I turned 21 on May 19.

For as long as I could remember, my birthday was always during the examinations period. This year was slightly different, my examinations started a week later then expected – all the more joy to celebrate being 21. To top that, for the first time in my life I had not one, but two surprise birthday celebrations. As I am writing this, I could vividly remember how I felt in both days.

May 11

I was told by both Caroline and Chia Khuan that it was a celebration for Lucky at K2. Earlier that day, I was so absorbed in dissertation topics for my final year, after both my first and second choices of topic were turned down by the supervisors. All I wanted to do when I got back from university was to curl up in my bed and sulked for the whole night. But I decided otherwise, dressed up and went anyway. So imagine my surprise when I entered the room when all of them started singing the birthday song.  Odd, i thought, since the birthday boy hasn’t even stepped into the room.

Happy Birthday to you…
Happy Birthday to you..
Happy Birthday to [my name] and..

It was only up to the third line of the birthday song when I hear my name and I realised it was my. birthday. celebration… TOO! And that few seconds seemed to slow down a little, and all I could feel was love and gratitude to all the people who turned up and brightened up my day.

Needless to say, I felt a lot better soon after. If I were my old cheery self, I would have worked my way around the room, talk to each and every one of them. Instead, for most part of the night, I just sat quietly at a corner, just wondering what I did to deserve such good friends, and how blessed I was to know them. I smiled to myself, as I watched their lips curved up into a smile and laughter that bubbled out from their heart when someone told a funny joke or did a silly dance.

If it weren’t for the celebration that night, I would have needed a longer time to pick up the pieces that has fallen.

May 19

My actual birthday date.

I decided to take the day off. I’ve grown so accustomed to my birthday in the examination period; when I woke up that morning, I had to remind myself that I do not need to remind myself to study. LOL.

There wa a small gathering that night. It was my simple way of telling them thank you for the surprise  It started of with inviting MCSES, and the list expanded till about 20 people. To cater for such large group is to get party food; so, I went to grab KFC from the city with Caroline, and ordered Dominos online. There was a little joke between the cashier and us.

Me: Could I have a variety bucket 10 pcs and a bargain bucket 16 pcx please?
Cashier:  (shocked) So you want both variety bucket AND bargain bucket.
Me: Yes.
Cashier: (hesitates, looking at both of us) Is it just for both of you?


If it were, it would take us at least a week to finish it. I think. I can’t really judge Caroline’s appetite anymore hehee. just kidding. 😉 We told her we’re having a party. And later, as we paid and took the buckets away, both of us struck so many funny ideas about what we could have said.

Somewhere in between, someone switched the lights off. Then i, the only person who doesn’t know what’s going on, asked to switched the lights on. What a buzz kill, I realised later. Then the cake came. CAKE. This wasn’t a gathering, but a CELEBRATION!

That night was fabulous. Partly because I’ve gotten the dissertation topic sorted, but mainly because it’s my birthday. I’ve never had a celebration this huge, even if it’s just eating and mingling in my flat. I watched as my flat felt smaller and cozier as more and more friends dropped in. I was really touched, at the same time guilty, as most friends had exams on the following day.

For both days, I have not anticipated such surprise, when the cake was in front of me, I don’t really know what to wish for, when I have everything I need. I closed my eyes, and all I could think of is I am loved. Whether they know it or not, each of them had made my university life so much more colorful. So, instead of blowing a wish, I whispered thank you.

The main question was:  What does it feel like to be 21?

When you’re 21, you go back to the fundamental things you learnt in kindergarten. Be kind. Treat everyone with respect. Own up to your own mistakes. Face your fears. Laugh often. Count your blessings. Be an optimist. Keep things in perspective. Being 21 is nothing like what I anticipated when I was 16. I thought I would had all the answers to the bugging questions, about life, love, friendship etc.  Instead, I realised that the path to discovery is far more important than the answers itself. Maybe that’s what important, and what we need to do: to focus on the present.

Because, when the present becomes the past, there should be no room for regret.

P.S. A special thank you to Caroline &  Chia Khuan for teaming up to surprise me for both occasion. 😀 I would have posted more pictures but it’s not really feasible with Malaysia’s internet. I’m glad to be home though!

One thought on “21.

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