Friends Are Forever

As we live our life for the past 50 years or so, we have met so many types of people. Some have become so close to us while the others have been our casual accompaniment. We learnt along the way the important of friends and the value of friendship. In the office, among neighbors, sport clubs, classmates, university-mates, short course-mates, warung-mates etc …. the circles of friends have blossomed. Some might have bigger circles, no doubt about that. However, which one is the most dearest to us? If you think closely, majority will agree that friends from old school have a special place in our heart. A unique relationship that has bound us together. I’m not exaggerating if I say that we have been through thick and thin together. We experienced that life can be both blessed and brutal. That the one labeled “apa laa nak jadi dengan kamu ni ?” has become a CEO or a successful financier/banker. Once we value friendship, trust is a reward. We trust somebody not just for the reason of knowing that person, but because we are friends. Special friends will earn special trust. But if that special trust has been destroyed, we are betrayed. This is the worst and unspeakable character of a person.

The excitement to meet again after so many years of silence was phenomenal. It has been 33 years, to be exact, since our last departure. After the SPM back in 1981, we went our separate ways. Some were lucky enough to be flown to the USA, Australia or United Kingdom; and quite a number remained. We experienced life and learnt the hard and soft parts of living, the happy and sad episodes of life and went through it regardless of the circumstances. And the exciting part of this re-union is to celebrate one thing—survival. We have survived the hardship of life where many might have fallen out. We have been through the rough edges of life that have claimed our dreams or hopes, stolen our beloved ones, or ruined our precious relationship. But we marched on like an injured soldier in a fierce battlefield; and survived the bitter war. It calls for a celebration and this reunion is everything about that. In the beginning I was not too keen to join the event although it’s just half an hour drive from my doorsteps; I have been to many reunions 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 will 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.

I, myself, haven’t met many of my old friends; despite the fact that some are living nearby. As I flipped through the old photos, the emotions are just overwhelmed. I now know where I’ve nurtured the strength to live my life thus far. I used to blame my friends for what they have done to me. Giving me hard time and calling me names until I hate myself for being such a useless shit. The pains are still here as a constant reminder that life can be shit sometimes. Now I realize that my friends have been the reasons behind the things that I have and achieved in my life. If I were to name one quality that was carried over from my previous life would be determination. I was constantly intimidated by my friends and even teachers and that history has transformed me into someone with a solid sense of determination. I always have that picture of myself as a poor child being pushed around by his friends and I constantly remind myself not to be that poor child anymore; not now or ever. My experience in that boarding school is a dark one only my friends kept me company. I tagged along like a sick puppy that has lost its way home. I want to see and meet my friends not only to say hi and goodbye but to thank everyone for the memories and times of the past. I long to reminiscence those times with my good old friends; well only if they showed up …..The days in SMS Kelantan 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.

It was as if yesterday
When we rolled into the smelly dorms
Tried to learn about life
With blue skirts , green pants and dusty chalks
The future was drawn
The inevitability was revealed
The fate was uttered
Life seemed  hollow
It’s for the olds and grumpies
As if we were stuck there
For  reasons we never comprehended
It was 1977……when it all began
Memories remain
For the pains that never heal
For the gains that never last
And mates that sealed in the heart
We were the same lot
We wished the same list
We whispered the same songs
We slept the same dreams
We were nothing
miserable, confused and lost
now ……
We list our own wishes
We play our own melodies
We live our own dreams
With pride and satisfaction
Never to forget
The whimps that gave us power
The goonies that gave us laughter
The sissies that gave us strength
The geeks that gave us agility
They are friends
That  give us life
…now and then
Remember when it all began
 It was 1977
As I drove to Seremban, the faces from yesterdays were coming back. 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.  I hope to recognize them right away, shake their hands and feel the friendship again. It has been awhile, I know, but friends would never forget their old friends. I hoped so. The Friday traffic to Seremban was bad as usual but that did not hinder me from feeling nostalgic and strangely warm inside. All of the sudden, the tears came rolling down my cheeks and I was overwhelmed with emotions of the past; damn, I missed them so much. As I entered the lobby a big poster with a lot of strange faces was put up on the wall.OMG! so many of them, so strange, so……old. Who are these people? I asked repeatedly as I scanned the banner on the wall. After a while, I could recognise them I was somehow shocked to see how much they have changed; but beneath the faces lie the  youthful character downloaded from the memory of the past. They are all my friends alright and they are all here. The excitement was unbelievable as a number of them were there in the lobby. So what would you say to an old friend ? nothing. You looked beyond those flappy cheeks and skinny heads and giggled to every uttered word. But basically you said nothing. Let’s hold everything else and cherish the moments, shall we? Yup I did that. It was the most beautiful moments that I have cherished for a long time.
As the evening developed, more and more faces emerged from the shadow. The faces that I longed for quite a while. Wondering what has happened to this fella and that fella. Well they are all here trying to figure out who are they talking to. The atmosphere was chaotic as if everyone was trying to make up for something that has been lost for a long time. The name callings were at top of the voices. But everyone was happy and hilarious as the night witnessed the most important reunion for these people. The food was plenty but not many were indulged into the curry or roasted lamb. We have more important agenda on the menu—to catch up the lost time. These are my classmates—days and nights—for five years. And I would say those were the most important years of my life. The time my friends and I struggled to understand the world. I am not sure we have understood it as it should be understood but we have gone through the thick and thin of it. And survived. And here we are telling everyone about our story and things of the past.
My  school days ……. full of memories
The good , the bad  and the ugly ones
It was the best school you could possibly go, they all  said
The best in hell I supposed
It was like yesterday when we first met
Together we sat in a class wondering….
            When can we go home ?
Some faces looked nice and so friendly
The others blank and lost
But later they all had one thing in common
            Bold and brutal
            Ready to kick ass who ever in the way
Come day or night
Form One was always exciting
The teacher came in and asked where have all the chalks gone
I went away and came back with a bunch
They made me a monitor for that effort
Not that I know how to be one
Just wanted to impress the girls … the pretty li’l girls
I tried to get one … the girls I mean
But never succeeded…they went for the macho ones
I dreamt on …until I realized that’s what I’m good at … dreaming
They called me  names (never mind…no need to spell that out)
For the stupid face with no hair and the  sweet li’l ass that I got
The following year was terrible … I mean hell !
The big boys knew about my sweet li’l ass
            And started to chase me around when the lights went out
            I’d end up at the place where I always hide…. the toilet
            Sometime I woke up and still there …. in the toilet
I was weak and small and never put up a fight
So lonely and confused  I could not  imagine
how I got through all those years
full of misery
The memories remain to remind
That life can be shit …
But the brutality of the past
Could seed a strength to live
Enduring the hardship that comes with every happy moment
Thank you , my friend
For being there with me
Being the wind beneath my wings
For the flight of life has taken me
Over the rainbows
To the place I never imagined
May God reward and bless you always ……

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