A full year has passed...

without my Grandma, Nin.
(note: "Nin" is the affectionate Sundanese term for Grandma)
Everyone has always loved her.

She was born in the West Java town of Tasikmalaya around 12 years before the Indonesian Independence. When I was a child (and even till I reached my teenagehood) she often told me stories that, despite having withstood a much cruel colonialism under the Japanese with all the starvations and stuff, she actually preferred having the Japanese people instead of the Dutch in our country.

Wanna know why she liked the Japanese?

No, it wasn't because her parents were pro-Japanese, as her family accepted the Independence wholeheartedly when it finally came. And the town where she lived was well-known nationally to be one of the leading fronts against the Japanese colonials (refer to Singaparna incident).

Instead, she liked the Japanese simply because the Japanese teachers sang a lot. And she loved singing very much.

If anyone asked her an account of how the Japanese treated Indonesians in the colonial era, she would indeed spoke from the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.

Starvation was rampant with the Japanese rule of limiting the food rations, but she lived in the rural side of the town, with all the rice fields and other food supplies, thus her family always managed to get aplenty of food to eat somehow.

The only drawback was in the clothes that her family had to wear: they were obliged to wear gunny-sack clothes once under extreme duress.

Since her father was the owner of a bakiak(wooden sandal)-producing company, the Japanese always placed a large order to her company and hence her parents were able to live a quite "normal" life during the colonial period.

Several years after Independence, her future husband, who was my Grandpa Kakek, came to the town and met her.

As arranged marriages were common during those days, everyone in the town wouldn't be surprised at all if they finally got married. Nin's family belonged to one of the highest social strata amongst the Sundanese, and Kakek was a pure-blooded Gayo Acehnese royalty. And both of them were highly attractive too.

They went to Jakarta; got married there, and lived in the South Jakarta district of Setiabudi for decades afterwards. Being an arranged marriage, nobody would say that their union was a happy one. But being a high-class Muslim family, whom everyone back in their kampung always look in high regards, Nin and Kakek withstood their family problems until they had their fifth child, who is my Uncle O, in the 1970s.

Their marriage ended in divorce, and because Kakek was a reputable lawyer, Nin won almost nothing (including all the five children) during the court hearing afterwards.

But being a tough person, she wasn't the least bit intimidated by Kakek's power. She was oft quoted saying this as a response to Kakek in winning the five children:

"Oh, so he had won? And why should I care? Three of my five children are big enough and in the end they would decide how to live their own lives without the interference of either me or him"
She was correct. Nin's eldest son (who is Uncle W) and her eldest daughter (who is none other than my Mom) soon went abroad to look for work in cruise ships.

She worked in producing embroidery during the 1980s and 1990s (and her products were loved very much by Ibu Tien Soeharto, the then First Lady of Indonesia that she became acquainted with her).
She retired in the late 1990s and chose to stay in the remote Tangerang area of Pamulang where she lived close to her children. Then, desiring for a solitude, she moved back to Tasikmalaya where she planned to spend her old years.

She passed away peacefully in deep slumber at my Aunt's residence on this day last year. It broke my heart to see her leaving so soon, especially since I hope that Nin would attend my future marriage. But since she had been suffering from an ailment during the months before her death, in the end it does provide a sigh of relief that she had finally reached a level of happiness above there: in the heaven.

I personally remember Nin as a cheerful, humble, and tough person. She seemed to prioritise humility above all others, but when the time came for her to play tough, she WOULD play as tough as she could, even though she knew that deep down inside she was indelibly hurt (this is perhaps a characteristic I've genetically inherited).

I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her when I last met her (two weeks before her passing away). But I was just happy that two months before that, I had the chance to ask her forgiveness for all the pains I had caused her, either thru my disobedience as a little kid or thru my insolence as a teenager. And she forgave me wholeheartedly with a teary-eyed smile, I'm delighted for that.

If I had the chance to meet Nin again for an hour, I'd like to have a session of playing cards or dominoes. It had been years since I last played cards with her, but as a little kid I always remember how fun it was to play cards with her and receive a bar of Silver Queen chocolate at the end of the games.

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