~ As God has proved to me, true friendship is indeed everything. ~
2017 had been a rough year and I had wasted many a day journaling about my declining friendship with a twenty-three-year-old boy from Pakistan. I was hurt, deeply: I couldn’t come to terms with how everything fell apart. How someone who vowed to stay spared no thought to leave. By the time it all ended, I was left with nothing good to take away from a year’s worth of friendship. Just a tiny collection of poems and half a journal filled with words I never had the chance to say to him.
With his departure, it became difficult to do almost anything. Even to write. I was damaged and my writing reflected my pain. Towards the end of the year, I grew sick of my poetry because it didn’t feel like a form of expression anymore; it felt more like a reminder of the dark times I had with him, how I was trapped under his charismatic influence, how I fitted so snugly in the palm of his hand as if he was predator and I was prey…
I had dreams to use my art to help people. But my art had turned dark; it had nothing positive to contribute to anyone and overtime, I lost passion in writing.
By early 2018, I had given up on writing almost entirely.
But perhaps, there’s a bright side to everything. With him gone (for good), I was able to open myself up to new people – and meeting people was easy for me. In UCSI University, I’m a man of many things: I’m very involved in all the happenings on campus, often assuming the role of organizer or host in events and ceremonies. Though my confidence had suffered a tremendous blow from trusting the wrong person, I was determined to restore my faith in friendship, thinking it was the key to help me write again.
Tutoring as part of UCSI University’s Peer Assisted Learning program, I was exposed to a lot of students who were willing to try their best in their studies. And two students stood out from the mathematics class I was tutoring: Mohsen Khaled (Yemen, 20) and Karam Yahya (Jordan, 20). At first, I was so lost in my responsibilities as someone who was undergoing my SEP (Scholarship Enrichment Program) 100 journey, part-timing in the library and representing the international student body under the Student Council. Even though I was searching for a meaningful friendship, I had very little time to pay attention to those around me, only occasionally exchanging “Hellos” and “Goodbyes” in the corridors or joining them for a quick lunch between classes in the afternoons.
But things were different with the two gentlemen I had met.
Before I fell in love with who they were, I admired their willingness to study, to improve; always punctual to my classes and never hesitating to raise questions to clarify their understanding. Some time into the semester, I had fallen in love with their quirks: the slow and careful way that Mohsen pressed his calculator, like a kid who was afraid that jabbing too hard on the functions on his brand new iPhone would damage it – or the constant “How are you, Ko Ko?” that Karam asked in his gruff, masculine voice when he was lost on how to continue our conversations. It was with them, my two best friends, that I learnt to trust again in the shortest time possible. And through them I got the opportunity to open up my heart to beautiful souls who would later become my friends for life.
Abdullah Mahjoob (Iraq, 20) was probably the tallest man in our Foundation in Science class of 2017. With his rage, hard-man attitude and the way he presented himself, you could easily mistake him as an Italian-American Mafia. But honestly, the man has layers to his personality and deep in his core is the heart to love, protect and show up for the ones he cared about. Then, as if out of a fable, came two Egyptian brothers: Mohammed Usama, 20 and Amro Usama, 18; the former being the kindest of souls, giver and lover – and the latter being the most patient, optimistic and talented amongst individuals.
But I was still unable to write. That was until I met Noman Nabeel (Yemen, 19) and Aseel Esam (Yemen, 19) on 6th of September 2017, Orientation Day. The Student Council organized the Orientation Day for UCSI University’s September 2017 intake and as with any high-profile event, I was there, in the Multi-Purpose Hall, front and centre and busy. Towards the end of the first day, amongst a crowd of over six-hundred freshers, I had specifically approached the two gentlemen asking, “Do you need help with anything?”
6th of September 2017, which was coincidentally Noman Nabeel’s birthday, marked the beginning of an unlikely friendship – one that would take the longest time to develop; one riddled with fun, misunderstandings and emotions; one requiring utmost patience and understanding from both parties. And judging from how things worked out, all our effort had been worth it because Noman, the truest friend, listener and lover, became my friend for life – someone I could never trade for the world, someone who’s happiness was essential to mine.
And through our adventures, of course with Asad Saeed (Yemen, 21), another man who stood 6’2” and one of the most supportive and understanding individuals in my life, Noman and I became closer until I felt productive enough to create again, this time not a poem, but a song which will go down in our history. On the morning of 16th November 2018, before he boarded his first flight back to Yemen, a message popped up on his phone and it read, “Wonderkid”. This song, “Wonderkid”, was a classic describing the most striking quality he possessed: the ability to listen without judgement. And from that day forward, I had continued to chronicle the course of our friendship – finally producing a record of 7 songs in September 2019, which I gave Noman as a gift on his twenty-first birthday.
With life constantly in flux, and one chapter leading to another, I have been blessed with the most positive of changes in my life. There are no words to perfectly describe how grateful I am to God for helping me meet my best friends. It was through Allah that I was finally able to heal from the emotional and mental anguish inflicted by a man with many faces and false personalities. It was through Allah that I was able to pick up the pieces and sustain myself from wondering down a dark path of self-harm. It was through Allah that I stumbled upon a crew of the best people with the purest and biggest hearts who took me in and loved me as if I were family to them.
It was with my best friends that I’ve always found myself. And it was with them that I was able to venture into the new year with a great start. It was with them that I was finally able to let go of my dark past and like winter turning to spring, I was finally ready for life to begin again.