I was trying very hard to find an explanation for my emotional reaction to the Penang Dragon Boat incident.
I have been very close to teenagers for the past few years due to my lecturing engagements, and also through frequent interaction with them through my late night radio programme. They tell me stories of their lives, the problems they have with fellow schoolmates, teachers, families, school activities. They share their joy when they achieve their goals, their sorrow when they felt like they have failed. They tell me how bored they are when school is off, and how they enjoy falling asleep listening to my show. Every post in fb, every sms that was sent in, brings back memories of myself when I was a secondary school student. The days when life is about school activities, pop songs, radio, friends, exams and tuitions.
My relationship with the youth of this generation grew even closer when I played a minor role as experienced-senior-DJ in the Youth DJ Camp organised by the station. Students who participated in the camp are very much like my old self. They are active, sincere and hardworking. Their energy is bottomless.
Though I have strived to be more positive last year, and was very dedicated to my new career, there was always a part of me that felt like a faded photograph, a drained old DJ.
The energy of the teenagers made me felt revived after the Camp. I wasn’t putting up a show when I hopped-up-and -down with them on stage (and to my surprise, they were very receptive to my uncle-moves and uncle-talks). I felt like I was 17 again, when I was a youth leader in all sort of extra curriculum activities, when we believed anything is possible, when striving for excellence was the only target.
They are so full of life, so full of hope, so full of dreams. I used to be them. Though I may not be them now, I realise the me I used to be is still in me. The faded photograph may be old, but the spirit has now been revived.
I became more positive, confident and concentrate, and I credit the teenagers for it.
Hence, the sorrow I felt hit me bad when 5 young boys and a young teacher drown in the Penang Dragon Boat incident. I spoke to some of their closest friends, who are just as full of life as any 17 years old is. I hear them tear up when talking about friends whom they take as brothers, blaming themselves for the tragedy just because they need to feel the sorrow. I read about their families’ sorrow for lossing children who are committed to making life wonderful. 17 is probably the fondest of my teenage memories, and the friendship I had then, has now flourished into strong ties. It is heartbreaking to see them lossing friends who could have been friends of a lifetime.
I read in newspaper today, the victims’ circle of friends have made a pledge to set their handphone alarm to 1700 daily for the rest of their living days, in remembrance of friends lost on 17/1/10. That is touching.
To the APOM gang, boys and girls of CLHS, families of the victims, I have asked you to be strong, to remember them as they were; now I would like to ask you to remember this very moment when you think you have lost them forever, in fact, they are now in you, as your source of energy for your every next step in life, cause you will remember them as souls full of life, full of hope, and full of dreams. That will not change.
They are forever.
Audio: My interview with the CLHS boys on 19/1/10
p/s: This is written in English, cause I want you to know how important you were, and still are to me, my friends of SPI. Please take good care of yourself.