As 2014 gradually drew to a close, I was struck by the thought that many of us have had blessings a plenty during the year. Sometimes we take these blessings for granted. Oftentimes, we seem unaware that these are truly blessings of a higher order.
This is because in the rush and hurry of modern day, stressed filled living we seem to be constantly on the move attending to one thing or another. Our jobs, our families and our share of challenges in life can sometimes be quite overpowering.
Appreciate Blessings of a Higher Order
How often, for instance, have you or I stopped for a while to enjoy a glorious sunset or even to smell the roses? How often have we paused for a while to go for a long walk along the beach or to go hiking along a jungle trail?
When was the last time we could enjoy and breathe in good, clean air in our cities without having to put up with the dastardly, unhealthy perennial haze that seems to blanket our skies? This is a real tragedy of modern living.
Choice of Focus
Some may choose to focus on the series of major tragedies that have befallen our country during the year, starting first with the incredible disappearance of MH 370 with the loss of almost three hundred lives. Months later came the unexpected shooting down of MH 17 over Ukraine with the loss of hundreds of lives. Most recently, we lost yet another aircraft, this time an Air Asia plane over the Java Sea with the loss of nearly one hundred and sixty lives. To make matters worse, we are currently experiencing one of the worst floods to hit the country in decades.
As a nation, we have to remain strong and believe that these too will pass! We have to learn to take the good with the bad because no one can promise us great times all the time. With life, such as we know it, we have to accept a mixed bag of happenings and events. As they say things happen for a reason and the challenge is to find that reason and to learn and grow from that experience.
Immense Value of True Friendship
On a different level, the alumni of La Salle Brickfields (LSB) Secondary School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have demonstrated in a clear and convincing manner the immense value of true friendship and enjoyable, memorable reunions. Over the last twenty years or so, I have been invited to and have attended about five La Salle Brickfields reunion gatherings, usually over dinner.
Well Organised and Enjoyable Event
Last year ( 2014 ) was the exception… no doubts about that matter. I had been invited to four reunion dinner gatherings in 2014. It started off spectacularly in April or May this year by the LSB Class of 1976. The reunion was held in a spacious hall in a country club in KL. More than 100 former students, including a few who brought their wives and children along as well as about eighteen former teachers attended this classy and well organised event.
Year Long Breakfast Programme
A month later, the LSB Class of 1975 organised a reunion meeting followed by dinner and they also invited two teachers to the event. This group of about twelve are successful professionals and business people and they felt the need to do something for their old school. The meeting was a productive one and within two months of that fateful reunion cum meeting, this small but determined LSB group had launched a year long breakfast programme for seventy two underprivileged schoolchildren who used to come to school daily without breakfast! This is a truly noble way of carrying out meaningful community service where it is most needed. It also shows the depth of commitment and loyalty by these individuals to their alma mater.
Good Fellowship and Laughter
Two months later, a group of about twenty former students, from the LSB Class of 1968 met for drinks and bites in the evening at a club in Kuala Lumpur. Once again, these individuals were all so glad to meet each other, some for the first time in forty plus years.
B C Forbes once remarked :-
The best way to make a true friend is to be one. Friendship implies loyalty, esteem, cordiality, sympathy, affection, readiness to aid, to help, to stick, to fight for, if need be……………. Radiate friendship and it will return sevenfold!
These groups of LSB alumni from the different years continue to radiate friendship, camaraderie and fellowship that one rarely sees these days. There must have been something unique and special about the ethos, traditions and practices of LSB that has made such an impact possible years later!
This group has since met on two further occasions. The seed that was planted has certainly grown and bloomed! Alumni from Singapore and Dubai have seen fit to attend these reunions in Kuala Lumpur.
Promises to Meet More Often
All these qualities of friendship that B C Forbes talked about were plainly evident when the reunions took place. The alumni seemed incredibly happy to re-connect with old classmates and even former teachers. Some offered profound thanks to the organisers of the meet for the effort they had invested to get the former classmates together. Others exchanged business cards and made solemn promises to meet more often. A few even followed this up by inviting teachers for lunches and dinners. Such was the reaction and joy that these alumni exhibited. It was true, unabashed human emotion at its best. It certainly helped that a wave of forgotten memories were being brought back to life, even though some of the alumni are now grandfathers in their own right!
A Canadian Alumni Re-Connects
On 28 December, yet another successful reunion took place, this time with LSB Class of 1969 alumni. The excuse and motivation was the return home to Malaysia for a brief holiday by a classmate who now resides in Toronto, Canada. He had contacted one of his classmates and requested to meet with his classmates and teachers. This friend went out of his way to contact as many classmates and teachers as was possible. In the end, it was a successful reunion with over twenty five classmates turning up as well as three teachers.
Among those who turned up was a doctor who now practises in Johor and a classmate from Singapore. Another who turned up is a chartered secretary who has since reinvented himself professionally and is now a ‘ head hunter ‘. This person also brought along his only son to meet his fellow classmates and teachers. This guy as well as many of the others who turned up expressed great joy at meeting so many classmates, some for the first time after forty five years!
The noise and occasional laughter that emanated from the lively and animated conversations was a clear indication that the event was a great success. There was also a spontaneous singing of the old school song with much gusto and enthusiasm. The members of the private club where the event was held could only look on with amazement and a touch of envy I guess, to see a bunch of sixty year old gentlemen relive their youth!