Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Together once more

It has been 20 years since we graduated from high school, and most of us have not crossed paths ever since we left school on that fated last day. We ventured into different direction of life with the same degree of enthusiasms, ambitions and confusions. As we bid farewell to each other we armed ourselves with the imaginary invincibility, believing that the world is our oyster.

Then some of us further studied, became professionals, built businesses, started family, or just merely gained weight.

And just like that, 20 years came to pass as if a stone has been dropped into the quiet water, vanished with only the ripples to remind us of its once proud significance.

For me, there is always a little fainted voice in my heart that reminded me of my root, and of my dearest friends and comrades with whom I sit, fought, danced, sang, cried and laughed. Sometimes the little voice became louder, sometimes mute, but it has always been there.

One day last March, the little voice became just a little too irrefutable. So I searched for our class and year in Facebook, not hoping for any result. To my surprise, few of our classmates have set up a page with pictures from their gathering last year. I immediately requested to join the group, not expecting them to remember me.

Instead, they welcomed me with open arms, and I soon added them to my list of friends. I have also recommended a few classmates whom I still have the privilege of keeping in touch with to join the group. The group grew slowly but steadily.

Then someone suggested that we should have a BIG reunion for our 20 years anniversary. The idea was immediately approved of. I guessed, just like me, deep down everyone must have the same little voice.

For a while nothing was being done, and as the deadline was closing in, the momentum was suddenly getting intense. Everyone was volunteering to take part in the organization. Some offered to be the MC, the photographer, the treasurer, the shopper and the list went on. Friends started scouting for suitable places, searching for long lost classmates, compiling phone book, calling everyone on the phone book, and all sort of activities just blossomed like wild mushrooms after the rain. We even invited our form teacher, Mr. Goh, to join us.

Fast forward to the event itself. We started our journey to Batu Pahat after having lunch with Crystal's cousins. It took us a little more than 4 hours to reach our destinations due to the heavy Chinese New Year traffic. Despite the long journey, my wife and I were both in good spirits and were hoping to see old friends again.

And then one by one, they showed up. As if we have not parted at all, we started shaking hands, hugging, joking, laughing and drinking the way that only closed friends could. We simply picked up from where we left off.

Although we prepared some activities and games to get everyone warm-up, they were all redundant. All of us were zoomed in when the video was playing, giggling, laughing and poking each other, and the dusted memories became clear once again.

What touched me was not only the fact that the programs we prepared were amazing (well they were alright), or how everyone chipped in to help, or how everyone showed up despite challenges in their work or with family members. On top of all these, what really touched my heart, when the dusts eventually settled, was that although we have spent the last 20 years apart, we were given a chance to renew our friendship. I now realize that although sometimes I felt abandoned and lonely struggling in the cold, cruel corporate world, our friendship is still how it was 20 years ago, untouched, protected, treasured and now growing.

It is rare and fortunate to have friends like that. I had an accident prior to the reunion dinner and immediately they were offering all sort of helps, without me even asking for them. If these actions do not represent their genuine and caring friendship, I have no idea what does.

To my dearest friends and comrades, you have my deepest gratitudes for your everlasting friendship. Thank you for giving meaning to the little voice in my head, and thank you for making the effort to be with us.

Most important of all, thank you for giving us the opportunity to be together once more.

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