He always poured himself a tall glass of Bintang beer every night before bed. I supposed it had eased his mind after a long day at work. Because not very long after he said his prayers and lied down, I could hear his heavy breathing.
He must have missed mum too. It used to be us three sleeping on this bed. A couple of weeks ago, she came out of the shower, pale pink towel covering her plump body, sat down on the edge of the bed and peeled off her towel, slowly and cautiously like I would the banana leaf skin of a nogosari, to show us her left breast. Daddy and I flanked her and she said to him she had found a lump there, somewhere near the armpit. He touched it but I do not think I did. I only saw it, a little mound like an ants' burrow. A few days later, she flew to Jakarta to have it checked.
I did not know how the tests went. Or how she was doing. She must also be happy to get the chance to meet my older sister and brother there. Sometimes I forgot I had siblings. I only heard their names in conversations. I had a tricycle I could ride around the volleyball court at the back of our house. And a trough made of cement filled with water. One day I took my bath in it with two friends after we played hide and seek in our backyard. The water was cold. Fun kind of cold.
In the morning, after he left for work, my Bibik would tell me to shower and then put me in my house clothes and comb my wet hair and tie them with an elastic band. Soon after she would tidy up the bedroom while I hung around playing with my dollies or reading picture books on the floor.
But one morning, when he forgot to close the closet where he hung his uniforms, I was drawn to the glistening coins spread underneath them. There were many of them, like treasures in a cave, like foiled chocolates waiting to be eaten. I took one, put it between my teeth and... gulped it down. Then I understood it did not taste like chocolate at all. It tasted metallic. Like an oversized Polo candy when you accidentally swallowed it whole. It tasted like a lesson I never prepared myself for. Unknown, but it had emerged and would unfold on its own accord whether I liked it or not.
Masya Allah! Bibik shrieked when I told her I just ate a coin. She ran to the living room and phoned him. The next thing I knew I was in the car with him to go to the doctor. The doctor remained calm while he listened to him. I have no recollection of the doctor's face but I remember he said that alien objects would find their way out of a human body through the mouth or anus. If that did not happen then surgery would be an option.
We went home and in the dining room I asked Bibik for a glass of water. Before I could finish it I vomited and spewed out all the water I had drank. Then came the sound nobody ever expected to hear... clink, clink, clink. The coin darted out of my throat into my mouth onto the floor. And I giggled. It had been a while since I giggled in front of him.
After drinking his own glass of water, he got in his car and went back to work. Bibik told me I had scared her to death. She said from then on I should only eat what she cooked. We laughed and I thought this would be a great story to tell mum. And probably my sister and brother when they come to visit.