Monday, April 07, 2008

My Second Home

Having been an Olympiad last year, I was invited to go to the National University of Malaysia (UKM) to train for the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) 2008. The nights there are lonely, boring and oppressing as I was leaving home for the first time, living alone.

Along came a light in my darkness, the UKM Buddhist Fellowship (UKMBF) which holds activities every Tuesdays and Thursdays nights had welcomed me warmly into their fold. Celebrating birthdays over lunch, fetching us back to our hostels, and sharing pens and papers for the Dharma lessons really makes it easy for me to make dozens of new friends.

Naturally, I was elated to be invited to play the role of Prince Siddhartha in a dance during the Panggung Bodhi 2008 (Night of Bodhi), a major event organized by UKMBF. The downside is that I’ll be busy taking my results in Malacca and moving to Petaling Jaya on the week before the big night on Sunday. I only managed to come back to UKM after 5 hours of various public transportations on Thursday, in fear of missing too many rehearsals that they take back their offer, and started helping them on that very night. I learned that I had only got to walk 7 steps and then point to the heaven and earth while stepping on a pop-up lotus on the last step. And I am apparently the only one that had to change in to a half covered sari top with all the other dances wearing full covered costumes.

This did not deter me from making it to Saturday night’s full rehearsal after getting back from my new home. I learned to be more open minded as I realize University girls are not as shy as high school girls.

My first rehearsal went badly as I did a number of obvious mistakes. However, instead of stern scolding or any kind of criticism, they, UKMBF, help guided me in the details and encouraging me to do better in the next rehearsal as I was playing the most important character. You bet this application that I did perfectly on the second rehearsal!

Finally on the big day, I had my hair done and make up applied a few hours before my play. It’s a peculiar sensation to be part of the team and going on stage, but the applause that came after my last step was beyond words.

Panggung Bodhi was a great success and I rejoiced and celebrated with them, proud to be part of them, happy that they are happy, and most of all honoured to be entrusted with my role.

As the end of the semester looms near, a farewell ceremony is in order. And I took this opportunity to express my feelings of gratitude to everyone in UKMBF for bringing joy and happiness to me. They again showed their constant welcome and kindness, I was touched, UKMBF, you are really my second home.

Who am I? I am one of the UKMBF!

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