Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moments in a Decade

First year of university. Learned about independence and responsibility. Learned how to drive (haha).

I met Arya and became good friends. Learned about difference in social class, ethnicity, religion after years going to schools with relatively homogenous students.

The year when I realised I loved what I was studying. Became a straight A student from a borderline failing one. Became head of the student body.

Got my first job. Loved it. Became almost workaholic. Officially cut off by parents. Began realising and talking about eventually ending up together with Arya.

Lectured for the first time with shaking hands. Went to Western Europe for the first time and promised myself to live there one day. Graduated. Decided to go to Netherlands for school. Talked about possibilities with Arya.

Got accepted at UvA. Got a scholarship. Got married. Left for Amsterdam. Arya got accepted at UvA. Learned about life planning and cooperation. Learned about selflessness from Arya. Learned about sharing and giving. Learned how to cook. Adjustment with a capital A. Phew.

Built friendships. Arya got accepted at HES. Traveled Western Europe with Arya. Loved it. Saw places, learned about history and culture, ate different food and slept in the funniest places (including buses). Biked in the snow in Amsterdam. Saw the Mezquite. Saw Klimt's paintings. Stood on the shoulders of giants. Realised that I learned more things outside of the classroom.

Finished my thesis happily, defense and graduation. Happily is an understatement. Decided that I am ready to become a mother. A bittersweet goodbye. To loved ones and Amstedam. To Koningstraat and Waterlooplein and Albertheijn and Oriental and Turfdragsterpad and Klovenisburgwal and De Dam and my Pathe abonnement and all the familiarity. Returned to Jakarta.

Returned to full time managerial work only to realise that I wanted to teach, research and consult. Pregnancy and birth. Malik. Learned about conflicting identities and shifting priorities. Decided that a PhD was a good choice during early motherhood. Wrote my first syllabus. Got accepted at Murdoch. Got another scholarship. Another phew.

Left for Perth. Adjustment. Malik's first plane ride. First year of traveling back and forth between Jakarta-Perth. More conflicting identities and shifting priorities. Malik and I learned to be more independent. Arya was literally our guiding light. Shines on what to focus on. Got a fixed position at the university. Arya began working at Batam, traveling back and forth. Grateful is an understatement.

And now we come full circle.

Momentum is made for us to take a step back, breathe and see the bigger picture. Moments are what defines us.

I love you Arya and Malik. With faith.

Very Well Put

A question I asked one of the oldest friend I have (around fifteen years I think, after a decade we stopped counting).

I: Nggie, in your opinion, what do you think makes my relationship with Arya work?
A: (terdiam sejenak) Friendship.

She knows me well.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wishful Thinking

I have a soft spot for the elderly.

What makes me stop to wonder is the fact that their physical conditions do not do justice their life experience. When they lose their memories, lose control over regulating their emotions, needing guiding when walking - it all just seems unfair in comparison to the many things they had to go through in life. The decades, the children they'd raised, they people they'd inspired, the selflessness they learned throughout being tried, the wisdom they had acquired through failure and successes.

They should be the ones running around at family gatherings, not us.

But when I think harder, I can see the larger plan. That nothing physical in this world is worthy of holding the depth of their soul. The vessels that once used to be theirs has literally degraded in order to prepare them for a higher, otherworldly, immaterial, sacred journey. A journey that we cannot fathom, not with our limited brain cells with its lame attempt to rationalise everything without ever fully comprehending.

I know those who believe that this is it - that the world comprises only of the natural, the biological, the physical, that after life, everything ends and the future batch will take over - will snort at my wistfulness. And that is alright, I am not seeking for your approval. I am not trying to prove anything.

I never have and I never will.

I just need to believe.
For them.
For all our parents --

-- believe with the whole of my being, that the people who had loved so dearly, that had striven in life to reach a level of selflessness and wisdom, will not simply... vanish. That they too, will get what they truly deserve. An otherworldly, divine even, measurement of justice. Nothing as pragmatic as what we see on earth.

And then their wrinkles and hunched backs and stutters and tremors would seem like an honour.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Mother's Day (Meant With a Hint of Sarcasm)

Ibu Berkarier, Anak Rentan Sakit
Wartakota 22.12.2009
Anak-anak yang ibunya bekerja juga biasanya bakal tumbuh kalah aktif dan bakal lebih dekat pula dengan menu makanan dan kebiasaan yang tidak sehat ketimbang anak–anak lainnya yang diasuh sehari penuh oleh ibunya, sebaiknya untuk anak usia 6 bulan kebawah sebaiknya jangan ditinggal ibunya bekerja dulu.

Regulation please!

Calculate the expenditure in the health sector spent on a disease-prone future generations, having been left by mothers for work to pay for maternity leave.

Calculate how much money can be saved by having the future generation exclusively breastfed in terms of preventing malnutrition, for instance. Invest money in creating a conducive environment for that cause. Public facilities, education, public awareness.

In terms of basic social services, I highly doubt the market can give a solution. Policy makers must do something. Activist must continue advocating. Mothers need to educate themselves in how to deal with the situation while waiting for those responsible progress VERY SLOWLY. Fathers need to acknowledge the double-standards society (and ourselves) imposes on women - forcing them to work in the economic climate and submit to the unquestioned gender empowerment idea while condemning them for not being able to retain their maternity.

Come on.

It's a cooperation. Stop blaming mothers.