One Chance Encounter


We worked together one summer at a Summer Leadership Camp for Youth Leaders from the local depressed areas some fifty years ago. It was a two-month program. I had a great time. But did not think much about it later. I went on and lived my life.

Last weekend, I saw Janet again. And all the memories of that summer simply came back flooding my mind and stirring up all sorts of emotions. Initially I could not remember here name. I had to ask one of the other sisters. And when I finally approached her and said, “Janet, do you remember me?” She looked up and I could see in her face an instant recognition and joy at seeing me again.

“I don’t remember your name, right now. But I know your face and I know we did some good work together.” she replied. After a brief, reacquaintance we were back to where we were fifty years ago. Memories I thought I have lost came back. Events which I have forgotten came back as if they happened only yesterday. How she slipped a note under our door when Ping and I were still up late into the night, telling us to sleep already as we still had work to do the next day. That Summer Youth Camp where we tried to form future leaders. The camp bonfires. Those Tondo youth. And the songs that keep ear-worming me now: Mr. Dieingly Sad”, “Raindrops keep falling on my head”

And all of that was part of my life. Forever etched. Indelible. Recallable at the whiff of scent, a flash of a familiar face, at the sound of a familiar tune. I thought they were just two months. But I now realize they are still a big part of me. I am a better person because of that one summer where my lifelong friendship with Ping really came to bloom. Janet was just there but very much part of the scene.

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