Friends are like special gifts to us that we never discard or outgrow. No one can ever take their place. They are always welcome in the rooms of our heart. Theirs are the memories that never fade. – Donna Fargo
In one of my posts on my trip to Penang, I mentioned that an old friend of mine, Edmund, took my daughter and me out for lunch at the Chinese Recreation Club. He and I were together in Singapore over 30 years ago in 1973 and to say that we were very close friends would be an understatement. I was renting a room at one of the HDB flats along Beach Road and he was staying with his parents who were working in Singapore at the time at their flat in Toa Payoh and needless to say, I spent a lot of time there with them.
We were young then though not exactly carefree…
…but we had joy and we had fun over that period of time of over a year in Singapore.
Edmund had an uncle staying along Tanjong Katong Road and the Casuarina Cove or Tanjong Rhu Beach was just a stone’s throw away unlike today after all that land reclamation that had been going on over the years in the island republic. So on Fridays, the two of us and our friends would go swimming at the beach…
…and then we would all go for a western dinner at the restaurant of the Ambassador Hotel which was also in the vicinity. We were not working and money was not so easy to come by then, so this weekly treat was indeed something really special for us. I went to visit him in Penang during our year-end holidays that year. That was the first time I went to Penang.
I did not know how to take chilli then – the typical Sibu Foochow of the time but I soon picked that up after our lunches together at the roadside mamak stall in one lane somewhere along North Bridge Road. I remember the ikan kembong buried under the red stuff, the grilled brinjals stuffed with homemade chilli, the sambal… Drool!!! Then there were the movies, the nights at the discos – Barbarella at Ming Court, Lost Horizon at Shangri La. I wonder where the rest of our friends are now.
Then, sometime in early 1974, I decided to come back to Sarawak and eventually, we lost touch completely. It was not until sometime in the mid-90s when I was involved in some work for the Education Ministry that I bumped into his sister in Langkawi. I had met her briefly when she and her husband came down to Singapore to see the parents and the old folks took us all out for lunch. She could not remember me but I was positive it was her and persisted in trying to find out from the other people with us that she indeed was who I thought she was – Edmund’s sister. Eventually, it was confirmed. It was her and thus, I was able to get in touch with Edmund again.
Since then, we had kept in touch via sms and phone calls…and he seemed amused by the fact that like those days when we were in Singapore, I was still active on the radio – that time when the TraxxFm family was a really huge thing for me and my name could be heard on the air virtually every day of the week or at least from Monday to Friday during the afternoon show. But it was not until July 2007 when my missus and I stopped for a night in Penang after sending my daughter to the institute in Sungai Petani that we finally got to meet one another again.
He still looks the same, maybe with a lot more grey hair…and perhaps a bit thinner which is more than what I can say about me! LOL!!! Like me, he is married and blessed with a daughter as well…but no, he did not end up becoming a teacher. Now he’s a big shot insurance man…and knowing insurance people, they’re all pretty loaded. Hahahahaha!!! But we’re older now and hopefully wiser and though we are living under very different circumstances now, the bottom line is we were good friends, we’re still good friends and always will be good friends.
I can recall how we used to write these lines in autograph books during my younger days:
Make new friends, keep the old
One is silver, the other is gold…
Amigos para siempre – Friends for life…