The sight beyond sight

“Selamattengahhari, Puan, (Good afternoon, ma’am)” he greeted in between pants, sweat slowly dripping down his head.

A middle-aged lady in a loose baju kurung and black headscarf looked up at him, expectantly.

“I have an appointment with Dr Budiman,” he continued.

She looked annoyed at being interrupted. Picking up the exercise book on her table, she said: “Alexander Lee? Masuk, ya (Enter, ya).”

She led Alexander towards a consultation room and opened the door.

Dr Budiman, seated at his desk, adjusted his glasses, stood up and said: “Good to see you, Alexander. Let me examine your eyes first.”

The check-up went smoothly, and they ran some tests. An hour later, Dr Budiman approached Alex.

“Uh-can I call you Alex?” asked the doctor. “Come into my office, please.

“So, Alex, I don’t want to sound discouraging, but are you sure you want this transplant?”

“Why not?” Alex asked.

He had been waiting eagerly to turn 18 so that he could go for the operation.

“See, you have a unique eye condition. There’s only a 30 per cent chance of success.”

Alex contemplated this for a while. He had been born with a vision impairment, and he was not about to give up this chance to regain his sight in his bad eye.

“You still have one eye – ” the doctor started.

“I know all that, and I know I want to have this operation. You don’t know what it’s like for me to have just one eye,” Alex said, his voice rising.

He stopped, realising how agitated he was growing. The doctor sighed, rubbing his head.

“Here is the indemnity form. You’ve just turned 18, and you’re legally an adult now, but I still recommend bringing your parents here so I can explain the procedure to them … in case … just in case anything goes wrong.”

Alex ignored the last comment and asked: “Dr Budiman, could you possibly put me on general anaesthetic for it?”

The doctor nodded.

The operation was a success. Alex stayed at the hospital for a week so that Dr Budiman could monitor his condition. Nobody came to visit.

Dr Budiman told him everything was fine and he could go home and rest for two months.

“Make sure to use this eyedrop twice a day until the end of the month. If you feel any discomfort, please come back to see me,” said Dr Budiman before discharging him.

Everything went well. Alex religiously used the eyedrops for a month.

One day, rubbing his eyes, Alex stretched and hopped off his bed. He looked around his room with a nagging feeling that something was different.

He decided to make some coffee and noticed something moving out of the corner of his eye.

Quickly, he snapped his head around, leaning to see what moved, but everything seemed normal.

“Nothing there. You’re imagining things, dummy. Shouldn’t have watched that horror movie last night.”

But, the moment he stepped out of his apartment, he felt something was wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

Alex spotted a figure running fast across the lecture room. When he turned to look at who it was, he realised nobody was running.

Then he saw a piece of paper on the lecturer’s table fly and land on the ground as if there was a gust of wind.

Alex looked at the other students to see if they had seen it, too. But everyone was chatting and looking at their notes like normal.

“Am I seeing things?”

After three lectures, he went to the cafe to do some research. After a few hours, he glanced at his watch. “6 o’clock!”

Time to head home.

On his way to his apartment, Alex thought he saw shadows around him, yet when he focused on where they were, he couldn’t see anything or anyone.

Alex shivered.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from ‘Sight Beyond Sight’ by Jonas Tang Yong Jing. It is part of a series of short stories – The Eye: A Young Writer’s Anthology. Priced at RM31.90, the book is available at BookXcess. All royalties go to Yayasan Chow Kit, a non-profit organisation serving the needs of children and teens in the Chow Kit area of Kuala Lumpur.

To give the younger generation an avenue to express themselves, Twentytwo13 has a dedicated space called Young Voices. If you are a young writer (aged 17 and below) and would like your article published on our news website, send your contribution to editor@twentytwo13.my.

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