not your usual present

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Seated on a large table in Jibby & Co, reunited again with my friends after five months of leaving Sunway, Taliza pushed a brown parcel towards me. I could sense the attention of the table focused on the crudely-wrapped parcel in front of me.

First thought was that Taliza was returning whatever it was she had borrowed from me, but I can’t remember having lent her anything. Then I was urged to open it, and the brown paper came off easily to reveal a London postcard. Underneath the postcard was a very clean notebook. The cover said “Not your usual”. I thought it was a custom-designed blank notebook. It was pretty cool, until I opened it, and rainbows emitted from between the pages.

And HOLY SHIT. It wasn’t a notebook, it was a photobook/ magazine of my photos! Each page was designed and edited and filled with words of my friends telling our stories. I kept opening to a random page, laughing, and asking who did this section, and Taliza impatiently kept reminding me to refer to the contents page for credit.

It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t gotten over it. I can’t imagine anyone putting so much time into making something like this for me, but the magazine I hold in my hands reminds me otherwise. I’m so thankful to the creators behind it (I’m looking at you, Taliza, Michelle, Karu and Harris), the contributors (Amanda, Janice, Atiqah, Zitian, Xin Yi, Gerald, Ropaa, Clarissa and Irfan, thanks for the cool name!), and the people who weren’t invited to contribute because there wasn’t enough space left! I’m so sorry! I wish the magazine was 400 pages thick so that everyone can write good things about me and make me feel even better about myself than I already do! (I’m kidding, I felt like shit before this magazine. I’d reached the pathetic place of “What’s the point even of doing photoshoots” and was so uninspired prior to our reunification, but I can gladly say now that the tides have turned. Thank you so much.)

From the bits of information I gathered from Harris, the whole thing was compiled in two days. That’s crazy incredible. And it wasn’t just the writing and editing; the paper was sourced from a special paper company located on the other side of the town and printed in another. Harris’ timeline was apparently so long that it took Karu hours to edit into three pages. And Taliza’s laptop was so laggy when I tried it, I can’t imagine how she could have had the patience to compile all the pages. Y’all amazing friends.

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I love it.

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