Stickman Readers' Submissions May 22nd, 2010

Pride And Prejudice And Patriotism

I am Indonesian woman, a proud one, patriotic and chauvinist.

I did not realize that at that time, I was a real rotten person too.

He Clinic Bangkok

I hated my people fascinations with white people; I hated how my sisters fell head over heels for any light skinned men who would have them; I hated to see whitening cream advertisement over and over, I hated how our culture slowly but surely
will be replaced by more western ones; I hated how we can be so trusting. Haven’t we learned history?

The history of Indonesia is a pathetic one; a country built on European colonialism and suffered atrocity perpetrated by fellow Asians.

I understand that we as the natives are not an innocent bunch. Rather than working together to make a better nation, we are suspicious of our fellow countrymen who happen to have Chinese or Indian heritage; we steal from right and left so
that our own family can live in luxury. Screw the rest of the starving lot. In the end of the day, when we are asked to make up for our mistakes, most of us will try to run away, doing something so called “saving fucking face”, something
that I would dearly erase from our vocabulary.

CBD bangkok

My great grandmother was born in 1920, like any other girls around that time, she got married very early, had children early and had 2 surviving kids out of 5 infants. She died at the age of 73 in her nap, a quiet death with no one around
her except for her few cats. Her soul may have gone; her body will be left to rot, but her ideology stayed with me.

I was only 11 at that time, but it was not my first time losing someone I hold dear. I already fully understood about death, but my first stage of grieving, a.k.a. ‘denial’ last for about a year.

She was a real fighter. She used to supply foods and medicines for my great grandfather and his friends on their ultimately futile guerrilla struggle; she was a teacher during the day (very rare for native women to have a job at all at that
time) and an underground resistance member during the night. My family aristocratic background may have helped her to get some semblance of education at all, but she learned the rest herself. And when the Dutch has finally gone she had to learned
Japanese pronto in order to protect herself and her two daughters of becoming jugun ianfu.
She fought harder when she finally realized that her husband would never come home. There are prices to pay for every prize, my great grandfather remains
in a shallow grave somewhere is one of the price for our long await freedom.

My grandmother and mother are saints. But they are no fighter. They are your typical quiet, nurturing, lovely, passive, born to be excellent homemaker Asian women. I love them to death but their passiveness is not inspiring.

wonderland clinic

Ten years ago, I was a university student in one of the best university in town. I studied Design and visual communications, fourth semester. My schedule was full of lectures, study, assignments, language courses, computer course, few university
organizations, and very little time for socializing with meagre amount of friends that I have.

My family has worked their way up with enormous struggle to be a member of upper-middle class society. We have a quite big house, we have two cars, and we have enough savings so that even if my father’s business got burned down by
some angry mob, we could start again from scratch.

I was putting up posters about regional cuisine event when I first saw Marten (obviously I did not know his name at that time), coming out of the men’s restroom. He throw a sheepish smile at me. I ignored it and went away. Damn exchange
students! Damn university for trying to look bonafide by having as many exchange student, especially from Europe, as they can get. Just for status. Bullshit.

If you have been reading from the start, you would know for sure that I distrust, bordering on despise, Europeans. I put them into different class though, just like what the Dutch did when they were here.

Dutch chaste system (1-5, 5 is the lowest)
1. Dutch
2. Dutch-Indonesian (mind-bogglers, them who would copulate with enemies)
3. Chinese/Indian
4. Land lords and/or aristocrats
5. Natives

My like-dislike system for Europeans/”them white people”: (number 5 is lower than dog muck)
1. Children (I have nothing but love for children of every race, they are invited to come here and enjoy everything our country
had to offer)
2. Women (In the war, women are always left behind to pick up the pieces, no recognitions whatsoever afterwards, buggers. Come here ladies, enjoy the sun, forget your troubles for a while)
3. Fathers, the responsible ones,
not the dead beat ones (they are welcomed to bring their family here)
4. Single-shifty old men (Smile at me and I will punch your fake teeth out, thankfully many gals think the same)
5. Young men or middle aged men (Picking up girls in
our country just to break their hearts and then pick up the next. They know they have the upper hand, the girls are willing to die for them, shitty situation.)

Marten was the last in the food chain; luckily he studied something else, so that we never met in a lecture room. I saw him a few times in various places in the university; you could never miss his almost 2 meters tall twiggy posture.

It was around one month later that I spoke to him for the first time.

We were in a university cafeteria, the middle aged lady was trying to show him which foods are hot, which ones are mildly hot. We did not have a non spicy food, no one would buy those. At some point the lunch lady gave up and looked at me,
who was standing impatiently behind Marten, I should have known that my fate was sealed.

She asked me for help. How could I refuse? My understanding of English language was very good at that time, even better than now. I would do it to help the lady, not him, besides I had to visit another lecture pretty soon.

So I told him how hot foods were by scaling from 1 until 10. He chose anything around 5-6.

Excruciating labour done, I got my meal, and I sat on a corner somewhere. Somehow Marten had the guts to sit in front of me, and extra nerve to ask if he’s allowed to sit there, right before he took his first bite.

I did not nod or acknowledge him.

He pranced on about foods, spices and something about restroom. I tuned everything out, until he asked me about the regional cuisine event. I have been eating so fast in order to get away from him, but his question caught me by surprise and
I choked.

I coughed like mad, my eyes were watery. When I was done with coughing fit, I saw him handing a half dirty napkin, his face half amused, half worried.

I ignored the napkin, but told him a bit about the event. I could not afford to be picky. Indonesian has this nasty habit of not coming into cultural events. He asked me to accompany him, scaling hotness of foods for him.

I told him I was one of the committee, so I will be there anyway.

He extended his hand and told me his name. With a bit of a side remarks that he already told me during his earlier talk, but I was not paying attention. I shook his hand quickly and murmuring my name, he still managed to catch it though.
He told me he was from Netherlands. I already guessed that, our university worked together with a few universities in the Netherlands.

So here I was, standing a full height 1.5 meters, in front of me a 2 meters goliath-Dutchman. What would Samson do?

Samson went late for lecture and kicking herself in the head, for giving the goliath the green light. Now the goliath would stay and there was nothing much Sam could do about that.

I met him again at the event, and I baby sat him. Did not want our guess star to get accident with spicy foods, did we?
After that, he was always miraculously there. He came to my lecture room before lunch so that we could have lunch
together, even trying to ask for help for his lectures, he practically followed me around like a possessed hornet.

I always ignored him though; I went along but did not speak much. Was this guy wearing a buffalo skin or something? It did not get through his thick hide, that I did not enjoy his company.

The limit of my patience was reaching its breaking point while I was stacking red-white flags and confetti for Independence Day celebration, 17th of August.

This is so important that I typed it in bold letters. There is something very disturbing about watching your enemy holding your flag. I know he wanted to help me, but I snatched the flag away and my dam broke.

I told him what I really think about him and his entire countrymen (was very nasty, I could not type it here), I told him that I and many other Indonesians were not ready to hold their hands, forget everything and sing kumbaya yet, I told
him to stop his stupid smile, for all I know, his great great grandfather could be the one who killed some of my ancestors, that he has no right holding that flag because he did not know what it means. I sprayed him with rapid hurting words, coming
from my mouth, which at that time looked more like an SMG.

Even after all of the things I said, I just got to get the punch line in. “…and don’t you dare to compare that 5 measly years under Nazi with our 350 years of suffering!”

I could not quite remember what happened afterwards. My head was spinning my heart racing. Suffice to say, that I did not saw him for a quite long time afterwards. People who saw my tirades avoided me, thinking I was an extremist or something
like that.

I met him again few days before the end of semester. He was waiting for me right outside my exam room. After some super awkward chit chat about the exams, he asked me to follow him. He said he wanted to explain something.

I made up my mind that I would never say I’m sorry. Not because I wanted to save face, but because I told him what’s inside my heart, if I apologize it would be about pretending to enjoy his company and not being honest right
up from the start.

He did not ask for that though, he showed me instead some pictures. Some are authentic, some are scanned. There were so many pictures of his family. He explained to me that he contacted his family at home to ask for pictures and their history.
None of his ancestors were colonies, they were villagers, but he admitted that he could not guarantee any of that. His family survived the Nazis but some perished during hongerwinter. He took time to explain every picture, every face, every pet
his family has.

He was sorry for taking my silent treatment as just being shy around an attractive enemy. He got a small chuckle out of me for that.

I did not know for how long we were talking. I was compelled to say that I was very terribly sorry in the end of the talking session. His silly smile back and I never felt happier than ever.

The rest of the story went cliché. We started to spend more time in each other company; we went out watching many movies, cruising through many traditional restaurants, a few months later his sister came for a backpacking holiday in
Bali and stayed at my parent’s house for 2 nights. I almost instantly bonded with her. He went back to Holland and I visited him twice before I was finally done with my study and he proposed. After seven years of marriage, I was a real
different person. I may never be a true Asian lady like my mom or grandma, but I was not the hardened hate monger like many years ago.

Marten is an excellent husband, his family are very loving and welcoming, I talked a lot about Indonesia with my father in law, and he seemed to be genuinely interested in our culture.

Looking back at those times, I was probably disappointed to be born late, where there was no enemy left to be physically fought or intelligently outwitted anymore. We still have poverty and corruption to be squished though…nasty buggers.

Stickman's thoughts:

Very nice story indeed!

nana plaza