It was 1997. All 16 of us just arrived in Edinburgh. Being just 17 years old, we were lost and confused. Not Moira though. She stood out from the crowd as she was loud, outgoing, flashy and sexy. And almost immediately, she took charge of the group.
But instead of being a leader, she was a bully. I was under her ‘tyranny’ for 5 years, before I got out of the circle of 16 during my final year in Edinburgh. Funny thing is though, some of us in the group adored her and (to me anyway) refused to see her as a bully.
Here’s my story, and how I reached out to her, 10 years after the ordeal.
Moira was boisterous, and it was evident even at the Subang Airport before we departed for Edinburgh. Yeah, 1997 was that long ago, way before the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was built. I was a fleshy, chubby 17-year-old introvert, and she took me under her wing. I was flattered when she chose me to be her flatmate.
Or at least that was what I thought at first. Little did I know then that she was looking for a prey.
The joy of being on the popular side of the group, Moira’s group, was short-lived, as she revealed her true colours soon after. At least to me anyway.
At first, I didn’t think much when she kept barging into my room whenever she liked, ‘borrowing’ my stuff without returning them, damaging them without saying sorry, copying my notes and taking my food and money. That’s what flatmates do, right?
She’d have people over at our place quite often and left it a mess. Knowing I couldn’t stand such a state, she’d ask me to clean it up – ‘If it bothers you too much, then you clean it up. I’m not really bothered with messiness, it’s normal for me’, she said.
‘Normal’ for her was having dirty dishes in the sink for a time and only washing the ones she needed to use. ‘Normal’ was leaving crumbs and leftovers all over the living room and brushing them aside or under the carpet. ‘Normal’ was leaving the bathrooms mouldy and unkempt as she doesn’t shower for long anyway.
I would buy all the groceries and she’d finish them, giving all sorts of excuses of having no money. I gave in as my dad told me not to make a big fuss over food, for it’s a blessing to be shared with others. I had to foot all the house bills as well, though she often said she’d cover the next month’s.
She never did.
I didn’t tell my parents the whole story, because I didn’t want them to worry. I wish I had though.
Moira would put me down in front of others by saying I needed to lose weight or else boys wouldn’t like me, pinching my fats and flesh and laughing it off. All of our friends would be laughing along too. The worst part was – I felt compelled to follow suit otherwise I’d be seen as a spoilsport.
One day as I got back from work on my 5th year there, I found the landlord waiting in front of the door demanding 3 months’ worth of rent!
Moira was supposed to pay the monthly rent after I paid her my half. Calling me thick, the landlord told me to pay within a day’s time, or else I had to evacuate the house. Moira didn’t pick up my endless calls, and nobody seemed to know where she was, though I suspected they were covering up for her.
That day, I just snapped. There was no way I could come up with almost GBP 600 within a day! I had no choice but to move out. I packed my stuff up, left hers behind and moved temporarily into a friend’s house. I found out afterwards from another friend that she’d been smearing my name with lies, telling people I took her money and squeezing into her clothes and damaging them.
Oh yeah, and she read my diary and told others the contents too.
From then on, I was a changed person, no longer tolerating her and her antics. I saw her in class, but I just couldn’t be bothered about her or the flat (or ‘friendship’) that we once shared. I decided to focus on my part-time job and studies, graduated, and was back in Malaysia after 6 years in Edinburgh.
Life went on after that Edinburgh phase, and I only kept in touch with a few of the people from the initial group.
A few years later, I was told that Moira got married and had a kid. Well, good for her.
Except, she married an abuser and womaniser who kept taking her money and spent it on his girlfriends, so I was told.
My initial thought was – KARMA. She deserved it right? Then as I pondered on, I realised I should be the bigger person, and what happened to her may or may not be the result of how she used to treat me. Who am I to say or judge anyhow?
I decided to call her and asked for a meet up, and she was surprised. She was no longer the loud, boisterous Moira, but I was face-to-face with a plump, haggard woman.
Out of the blue she just hugged me and apologised for her wrongdoings. She said things like she was jealous that I had so much stuff, that I was showered with love by my family, that I was doing well in our studies, and so forth.
And since she didn’t have all those things she decided to just, well, take it. I was fragile and gullible after all.
She even admitted that her misfortunes now were partly because of what she’d done to me, and some others in the past.
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what and how to feel. I was skeptical of her sudden outburst, but decided to leave it be and forgive her.
I’ve moved on, and if that apology meant she could too, then so be it. Life’s too short to hold grudges.
For other interesting articles read I Had a FWB and It Was Good. Here’s What It Was Like, and 3 Ways for Guys to Avoid the Friendzone.