"Sorry, guys," I apologised profusely, reaching round to soothe him.
Slightly, of course. Wouldn't want to be accused of being gay, or anything.
Or rather, wouldn't want him to feel uncomfortable. Ditching them as they scurry around, packing up the equipment of the latest shoot we were doing, that's not cool. Getting them the job, working up the concept with them, arranging the times for the shoot, setting all of those up...that's cool. Getting paid for it is even cooler.
Dumping them just as we're about to finish, because I'm supposed to be somewhere else?
That's not cool.
"I don't want to do it." We were having breakfast together, one of the rare moments that we do. Not the 'together' part, but actually having breakfast; my body had adjusted itself to the grinding schedule I pumped it with. Tending to wake up too late or too early for breakfast (or not even sleeping at all. Goddamn filmmakers), there rarely is a need for the typical morning injection of digestible elements into the body. There is, of course, always a need for coffee, but that's where the instants come in handy.
"What the hell am I going to talk about?" I asked. I am not sure whether the 'what the hell' prefix was actually spoken; if it wasn't, I certainly thought about it. He was trying to push me into accepting this particular request, to go and talk about an issue which I have yet to feel fully proficient in. Yeah, I've been doing it for a while, but beneath that particular question lies this: what makes me more special than anyone else doing the same thing?
For, despite of the scale of my clear-cut dreams and ambitions (to start an NGO, to finish my 'five films to make before I die', establish a magazine, etc), I do not yet feel that there is anything that makes me stand out from the crowd too much.
"You've gone through a different path," he said. "Just go and do it. It'll be fine. You know your stuff, you know what to do...you've done it before..." referring to my 2008 New Year escapades, "and it'll almost be a walk in the park. Plus, there's a bit of money involved."
I dropped my slice of French toast, reeling slightly from the oiliness. Somehow, that was never the issue in Korea; people use oil, but damn, the maid used plenty of it. With feel good comments of "Wow, Fikri, you've lost/maintained your weight" still ringing pleasantly in the ear, I made a mental note not to touch anything that poisons my body for a while. I thus reached for my Nescafe.
Pause. "Will it be in English?" A longer pause (I used this in my previous post, but what the hey). "Well...you can choose. But your Malay is not bad."
I laughed. Snorted, almost, is the more accurate word. But even he smiled; the days of me winning awards in the Malay language were but a world away.
Far away they may be, but that particular hook...well, hooked me. Even more so than the money part, though that tends to seal the deal rather than get things off the ground. Money, after all, is money. Look hard enough in every cranny, and we'll find it.
But the feeling of being challenged...now that's another story completely. Some things still do challenge me, and in a very different way, I find myself being tested in a variety of ways on a daily basis. It's not so much the tests of life, but how we overcome them, that serves to define us further as a person.
So what kind of person am I?
The kind who likes to go for the difficult. The kind who prefers to crash and burn rather than go lightly in the quiet of the night. The kind whose mastery of his own mother tongue is as questionable as the new Perak government. Put it this way: when I speak in Malay, what I'm doing is translating very fast from what I think in English.
That's probably not very good, but nevertheless, I am the kind who thinks, "In Malay? Yeah, I'll have me some of that."
"OK," I said finally. "I'll do it."
It might even be cool.