On two separated single beds that can hardly be defined as single beds being less than three feet wide each, lay two young girls of 20, whispering life secrets to one another, comparing notes on who had the bigger secret to share. The air was cold (about minus 15 degrees Celsius) although the room was purportedly heated with an ancient junk of a heater, but the girls were comfortable in five layers of clothing. It was a brothel type one star hotel after all, with an old sliding gate lift that transported raunchy guests between the four floors.
“I don’t get surprised anymore. Seriously, hardly anything surprises me.” Said Sam.
“I once dated my Dad’s boss! For a whole two years!” Maisy tried impressing her soul mate but she was right, it was no big deal to her.
Hardly flinching from that piece of news, Sam asked, “Did your Dad know?”
Maisy shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows? Who cares?” My Mom got to the bottom of it though and stopped the affair. I was 19, he was 32 – Managing Director of an Oil and Gas company and Scottish.”
“I once had a fling with Gary.” Sam whispered. Gary was a mutual friend of theirs whom at the time was a silent geek.
“NO WAY!!!” an uproar of laughter followed as the two girls reminisced their imprudent past as nubile teenage girls. Gun shots of Nazi soldiers yelling at kids throwing snowballs outside their window did not faze them, as sharing their friendship through secrets was so much more fun.
Suddenly, a knock on their door broke their hysterics. Some classmates called out to the girls for supper at 11pm as the group had hardly eaten all day. Being on an architectural field trip, visiting and learning about buildings from 8am to 8pm continuously, was an exhausting feat yet once education was over for the day, all everyone wanted to do was not to crash but to stay up till 4am to PARTY. Such is the frivolity of youth.
Everyone was famished. What meals they had had throughout the day always comprised cooked cabbage in various styles (which seemed to be the staple of the poor Polish) and French bread with butter and/or cheese. The plan was to head off for a huge Big Mac meal down town and Maisy had promised the rest she’d come along. Besides, she was genuinely hungry. Sam however, suffered from an incurable auto-immune disease and had very strict life rules to abide thus could not go.
It was a difficult parting as Maisy didn’t want to leave Sam behind all alone but Sam reassured her that she needed to call her Mom in Italy anyway, “Go, go, go!! Go get me some bread!”
With that, the eyes of the two girls met with a connection of understanding. Maisy then flung on her thick woolly Arctic green jacket and headed out with the rest of the gang leaving Sam to smoke her red Marlboros alone.
My dearest friend,
Not a day has gone by that I have not missed you. It has now been 16 years and every single time I see a yellow butterfly, I know you are close by. Thank you for looking out after me and my family all these years, I know you have, because you are the only one in Heaven that I am closest to.
I was thinking of you on your birthday this year but couldn’t bring myself to write because guess what? I am pregnant again! At the time, I was all hormonal and emotional and although I thought of you non-stop, I just couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper as I knew that I’d get into an uncontrollable fit of tears, just like the two whole years I cried for you. Yann was there for me then or I’d have been desperate enough to join you. He is now married with a new set of twins to another childhood friend of mine, a doctor. Those bloody doctors, right? If it weren’t for her, we’d still be friends as we were really good friends for a long time after I’d left him. I am really happy for him and hope he has found true happiness since we led such complicated lives.
What about Zam? I always felt he never really got over you and displayed this by dating the same type of Caucasian girl each time. He’s kept in touch with my Italian friend though and she tells me that he is now married to a French girl with kids. I suggested meeting up once last year but he didn’t respond so I did not pursue it further. Perhaps it was too painful for him to see me, as a reminder of you. I know your death completely screwed him but I do hope he has moved on and is able to cope with life at least.
I have your Mom’s email and have been meaning to write her but still haven’t and really, I have no excuse. It’s not even laziness. I don’t know what it is. But I will, I definitely will make contact with her again to show her my two girls and how far I’ve come. She would have wanted that for you. I’m happy that your Dad has joined you, at least you have some company!
I am still ecstatically happily married to the Hubs, and funnily he has to come from your school! What’s it with men from your school?! I have told you of Tee and wish and wish that the two of you could have met because man, you would get along like a house on fire! She would have loved you so much! And I have another little one on the way. All is good at this end. Mom is battling her tail end of her cancer and I hope she has the strength to fight it out further than all these years that God has already given her. Thank you again for blessing us.
I miss your sexy, husky voice, your long creative fingers, your amazingly spicy chilli padi Indonesian cooking (for such a materially rich girl who did not have to lift a finger a day in your life in a kitchen, you could really, REALLY cook!) but most of all, I miss you, everything about you.
Your yellow bedroom in London is still fresh in my mind. And your flat overlooking the River Thames? I remember every single space in that flat and can still see it in my mind till today. I remember the large life sized blown up photograph of you and Mom in Missoni colours and you blurting, “My crazy Mom and her Chinese men!”. I remember the artefacts and clocks, the glass that surrounded us; the 3 architectural project paintings of black and gray you had up on the walls…..Isn’t that weird?
I also remember your house well in Singapore, where the staircase without balustrades led to your Mom’s bedroom and how your private bathroom had no doors. Your balcony overlooked the pool with the white iron cast coffee table set. I was in awe of your enormous mirrored walk-in wardrobe, your huge four poster bed……….girl, you had it all.
But yet you hadn’t.
I wish you had given yourself more time, given me more time. We had barely enough years of togetherness and although it was an intense amount of years, it was hardly enough. I keep your presents close to my heart and will forever cherish them, it is all I have of you apart from our memories.
Recently, I watched Star Trek, the movie, in your honour, and honestly didn’t think it was too bad. The casting was too young for my taste but other than that, it was an entertaining Hollywood flick. You know how I am totally not interested in Star Trek. You know how hard you tried converting me to becoming a Trekkie. Who knows? One fine day, when time permits, I may get the whole series of Star Trek and watch it back to back and then perhaps, I will see the light. The light that you kept wanting me to see.
Did you get all those candles I burnt for you in the churches in England? It was a ritual for me. Unfortunately, I don’t do churches anymore, not since I came back. But I hope to again one day soon, or perhaps I’ll build an altar in my own house. Just so we can be closer.
Although I know that you are beside me, it is still not the same because I can no longer hear that crazy laugh. Your crazy laugh, your husky voice. I can no longer listen to your words of wisdom (or crap!) and can only hope that in prayer, you will whisper into my ears when I sleep. I dreamt of you twice last year and would like you to come into my dreams again. Please visit me, I long to see you and talk to you again. No other person in this world has connected with me the way you have.
Forever with love.