[SHORT STORY] Lost and Found

Cirebon, December 2016

            I don’t know why..  I don’t want to blame my students, but.. Nowdays, I think they are not really into traditional dance, you know what I mean? They go to our studio just for fun, not for try to be better to do it. So we can’t expect for a really good progress. Hey, Tari Topeng isn’t easy dude. Most of my students learn Kelana here, but no one of them really into the feeling…”
            The guy who sits next to me just staring at the rain falls without saying a word. We sit at our studio balcony with 2 cups of tea after my class had already finished. I know he heard my voice, but I am not sure that he listen to my story -even the fact is he was the one who started this conversation. After a few minutes, he opens his mounth and say, “sorry, Mei.. But I heard a news, they said that you talk about moving too much. What happened here? What happened since I left the city?”
            I don’t know why.. Maybe I just too tired or there is no challenge to do it anymore.”
            Rey laughs, “I know you since we are in kindergarten. I know how our parents love Cirebonese culture. We learnt Tari Topeng and started to be an instructor together in the beginning of high school. I know how you love Indonesia. I know how people can say, ‘let’s do a class with Meisianita because she is really good at traditional dance, I can feel the vibes whenever I dance with her.’ But all just gone and no progress in your class. It’s been 3 months and I’m afraid you’ll get fired.”
            I grab my cup of tea and drink it a little. “It’s hard to keep up here, Rey. All I know is.. I can not forget him. When the sun goes down, when I look to the sky.. Even when I eat nasi jamblang.. Or go to Car Free Day at Siliwangi instead of waking up late in Sunday morning… All I remember is him.  I knew he would not come back. I knew he lied. I knew he never loved me.” My hands are shaking and I can not help to avoid my tears.
            I have tried my best to stop my tears.
            But every little things in this studio led me back to him.
            I met that Australian guy three years ago. He moved to Cirebon for some reasons that I can not even believe that I have trusted him. I was here for work, being an instructor for traditional dance is one of my favorite things. I love Indonesian’s culture since I was a little. I love everything about my country. Luckily, he came to this studio when I taught my students and we ended up talk to each, but not really much. I still remember the spark in his eyes when he asked me to be his instructor, and I said yes.
            Those sparks keep up my spirit.
            Those sparks fly every time we dance together.
            He stayed in Cirebon a little longer than any other businessman who ever be my student. After a couple months of our lesson, he asked me for a date and I said yes. I was only 20 years old and I love the idea of being in love. His blue eyes and the way he tried hard to study Indonesian Culture really made me happy.
            I love to share what I love. I love to taught people what I love to do.
            We did a lot of things together. We went to Cirebon Palace and his favorite lunch was empal gentong. He never spoke Cirebonese fluently but he understood what I was talking about whenever I used Cirebonese language. He loved to wear Batik Cirebon, especially in dark color. He belived that his skin looks good in dark color. But he can speak Bahasa fluently after 1,5 years staying in Cirebon.
            I do have a really great time with him. It was the best 2 years of my life. I have shared everything -not only about Cirebonese culture, other things about my country but also my dream. I’ve been dreaming to keep Cirebonese culture exist in this modern era and the only thing I can do is to stay and be instructor.  I can see how his smile getting wider everytime he knew anything new about Indonesia. We also do a trip, once a month, every weekend on the second week. We had visited Yogyakarta even Padang, because that British guy loved nasi padang.
            Everything was magically wonderful.
            He was a box full of surprises and happiness for me.
            Until one day, he left me with no reason.
            I am sorry.. What’s his name again?” Finally I can hear the voice of the guy who sits next to me. I am sigh a little, “Henry Edwards -Henry Jacob Edwards.”
            Okay, Henry.. Then where the hell is he now?”
            I am not sure is he still alive or not.”
            He is smiling, “it’s been a year… Why don’t you just let him go, Mei?”
            I…. I am trying to, Rey. I’ve tried so hard.”
            And I am pretty sure that you’re not trying enough. If you’d tried hard to forget him, you can do better than today. The class was a mess, no one from your students can pass the test to do Tari Topeng Competition. You know, the boss was right. It seems like you don’t really want to teach anymore. You don’t love your dance, your music, even culture. We can’t see the spark in your eyes. I’m afraid you have to find other studio to work.”
            I bite my lips and say, “what do you mean?”
            Do you even remember why’d you started here?” Rey whispers to me.
            Because I….”
            You lost your reasons. You’re no longer teaching here because you love your work and your culture. How you can ask someone to love something if you don’t love it too?”
            Before I open up my mouth, Rey holds my hand and say, “the problem isn’t on your students, the problem is you. I know it hurts. I know every little step you take when you dance here will lead you back to him. But you have your reason here, to make what you love is still exist. Stay focus on your goals.. Just because the one you love the most had left you, it doesn’t mean you don’t have those who loves you and put hopes on you. Find your reason and don’t let heart break destroy your dream. Remember, who will love our culture if we as the owner left it behind?”

***

Cirebon, September 6th 2013

            Today is his birthday.
            Henry is 25 years old now, our gaps is 5 years. Maybe because of the fact that I’m younger than him then he always try to understand what I want, even for his day. I told Henry all I want is a dinner with those Padang foods because lately we haven’t eat it yet. It is his first birthday with me and we’ve been together for two months. I was wondering why he hasn’t come back to Australia even it’s almost a year since he moved. Henry drives me to our favorite Padang Restaurant and order for sate padang. He knows my favorite.
            Mei, don’t you think my dance is getting better?” Henry asks me in the middle of our dinner. I nod a little. “Why do you think so, Mei?”
            Because you’re dancing with your heart. You learn everything about my culture as your pleasure beside of your work here. That’s why you can do it better and better everyday.”
            So why are you doing this?”
            I put my spoon in the plate and look into his eyes, “because I have reasons. I have goals. It’s not only about my pleasure to do it, it’s also about my parents and this country.”
            What is your goal?”
            I learnt Tari Topeng because my parents really like it, they are such as a cultural observer here. I learnt it with my best friend, his name is Reyhan Ramadhan. But unfortunately you haven’t met him because he is on duty for Indonesian Culture Campaign in Europe. Then after learnt for a couple years, I won many competitions and before my Dad passed away, he asked me to be instructor because who will keep up our culture if we as the owner left it behind? I’m trying to do what he want and suddenly getting in love with every little aspect of Indonesian culture. So here I am…”
            Henry holds my hands and smile widely, “thank you for give me a chance to learn those beautiful things here. The music, dance, arts, foods…”
            As you know, it’s so difficult to keep people’s eyes on traditional culture. But I want my culture still exist even those people say it’s already modern era, and culture seems too old fashion. I want everyone notice and care to our culture. But all I can do is start from my self and people who is around me.”
            I’m so proud of you my dear.. I wish you’d never left it.”
            I won’t. Because I’ve got another reason to stay.”
            Henry looks so confused, “what?”
            You.”

***

            Miss Mei Mei… Why don't you dance with us?”
            A 10 years old girl named Natalya walk to me with a shawl over her neck. She smile widely and touch my cheek as my tears just fall down. “Why are you crying? Am I doing something wrong?”
            No my dear.. I just remember of something.”
            Why are you late again today?”
            I bite my lips, “err.. Well..”
            You look so tired…”
            I slept too late in a past few days. You shouldn’t do the same or you will be so tired just like me.. Hahahaha.” She is laughing with me a little.
            By the way.. You know, Miss.. I failed my test, I’m sorry.” she whispers to me and sounds like her voice is shaking.
            I look into her eyes softly, “do you have some problem?”
            I just don’t think I belong to this dance.. I just don’t think I love it as I started.”
            Is it because Petricia left you?”
            At first, Natalya tried to avoid it then I take her hands and she sits beside me. “Hmm.. When Petricia still here, everything is so much fun. But as Petricia left… I just lost my spirit.”
            Why? I think you joined our class is earlier than her..”
            Yes, at first, I want to learn Tari Topeng since I saw your performance at Grage City Mall, it was magical for me. I joined this studio then being your student. It is really fun but since she was here it’s like I have something more than just spirit. Beside.. I am not sure why, but you’ve changed, Miss…”
            I shocked for awhile and try to understand what she want to say by the word of change. But before I ask her, she start to talk again. “Do you miss somebody here?”
            I lost someone that makes me wanna stay longer here.”
            But you only lost one person… I lost my Petricia and I lost you too. I think there is nothing to stay here anymore. You just changed.. You never really dance with us, you used to be late to come…. You’ve changed, everything has changed. So what’s the point of stay when everything isn’t the same anymore?”
            Without saying a words, I hug her tight and I cried. I’ve been so selfish that I only think about my heart which is being broke by Henry since he left me. Rey was right, there is so many people who needs me even the one who I love had left me. I never think I’ve been changing a lot since he was gone.
            She’s right. I never dance anymore.
            Everytime I dance Tari Topeng, I always remember about Henry.
            It kills me.
            It kills my dream too.

***

Cirebon, November 2015

            I love you, but I have to go.” his voice is totally shaking and I believe my foot is bleeding because I run from Balaikota to Train Station without wearing sandals. I run right away after my performance has been done. I’ve been thinking about this before. Henry changed a lot, he never pick up my phone. He rarely come to class in the name of his business. And a minute before my performance, my boss told me that Henry already go to Train Station with all of his luggages.
            But why this is so sudden?”
            Don’t cry… I just can’t live here anymore. My family needs me so I have to go back to Melbourne. You know my father is too old to move to Indonesia. I love Indonesia, I love this city, I love my job and I love you… But my family need me more.”
            Why.. Why you never told me?”
            Because I don’t want to disturb you and all of your way to reach your dream. You have your own dream and I have mine too. I’m so sorry, I really love here, but I’m not belong here.”
            I scream, “you promised me you gonna stay! Or please, just take me with you.”
            Mei Mei.. Look at me…” his hands hold my hands. “You have your world here and I can’t take you with me. If you go with me, you have to start again. You say, you want to make people more aware and care about your own culture, your own dance. Then you should stay..”
            I can teach Tari Topeng there!”
            Its not as simple as that.. You’ve got a good reputation here. Don’t ruined it, I don’t want you to left it just for me.”
            So how about us?” I cried so hard but all he do just hug me and say, “thank you for showing me those beautiful things in Indonesia. I’m pretty sure you can keep up your promise to your Dad.. And your dream will come true. Just focus on your goals, dear. I love you.”
            Someone ever ask me..
            How it feels to met someone who support your dream but unfortunately he has to left?
            Then the answer is, “it is painful.”

***

            I changed my cloths after I come to my bedroom. I take a breath for awhile. Natalya was remind me that lately I’ve doing things wrong. I only care about my self. I lost my self and forget all of my dream.
            I cried and scream so loud. It is painful to realize that I forgot my promise to my Dad. One by one just left my class and I bet even my boss will fired me. It’s because I lost my spirit and I forgot my reason.
            The reason why I still work as instructor of traditional dance. The reason why I want everyone to be more aware and care with our culture. The reason why I want people to love what I love…..
            I swap my tears and look into my reflection in mirror, “if I cant show them how I love my culture, then how can I ask them to love it too?”

***

A few days later…

            Rey come to my class after the last time we talked in balcony. I’ve been trying to avoid every single memory about Henry. Rey was right, if I can’t let Henry go, I can’t make my dream come true. And Henry was right too. I have my name and reputation here, I can’t left it just because my heart is broken by a guy who never come back.
            I’m trying to show how I love my culture because I believe we can’t ask someone to love what we didn’t really love. Also, I talked to Natalya about this. I told her that even someone has left us, we should let it go and keep moving forward.
            Heart break may changed you, but don’t let it destroy your dream. I really want to stay here and do my best so people will know that our culture, our Cirebonese even Indonesian culture still exist until today.
            Yes girls, today is enough! Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you next Friday.”
            Suddenly Rey walk to me and say, “have you find your reason?”
            I nod a little and smile.
            Love yourself first before you ask someone to love you.
           

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***



For SIC by LSPR Research
2016


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