Brown Waters Pt. 5

My name is Adriyani Juwono, my husband’s name is Juwono. I have four children. Farel the youngest, Keira the third, Dhea the second and Aini the oldest.

Farel is 11, he is on the 6th grade, a very bright child, soon he will be a junior high school student, and senior high school after that and certainly college. I would love to see him be a young successful man that he should and merry a good pretty girl. He will be the pride of me and his father. He will protect his mother, he will be the leader of the family.

Keira is 17, a little bit unruly, worse than how Dhea was. Dhea is 20 bytheway, she is in Serawak, Malaysia now. She has been working there for about 1 year now. Perhaps one and a half, I can’t remember. She’s not working as a housemaid, she is working at a clothing factory, she told me about her position, but I can’t remember what she said.

You know, it’s in English, and, being an uneducated person, I don’t understand a word of it. I didn’t finish high school, I only got to the 1st grade, and things got jumbled up. I couldn’t understand what it really was, but certainly not because my father didn’t have the money. He wasn’t rich, yes, but he wasn’t poor either. But he just gave up I guess. Personal problem. But certainly it was also because my mother ran away from home with another man. Now that I think about it, it’s a little bit funny.

I had worked in Malaysia myself you know. Yes, I was a housemaid. I spent so many years there, sometimes I went back and forth. There was where I met my huband. We got married and returned there for a few years. Back and forth you see, and made children…

We couldn’t always see each other. I was mostly working in Serawak, from one family to the next. Alhamdulillah, no bad thing happened to me. Well, you see, bad things happened. Days weren’t always happy, sometimes bad things happen to everyone. It happened to me too.

But God forbid, nothing like those news on TV, those murdered housemaids, or the ones who were badly tortured by their employers and are forced to run away.

I was always lucky I guess, Allah has always been merciful to me.
My husband wasn’t always working at the same place. No, not even in the same state. He moved along, with projects. He was trusted as a foreman too, his bosses liked him. I guess that what got me swayed as well. He is a reliable man with initiatives.

We are here now, because he sees the chance. I’m not here alone. Here at this place that people call the Texas of West Kalimantan, all the way from Central Java. Well, we won’t be here all year long. We have a shop back in our hometown where we sell basic necessities like rice, sugar, salt, cigarettes… ok, we sell all kinds of things. We also have sizable portions of land where we plant paddy and plant some other produces.

We have people and family tending to those, and there are not much things to do there these days, and my husband, being a person who just can’t stand with quiet life, took the invitation from fellow villagers to come here.

And being a good wife, I tagged along.

You see , there are many gold mines here, mostly illegal, but those that are legal are ill managed. So some of us from Java saw the opportunity and thought that it can be done better. We formed a paguyuban, and here my husband is entrusted as the leader of that paguyuban, and employs every technique that he thinks can yield better result. Efficient, that’s the word that the men use. We have some machines here that they don’t have anywhere else, like that grinder over there. That’s a large scale grinder by the way, but one person can operate it.

We don’t use mercury anymore, we did, but I think that’s bad. I want to go home and have the good health to see my children grow. Other miners use it, they just can’t see how it will hurt them in the future. They always say that they are fine, that they have been as healthy as ever. But I was told that the effect of it will not come instantly, and I was told that it can be frightening. Not that I’ve seen anybody with the effect of mercury on their body.

Of course there are problems when people from other places come to this area and work here. Automatically, the native might think that we are here to take over their livelihood. Well, I think I would have same thought when people came to our hometown and work there. But on the other hand, they are so inefficient and this chance is something that we just can not let go. By the way, don’t we also have the right to work and prosper as the people of Indonesia?

Since the government officials are busy with themselves, their fights and their corruptions, we decided to take care of ourselves. We, the Javanese, are not just some lazy bums who can just sit and wait. We work hard, we progress, and insha’Allah we will prosper. I believe in that.

So here, you see me breaking each and every one of these rocks, this is just one of the phases of work, a part of the system. You can meet my husband over there, near the pond with some of our men. They are fixing one of the pump. We can’t rely on the people from around here, they charge so high for their service, and we never know what they are doing. Luckily we brought along some men with skills.

I think we are also lucky that the first person who found the gold here was a Javanese, and he helped the local people to establish the people’s mining area. Which I think is much better that the people here can work on their own mines and take the majority of the profit. Not just some big companies that managed to buy the government officials from here to Jakarta.

Oh, by the way, my eldest daughter, Aini, is in Jakarta with her husband. They open a small eatery there, they are doing good.
I may return for lebaran, I hope all of my daughters can come too. I hope our effort here can give us good result.

I am 42, why do you ask, do you think I’m still sexy? My daughter, Dhea, she is a beautiful woman, would you like to know her?

Tell me about yourself, are you married? What are you doing here with that foreigner?

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