Remembering Atong

Do you believe that someone could say goodbye to you before they are gone? I do.

Atong was my Manager's nephew. He was uneducated, so he serve as my Manager's driver. I was a newly grad when I met Atong. It was my first job as a New Accounts clerk. As soon as the bank closes at 3pm, he would be there in the branch waiting till it's time for my Manager to go home. Her home time varies, so he tends to wait for her. And while waiting, he would sit in front of me while I do my balancing and he would spend time to talk to me and my colleagues. He was a very nice guy and very gentle.

I remember one time on my birthday, my friends sent me a bouquet of flowers at work. And I wanted to take the flowers home with me and he offered to drive me since he knows that I commute to work and carrying that would be too much for me. Thanks to my Manager for letting me use her car and her driver for that day.

I am also in charge of answering the phone and he would call every day to talk to my Manager. He would never chit chat with me on the phone since he knows we are always busy.

One day, he called during lunch hour, I told him that our Manager is not in and to call back later. And he said he didn't want to talk to our Manager but he just wanted to say "hi" to me. That was weird for me since he had never done that in the past. We would always talk when he was in the branch, never on the phone. He said: "is it a sin to call my beautiful friend?... Anyway I just wanted to say goodbye to you." And I asked him where are going? He said "nowhere. Just wanted to hear your voice today... Okay, goodbye and take care." The conversation was really short and it puzzled me.

Two days later, he died. I never knew the actual reason, our Manager never told us. It was like he had foreseen what's going to happen and just wanted to say goodbye to me. This happened over 17-18 years ago...