“A SHORT ENCOUNTER WITH THAT VERY FAMILIAR FACE…”

Sometimes the past can come back to you in so many ways. It only takes one day in your present life, a short encounter with that very familiar face.

It was completely out of the blue. I was walking down Setiabudi One alone one afternoon when there he was, right in front of me with a young woman walking next to him. When our eyes met, the three of us stopped and I couldn’t believe my eyes:

My God, you look so much like him!

“Hi,” he said to me, smiling as we shook hands. I smiled back, noting that he looked more mature now with his spectacles. But he was still the splitting image of someone I knew in the past…quite closely. “How are you?”

“I’m fine.” I smiled and nodded. “How are you? How’s your family?”

“I’m fine and so are they.” He also nodded. Then he turned to the young woman beside him and introduced her to me. “This is my wife.”

“Hi.” She and I shook hands and told each other our names. After exchanging pleasantries, came his question which I’d been dreading. It’s been years, after all.

“Why did you stop visiting us?” he asked sadly. I felt a lump in my throat and instantly hated myself for it. “I know my brother’s already dead, but-”

“I’m sorry.” What else could I have said? That I’ve been a coward for not visiting anymore – after the last time I was there? That deep down inside, I am forever curious about how my best friend had actually died, but at the same time I just don’t want to think about it? I don’t want to keep having ‘those questions‘ and I don’t want them in my eyes as I look at them and speak to them.

I don’t want to re-open their old wounds.

“Do you guys still live in the same house?” I asked. When he nodded, I said, “Cool, I’ll go visit you guys some other time.”

“We’d love that.” Then, to avoid more awkwardness, we bid farewell and went our separate ways. I turned around and watched his back, silently thinking:

How time flies. How I still miss his big brother, my best friend, even after all this time.

How I still remember the last time I saw him: at the funeral, crying with his little sister next to their big brother’s body – all covered in white cloth except his face and forever silenced by eternity. The rather unspoken, almost hush-hushed and ill rumours about my best friend’s death.

I also missed the chance to tell him something else:

Now I know how you feel. I’ve lost a close family member too…

R.

-In the memory of “Pumpkin” (1982 – 2009)-

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