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Monday, June 27

Separation (I)

Growing up, there were two things I learned about separation. One, separation hurts everytime. There is no getting used to it. Two, I hate it.

I remember my first real taste of separation was when Mak decided to go back to Perak with my little sister when I was four or five, leaving me in Pahang with my big sister. I still remember chasing her down the hill at the back of our house; Mak and Iwa were on the old motorcycle, Abah sending them away for the bus. I ran with all my might, screaming Mak! Mak! with tears running down my cheek. Choked with my own tears and screams under the shadow of pokok sentul at the end of the hill, I learned that day separation hurts.
My sister spent the whole day coaxing and lying. She promised me a day out at the town, for toys and stuff. She did, but Mak wasn’t home in the evening like she told me. I learned then that I hate separation.

We got separated again when I was barely twelve, except this time I’ll be the one who left and I will be all alone, apart from my mother with no sister to look after. I don't understand why would people invent boarding schools. Being apart from your own mother in two different states for three-four months at one time was incomprehensible on itself. But really, it was the journey. That three-four hours journey on roads that snake through forests and ravines was something else.
I sincerely believe that all the hairpin corners and sphincter-constricting-deep cliffs did something to my heart more than it did to my gut. I’m a different person since. The moment Mak silently left me at the hostel, I’m no longer the boy she knew. Mak was just gone when I turned my head.There was no goodbye, for what good will it bring to let a boy cry, when he will have to fend for himself for the next three years there. No one last look, no waving of hands to bid farewell. Nothing is well when you robbed mother’s love from a child, it’s certainly not fair.
We will be apart like that again and again for the next three years. Oh, I cried still. And when I did not, I was just a difficult kid to Mak. But when a kid was forced to man up, to be tough, that the weakest won’t survive, the tears eventually stopped. Emotion was a good enough reason for bully. That, and having funny physical features or heck, a weird name. Being emotional like that was a no-no. So, I thought of Mak less and less. It was easy for adults (read: teachers) to translate that as not loving your mother. Maybe Mak thought so too, maybe that’s why she cried when I refused her kiss. Not loved by your own child, oh, what’s sadder than that!

Thankfully, that was all in the past. It’s improved now. Although, sometimes I can still feel my body rejecting Mak’s hugs and kisses. Old habits die hard, huh.

Two things I learned about separation when growing up I said. Actually, there’s a third I learned, but this one was when I’m all grown up. I will let that be in the next entry because remembering all these memories, let’s just say, it’s overwhelming.