I’d like to think of my late Grandmother, Oma, as a strong adhesive to my family’s celebrated togetherness. She was the sun, and all of us, my mother, her siblings, their children, my grandfather are the sunflower in an open field, bathed in the glorious light of her kindness and maternal loving. She was undeniably charming and she carries within herself a strong quality of kind-heartedness. How else could I explain a Grandmother with eleven children and more than twenty grandchildren could make all her children and grandchildren feel equally loved and favored?
She was a magnet, a strong magnet of the north and all of us were the south magnet. Wherever she went, and wherever she was, we would gather around her, circling her, listening to her contagious laugh and her melodious humming. She had a beautiful voice and sometimes in between the old songs she used to sang, she would sang a song in Dutch language and I would be in awe for her knowledge of language of our former colonist. When my big, extended, buoyant, and loud family used to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr in Balikpapan, the city where I was born. My cousins and I developed a habit of hanging out in the living room of my Grandmother & Grandfather’s house. We love to sat there and immersed ourselves in the endless random conversation while my Grandmother & Grandfather watched us in our silly talks, my Grandmother would laugh along with whatever jokes threw at the floor and we would laugh more by hearing her laugh and seeing her tender smile. She was truly the sun and we were the sunflower, forever awed by her light.
These past 4 years since 2011, Eid Al-Fitr has never been the same. It was especially harder during Eid Al-Fitr 2011, the year when Oma finally bid us farewell to see her Creator whom she loves so much. Her lost was devastating and it left a huge hole in each of my family member, a hole that can never be fixed, no matter how we tried to cover up the hole by trying to fully living in the present. Up until now, each Eid Al-Fitr comes with a paradoxical moment for me, a joyful occasion when I finally gather with my extended family whose live far away from me and yet at the same time it was a forlorn occasion when I would be reminded of an irreplaceable lost.
Last year, my extended family celebrated Eid Al-Fitr in Jakarta, and my mother was the host. We went to Puncak in a grueling journey filled with frustrated drivers who were trapped in an endless traffic madness of Eid Al-Fitr holiday. It has been a tradition that there would be time for a heartwarming conversation in the living room, usually during the night after all of my cousins and I finished our competitive game to win a huge prize from our uncles and aunts. That night, one of my uncle decided to showed us the video he made as a tribute to Oma. At first, all of my cousins and I were laughing, wrapped in a happy nostalgic moment, smiled along the smile exhibited by my Oma through a vivid visual on television screen. But then, just like a snapped electrical wire dropped into a puddle of water, we were hit by an unseen electrical shock of sadness with a realization that Eid Al-Fitr has never been the Eid Al-Fitr we’ve experienced when Oma was still with us. When she bid farewell, all things associated with soft, beautiful, and bright things were buried with her. Now here we are, my cousins and I with our endless conversation about Oma; how her kindness inspired us, how her character shapes my mother, my uncle, and my aunt character, how she has become the true inspiration not by words but by her actions. How could I forget, the day her heart stopped beating and mine was too for a second, I found a new toy, still wrapped in plastic. I asked my aunt whose toy it is and with tears swelled up in her eyes, she told me that Oma bought it from some street vendor because she felt sympathetic for him because he has to sell something that no one wants to buy to earn a living. She was the sun, and we’ve lost our sun, and where should we look to when we’re always be looking for the sun?
This post was inspired by a Facebook status of Arman Dhani, a freelance writer whom I really admire and whose words become the axe of frozen sea within my soul. He wrote about his late brother and how Eid Al-Fitr has always been a paradoxical moment for him who must’ve been happy and yet he stills wrapped in sadness over the lost of his late brother.