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We're Watching You

The Friend

The Friend
Diploma grad Marissa Voo presents a poignant delivery for a
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feature writing assignment that demonstrates a commendable skill for a sensitive topic we all feel but often find difficulty to express.

When you lose something that cannot be replaced, your world crumbles to the ground… All it takes to turn it all around, is that one friend. By Marissa Voo

The journey of self-discovery is often difficult. Time is a constant and the world still turns even when the rest of you aches to give up. Fear and depression are persistent visitors that come along and secure you in their flesh-eating grips, forcing you to be of the world… An indifferent world of expectations; a harsh world of criticism. They tell you, “You’re not good enough.” And in the midst of all that calamity, nothing is better than a friend who comes along and eases your pain, and makes sure that you’re okay. He is a friend who finds no need to say anything – he is just always there; always watching over you.

This is the story of how I got to know that one friend.

All it took was one panicky phone call. I was in church and it was halfway through service when it happened. She got off the phone, quickly held my hand and immediately dragged me along, and in that moment I saw her motherly figure weaken. With trembling hands on the steering wheel of our old Proton Wira, she got on the fast lane. It was a car ride unlike any other, and my 12-year-old brain could not comprehend why we were not talking and laughing in the car like we always would. There was tension in the air – I could feel it – and I dared not say a word. The silent ride lasted for about half an hour or so, and it was just before noon when we reached our destination.

The hospital had a cold, unfriendly smell. I did not like it very much. I obediently followed her as she ran toward the lift and furiously pressed the button leading to the third floor. There was nothing much to observe, really, apart from the long corridors and nurses dressed in white. But well, it wasn’t about the

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uninteresting journey to the ward.

By his bed was a cup of water. She grabbed it but immediately felt helpless, seeing as how he was still asleep – people don’t drink in their sleep. “Wake up,” she whispered, gently nudging him as tears started to fill her eyes. We stood in silence for a couple of minutes. He wasn’t waking up. A few words with the doctor, and the soft humming of the machine was switched off and eventually subsided to nothing. She kissed his forehead and indicated for me to do the same. I looked at her, my eyes filled with both confusion and innocence. Without looking me in the eye, she instructed, “Say goodbye to Daddy.”

I did not cry. In that moment, I was not fully able to grasp the fact that he was gone forever. As a child, I suppose I had this carefree mentality that my parents would always be there for me. Nobody else tucked me in bed and cooked me meals like they did. My mind was simple that way. But all of a sudden, it was as if everything had changed. My perception of life was shattered; distorted. It was not what I thought it was. My aunty came not long after, and I overheard her talking to my brother. “You are the man of the house now,” she told him.

It has been eight years since that incident. I can say that I’ve grown – for the better or for the worse, I’m not so sure. I don’t remember much about my father, but I am thankful for the short time that I did have with him. In fact, his absence was what challenged me to be a better person. With the little that I do remember about him – his willingness to learn, his love for those around him, his often encouraging words – I can only hope to be like him someday. The best compliment I could ever get is not to be told that I am talented or beautiful or pleasant; it is to be told that I am just like my father.

It was never a stable journey. There were days when I’d cry my eyes out, wishing that he was still around. I yearned for guidance. I yearned for a fatherly figure. I got myself involved in relationships I shouldn’t have, I was rebellious due to the restrictions placed upon me, and I eventually found myself in an utterly messy, undesired place. I did believe in God and I was taught that He was always there for me but as time went by, I felt more and more alone – there were times when I would question if God was merely a fragment of my imagination; something taught to me at a young age with the sole purpose of guiding my morality. I often questioned why He took my father away from me – did He not love me? Never did I feel like I was strong enough; never did I feel like I was good enough for the people around me. I tried so hard but I was so unhappy.

I fell into depression. And regretfully, it was then that I succumbed to self-harm. Each time it happened, I would ask myself if that was what my father would have wanted of me. Would he be proud? I was never a fan of the sight of blood, but my unhappiness got the best of me. It took me a couple of years to come to my senses, and amidst these challenging times, I found and grew closer to a friend who willingly helped me through. He would tell me that I have to be strong; he would remind me, hey, it’s really not that bad. It was with his help that I began to adopt the mindset of a person who was willing to take on challenges and hardships. I

did better in my studies and I stopped crying about things that belonged in the past. I still thought about my father, yes, but I had no more reason to cry because he would remind me that my father was in a better place. I grew on him and he eventually became my best friend. He would know when to leave me alone and he would return whenever I called.

His name is apathy.

The journey of self-discovery is often difficult. Time is a constant and the world still turns even when the rest of you aches to give up. But everything will be okay, he whispers.

Photo courtesy of Etsy
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