This week has been a tracing of the passing years that went missing.
I was quite shocked (and alarmed) when I saw 'A's photo in one of the batch's meating (for durian no less). Shocked because it came unannounced, alarmed because I thought a certain earth shattering event could have happened in the batch that had escaped my radar (and that was just unacceptable, to a control freak).
Weeks passed on and busy with all the other things that take too much of my time (unnecessarily and unproductively, I may say!), it slipped my mind again. This is akin to Saruman's stirring troubles in the wood or the Nazgul's venturing out beyond Mordor that had escaped the attention of every Elf there was (OK, a bit of exaggeration but I am really struggling with any write up lately).
Anyway, one fine day (because I was at home watching TV with the other half on a quiet and airy Sunday, that's a treasure in my dictionary) I got an SMS from Fadli of A's impending operation to remove a tumour embedded deeply below his brain.
I have to admit I went instantaneously into a panic mode. Previously, I did not handle well the death of the two people who meant a lot to me; so while A has been a distant memory of the lost years, he was extremely fundamental to everything I held dear when I was a teenager. Instantaneously too, I felt I had abandoned him in times when he needed support, if only I persisted a bit more it could have been different.
So I asked for A's cell no from Fadli and sent him a long SMS. I waited for an hour and no reply, so I slid further into the panic mode. A could have decided not to see anyone, in the same way arwah Ben cut himself off the world in his final weeks, contemplating of the life that he had had (or so I told myself).
I readied myself for the worst disappointment and called A.
It was exactly the same voice, exactly the same manner of speaking, exactly the same feeble attempt to make jokes that had endeared him to me almost 20 years ago. He never changed a bit and he had always managed to take the lighter side of life - in fact when we were trying to set the lunch appointment to catch up after almost 17 years, I told him he should decide the time and place since I am unemployed so I have a plenty of time to go anywhere. As a matter of reflex, he said "take it from me, it can get boring after some years" ha ha.
We met the next day.
He must have been amused looking at how fat I am and how he had kept exactly the same size, with the same hairstyle (plus the uban kah3) while I am barely keeping whatever I have left up there.
And then he explained, going from A to Z. There were times when I interjected and derailed the conversation from the meticulous chronological explanation that he had set to complete. Each time, he would tell me that he had to go through all so that I could get the full understanding (his subtle way of telling me off to keep focus on the discussion).
And so I listened.
What amazed me was not really that we could be sitting as if nothing had happened for the last 20 years and talked as if we were still the 17 year old we were (of course, we sound a lot more complicated and miserable nowadays), it was the confirmation that I had liked and loved the chap since day 1 he came to MCKK and nothing had changed a bit despite the 20-year gap in between us.
It amazed me that he is exactly the same methodical person that sweated it out when our rekacipta projek did not work at all because the circuit must have been wired wrongly (we were doing some kind of electronic railing and to be frank, Pejal failed big time as the mechanical engineer because it was his mechanical bit that did not work. Fadli did not do too badly putting up pretty face all the time, or so he thought). So methodical that he still is, when we were discussing about what lies ahead for him after the operation, he still sees things from a checklist viewpoint.
I could have soured his view of the world a bit with my cynicism of the society, to which he retorted of the difficulty to engage in a conversation when he is so full of energy and positive outlook about life and I am full of negativity and cynicism.
The truth is, he has always been full of energy and looked positively at any encumbrances in life. It is the innocence of a can-do attitude that would have made A the darling of anyone who became close to him.
And I am glad he never changed a bit and he persevered when everything in this world (including me) looked the other way around. He believed that he was right and though it may took a bit longer to come to a closure, he did prove that he was right.
I feel finally I made peace after all with every important character in Dorm 21 of the 1993 - 1994 period who had coloured my life profoundly.
In 1997 I wrote to Mior and we had truthful exchanges. I visited Mior in Sydney last year and he remained one of the most important characters of my teenage life whom I can still count on until today (not to mention that we share so many common grounds in our views about life and society).
I made peace with Auzir a long time ago and remain on good terms until today. I could have written a lot more but his wife reads this blog (ha ha) so I shall not risk incriminating him with the misdeed of the yesteryears.
And now I found closure with A.
I pray for the best of health and for the best things in this life and hereafter for him. I don't think we can make up for the loss of the 20 years (what more with my own fate always hanging in an unfair balance), but I am at peace knowing that the one person whom I had expected to reach the pinnacle of success when we were in MCKK, is finally on the way to make the best of the time given to him.
As we left (I get a parking fine for parking illegally, again), he jokingly said "I wanted to say please stay out of trouble, but then...." and he walked away in a grin.
That is A whom I know from those years and I am so glad that he is back.