I don’t know his name, but I met him in a cafe with this sign outside.
I was in Penang for random trip, not much of purpose just a random trip all by myself. I stumbled upon a cafe on my way back to the hotel, just right after I had a decent portion of Nasi Kandar for lunch. A small red painted cafe with extraordinary delicious aroma of Arabica struck my nose.
I didn’t feel like drinking coffee at first because it was such a hot afternoon in Penang, so I just went inside the coffee shop out of the curiosity from the alluring smell. When I stepped inside, I found a lonely spot at the corner of the room under a huge post-modern art from Penang’s finest local artist I bet. The room is packed with foreigners and several locals, and I was just a half Asian half Western girl in the middle of the packed coffee shop. I didn’t plan to blend in, I just looked for ice coffee and escaped for a moment from the blazing sun outside.
When I walked to approach the seat, suddenly a tall Middle Eastern man just sat on it before I even had a chance to reach. I was so upset but still managed to look for the possible spot to sit as I finally asked the waiter where to sit. The waiter then looked around and he guided me to the chair where the Middle Eastern man sat. I followed him but I was about to cancel the order and preferred to get out until suddenly the Middle Eastern man took a glance at me and smiled.
“Miss, this is the only chair available for you. Is it okay with you, Sir?”
“Sure… I don’t mind to share my table,” the Middle Eastern man smiled to the waiter.
“Alright… so you order the ice coffee, right? Anything else?”
“No, that’s all… Thank you.”
As the waiter went away the man began to say hi to me. His hair is as dark as the ebony and his facial hair made him dangerously handsome. I had never been encountered with Middle Eastern men that much, but this time I seriously didn’t know that he could be this charming.
“Penang is so hot…”
“Yeah, it is… that’s why I ordered the cold drink. What did you order?” I awkwardly asked.
“I ordered Macchiato… You enjoy coffee?”
“Not much but I’m okay to drink a cup or two,” I giggled.
“I can only stand one cup. If it’s more, my stomach might get cranky,” he laughed.
“Where do you come from?”
“I’m from Marmaris.”
“Oh my God you’re from Turkey?”
“Yeah… you know it?”
“I’ve been craving to visit Turkey since forever!”
“Really? You have to go there, I have a small cottage there for tourist like you.”
“Can I get discount?” I joked.
“You’ll get a discount for being a new friend in Penang.”
“Such an honor!” I giggled.
I never talked for hours with strangers, moreover spend the whole night over Nasi Lemak and teh tarik until 2 AM. Our conversation stretched from the childhood memories to the philosophy of life and existence. His family came from Dammam, he was just 5 years old at that time they moved to Marmaris. His father worked as an interpreter and later worked as a tour guide in Marmaris while his mother is a determined traditional businesswoman who later established a small cottage next to their house in Sogut with a help from his older brother as the receptionist and the accountant for the cottage. When he finished his degree in Interior Architecture from Bilkent University, he went back to Marmaris and started a business in hospitality from cottages to tour package together with his brother.
I wasn’t really surprised to know that he is a Moslem, he stopped by at the nearest Mosque to pray for (what he called as) Ashr and Maghrib while we walked around. I myself not a religious type, I know there must be God exists somewhere in this universe but I’m not sure to admit one religion for me. My mum is a Christian while my dad was a Jew and became an agnostic, I don’t feel like practicing any of the religions just like my dad. I grew up knowing that religions are used to destruct other group of people with different beliefs. Sometimes it’s tangled with politics and can be use to divide the nations. How cruel that is for me. It’s like the ideology, it can be fascist over time under the dictatorship. Every religion used to have a good message to the world but turns out it leaves a mark of destruction to the human race. The crusade, the Israelis attack to Palestinians, the Al Qaeda… I seriously don’t know, if I were Abraham I would definitely devastated with my people.
I don’t know what kind of Moslem he is practicing, but he never agreed with polygamy and the terrorism. Two things I hate the most from Middle Eastern men that I knew from the news. He told me that the only person that can treat his wives fairly is only Muhammad, the prophet. He always believed that in one of the sentences in Quran ever said that if a man can’t really be fair, he should just marry one woman instead and be faithful to her. There was an explanation towards something he called as hadist that if a man with many wives can’t be fair in treating his wives, in the afterlife he would get his consequences. Moreover Muhammad married women for not satisfying his sexual desire, he was always faithful to Khadijah instead. He married the women from war victims, old women, and those women who need help. While those who were hungry for sexual desire seemed bringing the issue out of the real purpose. That’s the same thing with terrorism, or jihad that those terrorists keep telling the world. There’s nothing such a jihad if we kill innocent people even it’s not right to kill the kafirs (non-believers) if they don’t even start a war with the Moslems.
I totally had my awe on him at every word he said and he seemed to be so truthful. We started to get to know each other even more and deeper as the midnight passed silently without we ever realized. We didn’t care who we were before, it was just the conversation that became our bond. My initial prejudice towards Moslem men slowly changed and I really enjoyed his accompany.
“I will return home this morning actually…” he suddenly said after a few seconds of silence.
“What? Oh God! You should’ve got back to the accommodation,” my voice turned like I’m super worried and he realized.
“Don’t worry… I’m glad to spend the rest of the day with you.”
“What time is your flight?”
“10 AM. I’ll transit in KL for 2 hours and fly non-stop to Istanbul.”
“You must be so tired later…” I regretted the decision I made to take him for a late night dinner.
“I’m alright… Besides it was not a mere coincidence to meet you, you’ve just made the rest of my trip perfect.”
I stared at him for a while, “can I kiss you?”.
He approached me but then I felt nothing on my lips, he hugged me and I was shocked. I just feel happy. I didn’t feel like he refused me, he just respected me with the most charming way a man could ever treat me.
“May I just hug you?”
“Sure…” my voice trembled, “thank you for making my day too…”
“The best moment is the moment that served temporarily,” he said.
“Is that possible if I marry you in the future life?” I asked innocently without thinking.
“Are you serious?” He was surprised.
“Yes… why not?”
“I think your parents will freak out…” he laughed.
“Yeah… But we can just runaway,” I joked.
“No… a woman has to marry someone under her father’s blessing according to Islam.”
“I’m serious…” as he gulped his teh tarik.
“That’s beautiful… You’re totally a beautiful man inside and out,” I smiled.
“Thank you, miss… hmm… wait… we don’t know each other’s name yet. Funny how we talked for hours and know nothing about the name.”
“Keep it that way… so I won’t look for you when I come to Marmaris. I’m kinda crazy… You won’t like it. I will totally look for you in the entire area of Marmaris or Facebook if I ever know your name,” I giggled.
“I don’t have Facebook. Well… I just have Google account.”
“Yeah including Google account… I will look for you. So… just don’t tell me your name. I’ll be desperately wanted to know you better. That’s not good…”
“That is… alright… let’s promise not to know each other’s name until we meet again. Somewhere…”
“Let’s enjoy the rest of the night… shall we?” he smiled.
He is not a stranger… he’s a friend that I finally met in Penang whom I secretly fell in love with in one night.