Monday, August 23, 2010

Of moonbathing and tomato sauce....

If you're really lucky, there will be somebody in your life who understands you inside out, finishes your sentences, thinks your thoughts and is always there throughout each and every crazy scheme you come up with. I have to warn you, this post might start to get sappy but I don't care. This post is for you awak. To the rest of you who may find this heavily mushy, screw you. To the rest, read on. You might a learn a thing or two about life and friendship.

In 1999, I stepped into a place I have come to hate as the years went by. I still hate that place and I have no qualms in stating that the place I am referring to is the International Islamic University of Malaysia. But one thing good that came out of that life-sucking hole, is the few great friends I made. "Awak" here is one of the few friends I still cherish to this day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. We were both from up north and initially had absloutely nothing in common, or so we thought. She hung out mostly with the upper crust kids, and I found solace in my dorm mates. See it was my first time in a dormitory and suffice to say I hated hostel life. We shared the same class that first semester. We were among a handful of English Lit students who were exempted from taking language classes because we had the sense to actually pay attention in English class back in school. So we were instantly able to start off on our Lit courses. The first few weeks, "awak" and I still did not interact much. I kept to myself  mostly and was never good at initiating the first move in making friends. I'm still like that actually. But that's another story....

Anyway, one fine day, I got a call on my cell phone. Back in '99, not many kids carried phones, unlike today. Even primary school kids carry the latest funky phone to school. Back then, I was one of the few in my class who had a cell phone during our first semester. Turns out it was "awak" who called me. She had my number coz' we were in the same drama group, so I guess I must've given out my number or something. I can't really recall the details. But she called me, and she was somewhere off campus and she couldn't make it back in time for our class. So she needed me to fabricate a little excuse to tell our lecturer. I obliged. And somehow that sparked off a friendship that I will forever hold dearly in my heart. 

I guess along the way of surviving that horrible university, we discovered that we had a lot of things in common and we enjoyed each other's company. We confided in each other about anything and everything under the sun. We were so comfortable with each other that sometimes when we crashed in each other's hostel room, we would sleep on the same bed. Remember those double-decker beds? Well we slept together on the top bunk! No, we're not gay. We both love men too much. Know how some ladies would put lotion on their hands and feet before going to bed? Well some nights we would spend talking while almost entirely clearing out a whole bottle of Nivea lotion. Ok we drew the line there. We applied lotion to ourselves. NOT each other! And that was where we coined the phrase, Moonbathing. 

We'd go shopping all day, walking hand in hand, out of one shop and into another. Giggling, laughing, smiling, bitching, gossiping, talking about literature, family, dreams, the future, everything. And as far as I can recall, we never fought. Not even once. 

Our friendship strengthened when we entered the main campus in Gombak. She went there first. I got held back in matrics coz' I kept screwing up my Arabic. But the friendship never withered. It's very hard for me to put it into clear words what she means to me. She was more than a sister, more than just a normal friend, more than just a college mate. She was this incredibly smart, supremely talented, amazing person. We were like Monica and Rachel. Like those sex and the city folks. Only this was real. Mostly we talked about boys, she had this boyfriend she had been seeing for the longest time. Everytime they fought, I would try whatever I could to make them get back together. She was there for me when my then boyfriend and I were going through a rough patch. She was there for me for everything. And vice versa. Even through her tomato sauce addiction phase.

And then  came 2006. Late 2005 I believe it was, she had left for Queensland to pursue her master's degree. I was still in Gombak. She called me from Australia, we shared stories like we usually do. In April '06 my then boyfriend and I brokeup. I was devastated but "awak" was there for me through the phone calls and e-mails. She was also going through some stuff with her then boyfriend. And then something happened. I wish I could say what it was. I wish I knew what it was. But I don't. All I knew was that "awak" had suddenly stopped calling me. Stopped e-mailing me. Her then boyfriend communicated with me at the time, but according to him, he has no idea what was going on. I tried mailing, I tried calling, but to no avail. Perhaps I should have tried harder. Perhaps I should have somehow convinced my Dad to let me fly to Queensland. Perhaps I should have tracked her down harder. But I didn't. I was sad, then I got angry. Then I got sad again. And then time just went by. She was in my thoughts almost every single day. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I grit my teeth in anger. I wish I knew what it was I had done, if I had done anything at all. I wish I could apologize and things would go back to the way they used to be. So I could have my "awak" again. 

I met Hang Tuah in 2007 and I kept telling him how wonderful it would be if "awak" and I were still friends, coz' she would definitely like Tuah. I can somehow picture them getting along beautifully. But alas, all I could do was keep regaling to him stories after stories of my "awak". 

A few months back, after some serious snooping on the internet, I found her on facebook. I looked at her profile picture, and I just stared at the "Add As Friend" button. I also stared at the "Send Her A Message" button. Somehow, I was not prepared for her response. Would she shoot me down? Would she just ignore me? I wasn't really ready to find out either way. 

A couple of weeks back, I found myself staring at those buttons again on her front page. Suddenly I found myself clicking on the message button, and I began typing out words. Words then became sentences, and I thought to myself, what the hell? What have I got to lose? Worst-case scenario is she turns me down, and I know I have truly lost my best friend for good. But there is also the possibility that she might just reply. So I did it. I hit send.

And the reply came just a few hours later.

It said, "Awaaaaaaakkkkkk, i miss you too." 

I cried.  I looked at the computer screen, read her words over and over again. And I cried. Here was my "awak" again.

And today, I got a call from a weird number on my phone. I picked it up and what do I hear?

The ever so familiar "Awaaaaaaaak. Ni orang lah."

It has been almost 5 years since I last heard that. But it was so natural and familiar to me that it felt like we never went our separate ways. It was like returning home after so many years of being away. We spent almost an hour on the phone, talking about everything we could talk about again. Just like we used to in the old days. We fell back into the familiar role of being each other's best friends like we never were apart. There were no awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences. It was just insanely familiar. 

I told her, when we do meet up again, she better not runaway coz' I know I'm gonna be crying my eyes out. She replied the only running she'll be doing is into my arms. Some of you may start to think that this is beginning to sound rather gay-ish. All I can say is, if you do not have this feeling with your best friend, then I'm sorry but you have no idea what you're missing out on. It's not gay. It's not weird. It's just two people who are the best of friends and who love each other no matter what. Through thick and thin. Yeah we had our bump in the road, who hasn't?

So look at your best friends. Are you willing to be there for each other no matter what? Coz' that's what friends are for. If you do not have an "awak" in your life like I do, you're really missing out on the true meaning of friendship.
To awak, I can't wait to see you! Love you loads.

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