In the midst of appreciating a hearty cup of ice cream, I saw a familiar face in the crowd – one blink was enough to register the vaguely familiar face whom I last saw when I was 13: Ms Terry. Whoah, almost a decade since beginning another chapter of life. She was gone in a flash, but it was enough to create a train of thoughts of its own.
The memories came and went freely as i indulged in my food, recalling the good times that I’d almost forgotten. All my life, i’d been appealing from place to place – drifting through and barely making the cut.
What worked for my entering a good secondary school unfortunately couldn’t be replicated once again during junior college. But I can’t express how eternally grateful i am now for one of the very first few people who believed in me, and was willing to give me a chance, when i didn’t harbour any expectations in myself.
Most of the four years in the girls’ school introduced me to many acquaintances, friends who came and left, and the comfort of sisterhood. Let’s be truthful: I was quite an odd individual more than blending well with groups.
Estranged in basketball because i was never good enough nor on good terms with the team’s strongest players, and those who wanted to fit in so desperately would reluctantly have me stuck with them.. if they couldn’t get away from it. from me. I stayed on because i didn’t want to give up. because i loved the sport, although no matter how hard i tried i was always falling behind. i was that disappointment who was so desperate to prove her worth but failed so miserably in it. there were times i might’ve seemed like i was getting better, but other times simply emphasised on my inadequacies in the end. i don’t quite know how i’d take that, placing myself through something like that. nonetheless i’m thankful that my team mates had been kind enough to me despite being a letdown, more than anything else on court.
Then, being caught up in the class drama every year, unfailingly. I hated that. It confused me, wondering who i could trust, or couldn’t. And to be discerning. Maybe that’s why so few friendships from school followed through after graduation. the clique from secondary one and two that i was within and without. all the way until the final months leading up to O’s, to be confused at how people could harbour double standards and live through each day.
Despite everything that’s happened, i don’t begrudge anyone. I am rather thankful to see the emergence of friendship after these incidents – others who could be more accepting of the loser i was, or forgive my foolishness.
I think in all those years – Eli was there throughout; her honesty and tenderness was one of those blessings that carried me through this process. I know the mistakes made were uncountable; but I am glad she helped my realise my doings was me being me – trying to be firm to my own convictions and beliefs. I couldn’t believe it whenever she wrote it in one of those thank-you letters she used to do, not until recently. She tells me all that i am – but it seems her greatness is so much more; having been more than a paramount support pillar – she was the one who opened my eyes to perspectives, redefining grace, optimism and confidence.
Sometimes i wonder if i was a letdown to Miss Terry, had she seen what a student i was. Did i fail her expectations – or did i surpass it? I was blessed by her – because her words and her letter opened a door for me when i was still aloof and unknowing. A second transfer was technically impossible in the systems, and although i’d missed orientation – which i wouldn’t be able to comprehend, ever; it didn’t matter. A person who couldn’t make it to the cut-off point – to being… a person who couldn’t make it to the cut-off point once again.
Am i the same person i was, tell me – do i still have that potential that she saw i might have had, 9 years ago?