When I graduated high school from Narrogin in 2005 I did not have much direction. My father had completed a heavy vehicle mechanics apprenticeship when he was a teenager and so was very skills oriented. He is now a branch manager for a farming machinery firm and does it well. My mother finished high school under difficult personal circumstances and had little desire for a particular pathway in her life herself, but she was skilled. They had both grown up in the country town of Dumbleyung and by the time mum was 20 they were married.
Growing up in rural isolation myself I was familiar to the concept of making ends meet. I appreciated that work was needed, not all jobs were appealing, but they were all worthy. Knowing the financial obligations attached to study after high school I knew it was valuable to be educated, however I was only going to commit to an education I genuinely felt I could use long term, was interested in and that suited my temperament. As much as I love philosophy, it was never going to happen. I was good at art. Still am. I needed to find a viable outlet and use for it and rounded out to Interior Decoration, possibly Design. A year later I was in a course at Western Australian Central TAFE.
I was unsure of how or why I had chosen it. Serendipitous you may say. I didn’t know how to make friends with ‘city people’. And there were so many different cultural and social backgrounds! Quickly I found another girl who seemed isolated like me, a quiet but smiley Malay girl. Soon after we were joined by four other locals and we became a mischievous group. During my study something strange happened inside me.
Well two things actually but we will only talk of the first.
I would walk this little (same size as me) Malay girl Eena to her bus everyday after class as it was in the same direction. Over the two year course we got to know each other quite well. With her upbringing she was very gestural and physical and verbal when she communicated. It scared me and made me uncomfortable. I began to realise I did not let people touch me. Not even my family. I was never upset with her for the contact, in fact I found I began to long for it. My body wanted to be near her and to have a friend rub my arm every time she got excited in a story. Her eyes would burst from her face, she would say,’Oh my GOD JESSIE!‘ and I yearned to be as vocal, as openly loving, as generous with my heart and emotions.
It was never said. It was never intentional. It was a complete surprise to me. Yet by the end of the course this girl had brought me out of my shell. I had been reserved, bitter, untouchable and filled with jealousy for all the joy in the world.
It is because of Eena that I first realised how withdrawn my heart was, how hard I had become and how much I wanted to change. It is through her genuine nature, her conversation and her eye-popping excitement that I was able to model the parts of myself that were hidden too deep to know about.
The years have been hard. I was also diagnosed with Lupus when I met her. She has had personal journeys both good and bad. She has not been near me for seven years. I once visited her in her home of Kuala Lumpur. Her friends there are shining stars. Some of the ones I knew are no longer shining in the same way and this makes me hurt for such an angel.
But there is one that is glowing brighter than any other.
Eena is getting married!
When I heard I told my parents. They LOVE her so they were thrilled. I was sad knowing my study and money situation wouldn’t let me be there. But with good fortune, and a BIG promise of safety from Gallowe our stars are aligning.
WE ARE GOING TO KUALA LUMPUR FOR THE WEDDING!
The tickets are booked. The accommodation sorted. Insurance confirmed. Now all I need is to choose the most appropriate gift for a plane flight, Muslim Malay/ Singaporean/ Indonesian wedding household.