It was the year I would turn 12 years old. I was in the school's percussion band, and we had just received our tailored uniforms. The teacher thought we looked plain wearing just white blouses with blue (or orange, for some) polka-dot skirts, and decided to have us include a headgear. It would be a songkok-like thing, self-made from cardboard with colourful strips of crepe paper pasted onto it. It was very ugly. We, being mere children at the time, might not have expressed our opinions in so many words, but how we felt must had been plainly visible in our facial expressions.
The teacher singled out a girl who was done wearing her headgear and put her in front of everyone.
"Look at her. Look how pretty she is!"
It was a futile effort to convince us that the headgear was "pretty", for the girl herself was lovely beyond normal standards. We knew the difference, children that we were.
That is the first memory I have of her. We were in the same class the following year, and we've been friends ever since.
I've always regarded her as a sort of older sister. She is only several months older, but so much wiser, more mature and much more dependable. Growing up, as Convent girls, we were a crazy, wild and loud bunch who mostly behaved like boys. We hurtled through the days recklessly and sometimes insensibly. She was the one always level-headed in thoughts and action, graceful in gait, and gentle in speech. She made good judgement and sound decisions. She kept her feet firmly grounded, and made sure none of us strayed too far with our heads in the clouds.
Being an exceptionally good listener, she was, and still is, the one we would go to when we're angry, hurt, emotionally-needy, or simply in the mood to bitch, and needed willing ears. Her being understanding, compassionate and supportive makes it so easy for us to just pour our hearts out to her. Even when she is unable to help us resolve our issues, she can ease the heartache just by being there.
She accepts me just as I am, in all my silliness, eccentricity and insane stubbornness. She encourages me in my endeavours, motivates me when I'm down and reprimands me when I am wrong and being obstinate about it. She laughs with me when I'm jovial, comforts me when I'm upset, and joins me in scolding whoever who pissed me off. She is the kind of girl every girl wants for a girlfriend. I am aware of how lucky I am - how lucky we all are - that we have her.
Have I mentioned she's lovely beyond normal standards?
The very selfish part of me is reluctant to let her go. That is extremely irrational, for I know she will be happy, well-loved and well-taken care of.
Here's to wishing my much-loved Big Eyes a blissful married life!