An eventful day this is, as we met our new employer in a dialogue session. We were told how we have to adjust our expectations to adapt to the common practises of the private sector, and how if we are not satisfied with the remuneration package, we could just pack and go. Now, that is what I call the private sector; it's an employers' market after all. Then the new director spoke, of how we are all one big family, and that of course, he would want us to stay. If that is not hypocrisy, I don't know what is. In the end, I put my arm around a colleague who has been around for at least 25 years, and exploded: “You know what? My advice to you: if you think sticking around does not benefit you personally, go! Don’t look back!” Employee’s loyalty has neither value nor place in this new economy.
Amid the pouring rain, I trotted to my evening class, but not before picking up my movie DVD of Zhang Yimou’s To Live from the library. Reaching the designated room just before class started, I turned around to see Cynthia. My Cynthia – all smile and waving her hand slightly. I pointed to the empty seat beside her; she nodded and gave it a slight pull from under the table.
“I thought you had taken this paper”. I was genuinely surprised, and hardly expected an answer. Sitting with her was kind of weird; not as in uncomfortable, just weird. It was all in my mind, of course. And we don’t even had much time for small talk before the lecturer, an Indian, arrived. It was an enjoyable lecture, with or without Cynthia. And as it is my nature, I would mumble to myself during classes, so I thought I would scare her – as normally is the case for anyone – then I realised that she too showed the same habit. I wouldn’t know for sure, maybe she was just trying to make me comfortable, to dust away the cobwebs in our relationship. But I did not open up all evening. As the class came to a close, I said only a faint goodbye to her, no “see you next week”, no “you taking the MRT?” I don’t know what actually got into me. Maybe it was her bowed head with eyes scanning handphone messages from her hubby just minutes before the end. Maybe I had felt that barrier of invisible wall she had built around her. Either way, I should have been exalted to meet her regularly. But I am not. And I can only conclude that I no longer feel anything special for her, leaving a tinge of sentimentality.