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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.

 

THE GRAND OPENING OF A NEW PLAYGROUND

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,

married,

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.

Hedgecorn

A Little Blurp

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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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Wake Up, Sleepy!

A Little Blurp

pau_angel

Sleepy always feels sleepy.

She sleeps on the flower.

She sleeps in the tea-pot.

She sleeps behind your ear.

“Wake up. Wake up, Sleepy.

The tea party in the moon has been starting,” said Dreamy.

But Sleepy could hardly open her eyes.

“One minute,” she said.

Dreamy waited for one minute.

“One more minute, please.”

Dreamy had no more patience.

“Have a nice dream,” whispered Dreamy.

And yes, Sleepy smiled in her sleep.

She dreamed about a nice tea party in the moon.


Photograph by: Agnes Paulina | Illustration by: Angela Oscario | Story by: Angela Oscario

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Happy

A Little Blurp

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She has everything, even a little planet.

She should be happy.

And yes, she is happy.

But sometimes she wonders what would it feels to live somewhere out there.

Yet, she doesn’t have the courage to leave everything behind.

So frequently she just sits up above the hill, and stares at the stars.

“Hi!” she said.

Only the silence answered her.

No one would tell her what waits for her in the outside world.


Felt needle craft, illustration, and story by: Angela Oscario  

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Mushouse

A Little Blurp

bearlowres

Musha musha musha musharoom.

The mushroom field was covered with magic spell.

The little fairies could not fly or spell their magic words there.

Oh, what should Twinkle do.

She need a new mushroom house.

Her old home was eaten by ants.

Twinkle didn’t run out of ideas.

She called her friend, the Brave Bear.

They borrowed a plane toy,

and without any fear the bear got her a new comfortable mushouse.


Photograph by: Agnes Paulina | Illustration & story by: Angela Oscario

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