Ten Days of Love

Roma, an award-winning movie for Best Foreign Language Film in Golden Globe Award 2018 has caught my attention. It reminded me of someone who had shown me what love is. This black-and-white movie took set during political chaos in 1970s Mexico. Roma told a story about a young domestic worker named Cleo who works for a rich family. Like a common housemaid, she does mundane activities in a big house, including taking care of four children. Less dialogue, Cleo does everything wholeheartedly. The family whom she works for is very kind to her, and so are the kids. They make a strong bond with Cleo.

Honestly, I was so moved while watching it, not only because of the sad scenes but also because of the storyline that brought me to a similar feeling of a person I knew. A person who loved me sincerely. Cleo reminded me of mba Sri right away, mom’s niece from my hometown who used to be a caregiver in my family. I think mba Sri was the same age as Cleo. She was just a junior high school graduate.

My mom was a school teacher who worked very hard back then. Getting busier, she needed a trusted person who could help her keep an eye on the children. A week before my birth, mba Sri came to our house. She then took care of me and my brother who was 3 years older than me. She fed me, took me to shower, walked me to school, played with me, and everything in between. She always stood by my side. She was the one I run into whenever I got scolded by my parents. I felt safe behind her as she was never mad at me even when I was wrong. For me, mba Sri was like unbiological mother. My angel.

As I recalled, it happened when I was in fifth or sixth grade. Mba Sri’s father was not in a good condition that required her to go home soon. When things got better, she went back to my house. However, her father was sick again and getting worse at that time. This has put her in a difficult situation. Finally, mba Sri decided to go home to look after her father. And she never came back :'(

The hardest moment hit me not when mba Sri left my house, but when I left hers. Every 2 to 3 years, my family and I went to our hometown (mba Sri’s house) to celebrate Idul Fitri (a Muslim holiday). We stayed there for around one week. When it was time to say goodbye, I just couldn’t hold my tears. It was so hard to go home knowing mba Sri was not with me anymore. I cried along the way; on the minibus, on the train, and even arrived home already. But, I hid it from all my family members as I was afraid they would scold me, and not understand me.

Years ago, I attended training from my former organization which had a focus on child’s rights fulfillment. The topic was interesting: Attachment. The facilitator said that childhood is a golden age for child development (physical, socio-emotional, etc). This is a crucial time when attachment between a child and caregiver is engaged. The caregiver is typically the mother, but the real context is actually wider. It can be a father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, or anybody who takes care of the child.

“Attachment is one specific and circumscribed aspect of the relationship between a child and caregiver that is involved with making the child safe, secure, and protected.”*

Now I understand why I felt so attached to mba Sri. She took care of me just like every mother would do.

My current office had a long holiday on Christmas. Adding a few days off, I had two weeks to be spent. I have listed several popular destinations I would totally love to visit. Guess where I finally go? Mba Sri’s house. At that time, I fully understood that I had sufficient time, budget, and energy. Three main sources that could take me anywhere I want to. I then took a moment to think. Because I had full sources, I thought it would be great to visit some people out there who truly loved me, to appreciate all kindness they have done to me.

My activities there were just eating, reading, journaling, hammocking, watching Korean drama, playing with mba Sri’s son, and running. Repeat for ten days but I never got bored. It was such a wonderful time to pause for a while from the big city rush and then enjoyed the peace of the village atmosphere. Yet the best thing was mba Sri’s presence. Although I grew up this big, I was forever a kid in her eyes. She always treated me well. She didn’t ask shitty questions such as marriage and relationships. You know, you felt accepted just the way you are and that was immensely calming.

One funny thing was at the time when she knew I will visit her, she would definitely take a day off. Mba Sri was a garment worker working from Monday to Saturday. When I asked, “Mba, why don’t you go to work today?” She would say the company is off for today while I knew it was not. She took a leave because she wanted to accompany me fully at home.

Back to my year-end vacation. Time to say goodbye. I promised earlier to myself to not cry anymore if I leave Ungaran. Today was an exception. I couldn’t hold my tears like a long time ago. That was the best ten days of my life at the end of the year. Ten days of love.

Warmest greetings from Mount Ungaran

Cinta yang tulus itu sesungguhnya ada pada orang-orang terdekat.
Balaslah selagi mampu. Temui selagi masih ada waktu.

* Benoit, Diane 2004, Infant-parent attachment: Definition, types, antecedents, measurement and outcome, Paediatr Child Health, accessed 23 March 2019, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724160/#b4-pch09541>.


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