This is one of the most bizarre stories I would be writing this year, probably in the history of my life as well.
This could also be one of the most successful surprises ever pulled off on me since people started celebrating my birthday half a decade ago.
Saturday, 2 September 2017.
Junwei, my ever so trusted confidant, managed to get me out of my shambles. I haven’t had a chance to head out to town with a friend ever since I was mentally plagued by some personal issues.
The only times when I was out of my house were when I had errands to run or I had a run to go. I didn’t feel like going anywhere else or meeting anyone else apart from the usual few.
Junwei wasn’t being a usual self. I didn’t realise the abnormalities even when he reminded me about our meet-up 5 days before.
“Eh reminder, sept 2 go out.” “Scared later like last time you forget.” “LOL.”
“Ok hahaha.” “Why do you sound like Elyssa?”
He had never reminded me about any meet-up over the course of our friendship.
To add on to the list of atypical behaviour he possessed, he never tried securing my schedule weeks in advance. Our meet-up are mostly impromptu. It was more of like asking each other out for dinner an hour before and praying that the other party is available.
Probably I was a little too occupied to even surmise any aberrations.
He said he wanted to go to the Kinokuniya outlet at Ngee Ann City. We browsed through some books before making dropping by Bras Basah Complex to browse through more books.
Nearing sunset, we hopped onto the train which transported us down to Chinatown.
“Actually, why do you want to go Chinatown?” I was a little caught by surprise when he initially suggested on going to the ethnic enclave.
“To get clothes.”
“Who the hell go to Chinatown for clothes?” That was the first time I heard anyone shopping for clothes in the cultural suburb. It makes more sense if it was during the Chinese New Year’s festive season when a bazaar was going on.
I continued to complain about how full I was from my lunch and how my stomach felt more bloated as the time went past. I don’t know what’s wrong with my stomach but all I recalled was that I didn’t have a heavy meal that afternoon.
On the other hand, Junwei was on the other side of the hunger spectrum. He was already hungry by the time we arrived at Chinatown.
I had asked him earlier on while we were at Orchard about what we would be having for dinner. He proposed on settling it over at a KBBQ outlet in Chinatown.
I am ready for a feast of meat. That’s what I was thinking the moment he voiced out his cravings.
Looks like I was a little wrong about how my appetite would be when he said that we are going for dinner once we stepped out of the station. Nevertheless, I complied. We went circles around Chinatown in search for a KBBQ restaurant that his friends had recommended. We got lost, turned on the navigator from Google Maps and got to our destination eventually.
We should be glad that Singapore does not have a large plot of land mass to begin with. If not it would have been a good workout before a scrumptious meal.
We arrived at Wang Dae Bak restaurant.
“Room 3.” Junwei told the waiter as he was being approached.
“Since when did you make a reservation,” I followed closely behind him, feeling kind of puzzled. We never have the habit of making a reservation at a restaurant. Besides, we only decided on having dinner just an hour before we met up.
“My friend said it’ll be crowded,” he convinced me.
I didn’t ponder much and followed him and the waiter in.
We walked past a row of private rooms which caught my eye. It looks like a scene out of an epic Korean War movie.
I was engrossed with the old-school interior that I almost didn’t realise that I was so close to losing the sight of those two ahead. I quickened my steps and we came face-to-face with a sliding door that looks like it is made of hanji material.
Someone slided the door open, revealing some familiar faces in there.
The first two persons I saw were Justinn and Sheri. It was not long before I realised the presence of Elyssa, Stefanie and Ashley.
Before I could process what was happening, a chorus erupted in what was supposed to be a serene dining place.
Anyone could see how shellshocked I was. People were singing birthday song as Junwei and I made our entrances into the room. There was no reason for them to be celebrating any birthday at this point of the year. At least from what I know, neither of our birthdays lie during the late Aug/September period.
Everything felt so preposterous.
Everyone looked at my direction whilst Junwei rushed to the nearest seat, as if sending the message to the rest that his job was finally done.
That was the earliest birthday celebration I’ve ever had in my life. And if you are wondering how early this celebration was, I was only 20 years 10 months and 10 days old on that day.
The video showed how stunned I was – and I remained that way throughout the rest of the night. In fact, I still felt how everything was so surreal at this point of writing. I didn’t see it coming but as I pieced all the abnormalities in Junwei’s behaviour up to the point, it makes sense after all.
I was presented with a cute panda, which I felt it kinds of resembles me because of the dark eye circles, and a present which I shall not unveil just yet.
Once we settled down (okay, not really the case for me because I was still recovering from the shock that they had given me), we turned our attention to the food that was being laid out so nicely on the dining table.
Photos & More Photos
After we finished our food, Elyssa suggested that we take some kind of burst mode photos. She wanted to duplicate those neo-print/polaroids-like photos tourists took when they visit some sort of carnival.
The quality of the photos came out to be nothing less than perfect. It looked as if we’ve just gone for a day out to Seoul.
Stef and I ran out of pose before Justinn prompted from the side to do a ‘throwback’ pose. I was immediately reminded of the photo we took when we were helping our school’s Red Cross unit with their skit performance in 2009.
One conclusion: We all grew up well.
I just realised I had forgotten to take a photo with Stef and Ashley together. It’s okay, there were be more chances for us three to take photo together(although I might feel as bright as a light bulb but well…)
We looked like we are about to release an ‘album of the year’.
I think we can call the album “The Early Birds”.
For the past few years, my groups of friends are kind enough to plan surprises for my birthday. I didn’t know how birthday surprises felt until the whole group of them from Pedoro dropped by my house to give me my first birthday surprise ever. The next day, Nic, Rat and the rest of the JCFC girls pulled off another surprise.
I was 17 back then.
Because it was the first two times that I was surprised on my birthday, I remembered those moments very clearly.
Two years ago, Pedoro almost made my heart stopped while I was ‘attacked’ on the way home after a shoot. That was the third time I felt the surprise element for my birthday.
Those were the three times when my friends successfully surprised me.
This time round, as I head towards my 21st year, I was given another shock of the lifetime. The difference between this and the previous few times was on the timing. You won’t get many chances to celebrate your birthday two months in advance.
“Do you feel touched?” Elyssa asked me after the celebration.
I was lost for words. My mind was blank and I had no idea how I should react. That remained the case for the entire night. Eventually, I start to get hold of what had happened to me.
Yes, I felt touched. And it will take a while before the feeling subside.
Thank you guys for making sure that I get to celebrate my 21st birthday with you guys before I enlist into the military.
Thank you – especially Elyssa, Stef and Sheri – for planning this since July. That’s like 3-4 months ahead of my actual birthday.
Thank you Junwei for coordinating with the girls and making sure I fell for the plan.
Thank you Ashley and Justinn for being there for the celebration.
I know I can’t thank you guys enough with just these few words, but I am deeply moved by the efforts you guys had put in to ensure this was a success. I think judging by my reaction, it showed how well your plans had been executed.
I will take good care of myself in the military so you guys need not worry much alrights! We will meet up again soon!
Cheers to more years of friendship ahead!
PS: I would also want to thank the staffs over at Wang Dae Bak’s China Square Centre outlet for almost getting your crews to come in with the birthday cake and singing the birthday song together with us. Thank you for your patience when we requested for photo taking and helping us with the taking of photos. Absolute class in customer service from Wang Dae Bak.