She looked at the old suitcase and like a flash of lightning the sweet memories of it came back to her mind. It was the suitcase her father bought for her and for the very first time, she would be carrying that black suitcase to a college; a new destination which she thought would be a good place for her future. Somehow or rather, she was pulled back by the dilemma whether to go or not.
In the first place, she did not intend to go there for she had other plans on mind. It was as if it was fated she would be there as she had accepted the offer and signed the related documents which would grant access to the door of the institution. She did not show much joy unlike her family, siblings and relatives who all gave a hand to make preparations before her departure. They were all so excited which she understood as putting the hope on her to be among those who would bring pride to the family
It was for the very first time too, she would be leaving her family and alone on her own to face another phase of her education path.
How happy and contented her father looked the night he packed her clothes in the suitcase. Being a systematic type of person, he arranged neatly all her belongings, making sure everything was included. Mama was busy too packing some of the things which she would use while her sisters and brothers were talking noisily of how much they loved to follow her. She looked lovingly at them and had a sudden feeling that she would miss so much those cute faces. They were always together; playing, studying and quarreling!
The day came when she boarded a small plane to another place which to her was like going to another country as she had never left her little home town. She could feel tears streaming down her cheeks. Why was she crying, she did not understand though she was a grown-up girl – a teenager. Arghhhhh…it could be she was leaving her comfort zone and like a little bird had to learn to spread her wings to fly further.
On the day she arrived at the college, she cried again. Oh! When would this going to stop? Her heart was still at home! She felt homesick and started to think of her mama, father and everyone else and right at that moment she had wanted to be back home. How naive she was!
During the orientation week, she could not stand what the seniors told them, the ‘freshies’, to do. It was a whole week packed with activities and she could not adjust herself to the new environment. As early as 6 o’clock in the morning, they were told to get out of the hostel and had the early morning exercise. She was not an athlete and when they had to run around the field, she panted like a dog! Back at the hostel, she threw herself on the bed and had some rest before attending the next programme.
In the beginning it was like hating to be in that college but towards the end, it was a different story. She felt this was the right place for her where she got to learn to be independent, knowledge-wise able to learn more than in school and she got to know more people and made friends who came from diverse backgrounds. It was so much fun having many friends around whom she regarded as her family. She had some very close ones who were always by her side and supported her throughout the college days.
After a two-year study, it was time for her to pack her things again and this time going back home. The irony was she started to feel so sad leaving such a beautiful place. When would she be back there again? When would she be able to have fun swimming using a float in the college’s swimming pool? She would certainly miss all the fun she had with friends; sharing food, sneaking into the college vegetable garden to pick some spinach without the lecturer’s knowledge, playing hockey which was not her forte and which made her leg bruised, well, those were among the sweetest moments she would never forget.
College life had taught her so much If she were not there, she would not be able to further her next level of study for a bachelor’s degree. It was the path she had to take before stepping onto the campus ground and after four years, she got her degree’s scroll on the auspicious occasion in the grand hall of the university. Her mama was there but not her father. The person who was an idol and who gave much inspirations to her was not able to witness her receiving the university’s scroll from the honorable vice-chancellor of University Putra Malaysia. How she wished he was there but in spirit she felt his presence who smiled proudly at her. If only he was there in real, he would have received the most precious gift from his daughter – a scroll as a proof that he was right the day he sent her to further her studies. He was called to rest before her graduation. She loved him so much but she knew the Lord loved him more.
She looked at the black suitcase again. She did not realize her cheeks were wet with tears.