It’s official. I’m going home exactly a month from now. After almost nine months of studying abroad, I am finally going back, equipped with more knowledge, which I am eager to share to my students, and a degree that would cement my tenure in my home university.
My stay away from home was a roller-coaster ride. I missed my father’s babang-luksa, All Saints’ and Souls’ Days, celebrated Christmas, New Year, and birthday away from my closest relatives, and even missed eating Filipino food regularly. I spoke English most of the time, and looked forward to every Sunday when I can speak my mother tongue with other Filipinos in the church. Then I met a lot of friends. Chinese, Indonesians, Indian, Malaysian, Dutch, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and some acquaintances from Germany, Czech Republic, United States, and Australia. We ate together, climbed peaks, barbecued meat and marshmallows by the beach, played games, helped each other in course requirements, and so on.
My Dutch friend is my best friend. I don’t know why despite our age gap, we simply clicked with each other. Maybe because we are both strangers in the land of dimsums and dumplings, and we share a lot of common likes and dislikes. I never had a real best friend in my adult life until I met him. I have thousands of friends but nobody gave much importance as he did.
I remember when we first went out of town, in Cheung Chau Island, he taught me how to loosen up and take life easily. And he was kind enough to remind me again not to think of what could have been when I did not see my name in the list of top MAIJS students later. From time to time, he would ask if I am around and if I would like to have lunch or dinner with him, or to play table tennis in the Undergraduate Halls if it is free. I would cook Filipino food in his hall’s kitchen and my head grows bigger with his praises. And when his mom sent a package of Dutch cheese to Hong Kong, he generously shared it with us.
One time, we went to Lantau Peak, Hong Kong’s highest mountain and one of the most difficult trails. I told him to go ahead as the other two friends were very fast. I took my own pace, which delayed my descend for 45 minutes. And while the two other friends left when they reached the end, he patiently waited for me.
Sure, we had our share of misunderstanding. We would argue about our ideas on political matters, and one time, I made a stupid mistake which angered him, but I was forgiven the next day.
In the Philippines, my friends always desert me. Whenever I ask them out, they would always say they are busy, or they’re with their girlfriends/boyfriends, or they’re out of town. Others got married and priorities changed. And I was left alone, wondering why friends come and go.
In thirty days, I will say goodbye to my second home. Part of me wants to leave, but another part wants to stay. But I have no choice. I have obligations to face when I come back to the Philippines. I need to make a return service to my university for two years, in exchange of my scholarship here in Hong Kong.
My heart is breaking when I think of leaving my best friend. I know that the possibility of seeing each other again is so slim. If I could just twist my fate, I will choose to be where he is. Maybe the day before my flight will be the last time we will see each other in this lifetime. Maybe it’s true that some good things never last.
I am not ready.