“23 is not 24 yet but it is clearly not 22 anymore. Being 23 is just another new chapter I am destined to write in my life. It should not be like 22 but it must be better, so I can write a better 24 next year.”

It is the quote I made to pump my spirit on my birthday last year. Since then a lot of things have happened in my life. Those expected and unexpected gave me surprises after surprises. Now, I have added another year into my age officially. It is time to look back what has happened, the good and bad, the nice and nasty. So, I can write a better 24 from now on.

First of all, let’s flash back to one year ago. On that day, I was in a big trouble. Everything did not go my way which caused me had to repeat my exam which was even a worse condition for me. The only good thing happened to me in the second half of 2009 was my college granted my request. Apart from that, I almost never felt happy. Things then started turn around after the change of my status in college however it was not for so long until my grandmother was diagnosed with a stage 4 colon cancer. It was a big blow because it has always been my dream to have her sitting in the audience for my graduation day and my wedding, if possible. I was just so afraid and things might go worse from bad. However, while I was in it, my uncle was diagnosed with a leukaemia, one of my grand-aunt was diagnosed with a breast cancer and my grand-uncle was diagnosed with a prostate cancer. These news put me under pressure over pressure. With my exams within the sight, all I did just to make sure that I prepared quite well for the January exam. Indeed, I felt confident with the exam. I thought I did quite well and a couple of honours were in my mind already. These lead me to celebrate the Chinese New Year in style. I believed that things will be better in 2010 and even better after Chinese New Year.

It is not until just a week after the Chinese New Year, things went worst from worse. While others have not finished their chinese cookies, I found out I failed 2 out of 3 examinations with a very borderline mark. I did a recheck and they did not improve. I was so frustrated and depressed, especially remembering how crazy I studied for the semester. I can tell you, never once in my life, I can still remember the subject 2 months after the exam. I took it so hard because I really did more than my best. I have to admit that I studied one of the failed subject until I felt dead and I attempted a suicide a night before the exam because I thought that was just insane.

Unfortunately, it did not end there. It ruined everything I planned for my year. Not a single resolution will be achieved this year. I must also give up my holiday and replace it with a study plan for the repeat in June. All I can do just hope that these bad news and obstacles would even soon enough. However, it did not really going that direction as I woke up in the last day of my 23 years old with a message in MSN from my sister. She said, “one of our aunty had just been diagnosed with a stage 4 lung cancer! The carcinogens are in our family and I’m afraid of our parents”. I replied, “That was why I asked Dad to screen for his prostate and I wanted Mom to screen for breast and cervix. Ah, you too!”

This cancer news really altered my mood for the last day of my 23. I went to hospital and had a meeting with my supervisor for preparing the presentation next month but my mind was not there. For God sake, I needed an escape. Then I decided to hang around with two of my friends before going home. I thought I needed some fresh air before I went home and faced this problem into a deeper thought about the next step.

Ridiculously, I suddenly got a call from my dad just 6 hours before my birthday. He revealed to me a problem that I can’t reveal it here because it is so personal for us. I was in shocked and I did not know what to respond. The only thing I could do was just to accept the offer from my friends to go dinner together. We then shopped for a little while around the city which I would not mind at all and so I could escape few more hours for not getting anymore unfortunate event. I had enough and enough is enough.

After all, the clock shows 19:05, it was time to go home to make my preparation. I slept for 3 hours, took a shower, and sat on my chair. I introspected myself. I looked deep and down. I did not try to find out what I did wrong but I am looking for what I can do for a better year ahead. I concluded perhaps it is not 2009 or the year of Ox, it may be the age of 23. Today, I am 1 year older than yesterday. It will not mean anything until I achieve something this age. I’m going to fight till the last tick of clock for everything this year. Obviously, the nearest one is to pass my exam next June and so I can enter the clinical year which will bring me closer from being a doctor.

The time on the right upper corner of my desktop was ticking closer to 00:00:00 May 1st 2010. I counted it down then I celebrated my birthday alone in my room with 3 things as usual. My birthday celebration must consists of these 3 categories: pray, party, and pay. Pray is simply about chanting the whole Paritta Book. I did not do much wishes in my pray because I’m not the one who used to wish in a pray. However, I did make 3 wishes this morning. First, I wish to pass my exam and enter the next level of my study. Second, I wish my parents and family a great fortune and health. Last, I wish for some love because I think I’m at the stage of needing one. After I did the pray, I continued with the party. I ate some Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate, I listened to few birthday song and replied to some wishes in facebook. Then I arrived at one point when I realised that this is actually my saddest birthday. The first one that I will celebrate is all alone. If I recalled back to last year, I had 3 housemates who bought a cake for me in the middle of the night. I still remember how one of them knocked my door with a very serious face and said, “Ed, come out for a while. We need to talk.” I was so shocked and even more shocked when found out the other 2 were in the kitchen. That is now a good memories of some good friends I have ever had. If you compared to 2 years ago, it was the year I cooked for my friends and we celebrated in my apartment. While 3 years ago, I celebrated with 2 Indonesian seniors. Before that, I celebrated with my sister for 2 years. I also still remember my birthday celebration 6 years ago when I was still in school. That night I was on the phone with one of my long-time friend, Sandy. I still remember how she counted down for me. Those memories will never fade away. It will last forever and ever. Even for this year which I claimed to be the saddest ever birthday, but I still believe there is something better I could learn. Lastly, to complete the celebration, I will do some charity for the pay.

Therefore, even it is the saddest birthday, I will still feel good with making a smile in the heaven, among human being and most important on my face. I believe that this is going to be a turning point in my year. I will certainly push hardest and fight till the last tick of time for a better year. I may complain so much but I am not a quitter. I am not and will never be one.

After spending 2 dozens of years in the so-called earth, I went back all the way to my whole year. It is not as bad as I thought though. Being 24 is not bad at all. It’s true that I’m now older but that is just a chance for me to be a more mature man, a better son, a better man. I might have never been a nice guy but I hope to be one by the time I reach a quarter of century.

I was born in MAY day for a reason. It’s a MAY day. It MAY be bad. It MAY be good. Good or bad it will only depend on my way to achieve a better 25.

and if I may just alter my quote:

23 was a hard rocky year. I wish to have a better 24 but certainly I will fight for the great 25!

Lastly, let me close this story with a retrospective view. Two dozens of life years were not little time to learn and I’m grateful to achieve it. In fact, I have got nothing to prove yet at the moment. I’m still at the stage of preparation for the great life and I will never give up before I die, no matter how cruel it is. I may hit the lowest but that is just to bounce to the highest. I realise I am not as smart as some people in my world. I realise I am not as charm as some also. I am not good at loads of things and worse on some. But, I still have a heart. This ‘heart’ is the one will lead me to my big dream. A BIG DREAM, VERY BIG. No one I have ever told about it, not even my family, but I will give above my all for this dream. A dream about love, peace and happiness.

It may be my saddest birthday but you’ve got to taste the worst to know the best.

Thanks to my family and my friends for the support in 24 years. Thanks to my Lord for all the teaching, the guide, and the training in the last 12 years.

Thank you for everyone who wishes me a ‘Happy Birthday’.