An Evening with Friends - Old & New
Friday evening (23 June) turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I had planned an evening out with my friend May who had invited me to a Bharatanatyam Charity Dinner Dance Performance. It was a very intimate and cosy setting with only 8 tables seating 10 persons each. May's sister April and her friend June were also there. There were some local celebrities, quite a number from the press and most people knew each other.
2 very interesting Englishmen were seated next to us - Sir [*] and his friend/financial consultant Mr C. They were very amusing and May & I talked about our days as students in England and our boarding school (May and I did not attend the same school). Then I noticed someone who looked so familiar at the next table. She looked like my old school friend Kimmie. After a while I caught her staring at me. She came over to our table whilst the lady from Christie's was in the midst of auctioning some item "Are you S...?" So I said "Kimmie...is that you??" Then as we realised we had found our long lost old school friend we hugged each other and we jumping up & down in excitement, confusing our lady from Christie's...are these women bidding or what?? she wondered..."Is that a bid?" she called out. We quickly sat down. I introduced Kimmie to the Englishmen as it turns out that Kimmie already knew May. "This is my friend from boarding school - we were in the same dorm! We haven't seen each other in over 10 years!" Kimmie, in her excitement, announced to them "We used to sleep together!" Aah, you should have seen the Englishmen's faces - jaws dropped open. May was cracking up laughing. Kimmie, bless her, tried to clear the confusion but made it worse by quipping "Yes, it was soo... cold at night, we used to crawl into each other's bed and hug each other to sleep!" Hmm, I had forgotten all that but am now beginning to recall our cold winter nights. Kimmie was our supplier of maggie mee. She would come back from Easter holidays with a suitcase full of maggie mee of all flavours. As our House Matron, Madame Currie and the school resident nurse considered instant noodles unhealthy, we had to hide under the bed to eat it whilst others kept a lookout for matron and the nurse. It's really strange - before I went to England and boarding school, I had never eaten maggie (actually, is this how you spell it or is it "maggi"?) mee. Kimmie was the one who introduced it to me and I developed a habit of eating it raw - yes, like a bag of crisps, crunchy & raw.
Later that evening, in the crowded lift, Kimmie announces loudly to her husband "This is S...my friend from boarding school. We used to sleep together!" I'm sure the husband is thrilled to hear this revelation in a lift full of their mutual friends. And I thought I had managed at last to dispel these rumours that I am gay...I mean for a long time there were these rumours floating around that I preferred members of my own sex. Even my closest friends harboured these suspicions. I didn't realise I was exuding some strong gay vibes. Once, this man asked my father for my phone number and asked permission to take me out. He told me that my father replied "You can try but I don't think she likes men..." So he asked asked me "Why does your father think you are gay?" I like the way my father calmly tells people that his daughter is gay. In hindsight I can't blame him. I have never introduced him to any boyfriends - perhaps because I rarely have boyfriends and I am always coming home with one girl friend or another who are usually Chinese - so he must think I have a thing for Chinese girls. And these girls are neither married nor do they have boyfriends....It's quite disturbing to realise that my poor father had to go through this agony of thinking that his daughter is gay all these years quite unnecessarily. I mean the irony is that I am not gay and there he was - resigned to "accepting" this fact that one of his children is gay. I absolutely have nothing against gay people - after all it's just a sexual preference. Some people are asexual and nobody says anything against them! I just wonder why people assume that I am though. I remember, my previous boss MSM (Datuk now) hauled me up one day in the office and said "I've come to the conclusion that this Italian boyfriend you say you are dating doesn't exist and that you just made it all up. Why is it we have never seen him after all these years??" he demanded to know. I had to tell him I have a boyfriend because he was trying to matchmake me with one of his friends whom he thought was a good catch. His attempts to get us together was so amusing. Once I was rushing off after work and my boss asked me where I was off to. I told him I was going to my hairdresser's and he asked me where it was. I was wondering why he was interested in where I was going. An hour or so later, as my stylist's assistant was blow drying my hair, my stylist came up to me from the reception area and said "Your father is here to see you." I was so puzzled. My father didn't even know where I was at that time. So I went to the reception area ....and there...was my boss' friend waiting for me ... informing me that my boss had called him up and asked him to pick me up at this place & take me out for dinner!!
Even recently at the Bench & Bar Games, ML (whilst walking me back) asked me if I'm gay. When I asked him why he thought I was, he said it's because I was sharing a room with Roomie. Is he implying that Roomie is gay and hence so am I & that we are a couple? So I told him I'm not and he asked "Are you sure you are not gay?" So I told him that I was in boarding school with some of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen and if I was in any way inclined that way, I would have realised it by then! I told Roomie what he said and she just dismissed it casually "Oh men and their fantasies - just ignore them."
I see I have diverted from what I wanted to write about - meeting up with old & new friends. These past few months have been rather strange. I've bumped into friends I have not seen in over 10 years - people whom I don't expect to bump into. At the Bench & Bar Games I met my old friend from SOAS. I haven't seen her in gosh, over 10 years I guess. Then 2 days ago, I was having lunch alone and my first boss ZI (Dato' now) walks into the restaurant...and seeing that I was eating alone, he joined me. I've bumped into him several times these past few years & we said hello etc but to actually sit down like the old days and chat with him...not since I left the firm 11 years ago. I was struck by this morbid thought.... am I going to die soon? Why am I bumping into my past and some of whom I have to make amends with? A close friend from boarding school, a close friend from university and now my first boss. This has to be one of my favourite bosses, he and the matchmaker. The matchmaker and my first boss were partners. The matchmaker formed another firm with some other partners - the breakaway group. I joined them much later on. Now here, in The Firm, I have met some of the most wonderful friends (most of them have left The Firm) whom I hope I will remain friends with for the rest of my life.
I am truly very blessed in my life to have wonderful friends and those bosses I mentioned were great mentors.