Brown Waters Pt. 2

The kids are gone,

To school.

It’s about two to three kilometers walk to their school, an elementary school. Third grade and fifth grade, lovely daughters of mine, lights of my life. I want the best for them, the best. The fact that the kecamatan is half a day away from any proper school is irrelevant. I’ll send them to the edge of the world if that is where they could shine.

Now they have to walk all the way to school.

Sometimes I think it just won’t do. When I went to provincial capital, which is a rare occasion in itself, I saw parents with cars and scooters taking their children right into the hall of the school. It was crowded, chaotic, but I think it showed how they regard education. The only thing that the children should do is to study.

I was and is inspired by what I saw. But now, it’s not something that we can do.

I’m quite grateful for what we have right now actually. The children walk the long way to school, meeting friends along the way, through the paddy fields, palm tree plantation, and small forests. Sometimes they have to open their shoes, and walk bare-feet upon the entire length of the dirt road, sometimes through flooded makeshift bridges.

They are strong and vibrant, my lovely angels.

Arrive at the school, playing with friends, sharing stories about other people and ghosts. We have no television, we have no electricity. There’s a power line on the road where the school is, but not where our house is. Something that I’m somewhat grateful of. But I know, the cost of it is rather terrible for my daughters’ competitiveness against the students from the cities.

But they are bright, my girls.

Once they arrive at home, they’ll help their mother preparing food, eat, and they will all go to the fields. Sometimes the younger one will go with her mother, and the older one will go looking for me, sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes we collect vegetables, tending our paddy field, sapping rubber, or feeding our flocks of chicken and pigs.

They always bring books with them, reading the notes given by their teachers, while their mother and me are busy with our work. Sometimes they insisted to help us, sometimes we just tell them to read and prepare for a better future. We want them to go far from here, to shine, to be successful. To be the kind of people that everyone would look up to.

We had only four old teachers, but now, there are a couple of new ones, much younger ones, fresh from college with the spirit, determination and a bit of anger towards the government, giving themselves for the children of the kecamatan. I know their parents, they live about two hundred meters from the elementary school. They never wanted their children to be teachers, they wanted their children to work as government officials, or to work at banks, out of this isolated place.

I understand the parents’s predicament. But I feel grateful of it, at least my children have better teachers, younger teachers, new ways of teaching. I pray for their sake, God will always provide for people doing good deeds despite themselves.

I myself was a rover, I came from Sumatra a long time ago, from the Island of Nias. We were sent out by our seminary to answer calls of request to herd the flocks of God. I was sent to West Kalimantan, have been staying here ever since, and married a local woman.

She was unassumingly beautiful, but somehow I knew she wasn’t as dull as the typical local women. She speaks rarely, but once she speaks she shines as someone who is wise but at the same time can truly act as a woman should: second in command to the captain of the household.

God has been very good to me, to us. She is the woman of my dream, a true mother to her children. The stories of the couples within our village have been bothering, some of them were separated by hatred, some of them were separated by death, because they just can’t take care of each other.

This is my duty as the shepherd of God. To bring peace to this place. I guess we are the only one who can do it. No one else.

An interesting young man came to this place once, doing research with some western people. We spoke a lot, it has always been refreshing to meet bright minds hear the stories of the world thought their eyes. I had hopes that he would help us. But I learned later that he was of a questionable character, had renounced his Christian faith, an atheist.

I have to say that I’m quite a liberal person. It’s completely alright for the young minds to stray, I talked a lot with him, because I knew of his potency and if I could just bring him back to the field of God, he can do great deeds.

But one day, he just went away. I guess that’s what happen if God is not within you. You stray.

Never mind, we still have our daughters, our beloved lights.


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