84 Stafford Street, Sheffield. Summer of 1997
Way back in 1991, Azura Manaf and I were just girls as we stood in line waiting for our turns to enroll ourselves at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Kuala Terengganu. Even then, she was the tallest girl around and her presence exudes confidence. She wore the classically cut horned rimmed glasses that made her look a tad goody. We shook hands and introduced ourselves to each other. She was a metropolitan girl from Taman Tun Dr. Ismail and I was the “ulu” girl from Kuala Krai. Nonetheless, we got along like house on fire. She the introvert, me the extrovert.
She was assigned to the good girls’ dorm – Kenanga. I, on the other hand, was assigned to the bad girls’ dorm – Cempaka. I can still vividly recall the day when me and few other outlaws were playing “bola selipar” in the raging monsoon rain outside our dorms. Azura just looked on and laughed at our little escapade. Of course, we were caught by the fierce Cikgu Zuriati. She mercilessly slashed a cane across our hands right there and then.
Azura and I were fated to go through all of our educational institutions together. We passed the nightmarish SPM examinations with flying colours. We struggled to get decent A-Level results. And of course, those glorious varsity years in Sheffield. In 1998 we graduated with honors and went our separate ways.
Today, she stood in front of me again. The girl I went to boarding school with has turned into a woman. Polished and absolutely beautiful. She compassionately hugged me and all of her old friends who turned up at The Social to celebrate her long-awaited return. She looked flustered from the excitements happening around her.
She has spent the last ten years in the United Kingdom. Azura is married to her true love, Ryan Robinson. She is now known as Azura Robinson. She is attached to one of the largest insurance house in London – Crowford & Co. She gleefully told us that they had just bought a flat in Kings Langley, five miles away from Watford. If you take the tube, Central London is fifteen minutes away from Watford. If you drive, Watford is located at the intersection of M1 and M25. We listened in awe. The memories of our old days in England came flooding. We reminisced those days, longing to be young and carefree once again. I am happy for Azura. She had endured numerous hurdles before, especially when it comes to men. Lastly, she had solved the conundrum of love and found Ryan to spend the rest of her life with. Azura has always been and will always be, a profound believer in love. I left the dinner early as I have to put Luqman to bed. Deep inside, I know Azura will be fine.