web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: July 2008
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Thursday, July 24, 2008
Rubbish, refuge

Coming home had been more traumatic than I expected, partly because I was in denial about leaving Jakarta in the first place. I had refused to acknowledge that I will no longer be living in that maddening city, even when the immigration officers at Soekarno-Hatta stamped the finality of the move on my passport. I still pretended that my address was still Menteng, that is, until the movers arrived.

Reality sank in pretty quickly, and dug her nails in for good measure, just in case I didn't notice. The large bench that sat in an airy spot in my previous house, now dominate the miniscule living room in my (real) home. My two meter dining table is cramped into our dark eating area, jostling for space with a carved wooden sideboard and matching arm chairs. I can almost hear my furniture sniff and turn up their noses. "We left Menteng for this?", said the joglo mirror to the TV cabinet.

My small, two-storey link house -- where I rightfully belong in the social stratum, I must add -- now resembles the cargo hold of a kapal bawang. Boxes are piled to the ceiling in the kitchen and occupy any available space elsewhere. Books, clothes, linens, pillows, lamps, all demand for place in my sorry tongkang pecah. My first impulse is to get a blow torch and start over. Preferably, in Bandung.

Malaysia is home, but in the current circumstances, it is by no means a refuge. (Let's not even go into the surreal political scenes, I refuse to read the papers). There is no running away from mess, in every single aspect of my life at the moment. Apart from the obvious chaos in my abode, I also have to cope with my kids adjusting to the peculiarly regimented schooling system, made worse by teachers who think my children have had an inferior education just because they went to an Indonesian school. One teacher had the gall to ask if I understood English, even when I was conversing to her in the very language.

My wife, Ti (whose name is surely short for Sanity) is still sorting out her work papers and a mother who is very reluctant to let her leave. There is no Ibu Ika to fall back on, or Mas Darno to drive me around, no Pak Tono to open the gates for us or water the garden (what garden?) I have to get used to carrying keys again, and actually getting out of the car to buy newspaper or fried bananas. We don't have a pool in our backyard, we have a septic tank and an overgrown pokok kari. In the old house, I can lie in bed and through the open doors, gaze upon a graceful frangipani tree. In this neighborhood, I'd be lucky if I don't catch my hairy neighbor undressing.

This is turning out to be an unbelievably whiny post. Goodness, my years in Jakarta have made me soft and not a little bratty. Well, time to square the shoulders, draw a deep breath and dive into the clutter. God help me if, among the junk, I find a working lighter.