It’s such a popular topic back in the days where we were sitting on our little wooden chairs, head propped on our wooden desks (my usual posture). Those were the days even before adolescence, those were the days of the happy cheeky kids skipping their way into the gates of their primary school at 6.30am in the morning.
The world seemed so big back then. Yet, we often times, we felt and lived like we are larger than life.
We roamed around school, being just no one but ourselves.
We played in the scorching hot sun, not worrying about oily skin and freckles.
We got our white school shoes all dirty from stepping into puddles, forgetting the stern warnings of naggy moms and we are not embarrassed to be seen with ugly shoes.
We eagerly ran to the canteen with our friends as soon as the recess bells even starts vibrating, we’ll dash in and start ‘chupping’ places, and get in line for crappy 30 cents yellow noodle soup, not worrying about our diet or hair loss problems.
We were young.
We were free.
We were happy kids.
Those were the days….
And… those were also the days of the ‘karangans’ (essays). One of the ever popular one is “Kawan baik saya” – 100 words.
A 2 second Googling will bring you to tons of sample essays, I randomly copied and paste one. It’s actually pretty amusing and quite an eye opener now to read what we felt when we were kids.
Setiap orang pun mempunyai seorang kawan yang paling baik,saya juga sama.Saya bernama Tay Jie Ling.Saya berumur 12 tahun.Kawan baik saya ialah Pei Chiew.
Pei chiew ialah murid sekelas dengan saya.Dia amat cemerlang dalam kelas saya.Dia mendapat tempat pertama dalam peperiksaan setiap kali.Dia peramah,bersopan-santun dan baik hati.Dia mempunyai rambut yang panjang,mata yang besar,badab yang sihat dan wajahnyan sungguh cantik.Dalam sekolah,dia disukai oleh semua orang termasuklah para guru.
Pei Chiew bersikap baik hati kerana apabila orang lain menghadapi kesusahan ,dia akan membantu menyelesaikan masalah mereka,termasuklah saya.Selain itu,sebelum pulang dari sekolah,dia akan menolong guru membimbing murid yang lebih lemah dalam sesuatu mata pelajaran.
Pei Chiew bersikap peramah kerana apabila apabila orang lain mengurang duit atau lupa membawa duit ke sekolah,dia akan membantu mereka dengan memberi wang kepada mereka untuk mengisi perut ,sebaliknya dia sendiri mengikat perut.
Di sekolah,dia selalu menghulurkan bantuan terhadap orang lain.Oleh itu ,semua orang sangat suka Pai Chiew.Saya dapat menjadi kawan baiknya , saya berasa sungguh bahagia kerana mempunyai seorang kawan baik yang cemerlang .
Fast forward 20 years later… if we were told to write this particular essay again, would we be able to earnestly write it, about one particular friend? Gone were the days of naiveness where we see only the good in people and we were way too forgiving – we were happy being forgiving. I guess we all have learnt our lessons from our past. After going through many cycles of heartaches, of betrayed trust from so called friends, our defense mechanism kicked in. We are skeptical to open up to friends, in fear that our secrets are never safe. We labeled some as toxic friends, from how they act and the things they say. We judge quickly in fear of being hurt. Eventually, we forget what is it like to have a best friend, and often times, we even forget how to be one. Sad, but true, and I’m very sure a lot of you are silently nodding in agreement.
So in this age of cynicism and pessimism, have we really sunk that low to believed we can live in silo without any real friends and still be happy as the kid we once were 20 years back?
I realized that many of us constructed an emotional wall around ourselves, and we painted the wall colorfully in an attempt to deceive ourselves that life is full of rainbows and thus, we are happy. I kind of termed that sort of happiness as perceived and provisional happiness. We go out with a bunch of people, we partied, we drank, we danced to loud music, we laughed, we forget our troubles, and we tell ourselves – life is good and we are happy. But when we go home, some – to an empty home, others – to an unhappy home. It is simply just heartrending that probably half an hour ago we were telling ourselves how high on life we were, and yet moments later, we quietly cleaned ourselves up after a long night partying, washed the stench of cigarette smokes off our hair and quietly climb into bed. And what comes next? Those of you who have been through this cycle, you’ll know where I am heading at. Next comes the trying to fall asleep part of the night (where often times you wished you’ve drank more so you’ll actually just plop on the bed and be knocked out). During these waiting for sleep to come moments, what goes through your mind? (be honest!). Were you smiling contently, replaying the events of the night, or were you keeping your eyes shut very tightly, trying to block out those negative and nagging thoughts that something is not entirely right yet in your life and you are not truly happy?
One fine day I got sick and fed up of this weekly routine and I told myself that this bubbling pot of concoctions containing various negative feelings is going to erupt in a very ugly manner soon if I don’t put a stop to it. That is also when I have come to realized regardless how much pain some toxic ‘friends’ have deposited on me in the past, it’s time for me take the risk and attempt to regroup my support system again. That can be none other than having a few close friends to confide in and to have quality good times with again. Started opening up to a few selected good friends, letting them in to more dark secrets of mine, allowing them to ask questions and patiently answered them (even though some words were pretty painful and embarrassing for me to utter). But most importantly, I’m no longer afraid to cry and express emotions with friends, as opposed to the old me, the gal who puts on fake smiles and laughters while she partied real hard. I’m thankful that I’ve the opportunity to bitch, cry and whine to a gal pal over a long spa session early this month, letting her into my world insecurities, and I’m glad she does the same herself. We both spent hours talking about our past, we ranted about relationships, our worries, our hopes, we gave and received sound advices from each other. That is truly more satisfying that any of the clubbing sessions I’ve ever had.
There were also events such as a simple dinner at Asia Café where the 5 of us girls will just sit and talked about anything and everything. This somewhat reminds me of the days when we were in school. We hang out with the same bunch of girls, and we yak yak yak and yak away throughout all classes, recess time, tuition classes, and sometimes the occasional phone calls. My mom often times wonder how is it possible we have so much to talk about when we see each other every single day. But we just do. I’m thankful that one of the girls I trusted my life stories with is in fact the very same girl whom I’ve hung out with in school, and we can still yak away about everything and anything under the sun as if we were just 13.
Yes, some would snicker at what I have written so far and say I’m being naïve and will definitely be burnt again, as friends come and go. I’m not denying that. But I’m tired of wearing the mask of fake smiles and tired of holding my tongue whenever I have the urge to confide my problems in someone. Am glad to make some new friends as well over the years, those who shared the same pains as I have, those who are more matured, often in age which assumingly in character as well. There are also colleagues, that turned into really good friends, cos we took the initiative to talk about our personal lives, we asks each about our pasts, our hopes and dreams, we shared our worries, doubts, we advised each other with nothing but good intentions. No office politics, no hidden agendas. Having a few types of best friends, has helped made me stronger in so many ways.
For me, my best friend shall and will still always be the guy I am with, there is absolutely no doubt he will be the one I go to most of the time. But from now on I will still always always always need the other best friends when I need to get various perspective and yes, also when I need to rant about the ‘best friend’ at home.
Now, about 8 months later, I can proudly validate that it makes hell a lot of difference to my soul! Having supportive friends to stand by you faithfully, not judging, not disapproving is truly what every girl needs.
This phenomenon became extremely clear to me when over the recent weekend, Guinea Pig was out of town, and whilst “visa” was granted to do whatever I want, I chose to spend my Saturday night with a girlfriend and turned down 2 invitations to party in happening clubs, in conjunction of Halloween. There were a few snickers and jesters from people who do not understand this concept of needing to invest in friendships, they dropped comments like – why are you being such an aunty, you are missing out on the party of the year.. etc etc. But that night, I slept like a baby, not because I was intoxicated, but I was contented, and happy.
So back to my question, if you were to be given an assignment to write on the topic – Kawan Baik Saya, how would you fare? I would say, even though its 20 years later, I’ll still get an A+ for it. For this time around, I’m not just writing about a single best friend, I’m writing about a few gems who had their own role to play in making me a stronger person.
Sekian terima kasih.