Brown Waters Pt. 3

2.40 pm.

The shadow of the sun has begun to transpire sometimes ago. I’m an easy kind of guy, but afternoon is the easiest. Soon the sun will be so low, the shadow becomes long, the cool breeze through my face. The sound of the birds, the chirping of the crickets from within the bushes, and feeling the asphalt cooling down. You can almost see the shrinking size of it.

Alas I can not do that, not this afternoon, I am within the confine of the cabin with fake wind from the air conditioner. I am working, in a car not my own. A driver, not actually my dream job, but it will suffice, until I can open that small restaurant of mine. I may not be a good man, but by God, I’m a good driver, and I respect my clients’ businesses. Hence I will have a good business, gathering money to make sure that my wife and children live properly. To be a good husband and father, Insha’Allah.

Peeping through the mirror I see my two passengers, one malay guy perhaps in his 20’s, one white guy, perhaps in his 40’s, busy with papers, maps and gadgets, smartphones, laptop and GPS. Talking fast in English. Since I saw them in Pontianak 3 hours ago, when they were waiting at the office, they had been busy.

I think they do not realize that they have moved from the waiting room into the car. Discussing things at length, exchanging notes. Laughing and sometimes they are talking as if something really bothers them. I may not know much of English, but I know when they are swearing.

Usually my passengers don’t really work in the car. Some of them do, but just by making some phone calls, working with papers, talking about prices, or mostly would rather sit back and enjoy the ride while eating snacks, drinking soft drinks, and chatting with me.

These two have brought their office into the car.

Sometimes they talk to me, asking about the area around Tayan, Sanggau and Balaikarangan. The foreigner can speak Bahasa Indonesia quite well, the Malay one speaks national Bahasa but gradually shifted his dialect and becoming similar to mine.

When I ask them, the foreigner said that he is from Germany, which I believe. The Malay said that he is from from Pontianak, genuinely from Pontianak, which is quite hard to believe, looking at the features on his face and how he doesn’t know the answers to some basic questions that I asked him about West Kalimantan.

But they are fine, they are good and respectful. Unlike some genuine sons of the region who treated me as if I were a worthless servant.

Now they are folding the papers, putting aside the books, but still with the map and a notebook.

“Is it ok if we open the window?” I heard the sound of the foreigner in good Bahasa and in a polite tone.

“Sure, certainly.”

They both open the windows beside them, I open mine and the one on the left side, the afternoon breeze blowing in, bringing in the scent of the afternoon, and the sounds that are so familiar. There in front of us, the features of the land is being carved by the sunlight and the shadows. Sometimes we passed through some houses, small hut, some farmers, trucks, buses, other cars. Sometimes it’s just the vista of the hills, the paddy field and the plantation, with nobody in sight.

My homeland.

“how about turning off the air con pak? We don’t need them, and it saves fuel.” the malay guy speaks, ever politely.

He is correct.

The clock on the dashboard, it’s almost 3 pm.

“It is almost Asr, if it’s ok with both of you, I would like to carry out my salat.”

The malay guy turns his head towards the foreigner, who looks at his phone. “I guess it is possible, you have been driving moderately so I think we might arrive at the destination quite on time.”

“I will stop at the next mosque, you may join me if you wish.” I look at the malay guy through the mirror.

He smiles “sorry pak, I don’t do salat.”

“Oh, sorry. You are not a Muslim?”

“No.”

“Ah.”

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