We’re celebrating Friendship Day today! While we shan’t wait for one particular day to celebrate love and friendship, 30th of July is a day where we all reflect upon the bonds that we’ve made; for some friendships are here for a season or a reason, whereas others last for a lifetime!
Some say that best friends are siblings that we get to choose.
True friendship is when someone knows you better than yourself; someone who celebrates you for who you are, triumphant moments or time of despair, they are always there to cheer for you and lift you up. They speak words when it’s needed, and they share the silence with you when words fail to string into sentences.
In conjunction with this special occasion, we’ve been releasing real stories about the best of friends since last week (some of you might even recognize them from social media!). Through their stories, you will be able to learn a thing or two about how they friendships blossomed, and in spite of the dynamic of their friendships, how they weather through the turbulence of life, together.
In today’s special ‘Interracial Friends’ edition, we’re celebrating friendships that knows no cultural, racial, and religious barriers. Instead of shying away from differences, these friends have learnt to embrace them and earning themselves a friendship that lasts forever. After all, a little splash of colour in any relationships wouldn’t hurt.
So get comfy, and grab your best pals because these are reads that you don’t want to ignore!
Penny Wong & Farah Mohd Nor
Friends for over 10 years, Penny and Farah’s friendship is one that flourishes in the midst of boundaries. This strong sisterhood shows us a friendship that surpasses all cultural, racial, and religious differences and one that speaks the same language.
1. Hi Penny & Farah! We’re incredibly happy to have the both of you for our Special Friendship Day edition! To start off, can both of you give a brief introduction about yourselves to our readers?
P: Cheers, Sevenpie! My name is Penny Wong, and I’m a full time copywriter in Bangkok.
F: I grew up in Kelantan and am the youngest of 6 siblings. I attended primary and secondary school in Kelantan, and then did my degree at UPM. Currently, I am working as an ASEAN Talent Manager at one of the big four firms. I’m happily married to my (one and only) then-boyfriend, with three kids and I’ve also recently delivered my twins – hence, am still adjusting as of today!
2. Let’s have a flashback from where both of you first met. How did both of you meet and what was your first impression of each other? Did the both of you “clicked” instantly or it took time before the chemistry grew?
P: We bonded over our love for cats. We were in secondary school at that time. I was playing with a stray kitten when she came up to me and asked if I liked cats too. We’ve been close ever since!
F: Ahh, this story never gets old. We met when we were in secondary school. I came from a primary school where there was no non-bumiputra students. So, when I first started my secondary years at Zainab 1, an all-girl school, I had a slight culture shock to see quite a number of Chinese and Indian students.
Penny & I were in the same classroom, but we didn’t talk to each other. One day, I saw Penny petting a stray cat outside the classroom, and I thought to myself: “Oh, she likes cats too!”. So, I said hi. 😉
3. From the stories we’ve read on social media, both of you are complete opposites from each other: Penny being more adventurous while Farah more conservative. Has any of the cultural differences been an obstacle in your friendship? How did both of you overcome these differences?
P: I wouldn’t describe Farah as conservative – she’s just as crazy as I am!
F: I wouldn’t say I’m conservative, though. As a Muslim, there are certain boundaries and rules I have to follow, like my dress code, my choice of words, what I could eat, what I could not eat and so on. However in Kelantan, it doesn’t really matter who you are, we all speak the same language.
We had a culture where we rarely think of our differences. Instead, we learn to embrace the differences. There were moments when Penny followed me to the ‘surau’ when I had to perform my prayers. She even sat in the Islamic Education class to accompany me! Thinking about obstacles… I really couldn’t recall if we’ve ever fought! We practice healthy conflicts: we debate, we disagree with each other – at the end of the day, friendship still matters the most.
4. Friends definitely do help each other to become a better version of themselves. Can you share with us how has the friendship changed you as a person? What are the traits that you admire about each other?
P: I really admire Farah’s resilience. She has gone through so much in life, but still manages to stay positive and amazing, just like back in school!
F: Penny is forgiving, and oh boy, she’s a good listener. Hence, the reason why she is my go-to person when I need to share anything. Really, anything! Also, having a best friend from a different race really makes me see the beauty of diversity and unity. While some people may be a bit sceptical towards differences (in other words, racist), I, however, honestly think these differences are the ones that make our country unique!
5. From being friends in secondary school to attending each other’s wedding, both of you have been friends for the longest time! How has the friendship grown or changed throughout these years?
P: I wouldn’t say that our friendship has changed a lot. But, it’s definitely harder to meet up nowadays. I’ve moved to Bangkok for work, while Farah is now a mother of 3 and has a full time job in KL.
F: As both of us now have families and other commitments, we are seeing each other less. Thank God there’s WhatsApp, so we could still share our silly jokes and make fun of each other.
Our conversations have also changed, for sure. Back in secondary school, we used to talk about, you know, what teens usually talk about: boys, ‘mean’ girls, music, but now that we’re older, we talk about our families, our career, and colleagues. Oh and, as Penny loves to travel, I enjoy listening to her sharing about her travel experiences!
6. What are some of the values in the friendship that both of you hold onto that has kept the friendship strong?
P: I believe that our friendship has lasted this long, primarily, is because we don’t judge each other’s lifestyle. We don’t push our beliefs on each other. Rather, we accept each other’s shortcomings and learn to celebrate our diversity.
F: I think for the both of us, we sort of three away our ego. There’s literally no “I’m right, you’re wrong” moments. We both know that it’s okay to make mistakes, to argue, to disagree, or to have different opinions because true friendship surpasses these.
7. As Malaysians who live in a multi-racial country, can you share with our readers on your thoughts about friendship?
P: Choosing friends should never be influenced by race or religion. I would say, it’s the values you share with another person that leads to a long-lasting friendship.
F: I’ve heard so many frustrating stories nowadays on people being racist towards one another. I’ve seen hateful comments from people fighting over who’s religion is better, which state is better – these are the things that disconnect, and will soon tear apart our country one day. I believe all these are caused by our ego. So, if we could just put our egos aside, we would definitely see beauty, not just in friendships, but in any relationships!
8. Any message you would like to share with each other this Friendship Day?
P: Farah, we’re literally over 1,000 km away from each other now. But, it’s always fun whenever we catch up on WhatsApp or in Facebook. It’s crazy how we’ve been friends for over 10 years now, and all it took to spark this friendship was that kitten! Lastly, ‘sayey mung sokmo‘ (Kelantanese for: “Love you always”)!
F: Ah Peng ah, thank you for being there for me – always! Since we couldn’t celebrate your birthday, we should have a mega-celebration during mine.