Monday, March 21, 2005

Another Farewell, Strangers Once More

I can hardly believe that I’ve been in Sabah for the best of four years. This month has many milestones for me in particular. It still feels like I’ve just arrived, stepping my feet over the yellow line at the immigration gate and seeing the huge ‘Welcome new students to UMS’ banner greeting us at the entrance (as usual the bus came late and we waited). It’s squarely a year that I’ve handed in my thesis, presented my viva and flew over to the Philippines for my industrial training at the Bolinao Marine Laboratory under the University of the Philippines.

The hardest thing that I have been striving to overcome is concerning partings. I’ve mentioned as my first post the empty feeling that I felt after going through so much with my roommates Adrian and Kuok Sum, they really are the best friends anyone could have had, no other three bunch could’ve lived together within the same room and not try to murder each other. With our music jostling over the speakers; one a canto pop fan, another metal junkie and me the sentimentalist listener it still puzzles us how each of us could work in such a cacophony. I really connected, if I may say so for the first time in my life with someone in those two, I’ve never felt closer to any person nor shared so much with others than what we went through (one day I shall get to the point of explaining this concept of 'bangsatism' that Adrian philosophizes). Life goes on.

Yet again the term is over and many people are packing their bags and leaving, soon the place would be filled with even more strangers than before. When my bunch graduated it was hard not to bring to mind how much less I bumped into friendly faces as I cruise the malls or sit down for dinner or the odd and end friends that I accidentally meet in town. Now seeing the impending exodus of the small remnant of people that have any semblance of being called friends and acquaintances is as hard as ever. After my batch went the previous year, the only other people that I still meet up with are my juniors. Now alls that is seen at present are joyful faces preparing to go out into the world and work, stacks of baggage and boxes filled with belongings in the hallway and too many goodbyes to wretch the heart. They were great, we may not get along always but the memory of meeting them the first time can be recalled so clearly even now, of our ‘torture’ during orientation to the various events we co-hosted together and the joint field trips we went along with.

Thus to mark the end of this, on Sunday the students planned a dinner to commemorate their impending completion of studies. One of the lecturers, Ms Zarinah was kind enough to provide the venue for the event at her place in Tanjung Aru and other lecturers were invited to join in the festivities. We had fun, there were tons of food (in the end we had to ‘tapau’ the rest of the leftovers) and more than a couple of teary eyes. I met up with Bobita again at the party, she’s working now at various jobs around Kk. To end the night, we had a present swapping session with us contributing the gifts and lots drawn as to who would receive it. It was fun (many shouts were heard when we recognized where a particular gift was bought from, mostly from the local RM2 shops) and in the end I got a nice Pooh glass.

In the end there is no permanence, everyone moves on sooner or later and tenuous ties are often lost with time. Yet for tonight, there was none of that, the celebration was a remembrance as well as a sign of triumph, of surviving the years of tutorials and exams. Mayhap a last glimpse of familiar faces between people about to part ways, mayhap forever. Strangers in the beginning turned into friends and yet maybe friends soon will turn into strangers again in future. Maybe I should get used to it, I’ve another year and a half to go and there will be partings again in future. Maybe I should make more efforts to befriend the strangers walking amidst the campus grounds. Maybe in the end I would still be touched at every parting, a sentimentalist at heart forever.


Laura and I posing with two of her coursemates (Set Ni and Fey).


The juniors chatting away while enjoying the great food available.


Drawing of the ballots to see the next gift recepient.


The effects of too many camera flashes.

1 comment:

kuoksum said...

Amazed? ha ha... but sure is glad to have u as a friend... How three almost totally different people can stay in harmony...

It dont seems so strange anymore... when u come and see who I hang out with here...
One prejudis chinise looking Indian, another religeous indian, Some typical chinese fella, a typical malay with strict rules at home... with curfew at that... lol... ( note that these are guys) meet up each week... trying to draw blood when ever possible... verbal sparing at that... ha ha... some friends i have to hang out with...

so why not? hehe :þ