A little rain inside me, a little pain inside me. A little dose of mellowness to compromise the life, in a precise amount.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't Relate.

How could someone be falling from grace?

One moment, you thought you had it. One moment, you thought you're happy. Then you blinked your eyes, and everything was lost. He was around 9 or 10, and it was the day that he lost his father. He looked back and he saw his siblings: 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Not to mention an old mother who pretty much didn't know what she's going to do. It was all so abruptly taken away: like a thief, stealing your precious in the middle of the night, and after you woke up, there's no more time for regret. No more space for your tears. And all he could think were his siblings. What could he do? What about the future? Was it okay to be scared?

That very night, he had to grow up. He had to give away his dreams. He had to give away his education. He had to give away his childhood. For he was the oldest child, and it didn't need to be said that the responsibility was his. So he started to do anything he could to earn money. The sole thought that it was up to him to feed his family, kept his small feet moving forward, and then return home with all he could earn, then give it to his mother, to share with his siblings....sometimes it was less than enough. But he had to cope with it. Don't imagine. Don't relate.

Nevertheless, years went-by. He grew-up, watching his siblings grew up. Giving the best education he could get to them. And perhaps there were a little pride inside his small heart, that his youngest brother was actually finishing high school. It was 1960s, and at the time, high school was already good. Or at least, sufficient. In some way, he knew that the trading - his own happiness; starting from love life to his own health - for his siblings' success, was all worth it. He didn't regret anything.

Then he sent away all his siblings. He got married the last. And again, after his children were born, he had no much time to think about himself... And before he knew, the bitter past had taken away all the glory. He was not as healthy as he used to be. He was born premature, after all. He had this genetic heart-disease that he later knew..when it was already too late.

He passed away, silently, in his office, in a quiet night. And perhaps, happily..
His children were no much older than he was when his father left him.
There was no chance at all, for a dramatic nor romantic good-bye. Heck, there was no chance of good-bye, at all. Death could be that scary, and you're alone. And the sudden empty-hole inside your heart? You just don't what to fill it with, except your tears. So you cry.

He went so hurriedly that he missed everything from his sons' lives.
He didn't get to see how his kids were not that spoilt -anymore.
He didn't get to see how his kids were trying so helplessly to help their mom, helping in every little way they could know. From delivering cakes to bread, from a small juice to helping laundry from next door. Anything. Anything mattered. Every single penny was worth it.
He didn't get to see how his kids then were beating themselves up, trying to earn the scholarship for it was the only ticket to continue the education. There was no time to be proud, for it was something they had to do, to survive. There was no reward. There was no anything. It's just something his kids had to do.
He even missed the time when his kids started to give private lessons. Earning money.. to survive. Who said that surviving is cheap?

But on a good side, he missed the times his kids were feeling so helpless when their mother was sick.
He missed the times when his kids didn't know what to say when their classmates were talking about the new place to hang-out in town.
He missed the times when his kids had to stay in class during the break-time, just because they didn't have the money to spend outside. 
He missed the times when his kids were actually taking some food from relatives, to survive for one more day.
He missed the times when they dreamt something, but had to let it go because they didn't have money.
He missed the times when their mother cried in silent, night after night, after he was gone.
He missed the times when there was a racial riot, and all his kids could do was to hug their shaking mother so tight.
He missed the times when their mother was humiliated for being poor.
He missed the time when one of his sons were failing an exam.

Yet, like him, his sons were growing up. More mature than they had to be. He missed it. He missed the time when his sons were graduating from high school. Then he missed the times when one of his sons were going to a small town outside their home-town, to pursue better education. Can you live with not more than half a million a month? Don't imagine. Don't relate.

That day his sons were graduating? He couldn't even afford his mother coming to the town, to watch her monument of her devotion was now graduating. Finishing his 4 years of school with a very good GPA. He couldn't even look at his professor's face when he was asking him about his parents... But the bottomline was, he finally graduated.....


So, like I said. Don't imagine. Don't relate. I'm not showing off. I'm not showing you my pride. Talk about humility cake, I have eaten it more than you could imagine. Talk about pride, of which I have never considered that I actually have one.

That little girl you saw selling curd? Learning so hard that you felt pity for her?
I was her. But destiny was nicer to me. I had to admit that. For instance, I didn't have to travel far to earn money..

Do you know Laskar Pelangi? The movie was such a success that people everywhere were talking about the courage to reach their dreams. But what happened to people like Lintang? Who also had dreams, but just didn't have the chance to fulfill it?

Feel pity? Pity in the sense that you're grateful that you're not in their shoes, or pity in the sense that someone should help? Or even in the sense that you feel that you should help, but you just still can't do it?
Inspired? In the sense that the little kids could teach you a responsibility so big that your chest is swollen? Now, Let me tell you what's inspiring: Once, I dated a guy from an NGO. He fought kids in the street, to give them better education. He actually lives in remote area, and years have made him grown older than he actually is. Darker than he actually is. He gives away his family in Jakarta. He gives away his love life. There was actually time when he was so desperate that he saved his own money, by not eating dinner, just to help the poor. You know what he told me? He couldn't bring himself to eat when he knew that there're children out there who're not eating.

One day, he built a very simple housing, to accommodate the kids to study. But then, the land on where he built the housing was going to be used by the government. I couldnt recall what the project was.
He fought. He fought for the kids. He tried to stop the officers. But what did he get? His leg was shot. He was beaten and perhaps God was still kind enough at the time to let him live. He survived. But the scar was not gone. It was there and it is still there. He couldn't forget the face of his kids. He couldn't forget the disappointment...as they watched the housing of their dreams was destroyed.

I hugged him so tight that night. I wished I had the guts to share his journey. His fight. But I was chickened out. Talk about you being inspired. Talk about you had to travel that far just to find a revelation so simple like that. Talk about you being bothered when I brought this topic to you. Talk about you made it about you - inspired, ashamed, or whatever it is. What about the kids? What about them?

Don't imagine. Don't relate.
I don't relate, either.
Because I could never know how it felt to have to travel away so far from home, to earn some extra penny.
Because I could never know what it's like to have to be responsible at 6.
And so many things I could never know. 

One thing I do know, just help. Because at the top of all, they only need that.
They don't need the sympathy.. Just help.

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