Friday, July 11, 2008


When I was fourteen and we used to go to school when it was dark, Sera met me at the crossroads between my house and her bus stop. From afar, just by the way she walked, I knew something was wrong. In the gloom, as she moved unevenly towards me, tears were streaming down her face. I didn't know what to say as she walked straight into my arms, hugging me and sobbing. He'd done it again and she'd had to run out of the house, drawing all of the neighbours' attention. "I was so embarassed," she gasped, shaking and hiccuping all at once, "Why does he always do this? Why?" I hugged her with one hand as we walked to school, told her everything was going to be okay, made her laugh just a little bit through her sobs. As we neared the plastic playground between the blocks, her tears were drying. By the time we reached school, she had regained a calm, if mildly shaky, composure. I'd said absolutely nothing that could make a change, but I'd been there and we'd leaned on each other in the dark, taking things one slow, steady step at a time.

When I was fifteen and Becky used to come over to my house because I was so lonely, she stayed till nine one night and we got to talking about a script of sorts she'd written, called "Roofwalkers". In it, a bunch of rebels had taken to walking across the roofs of buildings to talk about their problems and defy the system. The inspiration for it, she told me, came from a real incident when she walked on the steeply curving roof of one of the school blocks when she was deeply unhappy with life. "I'd honestly planned to walk up there, go to the edge and just walk right off," she admitted softly, playing with my blanket. Only, a teacher had caught her and made her come down. I looked at her, horrified that someone I'd grown to love so would do such a thing to herself. "Don't ever, ever, do that again," I managed to choke. For a reply, she smiled quietly and nodded, a silent affirmation of our fledgeling friendship in one fleeting moment.

When I was sixteen and expectations were becoming too much for me to bear, I walked quietly with Sera to the bus stop that would bring her to Bishan and sat on the bench, looking silently at the floor. She tried to speak to me, but I couldn't reply for the twisting in my gut and I doubled over on the seat, hugging my knees and studying the tiled floor with great attention. "It's okay to cry," she said gently, putting a hand on my back. And in a quiet, shamed way, I, who seldom broke down in front of my friends, began to feel hot tears sliding from my eyes and onto the lenses of my glasses. We sat there soundlessly for five minutes as the tears fell, I didn't make a single squeak. She left her hand on my back and looked politely ahead of her, smart enough to know that there was enough solace in the warmth of her palm. Afterwards, she caught her bus and I got up, feeling significantly lighter, and walked home.

There are only six days left before we see each other again. Sure, it's a holiday. But it doesn't matter, on this trip, what we do or what we don't do.

All that really matters is that, like in those years of near innocence when we had the luxury and privelege of seeing each other everyday, once again, we're there.