|Letters and cards from Jen,|
One thing that I love about being back to hometown besides the good food and comfort of being close to my family members is the ample time left to tend to personal matters. This is the kind of luxury that I can ill afford in Kuala Lumpur due to many other reasons, chief among them is the amount of time spent on the road battling traffic jams.
I was rearranging my personal belongings at home when I came across an old box containing letters and greetings cards (Birthday, Christmas, Chinese New Year) from my pen pals. They were all still nicely tucked in their respective envelopes and sorted out according to the alphabetical order of my friends’ surname. I took some out to read, looked at some old photos attached to them and memories of yesteryears started to flow in like the rapid water gushing down after a heavy downpour.
I started to write to pen pals since secondary one. I remember looking forward to every Thursday’s Section 2 of The Star Newspaper to search for name, address, gender and a line or two notes printed there. I will usually make my pick based on the town that the person is staying and I will start writing. Not all my letters receive a reply. Some stop after one or two correspondence. However, I do keep a handful of active pen pals but that too naturally stop as examinations and other priorities take over.
With the emergence of email and improvement of technology, suddenly pen friend became something of the past. Some of them were on my ICQ list, later MSN and lastly, I am left with two on Facebook. Both are now married, settled down with reputable work but what I am glad is that we are still friends. Jen and Swen has been my friend for the past 17 years!
I remember meeting the shy Jen once in Melaka and Swen for many occasions when I was working in Penang. Jen is now based in Los Angeles, having graduated from University of Pennsylvania. Shy as she was, Jen’s letters were usually long and insightful, always regarding current issues. She was so right when she wrote in 1998 that the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim opened a new floodgate that the people are more politically conscious now.
By writing this, I hope to reconnect with my long lost pen pals. Those who still remember me can email me or add me on Facebook.