“It’s over now,” Adam said, sinking into the sagging rattan chair.
“You really think so?” Nadia said softly.
He hesitated over his reply, but finally set his teeth in that flamboyant grin of his. “It is, kak. It has to be.”
“The people should not fear their government,” she whispered, like an escaping hiss. She knew that grin. He was trying to believe in his own words as much as he wanted her to.
He threw a troubled look at her. “Since when does my sister learn lines like that?” he asked, noticing for the first time the furrow of worry on her brow, the lines of tension around her mouth.
“You were gone for so long we thought they had taken you like they took Abah. I had to do something.”
“So you watched an outlawed, outdated movie.”
“No. I talked to Shukri.”
“You - where is Shukri?” There was urgency in his voice now, his thin fingers gripping her upper arm.
“That hurts, Adam.”
“Sorry, kak,” he said, letting go. “Where is he? Is he safe?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. He - he comes and goes. I haven’t seen him in two weeks. I don’t know if he’s still alive.”
Adam stared as his older sister burst into tears.
“I’m so worried about him, Adam.”
He put an arm about her awkwardly. “Are you - is…” he tried to organise his thoughts. “Are you dating him?”
“What do you think?”
“No, he would never date. It would be too dangerous. But you love him all the same.”
“Why do you do this Adam? Why can’t you and Shukri leave well alone?”
“Because the government should be afraid of the people.”
Nadia shivered at the glint in his eye.
A shadow moved in the dark. Shukri turned his head slightly, watching it out of the corner of his eye. His hand slowly moved to grasp the hilt of his keris.
“It’s me, Kri,” a familiar voice said.
Shukri relaxed a little, his hand still at the ready, watching as Adam walked to him with his hands held wide. Adam stopped a few steps in front of him and turned around, allowing Shukri to pat him down quickly. Satisfied, Shukri finally grabbed Adam by the shoulders, spun him around and engulfed him in a hug.
“Sorry,” he said gruffly.
Adam shrugged. “Any news?”
“It’s bad in the South. Mass arrests after our meeting last Wednesday.”
“Will be tough to clean up.”
“Fly was taken.”
“Wasn’t on the news. That’s good, isn’t it?”
“Just means they’re not done with him yet. They’ll brand him as a traitor and hold a public execution when they’ve got everything out of him.”
“Or they’ll keep him forever, like my father.”
The silence between them was heavy.
“What’s this with Nadia that I hear?” Adam finally asked, trying to keep his tone light.
Shukri groaned. “I’m sorry, Adam. I didn’t want to involve her. For your sake. For your father’s.” He buried his face in his hands.
“She misses you, Kri.”
“I - I can’t get involved, Adam! Not now. Not in this place. She’ll become nothing but a weakness, a bargaining chip, to be used against me. Against you. When we’re done, when we’ve won… When our country is free again - I…”
“You could run away to Metropolita together. Now. Tomorrow. My aunt has estates there. You’ll be free and safe, and so would Nadia.”
“Would you do that, Adam? Would you run away from our cause for love?”
“Malaysia is my love, Shukri. You’ve taught me well.”
“You have your father’s heart in you. His spirit.”
“So does Nadia.”
“No, Adam, I cannot. Please don’t tempt me.”
“I am sending her away tomorrow. She will accompany my mother to Metropolita.”
“She’ll be safe there.”
“I had hoped you’d want to say goodbye.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Adam!” Nadia yelled.
“It’s for the best,” he insisted.
“And what about you? Aren’t you coming along?”
“I have work to do here.”
“So do I.”
“Please, kak. We want you to be safe.”
“Shukri and I.”
“Oh, you’ve been talking to him, have you?”
“Where is he?”
“You tell him that his cause is my cause too. His land is my land too. And I will not be sent packing like a useless accessory.”
Adam’s fists balled. “Why won’t you listen?”
“Why won’t you?”
“What if you get arrested? What if they come for you because of him? Because of me? Because of who we are?”
“Then so be it, Adam Tash. The women of this family do not run,” Marina Tash said, her voice low and gravelly.
“Why do you think you grew up here?”
The heavy woman walked slowly into the room, laying her hands on the heads of her children. “You are your father’s children. You can do no less.”
Kak - (short for kakak) older sister
Abah - father
Mak - mother
keris - a type of dagger
I suppose these are pretty obvious, but well, *shrug*.
Many thanks to Arief for his prompt, "Oppression" and Linda for her prompt "It's over now". You gotta love the twitter peeps. Christine had a prompt as well - "Surrender" - which I'll probably use next week. :)