Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

Chapter 8 - Whenever You Call

A few days later, Chi Shan visited the cemetery where his late wife was buried.  Just as he was about to leave Tong Sum’s graveside, he noticed Ah Man and Kwan were approaching from a distance.  He wasn’t surprised to see Ah Man; however, he was surprised that she and Kwan had developed such a close bond in friendship.
“Hi Chi Shan!” Kwan greeted him with her usual cheerfulness as Ah Man only gave him a nod with a smile.
“Hi!” Chi Shan then directed his glance towards the bouquet of roses that Ah Man was holding.  “Those are beautiful.  I’m sure Tong Sum is very happy to get them!”
Kwan thought the happiest person was the florist, but she decided to keep that to herself.  Ah Man decided to head towards the graveside and placed the flowers next to the ones from Chi Shan. 
Kwan and Chi Shan stepped aside to give Ah Man some private time with her late best friend.
“Do you come here with Ah Man often?” Chi Shan asked Kwan.
“No, this is the first time after the funeral.”  Kwan replied.  She didn’t want Chi Shan to know their getting together was to talk about Ah Man’s relationships.  “I’m just accompanying her this morning.”
Chi Shan turned and took in a quick glance of Ah Man who was still standing in front of the grave.  He sighed as he made a remark.  “I wish things could be different for her.”
“How do you mean?”  Kwan was in her psychoanalysis role.
Chi Shan turned back to face Kwan.  “If I had not made a mess of things with Ah Man, Tong Sum would still be alive.”
Kwan studied Chi Shan’s eyes and facial expression for a moment.  “It’s not too late to clean up the mess with her.  Don’t turn memories of Tong Sum into a shadow.  She no longer needs love from a human heart.  But Ah Man does.”
Chi Shan’s eyes twinkled as if Kwan’s words enlightened something in his heart.  He smiled and said, “I hope the stain is not too deep to be removed.”
“Use a stronger stain removal if you have to, just don’t give up!” Kwan smiled. “And let me know your progress so that I can start saving up to buy a flight ticket to attend the wedding.”
Ah Man happen to approach and interrupted their conversation and laughter.  “What are you guys laughing about?”
Kwan refrained from answering as she could also tell from Chi Shan’s expression that he did not want Ah Man to know.
“We were just joking around,” Chi Shan finally spoke up. 
“You’re done?”  Kwan asked Ah Man. 
When Ah Man nodded, Chi Shan looked at his watch and then put forth a suggestion.  “How about we go to grab a bite to eat?” 
It was Ah Man’s turn to refrain from speaking.  But Kwan could tell from her body language that she would rather not.  Afterall, she was the one who had invited Kwan out for a one on one lunch.  Kwan thought she had better say something before things turned awkward among them.
“Maybe next time,” Kwan gave Chi Shan a smile.  “It’s Ah Man’s turn to accompany me to do some last minute shopping.”
Kwan hoped Chi Shan didn’t detect the lie she just told, but Ah Man sort of gave it away by her sudden reaction to going shopping.
Kwan bought one item to acquit herself from her guilt.  Then she decided she was in the mood for sushi and so they went to a nearby Japanese restaurant.
“Chi Shan and I used to come here often.” Ah Man told Kwan after they were seated inside a private booth.
Kwan looked up from the menu.  “You don’t mind coming here, I hope.” 
Ah Man let out a girlish chuckle. “No, of course not!  It’s nice that they gave us a private booth.”
After placing their order, Kwan decided to share some of her observations with Ah Man.  Afterall, she was the only person with the privilege of hearing from all three sides of the story.  
“You do know that Chi Shan cares about you a lot, right?”  Kwan began.  “In fact, I can tell he still loves you very much.”
Kwan could tell she got Ah Man’s full attention, she continued.  “When Tong Sum found out the reason you broke off your engagement to Chi Shan, she told me exactly what happened that night at The Peak.  Chi Shan also told me the same thing later.”
Ah Man obviously didn’t want to talk about this and tried to avoid the issue.   “It’s already in the past, why do you want to bring it up?”
“Because it was a misunderstanding at that time,” Kwan was doing her best not to allow Ah Man to head towards denial.  “Everyone reacts to situations like these differently.  It’s understandable, one was your fiancé and one was your best friend.  You’ve lost trust in both of them instantly.”
“I felt so foolish when I saw them,” Ah Man was finally opening herself up.  “All my life, I didn’t want a relationship like my parents’ marriage.”
“Well, you had no examples to learn from, the only example was to keep everything inside; especially when it comes to matters of the heart.”  Kwan stopped talking when the waitress brought their food to the table.  She also didn’t want Ah Man to feel embarassed.
At the same time, Kwan was aware the hostess was seating someone down in the private booth next to theirs.  The two booths were separated by a tall partition.  When the person being seated thanked the hostess, Kwan thought his voice sounded very familiar.  But when silence followed from the other side of the partition, she didn’t pursue on the matter and returned her attention to Ah Man when the waitress was done serving them their dishes.
“You kept everything inside yourself and never opened up to anyone; not even to the man you were about to marry back then.” Kwan reminded with a grin.
Ah Man admitted Kwan was right with the look of guilt all over her face. “I know, Chi Shan used to say the same thing to me.”
Kwan gave a comforting smile. “It’s not too late.  Both of you can try to help each other open up again.”  Kwan intentionally leaned closer.  “And you have to stop avoiding him or else his guilt will eat him up eventually.”
“Guilt?”  Ah Man voiced her surprise.  “Why would he feel guilty?  He loves Tong Sum and can’t forget her.”
“Well, he can’t forget you either.” Kwan emphasized.  “And Tong Sum doesn’t need his love anymore.”
Ah Man thought about what Kwan said.  Then she sighed.  “Why are we so unfortunate to wind up in such complicated triangle relationships?”
“You, Chi Shan and Tong Sum were never in a triangle relationship.  He was only committed to one of you at a time, never the same time.”  Kwan explained.  “Fate stepped in and is trying to make it easier for both of you now.  Remember, Tong Sum will not suffer if you two were to be together.”
Ah Man had no rebuttal to what Kwan said.  As she watched Kwan help herself to the sushi, she wanted the conversation to change direction.  That was when she remembered the scene where Kwan was trying to disentangle herself from Fei’s sudden embrace on the night of the farewell party at Chi Shan’s home.  Out of her own concern, she asked Kwan.  “What about you?  Do you consider yourself, Fei and Chin Chin in a triangle relationship?” 
Kwan swallowed her food and started to lower her head and thought for a moment.  She didn’t expect this sudden turn of conversation, least of all to be about Fei.  But she managed to pull out an answer that she had rehearsed in her head many times before.  “No, but fate has intervened to reunite two people who were meant to be together.  So I have to let it be.”
Chi Shan remained seated at the table while waiting for Fei who had called him on a last minute notice to have lunch at this restaurant.  He deemed it fortunate that Fei was detained when he learned that Kwan and Ah Man were in the same restaurant, seated next to him.  His heart grew heavy with guilt as he listened in on their entire conversation.  Because of the situation, he didn’t feel it was the right time to let them know of his presence.  So he didn’t and was most relieved when Fei arrived 10 minutes after Kwan and Ah Man left.
“So sorry!  There was an accident in the tunnel!”  Fei quickly apologized upon seeing Chi Shan.  “Did you wait long?”
Chi Shan gave him a smile that was uninterpretable.  He didn’t want Fei to know he was there waiting for one hour, instead he teased.  “Just don’t be this late when it comes to your wedding day!”
Fei responded with a frown and picked up the menu in front of him.  “I’m going to eat all the meat I can today!”
Fei gave a wistful look.  “Don’t you remember?  I once said if I can’t get Kwan to marry me, I’m going to check into the monastery!”
Joking aside, Chi Shan showed his concern.  “What about Chin Chin?” 
It was just as well when Fei looked up and didn’t have an answer because the waitress had approached to take their order.  Fei was not kidding when he said he was going to fill his stomach with as much meat as he could. Even the waitress had to ask him three times to confirm his order was for eat in and not take out. 
When they were alone again, Chi Shan decided to play the game of fate.  “Why did you choose this restaurant?”
Fei shrugged.  “Just out of random?  Why?”
“Just wondering if it was because you and Kwan used to come here a lot.”  Chi Shan started.
“Never!”  Fei gave him a scowl for trying to bring Kwan back to the conversation.  “My first time here!”
“Really?”  Chi Shan was enjoying this game of fate.  “I wonder if it was Kwan’s first time here as well.”
Not following, Fei tried to give Chi Shan the brush off.  “Why don’t you ask her yourself?”
“I would have,” Chi Shan stated.  Then he smiled when Fei’s pupil dilated.  “But she left with Ah Man about 15 minutes ago.”
Fei’s pupil constricted upon hearing the information.  “Did you have lunch with them?”
“No, but we met this morning at Tong Sum’s gravesite,” Chi Shan continued.  “Then Kwan had some last minute shopping to do.”
Chi Shan could tell Fei still had strong feelings for Kwan, perhaps more so than he had feelings for Chin Chin.  “She’s leaving the day after tomorrow, what are you going to do?”
Fei lifted his gaze and didn’t have to say a word for the answer was written on his face.  Nothing!  Absolutely nothing!  Knowing Kwan’s personality and how she operated, there was absolutely nothing he could do.  So he took in a sigh and voiced out his predicament.  “She and I are back to the stage when we first started getting involved around two years ago.  It’s her call.  All I can do is wait for her to call!”​
Ending Song = Whenever You Call by Mariah Carey & Brian McKnight