People know that in IICS, I'm finally getting a taste of my own medicine. I'm so used to leaving people in good terms. Now, I'm the one being left behind. Only now I know that it hurts. It really, really, really hurts. It hurts so much that in the few hours before that night's farewell event, anxiety set in. My stomach began bloating and my palms felt like they were being drilled through. Simply put, I was nervous. Damn nervous.
However, I went, despite everything, keeping in mind that this was my last time, that this could be my last chance to see these people again. My cohort is not going to grow any further. It's only going to shrink. I put in mind very well that that night would be the last time I could feel the certain way. Already, I feel the difference. We're approaching the half-way point at such a rapid pace and by that I mean in term's of the number of people in our cohort. I've lost some people I barely knew and I've lost some people who have undeniably played a huge role in my journey. They all coloured my first 10 months in IICS in one way or another. Suddenly, unexpectedly, sadly and unfortunately, it all had to come to an end and the colours just simply started to fade away.
I car-pooled with my Council-mates Calvin and Regie, listening to a wide array of songs over the loud audio system; it reminded me so much of our advance party van ride to Lembang before Leadership Camp. When we arrived and I got off the car along with the two of them, nerves and excitement ran through my blood vessels all at the same time. I was nervous. What would I say to the people who I have not met in the past two months and most probably will never meet again? But I was also excited for I had long anticipated this opportunity to meet these people again.
The door was opened for me and I walked in. They had gone well into the program. I had missed the speeches of some of the people whom I really did want to hear the last words of. Of course I missed them. I was two and a half hours late. In the instant I stepped foot into that room, my feelings changed. I was so glad, so elated, so relieved that I finally got to meet these people. Furthermore, I finally got to have fun. For one night, I got to let go of all the thoughts that burdened me and just have fun. Of all party nights, that night was the night when I had the most Council thoughts heard in the voices of my mind. I, however, came up with the excuse for myself that there were so many Council issues to bring up that it would be impossible to bring them all up and thus I might as well forget everything. Probably never before have I felt the load suddenly fall off my shoulders the moment I saw a few faces.
After making my actual presence known to certain people by approaching them and asking them the simple question "how's life?", I grabbed a random drink which turned out to be Cindy's ever popular Orange Punch, and stood behind the last row of chairs which faced the program's centre of attention. Joshua was called up to give his final words followed by Livia. They would call on Gracia next but she had not arrive then. So, they called on me, to my utmost bafflement. I practically froze upon hearing my name, and after the two MCs called on my name for a second time, the immediate reaction was the scream "But I'm not going anywhere!" But eventually, the MCs figured out which one I was. I was practically pulled up to the front to deliver my words, despite the different position I was in.
Put simply, I was lost for words and speaking in circumlocution at the same time. It was all because I was overwhelmed by the many things I wanted to say. Running through my mind every day is a long list of people I have yet to thank and repay their deeds. I should be prepared to talk, but I wasn't prepared to cut my talk down. Then, giving more general remarks would result in my talking about what I always talk about: changing lives. Furthermore, every time I fall into my own "change my life" trap, I add the part where I go "I know you guys are sick of me saying this all the time but those are the best words to describe it", another one of my phrases which people get sick of, only to add insult to injury.
As the event moved on to the games and as I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I was for once not a victim, I grabbed some food. (I must admit that I liked how the game resembled something we had done on our journey in IICS, numbers and removing attributes or items from our body. It adds to the sentimental value of the night.) Chowing down on fried rice which to be very honest had a very unique taste to it, I was accompanied by Samuel, probably the most benevolent guy in the cohort. I've seen how he makes music tapping on the classroom table, especially when the class is quiet, and I only wish I could experience what he had to offer to a quiet class on a daily basis. I had not the slightest clue that he was leaving us until the first day of Year 12 when I expected him to be there in class but as it turned out he was not. I really wished I got to know him while he was still around, because now I can't, and now I know that I'm missing out on such a great guy. I still remember him on the very first day of school in IICS, 11 January 2012, when he saw me in my classroom alone and invited me out of the class. He didn't want me to be alone, but I resisted, something I should have never done. Even at the party, I didn't thank him for that day.
I walked to the front row of the chairs towards William. I was wondering why he was sitting in the front with people he usually wouldn't sit with. I sat next to him and we caught up to each other. He asked how's school. All I had the heart to answer really was that it's different. I mean, bearing in mind that so many people have left, was I to say that it's great? Only long into our conversation did I notice his left foot without a shoe. It turns out that he was on crutches and I was probably the last person in the cohort to know. That night, I truly admired him. He went through all odds to be there. All odds he went through. He came no matter what because he holds very strongly what I could only say I believe in: "People first".
My first two intense talks I had at the event really gave me a more concrete idea of what I should have said. It also made me realise why I was feeling a little uncomfortable with myself throughout the night. I wasn't sad. mad. depressed or galau. What I was feeling was guilt and regret. I regret not getting to know some people better. I regret not treating some people well while they were around. In some cases, I even regret turning down some people's acts of kindness. Furthermore, I regret shattering every single one of the opportunities I had to give back and to repay the good deeds of my peers because I would only be human if I felt guilty that these people have done so much for me, be it directly or indirectly, and changed my life for the better yet I have done absolutely nothing in return. I regret, as linguistically wrong as this may sound, procrastinating my gratitude.
But of all thoughts and prespectives I had about my journey in IICS that night, one did not change: that my being in IICS was and still is a gift. It is a blessing from God, a privilege provided to me by all the students, teachers and other school staff and a most humbling honour.
But of all things I felt and realised that night, I realised exactly how this priceless gift came about. It was almost exactly a year before when someone made all this happen for me. Only now did I realise.
I had sat for my entrance exam and submitted all my documents. My admission was all set to go. But at that time, one life-changing deal stood in my own way: No Standard, no IICS.
It was made all too explicitly, both orally and in writing. If the school did not have the capacity to offer English (Standard) for me, another school would have been mine. So, the school began its search for someone in the cohort who was indeed required to take Standard, and although the class is now closed down, if it were not for Andrea Daniel, the gift of IICS would have slipped away from the tip of my fingers even before it had the chance to hold on to it. Her taking on the course ultimately lead me on to IICS. I really do owe her a whole lot.
As the night progressed, I realised even more how much of a privilege it is for me to be in IICS, all the more to be an acknowledged member of the society, all the more to be the Student Council President. I realised how far people around me have gone in order to provide me with this humbling gift on a silver platter. I further realised how much of a terrible person I am to be the one with the most sins, to be the one causing the most trouble and to be the one showing the least appreciation for everyone else. I now realised what I should have done and how differently I should have lead my life in IICS in the first 10 months, but that's all over. I can only dwell on the past and now I can only bear the pain of regret that I deserve.
But now it's all over. People have left and times have past. Those mistakes will forever be unhealed wounds on my body and maybe even that of some others. But now that I've realised this, all I can do is not repeat the same mistake again while some my adulation figures are still around.
I thank everyone who has played a part in my times in IICS. You all have truly impacted my life in such a positive way while I have disrespected each and every one of you. I hope to one day be more like you, someone who has the heart to respect and go above and beyond to provide such an amazing gift to someone, ultimately changing that person's life.
But for now, it's farewell and good luck. Our journey ends here.