I first met Shamsul way back in 1982 when my family moved from Alor Setar to Johor Bahru. He was my classmate in Sekolah Rendah Seri Tebrau. His family moved away from Johor Bahru in 1984, while I left the city to move to Kulim in late 1985.
I entered Sekolah Menengah Sultan Badlishah for my secondary school, and was there up until I finished Form 5 in 1991. Amazingly, Shamsul entered MRSM Kulim during Form 4. While we were in the same town literally, we have never met each other.
In late 1991 after our SPM examination, both of us attended an interview for scholarship offered by Petronas. We were interviewed on the same day (as I remember it, it was a Friday). Shamsul, whom I had not seen in 7 years noticed me, and said hi. It was a very brief chance meeting so to speak.
I left for the UK in January of 1992 under the Petronas scholarship initially to do geology. Interestingly, Shamsul was offered to do geology as well, but he turned it down. Had he accepted, we would have been coursemates at the University of Glasgow.
In September of 1992, I went down to London. Whilst walking back to Malaysia Hall (then located at Bryanston Square), I passed by Shamsul. I didn't realise it at first, but seconds later, it hit me that the person was Shamsul. I turned my head, around the same time he did. It was one of those "one in a million" chance encounters, and of all places, we met in London. He had just arrived in London then under MARA scholarship. Later that afternoon, I went up to the place he was staying before going to Concorde College in Shropshire, and we chatted for quite a bit.
For the next couple of months, we got in touch with each other using snail mail. This was a time when e-mail was not common yet. Naturally, we got busy with our studies, and we just lost contact over the years.
When Shamsul got married, he sent me an invitation. I was already working at IKIM at that time. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend his wedding, but I did give him a call to congratulate him. That was the last time I was in touch with him...
...until 2008. Thanks to Facebook, he was able to trace me. Since then, we have been in touch using Facebook albeit virtually.
Yesterday, alhamdulillah, for the first time since 1992, I met my old friend, Shamsul Anuar again. It was a nice warm feeling despite the rather cold winter temperature. We talked and reminisced about old times and old friends. While we have not seen each other for nearly 17 years, it never felt that way. I guess that is the uniqueness of childhood friends. No matter how long you have been apart from each other, the shared "childhood years" is actually a strong bond that is difficult to sever.
With our somewhat "unique" history, I figured that was why Shamsul said, "Life is like spaghetti." Imagine each of us is a strand of spaghetti in a bowl or a plate. And that strand of spaghetti is the path that we take in life. There are times our paths will cross with one another. There are times when they are completely apart from each other. And yet, there are also times when the strands (paths) are so near and yet are apart.
While I have part ways with Shamsul for the time being, I pray that our paths will cross yet again, insya-Allah.