Monday, 18 August 2008

Belated happy birthday, my dear Motherland…

The waves escalated from 2.5m to 4m in a mere few seconds as our boat captain manoeuvred the dolphin-watching boat amidst the flux of the ocean. Earlier, he had spotted the dolphins (well, at least one of them) playing along the waves about a kilometre eastward. It’s no use; the waves were too high. Immediately, he reduced the speed, steered the wheel starboard, and let the boat surfed the waves like the tip of a wine bottle on the high water. We lost the dolphins, but we were safe and sound. The boat did not tipped over as I feared mere seconds ago.

“It’s too dangerous,” our captain declared. “We have to go back.” None of us disagreed with him. In fact, we just nodded together and murmured ‘yes’ in unison. It was indeed too dangerous to go further. Life is precious, we have to go back to try another day.

I did not mind returning back to port either, for in that few seconds, my heart seemed to stop as my mind recalled another event in another part of the sea a few weeks ago, when my boat toppled over and sent six of its passengers (including me) tumbling down the sea. It was a scary thing, but we were safe and sound after the fiasco. Yet, fiasco is still a fiasco. In another word, not again, mate!

So, when in a few seconds our boat wobbled and eventually steadied itself this time, I found myself praying that I would not go through such adventure again. And thank God, we reached the harbour safe and sound.

But why do I have to go through this story? For at the very same morning, four handicapped divers were struggling to hold the Red and White flag, Sang Saka Merah Putih, Indonesia’s national flag, in the depth of Sanur sea in Bali. I did not have to be there to know that they would suffer strong currents and winds. Yet, they strived, survived, and succeeded in holding the Merah Putih under the water, even taking pictures with the flag. Kudos to them.

I’m not saying that my dolphin boat ‘lost score’ to the handicapped divers. No, we had to return to the port that day. The trip must be aborted. We had at least three children with us that day, children that might not survive accidents. But I knew that I would return again the next day to find our animals amidst the ocean waves. Because I love the oceans and the dolphins. I love doing it.

And the handicapped divers… ah, they could abort the mission for safety reasons. But nay, they did not. They chose to hold still and fight the currents, trying as they might to uphold the national flag. For their love of their country, which is my motherland as well.

I guess, I’m writing this because last 17 August 2008, was Indonesia’s birthday. Like the dolphin boat, too often now Indonesia is facing dangerously strong waves and winds that risk splitting or boat/nation into pieces. But that does not stop the fellow Indonesians, men and women, to move forward for a better Indonesia. True, we might have to pause, recalculate our strategies and ways to achieve the goal. We might have to wait for the wind to abate, or strengthen our anchor against the wind. But never does that mean that we stop for good.

For, like the handicapped divers, we know that the ultimate force that drives us through the entire plights and miseries towards a better Indonesia… is none other than our love to our motherland. A beautiful Indonesia that accommodates various different ethnicity, religions, traditions, races, etc, as long as they are within the corridor of love. As long as we keep on walking under the umbrella of Pancasila, our true national philosophy that guarantees and accommodates differences. For what are differences, but different facets of One Universal Truth?

I believe in love. I believe in humanity. I believe that, more than this little dolphin girl will keep coming back to the sea to find her dolphins and whales, more than the little sea turtle hatchlings that struggled and tumbled down before returning back to the sea where they belong, more than the handicapped divers that kept upholding the national flag underwater, this country will survive the waves of life. More than that, this country will celebrate her life as a whole independent loving nation. The One Nation of IndONEsia.

Happy 63rd birthday, dearest Indonesia. May the light of the universe be with you always.

Pic 1: The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa Okinami Ura), by Hokusai, created between 1823-1829 (Wikipedia)

Pic 2: Sang Saka Merah Putih (Indonesia’s national flag), with colourful Galungan penjors. Only in Bali you will find penjor with the Merah Putih flag...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

My Sister's Keeper: what a great read!

I just finished reading Jodi Picolut’s My Sister’s Keeper this afternoon after two-days reading it (the good side of having cold is that you are entitled to bed rest and reading novels)… and I LOVE IT! 

Now I understand why so many Picoult readers love her work; though the WW run might be an exception. And now, since I’ve read two Picoult novels (Song of a Humpback Whale and My Sister’s Keeper), I think I need to add my two cents, since I disliked Jodi’s run on WW so much (gas station, Diana not knowing how to order coffee… etc etc, though Nemesis’ comment on Diana getting bugs into her eyes while flying was pretty funny actually). It’s a matter of fair play. I didn’t like Jodi’s run on WW; most definitely not. But I love her other work, and that too, I shall admit.

So, go back to MSK. When Picoult’s WW made me winced and frowned, My Sister’s Keeper kept me from sleeping and doing anything else (thank God for the cold…). Jodi Picoult delivered such excellent narrations and characters; I fell in love with some of them almost instantly. Her trademark way of delivering novels in several voices (in this case, at least seven) had grown on me since reading her first novel (Song of a Humpback Whale; an okay one, but definitely not her best). Anna, the teenager who kept donating parts of her body to her sick sister Kate, emerged as my heroine. Campell Alexander, Anna’s attorney, became her side kick, though in reality he’s much older than her. I also feel for Anna’s father, Brian, who tried his best to be a good father, albeit difficult as it was. What I could not really decide is Sara, Anna’s mum. Sometimes I feel for her, but generally speaking, I think Sara’s decisions to make Anna donating her blood, bone marrow, etc for Kate’s health are very selfish… at least controversial. I mean, she coerced Brian to agree to have a genetically-engineered baby to save Kate’s life. Sure Kate’s life is extended long enough… but what of Anna’s freedom of choice? It is very understandable that Anna then decided to bring this matter to a family court, for she felt that her medical independence had too often been compromised.