Sunday, February 3, 2008

Happy Corner

What was one thing you did, which you thought made somebody else happy?

Well, a plethora…or so I thought, but at least that was how I felt.

It was January 31, close to 12 midnight, I came back from a happy hot pot dinner with some Chinese friends. I rustled up a surprise for a friend, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday. I’m not a typical friend who would cook up something for a friend, but last year, I somehow felt compelled to do so. Well, maybe it was one of the episodes in my life where I am enthralled to exhibit the “good traits” I possess but would not normally recognize. I’m really not your nice-type of person, so a birthday surprise for a friend sounded “too nice” of me.

So I called one of the buddies of the X/S (exchange student) to ask for his number. He was one of the first local students in LU, who I’ve met. He’s also one of my close friends in the hostel I was billeted into. Well, we’ve shared a lot of good times and not-so good ones too, but that’s another entry to compose.

I knew he was sharing a flat with another local student in the first floor, but I did not know what his room number was. I called him to ask about it, and good-naturedly inquired whether it was his bedtime already or if he was busy. Already was he asking what I’ve been up to, I had to hang the call as he was realizing the oddity of things. I walked through the exit doors of the hostel and called him back to appease his curious mind. As I walked through the long wing of the 1st floor, I was trying to engage him in a conversation and told him I knew of a secret about him.

In Lingnan University Hostels, the guys don’t openly talk about their birthdates because of “Happy Corner”. Well, it’s one of the few things discussed in the informal orientation with local students and friends. Happy Corner has been practiced for a long time already, perhaps since LU transferred to the New Territories in HK from its old campus in Guangzhou. It’s been a tradition for a person celebrating his birthday to be carried around by the guys who reside in the hostel. So some guys are assigned to knock on everybody else’s door and call everybody to come out of the room and sort-of gang up the celebrant. Even girls participate in this tradition as spectators. There’s a chant that everybody else say or shout repeatedly in a singsong tone to signal that a guy is due to be sentenced. So when the celebrant has been carried around the hostel, they will whack and thwack his body at a junction. Ouch! Probably that would be painful so a guy’s birthday is a taboo in the hostels (poor guys!).

He sounded like I gave him a fright and he was dying to know what I have been up to. Maybe yet, he was scared that I would kick-start the happy corner for him. I was bursting in a tee-hee, knowing that I was sending him into a cold sweat. Already, I was in front of Room 108, I insisted that he open his door. What the heck! I might have scared the hell out of him as he was having second thoughts of opening his door. Just when I convinced him, he opened it and found me standing right in front of his door with a birthday cake at hand. I tried to sing him the birthday song (and boy did I want to sound like Marlyn Monroe singing to President Kennedy). I don’t know if it had made any difference to actually stand in front of him, yet keep him on the phone as I tell him my birthday greetings. I was clueless that there were a number of guys in his room playing some war games and boy did that unnerve me…well because of the happy corner and some loose lips (yikes!) after all we’re just really friends (disclaimer’s affixed!)

A lot of friends, especially him told me that my gesture speaks a lot about my kind of character. Wow! At least I realized I could be nice too. Well, generally that’s one of the few deeds that I thought I would never have done. And Well, its one of the few undertaking that I think I would not have the courage to do again (…unless there are other and better reasons for me to do so). However, if its just about being nice to a friend, maybe other deeds would be better yet. Actually, it doesn’t really hurt to do things like this, once in a while, especially if it would be for friends, but to actually carry the consequences of the actions I make…like the happy corner and well uh, the tittle-tattle…its enough that for once in my life, I’ve tried to be nice to a friend celebrating his birthday.

It may have turned-out well last year, but maybe not this year…

So here’s for a friend who’s now celebrating his 23rd birthday:

One, Two Three
I haven’t seen you lately
You’ve been friendly
And have always been so busy
You can be so irritating, yet funny
You speak of canniness but can also be crazy.
Hello chiseen!
How have you been?
I hope you’re happy
Happy Birthday!