Made in Alor

I’m lucky to have been surrounded by great women who have been the greatest influence in my life. One of them is my mother.

Throughout my life, I’ve been able to witness the greatest guru I could ever ask for. I don’t know where to begin but she has set the greatest example of how every woman should be. That they could be anything from that wonder woman who nearly gave birth on a bus when she had me, helped find ways for young girls around her to make money for themselves in Alas, in Sumbawa, in Praya, and all places we have lived in. She is that lady who would sell everything people need from clothes to toys, sometimes she managed to ship things like tables and chairs all on her own. She would take that 8-hour bus alone to a different island and come back on the same day. She didn’t finish school but the strength she found in herself had led her to where she is today. On top of that, she raised a rebel like me.

Again, I’m lucky. She is not.

She was born in a town called Kalabahi, a tiny town on Alor island in the eastern part of Indonesia. But she moved to Sumbawa with the entire family before she even got to see her own mother. Her mother was buried in peace on Alor. And then my grandfather met a Javanese woman who then became the grandmother I’ve come to know (the family of my father side was in a different chapter). I still don’t know the details as she refused to tell me further every time the same question was pointed at her. She might not have the answer and I have too much curiosity.

What I know: she has been deeply wanting to come back there.

She would begin, “When all my kids have grown up, I see myself sit nicely on a boat and sail to that old home I never got to live in as a child.”

Her omnipresent son is there now. Im here, in Mama land, I decided to come here trying to reconnect to a part of her life she always wanted to have. It’s one of the stories of life where we couldn’t have the control of what we want. In her case, she didn’t have the option to stay in the place she may have much preferred as we, people who came from the east, were always told to move to the west for more opportunities. Just like what my grandfather did. I’m doing the opposite. I fly to the east in hopes of something I can give to her. I want to have a deeper look at where my mother was coming from. I could grow and go anywhere I want in this world, but this place has shared a strong personal connection to me.

My personal aim is to build something that I could dedicate to my mother. Perhaps, if I could ever change the world, this is where I should start. Mama land……

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