|My English class in 2006.|
Hi guys. I promised a friend of mine that I’d post this up on my blog. Although the original idea was to post this up after I receive my UPenn results (coming up this March 28), I figured there’s no wrong in posting this up now. It’s the essay that I wrote for my UPenn application. The question was “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.“
This wasn’t my first draft, of course. It has been edited a few times, thanks to comments and critiques from my awesome editor, Khairul Nazran. And I may have gotten the facts wrong somewhere, since I’ve kinda forgot the exact details. So, here you go.
When some of my friends ignored me, he told me to let it go. He said, “When you’re no longer there with them, they’d realize how important you were.”
When my parents forced me to move to a new school, he was there to listen to me cry. He said, “Don’t worry; I’m sure they did the best decision for you.”
When I was feeling torn apart between my study options, he called me from London to help me decide. He said, “List down all the possibilities and how it would benefit you in the future. The decision will come naturally.”
I have always wondered how he would know exactly what to say at the right moment. There was something about him that made him special to me, even after the rough break-up we went through in 2010. He was always so calm, accepting everything that happened and somehow managed to overcome the problems effortlessly.
Our relationship might have lasted a mere nine months, but in the short period I knew him, he showed me how appreciation, strength and acceptance could go a long way. He was from a broken family. His parents, now divorced, can barely be in the same room without bickering. His father, remarried to another woman, had two other children whom receive more attention and love than his siblings. But instead of complaining about his family’s history, he told me about how it helped him to become the person he is now. He was strong enough to accept the fact that his family will never be the same, and strong enough to move on.
I felt ashamed whenever I talked to him. I was always complaining about the unfairness in everything, about my insignificant problems. I was the one with the happy family; I was the one with two loving parents, and yet, I didn’t appreciate the things that I have.
He made me realized how lucky I was. To have the opportunity to study in an international school, to have friends from all over the world, to have a loving and caring family, to have a great circle of people who care for me. I was oblivious to these facts before, but now I’m not. I’m wide awake.
I learnt to appreciate the people that I have in my life, especially my parents and my brothers. I started to open up my heart to other people, to love and care for them as much as they have done for me. I allowed myself to regret the past, but strong enough to accept it and move on with my life. I started to forgive, not only the mistakes of other people, but also myself for the mistakes that I have done in the past.
I used to be the emotional little girl who never cared about other people’s feelings. But, thanks to him, I became a stronger person, one who cares about other people. Every time I look at him, I’d see my pillar of strength.
(ps No copying allowed. This essay is solely for guidance and example only. If you wanna share it on your blog or website, please link it back to this blog, thank you)
Just a random essay I found in my laptop. Thought I could put it up here on the blog and share it with you guys. Enjoy
Oh, but please beware that it’s a bit mushy and all lovey-dovey kinda thing. No puking allowed.
There he was, sitting at the exact same spot, eating the exact same thing, with the exact same person. I smiled to myself as I thought of the past few weeks. I have purposely taken the long way to college everyday so I could sneak a glance at him. I might be just in time for class, but it was worth every second.
His adorable smile stole my heart the very first time I saw him, exactly one year ago. Back then, I didn’t even know who he was. All I knew was that I’ve fallen in love at first sight with a cute stranger I met on my weekly shopping trip. It was a coincidence that both of us were waiting for the elevator together. He was wearing a normal white shirt with black jeans, but to me, he looked awesome. And when he smiled at me before he left, he stole my heart, my mind, my soul.
I didn’t meet him again until a few months ago, when a friend of mine told me that about a cute guy in the college a few blocks away from ours. At first, I didn’t pay any attention, but when she pointed out the guy, I was beyond happy to know it was my mystery guy, that cute stranger with the adorable smile.
After class ended that day, I hung back at the college’s canteen, waiting for Masyitah and Nurul to finish their meeting. It was Tuesday, and as usual the three of us would go to the library to finish off our Statistics assignment. As I sat there, sipping a glass of orange juice, someone came towards my table and sat down in front of me.
I ignored him as I was not in the mood to entertain anyone. I was in a bad mood, thanks to a bunch of rude people from my Economics class earlier. I raised my head to ask him to leave, when I saw who it was. It was him! The apple of my eye! Ahmad Asyraf Abdul Manaf.
I stared at him, speechless. His stare caught me off-guard, and I melted on the spot. Oh my God, if he stays there for a second longer, I think I can fall right through the floor! I thought to myself as I try to bring myself together.
“Hey, you’re Farhana, right?”
“Y-Yeah…” I couldn’t bring myself to answer him. OMG, he knows my name!!!
“Are you… Err, are you waiting for someone?” he asked, looking around.
“Oh, okay then. Em, I was about to ask you to join me for a cup of coffee, but never mind. I guess I’ll see you around,” he said with a dejected face. He stood up abruptly and started to walk away.
“Asyraf!” I heard my voice calling out his name without realizing it.
“Yeah?” He stopped and turned in my direction.
“Em, how does lunch on Saturday sounds?” I asked.
“Saturday? Hmm, yeah, lunch sounds nice,” he answered. “I’ll see you again here?”
“Saturday, 12:30pm, yeah?”
“Yeah, sure. See you then.” He smiled at me and walked away.
I sat at the table, starstruck. I could not believe that I just spoke to him. I pinched myself in an attempt to wake up from the dream, but all I got was pain. So, it wasn’t a dream after all. I smiled in the direction he left as Masyitah and Nurul came up to me.
“Hey! What are you smiling at?” Nurul asked, dropping her stack of books on the table, waking me up from my daydreams.
“Eh! When did you guys get here?”
“Long enough to see you drooling. What happened?” Masyitah said.
“He talked to me.”
“OMG, HE DID NOT!” Masyitah shrieked.
“What did he said?!” Nurul asked.
“He wanted to have ‘a cup of coffee’ with me today, but I told him I’m meeting you guys,” I said.
“WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU SAY THAT?!?! Come on Farhana! You’ve been waiting for him for a year! And now, you have a chance to talk to him and you blew it off?!”
“I didn’t. We’re having lunch on Saturday,” I added with a smile.
“OMG, you are NOT having a lunch date with him!” Masyitah asked in disbelief.
“Well, I am. Oh, that reminds me. I need to tell Shafiq I might be late for the club meeting on Saturday. I’m not sure what time we’d finish lunch.”
“You meant you’re not sure what time you’d finish your date with him!” Nurul laughed. “Don’t bother texting Shafiq, I’ll tell him tomorrow during class.”
“Aren’t you psyched you’re finally getting a chance to talk to him?”
“Psyched? Guys, I can’t even feel my face at the moment! I couldn’t even LOOK at him when he came here, he was too cute for words! I melted straight away.”
“Yes Farhana, we know,” said Nurul and Masyitah in unison, laughing.
I grinned at them as I stood up, gathering my books. I was in a better mood, all because of a guy named Asyraf.
The time passed by, and suddenly it was Saturday. I woke up at 6am as usual, and after performing my prayers, I took a quick shower and got ready. My housemate, Shafizah asked me to help her pick out a dress for her bridesmaid gown. Her sister is getting married next month and she’d be the bridesmaid. Since I have nothing to do in the morning while waiting for lunchtime, I figured I could help her out.
After having breakfast at the nearest mamak stall, we went to a few boutiques to look at the different types of gowns. It took us almost three hours, and without us noticing it, it was almost half-past twelve.
“OMG, Iza! It’s almost 12:30pm! I better get going, I’m meeting Asyraf for lunch!” I said, looking at my watch.
“Oh, yeah, your lunch date! Sorry to keep you for so long! Have fun Farhana!” she said with a grin. “Enjoy your lunch!”
I ran out of the shop and headed towards the nearest bus stop. Fortunately, the bus heading towards the college had just arrived. And thankfully, it was not full as usual. I sighed, relieved, as I took a seat at the back of the bus.
A few minutes later, I reached the college stop and stepped down. My eyes searched the grounds for him, my eye candy. I couldn’t see him anywhere. I went to the canteen as we planned, but he wasn’t there as well. I looked at the clock hung above the counter. 12.15pm. Huh? I glanced at my watch and realized that it was out of battery.
I guess I’m a little bit early. Oh well.
I sat on a bench facing the park. My mind started to wander off, and I didn’t notice someone walking up behind me and sat down on the bench next to me.
“I see you’re busy thinking…”
Startled, I turned to face that person, who turned out to be him. I blushed, and looked away.
“Do you always have to scare me like that?”
“Aww, I’m sorry Farhana, it’s just that I think you’re so cute when you’re blushing,” he said, straightforward.
Errrrrk! My cheeks began to feel hot. “Stop joking around Asyraf,” I said, blushing hard.
“I’m not joking Farhana…” he said slowly, looking straight into my eyes.
“……” I stared at him, speechless. His deep stare went straight into my heart, and I swear, I’d never forget this moment for the rest of my life.
The next few hours were a blur to me. Asyraf took me to a restaurant for lunch. It was not a fancy, 5-star restaurant, but the food was quite nice all the same.
I later learnt that he had been keeping an eye on me for the past few months. I was embarrassed to admit that I, too, have been admiring him from far. He told me that his mornings have been brighter ever since he saw me walking past his college.
“I still remember the first time I saw you, at the shopping mall. You were wearing that light blue baju kurung with your white shawl,” he told me.
I was speechless, I couldn’t say anything back. There I was, having a lunch date with the guy of my dreams. And he was the one telling me how he has been waiting for me for months. It was just too good to be true.
A year after that meaningful day, we were separated. He flew off to the UK to continue his studies in Medicine. Meanwhile, I was in Australia, sponsored by JPA to further my studies in Economics.
We might have been thousands of miles apart, but somehow we stayed connected through letters and emails. It was the first time I had to be away from him ever since we got together, but I know, nothing will change between us.
The years we spent away from each other taught me the meaning of loyalty and trust. I learnt to trust him and prayed that our relationship would last forever. True, we couldn’t meet each other as often as we want to, but the fact that we share a special connection between us kept us strong throughout the years.
Five years later, we were united once more in a simple yet elegant wedding. We owed it all to Nurul and her sister, Shiqin, who worked as a wedding organizer. They managed to transform our dream wedding into reality, complete with the garden reception and a live band performance.
The presence of our university, college and school friends made the day even merrier. Family and relatives came from all around the nation to celebrate our special day. The day I’ve been dreaming about ever since he entered my life. The day I officially become his wife.
A young girl was startled in her silence. She looked up and met the familiar eyes of her good friend, red and swollen.
“Oh, it’s you,” She responded monotonously, shifting her disrupted focus back into the book.
Syaza raises an eyebrow. “Well, I’m happy to see you too,”
The fair-skinned girl shuts her book slowly. She took a deep breath and sighed, her eyes closed. She continued.
“Tomorrow morning, at 7,”
“I see,” Ina stood up and heads for the book shelf. Her motion was silent, as if responding to the tranquil atmosphere in the empty library.
Ina’s eyes shifted to her friend’s face as her hands swiftly placed the brown book in place. She could see traces of tears on Syaza’s face and her sleeves were apparently soaked wet. That made it even harder for Ina to continue the conversation.
An awkward silence choked the tensed atmosphere. It was taking the breaths of both girls who stood solemnly, without a word or motion, as if oblivious to one another’s presence.
But the pregnant silence was soon broken;
“Syaza! There you are! Come quick, you have to pack your belongings,”
Both girls turned their heads to the source of the merry voice. Their eyes landed on the figure of 58-years-old Nek Fatima, smiling brightly by the library’s main door.
Syaza didn’t respond and instead looked over her shoulders at Ina. Ina loosens her stiffness and threw a dry smile at the old lady, her face hidden from Syaza’s view.
“You should go Syaza. It’s late and you have an early start tomorrow. Go,”
Syaza opened her mouth as if to retort but held back the desire. She stood and gazed at Ina’s back for a few moments and walked away slowly. Her pace was heavy and silent.
Just as she was about to leave the library;
Syaza stopped dead in her tracks and looked back. Ina was nowhere in sight but Syaza was positive that she was somewhere behind those bookshelves.
Syaza pondered for a moment and let out a giggle, “’Course not!”
Ina came out from behind the shadows as soon as Syaza was out of sight. She took a moment gazing at the library’s door and gave out a small, solemn smile. After a moment, Ina shifted her eyes to the views outside. Her hands softly pushed the glass windows open. Looking up, she could see the sky beautifully tainted fiery red. There were no clouds in sight.
“Funny… When did it start raining?”
Droplets of wet crystals streamed pass down her cheeks as a silent sob echoed throughout the silence of one autumn’s evening.
Ina and I met about 2 years ago. Ina was 13 years old, a year older than me. She was very quiet, quite the opposite of me. When I first arrived, I didn’t talk much. I couldn’t even remember much really. All I knew was that, somehow, Ina ended up being the closest friend when I was there. She had been here far longer than I had. After some time, I realised that Ina was just like me … and the other kids here in HOPE Orphanage – we had nobody. Some here had never even seen their parents’ faces. We know not the love of a father or a mother. We do not know the reality definition of family.
That said though, we did have each other. We had friends whom at the same time, was our family. It may not coincide with a normal child’s definition of what family is, but to us, our family is us and them and our friends. We’re one family.
But today, our little family relationship is severed.
Hearing the news made me feel happy but sadness soon engulfed me. I began to think of my brothers and sisters and friends here. I’m going to be separated from them. I’m going to be left alone yet again.
When I told Ina, she said, “That’s good.” I don’t understand Ina sometimes. She’s an idiot. She’s like an open book, but everything’s just written in a different language. A language I can’t understand.
I met my mother and father today too. They are very nice people. I can see it in their eyes. Their smiles were warm and welcoming and I like them.
Mother seemed young even though she was well in her forties. She had a fair, calm and serene face, whose lines bespoke tolerance and even a certain strength that lies hidden, deep beneath the concealing façade of her dark orbs. Father was very much like Mother too. Both of them reminded me of the sky. The soft blue and pure white, connoting serenity and calmness signifies incomparable complementary.
I was quite relieved was they said that they’ll come pick up again in 2 years. I do not understand the complicated adult talk regarding papers and documents and whatnot, but I was happy. It seems that Mother and Father were abroad; somewhere in Europe – for economical businesses, or so I was told. I’m not sure though. But, I was really happy.
At least, until today…
I was woken from my deep slumber with a brief shake over my shoulders. My vision blurred for a moment and as it was adjusting to the bright light of the outside, warm hands led me outside the silver coloured car. It was Mother’s hands.
I looked at her smiling face and shifted my gaze to where her fingers were pointing.
“Welcome home Syaza,”
Home… My eyes landed on a magnificent double-storey mansion, which, at one glance seems to be able to fit a platoon of army without much struggle. I was speechless. Am I going to live in such incredible house? My God, and here I thought I’d escaped the suffocating feeling of insignificancy. I sighed.
“Oh, is it not too your liking?” asked Mother.
I instinctively shook my head, “No, no, it’s magnificent,”
“I’m glad,” she smiled again. “Well then, come, I’ll show you your room. Oh, and don’t forget your luggage. Father is loading it out for you.”
I looked back and saw Father by the car’s bumper. My pace towards him was heavy with hesitance. When I finally reached his side, I could see from the corner of my eyes that he looked up to me and smiled kindly. I pretended not to notice and reached out for my bags and rested them on my shoulders and two hands. I muttered a soft “thank you” and left him for the front gate.
Mother led me to my room. It was big and spacious. Ina and 5 children could fit in here! Them… I’d just remembered something that brought gloom into my cheery mood. I am such a dark person.
“Syaza, you can start unpacking your belongings. Make sure to come downstairs at 8 for dinner, OK?”
Days passed into months. Before I knew it, 2 winters had passed since I became a part of their family. I was educated at a local high school and life had been very stable. There were… uncomfortable stares every once in a while, but at least, I have friends whom loyally protect and support me.
I still think of Ina and the HOPE Orphanage once in a while, but the feeling of loneliness no longer lingers. My parents were very loving. I… may be an amateur when it comes to love and such, but I can tell, from how my heart leaps in joy when I’m with them that I too, love them very much.
“Syaza, what are you doing?” I looked up. It was Father.
“Okay… and what exactly is it that you’re sewing?”
He seems sceptical. I shifted my gaze to my little handicraft.
“Can’t you tell? It’s an animal!” I replied, handing him the toy, throwing him a bright smile.
“What’s this one?” He asked.
“It’s wearing a weird costume. Is that thing up there the cat’s hat?” He asked, pointing to the dangling cloth.
“It’s not a hat or a costume! It’s the cat’s ears!”
“Then that makes it even weirder!”
“Hey!” I exclaimed, pouting furiously.
“Hm… anyway, what about this one?” His fingers shifted across the table to my right.
“That’s a sheep!” I replied with enthusiasm.
He kept quiet for a few moments. His eyes were carefully analyzing the handicraft and every once in a while, his gaze would meet mine.
“Don’t you think… you’re being extremely rude and insulting to real cats and sheep?”
I gaped at him, “I-Insult…-ing?!” My eyes shifted back and forth between his eyes and my stuffed animals. In what way?!
Father is, unexpectedly, very childish despite his old age. He loves bullying me. He’s also very stubborn but naively straight-forward. Mother-
“What are you two doing over there?”
“Oh! Did you sew this?”
I nodded, eyes still swollen from the crocodile tears I shed.
“This is great! Well done dear!” My eyes lit up in admiration. Mom is so nice!
“Are you sure?” Father asked, looking extremely unconvinced. I stuck out my tongue at him.
“Yes, such a cute penguin and chicken!”
Father burst out in a fit of laughter. My two hands squashed my red cheeks in an attempt to lessen the shocked look on my face. My mouth looked like a gaping goldfish. Oh God…
-Mother was childish too. Even though she seems like a very mature person.
Well, apart from so minor comedic instances, Father is usually serious. He taught me how to play chess too. He was very good, not once have I managed to beat him, even though I was the best chess player at school.
His skills were worthy enough to be acknowledged by the local council. Thanks to that, Father was entrusted to run a chess learning centre during the weekend in order to educate the younger generation – me included.
“Succeeding the title!?” he exclaimed.
“Like I said, I want to succeed the centre! Let me succeed your chess business!”
“With a talent of your level!? The world of chess is coming to an end!”
“Hey! I’m still young and I can learn much more! I’ll grow up and become a professional chess player!”
“Don’t be ridiculous! You’ll never be as good as me! Anyhow, I’ll continue running the centre for another 100 years! There’s no way I’m going to let you succeed this business!”
“100 years! You plan on living until you’re 200, you monster old man?!”
“You brat! Why did you add 100 and 100! I’m not that old yet! And who are you calling monster!”
We fought almost every day, over silly little things, giving it everything we had. Mother would be in the corner, smiling and laughing at us.
Between Father and Mother, I was closer to Father, despite my gender. He seems to… well, he feels familiar. The atmosphere around him was sadly, yet longingly nostalgic.
I told Mother about this. She seemed surprised by this but broke into a soft, gentle smile afterwards. I wonder why?
I sighed for the umpteenth time. The school is holding the annual Parent-Teacher Meeting… and Father was supposed to represent me today, but,
“He’s late…” I muttered under my breath.
My hands clutching the palm-sized mobile phone were wet from the summer’s heat. It’d been 2 hours since the appointed time and not even a call. My eyes travelled down the busy road outside the school’s front gate. Some of my friends were already on their way home.
Another 30 minutes passed and I decided to wait within the school’s interior. It’s much cooler. I picked myself up and headed for the high school section building when suddenly, a voice called over me. I turned around.
“Why… why are you here? I thought Father was supposed to come,” I asked, confused.
Mother didn’t reply and kept running towards me. The nearer she was to me, the clearer the view I get off her. Her face was red and wet from all the sweat. Her eyes were cloudy and hasty.
“What’s wrong?” The question came out unknowingly.
I wasted no time and had the taxi driver drive us to the said hospital. My hands were sweating and shivering. I held Mother in my arms as her silent sob accompanied our tensed journey.
“Father… Nurse! How’s my father?!”
I looked over at Mother. Her face was wet from the tears she had shed. The nurse in front of me could only ask me to calm down. Suddenly, from behind the white door, a doctor came out, bearing a sour face.
“Doctor! How’s Father? How is he!?”
“Are you his family?”
“Y-yes, yes I am,”
His eyes darted across the room, “He wishes to see his family,”
“Hush, don’t talk. I’m right here,”
Tears began to flow endlessly without warning. My heart was beating fast and my mind was in a state of chaos. I held Father’s cold hands to my wet cheeks.
His rough fingers wiped off the streaming tears as a soft smile made its way to his parched lips. His head was bandaged and there were traces of blood on the bed’s sheets.
He caressed my cheek and opened his mouth.
“T-There’s something… I need to tell… you…,” I closed my eyes and bit my lips.
“I was …. v-very happy… to have met you… Syaza…” He broadened his weak smile as his tender hands softly caressed my head and cheeks.
“F-for t-the f-first time… I w-was able to t-think t-that w-with a b-beautiful daughter… and w-wife, I-I was t-the happiest m-man alive…”
I nodded. My hands shivered as it brushed against Father’s cold hand. The tears… they didn’t stop, no matter how many times Father tried to wipe them.
“Y-Your r-real f-father was my b-best friend. A m-magnificent m-man. T-the best c-chess p-player i-in the n-nation…,” He turned his gaze to the windows to my left. He took a deep breath and let out a soft chuckle. His eyes were cloudy and unfocused, looking deep into some distant memories.
“I… I-I a-am sorry…” He broke his gaze at the windows and turned to look at me.
“-for k-keeping it a secret. B-but I..was.. r-really h-happy,” He muttered, smiling and beaming peacefully.
“t-that you b-became…”
He brought my face closer to him and landed a soft kiss on my forehead.
Throwing another soft smile, he then shuts his eyes and held my hand in his as if afraid of letting go. Smiling softly,
“T-thank you, S-syaza…”
“Father!!!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.
“Open… open them… Please, open your eyes! Wake up!”
Please! Wake up…. I begged desperately. I shook him by the shoulders and held his hands tight. Wake up….
The doctors came bursting in and tried to stabilise Father. I stood anxiously by the side, tightly gripping his cold hands. But their actions did not cease the long constant beeping sound coming from the monitor. It was an ear-piercing sound.
“What do you need?” It began as a soft mutter under my breath.
“WHAT DO YOU NEED?!”
“Is it blood? Take mine! Take all of them! Do you want my heart! Give it to him! Or is it a hand!? A kidney!? Cell!? WHAT DO YOU NEED? USE MINE! J-just…”
“Just..r-return… return him to me..H-he’s my only father… G-give m-me back my father!”
I fell hard on my knees, my hands shaking frantically. Tears came pouring like no end as a desperate whimper echoed throughout the silence room. Mother held me tightly in her embrace but even her touch seems far off reach.
I hope you have calmed down now,
Remember that as a chess player,
It’s essential to maintain your coolness.
I don’t have any substantial material to leave behind,
The things that I’ve taught you over the few short years we shared together would be enough.
When you return home,
Make sure to help your Mother prepare dinner,
Surely you’ll be hungry right?
The cucumbers and cabbages and chillies I planted at the backyard,
Help yourself with them,
I hoped that they taste good.
I still remember the first day I met you,
I was so surprised to see that the shape of your eyes and nose were so similar to your real father,
He was my best friend back in middle school through high school,
When I heard that he was involved in an accident 3 years after you were born,
I came back immediately from abroad to see you and your mother,
But she had moved away and did not leave behind any contacts.
10 years later,
The news of your mother’s death reached my ears,
I managed to talk hold of her whereabouts and searched for you,
After one year of thorough search,
I finally found you.
I’m sorry to have forcefully separated you from your friends and family there,
I really wanted you to become part of my family.
Having you was my greatest joy in life.
Mahligai Bahgia by UNIC
Segenggam Tabah by In-Team
Story and Scenes Inspiration/Credit:
Gold Rush 21 (Manga)
Summer Wars (Anime Movie)
[ This story was written by Faghira Afrina, one of the closest friends I’ve ever had. She gave this story to me for my 16th birthday, and, after countless times reading it, I still cry my eyes out. I’ve missed you old friend. I hope you’re doing great in Ireland. ]