As far as I remember, I have always been small. I am 1.55m tall which is short enough for customers not to come to my counter because they can’t see me. My hands are tiny. So much that my secondary school classmates measured my pinkie (to be 4.2cm long) for their amusement. And I can still shop for shoes at Kiddy Palace. In fact, it’s more likely to have my shoe size than Charles and Keith.
As far as I remember, I have always felt small. It took time, and I fought against the notion. But standing where I am now, I can safely say that the girl I shaped myself to be- She can take a hit. She knows how to protect herself. She knows her principles and her limits
And though she might often be a busybody, (and a blunt one at that) she psychoanalyzes people enough to know not to overstep. And she is okay with being where she is. Not someone essential to anyone’s life. But a little people to everyone she knows.
I’m pretty sure we all have little people in our lives. There’s a reason why ‘Bye Felicia’ is even a thing right now- because as much as we don’t want to admit it, as much as we want to portray ourselves as better, higher beings capable of control and compassion and love, there are people we just don’t care about. And it’s mean. It is. But EVERYONE is guilty. And when everyone is mean together that makes the moral bell curve quite steep, doesn’t it?
It’s not that they’re not nice, or that they’ve done anything at all to tick us off. It’s just that there’s no connection there. And whenever I send a smile down the hallway to that person, it makes me wonder if it’s just a programmed mechanism within me. She caught my eye = Smile back? Is that how my nervous system works? Because I haven’t touched Bio in 2 and a half years. He tells a joke = I laugh? Maybe I’m just hyper self aware. I always am. But when you study things this way, Social conditioning is so scary.
There was a period of time where I tried to be more. I wanted more out of life, I wanted more out of the people around me. Maybe it was hormone changes but I was stressed and bored and tired all at once and I was greedy. I wanted more. I didn’t want to give more though. And I lost everything. I think everyone goes through a phase like that. I was probably lucky it came so early for me, such that when I think about it now, I don’t remember the details. You can’t force your way into people’s lives. And I realized that that was never what I wanted anyway and I was never happy even when I got what I claimed I wanted. So what was I thinking?
Gimme a break, I was 10.
I am one of the little people. Always have been. And I thought I wouldn’t be happy if I continued down this path, but I found happiness at my door when I gave up dreams of the huge palace for the joy of a small cottage. I’ve never been the type to want fame or fortune. I never even wanted a big house. Maybe once or twice I’ve dreamt of having a nice yard just big enough to have a picnic on, or a treehouse. But those are just flecks of imagination. As a person, I’ve never wanted a lot. And I’m happiest when I don’t have a lot. Not pathetic. Not popular. Just comfortable. Enough to tell myself that the smile on my face is real, and that I’ve always been someone who found it so easy to laugh. And I should have known that. Maybe I would have found the comfort and the balance I now have, earlier on in life.
I’m going to tell you about one of the little people in my life. He definitely will not remember me, or this. And I’m not gonna pretend this story “touched me so much and led me through so many dark moments I faced in my life and I never would have been the kind of person I am without this BLA BLA BLA”. I’ll be honest, the only reason why I remember his name is probably because it’s Amani. (Though I never understood the Armani joke till secondary school because I never let go of things easily and I never found Limited edition or expensive things particularly attractive. ) He was a Malay Boy from my primary school class with lighter brown hair. Slightly Paler than most of the other Malay Classmates. Big eyes. Skinny. Athletic. Didn’t do well in school. On the day of my 8th Birthday, everyone sang the birthday song, as per tradition. Amani looked at me curiously. “It’s your birthday today?” I nodded.
The next day he dropped a large hairclip wrapped in a hankerchief on my table. Rather conspicuously. He literally walked up to my table and dropped it there. I asked him what it was for. He said, “It’s for you. Your birthday.”
I had short hair back then. The clip was one of those huge ones for Aunties with long thick hair. My schoolgirl chin length bob would never need that clip. I was touched, mostly. But I gave him back the clip, saying there’s no need. His pocket money wasn’t a lot so he must have brought the clip and hankerchief from home. He took it back, though he didn’t think much of the incident. I don’t think I hurt his feelings, but I didn’t want something he had just taken from his house. Clips like that were a dollar at least. And as an 8 year old my daily pocket money was $1.20. His was probably less.
Like I said I’m not going to pretend I remembered Amani forever. He could have dropped out of school, he could have become a gangster, opened up a shop, ended up in jail, got into Med School… Maybe he’s a Millionaire now. Maybe he never graduated Primary school. My point is, I wouldn’t know. I think of this incident on a frequency of once every few years probably. And I can’t say I know anything about Amani really. Whether he’s a good person, or not? I can’t even judge that. Because we were little people in each other’s world. But maybe I remembered his name because of that gift. Because children almost never forget kindness shown to them. At least I was one of those kids who remembered every piece of hurt inflicted on them and every person who ever made them laugh. And my overly-emotional self carried me through 19 years of my life.
I am one of the little people. I barely enter your life before I walk away with a smile on my face. Our relationship is non existent because we are merely running a relay race where it is simply touch and go. To me, if I am number 1, you are number 2. I pass the baton to you and I don’t even need to touch you. That makes you a little people in my life too.
But don’t ever think that Little people don’t matter. I was afraid of no one remembering me when I die. I was afraid I would have nothing to show for my life, nothing to scream “I WAS HERE.”
It took time to understand that I never needed that. The loud announcement of arrival, like an earthquake. In fact, forget a scream, I didn’t even have to whisper to myself. Because I am here. That’s an irreversible fact now. And I can’t control the changes I make in the World. But it is in me as one of the little people to try. Try to make the nature of the changes I make good ones.
Trust! The kind of blind faith I take when I fall backwards into someone arms. When I take someone’s word and base my decisions on his or her credibility. The kind of unspoken promise. This is open for all to see, like a declaration that sees no need to hide behind whispers and clandestine meetings and a promise that is universally recognized and not subject to anyone’s judgement. This person is honest. The way the Venetians thought Iago was. And while this might seem shallow, credibility is a thick slab of make up over an actor’s face. You will never know how close the actor’s real self is to his or her character. Trust! is here to add drama. Here to put on a show. Ironically, Trust!creates the doubt in me.
Trust. The kind of unexplainable independent reliance you have on someone. The kind of charisma that makes you feel that this person is incapable of betraying you. The kind of trust you put in someone when you tell him or her your truest and most random thoughts without fear of judgement from them. When you feel no need to analyze the person, not because he or she is an open book, but because you know they will try their best to make you feel comfortable. The trust. that makes you drop everything to go volunteer in Batam with a bunch of strangers.
Trust… And this, in my opinion, is the best kind. When time not only makes you commit little bits of the person you care about to your mind, but fits the people around you into and ever expanding space in your heart. When you, who are terrified of catching balls barely flinches when a basketball comes bouncing towards you, because you know your Cellbrothers won’t let it hit you. The kind of trust… that makes you tell them “I have absolute faith that you guys won’t hit me. So don’t you dare screw up, because you know I won’t let you get away with that.” And you know you’re only kidding about the latter part because they won’t. Screw. Up.
It is the same kind of trust that makes you lay down with every ounce of honesty you can summon, every single piece of BS the person standing in front of you has ever given you. And making it clear to him that you are NOT happy with the way he’s been treating his friends. It is the same kind of trust that makes you less afraid that you will never be friends again, and gives you courage to storm across the overhead bridge leaving him behind to think about what he has done wrong. Because you know he will figure it out.
And little did you know that this trust… has an element of surprise. After two weeks of silent treatment, he apologized. Put down his pride and said he would change, and that he understands why she was angry over a mistake so minute. It was because it wasn’t that mistake. It was tiny little feathers of annoyance weighing down on the scale of their friendship. Sorry was not the magic word to lift that weight. ‘I will change’ was. Because she knows the kind of person you are. And she trusts. that if you say you will change, you will.
You did not disappoint. And that is why you are still in each other’s lives. Because she did not Trust! you, you fought. Because you apologized, she held you to your word and Trust.ed you. Thus, your friendship lasted. And with pushing and pulling and enough effort to make things work, we still see each other once in a while. And we text regularly. Because between the two of us, we trust…