Last weekend I met up with some of my primary school friends from Sandakan for the first time since we graduated thirty odd years ago! What a feat in my opinion as I never envisaged that I would be seeing any of these souls ever again in this lifetime.
After we finished our primary school education we all split up and went to different secondary schools. We never kept in touch. Four years after that my family and I packed up and moved to another town. A few more years later I was done with my secondary school and went overseas for further studies and it would be many years before I finally came home. All these factors made meeting any of my primary school classmates throughout the years very unlikely. More than 3 decades later, I did not even know where to start even if I wanted to attempt to look for any of them. With such a time gap between us, had we bumped right into each other on the street it would simply be impossible for us to recognise each other!
Thanks to the power of social media and free smartphone chat app! It all started with a message on my birthday this year from an old friend whom I have hooked up with on Facebook, she informed me that someone from our year had initiated a “man-hunt” exercise! And the rest, as they say, is history!
Close to almost 40 of us met up in KK, the city I am in now last weekend including 5 teachers who are all in their 70’s except one who is just a couple of years shy of joining them. Majority of them made their way from Sandakan to meet up with the few of us who have called KK home since many years ago. We had great dinners over the weekend and everyone was exhilarated trying to catch up with one another.
A friend of mine commented that it was interesting to see me getting all excited and making effort to meet up with these long lost schoolmates as she on the other hand, was not enthusiastic nor would she ever give a hoot about such event! My response to her was — the older I get, the more sentimental I become!
Yesterday after we bade our farewells and with the ones from my hometown making their long drive home, the whole weekend kept replaying in my mind. It certainly has been wonderful, totally and utterly so to have met up with these very old friends especially when I managed to catch up with the few whom I was very close to all those years ago. However, as I think deeper and look past the jokes, the laughter and the warm and fuzzy feeling of seeing someone from our childhood, I realise our chats over the weekend were never beyond the small talks, vague and not too inquisitive questions about our family/number of kids and our job/profession etc. Nothing too personal, uncomfortable or invasive and there was also no volunteering of any info that was deemed too forward to be shared on our first meeting as putting aside the joy of being reunited and seeing the faces that still bear the resemblance of our younger selves, after an absence of thirty odd years, we have inevitably become nothing more than strangers to each other. Nevertheless, I am still confident that this is a good start as against all odds, we managed to find each other again. I know I will be seeing a few of them more often from now on and there will certainly be opportunities for us to bond again, and I look forward to that!