I walked through what I called summer breeze. I wonder, what was autumn felt like? The tropical islands like Indonesia didn’t have one. This island was forcefully trapped under two seasons that’s fated for all lands passed by equatorial line. But once in a year, you might able to witness some trees turn to its golden leaves and let it blew by the wind, a scenario that’s only could be seen by eyes. I was incapable to capture it into a paper of long-lasting memories. A paper that let you traced an old moment once again. The golden leaves, old and weak but yet gracefully falls shaken by the wind. It just the leaves and me that busy with our crusade, unbothered by the wind. The biased sunlight let my consciousness wandered to the future that’s might never come. I saw the future as a mirage. It’s clearly possible and around, but my incompetency to protect myself from pain make it seems so impossible.
I was numb inside. I have laughed yet unable to cry, for a second my life was meaningless. I realized that whatever I fight for now was useless. In the end of the day, our dynasty on this earth will end at last. Earth will destroy itself and reborn for another dynasty, like what was happened million years ago. Like a phoenix and its circle of life. I was lost and done. Nothing can give me any desire to fight back. I just wish I could disappear. I didn’t want to remember. I didn’t want to be known. I want to evaporate along with the tons of water in the ocean and touch another land with no one know, who am I?
They said that my country was liberated itself. Proudly remains strong after extremely long colonialization. Yet me as part of it flesh trapped under what I called as a man power. My grandmother always said, ‘what was it used for a girl to go to school, in the end a woman place is in the kitchen. It’s a woman fate to take care of family.’ She always convinced me to be realistic and accept my fate as a Javanese woman.
Wanito : Wani di toto
That’s how they usually remind me that I am woman and a good woman was the one could be ruled. That’s how all woman around me live their life, except one. They called her Nona Ninna. She’s the smartest woman I ever know. She’s standing majestic with her curly hair and darker skin. Nona Ninna own a house that people from the outer city can temporally stay. I didn’t really know what she’s doing or where is she from? But her house was always full of strangers and books. My family was working for her. She never really told people around about her and despite her hospitality, her existence remains a mystery.
Nona Ninna was secretly being my teacher since I was a kid. She’s also the one sent me to school, so my parent couldn’t say any words for it. Through her stories and books, I saw the world differently. At school they teach me how to read, write, and how to become a good woman. At Nona Ninna’s house, I was learned about a huge animal in the ocean and its fight against human in a green book titled, ‘Moby Dick’. She’s also told me a story of women and their voice in another hemisphere, taught me a language nobody spoke like a secret code between us. She’s a parent, teacher, and best friend for me. Although most of the time, she would teach me plethora of unused skills and knowledge, but I always enjoyed her company.
Unless for today forward. I finally felt like a dog forced to lift my knee and obey whatever role was designed to be played by me. My family no longer put in patience with what so called as my morality disgraced and influenced by Nona Ninna. In the end of the day, based on morality of this society, I belong to my family, not Nona Ninna. She has no power to change my path. If even Nona Ninna couldn’t help me, then I was completely lost.
Tomorrow they said, I will marry a guy I never met. A guy that based on Javanese tradition of bibit,bebet,bobot was chosen as a right man to be my husband by my father and family. In this society, I have no right on my life. So, why would I even live for?
As the night getting darker, I saw a clear bright star. I remember once Nona told me it called Sirius, the brightest star in our solar system. She also said the sun is a star too and there’s a man had ever made a travel to space and enjoy this planet called Earth by himself, she also told me that some tried to compete with that man and planned to make a step in the moon. What’s an unfair world, I said to myself? Why I have to be born with no power to protect myself, when other human being out there were born with power to experience the wider world and make something that would be written in the book of history. I smiled when my eyes shade tears while I was laying powerlessly and shout to those stars with a language nobody understand in my house, “THAT’S IT! YOU WIN, I LOSE! THANKS FOR THE EMPTY HOPES. LET’S SEE, WOULD I ALIVE TOMORROW TO ACCEPT THE FATE THAT YOU WROTE FOR ME!” everyone outside seems shocked by my loud voice, but none of them understand, what was I alarmed. I rather to die than live a life I hate to do. Then I smiled and closed my eyes, determined to enjoy my last night on this planet Nona called Earth.
They called me Wage because I was born in Wage, a day based on Javanese calendar. I was born few years after this country announced to the world that we were succeed to gained ourselves a freedom. I didn’t witness war or slavery, but it seems that I lived one. Since I could remember, I was felt that I am different. A minority when I’m part of majority. I was used to questioning every aspect that my society forced me to believe. So, they called me a rude girl, unmannered one, and more. Once my grandmother cursed me that I am a witch girl, then I said to her, “if I was a witch kid then you are a witch grandma.” I need to pay an expensive price only for a short of satisfaction. At least, there’s one person laughed and said that I am a genius, Nona.
“My name is Nona, too.”
A voice woke me up, to whom I told my story to. A young woman with dark hair and tanned skin like mine, but she looks way more, modern. Brilliantly elegant with a long black turtleneck, a blue long sleeve and pants that look stronger than a bull skin. She wore a high ankle red boot which weirdly so familiar.
“Who are you?” I asked,
“I have told you, my name is Nona too,” she smiled at me and her smile oddly radiate a peaceful vibe invite me too smile with her,
“I was listened to your story, now it’s your turn to listen mine.” She added,
I nodded, my intuition said that it’s the right manner to do. She reached my hand and in a second, I felt like sucked into an empty space with undivine dark or light. When I opened my eyes, I was in a ship with a red cheongsam on me. People there on the ship wear clothes I never seen before. Some spoke the language I could recognized some didn’t. Nona Ninna had taught me to speaks English, Chinese, and little bit France. Poor me to unable continue the study, but I didn’t remember why. I didn’t remember too how could I be here. It’s so familiar, I believe that I just remember name of people I saw on this ship. Strange!
“Nona! Hao Jiu Bu Jian, I thought that you’ve been leaving Hong Kong.” A man with a white jacket greets me kindly and with a bizarre illusion I remember his name, Kennan Huang.
“I still like the weather, beside Jane jiejie asked me to stay a bit longer.” Whatever non-sense I said believe me, I was confused myself too.
“Ok then, let’s meet on Carpe Diem tonight. Someone has been asking for you since weeks ago. I think that you have leave Hong Kong, but you’re here now?”
I nodded silently.
As the ship was touched the land a bunch of man with black suit approached me like it was a normal. They bow to me and show a full respect like I deserved it.
“Lady Nona, the car was ready. Miss Jane has commanded to put your safety as priority.”
As I rode the car that seems so strange yet familiar for me, I rethink everything that I have just seen. I let the window open and blew my hair with the wind of change, together with the smell of petrichor. Gradually, I remember that girl with a black turtleneck and me that supposed to marry a guy my family wants. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a well of realization of a dream I too afraid to talk.
“So, do you remember now?” a voice shook me, dragged me out of my thought. She’s there, sat quietly still with the same outfit, Nona with a turtleneck. Now, as I saw her clearly, I realized how much we looked alike and with all this insanity I brave myself to ask a ridiculous question.
“Are you me, Wage?” I asked,
“Nona to be exact. They called me Nona and, in the past yeah, I was called Wage. Until the age of 16, I lived as Wage.” She answered seriously as I chuckled upon hearing her explanation.
“Nona means ‘Miss’, that’s why we called Nona Ninna as Nona Ninna, because she’s Miss Ninna.” I was surprised by my own realization of Nona Ninna.
“Nona means ‘the Ninth’ sometimes in Italy they used it to refer an old woman. But I like it. As you said in Indonesia, it means a maiden and I am. I always envy with they that’s called Nona.” Tears start to drop from my eyes as she explained her name. I remembered that’s what exactly I said to myself. I always want to be a Nona. I have such ridiculous believe that if I was a Nona, I could learn anything I want and I could do anything impossible.
I smiled to her with no word to say. My voice has been swallowed by the emotions of a desperate human. I finally know why it was strange all the time, but have no brave to admit it. It just a dream.
“Let me continue my story before you go, stay until I finished it.” She added, like was able to read my mind. I was there, sat next to her, speechless by the fact of what’s awaken me. I let the wind tickling my cheek until it frozen up. The rain was getting cruel, but I refuse to close it. This sensation of the wind on my cheek was the one made it real. I afraid that, I would drag into reality once again if I closed it.
“Remember the day we supposed to have an arranged marriage?” I nodded as a code for her to continue her story.
“I decided to went to the north and find closest port. Nona Ninna gave me a note to be given to a man on a boat written Tao Guang on its side.”
“Tao Guang? Hide the light?” I asked, she once again smiles as approval and continued,
“She gave me three letters and three missions. One for the boat man, one for a woman with a phoenix tattoo on her arm named Jane and one for me. she asked me to read mine once Jane took me to a place called Hong Kong. The boat man took me to an island called Singapore. He told me to wait for the dawn coming and a young woman with a red dress will take me to meet Jane. So, I did manage to meet Jane and after handing the letter Nona Ninna asked me to, she takes me back to Hong Kong with her. She said that I have to follow her and do anything she asked me to. I have no choice except for obey. This woman named Jane was looked like Nona Ninna. I knew how intelligent is she. She was just like a chameleon, jumped from once branch to other. Hide her truly self under a disguise of feminine masquerade. She ruled the man of the city which believes that they ruled her. It’s so mesmerizing to witness her existence. She taught me things like Nona Ninna always did. Eventually, I start to help her doing stuffs.” Her eyes took a glance to the side of the road and as I followed her sight, there’s a shadow of a man with a grey suit and broad shoulder. He looks familiar too and I was no longer surprise by familiarity any more. My hunch said maybe he’s one of some part of the story, but I did feel the tickle of strange vibration.
“Seems like you have an amazing life.” I said, deeply mesmerize by her story and her spirit to make something for herself.
“Mine is yours too. I know you know who I am.” Her eye was so enchanting, but I couldn’t believe she is me and I am her. It’s completely impossible. I wouldn’t have that much brave.
“I am not.” I said clearly,
“You call him Po, Po for a soul.” She ignores me,
“Who?” the car has stopped, and the driver open the door just for me. when I managed to look back at Nona, she was disappeared.
“Why do you think, ‘you are not brave enough?’ didn’t you the one shout excitedly when Nona Ninna teach you about Fortes Fortuna Juvat means Fortune Favors the Brave. In the end of the day, the one can save you isn’t Nona Ninna or anybody else but yourself. Why didn’t you believe in yourself, love yourself, and protect yourself, ain’t nobody had a debt on you and clowning around for the sake of your happiness, find one yours! Whatever is your authentic self. You deserved any life you wish for.” I look deep into her eyes, grasped by the familiarity of hers like an old friend. It feels like we have known for years and as she walked away with no explanation like it’s what must been done, I shout to her,
“Hey Nona! So, what was written in Nona Ninna’s letter for you?” I asked,
She turned her head as she kept her steps stable, “Find it yourself!” she waved her hand and disappear together with the rain.
I make my step to a building that I know as a club. The one that guy on the ship state before as our appointment place, Carpe Diem. I opened the door and woman in the corner sing a song of Moon River on its lyric. The song tastes sweet in my ear and the guy I met on the ship waved his hand to me. Next to him was a man with a grey suit I saw before, but now I could see his face clearly. He stood there high and mighty, dominates what’s around him. He smiled at me and I couldn’t help to experience unexceptional explosion of emotions. I could feel a tear about to drops as I was walking closer to them. A feeling of completion doses me in a second, like a hole inside me finally found its piece. Then a huge bang shook me out. In a second, I opened my eyes, I was laying on the same bed I always be, shading on tears. ‘So, this is how it feels like to drag into a reality.’ I chuckled as I think about that strange experience. The day hasn’t started yet. The sky wasn’t ready for the sun to show his mighty power. The dawn had invited the wind of change, ready to take over the darkness and replaced it with a ton of light. I grabbed my bag and found my way escape when everyone was enjoying their own version of dream. I ran to Nona Ninna’s house as fast as I could. I knew that I had not much time to set myself free. Once my family realized I was missing, I will once again trap in this society, I’m not belong to.
She’s there as always in her terrace with her tea and book on her hand.
“Send me to Jane!” I said, loud and clear,
I could sense a confusion in her eyes as she’s asking, “How did you know about Jane?”
“Somewhere I think, maybe from your story or your books, or from my higher-self.” I smiled,
Nona Ninna act like she’s expecting this from me. “Wait” she said,
She gives me three letters and explanation like Nona said and ask me,
“I dreamed a life I want to live in. I feel alive there. No matter if it just a dream or a reality, the only way to find out is by making a step. If I have to die, I’ll die when I fight for my life. Someone told me to be whatever authentic me and that I deserved on whatever life I wish for. Thanks, Ninna for show me the world. See you in Hong Kong.”
‘Because I don’t believe there’s no place for someone like me’ and I begin my journey to be alive.