Friendship starts with a simple ‘hi,’ or ‘can I join your table?’ in one of the lunches or ‘can I help you?’ just in time when you needed someone to hold the sack where you’d shove in the sand that you dug.
It wasn’t ‘till mid-April that I grew closer to these three girls here on the island, ‘till we started doing community works together, waking each other up at six in the morning to start digging sand, helping each other carry 25kg cement bags, segregating endless pile of garbage and sweeping thousands of leaves – rain or shine. These days of hard labour turned into weeks and weeks into months and as our bodies became physically stronger, so did our bond.
They said, the good thing about friendship is you do things you would never have done by yourself; you discover things about yourself and you learn and grow with your friends.
I have never played as much billiard games in my life as I did in the last four months. We followed only half the rules of the game, even less. The rest of the rules were self-made so any professional players who tried to join us either got bored and left or joined the fun of playing with amateurs who don’t go by the rules. But then after four months of playing day and night, the four of us found ourselves better in this game. We can already play with the pros if only they will follow our own rules.
The TV room that I’ve never stepped my feet on in years has become our home recently. I’m not much into movies but then things happened. I started getting action-packed dreams specially when we did a marathon of Fast & Furious 1 to 6 as well as a lot of Dwayne Johnson movies. We’ve covered a lot of genres from RomCom to Thriller to Kdrama and Japanese Cartoons. On humid nights, we turned sticky inside this TV room as the air-conditioning never worked properly due to the missing part but we continued just because we wanted to spend time together even though I can actually just leave and comfortably watch in my room with full air-conditioning on. But we continued watching. We screamed and laughed and cried and ate chips and drank coffee, humid nights or not.
We started this habit of eating instant noodles at midnight and we increased the number of our coffee intake (and tea and hot chocolate too). When we’re hungry we eat. When we’re bored we eat. While we play cards we eat. While we play billiards we drink coffee. In between meals we drink coffee. While watching movies we drink coffee and eat chips or Fudge Bar. We all ate together and gained weight together. And so we did a 14-day abs challenge together that initially worked although, the minute we stopped after the 14th day and started eating again, all the hard work went in vain.
But then friendship isn’t friendship without tears, failure and fears. And as much as we wanted to stick together, the universe didn’t allow us to. Maybe not now. It already took the two away from me, and is still trying to take away one.
Uncertainty throws us into a pit of darkness where we find our fear of the unknown. We stay scared until we see some light streaks, until we find a glimmer of hope. There are so many things we are unsure about specially at this time. Job, security, money, food and future: all equally important. But I guess being humans, not knowing when we will see our loved ones again is the worst of all.
Life throws us in different directions. It’s disheartening sometimes but we have to endure. If what’s left with us are just good memories to cling on to until the time, we all meet again, then we better hold on to them tight.
There’s just two of us left here on the island, the last two girls among a crowd of men and we aren’t sure yet when will the other girl leave so we try to spend time together as much as we can.
Tonight, we played billiards after we had our dinner. The mood isn’t the same anymore and there’s not much laughter as before. After two quiet games, we decided to watch Kdrama, this time in my room and not in the TV room anymore – that’s too huge a space for just the two of us.
Our bodies chilled as we sat on the floor. It was quite cold even though the air-con temperature was just set on 24 degrees Celsius. We watched an episode full of laughter and tears and people eating ramen. I craved for noodles. I craved for warmth.
The other girl went back to her room after watching one episode. I headed to the canteen to pour hot water into the cup of instant noodles. I went to ‘our table’ the second one to the right of the door of the canteen, the one where the four of us used to have all our meals together. The table where all the noise and laughter came from every meal time.
I took my phone and opened our group chat. I sent them an update of how our billiard game was and how cute the story is of that Kdrama.
I sat alone in the middle of that dark canteen, typing while eating instant noodles on a warm summer evening.
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