Yesterday, a old but distant friend posted an old class photo taken during our primary school days. I think it was when we were primary 6. It featured everyone in our class including our form teacher whom we all loved and it brought back wonderful memories. For many years now I have been trying to reconnect my primary school classmates. It took a while to reconnect even some of them, and to reconnect every single one of them seems an impossible task. For many of them whom I have yet to reconnect, I have already forgotten their names. Where did they study after primary school? Where are they working now? Are they married? Do they have kids? Are they rich? Are they still living in Singapore? How is life treating them?

The picture was posted on instagram as part of #throwback Thursday. A flurry of conversations immediately began from that photo. The conversations started mostly from friends whom I have successfully reconnected years ago, and they were reminiscing about the good old days. Some of my friends even tagged others who were in the photo that I totally lost touch till today! The most incredible thing is that through that photo alone, it suddenly became a nexus for all of us (those who use instagram) to reconnect. And through that conversation, I started to gleam additional information about some of them. 

I now know that one of them had lots of tattoos on his forearms. They look really good. In terms of looks, he didn’t really change much and I can still largely recognise him despite his longish hair. But for him to spot several tattoos, it came as a surprise coming from him. A female classmate is about to get married at the end of the year. One, is a professional musician who, I think is involved in several local bands. Another classmate, passed away in a traffic accident 2 to 3 years back. That was shocking, because he was never in my collective memory until someone mentioned his name. It felt as if, he existed, yet did not, and then he isn’t, anymore, permanently. One, whom I doubt is in the picture is now a millionaire, judging from the jet-set lifestyle he now lives (in which he had no qualms about, sharing through his Facebook feeds, having worked (I think) as a wealth manager in an insurance company. I am happy for him. He is that sort of person who will succeed in life. I remember him as a very driven person back then, not academically, but in the pursuit of life successes in accumulating personal wealth, I knew he could go far in life with his laser-intense focus. Another classmate did very well academically, having graduated from NUS with a degree in psychology. She got married and now has an adorable child. It’s a stark contrast now compared to what I imagined her to be back then. For me to imagine her to be a mother and a wife, took a while to get used to. Another girl, I remembered her infectious laughter with white teeth showing prominently. She got married recently to a handsome young man. Both met while they were in NUS. Another boy whom I was a pretty close friend for a short while back then is now pursuing a degree (in sports science if I’m not mistaken) in NTU, and is now a gym freak. Like me, he was such a small boy with glasses, very nerdy with a timid demeanour  And boy has he been completed transformed!  There was a female classmate who is a Thai citizen, has now gone back to live in Bangkok, Thailand. But for some reason, I never thought of her to abandon and forget her childhood roots in Singapore. And I was surprised that she was having a good time (through the messages she posted on instagram about that photo) remembering those days while she was studying in Singapore. I guess our time in primary school was memorable for her, one that she will never forget. 

As for the rest, phantoms whose names have been forgotten. Any interactions I’ve had with them back then, are now just mere mirages set upon a distant memory in the furthest reaches of my mind. I may never get to reconnect them ever again. I may never know their life story, ever. Oh they are out there somewhere, but you know that any chance of a random encounter is incredibly rare. Given how we lead our own lives, we may never cross each other’s paths. But life can be funny sometimes. You never know that the person sitting next to you on your next train ride could be your long lost classmate. Your future colleague, could be one too. Your future friend of a friend could just be that classmate standing behind you in that picture on instagram. Your future lover, could a relative to a classmate long forgotten. So radically transformed, their resemblance barely recognisable. Any hint of their childhood life, stripped and forgotten…


NTU photo album


I recently selected 40 photos to be developed that best represented my time in NTU. It has been a wonderful 4 years in NTU and I felt that it would be good to search for photos, either from my own collection or through my Facebook photo gallery that would reflect my wonderful time there. As I searched, it came down to 40 photos spanning a period of 4 years.

I bought a photo album, those sticky kinds where you lift up the plastic flap, and then you place the photo and place that flap over it, making it look like it has been laminated into the album. I bought the album that would just fit 40 photos nicely.

I chose those photos, often group shots of my classmates and friends. People who matter a lot to me. People who made a difference in my life in so many different ways, big and small. They are all there, in that photo album. To be remembered always in the years to come. Never forgotten. For they are the ones that mean a lot to me.

I arranged those photos loosely on chronological order, starting with the earliest photos taken while in NTU on the first page, and right up to the graduation photos towards the end. The end result; a story told from my perspective. A story of my life told through pictures with my friends and the events that highlighted the best moments of my life. 40 photos is not enough to tell a comprehensive story, but it is enough to highlight the good moments I experienced in life while in school.  I have tons of pictures, but I had to distil it to just 40. And I think it was a great project to do, now that I have graduated. My friends won’t know that I created such an album. But it doesn’t matter if they know it or not. What matters is that they matter a lot to me. And remembering them is one way to pay tribute to the friendships I have forged with them.

Some of the events covered were my friends’ birthdays, my birthday, sending my friends off at the airport while they went on exchange, freshman orientation camps, various school events my committee organised and participated, graduation, outings and more.

The picture you see above is a snapshot of the final page in the album, commemorating the graduation event.

This is truly a precious piece of treasure that I have created.

The hardest goodbye?

Last week, a friend of mine flew to Denmark to start her new semester as an exchange student. Little did I know that her departure was probably the hardest I have ever dealt. I have seen my friends come and go, and they often come back a better person. And that is a good thing. I want her to come back a better person as well. But as time passes by all around me, sometimes seeing a person change is something that you might not be prepared at all. Sometimes I feel like clinging to those moments that I cherish so much, not wanting to let go, the times with my friends, laughing, talking, and not a care in the world. Those are  good times that I am so afraid of losing or forgetting.

I did manage to schedule a final meet up with her before she flew off. It would be more than 6 months before seeing her again. Seeing her again one last time before her long absence were great times.  I think it was the only time ever that I actually hang out with her in a small group of 3. That moment is precious to me now, one that I would never forget.

Sometimes I wonder what life is like living if you were to forget all your past memories of your former self. Whether by accident or some mysterious disease, you wake up not knowing who you are. I wonder how it feels like, knowing that you have a wonderful life with the people you love, but you can no longer remember them. And what if that person were to read all that there is to your former life knowing that you did all these incredible things, forged wonderful relationships with your friends and family but simply couldn’t remember anything at all. If I’d known, I think life would be meaningless for me. But then again, you would have forgotten everything…