Ayam kampung dalam raga,
Jadi korban hidangan raya,
Buat semua sahabat blogger,
Mohon ampun maaf dari saya.
Salam Aidilfitri dari Oldstock dan famili
To all friends and readers who have dropped by with the warm wishes, I wish the same to all of you too. Enjoy the holidays, watch what you eat and have fun.
It may be a while before I get back online, so I thought this would be an appropriate time to present the third part of my (still-in-progress) short story.
To read the opening part, click here -> Part1
To read the second part, click here -> Part 2
A Bingo Straight To The Heart (Part 3)
Although I had often seen Joe together with Aida around campus, that was the first time I was introduced to him. Joe looks like most other overseas Malaysian male students; dressed in faded jeans, army surplus jacket and sporting long hair that reached the shoulders. In fact, his hair is longer than Aida’s. Except for the jeans, Aida’s look is a direct contrast to her friend. She is a petite girl who likes to keep her hair neat and short, almost tomboyish. Her cheerful personality is the opposite to his soft-spoken demeanour but they seem to get along pretty well. We see them together so often that we consider Joe to be Aida’s boyfriend. I like Aida a lot, so a friend of hers is also a friend of mine.
Our weekly Scrabble session is quite well known amongst the female Malaysian students in Sheffield. Usually there would be six or seven of us who want to play. Since a maximum of four can play in any one round, we would draw lots for the first round with the loser of that first round giving way to a new player. The loser will also end up making tea or preparing refreshments for the rest of us, thus the added incentive of trying not to finish last. Anita and I would normally finish tops with Lin or Nooraini most often coming in third. Aida and the other juniors are the regular tea makers. Although she speaks fluent English, Aida seems to have a problem with vocabulary. But that did not stop her from continuing to play and enjoy the game, such was her positive spirit. Our sessions would often last till late at night and sometimes even to the wee hours of morning. About the only time that we do not play is when most of us have something else to do like catching a movie or the like, and about four weeks before term exams.
That day, Noor offers to sit out the first round while Joe declined to play. He says that he’ll be happy just watching.
Lin started the round with a five-letter word (PLATE) for a reasonable opening score of 20 points. Next was Aida and then Anita. I had drawn a lousy rack, five vowels and two consonants, and could only start with meagre score of 9. Lin, the joker in our group, poked fun at me. Feeling slightly embarrassed with a male guest present, I stole a glance at Joe, who is sitting just behind his classmate.
For her next move, Aida was excited as she has spotted a possible `hook’ to the first word `PLATE’. She was in the process of putting down her tiles to make `MARCH’, with the `R’ hooking onto the end of `PLATE’, hence making two words in a single move. Just before she finish arranging her tiles, Joe suddenly quipped, “Hang on! You can make a better word than that.” He then looked around at us and asked, “I hope you guys don’t mind me helping Aida a bit.”
“It’s okay with me,” I said. Having seen her finish last so often, I’m not against Aida getting some help once in a while. Anita and Lin did not seem to mind either.
Joe softly discussed his option with his girlfriend, whose face suddenly lit up and cried, “Yes!”. She then rearranged the tiles she had put down plus the remainder on her rack to come up with the word `CHARMED’. She had just played what we call a Bingo in the game of Scrabble, which is a play of seven letters or more in a single move for a bonus of 50 points. The `D’ is now hooked to the first word that Lin made, to come up with `PLATED’, hence earning her more points. She ended up scoring a whopping 79 points on that single move alone.
It was the first time Aida has played a bingo, and her overwhelming delight was obvious for all to see. She was punching clenched fists in the air with glee and crying out, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”. It took a while for her to calm down. It felt good for me too, to see she has achieved something, even though with a little help. She thanked Joe profusely and with both hands, suddenly pinched Joe on both his cheeks as if he was a baby. “I could marry you for this!” she said. Joe’s reaction to all this was a simple kindly smile. I couldn’t help but smile a little myself.
As it turned out, luck was not with me in that opening round. I continued to draw terrible combinations of letters and, for the first time, finished the game in last position. For the first time too, Aida finished tops. The once unthinkable situation of me making tea for the group became a reality.
... to be continued.