The Lucky One
"Three, two, one... Cheers!" The light of the polaroid camera flashes at us; then it dims out, slowly, incomprehensively slow as if time itself stopped from its long journey to take a glance of pity at me and Tom.
"Be happy when you are in England, Tom," I try to wear a smile as bright as I can bring myself to.
"Sure, Chris. I am going to miss you so much when I arrive at there," Tom says as he take out the film and starts pacing towards the departure gate, "Don't miss me too much, haha!"
"Wait, I want to take a look at the polaroid film. It will not take long, I suppose," I stopped him from advancing.
"Sure then," he walk back to me, "I just happen to forget how frantic you are for photography."
Tom was my roommate in university. We were like long-lost brothers since the first day of university, as we both had a common interest: photography. "Wow, that is a great shot of a butterfly. Where'd you take it?" "Just somewhere around Tai Po, you should seriously consider going there next time. Actually, there are several places that can take this kind of picture..." The discussion might just go on for an hour, or sometimes even a whole night. That is how frantic we were.
However, Tom changed, the day before yesterday, a few months away from graduation.
"If you want to take a good photo of the living nature, you better act soon. The lives are fading, you know, for winter," I casually suggested.
"Hmm, right," he did not take his eyes off his computer.
I peeked at the screen; it was all about business, surely not for any of his kinds. "Huh, so you want to get your hands on the business world?" I joked, with a tint of mockery.
"Not me; it's my father," his eye still glued to the flashing screen, "I might be going to England."
I had never been interested with his family, thus had never questioned about it. The element of surprise stifled my voice. I was unable to make a sound for a few seconds, or minutes; I lost track of time. "How about your university study? You are going to graduate."
He turned his eyes to me. "I studied in the university only for knowledge," he saw my shocked expression, continuing to explain, "I made a promise with my father, who is in England, that I am going to aid his company when he say so. He commanded me to fly to England the day after tomorrow, and he has already bought plane tickets for me! I don't like this arrangement too. It's almost like my freedom is ripped away, like I am a string doll. But as much as I hate it, I must do it. I value my promises. I may not be able to take any photos now as I have to prepare for the basic knowledge for my work. Sorry Chris."
I squeezed out a smile at him, "Don't worry, Tom. Your father must love you a ton to treat you like that. England is indeed a pretty country. Just relax and enjoy your time there."
"Right, I hope so," the screen regained control of him again.
Then I did not talk with him as much as I had until now.
Only through a little research was I able to find out some information about him, be it true or not. I learnt from his former classmate in secondary school, who studied in the same subject as I do, that his family was rich, really rich. His father ran a business on his own, possibly preparing to pass on to Tom by summoning him to England to start working. Tom struggled with his freedom, but he had his silver spoon in his mouth; I have my freedom, but I will struggle with my daily living.
He is a lucky one, though self-considering a cursed one.
"Here is the polaroid film. You satisfied?" he mocks playfully, pulling me back from the tide of memory.
"Yeah. Oh wait... It captured the moment when you blinked! That's bad!" I exclaim.
"Never mind it, please take it as a parting gift anyway," that is not like him, he used to care so much, "By the way, I would not be able to visit Tai Po anytime soon, haha," he does have a strange sense of humour, not awaring that my eyes become watery when he says it.
"Oh no, time's up. I will surely tell you when I arrive at England safe. Bye Chris!" There he goes.
My tears squeeze their way out as soon as Tom disappears in sight. There are tears of memories, I remember every moment we shared. Also tears of sadness, sadness about his departure. And tears of surprise, surprised by how quickly his departure happened.
However, deep down, I feel there are also tears of something else. I fail to name it, but the emotion leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
He is such a lucky one.
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