Have had this heavy feeling in my heart for some time, wanted to write something in Indonesian but later reckoned that I express better in English, so I decided to keep the title remains as it is, in Indonesian; in English it means “if she is still around…”
“If mom is still around…”, this sentence comes whenever I am faced with challenges as well as when I achieve certain success, when I see something beautiful, when I go certain places and when I see stage performances, I will always wish that mom is still around…
I am not a good sister in many ways, I could easily pass as the worst eldest sibling among my circles. If mom is around, I bet she’d be so disappointed in me; at how I failed to lead by example (education, career, relationship and life in general), at how I failed to exemplify what she had always believe in (siblings unity), at how I failed to live out her legacy “kitak adek-berodek harus kompak”, at how I failed to “help” path the way for my younger siblings after she left us.
I use to think we are not close because we didn’t grow up together, we didn’t have that bond like what normal siblings have, our family is dysfunctional, and the list goes on. I could use a thousand and one excuses to save myself from this responsibility. Nevertheless, responsibility somehow found its way back to haunt me; when something bad happened to any of my siblings, when they make bad decisions, when they choose to do the wrong thing, because it’s easier that way.
I dislike to be told what to do, so I try not to enforce the same on others. I fought with my siblings a lot, over big and small things, but never over something that is life-related, never something advice-like, because I do not do that, if I tell you once and you don’t listen, I will not say it for the second time. If mom is still around, I wonder if she would blame me for NOT carrying out my responsibility in saving my sisters, for NOT saying the right thing even if it hurts knowing that it will save them their life instead of being silent and afraid of being called the control-freak, for NOT being the one to give advice at the expense of being hated, shun and rejected, for NOT saying it twice, thrice when they do not choose to do the right thing.
My life is way way far from perfect. In fact, when I look back at my life, it’s amazing how I get to where I am today in one piece (and of course, because there is God; things did not just happened by themselves, I did not get here by myself); being in the company of gamblers (paternal families and relatives) since 5 years old, went on to live with my parents’ boss with their fair share of family issues (complete strangers) for a year, went to Malaysia and stayed at homestay, moved out of homestay after the legal age, stayed with friends, failed one subject, finished college, went to Australia where relationships are loose, alcohols and free sex is normal, finished uni, went to Singapore and work, where identity is measured on material possessions and social status, have my dad worries about my single status at age 30 and not attached. At certain junctures of my life, there were a lot of chances I could have did bad, and I did do bad actually at some point but I turned back, because I do not want to see my mom sad, because I have a dad that is not like other dad, because life is already hard for her and I don’t want her to regret having me. I dare not say I had make her proud in any way, but at the very least, if I can, I will try NOT to do things that she disapproves.
I remember she countlessly reminded us a statement like this “kalau kitak sampai bunting luar nikah, aku nak gontong direk”, to abstain us from getting into easy relationship, to protect our reputation because women are always on the losing side, no matter whether you “do it” or not. I believe what she cares about is whether or not her children will listen to her. Even if none of us get pregnant outside of the wedlock, she will still be sad if we did NOT listen, whether or not you regarded her as your mother and take her word to heart.
- If she is still around, would you still do what you do now?
- If she is still around, what would you do differently?
- If she is still around, would you choose to make her proud?
- If I tell you that even though she is not around anymore, but she knows and sees what you do, would you at least choose to do the right thing?
1 Korintus 10:23 (BIS)
Kata orang, “Kita boleh berbuat apa saja yang kita mau.” Benar! Tetapi tidak semua yang kita mau itu berguna. “Kita boleh berbuat apa saja yang kita mau” –tetapi tidak semua yang kita mau itu membangun kehidupan kita.