Late posting of a Short-story competition, taken from last year's Long Way Home Asia-Europe Short Story contest conducted by ASEF (Asia Europe Foundation) and Ubud Writers Festival.
Didn't win any prize, but quite happy as I submitted my first ever short-story in English:)
I Love You, Pa…
Jakarta, June 2012
“ Pa, can I further my violin knowledge in London?” I asked anxiously knowing that he has never supported me to take serious study in music.
“ What? Violin again? Do you know that I’ve already prepared your MBA program there? Yes, you can go to UK. Only and if only you’ll further your business study there. Nothing more and nothing less.” Papa sounds so angry and fierce.
Suddenly, the tears fall down on my face. Oh My God, this is too painful!
And that’s not enough.
He goes to our music room, takes my violin and breaks it into pieces right in front of my eyes.
I scream so loud. But it seems that everything I do is in vain.
I take the broken violin and go back to my room.
Enough is enough! I’m not going to be his princess anymore! I’m going to move out from this house!
Ho Chi Minh City, July 2012
After such an argument with Papa, I don’t want to stay in Jakarta anymore.
And my poor Mama is so sad because of that. But, she’s made a wonderful suggestion for me to stay in her youngest sister’s house in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
Aunt Lily-that’s how I called her-has married a French (Uncle Louis).
They have been staying in HCMC in Southern Vietnam for more than 10 years.
I’ve been here before with the whole family for a short trip.
And this time, I’m here alone.
I think I’ve done what I should. I’ve followed Papa’s instruction and had a Bachelor degree in Finance -the field that has never been my interest, because my deepest passion has always been in music. Violin is my life!
Uncle Louis is a great person. I’ve always thought that French people are not that friendly, especially because I don’t speak French much. But, he has shown a different side of warmth that I haven’t seen before. Good for Aunt Lily to have him as her husband. He’s busy doing his hotel business in Vietnam and he’s very successful.
They don’t have any kids. And Uncle Louis accepted her for what she is. Unlike some other guys who’ll divorce their wife because of the similar problem. He knew that Aunt Lily won’t be able to have kids because she’s infertile, but yet he loves her anyway. How sweet!
I spend time eating, watching TV, surfing internet and going to most places Aunt Lily goes. She likes to go to orphanage where children without parents are packed in that place. Around 30 children sleep together. They only sleep in mattresses covered by a big mosquito net. I cry inside when I see this….
Going there, seeing those kids without any parents, made me realize that I’m so lucky to have my Papa all this time. Suddenly I cried in regrets, for never treasuring what I really have in my life. These children want their Papa so badly. While having one, I’ve never really seen his good sides. I always think of our arguments, our differences and forgetting his good values-his virtues.
Yes, he’s not perfect. Sometimes, he’s just so stubborn and wants to do things his way, but he’s a good and responsible dad after all. Suddenly, I realize that it’s just so great to know that he is there. Just being there and be my Papa. Then, I decided to go back to Jakarta and meet him again. I miss you, Pa!
Jakarta, August 2012
I still remember the European or mostly French architectural buildings in Ho Chi Minh City. The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, the Continental Hotel, Diamond Plaza, along Nguyen Hue Street, Saigon River, and all around the city…The mixture itself is so rich. Well, there might be millions of motorbikes, but yes, I did enjoy my trip and found my new perspective there. Like an alien in HCMC, in the midst all of the voices of that foreign language that I’ve never understood, but eventually I’ve found the new meaning of life. I treasure what I have, I love what is in my hand…
Papa and I have already made things up.
We’ve done a good conversation.
I still can go to UK for my MBA and he allows me to find some good music schools as well for my Violin class.
Now, I’m preparing my visa and everything needed for my next trip.
The journey to Vietnam has made me see that I’m just so lucky just to have a dad.
Not to mention as hard-working as my Papa.
A soft whisper in my heart says these words hundred times,
“ I love you, Pa…”
Singapore, 8th of July, 2013
*An Indonesian who currently stays in Singapore and have stayed in Ho Chi Minh City for 3 years.