September 21, 2014

I was Going to Solo




I was going to Solo. A town in Central Java. It was a work matter that took venue in Paragon Hotel, Solo. Some unexpected occasion that I had to attend.

I was going to Solo. A town that, even just hearing the name, sends me faded memory of things that happened in my childhood. Back to when I was a child, my grandma and grandpa used to take me to Solo, to visit my grandma from my father's side and my brother who stayed with her since my parents got divorced.

I was going to Solo. A place where I met my long lost brother for the first time only to say goodbye a few days afterwards because that was just the deal. I and my older sister stayed with the family from my mother's side, and my brother stayed with family from my father's side. That was the deal, you know. Nothing you can do about it. Nothing you can do about the fractured relationship between siblings that even up till now is hard to mend because our lack of emotional attachment. My brother is there yet always seems faraway. He always feels like a brother that I had to say goodbye to a few days from today.

I was going to Solo. I was not going solo. I had a colleague with me on that trip. And although we chatted once in a while during the trip, I just could not fight the surge of memories that suddenly came rushing back. The memory of my grandparents tried to reconnect me with the father's side of family that I never knew because my parents got separated when I was still a baby. The memory that re-opened the wound that although no longer bleeding was apparently no less raw than a slice of fish in a sushi.

It was not the separation that sent a jab to my heart - people get separated everyday - but the feeling of being disowned by my own father that hurt me to the cores. There was an unforgettable moment during my wedding when my father hugged me while crying, and said "I am sorry, I've never been there for you". I knew that he meant it from his heart. And I have forgiven him since long time ago. No hard feeling, no more one-sided judgement. Everybody makes mistakes. Although not everyday people make mistakes as big as leaving their children. I just find it hard to create an emotional bond with my father, a feeling that can only be built by day-to-day interaction. Not only by one or two visits and gifts sent occasionally on my birthdays.

I went to Solo, to attend a two days event during which I managed to squeeze one becak (rickshaw) trip into the schedule. Surfing through a quiet traffic in the evening, I let my mind wander freely. Kraton Solo, pasar Klewer, some places that I remembered visiting or at least passing by during my childhood trips there, also the becak that seemed too high to climb at that time so the driver had to lift the rear side a little to tilt the passenger side down when we got on and got off. I had a stop at a place that sold Nasi Liwet and Wedang Ronde and let a street singer accompany me with her gending Jawa (Javanese song) while I ate.

With gending Jawa as the backsound, again my mind drifted. I should've moved on and let the sad memories go away. I had my own family to take care of now. One husband and two demanding children that need all my energy to pour into. But somehow I entertained the thought of 'what if' situations. Would have I had a better life if my mother and father had stayed together? Would have I been a better mother if I had had role model of parents in harmony? Would have my husband respected me more if my father had never left me? Would have my marriage worked better if I hadn't carried some emotional baggage to enter it in the first place?

I know I was being selfish because all the questions are centered around me and my well being. But being selfish is the only thing that stand between me and depression during my teen years. And to be honest, the answer to all that 'what if' questions is 'I don't know'. I never know the outcome of different scenarios that could happen in my life. Maybe I should just let it slide.

My trip was over. I kinda miss that moments. The moments when I surrendered myself and let every cell in my body be awakened by memories that engulfed me till I could make sense of them. The memories generated from things that shaped and formed me into the person I've become. Things with no alternative scenarios that can guarantee a better, happier me. Things that may not have to be buried, but to make me better equipped when I have to face some other turns of event life will present to me in the future. 

June 30, 2014

The Graduation Girl




Bulan ini satu fase yang terpenting dalam hidup anakku terlampaui. Dia lulus Sekolah Dasar! Yay! Anakku officially menanggalkan seragam putih merahnya. Nilai Ujiannya juga cukup mengagumkan (at least menurut ibunya) yaitu nilai Matematika 9.25, IPA 9.25 dan Bahasa Indonesia 8.40.  Padahal dia tidak ikut bimbel. Untuk pelajaran matematika aku yang membimbing, pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia ikut les ke gurunya, dan pelajaran IPA (pelajaran favoritnya) dia belajar sendiri. She worked hard, our little girl.

Acara perpisahan diadakan di Grafika, Cikole, Lembang.  Pada acara perpisahan itu anakku dengan percaya dirinya naik ke atas panggung dan memainkan gitar. Aku terharu. Ingin rasanya berteriak... look everybody, that's my baby up there!!

Acara perpisahan ini juga diteruskan dengan acara anak-anak itu camping satu malam di Cikole. Kami para orang tua harus pulang dan membiarkan mereka untuk belajar mandiri dan mencintai alam. Walaupun tidak sampai ada acara nangis bombay seperti di film India, dengan berat hati akupun pamit pada anakku. Untuk pertama kalinya dalam hidup aku melepaskan dia untuk tidur di alam bebas, setelah sebelumnya tentu saja aku membekali dia dua buah jaket tebal, sejumlah makanan, plus seabrek pesan (sekaligus ancaman) bahwa dia harus tidur memakai sleeping bag, tidak tidur terlalu malam, memakai jaket dan menjaga tubuhnya tetap hangat, menelponku jika ada sesuatu yang darurat....bla.. bla... bla.... (while she was just rolling her eyes.. hi..hi..)

Lulus SD, ternyata perjuangan baru dimulai, sodara-sodara.... Kota Bandung pada tahun ini ternyata menerbitkan peraturan pendaftaran sekolah berdasar rayon. Jadi sekolah-sekolah diprioritaskan untuk menerima siswa yang tinggal dekat dengan sekolah atau satu rayon dengan sekolah tsb dengan menerapkan sistem insentif. Anak yang mendaftar ke sekolah yang dekat dengan rumahnya mendapat tambahan nilai insentif 1.36 pada nilai UNnya untuk masuk SMP. Sementara untuk murid luar kota yang mendaftar kuota yang disediakan hanya 10%

Anakku, unfortunately, termasuk dalam murid yang dikategorikan berasal dari luar kota karena tempat tinggal kami termasuk dalam areal Kabupaten Bandung Barat walaupun dia bersekolah di SD swasta di Kodya Bandung. So, minggu ini aku sedang harap-harap cemas. Anakku tetap kudaftarkan ke sekolah di Kodya bandung, by her request. Walaupun tidak fair, rasanya. Anakku yang sudah belajar keras harus bersaing ketat untuk mendapatkan kursi yang 10%, sementara teman-temannya memiliki peluang yang jauh lebih besar bahkan mendapatkan insentif nilai hanya karena tempat tinggal yang berbeda, padahal dari asal SD yang sama. Arrgh!

Tapi ya sudahlah. Ngga apa-apa ya nak, kita harus belajar ikhlas. Seperti yang sering Ibu bilang, Ibu bangga dengan perjuanganmu untuk mendapatkan sesuatu, bukan hasilnya. Soal hasil biarlah kita serahkan pada Allah SWT, karena hanya Dia yang mengetahui apa yang terbaik untuk kita.

Update : Anakku tidak diterima di SMP Negeri karena tidak masuk kuota 10%, padahal nilai UN nya jauh diatas Passing Grade sekolah tersebut. Sedih? Pastinya. Kecewa dan merasa mendapat perlakuan tidak adil? Sudah tentu.

Alasan pembatasan kuota untuk anak yang berdomisili di "luar kota" ini beragam. Salah satu alasannya adalah untuk mengurangi kemacetan. Padahal kalau dilihat dari jarak, banyak anak-anak "luar kota", termasuk anakku, yang jarak rumahnya justru lebih dekat ke SMP Kodya daripada SMP Kabupaten. Alasan lainnya katanya karena anak-anak "luar kota" orangtuanya tidak membayar pajak ke Kodya tapi ke Kabupaten. Lucu, kalau dalam kasus kami sepertinya hanya Pajak Bumi dan Bangunan saja yang masuk kas Kabupaten. Karena aktivitas kami lebih banyak di Kodya (kantorku letaknya di Kodya, anak-anak bersekolah di Kodya, belanja dan aktivitas lainnya banyak kami lakukan di Kodya), pajak-pajak lainnya termasuk pajak kendaraan masuk kas Kodya dan bukan Kabupaten.

But we've got over it. Aku bersyukur, anakku akhirnya melanjutkan di SMP swasta dalam kompleks sekolah yang sama dengan tempat dia bersekolah SD, yaitu sekolah yang dikelola oleh Universitas Pendidikan ternama di negeri ini. Semoga ini adalah pilihan yang terbaik untuk buah hatiku tercinta.

October 20, 2013

Setelah Kau Pergi



Hampir dua bulan sudah saya menjalani hidup tanpa suami. Gara-garanya si akang teh memutuskan untuk ngambil tawaran kerja di Cilegon, di Kawasan Industri Cigading. Hadeuh... antara senang dan sedih. Senang, karena suami enjoy menjalani pekerjaannya, sedih karena sekarang semua beban rumah tangga menumpuk di pundak diriku seorang. Selain kerja dari jam 7 sampai sekitar jam 5 sore tiap hari, saya juga harus berjibaku dengan urusan cucian, antar jemput anak, bersih-bersih rumah + halaman, nyemprotin semut yang tidak berhenti bersarang di atap rumah, bersihin selokan depan rumah yang mampet, nyuci mobil, sampai nongkrong bersama tukang tambal ban buat nambal ban mobil yang bocor. Watir pisan, lah, pokona mah :) 

Begini ternyata rasanya jadi single parent. Walaupun di KTP status saya tetep bukan single, tapi paling tidak saya bisa merasakan betapa repot dan beratnya kalau jadi single parent beneran. Ah, mudah-mudahan saja saya dan suami hanya maut yang memisahkan. Asik. 

Beberapa kejadian yang mengharukan sama anak-anak juga sempat terjadi selama ditinggalkan suami. Seperti kemarin waktu habis nganter anak studi tour ke Cirebon. Busnya nyampe di sekolah anak-anak jam 1 malam. Dari sekolah harus nyetir sendiri ke rumah melewati jalanan mendaki dan berliku menembus hutan cemara dan hutan bambu (rada lebay, biar ceritanya rame). Mana ban mobil kempes, malam jumat kliwon, lagi. Sepanjang jalan baca doa-doa, sambil ngelirikin si Ade yang tidur di jok belakang dan si Teteh yang duduk di samping. Kuatir tiba2 ada satu penumpang bertambah... hiyy! 

Malam hari ketika waktunya istirahat, selain harus meluangkan waktu untuk nemenin anak-anak belajar (si Teteh sudah kelas 6, mau UN), juga sering harus meluangkan waktu mendengarkan curhatan suami lewat telpon tentang pekerjaannya. Jam kerja yang panjang (tiap hari dia lembur sampai jam 10 malam buat ngejar deadline proyek), teman kerja dan bawahan yang sering menimbulkan masalah, dll. Tapi overall, kelihatannya sih dia betah kerja disana. Dia tinggal di villa yang disediakan perusahaan. Penghuninya sekitar 10 orang ditambah pembantu satu orang. Pembantunya berjenis kelamin setengah-setengah, tapi untung tidak naksir suami saya (katanya).

Ketika saya cerita sama teman-teman kantor tentang keadaan saya yang husbandless, tanggapan mereka sungguh simpatik. Dengan tatapan penuh keprihatinan, mereka menyarankan, "Ya sudahlah, bu. Cari suami outsourcing saja..." Halah, teman macam apa, coba?

Tapi ya sudah, syukuri saja. Kalau saya mengeluh berarti saya adalah hamba yang tidak bersyukur. Nikmat Tuhan yang mana lagi, coba, yang bisa saya dustakan? Punya dua anak yang lucu, sehat dan pinter, punya suami yang walaupun sering nyebelin tapi sayang keluarga (ganteng juga lah, pastinya). Jadi walaupun badan ringsek, tapi saya tetap tersenyum dalam melakukan pekerjaan (tersenyum, soalnya sambil nyapu nonton OVJ di Trans 7, hehe..).

Sudah ah, nerusin kerja lagi. 

June 12, 2013

A Mall-icious Afternoon



My eldest daughter is almost 12 years old. Which means she is a pre-teen. Which means fitting in is the most important issue in her agenda. Which means going out with her friends is kind of mandatory, an inevitable duty, among other holy duties such as debating at every single thing her parents say, warning her parents not to buy clothes with the same colour and model for her and her sister (gosh, that’s a fashion disaster!), and threatening her parents that she’d rather jump into the river than being kissed by them in front of her friends. Oh, well...

That’s why when last Friday she asked my permission to go to one big mall in North Bandung with her BFFs after school, I couldn’t say but “Yes, I’ll collect you this afternoon at the mall. You girls have fun.” Am I an awesome mother or what?

So that afternoon after the office hour I drove to the mall to collect her. Things run smoothly according to the plan, which means I only had to ask less then ten times to the securities to find her, until it was time to leave the parking space.

It was when I got closer to the exit gate when I realized that my parking ticket was lost. Did I let that thing bother me? Hell, no! It was only a piece of paper. How much trouble could that tiny little piece of paper get me into? So with the dignity intact, I talked to the man in charge “Sorry, I lost my parking ticket.”

The guy, with exaggerating worrines in his voice said “Really?! Ma'am, you really need to find the ticket or you will have to pay the fine”. “How much?” I asked with something around twenty or thirty thousand rupiahs in my mind, and hoping that I still have that much of cash in my purse so I don’t have to rush to an ATM. “A hundred thousand rupiahs” he said.

“A.... what?” I shrieked. “One hundred thousand rupiahs for losing a parking ticket?”. “Yes ma’am that’s the policy here. That’s why we really suggest you to look for the ticket. Maybe you just dropped it on the car floor or somewhere” Okay, calm down, I talked to myself, and started rummaging through my bag and the space below my chair. “Now while you’re looking for the ticket, let me see your driver’s license and vehicle registration certificate”. Without a word I just gave them what they asked. I undertood that they probably needed to clarify that I was really the owner of the car, not a thief. Although if I was a thief I would surely choose a better car to steal than this one.

Some minutes passed by and still I didn’t find my ticket. To be honest, I didn’t really look for it either. The guy was approaching, “How is it, Ma’am, have you found the ticket?”

“No!” was my answer with the voice some octaves higher than my usual calm tone. What did they expect me to do? Searching through the entire mall? “I can’t find it but I don’t want to pay one hundred rupiahs either. Look, it’s not that I don’t want to pay the fine, but one hundred thousand is just too expensive. Even if, presumably, I had been parking my car here since early in the morning, the daily rate of the parking here couldn’t be that high, could it?”

“Well, if that's the case, there is another way, Ma’am. You can pay whatever amount suits you, but you still have to sign the objection to pay note.” See? See? That’s always the final solution for this kind of problem in Indonesia. Pay whatever amount suits you. Which means the money won’t go into the Management but to the guy’s pocket. Nice.

I started to open my mouth again to shoot a missile. But hey, I was just too tired to argue. After spending all day long working, beating the traffic from the office to the mall, and walking round and round in the mall with the distance as far as Bandung to Puncak to find my kid, all I needed is some peace. And a nice warm cup of tea besides my comfortable couch.

So, there I handed him thirty thousand rupiahs (and gave “you’re such a shameless creature” look), took back my driver’s license and vehicle registration certificate, slammed my door, and off I left the mall with the speed as fast as the corruptors fled this country. Several light years per second.

“I am sorry to get you into trouble, Mom,” said my girl, half cringing. “No, it’s not your fault, honey, and I wasn’t mad, I was just negotiating” I tried to console her. Now I understand why I’ve never been a big fan of malls.

April 10, 2013

No Pain No Gain




There has been a fairly significant change at home since the beginning of this month. Husband decided to join Welding Inspection training for 3 months, so we had to change the daily schedules that we have done routinely over the last few years at home.

Consequently some adjustments have to be arranged. The kids who used to be picked up from school by H now have to let the school car pick them up and drop them at my parents-in-law’s house. They stay there till around six o'clock in the afternoon when we can take them home. Before H entering the courses I did not have to get up too early because H does not need to leave very early in the morning, now we both have to get up during wee hours to prepare the breakfast, lunch box for the kids, and do the housework, since we both now have to leave home early. We used to share the responsibility of teaching the children the school lesson or helping them with homework, but now that H himself is pretty busy with his tasks and exams from the courses, I have to handle it myself.

Exhausted? Oh, yes I am…..but…. there is also a sense of pride deep inside my heart by doing all this. I promised that I would support anything H decided to do as long as it is best for us and the children. Now it feels like I’ve been fulfilling my promise and we’re even.

So last night I was having a conversation with my children, asking them to understand that this circumstance might bring some inconveniences to us. I said if there is one family member who wants to advance, we all should support and make sacrifices if necessary. All this time daddy has been sacrificing by not working outside but running his own business at home (if it can indeed be called a sacrifice :) ) because he doesn’t want the children to be raised by a domestic helper. Now that they are growing up, daddy decided to try his luck in another field. It’s not only daddy who gives up his time, energy and thought to take the courses but mom also makes sacrifices by getting up early, sleeping late at night, coordinating with the school car driver, etc. And I hope they are willing to make the same sacrifices by spending the afternoon at grandparents' house until we take them home. Spending times at grandparents’ means no messing up the house, no screaming or yelling out loud, as I can imagine their scream will straightly send their grandparents a headache, no matter how reassuringly my parents-in-law said that it won't at all cause them any trouble. I apologized to my kids and hoped they can understand.

And to my surprise the kids with sweet encouraging voice said they did not object to the new arrangement and told me not to worry about it. Awwww .. aren’t they sweet? I am a very proud mother (If you didn't notice already :) )

July 17, 2012

A Trip to Yogyakarta


Titik Nol Yogyakarta


It’s been one month since I was transferred to this new department. Just when I thought I needed some changes in my working life, they gave me this new environment, new colleagues, new tasks, what’s more can I ask? 

My first official trip since I moved here was having a two day training in Yogyakarta, the city of tradition and culture in Central Java. 

I took train from Bandung in the morning. It’d been long time since I took this mode of transportation. It surely sent me down the memory lane when my grandma and grandpa used to take me by train for holiday. It was long time ago when I went to Yogyakarta. I can only remember vaguely about my trip to Candi Borobudur and Parangtritis beach, the famous sights in Yogyakarta. After having 8 hour trip, I arrived in Stasiun Tugu Yogyakarta in the afternoon and directly went by taxi to the hotel in Demangan area where I was going to spend the night. 

The training itself was going well. We had a lot of discussion and knowledge sharing, enough to make my otherwise lazy brain come to use a little bit :) . 

On the second day, the training ended at about 3 pm, while I’d already checked out from the hotel and had a train to catch in the evening. Surely I didn’t want to waste that precious time. So I decided to take a becak (rickshaw) ride, to enjoy the pleasures of life in the slow lane :) The becak driver was a friendly middle aged man who offered to take me around the central of Yogyakarta. Wow, how can I resist? The ride started from Jalan Urip Sumohardjo to Jalan Malioboro, passing through Pasar Beringhardjo, Keraton Yogyakarta, then to Ngasem, the center of Batik. After buying some batiks for myself, my kids, and the special man in my life (it doesn’t hurt to be nice to your husband once in a while, I'm tellin ya :) ), we continued the trip to Pathok, the center of Bakpia, the special food from Yogya. 

The interesting thing about the becak driver is that he seemed to have good customer service skills and attitude. He knew what people expect when they come to Yogyakarta and tried to provide his best service. In between catching breath from pedaling his becak, he explained some tourism spots in Yogyakarta, culinary specialties, and the transportation mode to get to places. He was willing to wait while I was buying things and asked me to take my time. He even helped me packing food and souvenirs into boxes. I don’t know if the becak driver has ever taken a training program about Service Excellence. But if he had ever taken one, I am sure he was the best student in that class :) . 

Jalan Malioboro

Keraton

The becak finally got to the train station at 5 pm. Way too early because the train departured at 9 pm. But since I always have my weapons with me, i.e. laptop with internet connection and some e-books in my kindle, I was ready to face even the longest time to wait. 

Early in the morning I arrived in Bandung, exhausted and sleep deprived. But I have nothing to complain since it’s all worth the experience.

April 24, 2012

Life is a Drama


Photo: guidetoparenting

A few days ago I was out of town for work. In that occasion I met my former colleague, Pak D. He is my senior who once worked together with me in the same department. After exchanging small talks during break, I asked him about his wife and children whom I’ve known rather well. And proudly, with pleasant smile, he said that he has another son now, a 4 years old fine boy. 

I was slightly taken aback by the news, considering that he is now at nearly retirement age, and so is his wife. Seeing the puzzlement on my face (yeah, I always have problem keeping my face straight when something is occupying my mind), he told me that this child was actually adopted by his family. Then he began telling me the story. 

It began 4 years ago, when the daughter of Pak D received a phone call from her friend, a student that went to the same college with her daughter. She told her to come to the boarding house where she lived because there was something important she wanted to share. His daughter went to meet this friend, but only to find a shocking news. The friend apparently had just returned from hospital after giving birth to a baby - outside wedlock - because her relationship with the boyfriend was forbidden by her parents. The reason was cliche, the differences in racial backgrounds. 

Being a college student with no source of income other than from her parents, and being afraid that her parents would be furious knowing that she had given birth outside wedlock, this friend decided to throw the baby away (literally!). In a depressed mental state, she had already put the poor baby inside a plastic bag (gasp!). 

Frantically, the daughter of Pak D called her parents telling them what happened and begging her friend at the same time not to throw the baby away just yet. Being a passionate fellow as he is, Pak D and his wife went to meet their daughter and her friend straight away. After some discussions and consolations, in that very afternoon, Pak D and his wife took the baby home and taking care of him after since. 

I was speechless listening to his true story. A little bit of musical illustration and some more expressive dialogues will make it a perfect piece of television’s drama. But that's life. Each of us takes part on the stage by playing a role. It's up to us whether we choose to be protagonist or antagonist, a winner or a loser.

Pak D has chosen his role. He could’ve brought the baby to the police office, hospital, or orphanage. Or even worse, he could've just hung up the phone and let the baby meet his fate. But he didn’t. In the name of humanity, he is willing to spend his supposedly retirement days taking care of a baby that he hoped someday become a healthy and fine child. 

The poor baby might play an unlucky role as a victim in such early years of his life, but I am sure that he is now in the right hands, being raised by warm helping hands that can prevent him from keeping anger and resentment toward those who had treated him unfair when he was still a baby. 

How about the parents of the girl? Although they were eventually well informed that their daughter had given birth to a baby that clearly has blood ties with them, the parents didn't seem to care too much about it. Yeah, some unsurprisingly arrogant attitudes from people who see races as an impediment in a relationship. They succumbed to their own doubt and fear. Apparently they choose to play their role as antagonists. 

Life is a drama. There are good fellows, bad fellows, innocent victims. The stories are sometimes irritating, most of the times amusing. We expect some happy endings, only to encounter some sad endings. Life is a drama indeed. Only that we don’t have some commercial breaks in between.

April 16, 2012

Gender Equality, My Daughter and I




I was sitting in that silent room, beside a hospital bed where my daughter laid down suffering from typhoid fever. Holding her hand, once in a while I looked at the infusion device to make sure that it worked properly in delivering medicine into the little body of this angel of mine. My mind was drifting away. I was imagining the sound of her laughter, her baby-like voice when babbling about her days at school, her little performance when she showed me her favourite dance. 

The silence was abruptly interrupted by the ring tone from my mobile phone. It was my boss, asking me about some work matters. That’s the evil of technology. Even when I took some days off from the office to take care of my daughter, I just couldn’t run away from online connection. So I had to take my mind off my daughter for a while and immerse myself into the conversation about work. 

Ah, the predicament of being a working mom. There were too many occasions I felt like torn in between the two, when I had to weigh the importance of family and work matters. But in occasions like that, when my daughter was lying on hospital bed, her priority won by far. There was no place I wanted to be than beside her, even if that cost me my job performance. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer of gender equality, I believe that men and women have equal capability and should have equal right in important fields like education and employment. But what I firmly believe is also that men and women are psychologically different. When a woman has a child, for example, chances are she will have a stronger emotional attachment to her child than her husband will. A woman has mothering and nurturing intuition. It’s just psychological thing. It’s natural. 

However, I find that it is so unfair when these differences become the reason for companies to give less reward to female employees, even considering them as sub-employees and being discriminated against. In giving employee benefits, for example, companies commonly have regulation to give less benefits to woman by deducting the family benefits, simply because they are not considered to be the breadwinner in the family. That’s ridiculous. While women are required to contribute equal works for the company, they are not granted equal payment. It doesn’t matter if the woman is the head of the household or not. It’s about giving each and any employee equal right when they have equal obligation. 

Another case is the healthcare for employees. Commonly male employees are automatically granted a healthcare coverage for his family members. Female employees, on the other hand, usually have to provide a formal letter from local authority stating that the husband is unemployed or has no income, or letter from the husband’s workplace stating that the husband doesn’t have healthcare coverage for the children from the company. Some companies even have regulation to treat all female employees as single, even if they are married with children, so there is no chance at all for these female employees to have their children covered by healthcare scheme in the company. Silly. It doesn’t matter if the husband is unemployed or has a job, dirt poor or filthy rich. It’s about giving equal reward to all employees for equal work, regardless the gender. 

Seriously, if some people still consider all families in Indonesia are in “ideal” condition that consist of: one working husband, one stay at home (or less seriously a.k.a just for fun working) wife, and children, I beg them to come back to the stone age where there was a clear division between the job of men (hunting) and women (taking care of children, gathering seeds and berries). Oh, wait... even this theory about a distinctive job division based on gender in stone age has been rebutted. 

As I am writing this piece, my daughter has recovered and returned home. The sparkles in her eyes and adorable smiles have been put back on their places. Be strong, sweetheart. I’ll never be tired telling you that men and women are indeed different, but having their own competency and priority. The tasks might be different but of equivalent value. Both genders contribute equally, therefore deserve fair rewards accordingly. There are still a lot of injustice and discrimination in this world we have to fight against. I am hoping that when you’re grown up, my dear, there will be less discrimination of any kind, be it based on gender, race, religion, economic status, or whatever. 


February 5, 2012

Look Ma, It’s Chocolate….


Photo: Oryandriana


It was just another bright sunny day when we drove along the Bandung’s roads. Ah, the sweetness of living in tropical country. Despite endlessly putting up with sweat and swear – sweat from hot weather and swears toward inept drivers passing by - we always enjoyed our little adventurous trip in this crowded town. 

Our humble car entered a car park as He needed to buy something at the shops nearby. The car park was full and the only space available was near the garbage heap. So we pulled over there. If that was the only choice that we had, so be it. He got out of the car while I decided to wait inside. 

My eyes looked around the place and suddenly caught a glimpse of two fellows, a woman and a little girl about six years old who was presumably her child. The mother carried a big sack hanging over her shoulder down to her back. Looking from some bottle shapes protruding from the surface, the sack must’ve contained some unused plastic bottles or containers to be recycled. Her child was roaming near her, picking up here and there some plastic bottles from the garbage heap. They are pemulung. When people dismiss doing complicated stuff like sorting garbage to recyclable and non-recyclable bins (seriously, how complicated is that?), they are there to lessen the problem. 

My eyes glued on the little girl that at that moment was wandering right in front of the car. She picked up a plastic cup that still contained some liquid, looking like ice cream that was half melted, probably was newly thrown to the garbage heap. And my heart suddenly jumped when she scooped the left over in that cup with plastic spoon in it, and shoved it into her little mouth. 

I opened the car door and made a step toward her, but another thought stopped me. I came back inside the car and instantly searched for available food. Fortunately when taking the kids outside we always equipped ourselves with food inside the car. So I grabbed a big chunk of chocolate stuffed bread and walked outside. 

I moved toward the little girl. “Hi” I smiled at her. She looked back at me. The eyes were innocent and bright. She was beautiful, despite the messy hair and shabby clothes she was wearing. I lowered myself so my eyes were level with hers “Are you hungry?” What a stupid question. She just looked at me shyly while still holding the plastic cup of melted ice cream in her hand. I handed her the bread “Here, this is for you”. She looked hesitantly at the bread, then her eyes searched for her mother who stood at a close proximity from us. After getting an approval nod from her mother, she smiled and happily took the bread from my hand and said thank you. I could see that despite her hunger, her mother had taught her some manner fairly well. 

She walked up to her mother and from the gesture I saw that she was offering her mother the bread. The mother shook her head. She opened the plastic wrap, ripped the bread apart with her hands and I vaguely heard her little voice saying “Look Ma, it’s chocolate…”, and with some mouthful bites she ate the bread. I suddenly felt a lump forming in my throat. 

That little girl and her mother are not beggars. They are pemulung who collect inorganic garbage to be recycled. As despised as they might be, they share contribution to save the environment, as a balance to people who live a "modern" lifestyle that leaves sizeable ecological footprint on earth. They are unsung heroes to the environment. Yet they are filthy, and they are hungry.

December 27, 2011

Girls Day Out

Last weekend, a week before Christmas I went out of town with the girls, the female gang in the office :) . We were sort of celebrating in advance Mother’s Day that falls on 22nd of December. Wait at home, kids, mommy want to have fun – sort of thing. 

We headed to Purwakarta on a tourist bus. It’s probably a bit of waste that there were only about twenty of us and we rented a bus, an air conditioned bus with karaoke. But hey, you can’t blame girls for wanting to have a good time, can you? We shared jokes and juicy gossips (of course, what else do you expect?), and sang some out of tone songs from the karaoke along the way. Never mind the driver who was probably suffering from this chaos.I admired his undivided concentration at driving with all this cacophony around him. But had that bus had an accident, I knew who he would’ve put the blame on.

The first place we visited was a fertilizer factory belonging to a company where our former boss becomes the CEO there. She is a tough and hardworking lady, and a good host apparently. After some small talks like, “Aww.. you look good in that outfit” or this one that never fails to make a girl happy, "Wow, you're getting slimmer. The green tea, is it?", we were served some delicious meal and of course, the ever red, ever tempting Rambutan, which is the specific fruit in this area.

After stuffing our stomach and sent the rest of the food to our bags (oh, shame on you! Next time bring a larger bag!), we had a factory tour to see how fertilizer is made. The employees in the factory turned to be mostly women. The accounting and administration works, the laboratorium works, the quality control, mostly done by female employees. Wow, it’s not a coincidence that we chose to visit this place in the spirit of mother’s day. 

Leaving the factory, we visited Kaum, which is the central of simping production, a specific food from Purwakarta. It is a crunchy, delicious snack made from rice flour with coconut milk and traditional seasoning. I bought a bunch of them as it is our family’s favourite. Mmm.. yummy. 

Photo: Cahaya kaum

And as we women commonly love home decoration, we certainly didn’t miss Plered, the central of ceramic pottery production where you can buy these beautiful works of art at relatively low price:

Photo: Purwakartakab

Photo: Nurzaman

After spending too much time in those ceramic galleries, some of the girls needed to be desperately dragged into the bus as they couldn't stop picking and buying stuff. They finally surrendered after being reminded that they needed a wagon to carry all the potteries they'd bought.

At about 6 pm we headed back to Bandung. We continued the curhat (pouring your heart out) about work and some female thingy along the way back. I told you, going out with the girls is fun, though you have to be a little bit patient as they love talking more than listening :) .

Miss F, who positioned herself as the guide of the trip put all the effort to entertain us with her miraculous voice as she sang the karaoke with no avail. Although she tried to convince us that she was only "improvising" anytime she sang in false tone, we couldn't buy it because this "improvisation" went right from the beginning to the end of every song. The only song she could sing in almost the right rhythm and tone was Alamat Palsu from Ayu Tingting, a dangdut singer that recently becomes famous for no apparent reason. I just wished the driver wouldn't decide to jump out of the window out of desperation.

Having had struggled with the traffic jam, we reached Bandung at about 8 pm. While I was thinking where to hail a taxi, a text message came from husband, ”Where are you? Need a lift?” Ah, that’s my man. I had been forgetting him all the day yet he was there when I needed him the most :)