Nine

July is a special month for us.

Today, this last day of July, nine years ago, he asked and I said yes. We were each other’s firsts. I remember telling him, let’s make each other better people for it.

We went through all kinds of ups and downs together. We grew up together.

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This month last year, on the ninth, we got engaged in the smallest of affairs. Only my grandmother, parents, siblings, their spouses and kids were present. From his side, his mother, brother and sister-in-law, uncle and aunt came. The food was prepared by my mom and sister-in-law. Another sister-in-law decorated my three gifts for him. I wore the outfit I had tailored for my sister’s wedding two years back. I did my own makeup and styled my own hijab.

They came, talked a bit, his brother passed me my very first bouquet of flowers from him with a request that I read out loud in front of everyone the cheeky note that came with it, his mother put on the ring which we had chosen days before. We hugged, photos were taken, they ate and then left. He did not come to meet me; both of us agreed it was unnecessary, even ridiculous. It’s not like being engaged meant we could dress up in matching outfits and pose for pictures like a bride and groom. I guess we’re both old school that way (in fact he’s always been more mature than his circle of friends). There won’t be any ‘jalan raya’ with each other’s family this year. Not before we’re officially husband and wife.

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Both of us missed the engagement anniversary this year, although I did remember. Today we reminisced over whatsapp the presents we gave each other over the years. And bickered over what CD he gave me back in the days when he was trying to woo me.

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My dear cik abang, Mr TJ. Although sometimes I give you hints (even straight out request) for you to be more romantic, more sentimentel like me, I will never want you to change who you are. The fact that you do listen and do make gestures like giving me that first bouquet (which by the way was a complete surprise and which I thought is the best way to give me my first bouquet, in the presence of our families on the occasion that signalled our commitment to each other and readiness to enter this next all-important stage of our lives), touches me greatly and makes me feel all fuzzy and warm thinking about it.

The fact that you know me so well, makes me so grateful for having met you. The fact that I could be all teary, smelly (of JC days which you love to tease me about), sloppy, disorganised, messy, horribly selfish, ugly-hearted, vindictive, ungrateful, harsh in my words, terribly obstinate in your presence, yet you still accepted and forgave me, loved me for who I am, advised and urged me to change my bad traits, told me off when I held awful thoughts, makes me wonder what I did to deserve someone whose big heart far exceeds his big size.

Thank you for all the years. I may seem to forget all that you’ve done for me, as I am only human, but I guess that’s what anniversaries are for: to remind me, to remind us, to be grateful for what we have been through and who we have had to accompany us through it all.

I love you, my kungfu panda.

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