Now, they are inescapable and certain memories jump and wind themselves around me – reminding, coercing, persuading me to not forget the past (which I have a habit of doing – forgetting people, especially). So, I remember. I remember the half dozen shoes outside one of the E4’s hall room, the endless mahjong sessions that went on regardless of exams, the nightly runs, the private night talks about dreams and boys and dreams, the skipping of lessons during rainy mornings, the obsession over an ideal life after graduation and the endless hall activities which were both a chore and fixation. I remember younger years that involved nights of drinking, clubbing, puking, panadols and two cups of water (for an effective non-hangover next morning: works every bloody time), cabbing, screaming and dressing ups. I remember school and the dead people I had to study, the countless books I borrowed – pretending to be effective, the zero-commitment made to attending lectures, the two hour exams that are filled with mad rush of writing and the coursemates whom I have failed to bond with (unregrettably). I remember the first friends I made – Maryann and Dewi (you cut your long hair for luck) and even today, there is a pining for a past which was so wrongly idealized but fun at the same time. I remember how we stressed over assignments and that 2,500 word essay which eventually became 5,000 or 7,500 – in the end, they didn’t even matter: we graduated anyway and went on to our very own graduation trip (something I never saw coming).
I remember just casually booking my return tickets to London and silently plotting the course of my trip for bloody 3 weeks. I spent my entire last semester researching on which countries to go, what to see, where to sleep in instead of studying. I was ready to leave school by then. I was more than eager. And off, I went. I still remember the smell of Spain, the dreariness of London (that train which broke down), my nicked phone in Rome, the tall guys and chill in Germany and that inescapable misery of being alone (a choice entirely in my hands). In the end, Maryann was the one that brought me out of my self-pity and as quoted, it took me 10k and a 11 hour flight for me to find myself. At least, I did, I suppose and for those very reason I will always remember those four years of transition from nothingness to the being I am today. There are times I still feel rootless and detached but they don’t bother me anymore. Am I Malaysian or Taiwanese or even potentially Singaporean – who the hell cares, it is just a book in the end and my family is already as international as can be anyway. My identity or the lack of it doesn’t really bother me anymore. Today, I am closing in to finding out what I want, who I am and where I am going next.
And for that, I am slowly coming to peace with myself.