A Good Wife

The head boiled up to the highest temperature.

The face gradually became as red as blood.

The nose kept the breath from turning into fire.

But you turned yourself into the sweetest smile.


The skin became as pale as snow.

The hands shake like an earthquake.

The eyes acted strong; ordered the tears to go away.

Still, you turned yourself into the sweetest smile.


The head became empty.

The heart turned into a cold stone.

The feet couldn’t hold the weight any longer.

Nothing you did but turned yourself into the sweetest smile.


All of them stood against you.

They screamed and screamed at you.

But since you were born,

you knew only one thing that was right.

To keep smiling.


Perfectly Beautiful

Don’t blink, do not ever blink.

I’m tired covering the lines around you.

Open as wide as you could.

I drew you perfectly symmetrical.

You are the queen.


Don’t smile, do not ever smile.

Don’t you know how many lines I should erase?

Just focus on your perfect glossy red cherry color.

I have painted you for hours.

Let the others feel jealous.


Don’t let them touch you, do not let them touch you.

Many lines I drew, many hours I spent.

You look sharp, and it’s not easy.

The filthy hands would uncover you.

Keep them away.


Don’t move, do not move.

You are the most beautiful woman if you don’t move.

Don’t live, do not live.

You are perfect, just as it is, if you don’t live.



Her name was Daisy. Her mother named her after a small white round flower with a round yellow center. Like the wild flower, she was known as a cheerful, easygoing woman. Thirty years old woman worked in a small but promising flower shop owned by his boyfriend for 8 years. Her life was simple. She lived for her love, and that’s all she needed. People often envied her for she seemed had already achieved all of her dream. A handsome talented man. A stable financial. Perfect. But contrary to the belief, life of a wild flower didn’t go as simple as that. She had everything that troubled her mind. She was just smart enough to hide her feeling behind a sweet simple smile.

Rosa. Her name was only Rosa, without any family name. I guessed her name described everything about her. She did nothing but stood still beautifully, and men would come with pleasure. Like a red rose, her red lipstick lured every men she met, and him. She seduced him with her elegant scent and then stabbed him in his heart with her thorns. She owned him and his wallet. A bill from a expensive fine dining restaurant. How could she? Four years; don’t ever think about having a romantic dinner in such a fancy place, he and I still paid our own bill while eating together. The worst part was he asked me to charge their bill to the office account. He said it was a treat for a potential client. She had a lot of potential connection that would be introduced to us. Bullshit. She made him a liar. You didn’t call your potential client, Honey. You never called me Honey.

A red lipstick. For the first time, I wore it for you, to pull out her thorns from your heart.

Command + S

Click “New Folder”


Click “Create”


Click “Save”

Daisy wiped out her red lipstick roughly with her hands.

“It doesn’t suit you well.” He said.

How could he say that? She thought he would like it. At least he liked that woman’s red lipstick. Why didn’t he like mine? She hated her from the bottom of her heart, but she could not hate David. Boy would be boy. She hoped that this was just a phase where David wanted a little refreshment in his life, a little elegance. She tried to put her smile back, because what did a man wanted from his woman but a sweet understanding smile?

Matahari. Her full name was Matahari Effendi. Like her name, Matahari aka sunflower, she shined very brightly. She always looked for a spotlight. She was a quite famous social media influencer. She had that kind of artsy attitude that made her stand out as a cool role model. Contemporary woman who wasn’t afraid to break the stereotype and live freely by her own rules. We worked together for several months for a decoration of an event. But I knew their relationship didn’t end when the event ended. I knew her blindingly bright light blinded him. I read all of his texts. I might be inexperience in a relationship, since he was only my second boyfriend. But I knew which one was text between friends, and which one had deeper meaning than that. Five years, he never flirted with me as he did with her. Those disgusting teasing texts. Thank God, I didn’t throw his phone away. I couldn’t blame him because she’s the one who made him acted like a man-whore. She was a fake feminist. A true feminist won’t hurt other woman’s heart. I would set him free from her fake spell. I’ll show him that I could be as bright as she was.

Command + S


Click “Save”

Daisy cried silently in the restroom. She saw them holding hands while entering a cinema studio that played her favorite romantic movie. She had already asked him to watch that movie together but he refused it. He was really blinded by her light. She didn’t mean to follow him, or maybe she did mean it. The jealousy was eating her alive. Maybe he cheated because she didn’t pay attention to him enough. Maybe he was mad at her. Yesterday he told her she didn’t act properly in front of their client. Maybe he hated her because she didn’t deserved to be his partner. Not like Matahari who had a lot of connection, it’s true that she could not give him anything but her loyalty and her hard work for their office. She tried so hard to hold her cries so nobody heard it. A wild flower was known for its survival ability. She couldn’t lose because without it she was nothing than a simple plain flower. Damn, her phone rang. It was from her mother. She didn’t want to receive it. She couldn’t received it.

“Can I call you later? I’m in the middle of a romantic date with David. xoxo.”

She could not tell the truth to her mother. Her mother had been worried enough about her daughter’s relationship that seemed going nowhere soon. She worried Daisy would be too old to marry and give them a grandchildren. All of her friends in her small hometown had already married and had two or three children. She had enough irrelevant advices from her mom. Her mother didn’t understand her and her life as a wild flower in a big city.

Ivy. I thought she was my friend. She told me that he drifted away from me because I had no personality. I shouldn’t live for him. I shouldn’t say yes to everything he wanted me to do. I had to have my thought, my own dreams, my own life. Man likes woman with strong personality. But while I was busy trying to be the woman she once told me, she stole him. How could she? She didn’t deserve her name. Ivy, friendship. But maybe from the beginning it was all her tricks to have him. I forgot that almost all of Ivy flowers were poisonous.

Command + S


Click “Save”

Daisy could not fake her hurt into a smile when Ivy betrayed her. She was the only person Daisy could trust. Ivy was her first friend when she moved to the big city. She was her mentor. She trusted her with whole of her heart, but she stabbed her from the back. She didn’t know if she could trust anyone again. She couldn’t handle it anymore. She couldn’t act like a simple sweet wild flower anymore. For the first time she had a little burst in front of David. The wild flower tried to stand up strong and tall so she would not be stepped on forever.

“You are ridiculous. Control your jealousy. I had a lot of work. You were just distracting me.” David said it coldly.

He denied everything. Daisy could do nothing, but crying. Easily she gave up her fight and became the little wild flower again.

“Wipe, wipe your tears, Daisy. Put your smile.” She said to herself.

Anggrek. I would never forget that name. I would never forgive her. I’ve set this dinner with my parents and him. Seven years and for many reasons he never agreed to meet my parents. And this time, he said, “maybe I could come.” Maybe. At least for once, he said maybe he would come. But then he chose her than met my parents. “I forgot,” easily he said. What had she done to him? Yes, like her name, anggrek aka orchid, she was the perfect picture of woman you saw everyday in magazine or advertisement. Perfect height, slim, white soft skin, and styled hair. Whatever she wore, it was good on her. I’ve tried to have a strict diet. I forced myself to vomit when I couldn’t control my mouth. I went to a skin doctor to have a white soft skin like her. But still, I’m far from the perfect woman I should be. I hate her. I hate her with my whole heart.

Command + S


Click “Save”

Daisy didn’t know how long she could handle the pile of hatred that stacked in her heart. Day by day it felt more painful, especially when she tried her best to smile. But she had to be strong. She had to. It’s her most outstanding ability anyway. She had invested too much of her life in David. Her life was him. Her only dream was married to him, raised their children while developing their flower shop together. Deep in her heart she knew that his dream was her dream, but her dream wasn’t his. Him without her was still himself, but her without him was nothing.

Lily. Another woman, same story. I guessed I had it enough. I didn’t know why a woman couldn’t respect the other woman. I was done. I couldn’t do this anymore.

Command + S


Click “Save”

“I think we should have a break.” Daisy said hesitantly. She needed to take this bold step because she knew if she held it any longer she would dry and died completely on the inside. Major part of her heart hoped David would hold on to her, asked her to get back to him and promised that they would live happily ever after. But no. He said nothing, but “Yes, I think that’s the best way for us.” Her heart was broke. She lost everything in a minute. She packed her stuff and got out from their office.

It only took weeks for Daisy to find a new job. And it only took months for Daisy to call her parents and tell them the truth about her relationship with David. Everything went better than she thought it would be. For a moment she was afraid that she wasn’t able to do that. She forgot that she was the wild flower who would survive no matter what. It was she and herself now. She couldn’t deny that she felt lonely. Her heart was empty because he’s gone and she never filled it with herself before. But she knew it was the best way. It needed to be empty to restart. She only needed to get used to live for herself, not for him, not for her parents.

Click “Finder”

Click “Document”

Click “WITCHES” folder

Command + A

Drag to trash bin

David. His name was David. It’s not only their fault, but it’s him. He’s greedy. He loved flowers so he wanted to taste many different flowers. All these years, I didn’t have any courage to blame him so I blamed them and then blamed myself. I was blind because I didn’t want to lose everything that I actually never had in the first place. Maybe it’s a little too late, but it’s better than never tried to find my truly self.

Command + S


Click “Save”

It took a couple of years for Daisy to open her eyes. She didn’t know how long it would take to find her new self, her new dream but she believed she would find it. The journey to search for her own life just begun. She was the wild flower anyway.


I wrote this as the fifth and sixth assignment of Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction online course from The University of Iowa, powered by NovoEd.

For some people graveyard is a sacred place. For some other people graveyard is a scary mystic place. But for those boys, graveyard is a pleasant place. A playground, they never had.



The size of Fendi’s world is 2 levels of 36 square meters of enclosed space that full of old furniture. He spends most of his days trying to play football while his mother never tired of shouting at him to stop.


            “If you break anything, I’ll beat your ass!”

His mother’s threat never makes Fendi afraid. It seems that there’s a lot of ants in Fendi’s pant. Since he was a little, he couldn’t sit still even if he really wanted to. His body aches if he doesn’t move his legs and arms.


            “Fendi! Put your ball in the closet! You make a lot of mess in the house!”


Seven years old vigorous boy tried to control his spirit. Obviously, he couldn’t.


            “FENDI! NOW!”


Poor Fendi. All he could do was screaming as loud as he could, while running to his tiny room and slamming the door. He jumped, jumped, jumped on his bed to release his excessive energy.


            “FENDI! You’ll ruin the bed!”


Fendi dropped his body onto the bed.


“Then let me play outside!” He screamed.


NO!” His mother screamed louder. “Do you want to end up like your brother?”


Fendi covered his face with pillow and screamed, screamed and screamed. When he mentioned about playing outside, his mother’s response was always the same predictable answer.


Poor, poor Fendi. School holiday was felt like a jail time for him. He missed his old home where there’s wide green fields surrounded his home. There was a lot of space for him to run, jump, kick a football, and scream happily. He missed everything he had left behind. He never stops asking why should they move to this disgusting overcrowded city. They don’t have any house yard. Open the door; take a step over, and tadaaa… you get to crowded streets. When it’s a busy hour, motorcycles march like ants. The other times motorcycles speed like they were in a racing area. The children are not allowed to play outside. The street is dangerous, it’s not a playground, they said. Yes, it’s true. Months ago, the parents still let their children play outside, until it happened; a terrible accident that everyone didn’t want to talk about. Only bad things happened in here. And one of those bad things had taken his brother away.



The size of Aki’s world is 36 square meters of enclosed space that full of old furniture. He spends most of his days sitting on an old chair near the window while daydreaming about his old happy memories when the world felt smaller.


            “Catch me, grandpa! Walk faster!”


He missed those shouts.


            “You are too slow! Even a turtle is faster than you!”


He was willing to pay whatever it took to hear that shout again. Unfortunately, there’re many things money couldn’t buy, and this is one of them.


“You must eat more Grandpa! You are getting shorter.”


Sometimes he forgot he’s gone. He still heard those shouts, but only in his mind. Poor Aki.


Everyday feels like the same. Days are boring enough, but nights are torturing the 70 years old man. He felt that the world gradually forgot him. One person that made him still relevant to the world was taken away by a terrible accident that everyone didn’t want to talk about anymore. It’s just him and himself now. He was alone in the big overcrowded world. Poor, poor Aki.


“Hey! Don’t play in the street! It’s dangerous you know!” Aki shouted vigorously.


The only thing that awaked him from his daydreaming was when some random neighbor boys got really bored doing nothing inside their small house, and then decided to forget about their history and play on the street that never sleeps.


“I’ll call your mom!” Aki shouted with a threatening voice.


Those magical words usually made those boys run like a mice into their house. It’s a very powerful spell, both for the boys and Aki. While the boys were terrified, Aki felt satisfied with himself. At least there’s something he could do for the world.



“I’ll visit Dani’s cemetery,” murmured Fendi.


His mother didn’t say anything. She doesn’t like Fendi spending too much time in graveyard but it’s better than making a mess in the house. It seems that the graveyard is the safest place their society has.


Fendi did nothing in Dani’s cemetery, but pulled out the grass and threw it carelessly to the next cemetery. The grass littered the grave of a man who killed his brother. He didn’t mean to take revenge but a little prank won’t do any harm.


“So you are the one who always mess around with my grandson tomb!”


Fendi was startled. He took a few steps back. Aki looked at Fendi with anger.


“A murderer certainly deserved it!” Fendi tried to defend himself.


Aki’s face was black and blue. His grandson was the nicest person in the world.


Get your fact straight! Your brother is the murderer, not my grandson!”


Fendi didn’t want to have an argument with an old man who probably has been senile. But he couldn’t resist it.


“If your grandson wasn’t speeding, my brother and his other friends would still be here right now.”


“If your brother and his friends didn’t play football in the street, my grandson would still accompany me! It’s a street not a playground!”


            “No! You are wrong!” Fendi shouted while stomping his feet.


Aki stared Fendi closely. He’s so ready to say another hatred words when he realized he, 70 years old man, had a fight with a little kid. He felt embarrassed. So he decided to keep his mouth closed, ignored him and started to clean his grandson’s cemetery. Fendi didn’t prepare for the silent treatment. He didn’t expect the old man was given up so easily.


Once again, Fendi stomped his feet.


You are wrong! Your grandson is a murderer!” He screamed.


Aki ignored him completely. He acted like nobody said anything; nobody was there.


Fendi stomped, and stomped his feet, hard and harder.


Still, Aki did nothing.


Unexpectedly, tears came out from Fendi’s eyes. He cried and cried, louder and louder.


Aki turned his head, stood up and gave Fendi a tight hug. Both of them stood still, and hug each other tight for some time. Gradually his crying stopped, but they still stood there in silent.



Since that evening, the graveyard had regular visitors. Fendi and Aki. They said nothing; they did nothing, but sat still next to each other, besides their beloved ones’ tomb. The silence seemed to comfort them.


“Maybe it’s not only your brother’s fault or my grandson’s fault. The fault was in both of them and us as the society.”


Fendi nodded even though he didn’t really understand what Aki said.



The next morning, every child on the neighborhood received the same secret letters in their bedroom window.



No more playing in the streets.

Run, play football, play hide and seek, sing as loud as you want to.

Come and join us in the cemetery at 4 PM.


For the first time Fendi and Aki could smile from their heart. This was the greatest gift both of them could give as a tribute to their beloved ones that had rested in peace.



I wrote this as the third assignment of Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction online course from The University of Iowa, powered by NovoEd.


(Not Yet) A Woman

I’m a woman, but they said I’m not. They congratulated me because in the next minutes I will finally become a woman.



“We are already old. We don’t know how much longer we will live. You should find someone to accompany you.”


“Mom, I’m totally fine. I have never feared loneliness, even I like being alone.”


“You can say that now, but when you are getting old, your opinion will change.”


“Why do you predict my future? You said that only God knows our future.”


“Don’t brought God’s name into this. You know God created human to live in pairs, have a child or two to continue human legacy in… ”


“Oh, please Mom. Now you are the one who brought God’s name.”

I couldn’t count how many times we have those conversations. It felt like the same old tape played over and over again until the sound was discordant. Her argument didn’t make any sense for me. Didn’t she know how many human live in earth? 7.5 billion. It’s more and more than enough. Why should I participate in adding more human density to the world? But whatever I said, it never changed their will.


Thirty-two years old daughter who is still single seems a stain for them. I lost count how many times they brought a man to our home. I still remember the first man they introduced to me. A preppy-look man, short slick hair, nice teeth, expensive leather shoes, 5 years older than me. They said he is a manager of a famous bank in the city. His job made him move from one city to another. So he hoped his wife would follow everywhere he go. He promised to take care of his wife, love her, and make sure she is happy. Sounds perfect, huh? But, no. That’s far from perfect for me. Maybe I’m not grateful. That’s what my mother said. Yes, maybe it’s true. He wanted a perfect wife, who would wait for him in the house, clean the house, prepare for the foods, and give him perfect children to complete his happiness. And I know I’m not. I can’t become his perfect little wife. We live in two different realities. He lives in the world where a woman just a compliment object, not a subject who has her own dream.


“There are many things I want to achieve, mom.”


“Honey, when you are getting older, when you have your own family, your own children, your perspective will change. Your dreams will change. What you think is important right now, suddenly will be worthless.”


“I’m not you.” I said firmly.


My mom took a deep breath and went silent every time I said that.


My mom and me have a love and hate relationship. I always admire her talent. I keep all of her old record secretly. I like to listen to it before I sleep. Melodious tones came from her fingers. A talented piano player who everyone said had a bright future. But she chose my father. She left everything behind to take care of my father and me. And now I’m like chasing her neglected future. Second album and many concerts have already waited for me. I don’t have any time to become someone’s compliment. There’re so many things I want to say to the world through my music. I thought she would understand my choice, but unfortunately no.


“My flight is at 3 am in the morning, mom. I don’t have time to meet this random guy.”


I remember clearly what I said when she told me another man would be introduced to me. As you know, my mom is unstoppable.


I remember clearly what he looked like. A simple man whom smiled more than talked. He seems to have no ambition. He just goes with the wind, feels grateful for whatever he got in life. His silent and his smile somehow melted my heart. It’s irrational, but it happened. I tried to block the feeling, filled my heart with my musician dreams as high as the sky, but he was still there.


“He said he would never forbid you pursuing your music career. Isn’t it perfect for you?”


I didn’t answer.


“You know, our neighbors have talked a lot about you.”


“Mom, I don’t give a damn about our neighbors. It’s my life not them. And mom, you should stop to listen to them.”


I hate when she started mentioning our neighbor. I don’t want to make any decision just to avoid the neighbor’s gossip, like she sometimes did. If I decided to have a serious relationship then it should be based on my decision not their pressure. And I stated it clearly to my mom the day before I said I do.


My mom cried a bucket of tears the day I wore a simple white gown in front of the altar. I finally become a wife, a dreadful word I avoided before.


I always imagine being a wife is a nightmare, but I am lucky to have him. Never he said no when I told him I have to come home late because I’m still working on my composition. He never requires me to clean the house, prepare for his food, and prepare for his clothes. We do all of it together. Yes, of course sometimes we had a fight, but it never became a big deal for us. He thought me the new perspective of being a husband and wife.


“Honey, the neighbors said you neglected your husband.”


I was so mad when she said that. It seemed like she like to destroy my happiness. I kept my mouth locked because I didn’t want to say something that I would regret later.


“They saw your husband did the grocery, swept the yard while you were doing nothing in house.


“How could they know I was doing nothing? Did my house have a peep hole?”


My mother took a deep breath and composed the next strategy to attack me.


“This year you will be 35 years old. Don’t you want to go to the doctor?”


“For what?” I asked.


“You should sign in for pregnancy program before it’s too late. Your husband loves children so much. I can see it when he played with his niece and nephew. For once, make him happy.”


Once again, I kept my mouth locked. How dare she said that my husband is not happy.


It’s like the same old tape played over and all over again.

Went to a good school,

found a well-established job,


had a child and more children,

had a son/daughter in law,

had a grand children.

It seemed that there’s a blueprint for our life, and it’s a sin if we don’t follow the blue print.



The memory played over and over inside my head while I screamed, struggling to make sure she was born healthy. My husband held my hand tightly. I screamed, screamed and screamed until I heard her strong cry. My mother and father looked at me with proud. They did it. They have raised a perfect daughter who fulfilled his duty as woman.


“Congratulate dear. A very beautiful baby. You are now complete as a woman.”


I wrote this as a second assignment of Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction online course from The University of Iowa, powered by NovoEd.

A pair of chopsticks took him away from her. Maybe he was not worth enough for her. He didn’t stand up for her. He let her go.

A tree without root.

Day by day the leaves would dry.

Left nothing but the lifeless trunk.

Human without her root.

Could she stand still?

Her skin was tanned.

She had already tried a several whitening lotion but it wouldn’t work.

Her eyes were wide.

Many women would love her big eyes but she didn’t.

She always hoped for a straight black hair but her black hair was fluffy.

Her body was small but unfortunately was not slim, as she always wanted it.

Her nose didn’t really resemble a pug nose, but wasn’t also really sharp. Maybe it’s the only body part she didn’t regret.

Her name in birth certificate was Meilani, but her family called her Mei Lan, a Chinese name that was given to her by the time she breathed her first air. She didn’t hate herself because of her look, but many times she hoped for a different physical appearance. White skin, slanted eyes, pug nose, small, but slim body, straight black hair like the stereotype of most Chinese women that she knew.

Are you really Chinese? She had heard the question for thousand times. She even questioned it to herself and her family most of the time.

She didn’t speak Chinese.

She didn’t use chopsticks while eating.

She didn’t really celebrate the Chinese New Years.

She didn’t go to the temple.

She never went to China.

She knew nothing about Chinese culture.

How could she was Chinese?

What defined her root?

Was it merely her blood?

They said the grandparents of her grandparents, both from her mother and father sides, came from China to Indonesia for a better living. They used to embrace Khonghuchu belief and held the Chinese culture tight, but since converted to Catholic religion, they threw away all of the Chinese culture that was considered deviation of the Catholic teachings. She didn’t want to blame her grandparents. She didn’t want to blame her religion. She didn’t want to blame the chopsticks. So, why now she was blamed for her lost root?

“You must think about the future. It’s not all about love. You are different. Your relationship won’t work,” they said when she had a relationship with a Javanese man, one of many Indonesian tribes. She was just silent and complied, just like when many people shouted inappropriate words because of her root that was unpopular within the society, just like when she was told she couldn’t become a government employees, once again because of her roots. But now she couldn’t silent and comply anymore. She was rejected by both of the other people and her own people.

It was because of the damn chopsticks. Why should she stick them into the rice in a bowl? Why was she so stupid? But she simply didn’t understand it before.

“She pray for both of us to die soon. Our family can’t have a daughter in law who doesn’t have any manner. I’ve already told you, me and your father never like her from the beginning. Tell her to leave this house and leave you alone.”

She heard he tried to defend her.

“Didn’t understand a simple thing like that? Was she really Chinese? She doesn’t look one.”

He was just silent. He defended her no more. She heard nothing, but her silent cry.

Her without her root.

She asked her parents why was she born this way. Why she looked like this. Why she understood nothing about her root. But even they couldn’t answer.

“Don’t give up. Someday you will find a perfect Chinese man who doesn’t care about your lack of knowledge about our culture” they said.

She cared no more.

She had enough.

She couldn’t stand still anymore.

She left nothing but the lifeless body.

I wrote this as the first assignment of Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction online course from The University of Iowa, powered by NovoEd.


A Little Blurp


Every one like unicorn.
So do little hedgehogs.
They wanted to be a hedgecorn.
Every one said it’s impossible.
But one day they heard a myth about unicorn steam cake.
Eat it and your hair color will turn into a rainbow just like a unicorn.
Want it. Want it. Want it. They said.
Up, up, up. They climbed up the unicorn hill.
And here it was. The famous rainbow steam cake.
Yum. Yum. Yum.
Their dream came true.
A hedge corn they became.
A beautiful rainbow quills for everyone to admire.

Photography by: Agnes Paulina | Illustration and Story by: Angela Oscario

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