/ Poetry /
My mother delivered me
to this land, her ancestral tears
washed me clean after my first cry.
I am the son of tidal waves and love,
bodies crashing under clouded skies.
As a child, I kissed the mango
tree in my backyard, traced fingers
along the moss growing on warm
stone fences. Down to my shoulders,
my hair flew with me wherever:
rocky hills, rice fields, or muddy
streets. The other boys teased me, called
me a girl, called me pretty. Once
the ice cream peddler arrived
with his box of fruit popsicles,
we piled around him, forgave one
another, then looked for a spot
to squat on the street, where our elbows
could rest against our knees. Fingers
turned sweet with the melted cream.
Jimmy, the oldest among them said,
Stop slouching, puff your chest.
He was my first friend. By the time
we heard the call to prayer,
we were already home. I have more
stories to tell, testimonies
of my childhood: like how I got lost
and mistook someone else’s
country for my own.
* “Surat Bukti Kewarganegaraan Republik Indonesia” or “SBKRI” (Republic of Indonesia Certificate of Citizenship) was an identity card denoting citizenship to the country. This “proof” of citizenship was required to enter academia, obtain a passport, register to vote, and get married. Only non-native Indonesians were required to have SBKRI, primarily the Chinese-Indonesians.