Monday, 9 June 2014

Jogging down the memory lane.

Best friends. I've always wanted best friends. I've always needed best friends. I cannot imagine life without best friends. I've always pictured my best friends coming forward to congratulate me upon my graduation in university, and me them. I've always painted this beautiful picture in mind- of my best friends standing next to my handsome (a girl can dream, right? Anyway, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so I'm not worried about it Smile ) groom and me, flashing the loveliest smiles we can all manage as the photographer of my wedding says 'Cheese'. I've always looked forward to this day when my best friends and I gather and relax in a park as our little kids mingle and play with each other.

It would take me months to write all about my best friends from the moment I started making friends till this day I live, but today I want to talk about a special friend of mine. Not some kind of friend, but real special.

Allow me to wind back a little further as I begin to flip the pages of my history of friendship. 

I remember clearly my first day in high school. Everyone was lining up according to their classes on the lists pasted on the whiteboard. I tried to look for "Khor Wei Jun" and failed miserably. I was anxious because everyone- and I mean every single student- boys in green pants and girls in blue pinafore/ baju kurung were seated at the assembly area while I was the only girl standing at the middle of the lobby, completely helpless. My tears threatened to roll down my cheeks because I didn't believe that could happen. I remember thinking, "Am I not going to have a school to study? Am I not being accepted to this school?" And an Indian disciplinary teacher, Pn Saramah (as of the name tag pinned on her colourful Sari) tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what's wrong. I told her my situation and she said, "Nothing to worry about. Let me just slot you into this class." 

So there was it. I was arranged in 1 Amiga, known as the "Kelas Rancangan Khas" class. After I entered I realised it was the only class in th entire form, specially designated by the government for students with straight A's in UPSR. 

Little did I know, it was a class with only 5 non-Muslims. To be honest I was in astoundment. I was shocked. Growing up in a Chinese Elementary school meant that I had that deluded perception that Chinese are the majority in the country. While I had Malay teachers in my school teaching us Malay subject, the ratio of Chinese teachers to Malay teachers was like 30:1. There was a Malay girl in my class as well, by the name of Siti, and she spoke in Chinese/ English as well so it didn't feel queer or anything like that. 

It definitely intimidated me. Reason being, 4/5th of the classmates have known each other since elementary school as they come from the same school. I was that lost girl who couldn't speak Malay fluently and practically open my mouth in astonishment whenever I hear my classmates speak so fast in malay. Terms like "kitorang", "awak kat mana?", "best-nya", "kan kita dah cakap?" were indubitably unfamiliar to me. I have assumed that Malays speak in 'bahasa Baku'- meaning, proper, legitimate, qualified Malay. But throughout my 5 years I have learnt that when in daily life, Malays communicate by speaking 'bahasa pasar'- a less formal way, and it's perfectly common among them. 

But all the above new discoveries didn't give me any reasons to keep myself away from my Malay classmates. 

You see, my mother was a teacher who taught Malay subject in her early years in Assunta Secondary school. She would carpool with her Malay friends who were also teaching in the same school as her to school. They would share many stories along the way. Her English wasn't powerful so she spoke pretty well in Malay. Our neighbour back then were Malays and we maintained a nice relationship with them. 

I am convinced that I am fated to like studying Malay and take part in many activities revolving Malay and know a few close Malay friends because when my mother was pregnant with little Jun (haha yes that's me) in her stomach she was teaching Malay subject! As a matter of fact she wrote a story (Kambing dan Keldai) for me to take part in the Malay story telling competition in Standard 3! 

Back to my class in high school. Most of them were friendly, and willingly talked to me in English (I would speak in Malay but I think they wouldn't understand a word I say and also I would speak at a speed of a snail) whenever we have a conversation. But to show my sincerity I did try to slip in a few Malay words here and there especially after listening to them speak for some time. 

A few months later stepping into Form 2, a girl by the name of Alin came over from behind to my table and asked if she could sit next to me because she couldn't see the words on the whiteboard. Of course I happily agreed. I remember getting another surprise of my life, when Alin spoke to me in fluent English. Don't get me wrong, I never thought she couldn't speak English, but because she was known as the 'Malay pro' in our class (as mentioned by many of my classmates who have known her for long) I had the acumen that she would insist to converse in Malay. 

She was so sweet, so dainty, so demure. Like a yellow (not sure why I said yellow let's just roll with it) lily, her eluding confidence and boldness with a faint of shyness every now and then when she chatted with me caught my attention. 

And our friendship sprung from there. We would stay back after school for dance practices (yes I danced- and I'm not a natural as evidenced by my unintentionally robotic moves hahahaha I'm kidding, I'm not that bad Smile with tongue out, but it's safe to say that there's plenty of room for improvement). Alin chose the song 'Run Devil Run' from Kara, my favourite Korean girl band back then. We would stay back either at an empty, deserted corner in our school, or hit Anisah's (another one of my friend whom I look up to) house to practise the dance moves. Buckets of laughter and sweat, while in the end we didn't manage to take part in the competition we had truckloads of fun, and the memories are priceless.

We would join the Malay debate competition together, and man I have to tell you- what an honour it was to have Alin in our team. She just went out there, with this mad debating and speaking skills that swept the judges and opponents (and me!) off their feet- she was unstoppable. And I was just gawking the whole time. I was the second speaker, and she was the third, and whenever I feel nervous I would tug the corner of her blazer and she would tell me to have faith in myself and give my best. 

When I was crowned the best speaker for a competition I immediately thought of Alin (and my brother Ken!) for all the help and guidance she has offered me throughout the preparation for the debate competitions. She is selfless, and so generous with her ideas. 

She is creative, fun-loving and such a joy to be around with. She's oh-so-authentic- wearing her heart on her sleeves. I may have hurt her in the past (my callow, immature self) to which she graciously and open heartedly forgave me. She chose to move forward, and let me continue befriend her. She's a real gem.  

I adored her. And I still do. We could talk about silly stuff but also serious ambitions and I find myself truly comfortable speaking to her. It's an inexplicable feeling that reminds me to maintain my friendship with her, for as long as I could. 

December 18th is this talented, pretty splendid, soon-to-be lawyer's birthday. Last year, while on a vacation in Melbourne, Australia, I hadn't forgotten her birthday, but there wasn't any wifi to be connected, and after it finally got connected (yes!!), I immediately grabbed the opportunity to write Alin a birthday wish. 

"Alin dear!!! So sorry for the late birthday wish! It's technically 4 days ago (18th dec I know!!!!!) and I'm wishing you only today because I finally got to board on a bus which has a wifi connection...!!! 
I want you to know that you're a special girl and will always have a special spot in my heart.
You're one of the first few friends I've known in Amiga and I remember during form 2 when you sat next to me for a while I told you that you're officially my best Malay female friend because you simply don't discriminate and talked to me in English wahoo. 
I also remember just how well your BM is and you always score with flying colours in the BM examination. 
And those times when we stayed back to practise dancing Korean moves!!! Run devil run?!! I will never forget those moments when anisah, edora, you and I had to either find a place in the school or go to anisah's house for practise. It was all a lot of fun. You laughed when I stumbled  with the steps because obviously I am a less pro dancer than you are!!! 
But then you fell sick and we had to pull out from the competition. It wasn't a regret though, as getting together with you and the bunch of girls was a wonderful time. 
I think your courage, your outspoken character, sweet smile and strong attitude will bring you through all the hardships and challenges in life. You've come so far, and I believe you can go further.
I'm typing this in the bus in Melbourne at 10:22 PM with no lights in the bus so my apologies if there are any grammar mistakes. 
I remember asking you where you would like to study in the future. And you told me its Korea. You wanted to be some star's wife (that's what I  recall, if not mistaken). It's cute, and I do believe it can be a dream come true. Whatever your dreams are, Alin, dream big, and never give up in the process of pursuing them. You have so much strength in you- I love you for that. 
Stay pretty, healthy, bubbly, and most importantly, although it's not your birthday today, allow me to wish you the biggest, greatest, happiest birthday to the girl who is officially 18!! 
Lots and lots of love from across the ocean from 10009484 miles away of Malaysia.   

Below is what Alin has written in her blog post in reply to my message. I was so touched I couldn't speak. 

******

First off, Wei Jun's a liar!! My BM was nothing but mediocre and try as I might I couldn't surpass her marks when it comes to school examinations. Pn Noria, our BM teacher, even chose her essays over mine when she was compiling her students' best essays of 2013. So there (not that I bear any hard feelings towards her or Pn Noria but just yeah, to prove my point).

See, the thing about Wei Jun is, she works hard. She works real hard. She's the most hardworking and humble person I've ever known. If there's only one thing I'll remember her by, it's the fact that she's a best friend. She has that quality in her that assures everyone (including me) that we can trust her. I have to admit that we're not the closest of friends, but since the past 5 years of knowing her, I'm comfortable enough to know that this kind of friendship I have with her, is not something that'll break easily. We haven't seen each other for months now, the last being SPM Results' Day, but I just know that if we are to meet up we can settle down and talk and talk and talk about the most random things as if we'd just met the day before. 

Wei Jun. She doesn't judge, doesn't criticize blindly and she's always soft-spoken. She speaks about others kindly and I don't think I've ever heard her talking bad about others behind their backs. When we fought in Form 2 (and I was so so terrible to you back then, I'm sorry ;~~;), she forgave me and accepted me back like I didn't just betray her. Wei Jun, is simply special :)

(And she remembers every single thing I told her. Every. single. thing. Down to the most embarrassing ones only the immature version of myself could muster.)

Back then, English was not my forte. But Wei Jun made it comfortable for me. There were times when she would point out my mistakes, and I greatly appreciate them because I know her intention was never to humiliate, but to correct me so that I could become better. I told you, she's special.

So, thank you. Really. If I'm your best Malay friend then you're my best Chinese friend, but I don't want to label you that. To me, you are my best friend, because you're not just another Chinese I've befriended, but you're Khor Wei Jun - you're my friend, one I'm lucky to meet and keep for the rest of my life. It sounds cheesy I know (but oh well what is Alin Roslee without the greasiness), but you made me aware of the fact that the term 'races' are just labels we staple on ourselves and I couldn't be anymore grateful.

I loveeeeee you! It warms my heart to know that you would go to such lengths just to wish plain old me a happy birthday when you know you can do it when you come back here c: I'm grateful to have met you, and I just know that we're going to be friends forever! As far-fetched as this may sounds, I'm already imagining us meeting up in our black skirts and suits, carrying our case files and complaining to one another about our clients. It's a huge dream to be fantasizing about now, when we're still so young and new to this field, but I know we can do it.

Thank you again, Wei Jun. It's really, really nice to know I have someone like you to call my friend c: I love you, come back safe!

******

Alin, if you're reading this, our friendship has been precious to me. It has taught me so many things books and classes cannot teach. 

I love you and I wish you all the best. May you shine bright like the star and have all your beautiful dreams fulfilled.

Before I end, let me clarify: In this blog post I enphasised a lot on the word 'Malay', but my intention is not to draw a line between races. I am merely trying to express that friendship knows no races, and that we should never narrow or limit our friends circles to only our 'own' people. We are all a big family. We are all in this world, relying on each other to achieve our dreams. We are human beings. Let us all do small things with big love. We can make this world a better place. 

I am so grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful individuals, from each and everyone of them I could learn so much. I want to always remind myself that no matter where I am, what I am doing, I must remover the processes and journeys and events and incidents and people who have made me who I am today. 

On another note, I'm an hour or less away from seeing Sean. The holiday begins! 

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