Monday November 21, 2005 – A newbie with all of three hours of presence and experience at the Orientasi “B” hostel in Pusat Serenti Gambang, was taking in the atmosphere and discreetly weighing up his fellow hostel mates.

This was to be his home for the next three months or so, and he was wondering how he’d get along with the group of 36 other red-shirted inmates; all of whom were almost bald. It was a motley crew of Malays, Chinese, Indians and East Malaysians. And then something happened at 2:05 PM.

To everyone else, there wasn’t anything exceptional about it. But it was an earth-shattering moment for the newbie, 287/05 – me. The 20-inch television set was on, and I heard a song that blew me off my feet. It was from the drama series titled Cinderella on air from Monday to Thursday, and the song was Sehati Sejiwa by Haslinda. I was feeling something profound inside and was tingling with excitement. Surprisingly, no one else seemed to care too much about the song…

SEHATI SEJIWA (HASLINDA)
Kita memang dijodohkan bersama
Sehati serta sejiwa
Walau esok atau akhir nanti
Kita telah ditakdirkan bersama-sama

Wahai kekasih bersabarlah menempuhi dugaan
Kita sedaya telah berusaha untuk berdua
Tapi selagi ada jurang terpisah
Impian kan musnah kita masih ada cara untuk
Leraikannya

Kita jatuh cinta bukan kerna paras rupa
Atau harta benda yang diidami manusia

Seharusnya kita bersyukur kepada tuhan
Kita mengecapi bahagia selagi hayat ada

Hanya engkau kekasihku hanya aku kekasihmu
Dengan satu rasa dalam dua jiwa
Kita ditakdir bersama…

By the way, I don’t dare to translate it into English. No matter how good, I’d say at best the translation might convey only 90% of the original. Without the subtleties coming through as in Malay, the magic won’t be there anymore.

In the following weeks, it was something that I’d wait for. I’m no fan of this kind of drama – in fact, I didn’t even see a single episode of Cinderella! I was only interested in the song – the lyrics – for I felt “there was something about it, in it”. There was “a message in a bottle”… for me. But who was it from??

Some people might laugh at this. Go ahead, please. And I would really love it should someone be scornful, scoffing and dismissing it with derision. I really mean it… because I’m going to have the last laugh:-)

I was still married at that time. But in all essence, it had broken down from at least six years before that. The message that I felt was one of hope and optimism – perhaps there’s still something or something else for me, despite the failed marriage where all that remained was distrust, resentment, bitterness and anger…

Kita memang dijodohkan bersama … Sehati serta sejiwa … Walau esok atau akhir nanti … Kita telah ditakdirkan bersama-sama

Perhaps one could dismiss this as just “a pipe dream”. Perhaps… except that I had not taken any substance for more than three months. And at that moment in time, there was “something different” when it comes to spirituality. I hope this doesn’t come across as riak and takkabur – I’m just trying to find an explanation for some things.

The person then was `Cendana287’, who was on a plateau that’s a few levels higher than the `Mat Cendana’ now… and definitely from another world compared to the `Ahmad Sxxxxxx’ of pre-Aug 11, 2005. He “could feel things, people and situations”. But many of these weren’t crystal-clear – thoughts, feelings, people would just flash by and they couldn’t be frozen to have a clearer look at. It was the same with the above — “there was someone at the other end… and she most probably didn’t know that she had cast adrift the message in the bottle”.

Two people who didn’t even know about each other’s existence, much less how the other looked like. But looks – despite something quite important – isn’t all-important and all-deciding. This dreamy, floating-on-a-cloud line is something I’ve heard hundreds of times, not to mention the repeats echoing in my head:

cinderella1 Kita jatuh cinta bukan kerna paras rupa
Atau harta benda yang diidami manusia

Would anyone want to challenge the authenticity and truthfulness of this?… that for some people, it holds true? No, I honestly wouldn’t be offended should some reader be pessimistic or cynical about this. Like, “Then why do non-Miss World or Julia Roberts-types find it hard for others to fall in love with them?” OR, “Oh, so living in a one-room hut with a leaking roof and Maggi Mee be okay?”

My honest answer is, “I don’t know”. At the same time, I know for sure that the lines above are true. And best of all, I can show it for all to see… and wonder at the Powers of God, The All-Mighty, The Creator of Whatever that He Wants. Be patient, folks; and pray that we will all see this…

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