Friday, 15 July 2016


My uncle passed away yesterday.

He was my mom's older brother, and I know was that they were very close. But I didn't hear the news from my parents, let alone my mother. Maybe she was busy handling the funeral, or still was devastated by this loss. Either way, I try to understand the reason her cell-phone was turned off the whole day... even though it made me unable to reach her.

Last night I spent my time thinking. Got my brain working and reminiscing the days when that man was still alive, healthy, and laughing. When I was a little kid, my uncle was the one who most frequently took me out for picnics, visiting various place, or simply having sleepover at his family's house, playing with thirteen (!!) cats his family owned.

He was a funny man. Like, REAL funny. The kind of person who knows how to liven up the crowd, throwing jokes so silly and hyperbolic we cannot know if they are real or just made-up stories (and actually we don't really care even if those are lies).

One of my long-time favorite jokes of his is this one:

It happened when we held an annual family gathering, some days after Eid, and my uncle arrived late. As his closest sister, my mom was the one who dared enough to begin scolding him. (Pardon me, but these dialogue parts will be written in Javanese. Just because.)

"Mobilku ndekmau mogok ning tengah ndalan."
"Hah? Lha terus piye?"

So my uncle sat, joining the rest of our extended family members, and started to talk. "Dadi ki mobilku ndekmau mogok ning tengah ndalan. Ora gelem di-starter, padahal posisine ning tengah-tengah lha wong aku durung sempet minggirke."

My dad looked interested. "Lha terus piye, Mas?"

"Pas aku lagi mumet mikir piye carane minggirke mobil,ono wong numpak Alphard ning mburi ngebal-ngebel wae marai soyo kemrungsung. Niate meh takjarne wae, lha kok suwe-suwe wonge metu seko mobil terus marani aku."

At this point, everyone in the room looked at him enthusiastically, impatient to hear more.

"Wonge nesu-nesu. Muni, 'Bapak ini apa-apaan, mobilnya menghalangi jalan!' karo malangkrik, gayane sajak bos. Aku melu metu soko mobil. Kene, takladeni!"

"Awakmu muni opo, Mas?" asked my mom.

"Aku nesu genti! 'Bapak nggak lihat mobil saya mogok? Bukannya dibantu, ditanya ada masalah apa malah dimarah-marahi. BAPAK PIKIR SAYA NGGAK MAU PUNYA MOBIL BAGUS KAYAK ALPHARD? ADEM, PAKE AC, MESINNYA BAGUS... Saya juga mau, Pak! Tapi ya gimana, mobil saya adanya butut begini!'"

...And apparently, the man with a Toyota Alphard ended up helping my uncle pushing his car to the left side of the road.


Thinking about memories with my uncle last night brought a painful clench inside my chest. He was still a little over 55. He should live for two more decades or so. But then, like a thunderbolt, we were told by the doctors that he got cancer. Last stage.

So everything went downhill pretty fast.

Last night, being all by myself in a quiet room made me remember, that there were times when I was told about someone's passing but didn't feel anything. And I guess that probably it's because I didn't have many things to remember about them. I possess no meaningful memories of them, good or bad. I have memories about my uncle. Some are good, some are not so great. Yet they are meaningful, and that's what makes me capable of feeling sorry.

However, as I savored the pang of loss spreading across my chest, I came to realization that, 'if it makes me sad already when an uncle of mine is gone forever, how would it feel when the time comes for my own family? Nuclear family? My father, mother, and sister?'

We're no immortals.

There will be the moment when our clock stops ticking. And we will be helpless about it. I will be helpless about it.

Suddenly I wanted to go home.

z. d. imama

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