just say that there was something he needed to talk about? Mui Fong decided she would try to find out. Maybe they could go to Clementi and catch a movie afterwards and maybe that might cheer him up. He had been very busy with work lately and probably just needed some time off.
Mui Fong put her bag aside and looked around her. Some other students got up and left and the cleaners were walking around collecting their empty plates. The breeze was strong. Mui Fong brushed her hair away from her face with her hand. Alex was watching her as he walked towards her with a bowl of ice kacang. She was not incredibly beautiful, just average. She had shoulder length hair and was shorter than Alex. Her face was bright and showed off her current happy mood.
She looked at the ice kacang. "Wow, this is fantastic!"
"Listen Mui," Alex began. "I have something to tell you."
"What is it Alex?" she said as she scooped up some of the delicious ice kacang.
"Mui . . . I . . . I want to break up." Alex just let it come out.
Mui dropped her spoon. There was a look of shock on her face. She looked up at Alex. Alex thought she wanted to say something but she kept quiet.
Alex broke the silence. "Mui, listen, I’ve found someone else. She changed my life. These past few weeks, when I've been working hard, actually I've been with her. I’m sorry I lied to you."
Mui Fong turned away. She opened her bag and took out her purse. "How much for the ice kacang, Alex?"
"Mui," Alex began, "Look, I didn't mean for this to happen, it just did. She’s, well, she’s incredible. She seems to know what I want before I say it, she’s everything I ever wanted." There was another pause as Mui Fong put down her purse and looked away. Alex saw there were tears forming in her eyes. He realised the full implication of what he just said.
"I don’t mean it that way, I mean . . . Oh heck, I don’t know what I mean. Look, I’m really sorry Mui, I never wanted to hurt you." Alex started to get up. "Lisa, well, that’s her name, she’s waiting for me. I gotta get going. I hope we can still be friends."
Mui finally spoke. "You never loved me did you? You jerk. Do you know how much you hurt me?"
"I’m sorry, Mui, that’s all I can say. I’m really sorry." He saw the tears roll down her cheek. Alex turned away and started to walk towards the end of the canteen.
Mui Fong saw him meet another girl. The other girl, Alex’s new girl, Lisa, was tall and had a great figure. She saw Lisa kiss Alex seductively on the lips as they walked away. Mui Fong turned away and wiped the tears from her eyes with her hand.
As Alex and Lisa were walking out of the canteen, Alex turned back and saw Mui Fong holding her head in her hands.
"Hey lover boy," Lisa held his arm closely. "Don’t you go worrying about her, she’ll be just fine."
"Yeah, honey, I’m not worrying about her." Alex replied. Deep inside he knew it to be true. Mui Fong was a strong girl, and she would get over this break up.
"Oh, Alex, I need to go to the ladies first, you go on ahead, I’ll catch up to you at the bus stop." Lisa kissed him again, this time lightly on the cheek.
"Okay, sure, but don’t take too long, I’m waiting," Alex smiled a knowing smile.
"I won’t, you just be ready for me." Lisa tossed her long hair back over her shoulder and walked back towards the canteen. Alex saw her hips swaying slightly from side to side. Lisa was something else. She was so different from Mui Fong. Alex walked on for a bit, and then quickly turned back towards the canteen, just to get a glimpse of Lisa walking down the aisle. But he didn't see her. She must have turned the corner or something. He hurried through the canteen and then suddenly stopped short. He heard Mui Fong’s voice just around the corner. Better not bump into her. Alex decided that maybe it was better to just go back to the bus stop and wait there for Lisa. Then he heard Mui Fong's voice more clearly. Alex stepped forward and peeped around the corner.
"How can I thank you? You’re just so wonderful," Mui Fong said with a wide smile on her face.
"Oh it’s nothing, besides, I can get rid of Alex anytime," said Lisa.
Lisa smiled broadly as Mui Fong held a tall, well built and handsome man in her arms. Then Mui Fong kissed this other man passionately on the lips.
"I’m so happy, I think I want to celebrate with another bowl of ice kacang, this is the best day of my life!" Mui Fong’s eyes lit up with joy.
"With Alex gone, and my brother together with my best friend from primary school, what more could I ask for? I want ice kacang too!" Lisa laughed happily.