8th of August. Many people would see it as the day before Singapore’s national day. But to me, it’s something more. In fact, it’s so much more than just a simple 24 hours of my life.
Such a simple word, thrown around so easily now a days. To many people, friendship is when you say ‘Hi.’ to a person once and still say it again when you see them around in school. It could mean knowing someone for a very long time, not talking all the time, but not fighting either. But to me, friendship is so much more.
Friendship taught me many things. It taught me the power of having someone to support you all the way. It showed me how it could chase loneliness away. It showed me the most colourful things in life. It gave me the fondest memories and the biggest smiles. Friendship is a wonderful thing; friendship is joy.
But on the flip side, friendship showed me how much losing someone can hurt. It taught me that I have to cherish things before they disappear. It taught me how life was fleeting and you never knew when someone would go. It opened my heart to a whole new venture of pain. It stabbed me with never ending guilt. Not a day letting me go, constantly nagging at me about what I should have done. What I could have done. Pain. Making me reminisce about the happy moments we had together then dropping me onto the cold concrete of reality from my cloud 9. Flinging me into denial, drowning me in depression.
Friendship indeed is a double-edged sword.
Dear you, wherever I hope you may be watching me, I dedicate this post to you.
I can still remember the first time I met you. I was plump and generally big. My skirt was too long and my hair was cut much too short. Overall, I was the weird kid; the one everyone would stay away from.
I was, and still am, very anti-social. I don’t talk very much. I don’t initiate conversation with someone I barely or don’t even know. I transferred in secondary school. I didn’t have any friends in my first school and all the cliques were already formed in this one. I was alone and I thought I was going to stay alone for the next 4 years of my life.
Then you came along. Bright and bubbly. You asked me if I was lost and if I knew my way around. To be honest, I was very shocked and even contemplated running. I didn’t say anything. I simply nodded and you pulled me to the hall where we sat together. In class, you even left your group of friends to sit with me. You were really well liked. People always walked over to chat with you. You introduced me to them and before I knew it, I had my very first circle of friends.
We started spending a lot of time together. For the next two years, we went everywhere together. From class to the canteen. From school to grab bubble tea. Even though we were in different CCAs, we made it a point to wait for each other before going home. We were everywhere with each other. Juniors knew that if they found either of us, they’d find the other. Teachers knew who the two of us were. We were inseparable and we liked to be known for it.
In those years, I remember the times your dad would send us to school even though it was barely a 5 minute drive from our houses. You knew that I liked your dad’s lorry. We’d sit at the back and feel the wind in our hair. It would make our morning and the rest of the days would go brilliantly. In school, we never did pay attention. We were reading comic after comic. Buying and borrowing from each other. Every week, one of us would make our way down to comics connection to look at the new releases and buy them back. This routine went of for years. It was what we talked about all the time. It was the lifestyle we shared.
I still remember how I could never find my way to your house. I’d get lost time and time again, always making the wrong turn or going up to the wrong floor. It took me a 3 long years of guidance before I would confidently journey to your house without having you pick me up at some random block near by. You on the other hand, never had trouble finding mine. You were my map, my living breathing GPS. In fact, I trusted you more than that sometimes inaccurate piece of technology. I went to your house so often that your whole family knew me. They knew me so well that they dared to bully me. Playfully of course. I felt like I had a second family, especially since mine wasn’t exactly warm then.
Because we didn’t bother to pay attention in class, our grades weren’t exactly fantastic. At least I knew mine weren’t. You offered to take me to your tuition center where you got tutoring for maths. I attended and we ended up spending more time together than ever. When exams were around the corner, we started spending our weekends at the center as well. We studied together and even developed a strange habit of drinking an excessive amount of green tea in a day. For those years, I really can’t imagine a day I never picked up the phone to dial you. I memorized your number and till now, I haven’t forgotten.
We shared the love of baking. We baked together and ate whatever that came out. Most of the time, it wasn’t exactly pleasing to the eye but hey, we made it together so we were eating it right?! We tried recipe after recipe on the internet. Somehow, we always got the temperature wrong, so our cookies always ended up burnt on the edges or uncooked. But we were happy and we still enjoyed ourselves.
Lantern festival. It would probably be one of the many events in our friendship that I will never forget. It was when we got arrested for playing with fire. It was a pretty big one and till today, I don’t regret anything. Yeah. We were arrested together with our other close guy friend. I remember how we cried our eyes out because we were so scared we’d go to jail. Which is really hilarious now that you think about it.
I’m not very good at giving presents. You know that best. My allowance was pretty pathetic then and I couldn’t afford to buy you anything. So I treated you to a meal on my birthday because that was the only time I actually had extra cash on me. You took my lead and on your birthday, you’d take me out to eat too and soon, it became another one of our perks as being an inseparable pair. The first meal I treated you to was at Secret Recipe. I remember how you told me that you’ve never been there and I got so excited because I could finally give you something you don’t have. Which was a memory in that restaurant, as lame as it would sound. We sat down and ordered. As we ate, we chatted about anything under the sun. It was never about boys or other girls. It was about books and comics. Taiwan and HongKong dramas, not forgetting your latest self proclaimed-Korean boyfriend. We could spend hours on end chatting about that and we never got tired.
You were more than a best friend to me. You were practically a sister to me. No, scrap that. We were twins. Not those twins who had love-hate relationships. In fact, we probably had one of the sweetest bonds people have ever witnessed. If only I could visit you today, I really want to tell you. Thank you. For always being around for me. Always asking how I am. How I’m feeling. For always supporting every move and decision I made even when you knew it was going to backfire on me. You always welcomed me back with open arms afterwards, offering a shoulder to cry on. I in turn, did the same. We cared for each other, though at times we couldn’t stand each other. 6 years with you was truly a blessing, though I can only dream I had more time. More time to spend with you.
During your wake, I sat with you overnight. I looked at you and willed you to wake up and tell me it was all a joke. I couldn’t believe you were gone. I went home thinking you were still around and that the next day, I’d see you at my gate again, letting yourself in as usual. All the condolences from our friends hurt even more because it seemed like they had already accepted that you were gone and there I was, praying that God would give you back to me. But I knew that as I stared down at you through your rosewood coffin, that you were really gone. I cried. I cried so hard. Refused to stop. People don’t understand why. They think that it’s simply because it was a death and that I’d get over it soon. But no. It’s because the moment you left, a part of me left too. The part of me and held the ability to laugh and smile genuinely. The part of me that held every happy thought and memory I had of you. I lost a part of myself that day and till now, I don’t know if I have it back. Probably not.
It got even worst when I watched your cremation. It was horrible- traumatic even. To watch the person that understood me the most, turn into ash was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. To know that all my hopes of you coming back to me and laughing with me had gone up in flames together with your body was devastating.
After the wake, I changed. I didn’t know I did. But people around me noticed. I didn’t want to touch my packet green tea anymore. I couldn’t bring myself to walk into a comic store anymore. I didn’t talk about you. I didn’t do anything that reminded me about you. In short, I didn’t do anything at all. I simply went to school. I tried to make new friends. But I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to bring anyone closer than you had already been because I was so afraid of losing him or her again. I didn’t want to be reminded of you. I didn’t want to be reminded of the pain. People say I didn’t mourn you. They were wrong. I mourned you. In my own silent way. When everything we used to do together reminded me about you. I’d flinch and my hands will shake. I’ll think back about the memories we shared and you know what happens? I cry. In fact, I cried so much, my family got worried and I had to force myself to stop. The only way I could stop crying was to try to bury all these memories with new ones. To create newer, happier moments in my life. To be able to smile again.
But if you’ve been watching, you’d know that that plan backfired on me too.
I don’t wish to elaborate. But I know you know what happened. From above, you probably watched every tear fall from my eyes every night after that ordeal. You watched every slash that took weeks to heal- and still scarred. You watched every lonely moment I had, every silent plea for help. You watched every episode where I would spend hours simply staring into space and nights I lay awake in bed unable to sleep.
I guess I’ll have to apologize huh. That I worried you so much. Worried you enough that you appeared in my dreams a couple of times. First time, you were really happy to see me. Second time, you hugged me and we both started crying. I wonder what it all means. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all and that I’m just slowly going insane.
Not to fear though, I’m trying my best to get back up on my feet again, hoping that someday, I’ll be able to pluck up the courage to go see you. That when I’m finally able to stand before you, I won’t cry anymore. In fact, I’ll smile and I’ll be proud of myself because I know that you’ll be proud of me. That I’m still able to live on.
Happy birthday, Jasmine. I’ll never forget you. I wouldn’t even dream of it.
P.S Do they have Nutella in Heaven?