Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Grand Finale

This is the year of the Dog, and coincidentally it is not a good year for people born in the year of the zodiac animal such as mine. My afflictions would (as predicted by the zodiac-know-lots) be health-related. As fate would have it, I fell sick 3 days into the new year. It started with slight soreness about the throat, growing to a full-blown inflammation and fever within a couple more days, and then, my voice ran away. I spent three completely speechless days, and went on croaking about for about a week more. Even as I write, my voice has not been restored completely. It was then, all-in-all, an awful way to "celebrate" the new year, despite a day of enjoyable visitations with friends, and another day of croaking away in karaoke.

Just as I thought the entire 15 days of the chinese new year would be spent in recovery from my unfortunate throat inflammation and in utter boredom, things took a pleasantly surprising turn for the better. Last Saturday, the fourteenth day of new year, I met with some people that I had not seen in years and it was truly remarkable.

Late afternoon on Saturday, I gathered with four wonderful girls, who were the firsts I knew when I first went to college, and who were the first roommates I'd ever had, and who'd become more like sisters to me. As was aforementioned, we hadn't seen each other in years, but when we met, it was like the old times happening all over again. Talking, laughing, teasing and reminiscing were easy and without reservations, and the various kinds of new year cookies and goodies from Ipoh and Penang overwhelmed our taste-buds. The late afternoon wore quickly away, and soon we found ourselves taking reluctant leaves, and reminding each other to "keep in touch" (we had always kept in touch, by the way; just not too frequently. *wink*)

In the evening, one of the former roommates from the earlier gathering and I dropped by the house of our teacher, Ms H., from secondary school. We've always made it a point to visit her during chinese new year holidays and although a little late this year, we were not about to let it pass. Later joined by my bestfriend, we had a grand time - conversations, more food, and more teasing. I observed that myself and my bestfriend had called Ms H. "Teacher!" a few times, by slip of tongue, I am sure - old habits die hard. Before we left, we took photos with Ms H. outside her half-opened gate, and she said to me that it is to mean that I would always be welcome to her home. "If you fight with your husband and want to run away from home, you can come to my house" she added. I am very moved by just thinking of it - how many would be fortunate enough to claim such an intimate friendship with a former physics teacher?

Leaving Ms H.'s, my bestfriend and I headed off to a restaurant where we were to have a dinner and "lou sang" with the old gang and some guys from the local boys' school, whom we were well-acquainted with, but had not met in more than 10 years. What a grand dinner it was - and I don't mean just the food. There was wine, some beers, lots of chatters, occasional shrieks (when the noise level was high enough that normal-volumed chatters couldn't get through) and even singing! Yes, singing. A group of very happening (because they were very drunk) middle-aged uncles and aunties were butchering songs on stage and at first we simply tolerated with the atrocity. After several butcherings back-to-back though, my dear shouting-singing-partner Kate couldn't take it anymore. So we chose Greatest Love of All - a song with ridiculously high chorus, and sang it on stage. I somewhat think we butchered it as well, but the entire restaurant were too much into themselves to notice anyway. Some drinks and a couple more songs later, they decided it was not enough. Karaoke must be the next destination - for a couple of hours at least! So off we all went - but we never actually made it to karaoke. Reason? The person who suggested karaoke in the first place was too drunk to remember what or where or how - and had to be brought home. :D

What a day it was - and what a fantastic way it was to end the new year "celebrations"! I guess I couldn't have chosen a better title for this piece.