Today was Saturday, but I forced myself to head to my office at the university anyway. As a home person, I would obviously rather work from the comfort of my own desk in my house if I could, but I could not. I just wouldn’t be able to be concentrate somehow, and so the only other option is the university because it’s the only other place where I could still practice my 5-time prayers. So, to the office I went.
I started pretty late in the noon, so I finished up pretty late as well. Even though it was a Saturday. By the time the city lights embellished the entire view from the huge window next to my working space, my room was the only space with the lights on in the entire Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences building. Sure enough, the idea of being totally alone during such hour in an isolated building deep inside within the very quiet part of the university kind of terrified me, so I decided to wrap up my thoughts and prepared to head home. My watch said it’s nearly a quarter past 10 already.
I took the only stairs connecting my floor to the first floor which was a dark, rarely used emergency exit. (I had promised myself to never take the elevators anymore for the health’s sake, that’s why.) I rushed my steps with my headphones on, playing some catchy tunes from Belle and Sebastian’s latest release, as I am not really a type of person who’s okay with being alone in the dark. I pushed the stairs’ door on the first floor, then was speeding up a little bit to be able to catch the bus. I was outside already. A moonless, mute nightfall was then unfolded ahead of me.
I walked alone in that university that feels so much different with the previous institution I went to back at home. I mean, it has always been different obviously, both in good and not-so-good ways, but tonight was remarkably distinct.
Tonight, everything was emphasized. Tonight, I was hampered by a bunch of not-so-comforting thoughts. Like, would I be safe walking alone at this very hour, even just to catch the bus? Would there be strange-looking guys at the university that I had to walk faster and avoid every possible eye contact every time I had to walk past them? Would I have to be trapped with another drunk assh*le in the bus, or rude hoboes shouting whatever the hell they want at me for no obvious reasons? Would I be perfectly safe? Would I even feel better once I get home?
Tonight, I was scared. Not only because of those petty concerns, but also just scared in general. Of everything. Of this city, its humans, its universe.
I was scared, but I was also busy sorting out questions in my head. Like, why was I even walking alone? Or, as a matter of fact, why was I even working alone all day long and hadn’t spoken a word today? Where were the friends I could study together with, just like the old good times years ago? Where were the people who would go through the thick and thin with me along this long, winding road? Where were the students across every kind of communities, who would stay up really late on campus making the place much less lonely for everyone else who happened to be wandering alone?
Where were the conversations about whose place to stay in tonight, to prepare together for tomorrow’s exam or assignment? Where were the discussions about where to eat before marching together to get that somebody’s place jam-packed with a dozen classmates trying to pass a course together? Where were the late-night jokes about things and whatnot to cheer each other up before stressing out together again prior to the exam?
Where were the individuals that could and would connect with me effortlessly, without me having to try so much just to get inside their heads? Where were the souls who would comfort my atmosphere by simply having their presence around? Where were the faces who would instantly spark a smile on my exhausted look, only by telling me that “Hey, I’m screwed too, you’re not alone”?
Once upon a time in our lives, we were all in that one place. A place that was never close to any utopian-inspired comfort zone; that had me suffering anxiety and fear big time; and at times got me sad too. But it was always okay. The good times were sometimes just bad times shared among us friends, but felt so much less burdening at last. I was happy to be unhappy, because I got their backs after all. And maybe that’s what matters. To find people whom you could grow together with, with whom you could be comfortable underneath your most favorite skin and still be perceived as a friend.
I think I’m missing that building in Jalan Ganeca a bit too much. And everyone I knew, and everything that I had because of it.