How We End Up As Strangers

Dear friend,

I don’t remember how we met.

It was six years ago, all the way back to high school. The reason remained unknown; we were never in the same class or had the same club activities or hung out in the same clique. We were acquainted through introduction from mutual friends or simply being in the same prefectorial board. How we became close friends is still a mystery to me. I believe it was partially due to my over-dependence on you. I was always in constant need for someone’s approval, for someone to say “yeah that’s nice”, and just simply to feel important. And the latter part, you were quite successful in. In the final year of high school, you became one of my best friends. We shared some tuition classes together. As we live so close, thanks to the concept of carpooling, you occasionally drove me to the tuition classes and back. This, I truly appreciate.

Our path split after high school. I headed off to a local college, while you started foundations in a local university as well. Our group of friends were completely unrelated by then that there are so many things to talk about. I confided in you about the two people I met here, that have scared me for life. You may not know it then, but trusting someone is a very big deal for me. And of all the friends I have. I chose you.

A year an a half later, I head of to UK while you stayed to continue your year in the same university. By then, I was already so accustomed to talking to you that there isn’t a day that gone by where we didn’t im, no matter how busy we were. We communicate a lot by text and online messaging. It was during the period before I left for UK where my parents were being overbearing and overprotective as I started to quest for adventure. I became the typical kid who relied far too much on technology rather than the actual going out. Even in our first year in university, I was dubbed the girl who was always online – because I was always talking to you. I told you a lot of things. Some were just spur of the moment thoughts that I forgot soon after, but apparently you remember, and used it against me in our fight.

I remembered a dream you had about me proposing to you and how you didn’t know how to reject me. It was ridiculous of course, since we were both girls and I love you just for being my friend. But that jokingly started the trend of the phrase “laopo”, which eventually got old. It is believed that dreams are a projection of our thoughts; of what we fear the most or what we believe but refuse to admit. I was oblivious. This should have given me a clue then. Is that how you viewed me, I wonder, the insecure girl who was weighing you down? Was our friendship a burden to you? I shivered at the thought of it.

I was excited to go back the first summer and you were also part of the reason. After nine months abroad (it felt like forever when it was your first time away), I could not go back to see my family, and you were like my sister. Much to my appreciation, you were so sweet to let me hang out with your friends, some of which grow to be my close friends to the present. We hung out more often, and I even learnt to swim a little! I hope I didn’t hurt you when I almost kicked you in the water then.

Friendship is a two way street. You take, you give. It is that simple. I believe it creates the perfect balance, and this may be my first mistaken assumption. There can never be the “perfect balance”; someone usually gives or takes more. I vaguely remember if it was me who offered or you who asked, but I started helping you with your assignments. I corrected grammatical errors and structures and since plagiarism is an important issue in university – even paraphrasing. Please bear in mind that I had my own workload too.

The first summer we were best friends, but by the end of the second summer, we became strangers. A lot of people are wondering why we don’t speak anymore and some were surprised that we were even friends in the first place. Shortly after I went back for my second year in university, I started being fed about your outrageous actions and thoughts in the university, and how you slithered your way through your assignments and bragged so much that they were snickering behind your back. It was an eye-opener, for them to confide in someone they knew for less than three months. I felt sorry for you, and like I would for any other friends, I defended you. I dropped hints using circumstantial scenarios but by then I could see that our views were so different that I caught myself wondering how we could be best friends for so long. Is it because we were too different, or perhaps the reason we were friends for so long is that we were never in the same place at the same time, and our communication is dominated in the virtual world.

The main reason, I blame, for the failure to communicate and also due to the misinterpretation of online messaging. If memory served well, we stopped speaking on the week of your grandmother’s passing. It was, coincidentally, the same week you asked for my help on your curriculum vitae. By then, I could feel the over-reliance on my help and my patience thinning. I decided not to change your documents and instead list out the changes required in twenty bullet points or less.

“I don’t understand what you are writing”, which I later interpreted as “Please help me to do everything.” I apologised, but once I felt that I was being used (which was very rare), my instinct told me to hold back, and let you learn to pull your own weight. You said it was urgent, but I think you were disappointed that I didn’t change the whole layout for you. It took you three days to realised it. I stayed up with you past midnight although I was dead tired and had to go to work the following morning. You seemed uninterested , which I tried to understand as you were dealing with your family matters. The subsequent day, you drafted up a cover letter and asked me to proofread it. “Urgent matter” you pressed. It was very poorly written – you even got the address wrongly, so I asked if you put any effort into it. Yes, you insisted, adding that you did it in less than 1.5 hours. You also insisted that time spent does not reflect on the quality of work. What pissed me off at that point was that you got the most basic thing wrong: the name of the company. Both words! You countered that it was a minor mistake, just a minor mistake..

I was quick-tempered and that was my breaking point. As we were merely chatting on the web, the most I could do was capslock you to death. We both exchanged harsh words and it took every ounce in me to not resolve to vulgarity. At that point, I could feel that I do not want to see you in a short period of time, I reminded you about your certificate that you asked to photocopy or scan. You took this as a threat, that I had the intention to throw your certificate or tear it up. Believe me, I would not resolve to such childish acts. After you took your certificate, we barely spoke. A week later, I cooled off and tried to apologise and explain, but you will have none of it. I refused to let a six year friendship go down the drain. Perhaps you were still a little bruised and that blamed me for not helping you in time you needed most. The only time we communicate properly was after a funeral of my distance relative. Turned out, we are related, thankfully not by blood. But by then I wasn’t too keen on fixing what was broken.

Both of us walked out. There was nobody to blame. A new year is approaching and I do not want to carry the weight of a friendship gone sour around for yet another year. The moment I drafted this post up is the moment I accept that we are no longer the friends we were and let go.

And now you are just somebody I used to know.