I waited my friend at RHB bank opposite the Spring Shopping Mall, he was late, and the day was raining. This is not my exact idea of fun, I told myself. I was preparing to meet my ex-secondary schoolmates ( dubbed 5A99), meeting schoolmates can be fun, if the gathering can ignite the sense of kinship that bonded everyone in the first place. But it can be boring or even downright embarrassing if everyone is staring in (or past) everyone's presence, not knowing what to say. A bad weather and a-friend-late-on-time seemed like a bad omen for the thing to come.
Finally, he came, so I followed his car to the destination. Kuching was moving up a lot since the days when I moved away from it. That place was a new restaurant that didn't exist ten years ago. As we parked our car and walked into the restaurant, I took a look at my watch. 7.20pm, 10 minutes to the dinner. Standing in front of the door was a handsome young man. He was Tze Siang, after years, he still looked as boyish as before.
Suddenly, everyone seemed to appear at the same time, we enthusiastically exchanged handshakes, meeting old pals was good, but the atmosphere was a bit tense. We started to chit-chat, the conversation was a bit formal. And there were long pauses between conversation. Were we at lost of words to say to each other because of long-time-no-see? I wondered.
However, when we found a place to sit down, suddenly the atmosphere was heating up. First, a few crackers of chuckles, then, the voice volume rose, and crackers of chuckles gradually evolved into burst of laughters, from every corner of the room.
We were exchanging our life-experience and jokes. We told one another of our experience from our walks of life, our friends listened attentively, sometimes added a few interesting remarks that set us all into laughters. The way we shouted across the table, it felt so much like the way when we shouted across the classroom. Our exaggerated facial expression when telling stories, those were the faces that we were when we were studying together. For a moment we traveled back in time, being our old gun-hoo self, resumed our innocent and carefree attitude. There was never a moment in my life when I felt more 5A99 then now.
The only difference was, the ladies were much more pretty and urbanized then ten years ago, and the men were more handsome, slickly dressed then before.
To be sure, we are never the same again after started working. Our work and our commitment have taken a toll on us. We can no more make friends as heartfelt as we were ten years ago. There are times when we have to wear a mask when dealing with people. And sometimes I wonder whether earning money and recognition in exchange of innocence and genuine friendship is a good bargain.
But tonight's gathering reminded me of how precious and enduring the friendship forged since young is. We may only see each other once a year, or maybe less. And the time may come when we busied ourselves with our families, but deep inside my heart, I would never forget that at one point of time I studied together with 5A99, and tonight shall go down as one of the most memorable days in my life. Of course, we didn't befriend with each other because we wanted to get projects or benefits, that's the point I cherish most.
Thanks, 5A99. Love you all, always.