Friday, May 29, 2009

Of Friendship

Nawwar (right) with her 'big sister' Karen (left), flanked by their friend Ira in the middle

It does seem odd that I make a living in PR, which generally means communication and interaction (facilitating media expediency and the like), yet be ill-at-ease with people in general.

I'm neither shy nor bashful, just reticent and perhaps a bit reserved. Unfortunately, some people have mistakenly put this down to haughtiness.

Also, it doesn't help that I have the schoolmarmish stern look. Many a times I was told I could pass for a headmistress or a disciplinary teacher.

It is truly complimentary to be thought of as an educator, for teaching is one of the noblest professions ever.

In fact, in my younger days, it was a toss between teaching and journalism careerwise, and the latter triumphed.

And they couldn't have been more wrong about the haughtiness. I'm neither 'sombong' (proud) nor 'garang' (fierce), far from it. That stern look is quite deceiving.

Anyway, I prefer the company of books and cats than fellow humans. I guess it is because you know where you stand with the first two but you can never be sure with the third.

I am sure all of us have, at one point or another in our respective lives, one special person whom we call "Best Friend".

A best friend can be anyone - childhood pal, college mate, colleague, spouse - although I don't subscribe to the idea of making one's parent a friend, let alone best friend.

One can be as open with parents as with friends but the special, elevated status of one's parents should never be compromised.

The line that divides the two should be very clear. It's an old-fashioned view, but one I am comfortable with, personally.

Of my four kids, the first three retain their special friendship with childhood pals, who evolved to become today's best buddies.

The fourth, Nawwar, used to have a best friend from school days, until the friend went into the entertainment industry, becoming a 'hot property' actress and in the process, discarding her old skin totally.

My eldest son Naj and best friend Dinesh grew up together and remain close till this day, despite the fact that Naj is a diehard Manchester United fan while Dinesh would give his all for Liverpool.

[Dinesh found an unexpected ally when I married Pak Abu, another Liverpool fan. He still has to contend with me though, for I have been screaming myself hoarse for MU since the 1970s].

Naj is a busy scribe while Dinesh flies with the national carrier but they get together whenever time permits. Their good-natured ribbing and bantering about their respective soccer affiliation is always fun to see.

The other son, Joe, and best friend Jason have been living in each other's shoes since God knows when.

In his schoolboy days, Jason would appear at our doorsteps at the oddest hours. He would then wave a nonchalant greeting to whoever was around before heading straight for our family refrigerator to check out its content.

His family and ours were neighbours when we lived in Subang Jaya, and I love that boy to bits.

There were times when he went AWOL for a few days, and missing him, I would call his mom, asking "Where's my son?" and she would break into a laugh, knowing exactly who I was referring to.

Today Jason is past 30 and already a father, of one little girl called Judith, but to me Jason will always remain my boy.

Joe is in advertising while Jason works in IT. They meet often, for 'teh tarik' and 'tengok bola' sessions, We get to see Jason more often than Dinesh though, because he is KL-based, thus easily available for dinners and celebrations.

Of the two girls, Ann's best friend is somewhat unusual, if I can call it that. Syadid is today a young man in his late 20s.

He and Ann have been bosom buddies since secondary school (they were boarders in a private school together).

Think American Idol's Adam Lambert; that's Syadid (minus the guyliner, thank God!). I love effeminate Syadid, he's such a sweet, sweet boy.

Ann is actually his Big Sister more than best friend. I refer to him as my third daughter. We care for this somewhat troubled young man deeply.

In more ways than one, I am his mom (his parents have been divorced for a long time and both have since remarried). Many a times these ample shoulders were his to cry on.

Syadid is the youngest child from a privileged family. He studied hotel management in Switzerland and worked a stint in Wales before coming home.

Last month he left for a new hotel job in London. We miss this emotionally turbulent young man lots; his expensive yet flashy clothes, his bangles and beads and other accessories, his soft-spokenness and gentle manners...

Our youngest, Nawwar, in turn has a Big Sister of her own. She's Karen, a bespectacled Chinese girl who shares our fascination with cats (she has a few of her own).

Karen is in retail while Nawwar services clients in an ad agency. They may be from different race and creed but they bond very well together.

Throughout my life, I only had two best friends; the first in my teens (
read here) and the second acquired in the early days of my divorce. Distance has rendered both friendship stagnant, but it's still there nonetheless.

Hamidah, daughter of our maid Mok Cik Selema, was adopted by my grandparents to keep me company. We grew up together and were the best of buddies.

Although a Terengganuese, she has lived in Perlis for decades. A school teacher, she was posted there originally and must have found tiny Arau to her liking.

Now that her parents have passed on, the likelihood of her returning to roost in Dungun is highly unlikely. She doesn't have any siblings there anymore.

Soleh, one of her brothers, married a Japanese girl he met while working in a hotel, and the couple now lives in Japan.

The one friend closest to me, Julie, migrated to Australia last year with her husband and son. Julie, now in her mid 40s, was my sole crutch during the painful days of the big "D'.

Julie is someone with the biggest heart I have ever met. I could count on her at any time or day to help me in any situation. She was in a multinational ad agency while I had just started my PR consultancy when we first got to know each other.

God has blessed her with an equally wonderful husband, Chee Onn, who shares her kindness for mankind. Their son Oliver must be in Primary Two now. It's been a year since I last saw them all.

Yesterday I received a call from our mutual friend, Suzaina, who informed that Julie was in town for Christmas last December and was frantic because she couldn't get in touch with me nor Pak Abu.

In desperation she went to the karaoke lounge of KLGCC to find out, and was told by the staff there that we were on the Hajj pilgrimage. Smart woman, that one, going straight to the lion's lair!

I do miss our "Coffee Bean / Gloria Jean" moments and hope to see her again in the not too distant future, Insyaallah. True friendship is such a beautiful thing....


Tommy Yew said...

Hi Puteri,

Do you accept me as your friend?
Do you have the time?
To listen to me whine.
About nothing and everything all at once?
I am one those melodramatic fools.
Neurotic to the bone,
No doubt about it.
Sometimes I give myself the creeps!
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me!
It all keeps adding up.
I think I'm cracking up.
And am I just paranoid
Or am I just stoned?

Sometimes, I wonder too, why people/strangers love me so much. I’m not conceited, just down to earth chirpy & happy go lucky....heheh.


Kama said...

Such lovely prose, Tommy!

tireless mom said...

Hi Kak Puteri

FRANCE, friendship remains and never can end. He he... I remember those words always being crypted while we sign our friends' autographs before we left the primary school. It still feels the same, regardless of creed and belief. A colorful anak anak you have there.

Pp said...

puteri kama..

I suka jumpa new people and also old friends. selalu tu,i am the one who initiate re-connecting...
having said that, i hv experienced juga what kama said about one can be never be sure where one stand with people. sudah beberapa kali 'terkena' di mana kita anggap kawanrupanya di belakang kita si anu telah mencerca membawa kata2 nista.

tetapi kan...i have only a handful of clos friends.yang bestnya, with close friends, we need not try too hard...memang dah serasi...mcm adik beradik.

ps:i will be in KL Monday ni...jommmkita arrange one meet.
boleh? Elviza also owe me one drink. hehehe


_deli said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

Berkawan biar seribu berkasih biar satu - tentu ingatkan pesanan org dedulu; namun yang akrab boleh dibilang dengan jari, adakala sebelah tanganpun tak sampai.

Lost a dear friend on the 5th of May '09. He was ailing from lung cancer and seek treatment here in KL. He's an Indonesian. Antara pesanan terakhir beliau ialah andai ia meninggal, usah dihantar ia pulang but to bury him in my hometown instead. Not the kind of honour I'm hoping for but I'm touched nonetheless.

Semasa hayat beliau rasanya I ill treated him but not by design, merely being ourselves - cakap lepas, tak lah kasar mana. Since his absence, I haven't really grief yet. Too painful.

So, kalau masih ada org yang disayangi tunjukkanlah, luahkanlah, berkongsilah. Afterall, hidup bukannya nak menongkat langit. Tiada kita, langit akan tetap terbentang begitu juga.

Sungguhpun ada yang lain, kawan yang satu itu tetap yang itu juga, telah dijemput Illahi. Al-fathihah.

Anonymous said...

Salam kak puteri,

An effeminate Adam Lambert?? How endearing....

Anyway, i read somewhere that good friends are like good books, few and far between.

But then again, i don't read as much as i should... :)

a reader from ghana

Kama said...

TM - Oh, I remember that acronym FRANCE very well. it's all over my autograph book! yes, the kids somehow found lasting friendship with friends of different races. i'm glad because they learn from young not to be prejudiced.

Pp - i too hv experienced this sort of thing before. that's why amat berhati-hati bila memilih kawan.

Deli - Al-fatihah untuk arwah your friend. memang teramat sedih bila kehilangan someone dear. Baguslah semadi dimana dia meninggal sebab di mana2 pun bumi Allah..

Anon - he's a very sensitive chap, i think it's because despite all the wealth, life at home has been an emotional rollercoaster ride for this non-conformist. we try to fill in the void the best we could. you should see some of his shirts.. hehehe..

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

I have a close friend with whom I share my darkest secret. Even though it has been years since the last time we met,she is the ONE for me..:) I am greatful to have her around. Oh yes, she blogs too, and I am sure you know her!

Just recently, I have lost an old friend of more than 11 years. I am devastated with the lost for we have had many good laughs together, especially when cracking jokes in our Rawa dialect.

It is tough when feelings are involved here, I knew I had to put a limit to it. I must give him space to let go of me and find himself a girl to call his own. Besides, it is just not right.

Perhaps it was kinda hard for him to accept this, thus he opted to cut all ties, whereas, I only wanted to put a limit to the virtual meetings. Still, life goes on for me, as I've myself, my family and other friends to love.

There is a saying that goes, "when two friends fall in love, that means they are meant for each other, but if two friends fall out of love, it means they want to keep each other forever"..and I thought I could keep him forever in my circle of trusted buddies..:(

Tommy Yew said...

Hi Puteri, it's pesky me again.

U remember ITALY?, I trust and love you, what about SWALK, sealed with a loving kiss. I got quite a few in my younger days, a long3 time ago..heheh, red faced.

Wah, Ms.Ida's comment remind me of the movies 'When Harry met Sally' and 'My best Friend's wedding'. Comical yet so touching.


Adam said...

May I ask a question pleased?
Tok Pa said 'is cyber tropper and mat rempit the same?'
I dont want to be both either.
I want to write goody-goody only.

Bye Opah.


Kama said...

Ida - sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, but I have always believed in the saying ' every cloud has a silver lining.'

Tommy - indeed. ITALY, SWALK, FRANCE and a host of other similar acronyms. I wonder if kids today still use these terms in their autograph book.. err. do they still use autograph book?

Adam - they both create havoc, adam; mat rempit on the road, cyber trooper as the name implies, in the cyber world.

Takyahlah nak merempit, nati merempat susah abah & mak. Opah Kama ingat Adam mengaji rajin2 jadi ustaz lagi baik.. baca Quran banyak2 dapat pahala dunia akhirat.