Of all places in Indonesia, why Malang? It’s a typical pambungad that’s thrown to me by locals here when my non Javanese-sounding accent (when I speak Bahasa Indonesia) starts to reek. By chance. I don’t know what Indonesian word best captures that English word. Chance is an e-mail I sent to my former employer about my vacant time this semestral break . The next day, I found myself editing reporters’ copies. Chance is joining a Toastmasters group in Malang, and meeting Reggy who owns a lovely piano that answered my pianist’s prayer. Chance is asking a coast guard whether I could still hop in that overloaded ferry without expecting a positive response. Chance is asking Glenda whether I could try applying for a position open to journalists familiar with capital markets. Of course, in order to save my self from humiliation, I don’t tell them that coming to Malang was born out of chance. Instead, I am writing it here. I am writing it in English, a language I first learned at home, a language I can use to defend myself from people who think I’m bobo because my Indonesian sounds like a villager who haven’t been to places apart from Malang and his desa, and then laugh in disbelief when I say I could speak at least five languages apart from Bahasa, and that I can read and write in English without lifting an electronic dictionary. Because answering the same question over and over again makes me feel like a puppet, and I don’t like acting one. That’s why I rarely say assalamualaikum. I always have this hatred towards repetition. Although I don’t mind eating gado-gado every single day. But beyond that, anything that is repeated losses its importance. Like seeing a friend everyday. So in Malang, there would be times I would show up to my friends, and there would be months I wouldn’t. Sometimes, I would barrage them with late night thoughts on Whatsapp. Just sometimes. I think it confuses them when all of a sudden I appear indifferent through the okays or alrights that I send them as replies, or when I’m extremely quiet while burying my face with a thick novel inside the car. That’s because apart from repeating things, like applying for another scholarship in the same country, I hate routine. It reminds me of my first job (was it even a job?) at an outsourcing company in Makati. We would hit a certain sales target and follow a script and memorise the US states and their capitals. My former lecturer had already predicted that I would quit in a couple of weeks, and I hated her for predicting it, because like I said I hate patterns, and I hate them even more because they turn out to precede events. That’s why I loved my last job in Manila and had very few reasons to resign, one of them was chance. That around this week last year, the Indonesian Embassy has began arranging my migration documents for a scholarship application I thought I flunked.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Taking chances

  1. “That around this week last year, the Indonesian Embassy has began arranging my migration documents for a scholarship application I thought I flunked.”

    This line. This is what I love/hate most about Indonesia. They like to surprise people.

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