Among friendly strangers

It was wet and gloomy Saturday but I was feeling strangely funky. It was supposed to be a busy Saturday with an outstation appointment in Kuantan and my already-missing-many-hours-class in the afternoon. But my FB status read “ OK everything else can wait, I’m going to my WSU reunion”. It was two days away and had to make a few phone calls to ”divert” the task and free my Saturday. Well you know the little mouse has to move swiftly and discreetly so not to wake up the big bossy cat…so to speak.In the beginning I was not too keen to join the event although it’s just 10 minutes drive from my doorsteps; I have been to many reunions(read about WSU Reunion 2010 here) and everything about it is the same. The enthusiasms are highly charged, expectations sometime are heart-wobbling, nostalgia reigns supreme, old wounds would bleed again and some unfinished business would see a new beginning. I went with warmth nostalgic memories but often returned home feeling so empty and lonely. I can hardly manage those feelings due to reasons that I don’t know to explain myself; maybe the reconnection to the past times is not good to a man at my age. That’s only my guess. The thing is that I don’t need to feel empty and lonely again because I have a home and a family that I love very much. They wil never leave me; but friends do…they come and go. Sometime they come back again but some never do. Maybe this one is different ,I don’t know.

The afternoon sky continued to sprinkle but it did not dampen my spirit to be with my friends. My thoughts played and replayed the old faces that might be there. The things that we did in the many summers in Wichita or the many nights during the cold Midwerstern winters. Enduring the slippery icy roads to buy groceries at Foodbarn or Safeway. The long drives to visit friends for summer holidays or winter breaks. I long to enjoy reminiscent of those times with my good old friends; well only if they showed up …..The days in Wichita have always been special to me. It was really my home away from home; the place I grew up to know the world…and my own self. I never had a chance to go my own way before that; I lived the life of other people—my family, my school teachers etc always someone else charted the way how to live my life. But in Wichita I played my own songs and picked my own melodies. I drew the picture of my life the way I wanted it to be; sometime it took me to places and made me do things out of my ordinary mind frame. I fell and tumbled but always had the energy to get up and get going again. I had my friends with me that I could rely and get help. Maybe today I will have the chance to celebrate those moments again and be thankful for being “ the wind beneath my wings”…only if they showed up of course. The bad times in Wichita were not so bad at all; even when I failed so many classes I did not feel failed or stupid. But it took me to conquer the subject until I was so comfortable with it—the subject like English and Maths. I now know that classroom lessons like my academic classes did not help me too much to learn about life. They were boring and not fun at all. Especially the summer classes when you had to drag yourself to the class when everyone else was enjoying the summer sun shines. But I failed a lot in many relationships which I hope will not turn this reunion into an ugly Malay drama.Ahh..I’m sure she’s not coming and that ugly boyfriend is no longer her mate…maybe he’s dead for all I care. No I think I’m okay…it was not that serious..I was mainly “perasan syok sendiri” kind of thing. I was really bad in that category…with the lady and all…..never knew how to ”mengorat”; in the end—aah what the heck!…susah betul nak layan minah sorang ni….and that was the end of everything.

I know the place of the event very well; I came to smash the little white balls every now and then. But today I came without the set, the cap and the towel but with warm and happy feelings to meet the faces that have been disappeared for more than 25 years. Such a long time but ironically felt just like a few years ago. Time really flies when you are old. I went in and greeted everyone. The surprise faces and handshakes follow every greeting. At first, I felt so out of place..were they really my friends? Of course they were but I could not remember their names. Are they strangers to me now? I hope not; strangers don’t greet you like that. I did not eat that much because I was not hungry but took the food anyway just to be in the queue and made myself similar to everyone else. After the what?Who?Why?Where?and when? Questions I didn’t know how to continue, the conversations immediately died—usually happen when you talk to strangers. I moved on , snapped a few photos and greeted another person. Soon I met everyone but my buddies were not there. So I was right—only strangers come to a reunion.

The committee has done a good job, I must say. It’s not easy to put together an event like that—someone must be sacrificing a lot of money and effort to see this event materialized. I hope he or she will be happy as so many of us had turned up. And I also hope for me to have a chance to continue supporting them in whatever way I can. Maybe this one event didn’t turn to be as I expected but who knows what will happen in the future—things will come your way insyaALlah.

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