This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Letters to my younger self’.
Dear 28-year-old me,
Later tonight, on the bus to Mersing en route to Tioman Island, you’ll meet a fellow named Chan. Now, now, don’t get too excited, Chan will be your dive buddy since it’ll just be the two of you who’ll be doing the open water diving course. That is all. Do not get your hopes up. I know at this age you’ll tend to, but really, do not get even a teensy bit excited about Chan. Do. Not.
On the seemingly eternal bus ride (which will only be about five hours), he’ll tell you that he’s just returned from the US, works as a social economist in KL and that learning to dive is on his bucket list eventhough he’s a little afraid of the water. He’ll give a nervous laugh as he says this and you’ll try to control the widening of your eyes even as you’ll think that this will not bode well for the next couple of days.
Your intention to give him the benefit of the doubt will begin to waver when the instructor brings the both of you for your first dive. You’ll both have to check your tanks, strap them on to your backs and walk along the beach into the water. At the water’s edge, Chan stumbles and falls, sand all all over his wet suit and a fair bit on his face. You’ll sigh, thinking how is he going to help you in the sea when he has problems walking on land. Don’t sigh too loudly.
Also, do not tease him about ants. At dinner, he’ll confess that he hates ants and you’ll think he’s joking and say “Eh, there’s a red ant near your foot!” He’ll jump up, his chair will fall back and he will proceed to swat his legs. The other diners will look. You will be in shock as you realise he wasn’t joking. He will pout the entire night and the next day, and you’ll have to live with it. So, if you want a more enjoyable trip, do not tease him about ants. At. All.
At the jetty, finally leaving the island, after the ants fiasco, he’ll be a little more comfortable with you and reveal that disaster follows him everywhere. He lived in Oklahoma and when he left, the city was bombed. He worked in New York and a few days after he moved back to KL, 9/11 happened. After several days of Chan, you will know not to overreact. “Okay.” You’ll reply.
A week after the diving trip, your dive master will message you. The dive center caught fire and the entire building is burnt to the ground. The next call you’ll get will be from Chan. Eeeeeek you’ll scream internally and end the incoming call.
Why am I telling you about Chan? So that you won’t give him your number when he tells you that you’re an interesting person and would like to keep in touch.