A Fallen Comrade

I witnessed, during the hardship of preparations for Cambodia, emotional blood shed by a friend, who had accompanied me during the early stage until the very end. It was a cruel sight to observe. More cruel, however, is the fact that it was beyond your capability to fix. I was left flabbergasted, forced to see a friend bleed on the ground while incapable of doing anything.

Ajie and I were in a series of serious discussions, entertaining every possibility of applying for the Share scholarship that might take us to a one-semester-long journey to a country in Southeast Asia as a student taking a “transfer” semester. The first discussion of many was just to list down a number of requirements in a cloudy night on the main road of our campus. It was a talk of imaginations: How we would spend the money, how we would seek the inner emotions of the cities and landmarks, and so forth. The many discussions following it were not as nice since they became more practical, e.g. how the International Office did not meet our standards. At the Immigration Office, while I was feeling unwell and Ajie had bought me medicines beforehand, we even studied for our mid-term exams together.

But, then, even after the Share scholarship had closed down the application process, Ajie had not received his Letter of Acceptance from his desired university. He had lost his cause. And, worse, I could not help him.

An idea of ceasing to go down the road to Cambodia crossed my mind in solidarity with Ajie, the fallen soldier. However, cancelling was impossible. Very subtly I brought an issue of my resignation to the professor responsible for the programme, but he replied, “Wait, wait, wait — what? You’re cancelling?” I had to give him my no.

So, I carried on and Ajie went his separate way. As I was busied with a bundle of documents I was required to prepare, we lost touch. From our brief conversations on WhatsApp, he was preparing for the next batch of the programme. Though it was soothing to hear that he was bouncing back to the fight, I still feel now that my biggest sin is that I did not know — and did not ask — if he had recovered from the heartbreak.

Therefore, apart from anybody else, this post and those to come — every word, every sentence, every emotion I will put into them — are for Ajie and for our eternal friendship.

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