One fine Sunday, my mom was visited by a long time friend. I knew this friend too. He came with his wife and daughter. I met them around 10 minutes before I went out for my other activities. I greeted them and had a short friendly talk. Nothing special. I left.

Five hours later, I came back and still saw them at the living room, happily talking. I joined them for five minutes before heading to my room to take my afternoon pray. Then I stayed there until my dusk pray. I could still hear their voices, their laughters and excitement. They were so happy sharing old time stories. Made me smile, really.

Around 6.30pm, they asked permission to leave. Mom offered them a lift, just to shorten their time spent for return. It wouldn’t be easy to catch a bus at this time around. They lived far away from us. But as I guessed, they refused it softly, but Mom took no for an answer.

Mom called me and asked me to drive them to a particular bus stop, not near nor far. Just about right, I finished my pray. Off we went.

So, five of us were in the car. There was not much of my involvement in their crunchy chat for the first 20 minutes. I jumped into the chat casually. I responded whenever necessary, knowing how well these three lovely parents shared old times. A bit hard to catch up 30 year-old stories.

One certain minute, I popped out a question to their daughter. Asking where she was studying and what she planned after her study. She was in her second year of university, majoring in law. She was a bit quiet, not that chatty. But she was friendly.

Somehow, we were talking nicely. Five of us finally were in the same chat zone. I tried to develop a topic for everyone to be involved. Her father kept agreeing to some responses I made, as well as her mother. Mom was always my best supporter.

Not long after that, we reached the bus stop for them to continue the journey. They waved good bye. We indeed had an interesting and warm conversation.

Till the day after came. I got back home from work, and Mom sat me. We had a serious talk.

Mom’s friends called and sent a warm hello, thanking me for my ‘chat to their daughter’. It was an eye opening for her and them too.

They were friendly and lively parents, but not for their daughter. That made them remember a girl that just looked like their daughter. Long time ago. The girl who was very quiet, kept in a distance, and not like someone that interesting enough to chat with.

That girl who only loved sitting and listening in any crowd she joined or involved. Either when she was with three other persons or even more. All unflattering characters they could mention were in that girl.

I remembered that girl too. All of the information was right. I even felt sad about her. She was that introvert. Her appearance made her even more unattractive; short, chubby, and had dark skin. She thought she was not that smart. She didn’t belong to any of friend-circle. So, she was always afraid to speak and make mistakes, avoiding consequences she could not carry. She was that shy and frightened, easy to cry. These made her stingy producing words in a conversation. She preferred staying away to engaging with it.

I wish I could help her, if just time could be recalled. If just a supporting environment like I have now existed back then.

I smiled. It took me a while to imagine that young girl. How she suffered of being disliked by herself and her surroundings. She had no help. Her pencils and paper were her friends, where she felt so comforatble to hang out with. Life was not like today where everything was just like centimeters away, a click away. No, not for her at that time. I felt much deeper regret for her.

But I came to a point when this shy girl finally took steps to change that. I shook my head. This time my sadness was gone fast.

People change as much as they want, as hard as they like. They have to push forward to shift and turn the wheels. Being persistence, resilience, agile, and creative are needed. What’s more? Ability to engage to others is also important. Practice the human touch of us inside.

That introvert girl somehow found these ways to turn her wheel. She had hit a wall. Hit hard. She didn’t want to stay unimportant. She made herself in the game, pushing herself to be ahead of others. She kept trying to earn rewards to survive and fought the obstacles coming in the way. She fell, but she got back to her feet in no time. She has owned her game.

Though that shy girl has changed a lot, her sweetness stays. I met her again when she was 27, and have been in touch since then. She looked happy and proud. I am proud.

— Her story, Deedee —