Chapter 2 – Ais Manu
“Are you not going to get the application form?” I asked.
“Nah, my house is near. I will just come back tomorrow.”, he said.
It was just past 1pm. But the day was already hot and dry. The three of us, Hans, Ais Manu and I walked from the new campus of Nusa Cendana University to Artha Wacana Christian University. We were hungry and confused. Suddenly, the fun of high school life ended. We had to face a harsh reality that we wouldn’t be meeting each other again at school. Our friends who got accepted at state universities in big cities had already left or were preparing to leave town. We already got our certificates, so everyone was on his or her own now.
The University was located quite far from where we used to commute as high school kids. We went there to submit our application forms and would have to sit in the national examination on a later date. We knew our chances were slim to be accepted at the local state university, so we went to one of the private universities to get the application forms.
Ais Manu lived just nearby the Christian University. This was his territory. He led the way taking short cut walking paths to the University. The campus was deserted, students were on a semester break. I saw some goats enjoying their lazy afternoon taking shelter under the shade of a gamal tree.
“How many forms do you need?” the lady talked to us through the window. She was a bit sleepy.
“We need three forms”, I said.
“No just two forms”, Ais replied. I looked at him, confused. He just smiled.
“Fill it up and return it before the deadline’, the lady said to us and handed over the forms.
His real name is Yohanis Manu, but we called him Ais Manu. He was a quiet guy, soft-spoken but had a great sense of humour. We were quite closed the boys in our class then. Even until now we still maintain contacts with almost all the guys. We used to walk home from school together to catch, bemo, the local public transport in Kupang. Because our homes were just about 20 minutes ride, Ais used to come by to my place for a couple of times. He was well more matured than us. I think he was supposed to be our senior. He got sick for a while, and that made him stay back and then had to join our class. When we had a crush on other girls in our school, he was already going out with a university student.
That day was the last day I saw his face and smile. He disappeared after. Twenty eight years have passed, and we still couldn’t find him yet. When we were getting our application forms that day, it was actually the last day he was in Kupang. He was preparing for a trip to Bali. He was going to study tourism course at the university there. Ais was so kind that he didn’t want to hurt our feelings. He hid from us that he was also leaving our home town studying at a different city.
I was sad and disappointed, not because he kept a secret or because he went to study in Bali and left us here in Kupang. No, I was disappointed because then I lost a good friend. A few years after, when I graduated university and had a trip to Bali, I even tried to look for him at the place where I thought his boarding house might have been. Until now, Uben and I, (Uben is my other high school friend who is like a brother to me) still couldn’t locate him. I hope Ais is always safe and sound wherever he is. I wish you well Ais, hope we could get to meet again someday.