Just Another Day: West

by Pingkan Palilingan
25th June 2015
After going around the East, Central and North part of Jakarta, it's time where we introduce you to the fourth instalment of Jakarta's Anniversary series: a short story from the West Jakarta.


The fragrance of freshly cut roses is slowly creeping up my nostrils. I have always liked the scent of roses. Alas, my husband loathes it. He says it always makes him feel queasy. But he still lets me decorate our living room with a bunch of roses once a week. I guess it’s all for the sake of sentimental attachment to that day, 26 years ago, where he asked my hand in marriage by bringing a bouquet of white roses.

I have just gotten back from Rawa Belong flower market. I bought too many flowers from Bu Ratih’s flower shop. What supposed to be a 15-minute excursion to Bu Ratih’s shop ended up becoming a 30-minute long heart-to-heart conversation. She told me about her husband’s recent passing. I could remember very well my heart was sinking at that moment and ended up adding more flowers from her, and not to forget, slipping an extra IDR 100.000 note into her hand before I left.

I lay the flowers out on the marble table top of our kitchenette: roses, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, and baby’s breaths. I single out the smallest baby’s breath and twirl it. The spinning movement reminds me of a vivid memory – a picture of my youngest daughter, twirling in a ballet studio with her white tutu on, almost ten years ago. She looked awfully cute with her minuscule hair bun, hidden behind a plastic tiara I bought her. Sadly, those amusing moments of watching her jumping here and there don’t last any longer. She decided to quit ballet soon after.

From then on, my husband and I have been used to see her jumping from one interest to another like a butterfly flying from one flower to the next.

A few of months ago, she found yet another new hobby to pursue: blogging, which has been her longest running pursuit by far. A week ago she gave me her name card, which was designed by her boyfriend. Danissa Elaine Suhardja. And there, right below her name, carved deeply on the paper (my daughter later told me the “carving” effect called deboss), two simple words define what my daughter is now: Beauty Blogger.

Ouch! A droplet of fresh blood drips on top the bed of flowers. Ah, a tiny thorn has found its home in my forefinger. I reach in, carefully pulling the culprit out from my flesh. Beauty blogger. Those two words are still clouding over my mind. To prettify oneself and call it an occupation? That is just absurd.

I wonder whether it has something to do with her boyfriend.

Everything seems so different compared to when I was her age. I always went straight home right after school to help my mother caring for my other three siblings. After putting them for a nap, I stayed in the kitchen to make lumpia, onde-onde, pastel and kue lapis for the rest of the day. Every morning, precisely at 4 o’clock, mum and I would go down to the market where we shared a small stall with a young chatty couple who sold bakmi ayam.

The young couple – who are no longer young, of course – are our neighbours now. They live down at house number 22, nine houses away from our house. It’s funny how we ended up living within a similar housing complex. But honestly, I wish we share similarly driven children instead of housing complex.

Their eldest child, for instance, is currently a CEO of his own company. I hate to admit it, but I truly wish my Danissa could be, at least, like one of them. Though I’m glad my daughter doesn’t have to experience my childhood, nevertheless, watching her dilly-dallying over her life has taken its toll in my mind. Maybe I’ve been too soft on her all this time.

Another prick of pain hits me again. With a little bit of effort, I finally pull out the thorn. I glance at my wristwatch. 7:50am. There’s still plenty of time to arrange the bouquet before my daughter’s graduation ceremony later.

My phone vibrates. It is a message from Danissa. “Ma, I’m heading down to the ceremony straightaway with Andreas. Won’t be heading home first.” I reach out to pick the biggest rose, pull it closer to my face, and catch a whiff of its sweet scent. Perfect. I hope the fragrance would linger on until the ceremony.


Short Story by Pingkan Palilingan

Art Direction by Sharin Yofitasari

Voiceover by Dinda Ibrahim