a memory and a hope

“i would like to sing for the suppressed people

living in the wild with bereft souls…”

our minds work in a funny way, don’t you agree? one second i was looking at the snow, feeling the cold, the next second i was thinking of my old hometown and how i used to take the sun’s heat for granted. and next i thought about what my friend said one day, how most Indonesian people do take it for granted–including herself, as well–and usually say to foreigners how great life must be in the foreigner’s country, not thinking of how hard life might be there in some other aspects (going to the supermarket on foot in winter is i’m sure something that rarely crosses their minds). and then the next second, i thought about the people in Jakarta, living under the bridges & flyovers, thanking their stars for not having to suffer through winter, especially being homeless and shirtless.

and then the next second, my mind arrived to an old acquaintance i had when i was going to the university, back in my old hometown.

it arrived there, because he was one of those homeless people. how i became acquainted to him was something i don’t think i ever mentioned to anyone before.

i used to live in the south part of Jakarta, and my university was just outside of Jakarta, in Depok. my everyday commuting life back then was taking 2 bus rides, which took about 1,5 hour in total, for one direction (that made 3 hours of commuting daily). it wasn’t that it was so far away (well, it was far, but that’s not the reason it took so long), but it’s because my transfer from one bus to the other took place in one of the busiest traditional marketplace in South Jakarta, called Pasar Minggu. the buses went through the small gaps, woven between the abundance of marketplace sellers & their tarmacs full of fresh produces, and since we’re talking about Jakarta that had no clear traffic system, there were always at least dozens of different buses queuing in this area at the same time before they could finally be ‘free’ to go to their own routes. so, you can probably imagine the length of time i spent waiting and frying inside these buses everyday (my buses weren’t air conditioned, of course).

every day, as i waited in the bus, there would be street singers hopping on and off my bus. when i had extra coin or small bank note, i would give them what i could, but most of the time my budget was just enough for the day, so i couldn’t help them even if i wanted to. some of them sang just so that their bosses could see that they were ‘working’, some of them actually sang with their hearts. usually, i would wait until i found those that sang with their hearts to give what small amount of money i could to them instead of the other group.

among these street singers, one of them was a man, probably around the same age as i was back then, maybe slightly older. he was probably the only one easy for me to remember, because of his appearance. he had very dark skin, big eyes, long curly hair which was always ‘half’ bleached no matter what time of the year it was, so that it was deep black from the roots to halfway the total length and very blonde from then on to the ends. he always carried a guitar and was one of those who sang with his heart.

the first couple of times i ‘met’ him in my bus, i was running short on my money that i couldn’t give anything to him. but, he always smiled. some time after that, i finally did have extra, so i was already planning to give it to him the next time i saw him. when that time finally came, and he finished singing and started walking around the bus to collect the money in the aluminum foil bag he was holding, i was putting my money to the bag when he suddenly said to me, “hep, no, no, that’s okay, miss!” and i was baffled. he didn’t want my money.

after he completed his round, he came to sit next to me, which happened to be empty. and i, as somebody who had always disliked talking to strangers even before moving to Finland, was wary of this. oh dear, i thought, he did not want my money but wanted my company? darn it. usually if some stranger who sat next to me in the bus started to talk to me, i would pretend not to hear what they’re saying (yes, i was cruel). but i couldn’t see my way out of this one because i would still be stuck there in my transfer point for a while.

and so, he started, “are you going to school, miss?” i said, shortly, “yes”. he asked where i went to school, and i told him my university name (and cursed myself why i had to be so honest. what if he was a stalker?). he was amazed by my answer, i guess it’s because my university name does bear good quality. then he started talking about himself, mostly, i guess because he could see i was being careful and only gave him short answers. he told me that he, too, wished he could go to the university, but could only sing in buses so far. the first time he sang, he did not even have a guitar, so he had to go with others who had musical instruments, saved money until he could buy a guitar, and finally, now, he could sing alone.

the bus began to move forward and he quickly bid his goodbye, but before he left, he asked my name. i told him a fake name, because my brain was still telling me to be cautious, and that was the end of our first conversation.

that happened during my first year of college. i still had 2 more years, so you can imagine how many more times i met him in my bus. it wasn’t daily, but there were a lot of times. i gradually saw that he didn’t mean anything bad, and if he was a stalker i would already be stalked by then. i started having quite ‘okay’ conversations with him, but most of the time, just like the first time, it was him who did the talking. he told me that he was now saving up for new shoes, and showed me that the only pair of shoes he had had holes in them. and every time i offered him what little money i could, he never took it. i think at one point i told him that i had shoes i didn’t use, and if he would like them. he asked my shoe size and when he heard it, he laughed because my shoe size was a lot bigger than his! he even joked that i must be one of the ‘mountain people’, who genetically have big feet. needless to say, my offer was turned down.

sometimes he did the singing with a group of his other friends, and when his friends came near to me to collect money, he would tell them, “no, not her! she’s my friend.” pretty soon, even his friends would recognize me when he wasn’t around, and also did not want my money.

one day, i went to the university as usual and i was the one who spotted him first before i got on to my bus. i tapped his shoulder (because even then, after many of our conversations, i still didn’t know his name) and said hi. he was friendly as usual, but i told him my news: this was my last time going through this route, because i had graduated. he was so happy for me, congratulated me, and told me good luck with my life. i wished him the same, and we parted.

that really was the last time i saw him, even though i still lived in Jakarta for many years afterwards. never once did he cross my mind, until now.

i wonder if he is still around, and again, thank the heavens that he never has to feel the bitter cold of winter in his old & hole-y shoes. i wish i could have helped him more, and hope that he is doing okay. i hope he knows, that even when it may not seem so, he was actually blessed in his life, to have what he had.

remembering him makes me want to listen to this song, a song so popular among street singers in Jakarta. maybe it’s because it’s about them, the suppressed people, living in Jakarta. maybe it’s to tell each other, the street singers and beggars, to not lose hope, stay strong and be thankful for life as it is.

Serenade by Iwan Fals and KPJ (Street Singer Group), 1985, sung in Keroncong style.

roughly translated lyrics:

i would like to sing for the suppressed people

living in the wild with bereft souls

why be afraid of the sun, make a fist and block its heat

why be afraid of the night, light a fire in the heart, shoo away the darkness

i would like to sing for the rejected clans

losing their fighting spirits

complacent in a long dream in the midst of uncertain life

on the streets’ alleys of alleys

under the underside of bridges

on the street vendors’ feet

under the tower

you still cradle the suffering

i would like to sing a song without poverty and hypocrisy

without tears and misery

so we could see the heavens

 

travelling without moving

“if i were to visit you later this year, would that be okay?” asked a friend of mine, V, some time early this year. mind you, we live half a world apart and hadn’t seen each other since 2010. and even then we only met for like 10 minutes. before i moved to Finland, we used to meet everyday, or at the very least every weekend because i was in a long distance relationship with you-know-who and she was single at that time. we accompanied each other in our singledoms. 😀

1a

long time no see!

so of course you can guess how i answered her question. everything was just a crazy idea at that time, but after months of plannings and messages back & forth, it finally came: the moment she was finally here in Finland to visit me!

it was a short visit among the rest of her Europe trip, but we had lots of fun! it’s not everyday (not even every month, or year!) that somebody from Indonesia comes to visit me, and then i get to show her/him around. for me to talk freely in Indonesian and see the city like a tourist felt like travelling without moving… because i didn’t actually go anywhere, just experienced the same city/things in different ways, in ways a tourist would.

Marimekon tehtaanmyymälä (Marimekko’s Factory Outlet)

would you believe it if i tell you that all these years i’ve lived here, i had never once gone there? well, i made it my personal goal that we went there right away on the 1st day, because i knew she would just love it. and she did. i think she died a little there from seeing all the lovely things, LOL.

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum

one of my all time fave museums/galleries. currently they show Choi Jeong Hwa’s Happy Together collection, which i really love, along with Ernesto Neto’s and Jani Ruscica’s collection. (there are other artworks by other artists as well, but the main/solo ones are what i previously wrote.)

we had a great time here, touching things, smelling things (yep, there’s an installation for your sense of smell!), and just being wowed by the fun artworks.

Ateneum Art Museum

we came here on the very last day of her visit and barely made it before the museum closed. they currently showcase Alice Neel’s artworks which are just fantastic! there are also Finnish artists’ artworks in Stories of Finnish Art and Italian print artworks in the Great Rider collection.

we met up with my other friend, E. it was kind of surreal for me to actually witness my 2 friends from different parts of the world & different times of my life meeting each other!

Other Places & Foods

at first i had planned to introduce Finnish foods to my friend, but i guess that’s too idealistic… because to be honest, the best place to find Finnish foods is from people’s homes! meaning: i would have to cook them myself. and i was too lazy for that, LOL! so i scrapped that idea and just followed my tummy when it was time for us to eat.

i really enjoyed playing tourist as i get to do things i don’t normally do. and having someone you know getting excited over something you’ve been taking for granted allows you to see it differently, and gets you excited as well.

thank you for coming, V! hope to see you again real soon! 🙂

PS. most of the pics here were taken by V and used by permission.

let’s talk about prejudice

i think i can say that i don’t easily get offended by comments from other people that has to do with how i look (= Asian, among Caucasians). since i’m not yet familiar with the Finnish slang words, i doubt i would even understand it if anyone were to offend me with any racist words. 😀 it’s useful to be deaf sometimes.

but i must admit that there are times when the “hidden” meanings annoy me even more than plain racist comments. and here are some that i’ve encountered more than once, and not just towards me here in Finland, but also towards my husband in Indonesia (again, as a reminder, prejudice/racism/discrimination does not only happen in the western world; it happens everywhere).

–“you must like working here!” said some stranger to me while i was at work. at first i didn’t think much of it, and just said something like, “sure, it’s a nice place to work at.” but then she went on to say how it’s great that “somebody like me” can have a job, because she was sure that i would not have the same opportunity in my home country. this was said before she even asked where i came from, and we were talking in the same language. i wondered then if my Finnish was just so bad that i immediately seem ‘foreign’ to her, but then i quickly remembered that i talk the same way to other strangers and they never react the same way as this person. so, i figured, the problem was not with my Finnish, it’s with this particular stranger i was talking with.

and then, as usual, the conversation would went on to this other person asking me if i live here with my family, which would usually mean my parents, my siblings, etc. to which of course i said, no. first of all, it’s really none of anyone’s business who i live with. second of all, upon seeing someone with different skin colour and different eye shapes, of course she would automatically think that i came here with my whole family for a better living. bring the whole neighbourhood to this rich country, steal the native people’s workplace & live happily ever after!

because–and this is an even worse thought–if i had married a Finn, i can’t possibly be working, right? i must be just a stay-at-home mum or shopping-all-the-time wife. the fact that i “like working here” when i wouldn’t otherwise have a job in my home country surely indicates that my whole Asian family is here and i have to work hard to make money for them.

this is just one example, though, and it incidentally happened here in Finland. but rest assured that i’ve seen and heard it many times as well in Indonesia, the ‘locals’ or ‘natives’ being defensive towards ‘foreigners’, thinking that they only want to steal their jobs, steal their land (still traumatized by colonial times, maybe?), etc. and in both countries, people can make these thoughts or beliefs hidden in seemingly polite words.

–a stranger starts talking to you in the assumed ‘native’ language. some (Caucasian) people have tried talking to me in: Thai, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Indian, Chinese. if they were genuinely thinking that i came from one of those countries and wanted to make some kind of conversation to me, i can still laugh about it… though for the life of me, i can’t understand why they did it before asking where i come from. i mean, what if i was born in Finland and have grown up only knowing Finnish language?

anyway, what annoys me is when somebody just say, “ni hao!” or “konnichiwa!” or whatever else just as a way to ‘greet’ me when we pass by each other on the street.

also, making a stereotypical-rhetorical comment/question towards somebody who looks like he/she might come from a specific country falls into the same category. i once sat down next to a guy i didn’t know at the cafetaria of my language course. he wasn’t originally Finnish, and was also a student, just like me. i was being polite and asked if i could sit there since there was nowhere else to sit, and he said yes. and then the next thing he said, before anything else (asking my name or where i was from), upon seeing my lunch for the day (rice), was, “why do Chinese like to eat rice?”

and it wasn’t meant to be a joke, either. i think i only replied, “i don’t know, why don’t you ask a Chinese if you want to know?” with as cold of a tone as possible and ate my lunch as quickly as possible to get the hell away from him.

–“i’m not a racist, because i work with people from all around the world, of all kinds of skin colour, etc.” making a point of saying it to somebody who looks like a ‘foreigner’ does NOT make it sound genuine. i mean, honestly, why bring up the subject in the first place if you really are NOT a racist?

believe it or not, this came out from the same stranger as the one i mentioned at point #1. 😀 i felt like laughing inside when she suddenly said that. of course, when you spell it out like that, it must be really true.

rather than saying it, it would be much more believable if you would act it. talk to me without seeing my skin colour or my eye shape. 90% of the other strangers i meet everyday can do this, so why can’t you?

and to be honest, if you are just curious, i would feel a lot better if you just plainly ask. i never get hurt if someone asks me where i’m originally from, how long i’ve been here, and sometimes even why i came here. straight-forward questions like those are much better than prejudiced statements.

on July 2015, i…

1. did 3 sewing projects and 1 remake project. this is all thanks to the rainy summer days right when i was having my summer holiday. summer? what summer? :p

2. turned 34. this time i let it slip on my other social media account exactly when my birthday was, and people actually congratulated me. wow. i mean, even those whom i hadn’t talked to for years. it felt weird, in a nice way. since i just had a slight mental breakdown some months ago, this made me appreciate my life, and myself, a little bit more. so thank you, those who cared to drop me a line & wished me happy birthday. 🙂

birthdaydinner

birthday dinner: sushi!

3. went to the family’s summer place & spent quality time with my siblings-in-law, and baby A! he was just so cute & i’ll never forget how he smiled at me when i “danced” with him. during the same stay, i got to have my very first sighting of a wild deer. it just came stampeding in the middle of our summer place one morning, stopped in its track when it noticed me (i was alone, we were about 20 m apart), and then continued to stampede away. unfortunately i didn’t even have my phone to take any picture, but it happened. i felt so lucky to be the only one who experienced that.

mokki

babysitting & relaxing at the same time

4. lost an aunt. she was one of my dad’s older sister, whom my husband had fortunately also met almost a decade ago. she once invited us to her house just so that she could also get to know my husband (then-boyfriend) and took us out to eat. there are countless times when my family and i spent times with her during the Eid al-Fitr & Eid al-Adha celebrations, going on trips to Bandung, and other family gatherings. she was somehow always there, it’s hard to imagine that now she won’t be anymore. but i hope she has found peace now. you will be missed, Bude. ❤

5. was again reminded that i do have friends. so they may not be the same kind as the ones i had once in my life a long time ago, but it felt nice when i met them at a party, after a long time that i had not met them, and the first thing they wanted to do was hug me, and take pictures with me. when i was having my breakdown, i ‘complained’ about the fact that i never have any pictures of myself & (a) friend(s). i felt like i had no one, except for my husband and family (well, they’re always there for me, so they don’t count. sorry!). so imagine my surprise when this happened. i would walk around in the party, and all the time somebody would call me and say, “i want to get a picture of us together!” and ask somebody else to take the pic. maybe to them i will just be in one of their 1000 pics uploaded to FB or Instagram, but to me it actually meant a lot more than that. thank you, for whatever your reason was to get that picture of us together, you made me realize that i am not alone.

collage

i ❤ these people. 😀

6. had my first experience of singing karaoke in front of everybody… outside of my own home town. this happened on the same party as number 5. for those who don’t know, karaoke in Jakarta is just like in Japan, done in private rooms, only to be shared with your close friends/family. well… this is Europe! karaoke = singing and embarrassing yourself in front of the whole bar. or a party. but i did it! HA! though i did it with 2 of my friends, not completely alone. people danced to our song, so i don’t think it was that bad! 😉

7. went to Copenhagen for a day. it was fun!

8. got contacted for a possibility to become a model for a world known brand/company. it was the same agency as the one in this blog post. what surprised me was that they actually contacted me (!!! after all these years!), and the brand/company is THAT famous. this was another reminder of everything i wrote there on my old blog post, that i should be happy with the way i am. though i knew that since it was still a pre-production election, and they only ‘judged’ it solely by our looks, i wouldn’t stand a chance among the other candidates–this is because i never, ever, won for anything based on my looks–but still i felt good about myself. the agency cared enough to contact me & give me a chance, so that was nice. i didn’t end up getting it (just found that out yesterday), which is a bummer since i could really use some extra money (who wouldn’t), but it’s okay. i think maybe the whole thing happened only to remind myself about the fact that i am good enough to even be considered. 🙂

yay, i got through another month! welcome August!

PS. for safety & privacy reason, i heavily edited the pics. obviously most of the pics were taken by other people, and the credits go to them, not me.

to be remembered

isn’t that what we all want?

i don’t mean in the way that when you pass away from life, people will remember you (though that would be nice as well), but more like in everyday life.

you pass by someone who used to sit next to you in elementary school, and he remembers you.

it’s your birthday, and your old friend whom you haven’t met for years remembers it and sends you a short but sweet birthday wish.

your new boss who has only been at work with you for a few days calls you by your name, correctly.

i don’t know about you, but i at least like being remembered in simple things like these. it makes me feel like i’ve made quite an impression in other people’s lives for them to remember my name, my face, etc. (well, remembering my birthday is a great bonus.)

about a month ago, there was a family party from my husband’s side. my husband’s grandmum, which i have known now for about 9 years, came as well, with my husband’s granddad. around 2 months before, we had met for lunch as well. so it wasn’t as if we hadn’t met for years.

but, my husband’s grandmum did not remember me. actually, she did not remember pretty much anyone, not even my husband, or my husband’s mum. she could only introduce herself as the wife of my husband’s granddad.

yes, she suffers from dementia. and i have been told, before that party, that her condition had started to become worse. but i really wasn’t ready to be forgotten.

of course, when i think of it, it’s only natural that she did not remember people whom she doesn’t meet every day (or week). and technically i have only been in 1/10 of her entire life. so, it makes sense. knowing that i wasn’t the only one she did not remember was also… er… comforting? :p

a few weeks after the party, she got admitted to the hospital. the dementia is now so bad that she can not be left alone/unattended anymore (for fear that she might wander about, and get lost on her own). when they tested her memory, she could only get 1 correct answer out of 10. we take turns visiting her there, just to talk to her and relive the memories.

the first time my husband & i visited her, we were a bit nervous. what if she couldn’t remember us at all? would she panic? did she even want to see us?

but when we walked through the door of her room, she looked at my husband and said warmly, “hello! i’ve been waiting for you!” and went on to say his name. and she looked at me, and called me by my name, correctly! 🙂

we were both so happy and relieved. we spent a bit more than an hour there just to talk to her, about the past. sometimes she got confused, but she was always so positive, and when we reminded her of how things actually were, she laughed about her own forgetfulness.

then, just before we left, she asked us to help her get up from bed. my husband asked, “what do you want, grandmum?”, worried that she might get confused again and thought she needed to come home with us. but her answer was, “i want to give you two goodbye kisses!”

🙂 it was a happy day, to be remembered by someone who has dementia.

she is currently still in hospital & we are still taking turns to see her. i think it’s doing her good to be with her family members, and talking about the past (and my husband also tests her about the present time sometimes). she still remembered us whenever we visited her.

and i will always remember that she remembered me. 🙂

something fishy

still sticking with simplicity and a simple sewing project. but this time, it’s not for me.

when i first came to visit Finland, just for a holiday, i was so unprepared for the cold spring. it was late May, and my then-boyfriend (now-husband) had first came to Jakarta to meet me up, and together with my family we went first to Kuala Lumpur, and after a few days i would continue my journey to Finland with him while the rest of my family went back home. while we were in KL, my then-boyfriend’s mum would send him SMSes, saying how warm and sunny it was. 25-28C degrees everyday. so i was glad i had packed a few summer dresses and sandals with me.

and of course it all changed when i arrived in Finland. that morning, and i remember this very well–because i was quite shocked, to be honest–it was a mere 8C degrees and all i had were a few knit cardigans and thin cotton coat. how was i supposed to surviiiiiveeeee?????

well, long story short, i did survive. by borrowing my boyfriend’s mum’s shoes, his sister’s vests and jackets, etc. ergh, talk about great first impressions!

but my shoes did not survive. on that trip, i had a pair of custom made (but very cheap) emerald green velvet shoes that i loved very much, and after walking and walking and walking around town, these cheaply made shoes just couldn’t take the pressure and broke on my last week here. to make it even more tragic, they broke just before we were going to see a ballet performance, and i had no other shoes to wear!

as soon as this came up, my boyfriend’s mum’s partner (who does not speak English at all, so i could not even communicate with him other than saying kiitos and hei) said something and took out his magic box (= toolbox). my boyfriend said, “he’s going to try to fix it.” and he did it! i managed to go to the ballet wearing my back-from-the-dead shoes, and they did not even break on the road or anything. 🙂

when it was time for me to pack my things to go back to Jakarta, one of my bags’ zipper broke. my boyfriend again mentioned this to his mum’s partner, and bibidibabidiboo, he fixed it again. i managed to use the bag to go back to Jakarta and even a long while afterwards.

fast forward a few years, i finally learned to speak Finnish, and i can now communicate with my boyfriend’s mum’s partner (who is now her husband). there were countless times when he helped us with many other things after my first trip to Finland, like when my boyfriend first got our apartment, assembling the things, when we moved to this new house, picking us up here and there…. needless to say, even when he is not really my dad-in-law, in a way, i feel like he could just as well be.

he also likes to fish. and he’s very good at it. whenever he catches lots of fish, we would get invited to their place, and he would prepare the fish himself (most of the time, at least).

so now i decided to give a little something as a thank you. something fishy, for a fish lover.

fishapron1i first got ‘inspired’ when i saw a table runner in Ikea with the fish print. that is just perfect for him! and it was 40 x 200 cm in size, so i thought that should be enough for me to create something out of it.

without thinking much, i just started making it (without any pattern). fishapron2after nearly finishing it, i just realized that the upper part seemed a bit too big, even probably for him. so i folded the corners to the back and sewed it by hand using thin wool yarn.

fishapron4i sewed 3 buttons on the neck band so that it would be adjustable, since i don’t really know his size.

fishapron3the pockets are made of one big rectangle, sewn on the sides and some parts in the middle.

fishapron5after i was done sewing, i was still left with a small piece of the fabric left. so i sewed all the edges and added it to the gift as a small hand towel.

fishapron6there’s the original label from Ikea and i copied the care instructions on the ‘packaging’ i made for the gift.

and there it was, a super simple project for a simple man who loves to help others. i really hope he will like it and that it will be useful for him (preferably when he’s busy preparing the fresh fish cuisines for us!).

about Oma

Oma is a name i call my grandmum with.

Oma lived in Bandung, and that had always been our holiday destination from as long as i can remember, whether it be the school holidays (June-July) or the Christmas/New Year’s holidays. she lived alone, since my granddad had long gone, when my mum was still in her twenties. but she didn’t really live alone, because she actually leased some rooms in her house to college girls. i guess i meant that none of our other family members live in Bandung, so she was practically alone.

Oma was a great cook. her specialty was egg salad, but i also loved her pastel tutup (kind of like a pie), hutspot (hotchpot), and pea soup (much better than the canned pea soup, for sure!).

Oma loved monkeys (at least i believe so!). i remember when we were kids, as my sister & i, along with our 2 cousins, arrived at her house for the holidays, my grandmum happily greeted us and exclaimed, “i thought i saw 2 monkeys, but it turned out there’s 4 arriving at the same time!” later on, when she went to the states to go to one of our cousins’ wedding, she came home with a monkey stuffed toy for herself, the kind with a spot on its tummy that you can push, and you can hear the monkey sound. she loved this particular stuffed toy so much, and whenever we went there to her house, she would ask one of us to take it out from her glass shelf and push the tummy. together we would enjoy the monkey sound & laugh.

Oma loved making handcrafts. she started making all sorts of knitted animals (bears, mostly) when i was around 12 or 13. she would make these knitted animals as house or car decorations, and she would also make things like toilet paper holders and attach the knitted bear heads (or whatever else) on them. she sold these things in her own house, to people from her church, friends of the girls who rented her extra rooms, and even family members (like me). 😀

Oma loved Coca Cola so much, the doctor had to tell her to stop drinking it, otherwise her spine would get too weak from her osteoporosis. she became addicted to teh kotak ever since (a cold tea drink with jasmine flavour). she was also addicted to Pizza Hut, McD’s spaghetti, and all kinds of chocolate. i guess that was her secret recipe for her long life.

as she grew older, it was plain to see that she couldn’t live alone anymore. so we moved her to Jakarta, where she would live with my mum’s sister & her husband. gradually it became harder for her to walk, and her hearing also weakened.

but she still loved sewing. she would make dozens of fabric bags, that she would then sell to people at the hairdresser she always went to, friends and relatives of my mum’s sister. she said she couldn’t stand not doing anything, and sewing was the only thing she could still do & enjoyed doing, too.

Oma inspired most of my works. i was the number one fan of her handmade bags, i kept buying her latest “bag collection” that in the end she would give me the bags for free. 😀 when i started my own business, Ame No Machi boutique, she supported it by ordering some clothes from us. she gave me her old sewing magazines, the ones she managed to save from her old house in Bandung, even though i couldn’t sew yet that time. when i moved here, and finally learned to sew, she gave me her old sewing machine.

it’s not only my sewing works that she inspired me with. for some reason, whenever i write a story (the longer ones that i hope to one day be published), i would always have a “grandmum” character to accompany the main female character.

Oma had lived a long life of 98 years. this April she was supposed to turn 99. but for the past few months her health dropped down. she no longer sew bags, and earlier this week she was admitted to the hospital. last night she slipped into unconsciousness, but still i called my mum and asked her to put the mobile phone to Oma’s ear, so i could still tell her how much i love her.

today she was finally lost to us. i’d like to think that she lived a happy life, full of contentment & joy. i’d like to think she’s in a much better place now, together again with her beloved husband, my granddad whom i never met.

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this picture is special to me, since it was taken by my sister’s late husband, Victor, in 2010. i hadn’t met Oma (or my other relatives, for that matter) for 3,5 years at that time, and this occasion where the picture was taken was the first time i met her again. she was wearing the blouse she ordered from my boutique, and i had chosen that fabric for her myself.

now i’d also like to think that Oma is together with Victor, too.

yes, i can see them all now in my head. maybe even together with Romppu. 🙂 may you rest in peace, Oma. thank you for all the beautiful memories, the laughter that we’ve shared, and for inspiring me. we will meet again one day.