There's this memory from primary school that I remember so vividly. Because I think it meant so much to me at the time. And it still does now.
It was canteen day at my primary school and we were seniors so that takes us back 15 years ago, when I was 12 years old.
We were manning the rumah hantu (which we very tediously did the day before) and we had a longggg line outside with curious pre-teens who had saved their canteen day coupons for the rumah hantu experience.
It was a class project so the whole class participated in the production of this haunted house. Some were collecting tickets, some were the actual 'hantu' and some were manning the exit to make sure everyone didn't run through the door and hurt themselves in the process (it has happened a lot). I had gotten situated in the entrance of the rumah hantu, bringing the kids in and guiding them through the first part of the haunted house. Telling them things like "don't hit the hantu and don't run!".
But anyway. I was there with another guy friend. A friend whom I had gotten very close to in the past year because we were sat together in class. Not by choice! Our class teacher had arranged it in such so that we weren't sat with friends in our big UPSR year. I remember being pretty pleased with the seating arrangement because I had never sat next to a guy before and he seemed pretty friendly.
Context: I don't think I was attracted to him. He was just a friend and I enjoyed his company. What's important to note is that I was incredibly shy in my years before that. Shy like.... didn't-speak-to-a-boy shy. I often hid (sometimes literally) behind friends who were much more popular with the boys. I would just be in awe of their interactions and wished I could be that fun! So when the opportunity came to sit next to a boy, I was pretty excited! I was really enjoying coming out of my shell and being more open to people! It was such a relief to know that boys weren't so intimidating. And it was really because of this boy. Let's call him A.
I definitely think he developed a crush on me over the year. Because it was obvious and everyone wouldn't stop making fun of him with me. But he never stopped being friends with me. He could tell I was only comfortable with being friends but he never made it awkward. Which I appreciated so much. He was my first real guy friend and it would've sucked if he had been affected by the teasing and not talk to me at all.
Ok sorry, went off a tangent but needed to give context to the story! Back to the rumah hantu.
We were both manning the entrance. So in between telling the kids to not hit the ghosts, we were also just casually talking about anything and everything under the sun. It got quiet for a bit and he looked at me and said
"Nadia, you're not like other girls"
Taken aback, I replied
"What do you mean?"
"What do you mean?"
"Ntah lah, just something about you that stands out from the others"
The way he said it was just full of... love. Like it felt like he had been wanting to say that to me so long and that this was the time to say it. When no one was around and it was just the both of us. I was flattered by this so without even thinking, I did a little curtsy to which he then pointed out
"See! That. Other girls wouldn't have done that."
I smiled and we laughed and moved on to other things.
But that little tiny conversation has stayed with me ever since because it was and remains to be one of the nicest things anyone has said to me. I appreciated that he just braved it out and told me that. It was so sweet.
It's been 15 years since that and I still remember it so vividly. It's my favourite memory for when I need a pick-me-up.