Travels with My Mother


It was not cool. When the other backpackers were strutting their giant, back-bending backpack and exchanging gossips, travel wound, next destination and occassional flirt, I was stuck with a mother in various hostel lobby. I had to sacrifice some interesting bar hopping, meeting possible future travel buddies and other joyous, we-are-young-we-are-free night out. My mother couldn’t speak English beyond pleasantries and although endowed with a charm and winning smile, it would be impossible to leave her alone in a foreign land without proper watch.

She was a true Domestic Goddess. Her cooking, a rich fusion of Balinese, Chinese and  Indonesian food, could easily beat the hell out of Farah Quinn and her fake plastic nails. She loved being home, taking care of her kids and husband, the very thing that we are all dread to become. She loved it. She never had this urge to getaway and leave everything and just go... well, not until I took her to our first (mis)adventure to China. Since then, she occassionally would ask, so where are we going next?

We went to see panda together in Chengdu, awed by terracotta warriors inXi’an, cruising on top of the tourist river boat in Guilin,  a street away in Saigon, shop until we dropped in Chatuchak, met the King in Bangkok and walking around the ancienttown of Hoi An.  She’s way too easy to please: just take her to places with pretty scenery, lots of flowers and fresh fruits, not too much sunshine (neither too much snow) and she’d be happy. Being a direction challenged traveler that I am, there were plenty of time I told her to wait and allow me to read map or asking random locals. She didn’t mind that and trusted me absolutely. 

A friend asked me once, was it not difficult to have her with you? And I said: not at all. She just said yes to everything. How lucky, my Mum would just go all Nazi on me whenever we travel, she enviously told me. 

I am lucky. I am lucky I got to spent all those time traveling with her. I am lucky I made the decision to just took her and go. She passed away last January, right after celebrating Chinese New Year. She went into her room to sleep and never came out. In their desperate attempt to soothe my loss people always tell me: how lucky for her, that’s the best way to die. Most of the time I only can nod, bite the inside of my cheek and try not to blurt: but what about me? 

I can totally roam free now. No Mum to watch over and taking care of. I can book a ticket on a whim and just leave... except that I don’t want to do it. That something is amiss. That now if I book a ticket in my airline customer account, her name is still there, one click away. That I still unconciously googling ‘scenery’ or ‘flower market’ in the country I plan to visit. I just realized, I built my whole itenerary around her. At least, we had that memory. 

I know how grief works. I experienced it four years ago when Dad passed away. What I learned: time does heals, forgetting is impossible, letting go of regret is an art that you must mastered to survive, alcohol is sometimes your best friend and most importantly, surround yourself with positive people. It took me for years to heal. It will take me a lifetime to heal from this newly inflicted wound, but I know I’ll get there. Hey, I’m a veteran of loss. Renoir said it best: the pain passes, but the beauty remains.

4 komentar:

Dizzy said...

people's bodies are in fixed states but never our memory of their souls. they'll twist, turn, shapeshift over time. sometimes those make for the most interesting company. always love reading your writing.

SapiMalas said...

terima kasih sayang. Only you can write me such a profound comment.

C. Hasmonio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C. Hasmonio said...

very well written, i can understand your loss but you of all the people your age have experienced a lot and one day you will benefit others from all the grief you've had (:

 

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Hello! I’m Eve Tedja

I have been a professional writer for four years.


During that time, I have worked as a permanent contributor for Let’s eat! Magazine, Hello Bali, epicure, and published my articles in several other magazines like Venture, Panorama, Bravacasa, and Bali & Beyond.


Words, sentences, stories... these are my passion. I love to take new challenges in writing for various format and media. I create contents for websites, blogs, and communication materials. I’ve also worked as a copywriter, translator, coffee book editor, social media coordinator, media consultant, and even writing for a specialty coffee packaging.


Interior design, travel, environment, culinary, culture, history, and social issues are some of the themes that I have worked with in the past. I love getting involves with individuals, companies, organizations, and communities with stories to tell.


I am available for assignment worldwide. Reach me at eve(dot)tedja(at)gmail(dot)com.

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