Friendship is Priceless

IT’S hard to think of anything else as precious as friends. Money can buy friends, some may say, but chances are, such friends may not be true.

Friends, you could say, are the opposite of loneliness. Without friends, your world would be quiet, devoid of fun. I can’t imagine my life without friends, particularly my best friend, Adielle, pronounced just like the famous singer, Adele.

Adielle and I have known each other since we were babies, so our parents tell us. I recall those long ago days when we used to play catching on the church grounds. We must have been four or five. The kind of joy you find playing with a friend is priceless, as is the kind of connection you get from sharing a special moment.

On a mission trip to Nias in Indonesia to help the poor, we seemed to have had a strange falling spell. We fell into a drain, we slipped on the wet floor, we tripped over the threshold of one of the houses we visited. Falling is no fun, but the fact that I didn’t fall alone, made it feel less horrible, less painful.

Mischief can somehow feel more thrilling too in the company of a friend. Not that I’ve committed a heinous crime, but once, I played truant at a church camp. Because we were playing with light sticks, cutting them up to let all the glowing liquid flow on our bed, we turned in only at two in the morning, Naturally, we couldn’t wake up early. The plan was to skip devotion at 8.30AM and sleep in. We rose only at ten, but managed to slip into the breakfast room to steal some croissants, ham and cheese, and orange juice before slipping back to our rooms to enjoy our breakfast haul. 

Alone, I wouldn’t have done such a crazy thing. I wouldn’t have had the courage. That’s the other beauty of friendship. The power of two beats the power of one. In this silly venture of ours, we felt brave together. Imagine if we were together for something nobler, something more meaningful. We could forge something really special. That something hasn’t come to us yet, but if and when it does, I’d really be looking forward to it. That collaboration would be priceless.

(383 words)

Glenda Chong, Secondary Four
August 2017

This essay was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels 2014 exam, Question #4:
“The best things in life are free.” Write about some of the occasions when you have found this to be true.

For more ‘O’ Level essays, visit:
. Student Essays
. 2014 ‘O’ Levels Essays by Viv

My Mother, My Inspiration

Image: Mucho

PERFECTIONISM is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is something I aspire to. My mother has it, I don’t. Perfectionism is what makes my home spick and span. The moment we enter the house, we need to put our footwear right into the shoe rack, while our socks will go straight into the laundry bin out at the backyard. This creates a sort of auto-pilot discipline in our family, which I’m particularly proud of. My kid sister finds it tedious, but she has to play by the rules, which is always a good thing.

The same kind of discipline applies to many other places in our home. At the dining table, every chair has to be pushed up against the dining table as soon as we vacate our seats. Where we are seated for our meals, we have five photo frames gazing at us from an adjacent buffet table—each of them carefully arranged in a slight diagonal, three on the left, and two on the right, facing inward. Then, there’s the fridge. Every item has a dedicated spot. No apple will ever find itself in the company of an orange. Apples will always hang out with apples, likewise for oranges, or any other fruit. 

My mother may sound like an anal freak, but that quality of neatness, precision, and attention to details are admirable. They are everything I wish I had. What I also long to have is my mother’s skill at cooking. She can do steak very well. Well done for herself, medium rare for my father and my sister, and medium for me. Almost always, she’s spot on with the doneness.

For all her gifts and qualities, there is one other that I hold dear. It’s her devotion to the family, her “family first” spirit. When I get a pimple breakout, she’d come home with an entire range of skincare: tea tree oil for antibacterial properties, soap-free facial wash with the right kind of pH value—stuff she took time to research and certainly cost her quite some money.

Then there was that one week six years ago when a mysterious fever gripped me. It was my mother who nursed me back to health. She gave me a cold towel change on the forehead almost every hour. The week zipped by in a blur, save for my mother, whose face was always there before me, and her gentle ways.

Can I ever be like my mother when I become a mother myself? I’m not sure. I’m nowhere as neat as her, as meticulous, as thoughtful, or even gentle. All I can do right now is try.

(443 words)

Germaine Chong, Secondary Four
July 2017

For more essays by Germaine, visit Germaine Writes.

This essay was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels 2014 exam, Question #3:
Which person has the greatest influence on your life at the present time, and why?

You may also like:
The Man Who Was Born Round
. The Man I Want To Be

For more ‘O’ Level essays, visit:
. Student Essays
. 2014 ‘O’ Levels Essays by Viv


The Man I Want To Be


THERE are many qualities I admire in my father. Discipline, intelligence, perseverance, and a good sense of humor. He is also a man who never goes down the path of self-pity. If he meets with failure, he just moves on. No need to whine and wallow, life’s like that. Continue reading

The Best Things In Life Are Free


ALMOST everything in this world costs something. A run or a stroll in the park is free, but factor in the parking, or the bus fare to get there, then it’s not. Otherwise, the trees, the greenery, the fresh air is free. But think again, the trees are there, thanks to taxpayers. And the fresh air, oh, that’s thanks to Indonesia when they aren’t busy burning palm oil trees.

So what exactly are the beautiful things in life that are free, absolutely free? Continue reading

An Abundance That Echoes Throughout the Year

Yusheng: The ultimate platter of abundance (Photo: Crowne Plaza)

OF all the family occasions we have each year—and there are many—the one that stands out most is our Chinese New Year’s Eve chuxi reunion dinner. Think chuxi, and I always picture us eating the night away. After all, that seems to be what chuxi means: chu (“to get rid of”) and xi (“evening”). And eat away we do, as the old year grows shorter and the new one inches ever closer. Continue reading