I am typing this while listening to Breathe – by Lee HI.
Arin was in his early 20s. I was in my late teens.
We met in Hospital Putrajaya. I was a patient. Warded for 11 days. Treated for (the final diagnosis) Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Arin was the guy who served my meals in the ward. There was no PPK at the time. The servers were those from the private companies providing the food.
It was a brief friendship in the most unlikeliest place. Arin was at that time – A Coincidence. He just happened to be there (as the person who served us meals in the wards). Our conversations were also short as he did most of the talking. I listened more.
He would pass me extra sachets of milo for my supper later at night . Or swing by to visit me in the wards after he finished his work. For a while. He would ask me what I was reading. My dad brings me my novels to keep me occupied in the wards. Arin would narrate to me his day. He was always in awe when he knew I wanted to study medicine. He said he was not smart enough. Our world was different. I was what he called, privileged. His, was a world of grit and hard-er work. I wish to tell him that even those who are privileged has their own challenges and expectations to live up to. But I didn’t. It was not what he would like to hear.
I allowed him to be proud of his hard, honest work. I let him talk about his might and glory. He should feel listened and appreciated. To me, he earned it. Especially when he has so much responsibilities to shoulder at that age.
He smelled of tobacco, biasalah.. youngsters. He rides a simple motorbike. He does not have any girlfriend (he made that point quite clear, wait, was he hitting on me?). He was ‘Along’ at home for he is the eldest and he stays with his mom and younger siblings. He never mentioned his father, perhaps he was not in the picture. I did not ask. As a stranger, I thought I should not pry too much.
It was a good time while it lasts. He gave me that letter on the day I was discharged.We exchanged phone numbers but my study commitments made it impossible to keep up with the friendship. Furthermore, we have different aspirations and goals. Later on, I did not feel like I want to listen and bottle up my thoughts regarding his ideas anymore. I had an opinion but to voice it out might not be the best thing. So I distanced myself and like a withering flower, the friendship too begin to falter. Hence the end of my chapter of Arin.
I find myself being able to relate to a lot of things with Riley in the Inside Out animation movie. Of how we lose our imaginary friends or lose a set of skills we once knew. I was so sad when Riley’s Island of playing hockey crumbled to pieces because that was exactly how I felt when I couldn’t continue to pursue my interest in dancing. Not just any form of dance but my traditional Sarawak dance.
SODA PosMalaysia : Traditional Dance Series
February Issue 2016
I was 10 years old. We were practicing very hard to represent our school and participate in a dancing competition held in Kuala Lumpur. My teacher was so excited. Us kids including myself were so excited as well. I was already imagining myself wearing the traditional costume – I was the lead for the Iban tribal dance. I managed to practice for 2 weeks when one fine day my father delivered ‘great news’ to the family.
He was to pursue his Masters study in Cranfield, UK and the whole family is coming with him and staying there for a year. My dance teacher Encik Sabri naturally panicked but he understood,
mun kawu tek pindah rah key ell jak..senanglah aku nak nganta kawu balit rah mak bapak.. tok pindah ke ukey.. gine ku nak molah.. sekpalah Min.. nang sekda rezki kawu nak bertandak kinek tok
yeh.. I think that was what he said. Ha ha.
So I left Dance but I learnt new things in the UK. My spoken English improved, I read better and faster in the language. I picked up a bit of French. I fell in love with fish and chips and muffins. I made new friends. I saw an interesting world outside Malaysia. I did not kind of regret not being able to dance for I have so much more to gain, but I still miss it from time to time of course.
When I came back to Malaysia, I was too old for dancing. Plus I had to prepare for the UPSR exam. In secondary school, I was intimidated by other better dancers – I did try to make an appearance in one of those yearly school dramas but still I was not even close to second best. I think my glasses made me look like a duck.
It was only later prior to starting housemanship – at an induction camp did I tried to step into dancing again. We were to perform for this particular Dinner exercise. At first I did not volunteer to be part of the dancing group, however.. upon seeing that only the ‘teacher’ had ‘life’ to his motions – I felt the urge to give my support.
I was a quick learner. As I have the basics. My ‘teacher’ seemed pleased as I was able to catch up very fast to the other team members. And I guess my pictures during the night managed to capture how I felt. IMMENSE JOY AND SATISFACTION. It was like seeing your best friend again sorta thing. I was smiling like a silly monkey. It felt natural to perform with a smile. The most wonderful smile I could give.