About a week after I met Enling for the first time back in 1991, Weizhen came into my life. I was supposed to meet Enling at the level 4 landing during recess. I was there first, and when I saw her coming towards me, she was dragging (yes, physically dragging by the hand) a very reluctant and rather grumpy-looking girl along with her. When they neared me, this is what happened (not verbatim).
En:*in a very chirpy voice* “Ying’en, this is Weizhen. Weizhen, this is Ying’en. Ok, shake hands. (we shake hands) Yay! Now the three of us can hang out together and we’ll be the best of friends!”
I don’t think either Zhen or I liked being ‘ordered’ to be the ‘best of friends’ with each other or with Enling back then. But, like Zhen said last night, “You’ve got to give Enling credit. She actually did make this friendship work!”
Yes. It’s true. I doubt Weizhen and I could have become such good friends in secondary school if not for the ‘Enling factor’ in our first few years.
Weizhen was a very studious, unassuming and very quiet person in those days. She’s a person who makes sure every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed. From primary school days she used to read the Straits Times daily from cover to cover (until recent years when time made it impossible). Quite flatteringly, she has brought that kind of meticulous dedication to reading my blog. *grin* When she returned from an overseas trip, she actually caught up with reading my blog in chronological order.
Disciplined, rational, deliberate, sharp, extremely organized and efficient… that’s my friend Zhen. Her letters and cards to me in our school days stood out from the others in one way. They were amazingly short, concise, and precise. No excess verbiage. Not from Zhen. And yet, some of her letters and cards are the most poignantly touching I’ve ever received from friends. They are so precise, they make a bee-line to my heart-strings :P
Weizhen also had the most sarcastic rapier wit I knew of in those days. She used to relish unsheathing her pointe every now and then and giving her friends a good tongue-lashing. That was usually in good spirit of course (though that wit was most apparent when she was annoyed), but I must admit that I for one am very grateful that she has mellowed a great deal in this regard. :P
The special thing that Zhen and I share, I think, is our intellectual conversations. Even back in JC days when she was a triple science student and I in humanz, we used to have many topics in common to talk about. She was always interested in philosophy and psychology too. She did a M.A. in Educational Psychology and that was actually what gave me the idea of exploring Philosophy of Education. :)
I’ve always admired Zhen for the conviction she brings to the decisions she makes. At 18 years of age, with a literally flawless ‘O’ & ‘A’ level academic record and multiple scholarship offers at her feet, she was one of very, very few people I knew who refused to compromise in order to win a scholarship. She wanted to study psychology. If nobody would sponsor her for that, she was going to study it at NUS. (Believe me, that was very WOW.)
After returning to Singapore and having been selected for an extremely competitive and elite scheme in the civil service, she chose of her own accord to go into teaching although that potentially meant a slower career progress and a lower pay package. I really respected that. Even though she has moved on from teaching now, having decided it wasn’t for her, she gave it her all.
Weizhen’s the kind of person I always believed could achieve whatever she sets her mind to. And for that reason, I truly hope that this talented friend will continue to expand her horizons so that more and more people can benefit from her impressive gifts!
This is so funny. I just realized the title and tone of this post sounds almost like an essay. And Weizhen was a teacher! Please, Mrs Liu, don’t grade too strictly ok? :P