Chapter 12: Guilt
Aiman and Sandra were on their way to Sandra’s house to meet Sandra’s parents. Aiman sat behind the wheel, meanwhile, Sandra sat beside him on the passenger seat.
Along the way, Aiman couldn’t get his encounter with Shinta out of his mind. He never thought that he would run into Shinta in that mall. It had been ages since the last time Aiman met Shinta, but Shinta hadn’t changed much. She still looked exactly the same as she did a few years ago.
Aiman was astonished to know that Shinta had been searching for him for years. She said that she had lost count of the number of times she had been trying to call him, but she could never get through. And it made Shinta worry about him.
Aiman felt guilty. He couldn’t imagine why he had let so much time pass without contacting her. If he had known that Shinta would worry about him this much, he would have called her regularly to tell her that he was alright. But at that time, Aiman was too preoccupied with the thoughts about his sisters’ wellbeing. Aiman was determined to give his sisters a secure and solid base. That’s why he didn’t think of anything else except for his work.
To his relief, Shinta could understand him and wasn’t angry with him. The two best friends then chatted away.
All of a sudden Shinta asked curiously, “By the way, what are you doing here?”
Before Aiman could attempt a reply, someone chimed in, “Honey, I am sorry I took too long.”
Aiman got tensed. “Why does Sandra have to come in the wrong time? Shinta shouldn’t meet Sandra here. I’m afraid there will be a misunderstanding between these two women,” Aiman thought with some apprehension.
“That’s okay, Honey,” Aiman finally said. He smiled to hide his nervousness.
“Aiman, who is she?” Shinta asked, pointing at Sandra.
Shinta’s face fell after Aiman introduced Sandra as his girlfriend to her, and Aiman knew why. Shinta was his girlfriend before this, and Aiman could understand if Shinta might feel a little bit jealous because he had had a new girlfriend now.
But Aiman thought it wasn’t a big deal. However, it was all the past. Now, Shinta was nothing more than a best friend for Aiman. And he was sure that in spite of the jealousy that Shinta showed him, she only regarded him as her best friend too now.
Actually, Aiman still wanted to talk with his old friend. But because Aiman had an appointment with Sandra’s parents today, he had to part from Shinta.
As he and Sandra were walking away from Shinta, Aiman looked back over his shoulder and offered Shinta a warm smile.
When Shinta noticed that Aiman was staring at her with a smile, Shinta returned his smile. But Aiman knew for sure that Shinta’s smile was forced.
Shinta turned her face away from Aiman. She hoped that Aiman wouldn’t see her tears. But it’s too late because Aiman already saw the tears that welled up in Shinta’s eyes.
Suddenly, it dawned on Aiman that he had hurt Shinta’s feelings. A feeling of guilt began to stir in Aiman’s heart. He thought because he had moved on from Shinta long ago, Shinta would do the same thing as well. But it was apparent that Shinta still had a feeling for Aiman until now. He admitted that the fault was on his part. He never broke up properly with Shinta, so it was understandable if Shinta was still expecting him.
To be honest, the sight of Shinta after so many years rekindled Aiman’s love for her too. But Aiman knew that he and Shinta couldn’t be together anymore. Aiman already had Sandra as his girlfriend now, and he couldn’t leave her because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
“Then what about Shinta? You have hurt her feelings too. How could you do that to the woman who loves you sincerely?” his subconscious asked fiercely.
Aiman sighed mentally. He knew that he was wrong for hurting Shinta’s feelings, but he thought that it’s the best for him and Shinta. Although Shinta’s heart would be breaking, she had to face the truth that their relationship had ended because Aiman didn’t want to give Shinta any more false hopes.
Aiman felt he at least owed Shinta an apology for breaking her heart. He opened his mouth and was just about to say sorry to Shinta, but Sandra kept tugging at his sleeve, so he had no choice but to turn his attention back to her.
After listening to what Sandra wanted to tell him, Aiman thought, “I have to pay Shinta a visit later. I feel obligated to give Shinta an explanation of what had happened. Shinta is the best of friend I have ever had, and I don’t want to lose her because of this misunderstanding. She—”
“Honey?” A voice suddenly pulled Aiman out of his reverie.
“Yes, Shinta?” Aiman said spontaneously.
“What?! Shinta?!” Sandra’s eyes nearly popped out of her head when she heard Aiman calling her with his best friend’s name.
“Sorry, I mean Sandra. It’s just a slip of the tongue,” Aiman corrected.
“How dare you think of another woman when you’re with me!” Sandra reprimanded him.
“It’s not like that, Honey. I—”
Before Aiman could finish his sentence, Sandra interrupted, “Don’t tell me that Shinta isn’t just your friend!”
Aiman tried his best to suppress his astonishment. “How could Sandra know that Shinta was more than my friend?” he wondered.
No, she didn’t know. She just guessed it. And her guess was accidentally true.
“What are you talking about, Sandra? Shinta is just my childhood friend. Nothing more,” Aiman emphasized.
Well, it was a lie because in fact Shinta used to be Aiman’s girlfriend. But Aiman thought that Sandra didn’t need to know about it.
“That’s bullshit! A man and a woman can never be just friends, Aiman,” Sandra scoffed.
“But Shinta and I are just friends. How many times do I have to tell you that, Sandra?” Aiman said frustratedly.
He didn’t tell lies this time because Shinta was no longer his girlfriend now. They were just friends.
“If you only consider her as a friend, why do you keep thinking of her?” Sandra demanded.
“Look! I think of Shinta just this once because we’ve just met again after so many years. But before this, I always think about you all the time, Sandra.” Aiman tried to reason with Sandra, but it only enraged her even more.
“So you just admitted that you have ever thought about Shinta when we’re together?” Sandra asked angrily.
“No, it’s not what I meant, Sandra. I—”
“Look Aiman!” Sandra cut him off, “Under no circumstances should you think about another woman! I’m your girlfriend, so the only woman you must think about is me.”
Aiman knew he would never win an argument with Sandra, so he decided to give in.
“Okay, Honey. I understand. I know I’m wrong. I’m so sorry, okay? I promise I will never do that again,” said Aiman.
Sandra turned her head away and looked out of the window, ignoring Aiman.
While his right hand gripped the steering wheel, Aiman reached out his left hand to touch Sandra’s hands that she put in her lap. “Please don’t be angry with me, Honey! I’m really sorry. I promise I will never think of another woman but you. Well, except for my sisters too. Because I can’t be selfish by not thinking about them.”
Sandra let out a long sigh. “I’m sorry if I sounded so selfish, Aiman. But I’m like this because I’m jealous of Shinta.”
Aiman smiled. “You don’t have to be jealous of Shinta. You know I only love you, right?”
“Oh really? You actually still love Shinta, don’t you? Just admit it, Aiman!” his subconscious teased.
“Shut up!” Aiman snapped in his mind.
“I know, Aiman. I love you too. But...” Sandra trailed off.
“But why?” asked Aiman.
“You probably only consider Shinta as your friend, but I think she doesn’t think so,” Sandra replied.
“What do you mean?” Aiman inquired.
“From the way she’s looking at you, I think she’s in love with you, Aiman,” answered Sandra.
Sandra’s guess was correct again. Aiman knew that Shinta still loved him. But it’s not possible for him to tell Sandra the truth. Aiman didn’t want his girlfriend to hate his best friend.
Aiman faked a laugh. “Don’t be silly! It’s no way that Shinta is in love with me.”
“No, I’m sure that she’s falling in love with you, Aiman,” Sandra insisted.
Aiman fell silent for a moment. And then he said with a smirk, “If I think about it carefully, I guess you’re right, Sandra. Shinta might be falling in love with me.”
Sandra opened her mouth, but before she could protest, Aiman quickly added, “But she only loves me as her brother.”
Sandra shut her mouth and decided to listen to everything Aiman was trying to say.
“Just like me who only love her as my sister,” Aiman continued, “I have known Shinta since I was a kid, Sandra. So I have considered her as a part of my family. I hope you can understand it and won’t get jealous of Shinta again.”
“I can understand your situation, Aiman. And I will try not to get jealous of Shinta. But if she ever tried to steal you away from me, I would never forgive her even though she’s your best friend,” Sandra said with emphasis.
“No one can steal me away from you, Sandra, because I’m only yours,” Aiman convinced her.
“And you’re only mine,” Sandra added with a smile.
“That’s right.” Aiman returned her smile. “Thank you, Sandra. I love you.”
“I love you too, Aiman.” Sandra beamed.
Again, a feeling of guilt washed over Aiman. He had told Sandra so many lies. He just hoped that Sandra would never find out about his lies, or else their relationship would end. And Aiman didn’t want it to happen. Besides he loved Sandra, there was another reason why he couldn’t leave that woman.