Daniel opened his eyes and stared at the fan spinning above his head. And so it is morning. Am I truly ready for today?
He refused to think about it further as he bent his head and inhaled the smell of Sherise’s hair. When had she come and snuggled next to him? His arm was around her, holding her like a doll. The sleeping bag suddenly seemed a cumbersome thing he was cocooned inside. He extricated his arm, trying not to wake her up. Once he was free, he picked her up, comforter and all and laid her gently on the bed. She stirred, he held his breath, but she settled down again, eyes closed.
Am I ready for today? Perhaps.
The shaver stopped mid-chin as Sherise pushed open the bathroom door.
“Sorry, did I wake you? I thought I was quiet enough not to.”
"You're going, aren't you?" she asked, her face white under the yellow lights.
"Take me with you."
His eyes flickered over to her even as his arrested motion resumed. "No."
"Then you are not going."
"Sherise, the rally is no place for you in your state."
"Neither is it a place for you in yours."
"Remember peace, Daniel," she interrupted him. "If you forget it, there is no point in going."
Peace. He bristled at the suggestion. No one called for peace when you were arrested.
"Daniel, if you're going to look for a fight, don't go. They don't need your help to create a riot. They need people who will remember that it started as a peaceful movement, will continue as one and will end in peace as well."
"And how would you know?" He hated the way it came out gruff and accusing and angry even as her eyes tightened. “Sorry, I…”
"Do you think being grilled for hours on end about this would leave me as clueless as I was before?" There was a catch in her voice. "If you must go, you must take me."
"Why?" he asked, but he knew the answer: if she went along, he would give his all to protect her. If she were there, he would not give in to his basest impulses, his wild anger, his desire to fight. That was why he had decided to go, wasn’t it? To tell the government that he wouldn’t give in to their bullying tactics. It was only peripherally about the rally’s actual demands. Are you sure you really are ready for what today holds?
"This is not about retaliation," she insisted.
He scratched at his chin. But maybe it really is. Maybe all this, the rally itself, is a retaliation against a government which will not listen to reason.
"There is too much tension in the air already. Key leaders have been banned from the city. If they start... if anything happens and you get involved, where would that leave me?"
Daniel leaned against the sink, toying with the shaver. Then he straightened and lathered his face with soap. So do we rally with peace or with war?
"Are you listening to me?"
Bent over the sink with water and foam running down his face, he nodded.
“Stop thinking with your heart and start thinking with your brain. What do we gain if you fight them physically? Battered bones and bruised egos. Is that what you want? And if you get arrested what do I do? Peace is the goal, Daniel, and calling attention to the eight points. There will be no blaze of glory.” Suddenly, she giggled. “Don’t think with the hair on your chest!”
Daniel had to smile. I don’t have any, he threw in his usual reply mentally. He covered his face with the towel, trying to wipe off all emotion before answering. “I can't let you put yourself in danger again, Sherise." Who can guarantee peace if there are many like me without a wife like you?
"And neither can I, Daniel. Remember what we used to joke about? Sherise? She who rises?"
She waited for her husband to nod.
“Then let me rise. We rise together.”
"Get ready," he finally said. "We leave in thirty minutes.”
Peace. Remember peace. Remember the cause. Remember what you are fighting for. Remember. He tried to hold it all in his head, to knot down the purpose, the goal.
I will remember peace.
For all of you attending the Bersih rally tomorrow, stay safe and stay calm! May the wisdom of God go with you.