I was taught to enter a swimming pool the same way I was taught to enter places of worship; with my right foot first. I dipped my right foot in and walked towards V. He was already in, his foot at ledge of where the waters were shallow. He was hesitant. It was too cold. I knew V didn’t like the cold. Little did I know how much the future would surprise me with how little I knew about what V liked and didn’t like. It was a Friday and we were 22. My grandmother had just passed away this morning after I had sat for my first exam paper this term. I was reluctant to return for her burial. My mother said I really didn’t have to. She said I could just stay on campus and focus on my upcoming papers. It would have been the selfish thing to do. Even my friends had agreed. And so, with a heavy heart, I took the KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) to wherever I needed to be. I was hardly sad at all. I was never raised to be close to my relatives, not even my closest uncles or aunts. I never had that relationship that simply allowed me to have just slept over their homes to have a good time with my cousins. I was hardly even close to my cousins. A part of me had always wished that I could have had a better bond with my family but I’ve known from the moment my parents filed for the divorce that it was and will never be the luxury I can afford. I was the child of a broken family and I was okay with that, because God had given me plenty. I was recently accepted to a prominent university, to be specific, the second best in the country. I was blessed with parents that never had problems supporting me financially. I had the clothes on my back and a roof over my head. What more could I ask? Oh, I also had V.
Well, technically. You see, I didn’t really have V and neither did he really have me. We both had other people. It was during the most inconvenient time at the most inconvenient place had we decided that our feelings were mutual. Now, girls, a word of advice; If you aren’t willing to own up to the consequences of ‘stealing’ anyone’s boyfriends, then don’t go through with it. What came after my actions was a lot of gossip and broken ties. I was raised in Petaling Jaya. I was once upon a time, crème de la crème of the mean girls. What other people thought of me had never bothered me, let alone petty gossip. I had too much pride to give in to what people had to say. It wasn’t easy. I had to be accountable where I was wrong, but it certainly did built character.
Tonight was the Friday that changed everything. I slowly submerged into the pool to stop myself from feeling cold. This must have been the millionth time I’ve said this but I’d like to think that there are two states of total clarity: in sound slumber or underwater. Kuala Lumpur had the worst light pollution and I often wondered why we even took the time to sneak out of our campus to stargaze. We both know that was just an excuse to find time for each other. We always did. When it comes to V, there was always time. At that moment, the guilt had not consume me. In case you were wondering, this is not an attempt to romanticize infidelity. It’s just something that happened to me. People are always so quick to equate ‘The Other Women’ with terrible things; home-wrecking, taking what rightfully wasn’t hers, lying, thoughtlessness. I won’t fight it. It is what it is. But had that really subject me to a lifetime with no prosperity? What had I learned from it? This is about how I met a very special person through mildly unfortunate circumstances.
There were no stars, but we got to admire the view of the city from the pool. My father had bought the apartment unit years ago behind my mother’s back. Until now, it is still left vacant. On occasions, I would come to swim and since it only required my biometric ID, I didn’t have to carry an access card around. This was great. I would have probably been too careless for one.
We stood there in the pool, staring at the city neither of us belonged from. We were just two careless graduates that had left Bangi for a swim, leaving behind everyone we know. Zero clue of what was about to happen next. We leaned for a kiss. I thought to myself, “I may have lost my own family, but by nightfall, I witnessed the birth of something beautiful; you and me.” Things were never going to be the same, for better or for worst, and I will just have to accept that.