Lydia (or more endearingly Bobo in some circles, though she has since renounced the nickname) was, and still is, more than a friend to my wife. They had met in a polytechnic orientation camp; Lydia was a freshie, and my wife was one of the group leaders. In a rouse to get closer to the freshies, my wife had masqueraded as one of them and sat next to Lydia, who immediately hit it off with her and became fast friends, before my wife was ratted out by a clueless lecturer who asked her why she wasn’t in class.
Lydia’s mother had always regarded my wife as her own daughter, and had told her that “Fate brought the two of you together, and nothing can ever tear you apart. You are as good as a daughter to me, and I know you will take care of my daughter like she was your own sister as well.”
I first met Lydia 6 years back when I was just starting to date my wife and heard a friend of hers needed help with her actual day wedding photography. Being a fresh boyfriend only too ready to impress, I only too readily agreed to assist her in helping out a friend I hardly knew.
Lydia’s wedding day was to eventually cause a 5-year-old bad impression on me.
After the wedding, I sent some videos of Lydia’s happy day to a guy I knew who did post production work to compile into a DVD for Lydia. I remembered pulling a few big favours to ensure Lydia got the DVD done properly, but what I forgot was to get the DVD done promptly. I received a call from Lydia about a week or two after, which was when the whole trouble started.
I was first struck by the odd tone of voice Lydia used to ask me if the DVD was ready. It was not, and I was then summarily reprimanded over the phone for taking too long for so simple a task. I listened to her rants, thinking to myself, “What the hell…? I thought I was doing you a favour!” My conversation with Lydia only lasted a couple of minutes, after which I reached a point where the only thing I could do was pass the phone to my wife before I said something really bad and things really got out of hand.
For the next five years, I tried to avoid meeting with her as much as I could, which was not entirely difficult, for she had married a Dutch citizen, and was moving to Amsterdam before the year was out. When we did meet, I was less than polite, and often my wife would just decide not to bring me along to any get-togethers of any sort that involved her presence.
And thus the story went, unresolved differences collecting dust on a shelf for five years without a second thought. Until Sunday night two weeks ago.
Lydia had returned from Amsterdam a couple of months earlier, among other reasons, to be with her her mother, who was due for neurosurgery earlier this month to remove a tumour in her brain. She called my wife a while after she had somewhat settled down, and heard of our plans for the wedding. Eventually she was able to put aside the more pressing affair of her mother’s condition to agree to be one of my wife’s sisters for the wedding.
In the course of the discussions with Lydia on Sunday night’s “brothers and sisters” meeting, my wife had asked Lydia, “You’re here for your mother, you should be concentrating on staying with her instead of messaing around with us.” To which Lydia replied, “Your wedding is only one day. For the things you did for me for my wedding, this is the least that I could do.”
Lydia had, in fact, volunteered to do our actual day photography, upon hearing of our troubles getting our other friend to commit to the job and his non-appearance at the gathering that night.
After 5 years, when I first saw Lydia again on Sunday night, the bite of that telephone conversation was still raw in my mind. I had not expected anything more than the fun and games a sister would have on the hapless groom the morning when he would have to try to fetch the bride out of her parents’ domain. When my wife told me about her volunteering her services, I wondered if I was wrong about her.
And then Michelle came up with her proposal. Michelle’s idea was to get Lydia to supplement the professional photographer’s work with the cameras we had, and the fact that she was such a close friend would mean the quality of her photos would by no means be any less than the most heartfelt work a photographer of any calibre could offer to a friend. I lost all notion of my grudge against her when I saw her eagerness and readiness to help out a friend without a second thought.
Later, as I was sharing a smoke with her in my balcony, I told her one of the main reasons why it took so long for me to consent to Michelle’s suggestion to hire a photographer was because of her. I told her my grievances against her the last 5 years and how that suddenly went down the balcony drain that very moment, retelling the story of what had happened that fateful phone call five years ago, how I had thought of her at the time all the way till that moment, and asked for her forgiveness.
The flower of Amsterdam and the Ah Huay of my wife’s social life gave me an endearingly blank stare. She hd absolutely no idea what the hell I was talking about.
So five years ago, I didn’t think I deserved getting scolded from someone I barely knew for doing her a favour without asking for anything in return. This night, I didn’t think I deserved her return of the same favour. And then in a moment of rare honesty between two almost complete strangers that could have turned into a Hallmark moment of forgiveness and grace, she tells me she didn’t even know I was pissed with her all this time. Hmm.
Obviously we’re all okay now. I’m still recovering from the soreness of my slapping myself in the forehead for realising how stupid I was the last 5 years.