Someone in my heart

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She is innocent

She sees love as a grace

and peace as a beauty

She sees hatred as a fire

and ignorance as a futile

She stays in my heart

She watches over me

Whatever I do

She quiets when I talk

She talk when I quiet

She is calm when I am angry

and she is angry when I am calm

Sometimes we are one voice, one heart

Sometimes not though

But we are always together…

Dili, March 23, 2018

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“A Very Small Boat”

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This ocean is very wide

And I am a very small boat

From this shoreline I look

The waves sometimes slam with anger

The waves sometimes are silent and do not care at all

Listen to the singing wind

Sometimes it screams

Sometimes it whispers

Seeing the farewell of the sun

Remaining with myself’s company in a solitude

I am a boat, a very small one and alone.

Lecidere, April 2016

 

“A Very Small Boat” https://medium.com/@vitaliaze/a-very-small-boat-c766fbd7654b

OJEK: A Lospalos version of Thailand’s Tuk Tuk

26904247_10215246973431895_2294865965664384956_nLast year was just the same with the years before in Lospalos city, one of post administrative of Lautem municipality. It is usually difficult to get public transport whenever people wanted to go somewhere around the Lospalos city unless they have their own motorbike or willing to walk. However, this year, I am quite surprised to see a new type of public transport exists here. It is a rickshaw type of vehicle with three wheels imported from India. In Lospalos this rickshaw vehicle is called ‘Ojek’ which is referring to the service it provides as public transport within the city. Looking at this vehicle reminds me of Tuk Tuk, the similar type of vehicle existed widely in Thailand as a popular public transport.
Being different with Thailand’s Tuk Tuk that goes faster, this Ojek or Lospalos version of Tuk Tuk goes gently against the road. Until today, some parts of the road in Lospalos are still smoothly paved while some parts are lately have been roughly paved with white rocky soil and it makes the road became a little bumpy. The good thing about riding Ojek is that it enables us to easily see the view along the way while getting some fresh air as it is an open-air vehicle. There is another type of this rickshaw that is enclosed with a transparent glass window that can be open when needed. However, when it goes through the bumpy road, we will be shaken and get a bit upset if we do not hold tightly to the vehicle.
The unique thing about this vehicle is that it uses electricity as the source of energy by recharging it directly to the electric socket. According to the driver who operates it, he at least will need to recharge the vehicle during five hours and it costs around 2 USD of the pre-paid electric card. The price of using Ojek service is depending on the distance with the service cost ranges from 0.50 cents for the nearest distance to 2 USD for the further one. In a day, on average, an Ojek driver can earn around 15 to 20 US Dollars as the income.
The electric rickshaw operates recently this year in Lospalos city. Before Lopalos city, this type of vehicle has been used as public transportation for few years in Manatuto that has similar characteristic of a flat landscape with Lospalos. Indeed, using Ojek can help people moving around to the nearby places in the city that are too far to be reached by walking.
The driver also tells that at first people are quite hesitant to use Ojek as public transportation perhaps because of this type vehicle is new to them. However, lately, Ojek has gained the local passengers attention, especially the students during school time and common people in general. Somehow, during vacation, the number of people using Ojek is not as much as the school time.
“Tiu (uncle), I wish this Ojek had existed in Lospalos since I was here many years ago. That would be much better, right?’ I told to the driver while sitting behind him. He gave me a brief laughter.
‘Oh.. dear sister, I wish for the same too. But it just came recently and we also have just known about it’. He replied.
I chuckled gleefully. What he said was correct.
Lospalos, January 3rd 2018
Note: Lospalos is one of administrative post belong to Lautem Municipality of thirteen municipalities in Timor-Leste country.

Childhood Memory

Dear mom

I am now recalling my childhood memory with you

It was not a good one though.

You left me raised by your sisters

As you went away for some days, sometimes even couple of weeks

They said you went away to get me some bread and sweet cakes.

I did not want them. 

I missed you so much 

Yet you did not come back for weeks

I felt so hurt. 

So I cried out loud every night.

Your sisters almost gave up on me.

They told me to stop crying and be quiet. 

That was how I learnt to stop missing you. 

Then one day you came unexpectedly. 

I was playing alone with my clay toys. They told me to get up and run for you and welcome you home.

I did turn around and stared at you blankly. I did not know what to say. I just sat still and being quiet again.

Your face turned regretful. 

Then you came to me and greeted me. ‘Are you alright, darling?’ you said. I just nodded and be quite again.

You felt strange with me. So did I to you.

Since that day, I did not know how to restore this bound between us.

But you keep trying to restore it and you never stop until today.

Dili, 2018

VZ

The Masks

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

We were once our own true self during the conception in our mother’s womb

Until we came to the world

And a mask was put on us

They said this is our mask, our name

Then we live with the mask for our life

On the day of our death

The mask fallen off

It is left there, or somebody will pick it up to reuse it.

We then return to our true self

Living in a contemplation in our mother earth’s tomb.
Dili, March 2018

Timorese Women as Veteran

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A day before celebration of international women day March 8, I joined an on-air literary radio program with my Timorese poet friend Abe Barreto at Radio Liberdade Dili which aired on every Wednesday evening started at 6.15 pm at local time. A week before we came to this program, we had to have an advance planning and preparation on the theme we will present, how should we present and do a mini research for supporting materials for the discussion.

When discussed on choosing the theme, it came to our mind that in the first week of month, Timor-Leste celebrated a national veteran day on March 3 and on March 8 will celebrate international women day. Then, we got the idea to combine the two celebration into one theme ‘Women as Veteran’. For this theme Abe then invited Mena Reis, one of a Timorese senior woman activist, ex-resistance member and a poet to join us on the discussion and she participated.

The discussion started with describing the link of the two celebration on veteran day and women day, how we perceive women’s role and significance as veteran and what literary action can be done to help maintain the precious values as a veteran and as a women. That evening, at Radio Liberdade studio, we presented our discussion along with some intermezzos of musics and poetry recitals from Mena Reis with her own poem title Feto Timor-Lorosae (Women of East Timor), Abe with his poem about Mother and myself reciting poems by Rupi Kaur and Yacinta Kurniasih (an indonesian feminist writer) with feminism themefor which we called ‘literary salad’.

Throughout the discussion among three of us, I grabbed some important point for my reflection as following:

  • The word ‘veteran’ is not only about a title given to the ex-resistence individual/group for their military contribution as we may generally perceive but is indeed referring to the capacity, ability or skills they master for a long period. In the context of Timor-Leste’s resistance history on seizing independence, this capacity is about being able to survive physically and mentally amidst the invasion of merciless destroying bombs , poverty, terror, threat, humiliation, violence, abuse, lost of family member and one’s own life, grieve, and other miseries during the occupation time. Apart of surviving, is to learn to fight back and this required a through process of learning in an individually or collectively process on how to organize and succeeded with the guerilla.
  • In Timor-Leste, when talking about veteran, most of the attention goes to men veteran rather than women veteran as media tends to expose more of men veteran’s stories and thoughts rather than women veterans which suppose to also received equal praise and recognizement as men veteran. Not only that, even many women veterans until now still live in difficult life and not receiving any support. Furthermore, many women veterans have not received any follow up notice on the lost of the family members during the occupation time which leave their grief remain.
  • Another saddening issue is that women veteran tend to be seen by society as less intellectual and less capable. This is not good because society should understand more about the women veteran’s struggle internally and externally. Despite of receiving less praise and credit, some women veterans continue to show their serious effort on contributing to development of the country with all their capability (even if it is limited) in the area if education and other sectors in their community. One of great example today is Ms. Maria ‘Kasian’ who opened a kindergarten school with her money received from veteran subsidy. This is example of the important value that women veteran want to share to the society and to the new generation as an example that commitment for contributing to development should started from our self first.
  • However, women’s role and battle as ‘veteran’ (not only the military veteran in literal meaning) are not yet over but instead came up with a new context of role and battle according to the latest life fashion issues. Women’s veteran role is nowadays becomes more challenging in all aspects of life that requires women’s ability to cope with, such as in the social, politic economic, health, education area, etc. Until today, many women in Timor-Leste still facing injustice, gender inequity, discrimination, violation which mostly tends to be approved by the society and lack of system support when they need it the most. Thus, being a veteran for women to master and cope with all the life pattern struggle is an eternal role and perhaps a lifetime battle.
  • On the literary resources about women veteran’s contribution in Timor-Leste is still seen as lacking because again most of the stories tends to focus on male role and influence and speak little about women. However, nowadays, the chance to have these stories exposed is even greater and young generation should be encouraged to gather, write, read and share those stories so they can reflect and understand better the core value of Timorese struggle for independence.
  • Another issue highlighted on promoting literary work in Timor-Leste is the absence of copyright law to guarantee the protection of author’s work when producing literary work on women issues. This is indeed a challenge and request for government to consider as well since it is necessary to safeguard Timor-Leste’s stories to the current and future generation as references.

To conclude, I would say that today, every woman is a veteran and being a woman veteran is a lifetime role, a lifetime battle. To carry out this role is not solely women’s responsibility as support from all the relevant sectors like government, civil society and grassroots level collaboration from all parties, all genders and generation is extremely needed.

Happy Timor-Leste veteran day and Happy International Women’s day.

VZ

To My Fellow Women

International-Womens-Day

To my fellow women

We are

resilient

Courageous

Optimistic

Persistent

Ingenious

Creative

Inspirational

Motivational

Mobilize

Liable

Loving

Nurturing

Encouraging

Hardworking

Inquisitive

Affectionate

Furious

Grumpy

Stirring

Singing

Screaming

Laughing

Crying

Falling down

Rising up again

Pretty

Extraordinary!

We are

the women

Daughter

sister

Elder sister

Only–daughter

Girl

Wife

Mother

We exist for a great meaning!

Do not be afraid!

Keep moving ahead!

 

Dili, 8 March 2018

Happy International Women’s Day.

YESTERDAY

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Yesterday… I saw you
On an afternoon before the night came
among the crowd
at the edge of the road
You were sitting alone

I saw a rush in your face
Your eyes looking at something
Perhaps you were waiting for something
Or somebody?

Yesterday… I passed in front of you
Surprised and excited to see you again
Then the mouth of mine
called your name right away
and waited for your eyes to find me…

However… nor did your eyes find me at all
Your ears heard none of my call either
You kept standing there
Turning your back
Looking at something else
Thus, I had to get away too
and trying to move on from the moment

Yesterday was just a yesterday
It could not reverse to the present day
Yesterday was just a yesterday

But now I do believe
That tomorrow will be better…

VZ

Dili, 2015