Sunday, January 3, 2021

# adventure # indonesia

Funeral in Yogyakarta Beach

Who else is awkward at funerals? Me too. I maybe good with words but I do have difficulties in being articulate in funerals. Pat in the arm is usually the best I can do, but of course I can't do that to the elders.


This time, it's going to be a bit of a heavy read and more personal than usual. Hence you can close it and open other posts that are lighter if you don't want to read something personal. Well, be warned, daisy. :p

That morning, I remember thinking if I should skip the day and stay home. My auntie and uncle were ready to go at 4.30 am while I was still in my PJ. I told them, "Tbh, I'm not sure if I should go.." It was the day to go to a faraway beach to scatter the cremated ashes of one of my elementary friends' dad. Hence, it was for family and best friends, like my uncle and aunt to the deceased and his wife. Meanwhile, I don't even talk to that friend anymore. Then my uncle replied, "You must remember that his mom had helped picked you up to and from school for quite some time." Asians are usually raised to never owe/burden others, but once we do, it's forever to remember.

For as long as I can remember, school days were nightmares. For someone who hated attention, being well-liked for the visual is like being a white rabbit in hunting seasons. Scratch that, I was a black-footed cat who worked solo, good at hiding (and reading books), hissed when found, clawed around to protect, but from a distance, I looked like a social pretty little cat with big eyes. Back then, I had a terrible trust issue; I was too cautious, and my walls were too high. People often praised how strong I was, but you know there is always a coward inside a wall who is afraid to welcome those who sincerely reaching out, not to mention to accept any kindness in the air. 

Anyway, I ended up going to the beach, out of filial piety to my family. We first picked up another lady friend of my aunt and uncle 32 kilometers away by toll before we headed to Kukup Beach in Yogyakarta, another 85 kilometers road trip. Kukup Beach is one of the eight "Gunung Kidul" beaches. If you ever heard the great legend of Nyi Roro Kidul, Indonesian Goddess of the sea, this is one of those infamous "Pantai Selatan (Southern beaches)" in Yogyakarta. The entry ticket is only IDR10,000/person, and remember this top unwritten rule: NEVER enter the beach wearing anything green or blue. People would frown as if you are a lost cause, but they might also tell you to change clothes or not enter at all. The rational way to see it, because if you drowned, you'd be hard to spot because your clothes' color resembles the sea. Mystic-wise, green and blue have always been Nyi Roro Kidul's emblem, so wearing it in her territory is like asking her for attention to be taken. Locals say Nyi Roro Kidul prefers young and handsome men, but new female maids would be great too, and when she wants you, your soul she'll get. For those who wear white as their beach color like me, this is not a problem.


The funny thing about me and this beach, I went there 2 or 3 times only to scatter ashes, so I never got to see the tourist spot. Nonetheless, though we were far enough from the tourist spot, the place was still crowded with people without masks. It was still amid a pandemic, so I was just as dumbfounded.


Another funny thing about being Asian. Remember when a pretty jiejie in the previous post said I don't look my age? The lady friend of my aunt and uncle asked me if I was on a school holiday. Do I have to put make-up on? Maybe, but on a more serious note, I'll keep emphasizing that I look taller because I'm skinny and I look like a school girl because I rarely wear make-up unless for special occasions. Now, this is every guy from hometown who hadn't seen me since high school, "Are you a vampire or what? You sure got taller but don't look a day over 18!" followed by their parent, "You haven't married yet, right? Any boyfriend?" I wished I could say I was gay at times like this. Actually, I did try it once, and another problem occurred as words travel and I attracted the wrong group. :/ I had to clarify and apologize for being inconsequential.


Back to that day, I ended up not saying anything about condolences. I was just there existing, smiling, taking pictures, helping a bit, and answering questions, trying to give out good vibes at least. I don't know what to say to those who just lost their loved ones, so I treated them like normal instead.

Since Buddhist is their religion, the ceremony was done by two monks in a coral cave before they scattered the ashes to the sea. Afterward, the eldest son came along with the other two experienced locals over-crossing to a coral reef. They brought one crock of the bone ashes, another of the ashes of the belongings, and a basket of flower petals.

People say when a good man dies, his funeral procession will run smoothly and unwrinkled. I witnessed it that day too when some problems occurred but were solved almost immediately. I also heard that the ashes usually go with the wind first, but that day, every time the eldest son sprinkled the ash, a wave would always come as if embracing them before the wind caught it. In the tradition I know, it foreshadows a smooth journey to the afterlife, for nature has welcomed the vessel with ease.

From an early age, I know I want to be cremated too after I die. I want my ashes scattered in no other than the ocean. First, it's a beautiful place to say goodbye to your loved ones. Second, I don't want to burden my family with my burial and grave care. They can just look at the sea to pray or remember me by.

Before we left, my friend apologized for something mean he did in elementary. I stared at the ocean blankly for a few seconds wondering, "The hell did he do, lol." Despite not recalling anything worth apologizing for, I said to him, "Water under the bridge, we were just kids. I'm sorry too if I ever hurt you somehow and don't remember it." He said I have a really strong heart. Strong. That word again. Just like beautiful or pretty. One can hear too much of a word until it loses its meaning. The thing is, I'm not even sure if I was that strong. I was just turning the feel-button off as a defense mechanism during schools, so dodging wounds was easy. Now that I learned to embrace pain while my pain receptors are on, I dare say that this strength and courage outgrew the coward behind the walls I was.

We stopped by the lady friend's house in the afternoon before continuing our road trip home. She has a lovely garden with a small basketball court for her sons, a Maria Cave since she is Catholic, and mango trees. I think this is an Asian thing too since every Asian house I know always has at least one mango tree in the yard. I like it.

I slept all the way home, too many people and socializing for a day. I remember the last thing on my mind before I dozed off was some women I know who had buried their late husbands. These women didn't turn off their pain receptors or shut people off. They grew to accept the pain, walked up straight, and lived with it. They're still there for their children, do what matters, and that's what I call resilient. Right now, I'll settle with "strong'", but one day it will be "resilient" too.


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