A Private Space
Our Kid kept asking me if I was going to be all right on my own. He kept on keeping on.
"Of course", I kept on saying but didn't tell him my favourite short story whose provenance I forget.After seven years, curiosity got the better of the wife. She used a kitchen knife to prise open the desk drawer, the drawer her husband had told her to never open. It was empty. "But why?" she asked him that evening. "Because I wanted a space of my own," he said.
Something every expat in Indonesia who marries a local has to come to terms with is the extended family. It's not how we westerners would define it but something amorphous. Most of us recognise when the migratory instinct to pulang kampung
(literally to return to one's village) kicks in. This usually happens at Idul Fitri, the festival at the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan, when Jakarta miraculously empties, the air is breathable and the Jakarta Post publishes a photograph of a deserted business area.
It is the nature of the kampung
which can occasionally perplex. There are innumerable ethnic groups in Indonesia; 'Er Indoors is a Batak from Medan and, to be more precise, her clan is Tapanuli Selatan. (Anybody interested in researching this particular sub-group is welcome to browse the list of antiquarian theses and doctoral essays here
These past two days, Jakartass Towers has been echoing to the raucous sounds of umpteen kids and adults. Bataks are not renowned for their delicacy or dulcet tones. I asked 'Er Indoors who they were. (My exact words are not important, but now you know why my post was so brief yesterday.) The answer, as I suppose I expected, was that they came from her kampung
But you lived in Medan, a major metropolis, I said. Ah yes, but they lived three streets away and used to meet regularly at the local shop when she was at school.
All thirteen of them have motored off to Taman Safari
Thankfully, there wasn't enough room for me.
I've got my own space.