To Be Or Not To Be
My English teacher used to tell me: Shakespeare said “Never a lender nor borrower be”. At the young age of Form One, I never really understood what those words meant.
The story goes like this. During my childhood years, I cultivated a rather good rapport or friendship with a fellow classmate. This class mate was to be my so called “my best friend”.
We learnt together, went places together and so forth and so forth.
When we finished Form Five, we even chose the same profession and went to college together.
To me at least, this person was my best friend. My best friend whom I can always rely on to help me in times of difficulty or so I thought.
Being the person that I was – warm, kind hearted and ever willing to help one and all, it was a matter of time before I landed into trouble. Dishing cash aid to those who requested, becoming sureties without any hesitation, very soon things took the upper hand.
Very soon indeed, and even before I reliased, a long list of “Ah Long” (then known as thugs or ruffians) were after my neck.
Call it “stupid” or naive or whatever you like, I could no longer live in peace. Being only 20 or 21 years then, I was really in hot soup.
Beside this, a long list of Advocated and Solicitors had also begun to sue me for money or loan I stood guarantor for.
At the tender age of 21 – inexperienced and just newly married, I tried all means to solve my financial problem.
I tried to borrow from friends, relatives and co-operatives, but alas to no avail. Finally, I had no alternative left but to turn for assistance to my so called “best friend”.
My best friend had now become my colleague. At this juncture, I shall not divulge name, for fear of offending those involved.
Cornering my best friend in the toilet one day, I explained everything – the financial situation I as in, how he being my best friend and all.
He listened patiently. He just listened, not saying anything.
My last retort to him was “Can you please help me out?”
My friend replied, “I think about it and let you know”.
The next few days after my embarrassing encounter with my best friend, has lead him playing “cat and mouse” with me.
He begun avoiding me. Until the moment of dateline for settling whatever I was in debt with, my friend had in fact not given me a concrete answer. I just needed a yes or a no.
Eventually, I cornered him in one situation, “Just tell me yes or no. Can you just answer yes or no”.
What came out from his mouth shocked me.
From whom I had considered as my best friend, one whom I had known from such tender age, baffled me indeed. “I have the money. But I’m sorry. I just cannot help you!”.
I wasn’t angry. I was just disappointed. My saviour, my one means for help had shattered my hope to pieces.
In reality, I began to feel embarrassed. “I shouldn’t have opened my mouth in the first instance”, I said to myself.
Years after this unfortunate incident, I stopped talking to this best friend of mine. It was as if we did not know each other.
One who was what I considered my best friend, had turned into my enemy.
After all these years, we have met on numerous occasions in gatherings and social functions.
Slowly, we have started conversing with one another.
Social etiquette requires we acknowledge each other’s presence. We have to speak to each other.
This unfortunate incident would not have occurred actually. If only I have taken good note of what my English teachers said of Shakespeare’s saying: “Neither a lender nor borrower be”.
This tale albeit is a sad one is meant to remind the younger generation of this wise old sage’s saying and hopefully no one will ever get into a situation such as mine.
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