Never forget to remember – by Bryan Tan

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On the left is Brian, Standing tall and smiling is Christopher, With raised eyebrow is Zayd and Patricia is with a big smile

I woke up with a jolt last Sunday, and realized that it wasn’t the feeling of dread you get when you miss your stop when dozing off while commuting.
It was a message alert tone.
My friend Robert from IMI University had sent me a message, asking me how I was, whether I remembered Christopher Danniswara, who passed on in August last year, and whether I’d have the time to write a short piece of remembrance for him.
I frowned a little. The rigors of life had worked its way around the edges of my memory. Our whirlwind time at IMI University had wrapped up barely 4 years ago, and there were already blurs in my memory of those halcyon days.
Christopher and I weren’t incredibly close. We were buddies more than friends, running in the same circles over an extended period of time. Seeing each other in mixed company, either of us would cross through the crowds to exchange hellos. We’d buy each other rounds when we ran into each other at the club we used to know as Opera. In large groups we’d often stand on the edge of the crowd sharing jokes, beers and the odd cigarette. German language classes were spent swearing each other in Schweizer Deutsch and then laughing at the absurdity of it all.
They called him “Cebong”, which is Bahasa Indonesia for ‘Tadpole’. To this day why they called him that is a mystery to me. Even so, what remained a true marvel to me was the fact that I can’t think of anyone I know who was better liked. Christopher had a rare gift for getting smiles from people and making them feel comfortable in their own skin. While I know he was going through some rough stuff personally during our university semesters, he never stopped smiling, laughing and offering his sanctuary of friendship.
University finished up and we all went our separate ways. While we all grew apart, I strived to always keep a little memory of everyone I met at IMI with me, and made it a personal point to attempt linking up with former class/school mates whenever I traveled. I met up with Christopher and Ilham when I was in Bali with my girlfriend in August 2015. It was great to see them and have a few drinks again, like the “old days”. We left Bali the next day, with my girlfriend unable to stop telling me how much she liked Christopher as a person (Don’t worry, she said nice things about you too, Ilham).
It hit me like a bag of hammers when I received word almost a full year later from that date, of how Christopher had passed away due to complications with illness.
Christopher had left, just like that. It tore me up that I couldn’t fly over from Singapore to attend his funeral in Indonesia due to work commitments. He was gone, and work had robbed me of a chance to say goodbye.
Upon deeper reflection, I realized that even in leaving, Christopher did teach me something; His simple, direct outlook on life and friendship was always an understated reminder of how people should be.
Amidst the maelstrom of reality that is life, it is easy to forget the ones around you and it is easy to tell yourself, “Nahhh, we can meet them another day.” But we shouldn’t just dismiss that. Call that old friend up you haven’t heard from. Tell the people around you that you care for them. Make sure they know they’re important to you. Offer to help, don’t wait for them to ask. Stay in touch. Get a drink. Go to dinner.
Never forget to remember.
I miss you Cebong. We all do. Though your time with us was short, I’m sure I speak for everyone who had the privilege of meeting you when I said we sleep just a little easier knowing you’re in a better place.

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