Saturday, 31 December 2016

Treasuring and Toasting to a Thirty Two-Year-Old Friendship

          Separated by 10,452 km and busy with the demands of our everyday activities, my best friend and I rarely get to enjoy our heart-to-heart chats. The last time we met up was two and a half years ago. But whenever we come together again, “it’s always amazing how we seem to pick up from where we last met like it was yesterday” (her exact words).
Siew Ee and I are actually pretty different in many aspects. She is devoted to the furry felines while I absolutely abhor them. She’s a very talented artist whereas even a seven-year-old can draw a better picture than I can. She’s stylish, fashionable and has both the looks and stature of a model. I, on the other hand, dress more conservatively and am never up-to-date where fashion is concerned. She swooned over Andre Agassi back in the 1990s but I drooled over lesser known local badminton stars like Kwan Yoke Meng and Soo Beng Kiang. She enjoys green tea latte and matcha cakes, both of which I shun. Despite our differences, we complement each other well and can talk for hours without ever running out of topics. My parents used to marvel at how long our phone conversations could be, even after six hours together at school. 
     For our tertiary studies, we were both in the United Kingdom, albeit in different cities and sponsored by different scholarships. We met up and she introduced me to a dashing friend of hers (now husband), Satvinder. Upon graduation, they stayed on in the UK whereas I had to fulfil my teaching contract back in Malaysia.
Sat, Siew Ee and I at Victoria Station, London 
     Through the years, we have always kept in contact, even before the era of Facebook. Technology has, of course, made things much easier. I can still remember how I excitedly struggled with my first e-mail in 1996, which was to Siew Ee. Every time she returned to Malaysia for a visit, we would make it a point to meet up, regardless of how short a time we had. There was once she was back for her beloved grandmother’s wake, and even at such a difficult time, we managed to sneak out for tea.
     I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and falling in love, first, with Arianna, and later, with Arisha as well.
Meeting 6-month-old Arianna in June 2010

Meeting 6-month-old Arisha in December 2012
Siew Ee’s two angels are very different in character but they love each other to bits, and that kind of reminds me of the bond I share with their mama. We love and accept each other, warts and all.
     Two days before 2016 ended, Siew Ee and I were reunited for an afternoon. She was at my hairdresser’s for a perm. Oblivious to everyone there, we were chatting, giggling and poking fun at each other. Later, we went back to her house, where Arianna was waiting. Arisha, unfortunately, was having a nap. We went to the nearby Petit Mary Patisserie for tea and they were both pleased with the cakes. I had such a fabulous time getting to know Arianna better and regaling her with stories of her mama.
Adorable Arianna poses with our food

Cheeky little angel obliged me when I told her to lick all the cream

Auntie Ai Ling and her little darling

     When it was time for me to drag myself away from them, Arianna was clinging to me, trying to elicit a promise from me to visit her in the UK next. I will find myself missing, not only her mama, but cheeky Arianna as well. How I wish I could have spent time with sweet Arisha too!

     A bond that has been cultivated for thirty two years, and is still going strong, is not something trivial. So here’s a toast to our wonderful friendship, which I treasure dearly, and may we have many more years to come. Cheers, Siew Ee, and Happy New Year!
My best friend and I in 2014

My best friend and I in 2016


  1. Irene, I enjoyed reading about your long time friendship with your best friend, Siew Ee. Her girls are so cute! Happy & blessed new year to you & love ones!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Her girls are indeed extremely lovable. They'll win you over in no time. Happy New Year to you and yours too!

  2. So touched by your friendship with your friend.. so friendship knows no bounds, no matter how far, as long as you are sincere, the friendship will remain always!

    1. It's all God's grace that I am blessed with such a wonderful friend, and a beautiful friendship.