Christmas and New Year are Never Easy Here

It’s December and it is Cristmas! Yeah, of course. December and Christmas are always understood as one package. At least that is what we have been understood and living with since my childhood.

Starting from November, Christmas songs played everywhere throughout the territory. From the twelve munipalities to Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste. Various genre of Christmas songs are played at the shops, at the houses, in the Taxis, buses and in the ‘microlet’ (other sort of common public transportation) and also in the radios like a public reminder.

Christmas ornaments are everywhere decorating each houses, each ‘bairros’ (neighbourhood) and each corner of the city with glittering lamps and lights around the artificial Christmas trees. Shops open Christmas sale with discounts, grocery stores offering Christmas package displayed gracefully at the entrance of the shop. Local vendors open temporary street sale with many people crowding around looking for new clothes and stuff to buy in cheap price for Christmas and New Year. All those elements have made Christmas and New year materialsm spirit dominated the whole month and the mind of people to buy things and have fun. But this is not the real meaning of Christmas for me although I love to have new stuff but I am realistic enough on the ratio between the money in my pocket and the prices of things I desired for. The ratio is 1 by 5 and it’s not enough. Forget it! Who cares about me not wearing a new clothes or buy new stuff? 

People say Christmas is the time to reunite with families and friends. And yes, all I want for Christmas is to be with my family. They live faraway from Dili city and it took me eight hours trip to reach the municipality where they live.

However, going there from Dili during Christmas and New-year week is really a struggle. This is the peak of busy week for buses to load passengers and seats are limited as they are mostly reserved to the loyal subscribing passengers. In normal days, buses will try to catch the passenger but in Christmas and New Year week, the passengers have to catch for buses. Who ran faster, will get the seat easier. Who came late, will have to stand along the way. Don’t ask how does it feel to stand in the bus along the long way home for eight hours. The roads are bumpy and curvy and it makes us shaking inside the bus everytime it takes a road turn. Not to mention, the exhausted driver who play loud music like discotic atmosphere to keep his sleepy eyes up, other passengers who smokes freely, or some other passengers who throw out from the window because of the car sick. In some cases, that exhausted driver may get a bit collapseD and causes the whole bus to be in a big trouble. A really ‘big trouble’ that may end your life or left you in bad injury because of road accident.

Christmas and New year are never easy here for those who have to return to their munipalities from Dili. Somehow, no matter how hard the trip is, people keep going  to municipalities to see their family. It’s a worth thing to go through, though. Because today we may still be  together, but tomorrow, who knows?

VZ, Dili, 23 December 2017

 

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Last Year’s Christmas Hut

This year, the Christmas hut in our village is left undo

In fact, last year, it was the most beautiful Christmas hut in our village made by our local youth

There was blinking lamps light the every night

Picture of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus with shepherds and their lambs and the three kings were there

Every night, all the youth of the village would came ro gather and hangout here

Some will brought their mp3 player and play all kind of Christmas songs

The village became live becausebof that Christmas hut

This year, those local youth who used to do the hut are gone 

Some go to Dili, the capital city

Some went abroad, to Korea, england, Ireland, to find job

This year, there is no more Christmas hut in our village.

Obrato, Manatuto Municipality

Dec 23, 2017

Rosary of A Rural Lady

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Photo: A Timorese local woman

You live in a peaceful village

You grow along with the nature, the green mountains

Learn to follow the rules and wisdom of the ancestors.

 

In the morning, the cockcrow of the roosters wake you up

While the sunshine has not risen yet.

You enter the kitchen, lighting up the hearth and it smokes out

Later, a hot pitcher of an aromatic smell of coffee is ready to serve

With some freshly boiled cassava roots

It’s morning already’ So you said to everyone…

 

You live in a hut made of palm leaves and trunk

For your children, it is the most beautiful palace ever

As long as you are always there for them, every day and every night

To shelter your children with love.

 

To the spring fountain, there you go to take the water

Even if it is quite far to walk.

Filling the whole water pot, you carry it on your head

To the farm and rice field you go

To secure the food for your household

With palm leaves, you weave the winnower, mat, and basket

Those items are to contain the goods that belong to your household

 

You live with all your strength to serve

Sometimes you become weak and powerless

Yet still, you rise soon afterward.

 

‘The night is coming…’

So you summon everyone to gather

In a table with an ample of food

You fulfill their hunger, thirst, and fatigue

Then, there you sit still

Listening and seeing them talk

Measuring their mind and soul,

Feeling their burden and relieve.

 

Today has passed away

Yet still you believe that tomorrow is coming

Despite you do know not what it will bring.

You do ask not a lot of things

You do aspire not a high dream

As to you, it is enough

When the future of your children can be bright

Though someday, you might not be there at all to see it….

Dedicated to Timor-Leste rural mothers…
Vitalia Ze, Dili, October 15,  2014