“Let’s get a drink while we sit and watch the band play,” I suggest. You don’t find this back in Malaysia, where local artists are given full support, and free quality public live gigs out in the open. We’re talking about the Esplanade, and there’s a band that is doing an acoustic act, drawing the attention of a substantial crowd. This calls for a good drink and chit chat to complete the picture.
“So, do you still sing and record?” I ask while sipping my expensive drink in a cheap plastic cup, the best the bar could do for us as a takeaway. But that didn’t matter – Toby Keith’s red solo cup is the in-thing now anyway.
“No, don’t have time. I don’t even remember the last time I actually sat down and listen to music just like that,” she replies, to which I nod in agreement. It’s an even sadder truth for the both of us, where music used to (and probably still) play a central role in our lives.
“I don’t remember the last time I actually spent decent time with my guitar either,” I add in support of her statement. We both sigh as we listen on to the band, they’re doing a very impressive cover of Billy Jean now – it’s not even a full performance, it’s just a rehearsal for the real show later in the evening. But I have another agenda then.
“Maybe this is what we need to get reinspired,” she says.
“This. Listening to live music and see how people are just into making it.”
I look at the band. It’s true. Seeing the guitarist strum and hammer those strings make me want to pick up my guitar again. I miss jamming spontaneously with my friends, and I miss just writing songs that nobody will ever get to listen.
We speak until the band are done with their rehearsal, and continue walking on as the sun sets before us. We part ways at the MRT, and I am on my way to meet another dear one. We rarely meet to a point where each time before I see her I feel like I’m meeting a new friend all over again. The kind where you are actually nervous about and you’re not sure how much both of you have changed.
But the moment I see her looking for me at the MRT platform of my destination, those feelings went away and I know that I’m meeting an old friend. We ask each other the most dreaded question “what to have for dinner?” and settled for a ramen corner with less-than impressive quality.
She asks me about work, and I ask her about hers. Truth is, attachments are always hard work because there’s a lot to accomplish in a set time frame. After ramen, we walk to a nearby fastfood restaurant to have a drink. Odd place, but it works. The window pane separates us from the hustling and bustling Singaporean life as we continue to talk about almost everything we have missed out on in each other’s absence.
In my line of work, science is the key to explain everything. But in life it can never define trust and friendship. There’s no definite equation or formula to derive the quality of a relationship between people.
“The other day, I just walked my way home from here. I don’t know what got into me, but I just had to walk,” she shares, as we are about to go back.
“From here? How long did you take?” I ask in surprise.
“About an hour.”
“Okay, let’s walk.”
“Are you sure you want to?”
“Yeah, I like the feeling of being able to roam about the streets without fear of being mugged along the way. I don’t get this chance when I’m back home.”
So we walk. And I believe that everyone should try to take a long walk home at least once in their life, when it’s safe of course. Alone, or with a companion you whom is worth sharing the moment with. It took us more than an hour to reach, but it didn’t feel long enough. And the next morning, this dear friend would rush to meet me at the station before I leave to give me a book and bid me a temporary goodbye. And I would smile when I am on the train recalling about the day before.
But before the night ends, I bunk at the home of the first friend I met today and we chat a bit more with her sister as well before we all turn in for a good night’s sleep.
There’s something about Lion City that will always have a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because two people very dear to me live there, and it’s always precious quality time spent whenever I’m with them. There are some friends that you don’t see very often, but when you do, it feels like you were never apart.