A Room of Familiar Strangers


July 11, 2008 15:49 PM  

A Room of Familiar Strangers

By Nel Fahro-Rozi

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 (Bernama) — A group of my secondary school friends organised a reunion get-together over the weekend. It was a good trot down my memory lane, unearthing some memories that have been buried for good many years. I did not realise I have forgotten many faces, people and events in my secondary school years.

I was not the smartest, prettiest, coolest or most popular kid on the block but I did have a pretty fun time in secondary school. I may not have a super fantastic time considering I was quite invisible compared to some people. But I did have plenty of pretty good, if not really great times. It was enjoyable nonetheless, and time really flew.

Come to think of it, I was an oddball of sort. I did not fit in anywhere, and yet I fit in everywhere. I had lots of friends – they were all from different groups. So I just went with the flow like a river and drifted from group to group, from the artsy fartsy group to the brainy nerdy group to the elite group to the popular “in” group to the intelligent and slightly eccentric group. In the end, I did not belong to any clique, but I know that I matter.

I adore (almost) all my friends. Yet I was just as happy on my own having my personal space, doing my own things, not having to prove anything to anyone, not even to myself. I steered clear of the politics of group and intergroup dynamics. I was happy and contented with whom I was (and I still am for most part).

Nonetheless, I was slightly anxious at the idea of walking into a room of “familiar strangers”. I do not know why. It felt so odd. For some of us it has been almost 20 years since we last met. What I have are only my mental snapshots of people, faces, rooms, corridors, laughter, voices, and books and moments; all iced up and foggy and deep rooted in 20 years of grey matter. Because time and situation change people, I realised that I do not really know them anymore. So it was like getting to know them all over again.

When I walked into the restaurant, I was greeted by some faces I knew well. Hugs and kisses went all around in abundance. Looking around at the sea of familiar faces, I thought everyone looked so grown-up. They have changed into something more sophisticated and mature, from what I remembered them to be.

Some put on weight. Some lost weight. Some maintain their weight. Some look like aunties. Some look like “Datin”. Some look like fashion models! Some must have had plastic surgery, Botox jabs or boob jobs. Some are toned and muscled from personal training. Some looked like their moms. Some looked like my mom! And some looked EXACTLY the same.

Nonetheless, the reunion get-together turned out to be great, at least in my opinion. We had good food and great company. I quite like the idea of going to reunions because I enjoy bumping into familiar faces from my past, particularly if it evokes pleasant memories. I enjoy discovering the paths people take in life, and where they lead to, after starting out from the same point.

I enjoy listening to people’s stories and gossips. More often than not, in a gathering like this, the juicy stories are the sauce that saves the satay from mediocrity. Some started their own businesses, like The Matchmaker, who is an enterprising businesswoman, running a successful trading business with her husband and partner. She also owns the posh Thai restaurant where we had the reunion lunch get together. I do not know how she manages it but she is also busy finding candidates to match-make me with some other single friends.

Some started their businesses and failed. Some tried again and made it, some don’t. Some are deep in debt. Some just have too much money, not knowing what to do with it. Err…duh! Give to me and I know what to do with it!

Some are famous, like The Actress. Some are still invisible. Some are bored with their jobs, some are overly enthusiastic it irritates me.

Some had traveled widely – and bragged about it too. Some just like to brag about themselves, who they know or who they sleep with. They bragged endlessly, too. Blah, blah, blah.

Some are married to their jobs, like me and Power Puff. Sigh!

Some are happily married. Some are married but are rather unhappy and lonely. Some are married with kids. Some are married, with no kids. Some are married but available. Some are lonely and have extra-marital affairs. Some are happily married and still have extra-marital affairs, despite having goody two shoe husbands. Some keep “anak ikan” or toy boys. Some are forlorn weekend wives – with offshore husbands who come home every week or every month. Some are married to another man’s husband, like The Datin, once a svelte-figured flight stewardess, who is the second wife of a Datuk.

Some are still single like Pearl Jam, who has been a tomboy ever since I can remember. Some are heartbroken and cheated by men. Some are single again and looking, like me. The “familiar strangers” now have become “unfamiliar friends”. Unfamiliar because they are no longer the friends I used to know. Yet, there is one common denominator that unites our feelings – the need for love, to be loved and to give love. This is evident, no matter where we are in life’s food chain, upstream or downstream. No matter how satiated we are in life, we continue to be starved for love. No matter how much we rebuff the idea of love, we still yearn for love. On that note, I have a feeling The Matchmaker will be very busy this year!



About Nel Fahro-Rozi

I’m an avid reader, prolific wordsmith, cat lover, and passionate foodie and traveler. When I’m not in a world of my own with any of the above, I am an entrepreneur, communicator and writer. View all posts by Nel Fahro-Rozi

6 responses to “A Room of Familiar Strangers

  • zorro

    Hang on Nel….that LOVE will come. Enjoyed your piece.

  • doraemon1972

    congratulation on your bernama article, an intersting piece to read.

  • penglipurlara

    Thanks, Doraemon and Zorro 🙂 luv ya!

  • Huhuh..nak kahwin

    Dear Nel,
    I have to applaud your effort in contributing your article to Bernama..but don’t try to dumb down malaysia! we need articles with more substance..and please girlfriend, get a sub-editor!

  • Anas

    Keep it up Nel! We need motivators like you. Just read page 14, of New Sabah Times dated 24/7/06 on your write-up “Build a life, not make a living”. It reminds me how we take time for granted… Sad but what is done cannot be undone. The message is loud and clear “It’s now or never”.

  • jane

    Your writing is beautiful. Such insight into how many of us feel yet can’t express. I have read It’s never over till the fat lady sings and can relate to the loss you have experienced yet I still choose to feel anger. Good for you to work experiences through. I would love to read more.

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