Musings from Indonesia: Bu Endang

Bu Endang is a typical motherly figure that anyone would easily connect with. Humble, loving, warm and kind, she resembles the qualities of many other cadres, nurses, female doctors and Kepala Puskesmas that I have met so far.

A health worker with nursing training for over 30 years, she has served in her community throughout her entire career. I have to say that I have enormous respect for them! To sustain in helping professions for a good 30 years, this in itself is very admirable. I had quit a good social work career after three years of service due to restlessness. Of course the lofty reason is I did this to pursue an opportunity that I thought I should not give up, all for the purpose of self-actualisation, with so little knowledge of the anguish and pain that I would encounter then.

I thought our informal conversation will just be another conversation that fills the air time after we wrapped up the focus group discussion and before we parted ways. It did not quite turn out that way.

In the subsequent 45 minutes that we filled each other with our presence, I was struggling with my broken Bahasa Indonesia to make deeper connections with her. However, the only thing that she made me feel was that I am a whole person worthy of loving-kindness and success in life that every human being deserves. The warmth that she expressed made me feel that there is hope in this endeavour of trying to push the limits by embarking on this research. Optimism is what she fills me. And humility is what she expresses despite the so many good deeds that she has done. She wished me every success in my journey leading to completion. I was moved.

Perhaps, to many people, these messages cannot be more generic. But, to me, they flow from a heart filled with kindness, compassion and generosity, pure and genuine, reverberating with a worn out heart that yearns for comfort for a long time in a volatile journey that is always marred with dust and sweat.

I offered to take her out for lunch as a simple gesture to thank her for helping me to recruit my focus group participants. She politely declined, not even a tinge of trying to capitalize on the fact that she deserved this because she had helped me.

At the end of our conversation, we gave each other a warm cipiki-cipika. I watched her walking back to her home until she vanished from my eyesight at the end of the alley.

There was a magical moment at that particular juncture – tears were rolling in my eyes.

Thank you Bu Endang. This is all that I can say. With your blessings, I shall endure, and I shall thrive.


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