Hand in hand a couple left Butterworth railway station. They were singing a Neil Young’s song. The girl didn’t sing to the notes. That didn’t bother the guy. She coughed randomly. That didn’t bother her.
They stayed in a family-run guesthouse. There was no hot water for the shower but there were hammocks swaying away afternoons when it’s too hot to go to the beach. They petted the family’s cats and danced to Bob Marley in the front room. They were in love.
They went to the beach every day. To watch the sun set at the horizon. They felt lucky. He discovered a lovely bar by the beach. “Sex on the beach” cocktail was on the menu. She felt in love with laksa – an all flavour noodle soup. She could have stayed to eat that every day. She coughed at times.
He drove her around in a scooter. She found “her corner”. A little boy sold sweet corn cobs on a chalk coal grill on the side of the road. The little boy put honey on sweet corn cobs with a mischievous smile. She was so fond of the corn seller that she kept getting back for some more cobs covered in smoke and dust. Her cough got worse. When she felt too ill to leave the guesthouse, he went out just to get her some. He was very fond of her.
They left on a night train having wished that they could have stayed longer in George Town. She had a hideous chain of cough on the night they left. She was too exhausted to sing. But still, he held her hand tightly.