Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dear Retno

I needed to meet you. Life would have been usually fantastic, but I wouldn't have that zest for life that I needed had I not met you. I needed to meet you.

I am living a very luxurious life as a 25 year old in Sabah. I've got an excellent job as a marketing personnel in a ginormous chain hotel, and there is a long list of promising adventures ahead of me. I've got a grand monthly income, no little kids to attend to, no car loan, just monthly apartment repayment and a small investment I've set aside to, so basically, I am earning and spending money for me and me alone. Comparing to some of my folks at my age working in thriving institutions (some are still searching), some are in between searching for what they're looking for - I am a very lucky lady in times like these.

Thank you for hosting me the night while I was in Jakarta. You told me about your humble place, but I didn't expect we were going to share a single bed together. Some folk wouldn't even consider bringing me around just because they "didn't have a car". And you... you so proudly, humbly introduced me to your room with the world's unconditional love. If you had met the "wrong" person, they would have walked out of the situation, but you see, I needed to meet you..

We talked about our reasons of why we are where we are.

I couldn't help but share about leaving the big city for mum and "her sickness". You slipped-out a story about your friend who left you over her struggle for a thyroid cancer. I asked you like I had no idea what it was, sorry, I meant had no idea how deadly it was to her and YOU. I was surprised one too many times on how innocently absent you seemed like when you told me the depressing story, it felt like, just another story.

I kept mum the entire time, I mean how do you forget having your bestfriend breath her last infront of you? How do you?

"I don't -- :) " "That's okaylah (you picked up lah by the end of the night) - I removed partially both of my breasts too -- it's okay now!" Saying it like giving up was not an option. "Life has these things, must go ahead with life."

I wanted to ask more, but then it sounded like what you had gone through was bad news (and I'm sure it wasn't, it's just something I could have never imagine to put on my shoulder for now maybe). Ever since mum, I was very cautious of things around me, and you, describing removing your breasts like part and parcel of life, was... I needed it. I have not met someone who have wanted to live their life as much as you do. You love life so much, I wanted to be rubbed off of you so much.

I sighed a relief thanks to your jovial spirit, like I was pardoned to be --okay at your best friend's passing and your previous predicament. That it was all no bad news, just part and parcel of life.

So I skipped a chapter, after college, I asked her -- why did you decided to stay in Jakarta? I mean, the city? Don't you miss your mum? What do you like about it? Doesn't it tire you? She smiled at me like I had no idea what I was assuming about. I think I do, but maybe not enough? She described the city to me, eyes sparkled, hair flowing, I needed the money. I needed to be happy. Jobs are here.

We laughed and exchanged jokes about the big cities, about getting stuck in jams, about how awkward people are in a bigger place, and how I enjoy my birds instead of gossips. Hah come to think about it, happiness is relative to you and me.

"I removed my headscarf, because I wanted to not be obligated with any ideology of the society's. Because I'm pretty sure my religion is as good as everyone else's. Society makes us assume one person has to be like this when they look like this. I need to learn to do more things myself, especially when everyone else doesn't want to do what I wanted to do. I can't stop from doing what I plan to do because people didn't agree or want to follow me (traveling). I needed to meet you. And learn from you."

Dear Retno, you've inspired me to live and optimize my life. You inspire me to never include the idea of giving up in my vocab. Not in people, not in my culture, not in my hopes. You inspire me to be kind to people, even at the most unsparing times or situations because you will always have more.

Thank you Retno, I can't wait to see you for our next festival together :)

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

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