CNY is a time for reunions. In my younger days, I had lots of it as i had just left schools and were not balked down by career and family. After Mike and I got married, our combination of gatherings increased, although there were some we chose to attend alone for there were just too many.
Nowadays, these reunions are infrequent. I lost contact with my RJC mates. Mike’s St John Ambulance Brigade group stopped their annual CNY gatherings a few years back, something they had been doing since leaving secondary school. The NUS clubs we belonged to which used to gather also stopped some years ago. Having worked in two companies, until last year, I used to have two ex-colleagues reunions. Now, it’s only with the ICI girls. I can lament about it but I’m also a part of the problem. Afterall, it is usually the same person to organize such gatherings and if that person, for whatever reason fails to do so, the group gets dispersed. If I had really valued these friendships, I could have been the one organizing it, but laziness and complacency, plus the hope that until the last minute, someone would do it is my lame excuse.
I’m thus thankful that my ex-ICI colleague is still organizing it, although the people who had been attending has been dwinding in numbers such that we can’t really have the proper number for a good blackjack or tai-tee game like we used to.
Last Monday, I met up with my best friend who had migrated to Melbourne. I’m honoured that I’m the only classmate from RJC that she still keeps in touch with. Time is often the issue and we only have that one precious afternoon to share. Everyone wanted a piece of her time alone and I was no exception. Thus I hope her sister reading this can forgive me for excluding her for our tea session. I wanted time alone with my friend.
My friend looked exactly the same, no sign of aging, although she kept complaining about her one frown line between her brows. I want to go for botox, she told me. After 28 years of friendship, I was surprised to hear that. I looked at her flawless, poreless, wrinkle-less (except that one frown line between her brows) face and wondered if our paths have deviated. I told her about my yoga and meditation, grumbled about my sons and updated her on my Chong family. She told me about her eleven year-old daughter trying out for scholarships and her various curriculums. I don’t pressure her, she added as if to answer my question if she was turning into her own mother. I’m happy she has settled into the bliss of domesticity, unlike her restless friend.
Last Wednesday, I helped organize a reunion for a primary school friend who had migrated to US. I hadn’t seen her since she left Nanyang at Sec 2. In our reunion, we also connected with two other long lost classmates. We were so happy that my 81 year old teacher, still serenely beautiful, turned up, although we also knew that meant we had to somewhat curb our behaviour during the dinner. I wondered if she recognised all of us. We shared many tales of old times. I feel so previliage to belong in this special class, where out of 34, we managed to trace 24. Our teacher had been teaching us since 9 and must had bear the brunt of complaints from the other teachers for having the most notorious class for consecutive three years.
Our classroom, in the old block of NYPS would be demolished soon. It was in that block that we had the most enjoyable times. One friend recalled how he was often sent out of the class and he would go happily. Our class, being closest to the stairs had its advantage. I’d go out, rushed down to the canteen to eat – there’s no queue – and quickly came back up before the end of class.
Another friend had the honour of being caned publicly just before the PSLE. Why? I asked him as I couldn’t remember.
It was nothing. A gril spashed her water bottle at me and I gave her a box in the eye, he said. He was a hero in the boys’ eyes. They were willing to have a group protest if ever he was barred from the PSLE because of this incident.
But who reported you? Teacher? I said indicating our teacher sitting at the other table.
No, no. Teacher would never have done that. She would have settled it privately, the men sitting at my table chorused. That’s how much we, including the once naughty boys, respected and liked our teacher.
Remember the broken window pane? Someone asked.
We laughed as we recalled how the boys, having broken the louvre window pane while playing soccer in class, were resourceful enough not only to repair the window themselves, but also bought many extra glass pieces and stored it in the class cupboard for future use.
I had great fun in all my reunions this year. I’m just so lucky!