Friday, August 29, 2008

A Known Stranger

Once a while, somehow or other, and not surprisingly in our small country, we would tend to meet ‘head-on’ with someone whom we have not seen for ages. If it were someone we knew well, it would be fine as we could exchange some pleasantries and even rekindle back the old friendships and exchange contact numbers. However, what if it were someone whom we do not know well or have spoken less than 10 times to?

I encounter the latter situation from time to time and this morning, I encountered the same situation again. When the MRT arrived and the door opened, the minute I stepped in, I was greeted by a face I had not seen for many years. It was my secondary school classmate. Back in the secondary school days, there were many fraternities or in layman’s term, ‘clans’ formed by the students in the class. The male friend I met on the train did not belong to my ‘clan’ and not only that, we had really not much common interest together, thus it was no surprise we talked less than 10 times in the whole of our 4 years together in the same class!

Thus as our eyes met for that brief instant………and realization set in, both of us were clearly embarrassed and our eyes parted immediately. We knew each other but it also seemed like we don’t. While I could clearly walked to him and start the ball rolling saying the likes of “Are you (so and so)? ” , I did not do that. Frankly saying and ashamed to admit, I could not see the reason to act so. I also know that it is a fleeting moment….. I would not be able to bump into him forever (or who knows?).

To put it short and perhaps curtly, he is a ‘known stranger’ and not a friend or acquaintance to me (what an oxymoron!). During the times when our paths cross, though we know each other, we did not communicate much; and the very few times we did so were for studies. There was no deposit into each other’s emotional bank during the times we were together.

As I excelled in studies in secondary school days, he might have thought I am arrogant, okay let him be. Anyway, I do not believe in excellent good grades would translate to fatter pockets unless one is a scholar in the civil service. I know of many friends with dismal academic grades now commanding ultra high salaries! Most of them are in private sectors where the sky is the limit! (no parachuting unlike in one sector)

You could not fault me for seeming nonchalant meeting a ‘known stranger’ like him. If you were in my shoes, would you do the same as what I did?

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