Open Birthday Wishes to Sam Willoughby

There are always some ways to spend a clear skied afternoon since sometimes we have cool and refreshing wind in the heat of dry season. For once, you can sit in the porch drinking lemonade and watching people go by. Or if you’re in a good mood, you can sit on the roof to write or read a book while the wind caressing you (when the sun is not too bright anymore of course!) Or you can do what other people like to do such as go swimming or playing with a kite. Since I’m not that good at playing with a kite and I don’t want to make my skin even tanner so I choose another way.

…if you asked me, “What things that Sam likes?” I would answer, “He likes good coffee, black, roasted, not too cold and not too hot. And he likes good videos…

You know, it’s always good to meet an old friend and it would be much better if that old friend remembers you. But what if this old friend I’m talking about is a cat. For someone who never thinks other people as a stranger, I also never think a cat as a stranger cat. I call him Simba since he looks like a little lion with his golden hair-coat and he has been living with my neighbor since he was young. Actually, I never know his real name, but I like to call him Simba. And if you asked me since when Simba and I became friends, I don’t quite recall. For someone who has difficulties to put name into each stage, it just happened that way. We knew we were friends when I saw his face light up whenever I passed by and I knew he was hoping me to scratch behind his ear so that he would purr immediately.

And after some times, I met him again when I decided to walk around my neighborhood in order to find the wind in a hot afternoon. All I remembered he was this small and now he’s this BIG. Surprisingly he still remembered me; a friend who liked to scratch behind his ear whenever we met.

… “Is it Sam from Samuel?” And he answered, “No. It’s only Sam.” I said, “Whoa! You only have three letters name. Surely you can’t count your last name.”

Actually Simba is not the only friend I found lately. This friend is not like my any other friends. If you said that you found a friend to grown-ups, they would not ask you such matters of consequence. They wouldn’t ask you, “How is his voice? Does he have an accent? What he likes to do in a hot summer day? Does he have sparkle in his eyes when he laughs?” Instead they would ask you, “How old is he? How many brother and sister does he have? How tall is he? What does he do? (Or if they’re shameless enough) How much does he earn per annum?” And after asking such questions they thought that they knew your friend. If you said to grown-ups, “I saw a beautiful house from pink brick with geraniums in front of the windows and some pigeons on the roof,” they couldn’t imagine such house. You have to say, “I saw a house costs [insert a big nominal here] dollars.” So they would say, “Oh, what a lovely house!”

So how can I prove that this unusual friend of mine exists to grown-ups just because I never met him? I know that he has brown eyes but I never really look inside his eyes and make sure that the color will change if he has different moods. I heard that he has light brown hair but I never know how smooth it is when I stroke his hair.

And if you said to grown-ups, “The fact that my friend exists is that he’s charming, that he likes to ask so many questions and that he has a big curiosity. If someone asked you why you are so quiet when you don’t know what else to say, it’s the fact that he really exists.” But if you said all this to grown-ups, they would only shrug and tell you to do things that…well all grown-ups like to do.

…we can guess the depth of an ocean but who can guess the depth of one’s heart?

However, I would like to start my description about my friend to be like this: “Once upon a time I was bored so I got into a chat room when I met him.” But then it sounds like a fairy tale and insignificant to me. So I would start it in another way. It is still fresh for me how we met. His name is Sam Willoughby and my words are never enough to describe him especially when it comes to portray something abstract.

If I make a description about him, it’s not because I claim I know him. He’s always been a mystery for me. People here say, we can guess the depth of an ocean but who can guess the depth of one’s heart?

When you make a new acquaintance it’s important to know your new friend’s name or else what’s the essence? Where I’m from, name is something very important not only because it’s our identity but it’s also a pray from our parents. We don’t have family name here and women don’t have to change their name after they got married. So when my parents gave me my name, this first and last name is all my name and I can keep it for a lifetime.

First hypotheses, he’s a left-brained person. Second hypotheses, he’s from English-speaking people

But when I met Sam, I realized that this friend of mine only has three letters name (compared to my 14 letters I have). Sam, that’s all. I asked, “Is it Sam from Samuel?” And he answered, “No. It’s only Sam.” I said, “Whoa! You only have three letters name. Surely you can’t count your last name.” He only responded like it’s not that important. But of course he comes from English-speaking people who one of them wrote, “What’s in name?”

I remember the first thing that I recognized from him. Where I’m from it’s rare to meet someone who has so many misspell since in Bahasa we write exactly what we say. Took it as a new excitement, I teased him to make him irritated (please forgive my cheekiness). In my language (not in English, Bahasa or whatever), I was saying, “I like you even you have trouble in spelling.” But still I enjoyed seeing him irritated and I always like to make him irritated whenever I get the chance to.

Sometimes I‘m afraid he also forgets that he once was a child and starts to be like those grown-ups

But it’s nothing to wonderful things I found in him. For example, he’s a walking planner. I was quite surprised when he asked me, “What is plan for lunch” in 10 am. I don’t plan what I’m gonna have for lunch. In fact, I don’t plan much. This is an extraordinary question to me. But let me make two hypotheses why my friend Sam likes to plan. First hypotheses, he’s a left-brained person. Second hypotheses, he’s from English-speaking people. They’re crazy about time. And tell me how many tenses they have in the language?

Apart from that actually he’s fun to be with though at times he’s confused with my “strange” sense of humor. But I saw a little change from him. First time we met I noticed he forgot how to laugh. And whenever he hummed I always loved to tease him by saying, “humm too”. But maybe that’s him; a serious and efficient businessman, someone who loves what he does that makes him become a migrating bird. Sometimes I‘m afraid he also forgets that he once was a child and starts to be like those grown-ups.

In a “village” you don’t always see rice fields. But in a “kampung” you do!

But he ever surprised me when he said that I’m so quiet. I only heard someone said this to me once in a lifetime. And that’s only him. Most people I know often recognize me as “a girl who loves to laugh and can’t stop talking to take a breath.” This can be quite amusing if I said to them, “No I’m not like that. At least I found someone who doesn’t agree.” And remembering that he doesn’t laugh as often as I do, probably it would be a torment for him if he was thrown into an exotic island ruled by a tribe who enacted a law which sounded like this: “Anyone who doesn’t laugh as loud as a hyena at least once in two hours would be tickled with a feather for half hour.”

He could be exasperating too sometimes. One thing you should remember about Sam is he never gives up asking a question until it’s answered. So if you’re in the middle of doing something or your mind is occupied with other things or being chased by a deadline (well you know, those kind of situations when your patience is in low scale), don’t think that his questions as something annoying. Instead, it’s a sincere gesture that he finds you interesting and would like to know more about you.

And if you asked me, “What things that Sam likes?” I would answer, “He likes good coffee, black, roasted, not too cold and not too hot. He likes good videos (I wonder whether he likes video more than going to the movies). He likes to sleep all day on Sundays or walking down the beach, but it’s only in the summer. He likes to play soccer with his friends and if he’s quite energetic he would play as a midfielder. One of his obsessions is to see his country wins World Cup. He likes to go out with his friends to some night clubs or somewhere and he usually hangs out at TGIF or Geoffrey’s if he really wants to get drunk. He likes listening songs from Pink Floyd and those bands in the 70s (I guess he’s stuck in that era). And he likes long drives in the country.”

And remember, when I said “in the country” it doesn’t mean he wants to see  rice fields. There’s no rice field where he’s from. I think that’s probably why I prefer to keep using word “kampung” to describe rural regions as distinguished from city or town where we can see the rice field instead of “village” or “countryside”. In a “village” you don’t always see rice fields. But in a “kampung” you do!

I wish I could send him a card with my hand-writing so that he can see that I also exist. But unfortunately I couldn’t

One thing you should remember is Sam can be easily provoked. Try to make a dramatic online status and he would give you a comment if not some questions. For me who’s dramatic and like to change my online status everyday, it could be a compliment to have someone commenting my “piece of artwork” even when he likened mine as a game of cricket. I don’t play and never see it though. So I won’t find it insulting.

Another thing, don’t get upset if he doesn’t remember your name after some times you both met. (I got this leaked information and I won’t reveal my source). And I don’t know since when he turn out to be so attentive to the rain. Probably because he knows I like listening to the rain and the sound of thunder from faraway. So if one day he unconsciously hit his head and suddenly became a poet I’m sure he would say, “The rain is only a rain until I met you.” But of course it’s not his language style that tends to be—and I quote—“direct”. I put this into his mouth and I must admit that’s one of the excitements of being a writer. However, it was a pleasant experience to have a conversation with him while listening to the rain.

Couple months ago he told me that he was relocated to Dubai. And since then we never talked to each other again. Our communication becomes less and less. But it doesn’t make me to forget him. And today is his birthday. I hope he has some friends to celebrate it there so that he won’t be alone. I also wish I could send him a card with my hand-writing so that he can see that I also exist. But unfortunately I couldn’t. So what I want to write inside the card actually goes something like this:

Sam,

Do you realize that you have walked thirty one times around the sun? Let this day be the happiest day for you. Best wishes from an invisible friend.

May

* With special thanks to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
** From an e-mail to smackdust@yahoo.com on Saturday, May 22, 2004 at 8:35AM

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