Saudade: the love that remains.

Nuk
4 min readJan 12, 2024

Life is full of surprises, and that day, I got another one.

I opened my laptop, turned on my favorite playlist on Spotify, and worked on my tasks. Jogja was pretty sunny that day, but … that was it. Nothing special, until suddenly a message popped out on my phone. A message from a man I used to admire the most – and I do still admire him, till now.

“Are you going to school today?” he asked.

I was in disbelief until I reread the message to ensure it was real. The confusion came to mind after my friend saw him in the school corridor. He was there, back to the school.

I came to a realization, rolled back the message, and replied to it.

“I am. Are you here?”

Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes. He had yet to reply to my message. I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried – about him leaving the school early. This cancer girl was back with her habit that day – overthinking sure is a pushing thing.

“Are you here? at our school?”

I sent him another message, ensuring he was still at the school. Luckily, he replied directly.

“Yes. At the administration room. Wanna meet up for a while?”

I became quiet.

I was so excited back then when someone mentioned anything about him. I would run from my class to the corridor only to see him walking to the teacher's room, playing with his friends at the basketball court, or even just listening to music with his earphones on after returning from buying something outside the dormitory.

But that was me, months before his graduation ceremony.

The situation was different that day. Not because I wasn't admiring him anymore, but because at that period, I couldn't and shouldn't let my admiration grow further – in case I might fall for him again.

My best friend broke the silence. She knew exactly what I was thinking at that time. "It's okay. Meet him. You know yourself the most. You know it, too, right? Nothing wrong with meeting him right now," she said.

I knew it. She was right. Even though my mind seemed complicated, my heart knew exactly what I wanted. I run to my dormitory to take something stored inside my container. Something that I wasn't expecting to be taken and given to him on that day.

“Sure. What time? Where should we meet?” I asked.

“In 5 minutes, in front of the dining hall. Is that okay? I’ll be there,” he replied.

“Alright. On my way.”

Running to the dining hall from the dormitory, I spotted a familiar man with his backpack on. I almost smiled. He didn't change at all. That could be one of the reasons why I admire him so much.

"It's been a while," he smiled.

"I know. How are you, Kak? How's uni life?"

"All good. How about you? How's the senior year?"

"Pretty good so far. I've been trying to enjoy my senior year as much as possible. Prolly because I still remember someone saying that senior year will be my best year at high school," I said.

We laughed because he was the one who said that.

"Okay, I do not have that much time because I have to return to Jakarta in two hours. So, here it is. I got you something," he said. He took something from his backpack. If I was being honest, I was such a happy camper at that moment. I couldn't hide the smile, of course. Well, life isn't about avoiding smiling.

I also took something from my pocket. A picture of us, during his graduation day, printed in Polaroid and a key ring. We thanked each other and smiled awkwardly.

Words hold a longevity time do not. So, I tried to appreciate his kindness through words, but they jammed up. Funny. Maybe it was because I was too happy to process the situation that day. Core memory, indeed.

Minutes passed, and someone called him. It was his friend, trying to remind him about his flight. Understandable. We need at least one hour to go to the airport from the school.

"Time is up, I guess," I said.

He smiled and nodded. "I need to go back to Jakarta right now. Good luck with your senior year. Thanks for the Polaroid."

"Thank you, Kak. The same goes for you. Good luck with your university life. And also, thank you for the present … and the letter."

He walked away to meet his friend. But before that, a message came to bid goodbye. "You'll be fine," he said.

"Thanks. You, too. Safe flight."

That was six years ago.

As a life update, I managed to secure a spot as a student at the same university as him.

But we still haven’t met since then.

Anyway,

How’s life now? Suddenly you’re older now.

How's life now? Suddenly you're 24 today.

We were 18 and 17,

And now we're 24 and 22, and still, we haven't met.

Well anyway,

In the rare case that I do cross your mind, I hope you know, you always cross mine.

Because after years, it turns out the feeling hasn't changed. It remains the same.

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