Malay & English

Mungkinkah...pembunuhan?

Was it...murder?

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MalayDescription  click for English
Misteri jangkitan leptospurosis. Kebetulan atau perancangan pembunuhan?
MalayNotes
Bahasa Melayu adalah bahasa ibunda dan Bahasa Inggeris adalah bahasa kedua yang telah dipelajari lebih dari empat dekad.
A. Huda
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Arkitek residen Halimah, Prof. Jamaliah dan Dr. Roy duduk bersimpuh di lantai yang beralas tikar-tikar plastik memenuhi seluruh ruang tamu hingga ke anjung kereta. Ramainya orang yang datang berziarah.

Jag-jag tanpa air diletak di atas meja di beberapa penjuru rumah. Duit biru, merah, hijau di sumbat senyap ke dalam balang-balang itu oleh orang-orang yang datang. Dengung suara membaca ayat-ayat suci al-Quran kedengaran dari bilik belakang.

“Sori,” suara sayu Hidayah kedengaran perlahan. Dia labuhnya dirinya di sebelah rakan-rakan dan hulur tangan kurus yang sejuk menyalam mereka.

“Takziah, sayang,” ucap Prof. Jamaliah. Tangannya secara otomatik kesat airmata yang mengalir di pipi Hidayah.

“Maaf,” ucap pula Dr. Roy sambil memeluk erat rakan merasakan ruas-ruas tulang yang tidak dibalut oleh lemak atau isi.. “Hari tu cek tak bermaksud nak sebut macam tu.”

Hidayah tahan airmatanya dari berderai tanpa jaya. “Bukan sebab you. Allah yang susun atur macam ni.”

Prof. Jamaliah hulurkan tisu yang diambil dari beg tangannya buat mengesat airmata yang tidak berhenti. Tisu itu tidak dapat mengubat pedih yang dirasa rakannya. Ia tidak dapat membalut luka dan mengering duka.

Dr. Roy pegang kemas tangan rakannya. Tangan yang punya jari-jari kurus panjang yang penat bekerja.

Dulu mereka dengar keluhan Hidayah tentang suami yang tidak membantu dengan kerja-kerja berat di rumah kini rakannya akan rasa apa makna keseorangan dan bersendirian dalam erti kata yang lebih mutlak.

“Sakit apa?’ tanya Halimah yang kebetulan berada di Kuala Lumpur untuk menghadiri kenduri. Dia renung rakan yang berpakaian serba hitam dengan penuh simpati.

“Balik dari perkhemahan hari tu dia demam. Tak kebah-kebah.” Ayat Hidayah terhenti seketika. Airmatanya mengalir senyap.

“Minggu lepas, jangkitan sampai ke buah pinggang…kuman tu serang paru-paru. Serang otak dia. Semalam jantung dia terhenti... pihak hospital dah buat ujian,” cerita Hidayah.

“Lepaih tu?” tanya Dr. Roy yang hampir pasti dengan diagnosis sebab kematian suami Hidayah.

"Leptospirosis. Kencing tikus,” sebut Hidayah separuh lancar.

“Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiun,” ucap Prof. Jamaliah. "Eddah? Kerja"

“Eddah. Empat kali suci. Untuk memastikan jika ada zuriat, zuriat itu milik dia. I pasti tidak ada lagi zuriat dia dalam I. Empat bulan sepuluh hari. Tanda hormat pada suami yang meninggalkan kita." Hidayah peringatkan dirinya.

“I kerja. I ada anak kat university untuk di tanggung.” Hidayah pandang sekeliling mencari anak tunggalnya yang dari semalam menangis di sebelah jenazah bapanya.

"Jadi you tak ikut kami ke Bogor bulan depan?" tanya Halimah.

"Dia tak ikut kita walau suami dia ada. Walau suami dia sihat." Dr.Roy jawabkan bagi pihak rakan yang telah lama dikenali.

"You isteri yang baik walau apa pun dia buat kat you," pujuk Prof. Jamaliah.

"Dayah..."

Jamaliah, Halimah dan Dr. Roy berpaling serentak ke arah suara seksi serak basah yang agak dalam. Mata mereka terpaku kepada lelaki tinggi lampai memakai kemas kemeja biru muda dan bertali leher.

Mata lelaki itu tidak mengendahkan pandangan mereka kerana ia lekat pada wajah sugul Hidayah.

“Kenapa tak telefon abang?” tanya lelaki yang dulu bergambar dengan Hidayah di hadapan pentas. “Abang hanya dapat tahu bila kerani Dayah minta izin keluar pejabat untuk ziarah kematian.”

Hidayah pandang lelaki itu dengan muka yang penuh kesan airmata. “Maaf, Dean. Dayah telefon eksekutif Pejabat Sumber Manusia. Dayah cuma teks kawan-kawan rapat saja.”

Lelaki bernama Dean itu balingkan pandangan luka kepada Hidayah. "I tahu I siapa. I bukan kawan rapat you. Bukan tempat you mengadu."

"Tolong Dean. Bukan sekarang..." Rayu Hidayah kepada Dean yang seolah-olah merajuk dan melangkah pergi menuju kumpulan lelaki yang berhimpun di luar.

“Abang?” tanya sinis Halimah.

“Dia tua beberapa tahun dari kita. Memang biasa bahasakan diri dia abang. I tak panggil dia abang kan?” tanya Hidayah menolak sangkaan hubungan mesra yang tidak wujud.

"Tua dari kita? Nampak muda. Lebih hensem dari gambar." Komen Dr. Roy tentang lelaki yang pastinya berumur lebih empat puluh tahun tapi tanpa uban di rambut atau kedut di muka.

"Hanya kawan?" Tanya pula Halimah. "Kawan tak merajuk macam tu, Dayah."

“Dayah…dah nak mandikan jenazah ni,” panggil ibu mertua Hidayah kepada menantu yang rasa terselamat Dari menjawab soalan-soalan rakan-rakannya.

Hidayah salam rakan-rakannya. Eddahnya telah bermula. Empat bulan sepuluh hari, dia hanya akan berulang dari tempat kerja ke rumah. Tiada lagi pertemuan dengan teman-teman karib itu yang akan dia hadirinya.

Hidayah kerling jam di pergelangan tangan dan kemudian kereta Honda Civic hitam bercermin separa gelap yang di pakir di belakangnya. Kakinya di hentak ke lantai simen di hadapan pondok pengawal kondominium dengan rentak laju mencari kesabaran.

“Sori! Sori!” Jerit Halimah menuruni cerun jalan apartment yang didiaminya semasa berada di Kuala Lumpur, “satu lif rosak. Lambat nak turun.”

“Tak pa,” jawab Hidayah menghulurkan dua beg kertas bertali kepada Halimah.

“Apa ni?”

"Hadiah," jawab Hidayah.

“You yang kahwin. I yang dapat hadiah?” perli Halimah.

“You tak dapat datang masa majlis hari tu. Tak dapat cenderahati kenduri jadi I beli ni masa honeymoon kat Beijing,” jelas Hidayah.

“Syok honeymoon?” sakat rakan lama Hidayah itu dengan senyum nakal penuh makna.

Hidayah yang berkemeja denim labuh dan berseluar jeans lemparkan senyuman manis kepada Halimah, “yang biru tu I bagi kat you. Yang merah untuk Hani you.”

“Hai, Hani pun dapat satu?” tanya hairan Halimah. Hidayah tidak pernah pun bertembung, berbual atau bercakap melalui telefon dengan madunya. Hani hanya wujud dalam perbualan mereka.

“Entah, masa kat sana tu, tiba-tiba I teringat kat Hani you,” jawab Hidayah memakai cermin mata gelap yang tadi tersangkut di atas kepala. “ I dah label baik-baik tu. Jangan tersilap bagi. Yang tu I dah buat…beli special untuk Hani tau."

“You jampi apa ni?” gurau Halimah menjenguk ke dalam beg yang dijinjingnya. Kedua-duanya berisi kotak minuman sarang burung yang sama.

Hidayah senyum sinis. Cermin mata gelap yang dipakainya menafikan Halimah dari membaca isi hatinya. “Ingat bagi yang merah kat Hani. Hanya untuk Hani tau.” Pesan Hidayah sebelum dia menaiki kereta hitam yang dari tadi menunggunya.

Hidayah duduk di lobi resort mewah Tasik Kenyir membaca majalah di tangan. Kaki yang disilangkan sengaja digoyang mengikut rentak lagu yang berada di dalam fikirannya.

Matanya mengubah pandang ke ukiran kayu yang memisah ruang daftar dengan ruang santai. Tangannya merasa lembut baldu coklat gelap yang menyalut pemegang kerusi yang didudukinya. Kain batik Terengganu menghias siling ruang yang sejuk nyaman.

Telinganya mendengar bunyi air terjun buatan di sudut ruang. Cantik hiasan batu-batu sungai dan pokok paku pakis yang di susun di tepi air terjun itu. Hidayah dapat bayangkan ada ikan koi warna-warni yang bahagia berenang di situ.

“Sori. Sori.” Cungap Halimah melabuhkan diri di kerusi di hadapan Hidayah.

"Tak apa. Residen arkitek. Kerja enam hari seminggu. Sibuk sentiasa," jawab Hidayah dengan senyum manis.

"Suami tak ada ke?" Tanya Halimah memerhati sekeliling mencari lelaki tinggi tampan yang tidak kelihatan.

Hidayah gelak."Dia tak macam arwah Mustapha."

“Dia bagi you datang sini sorang?” Tanya Halimah dengan nada terkejut.

“Tak. Ni honeymoon lagi,” Hidayah kenyitkan matanya. “Dia rehat dalam bilik kat atas tu. Dia tak jeles macam Mustapha. Tak de nak control I. I kata I nak turun jumpa you. Dia okey aje.”

“Dia tak macam Mustapha? Dari segi mana lagi tu?” Duga Halimah.

Hidayah gelak lagi. “ Isteri dia meninggal enam tahun lalu. Serangan jantung. Masa tu anak bongsu nak masuk universiti. Anak-anak lain dah kerja. Dah ada yang kahwin. Dah duduk sendiri. Jadi dia biasa urus diri sendiri.”

“Oooo sekarang you dah ada orang tolong you lah kat rumah?” perli Halimah melihat seri di wajah sahabat yang dulu kurus dan pucat.

Gelak Hidayah jelas kedengaran di ruang lobi yang luas. “Tak payah minta tolong. Tak payah suruh. Dia buat sendiri. Kami pergi kerja sekali. Balik kerja dia tolong kemas rumah. I masak. Dua-dua boleh rehat awal.”

“Kami dua-dua anak dah besar-besar jadi hujung minggu dia bawa jalan. Dua minggu lepas Pangkor. Minggu ni Kenyir. Tengoklah kalau ada rezeki, kami nak pergi Jepun. So you macam mana? Sibuk macam biasa nampaknya?”

“Projek sanctuary I dicalon untuk Anugerah Arkitek Malaysia. Sibuk bawa juri tengok. Lepas tu nak serah projek lama dan dah mula projek resort tepi pantai pula. Sebulan-dua ni dua-tiga projek bertindan. Busylah…”

RING! RINGGGG!!! RIIINGGG!!! Ayat Halimah diganggu oleh telefon yang berdering. “Ha. Hello? Apa? Ya ke? Ok! Ok! I datang.”

Hidayah renung rakan yang panik. “Ada kecemasan ke?”

“Anak tiri I yang umur dua belas tahun tu…sakit.”

“Sakit apa?” tanya serius Hidayah.

Halimah bangun dari kerusi yang separa panas, “Dah dua minggu demam. Kelmarin masuk hospital. Baba dia…Husband I kata ada kidney failure.”

Hidayah pandang lantai berpermaidani warna krim. Fikirannya berlari laju. Dia tarik nafas panjang mengawal jantung yang kini berdegup kencang, “Doktor dah buat ujian darah?”

“Semalam. Doktor kata jangkitan kuman,” terang Halimah yang melangkah keluar dari lobi.

Hidayah ikut setiap langkah rakan karibnya itu. Dia mula rasakan kepalanya semakin ringan. Kaki dan tangannya terasa sejuk. “Leptospirosis?” bisik Hidayah.

“Tak tau. Mana budak tu nak dapat penyakit tu? Dia bukan pergi perkhemahan mana-mana. Suami I tak bawa anak-anak pergi berkelah kat air terjun, kat sungai,” airmata Halimah mula mengalir mengenang anak tiri yang terlantar di hospital.

Darah mula mengalir keluar dari wajah Hidayah. Wajah yang memang putih menjadi pucat lesi. Fikirannya cuba menyusun perkataan untuk menjadi satu ayat tanya. Pertanyaan yang perlu di utarakan walau jawapannya mengerikan Hidayah.

“Imah…hari tu…I bagi sarang burung untuk Hani. Hani minum ke? Dia tak bagi kat anak-anak dia kan?”

“Entah mana I tahu…” Halimah pandang tepat ke dalam mata Hidayah yang kelihatan risau dan takut. “You buat apa? You bubuh apa dalam air tu? Racun?”

Hidayah hanya boleh berdiri kaku. Tiada jawapan yang dapat keluar dari bibir pucatnya.

“Leptospirosis…” sebut Halimah perlahan. “You bubuh kencing tikus? Suami you? Dia tak kena penyakit tu sebab perkhemahan? You bubuh dalam minuman dia? You bunuh dia?!”

Hidayah kekal kaku. Hanya airmata yang mengalir di pipinya.

“You kejam! Tak berhati-perut! You nak kejar kebahagiaan, you nak kejar lelaki hensem, suami baru, itu bukan caranya. Apa you tak ingat dosa, Dayah?!” Marah Halimah.

“Jadi you dah ambil satu nyawa. Nak ambil satu lagi mudah? I tak mahu bahagia yang macam ni. Bahagia yang di curi. Kalau you lupa dosa-pahala. I masih ingat lagi, Dayah.”

Halimah buka pintu kereta, hempukkan dirinya dan hempas pintu itu di hadapan muka Hidayah.

“Biar I terangkan…” kata Hidayah perlahan.

“Tak! I tak nak dengar apa-apa pun dari you. You pembunuh dan you khianati hidup I. You bukan lagi kawan I.” jawab pantas Halimah sambil menekan minyak keluar dari pakir hotel mewah itu.

Hidayah rasa kepalanya seolah-olah berpusing. Pelepah pohon-pohon pinang yang berderet di tepi kawasan pakir hotel itu melambai-lambai Hidayah yang kini terduduk di atas batu berjalur hitam putih di tepi jalan.

Airmatanya sudah berhenti mengalir. Jantung Hidayah kembali berdegup tenang. Tangannya menekan telefon bimbit yang dari tadi dicengkam, “Dean…tolong Dayah.”

Resident architect Halimah, Prof. Jamaliah and Dr. Roy sat on the floor covered with plastic mats that filled the whole living room until the car porch. Many people came to visit.

Empty jugs were placed on tables at a few corners of the house. Blue, red and green notes were silently pushed into the empty jars by those who came. The buzz of the Quran being read could be heard from the back room.

"Sorry," said Hidayah in a sad and soft voice. She sat beside her friends and held out her cold and thin hands.

"Condolences, dear," said Prof. Jamaliah, her hands automatically wiped the tears on Hidayah's cheeks.

"I am sorry," said Dr. Roy hugging skin and bones on her friends thin frame. "the other day... I didn't mean to say that."

Hidayah held back her tears without success. "You didn't do it. Allah is the one who arranged this."

Prof. Jamaliah held out a tissue that she took out from her handbag to wipe tears that would not stop. the tissue could not heal the pain that her friend is feeling. it could not bandage grief and evaporate hurt.

Dr. Roy held her friend's hands. Hands that had long scrawny fingers tired of work.

Before this they had heard of Hidayah's grouses about her lazy husband, now she had to feel what being alone truly meant.

"What did he suffer from?" asked Halimah who coincidentally was in Kuala Lumpur to attend a ceremony. She looked at her friend who wore all black with utmost symphathy.

"When he came home from camping, he had a fever. Didn't let down." Hidayah's sentence stopped a while. Tears rolled down quietly.

"Last week, viral infection to his kidneys...his lungs. It attacked his brains. Yesterday, his heart stopped... the hospital did tests," Hidayah explained.

"Then?" asked Dr. Roy almost certain of the diagnosis of Hidayah's husband's death.

"Leptospirosis. Rat's urine," muttered Hidayah.

"From Allah he came and from Allah he returns," said Prof. Jamaliah. "Mourning? Work?"

"Mourning. Four menstrual cycle. to ensure if there is a child, it is his. I am sure I am not pregnant. Four months ten days. A sign of respect for the husband who left us." Reminded Hidayah to herself.

"I'll go to work. I have a child in university to support." Hidayah looked around for her only daughter who from the day before had been crying next to her father's body.

"So you wont come with us to Bogor next month?" asked Halimah.

"She's not coming even if her husband is alive. Even if is healthy." Dr. Roy answered on behalf of her long time friend.

"You've been a good wife despite what he did to you," consoled Prof. Jamaliah.

"Dayah..."

Prof. Jamaliah, Halimah and Dr. Roy simultaneously turned their heads towards the deep sexy voice. Their eyes froze on the tall man who was neatly wearing a shirt and neck tie.

The man's eyes ignored their stares because they were fixed on Hidayah's bereaved face.

"Why didn't you call me? asked the man who was in Hidayah's picture in front of the stage. "I only knew from your clerk when she asked permission to go out of the office to visit death in the family."

Hidayah gazed at the man, her face full of tear marks. "Sorry, Dean. I told the executive at the Human Resource Department. I texted only my close friends."

The man named Dean threw a hurt look at Hidayah. "I know who I am. I am not your close friend. Not someone you tell your troubles to."

"Please, Dean. Not now..." Pleaded Hidayah to Dean who seemed to sulk and stepped away into the congregation of men outside.

"Abang?" asked Halimah sinically at the endearment term used by Dean.

"He is a few years older than us. He is used to calling himself 'abang'. I don't call him that, right?" retorted Hidayah trying to erase an intimate relationship that did not exist.

"Older? Looks young. Better looking in person." Commented Dr.Roy on the man who surely was in his forties but without a strand of grey in his hair or wrinkle on his face.

"Just friends?" Asked Halimah. "Friends don't sulk like that, Dayah."

"Dayah...time to bathe the deceased," called her mother in-law to Hidayah who felt saved from answering her friends' questions.

Mourning time had started. Four months and ten days. She will go to work and home. No more gatherings with her best friends for the time being.

Hidayah leered at the watch on her wrist and then at the Honda Civic with semi tinted windows parked behind her. Trying to find patience, her foot tapped anxiously on the cement floor in front of the condominium's guard house.

"Sorry! Sorry!" Shouted Halimah as she walked down the incline of the road leading towards the apartment she is staying while in Kuala Lumpur, "one elevator is broken. It takes sometime to get down."

"It's okay," answered Hidayah handing over two paper bags to Halimah.

"What's this?"

"A gift," answered Hidayah.

"You got married and I got a gift?" retorted Halimah.

"You couldn't come to my wedding ceremony the other day. You didn't get the door gift so I bought you these during my honeymoon in Beijing," explained Hidayah.

"Having fun honeymooning?" said Hidayah's old friend with a naughty meaningful smile.

Hidayah who was wearing a denim shirt dan jeans smiled sweetly at Halimah, "the blue one is for you. The red one is for Hani."

"What? Even Hani gets one?" asked Halimah quizzically. Hidayah had never met, talked or spoken over the phone with Halimah's husband's second wife. Hani only existed in their conversations.

"I don't know. She suddenly came to mind," said Hidayah putting on the sunglasses that rested on her head before this. "I've labeled it carefully. Don't be mistaken. That one I've made...bought especially for Hani."

"Did you cast a spell on it?" joked Halimah peering into the bags that she was holding. Both contained the same box of bird's nest drinks.

Hidayah smiled cynically. The sunglasses that she wore denied Halimah from reading what was in her heart. "Remember give the red one to Hani. Just for Hani, ok?" advised Hidayah before she entered the black car that had been waiting.

Hidayah sat in the lobby of Tasik Kenyir's posh hotel while reading the magazine at hand. Her crossed legs shook to the rhythm of music that is in her head.

Her eyes shifted to the wood carving that separate the reception and the lounge. Her hands felt the soft dark brown velvet of the sofa's handrest. Terengganu's batik decorated the ceiling of the cool cozy area.

Her ears listened to the flow of man-made falls at the corner of the room. The river rocks and ferns were beautifully arranged around the serene cascades. Hidayah could imagine the colourful fish that swam in the pool.

"Sorry. Sorry." said Halimah breathlessly as she sat on the sofa across Hidayah.

"It's okay. Resident architect. Works six days a week. Always busy," replied Hidayah with a sweet smile.

"Your husband isn't here?" Asked Halimah looking around for the tall handsome man who was not in sight.

Hidayah giggled. "He is not like the late Mustapha."

"He allowed you to come here alone?" Asked Halimah in disbelief.

"No. This is another honeymoon," winked Hidayah. "He is in our room upstairs. He isn't jealous like Mustapha. He isn't controlling. I said I wanted to see you. He said okay."

"He's not like Mustapha? In what other aspects?" Quizzed Halimah.

Hidayah giggled again. "His wife died six years ago. Heart attack. His youngest was going to university. His other children were already working. Some were already married. Lived on their own. He is used to taking care of himself."

"Oooo now you have someone helping you at home?" said Halimah seeing the glow on the face that was once thin and pale.

Hidayah's laughter could be heard throughout the huge lobby. "No need to ask for help. No need to give directions. He does it on his own. We go to work together. When we come home, he cleans the house. I cook. Then we both rest early."

"All our children are grown up so weekends we travel. Two weeks ago Pangkor. This week Kenyir. If we have resources, we are going to Japan. What about you? Busy as usual I see?"

"My sanctuary project is nominated for the Malaysian Architect Award. Busy bringing the juries for site inspection. Then there's the handover of old projects and already started on the beach front resort. A lot of overlapping work. Busy..."

RING! RINGGGG!!! RIIINGGG!!! Halimah's phone rang and interrupted her sentence. "Ha. Hello? What? Really? Ok! Ok! I am coming."

Hidayah looked intently at her panicked friend. "Is there an emergency?"

"My twelve year old step son...sick."

"Sick?" queried Hidayah seriously.

Halimah got up from the half heated seat. "Fever for the last two weeks. Yesterday he was hospitalized. His father...My husband said kidney failure."

Hidayah looked at the cream coloured carpet. Her mind raced. She took a long deep breathe trying to control her fast beating heart. "Have the doctor done blood tests?"

"Yesterday. The doctor said he has an infection," said Halimah walking out of the lobby.

Hidayah followed each and every step that her best friend took. She felt light headed. Her hands and feet were getting cold. "Leptospirosis?" whispered Hidayah.

"Don't know. Where would he get that? He didn't go camping. My husband didn't bring the kids for picnics at waterfalls or rivers," Halimah's tears rolled down as she thought of her step son who was in the hospital.

Blood flowed out of HIdayah's face. Her fair complexion turned white as sheet. Her mind tried to put words into a question. A question that needed to be asked although she cringed at the suspected answered.

"Imah...the other day...I gave bird's nest drink for Hani. Did she drink it? She didn't give to her children, right?"

"How would I know..." Halimah stared into Hidayah's scared and worried eyes. "What did you do? You put something in the drink? Poison?"

Hidayah stood extremely still. No words came out of her pale lips.

"Leptospirosis..." mentioned Halimah softly. "You put rat urine? Your husband? He didn't get it from camping? You put it in his drink? You killed him?"

Hidayah remained frozen. Only tears rolled down her cheeks.

"You are cruel! Heartless! You chased after happiness, you chased after a handsome man, your new husband, that is not the way. Didn't you think about sin, Dayah?" scolded Halimah.

"So you took one life. Taking another is easy? I don't want that kind of bliss. It's stolen. If you've forgotten about rewards and sins, I havent, Dayah."

Halimah opened her car door, sat and slammed the door in front of Hidayah's face.

"Let me explain..." said Hidayah softly.

"No! I don't want to hear anything from you. You are a murderer and you betrayed me. You are not my friend." retorted Halimah stepping on the gas pedal as she exited the luxury hotel's parking lot.

Hidayah felt her head spinning. The leaves of the palm trees that lined the parking area waved at Hidayah who sat on the black and white striped boulders by the roadside.

Her tears had stopped. Her heart beat regularly. Her hand pressed on the handset which she had been gripping, "Dean...help me."