Mamihlapinatapais – Prologue: Handmade Coupon #8


–    From the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego. It is considered as the world’s most succinct word and the hardest to translate.

–    What does it mean? It is a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that both desire but neither one wants to start.


My boss was unusually giddy when she approached me. She was carrying a grande iced green tea latte and another coffee jelly cup, and she handed the latte to me. I frowned—hey, my boss knows I liked iced green tea latte—but when I read the name written on the cup, I knew it wasn’t from my boss.


Everyone knew my name was Keala but no one really used it because I insisted to be called Lala (I know what you’re thinking—like the Teletubby. I have to admit that I like that particular Teletubby, but my nickname wasn’t because of it).

I only knew one person in this whole world who insisted in calling me “Keala,” just coz he thinks my name is unique and should be used to its full effect—and that when we are in bed, it is just way smoother to say “Keala” than its shorter and less meaningful “gibberish” counterpart.

And I haven’t seen him for almost a year.

“Someone’s looking for you outside,” my boss, Camille, said, and there was this suggestive smile on her face that somehow confirmed what I was thinking.

My boss knew Ian. She met him more than ten times before—teased me loads of times how cute Ian actually is because out of all the guys in the room where we first met Ian, he was the one that stood out (Well, there were only five guys in the room, so… it isn’t an impressive “base” to begin with, but work with me here).

I noticed him too—and there was this part of me that wished I didn’t.

Not that Ian is that bad—he isn’t, just let me clarify that one—but… it’s a whole other thing.

What she—and the rest of my office—don’t know is what went on between Ian and me. There was this point in time that I think they knew I was going out with someone—the inexplicable presence of Blackberry Torch could do that, the early log outs despite the heavy workload, and the grin that can’t be erased on my face. But I think they also knew that it had stopped.

That it ended.

That the Blackberry Torch mysteriously disappeared. That I asked them to delete the alternate number where they could always contact me before (it was the SIM inserted in the Torch). That I returned to “enjoying” late nights and overnighters. That from being someone who was open, I became sealed shut. Tight. With no one seeping in.

I took the latte and walked out slowly to the lobby, and just found myself stopping a few steps near the lobby, watching at Ian who was thumbing through his phone—a black Blackberry Torch—probably replying some of his BBM contacts. He couldn’t possibly be tweeting—like me, he went on hiatus from the social networking site nearly a year ago—after everything had happened.

Ian never failed to amuse me. After a year, I still find myself breathless whenever I am within arm’s length of him. My heart is pumping so hard in my chest that my ears are nearly getting deaf.

And then he finally felt that there were eyes on him—eyes apart from those of our receptionist’s, who can’t seem to resist the Ian charm. He stood up to meet me, a tentative smile on his face.

“Ian,” I whispered, and then he stepped back, cocked his head towards the plush blue chairs at the lobby.  I started to sip the tea latte just coz I don’t know what to say.

“I haven’t seen you in a long while, Keala. How are you?” Ian said, starting the conversation, pretty much how he started everything else between us about two years ago.

I still couldn’t speak.

“I was going through my things last night, and I came across this,” he said, bringing out a familiar handmade box. “So I… called Irene, asked her if you’re still working here, and she said you are, so I came here.”

I finally got rid of the latte that is serving as my lifesaver. “Okay,” I said simply. I am handicapped. Despite losing the latte, I can’t bring up words to express how surprised I was and amazed that he’s here.

Ian opened the box and fished one of the handmade coupons inside. I could recognize my handwriting, and I wonder which of the twenty or so unused coupons he’s gonna use.

He handed the coupon to me.

Coupon #8.

One kick-ass life-changing conversation for use if or when I balk on you.

I grinned. I had amazing foresight at the time when I was making those coupons that I would, somehow, some way, run away from Ian.

I took the coupon, and then looked into Ian’s chocolate brown eyes. “Ah,” I said, and he gave me my favorite smile of his.

“I promised you before, that I’ll wait, didn’t I?” Ian said gently, and I nodded.

And wait he did.



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