To the Friend from Monash Malaysia

Sometimes I like to dream about being back in Monash with you. It’s 9 at night and the campus is dimly lit like a garden of fireflies buzzing half-asleep. There’s a group of friends playing in the basketball court and we can hear them sitting on the cold moist wooden decks in front of the cafeteria.

I look above the overgrowth of trees hugging the building square and notice the hazy sky;
then look at you, signaling that it’s going to rain soon.

But the weather has never been a worry in Sunway, is it – thanks to our canopies? You should know how much I love losing myself in you. Losing myself on the long walks we take after getting too tired of waiting for the shuttle. And how much I love finding a little more time to hear about your day, all over again.

You say you’re hungry and I nod, so we march to Rock cafe, cutting across the BRT station.

I pause to pet the chubby dogs outside the garage, and even though you’re not a big fan, you don’t mind waiting because you know how happy hugging them makes me.

You can see herds of students walking in their hoodies and sandals, tired but relieved. Waiting to have dinner and freshen up so they can gather in the Sunway foyer to rush their assignments overnight.

We reach Rock, and I listen more than I eat. Because I’m not worried about getting hungry
later on, anyway; someone will always be there to rescue me at any point in the night, from Hadramis to Jaffars, or the comforting masala dosa at Anwar Maju with their sweet cup of teh tarik.

We track back to Monash, and huddle in on the fourth floor, which is open for exam season. Droves of students have already claimed their spaces, hiding under a wardrobe of hoodies because you know just how cold it can get here.

We find a shy corner at the edge near the business office, plug in our laptops, and spend the next hour making checklists of all the things we should follow through on before dawn.

I can’t see it right now but I like imagining Pyramid’s peak and how it quitely glows in the
distance, like a comforting lighthouse to sailors lost at sea. I always wonder how it would feel to be there right now, inside. With no one around. I have this fantasy of sneaking in, just to waltz through the empty halls and theatres.

Time passes by, dreaming, getting buried in notes, and taking long walks for short breaks in the cool, dark foyers that have their own eerie language of whispers. Before you know it, folks are rushing into the basement for the first class of the day, which most of us will doze through after getting the code.

We part ways and I jog to Rasai Machan with my tiffin box, eager to fill it with hot breakfast that I have this odd love-hate opinion of. All filled up and dizzy, I saunter out and across the gully as the shop shutters are opening up, and I crash on my bed after reaching the dorm room. I set an alarm – 8 alarms, if I’m being honest – for my afternoon classes, but I know I’ll end up snoozing and then rushing to the auditorium, anyway.

Sometimes I wonder how we kept up with this, year after year, not realizing how much we’d grow to love the kind of crazy routine we wanted to run away from when we were back home.

But I guess that’s exactly what made this time different – our time at Monash -we were all escaping from one thing or the other, clutching on to whoever or whatever was new, without history, without strings – desperate to start fresh and have the freedom to be someone new.

What I miss the most, though, is this weird feeling of knowing that everything will be okay – even amidst all the stress from studies and personal struggles. I miss knowing that I have so many people to back me up despite our differences.

And I miss the easy, unscrewing pace of the city – as if it had its own mind, slowing time down to give us the space to keep going in the very worst of our days.

So I guess I wouldn’t mind going through it all over again with you. Including the parts that
hurt us both a little. Because even though there was a time when we couldn’t wait to be in our homes again, now that I’m here, miles away from you, the only thing I really want
to do is to go back to the one we built together, and stay.

It’s the only place I can truly call “mine.”

P.S: I graduated from Monash Malaysia with a Bachelor’s in Mass Media in 2019. It was the best experience of my life, and even though I messed up a lot, I’d do it all over again.

Thank you to the #BaeForArre international students gang, who gave me friendships to cherish for a lifetime.

This little nostalgic writeup is for for one “extra-special” friend from that circle. Love you, kid.

Published by Manik Rege

Hey there! Full disclosure, I'm a bit of a mess. But my interests range from Career Growth Strategy to Marketing & Branding, and Animal Rights to filter coffee. Same vibe? Tweet to me @manik_rege.

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