April 4th 2021; a Sunday of Flood in Dili.

https://scontent.fdil1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.6435-9/169085062_10159064567693399_408909924939058672_n.jpg?_nc_cat=101&ccb=1-3&_nc_sid=8bfeb9&_nc_eui2=AeGAjhWeBXS4AkBz2iNLOZ12NDmtdhhs8pI0Oa12GGzyks6WGgp6AItaI_XIOS7x3DwBctgz9ZijM7L_eGxFT4Ep&_nc_ohc=sAy15FNTa1MAX8TaMPi&_nc_ht=scontent.fdil1-1.fna&oh=e41e1ff269e046609723fef3cabe0bb1&oe=60A03B38

While sleeping, I had a dream about my landlord. I saw my landlord suddenly passed away in my dream, and I was helping his family install the black cloth in the street in front of the house as part of the funeral decoration custom in Timor-Leste. I started to feel shocked at his sudden death, and it awoke me. I could hear the noisy sound of the rain crashed on top of the zinc roof. The rain has been pouring heavily since last night at around 8.00 pm. “How come it still rain like this?” I asked myself in sleepy mode. Someone came and knocked on the door of my room. It was one of the landlord’s niece.
“Mana, maun, the water is getting into the house,” she said and moved to another tenant’s room to warn them.

In shock, we quickly got up from the bed. As we put our feet on the floor, it was no longer the dry floor we usually stepped on but a wet floor covered to our ankle level. Damn it! We realized that we were having some of our stuff put on the floor, and they must have been soaking wet. The books in the paper box, groceries we purchased last night were still kept in the cloth bag and kept on the floor—a suitcase with our essential documents maintained under the bedroom. Fortunately, we stored the rice in a plastic box. The water must have been getting into the room for about an hour ago. If it remained, we should find an upper place to keep our stuff. We quickly move all things to the upper-level object such as bedroom, table, or high-legged chairs as soon as possible and ensuring nothing was missing. We went out to check the surrounding. To our shock, the interior of the house has turned to a pool. The water level was reaching our shank.

Soaking wet and cold, we try moved to check the entrance of the house. As soon as we open the entrance door, the water came like a river. The water has covered the gate entirely, and as we got through, the water level has reached our knees. It is due to the entrance part of the house is shallow. Trying to calm our hearts, we moved forward to check the outdoor surrounding. Although the place is close to the street, we no longer see the road but only a stream of muddy brown rainwater flowing like a river in front of us. We were in flood.

We have been living in this rental house for almost eight years, but this was the first time we experience the worst flood. Although this area is prone to flood, unlike last year, we could manage to prevent water from getting into the house by quickly taking out the water with a bucket many times at the entrance until it dried. But this year, the water stream was strong, and no matter how hard we try to take out the water, it kept coming into the entrance and the house. It was already six o clock in the morning, yet the heavy rain and flood showed no sign to stop yet. The heavy rain had been pouring since last night. As we could not do much at that moment, the least we could do was to help each other keeping the stuff and belongings in a safe, dry place. The upper-level objects like a table, chairs, or upper part of the cabinet would be helpful for us to put the staff for the time being. Meanwhile, we were hoping that the rain would stop instantly and the water level would not rise higher.

Gathered outside the house with our feed soaked in the floodwater, we observed how water had covered our neighborhood street with its muddy brown color. On the other side of the road were our neighbors and some of the student tenants. They were also soaking wet upon trying to save their stuff and belongings from the flood water that infiltrate their rooms. Some of them were trying to reduce the water level by persistently taking out the water with buckets or sweeping out the water, although the water level remains. Some children and youth who might not be much affected by the flood were merrily playing in the floodwater and enjoying the rain shower in the flooded streets. One of the neighbors even took out his balloon mattress and put it on the streaming water, pretending to ride a boat in a river.

On the other side of the neighborhood, a tree was broken and falling, blocking the main road. Since our neighborhood street can be an alternative road, the cars and motorbike passing by our street and their driving gave added pressure to the water and made it getting into the house even worse. To minimize the water getting into the house, we blocked the road with two empty drums put on each side of the road as a sign that they should drive slow when passing by our street.

The rain has not stopped yet while the water kept flowing. The electricity was off. With the remaining battery in the smartphones and a weak internet connection, we tried to log in to Facebook to check how others were doing that day. To our shock, it broke our hearts to see friends and other people posted a live video about how severely they were affected by the flood in their areas/neighborhood. There were also posts about how water covered many roads in Dili in brown muddy water. Meanwhile, some other roads collapsed. Many houses located at the edge of the rivers collapsed and were carried away by the water current and people watching these views in horror.
From Becora Terminal (bus station), Bidau, Caicoli, Villa Verde, Palapasso, Aitarak Laran, Fatuhada, Comoro until Tasi Tolu, all these populated areas in Dili areas were all in flood. Many people from these affected area immediately evacuated themselves to the nearest evacuation centers. Unfortunately, many of them claimed that they could not even save their household belongings and important personal stuff. The live videos shown people shocked, scared and crying. We could only saw these posts in silence while the floodwater soaked our feet. In our hearts, we prayed that the rain should stop soon, but as we saw the sky above the hills of Dare at the northern side of Dili, it was still a grey cloud covering the mountain, which meant the rain remained heavy there and the flood will remain as well.

Suddenly one of our fellow tenant neighbors told us that he needed to go to Comoro to see his relative, a police officer, who just died in a flood. The police officer was trying to save someone who was carried away by the flood, but after getting the person to the safe edge of the river, he got carried away instead. The body was found quite some miles from his original place. Soon after leaving with a motorbike, our tenant neighbor immediately returned because roads were difficult to pass through. Again we heard another news that a family lost their babies and other adult family member during the flood. Some were lost in the water current and not yet found.

Hearing this news was so saddening that even looking that even the coldness and muddiness of the floodwater were less cold and muddy than our sorrow. We could not imagine how hard it must be for the family who lost their loved ones on this day. Even though this day was the Resurrection Sunday, which many Timorese catholic suppose to celebrate through morning mass (amidst COVID19 and mass are held online), instead of celebrating it with joy that morning, we celebrated in sorrow.

Until around 10.00 o’clock in the morning, the rain eventually stopped, and the water level started to diminish. We gathered up, and everyone took a bucket to help each other take out the dirty muddy floodwater from the house’s entrance little by little. Extremely exhausted, it took us almost the whole afternoon o finally get the water out and thus allow the water level inside the house to diminish and dried out. Although we had to suffer cramp and back pain for taking out the water many times, the next thing we still got to do was to clean the house thoroughly by sweeping out the remaining water and mopping and rinsing the floor almost six times to get every room adequately cleaned. Until lunchtime, we could not cook because there was no electricity and inside the house it was dark. The landlord bought us each a pack of biscuits and a small bottle of cola drink for lunch as his token of appreciation and solidarity. We ate with no appetite, our legs were sore, and our back felt so much pain when sitting. Upon finishing with the cleaning and leaving them to dry, we went out and sat outside with our fellow neighbors. The street surface was then able to be seen after the floodwater has dried. Upon experiencing the flood on that morning, I learned that seeing the road clean and dry without floodwater covered it was indeed a blessing. Seeing a clear sky is a blessing. Seeing things in the house clean and dry with floodwater coming in is a blessing. Usually, we never appreciate this and see those aspects as trivial matters in our daily life.

Later in the evening, the electricity was back to normal; however, as the night came, we no longer feel safe like the other regular nights before. Still, we were worried that the tropical cyclone of Seroja might not have passed yet, that the heavy rain may come again, and that the flood might appear again. We saw the post about thousands of people staying in the evacuation centers that night. We believed they too must have missing to be in their own house, and they must have been worried about the situation at their homes. That night, I found many of my fellow tenants and neighbors slept late for the sake of anticipating the heavy rain that may come again. Would the heavy rain come again? We hoped not. May it passed soon.

Message from the Earth

Gambar terkait
Geraldo a young 25 years old angel was looking at the Earth-Time-Counter screen when Chiquito another 24 years old angel came to him.
‘Counting time again heh?… Why do you love to spend your time with that stuff? Come with me. Let’s go explore some other place in this Universe of Heaven.’ Chiquito said looked at Geraldo impatiently.
‘Today is 31st October in Earth Siquito…’ Geraldo replied.
‘Yes… and tomorrow will be 1 of November. I know how that Earth-Time-Counter works. So… what?’ Siquito asked.
‘You know what. We both always receive the message from the Earth on 1 November Siquito.’
‘Yeah…we always do. And what should we do with that?’
‘Do you remember what our Great Teacher said in our Life-on-Earth class?’
‘Which one?’
‘That the message we receive from earth is prayers from everyone who lives there as the human being.’
‘Ah… that one. yes..I remember now. What is the matter with that?’
‘I am wondering with the family who sent the message to both of us. I often heard the woman called my name, your name and then she will cry alone. Usually, it is in the early morning or midnight of their earth time. Sometimes I can hear her husband speak a lot of things with me in his loneliness as if I am there with him. Don’t you want to know why they become so?’
‘Hmmmm… perhaps in the past we also took part in their life?’
‘That can be possible. The Great Teacher said the prayers from the earth are the message that reconnects people on earth and angels in heaven. All angels are once sent to earth to live as the human being before return to this Heaven as an angel again.’
‘Maybe we can go the Library to find out our life as human being in the ‘Book of Earth People’?’
‘Yeah… that’s good thing to do. Come on.’

Geraldo and Siquito then went to the Library to find out the Book of Earth People. It took them quite long to find out their names as the human on earth as there are millions of similar names. Siquito almost gives up with the searching but then Geraldo came up with the idea to find out about the family who sent the prayer message. It is easy for them to find out about every human being on Earth as they have access to see it like accessing a worldwide platform of atlas of the world.

Meanwhile, in Earth, a woman was crying silently inside her zinc house. Tomorrow will be 1 November. The day she believes to be The Day of All Angels as what she had learned from the Sunday mass preach. She believes that tomorrow, her late two sons will be visiting her in the form of angel. She wonders how would they look like now if they are still alive. They may have became a well built and handsome young boy. They would be tall, had black hair and sharp eyes and thick eyebrow like the Bollywood stars she usually watches from TV series. She can imagine if they are with her now, she would cook their favorite food, asking them to help her in her kiosk and their father’s kiosk at the market. She would ask them to fix every broken thing in the house. She would ask them to advise their little brother on how to be a well-mannered man. She would see them studying in the university in Dili or one of them may have got a scholarship and study abroad or just studying in Indonesia and the school fee would be paid by their elder sister who is now residing in Dili. Oh… how she miss hearing their manly chatters in the house.
The imagination of them made her think about the past years where they were born as little babies. Things were difficult as food is scarce and money is a luxurious thing during the difficult years of the 80s. She and her family were just returned from their village located near Matebian mountain and surrendered to the Indonesian government. Her husband had to leave her to find a job in another city leaving her with the little daughter and her family to sustain themselves with little money he left. Days kept going and the money left is about to go. She had to find a job to sustain her household. She works in rice-field and got a little share of rice for her family and to sustain her second pregnancy. She had a baby boy, her first baby boy and he is adorably cute. She felt happy though life was still difficult for her. She continues to work in the rice-field and had her relatives looked after the baby. But on the eight-month, the baby passed away after had a high fever. She felt a deep sadness for the lost. Her husband returned from the other city and he too felt sorry for the lost. He wished he could be always there with her wife.
Starting new page of her life after the loss, one day she found out that she was pregnant again. She was so happy and she tried not work too hard. She had another baby boy, the second baby boy. She believed the baby was the reincarnation of her first baby. This time she dedicated all her time to be with the baby though she had to try to live frugally with little money which sometimes not enough to buy a bag of rice. Her husband then came and brought her to move to the other city where he lives. The baby grew healthily. But one day, at his tenth month, the baby has a high fever and has to stay during a week in the hospital for treatment. She felt a huge fear haunting her again. Deep in her heart, she asked the God to not take away her baby. But life had another response to her request. The hospital tried to refer her baby to a bigger hospital in another city that took two hours trip. On the way, the baby passed away. She lost her baby again.
It’s been a while when she sat at the back of the shelf and crying but then she quickly has to stop when somebody calling said ‘Kiosk’, a code word means to buy something. It’s a customer. She then rubbed her teary eyes with the handkerchief before she met the customer. There, two young boys with age around 25 and 24 years old stand there looked at her silently for a moment.
‘Yes.. .what do you want to buy?’ She asked them.
‘Two coca cola and a pack of biscuit.’ One of them said. The woman picked the mentioned stuff and handed to them. They both sit on the verandah in front of her kiosk* and eat. It was a hot midday. She stands from the window of the kiosk and looked at them. She felt as if her two late sons are still alive, they may age like these two boys. She saw how they eat the biscuit. She could feel that they were hungry. Without knowing why she felt pity for them.
She then went into the house. She came back with two plates of rice with stir-fried vegetables and fried chicken. The two boys still sat there. She called to the two boys, offered the meal and hand over the plates to each of them, asking them to sit there and eat. The two boys felt shy and rejected the offer at first but the woman kept insisting and then they accepted it. She smiled when she saw how they eat the food wholeheartedly. She felt as if her two late sons are there with her at the moment. She then went back to continue baking the bread to sell. After a while, the two boys finished eating and they handed back the plates. They say thank you to the woman. They stand there in the window of her kiosk just to look at her made the dough for the bread. They observed how she made a phone call to somebody from distance that she called with a lovely name. The woman is talking about how she missed her two late baby boys and how they would look like if they still alive.
After the lady finished her phone call, the two boys called to her to excuse themselves and say farewell to the woman. The woman says goodbye to them. But before they left, the boy who is a bit elder tell her:
’Please do not be sad mom…. We both are always watching you from the heaven…’
The woman stood freeze for a while as if the world has Just stopped. She felt blank. She tried to call them back but they had disappeared nowhere to know. She did not know what to do next. She wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. In her euphoria, she took a box of candles and light the candles in the Oratorio and started to pray for her two angel-son’s soul.
Dedicated to Two Brothers in Heaven VZ
*Kiosk = small grocery shop
**Oratorio = a miniature praying house
VZ, Dili, 31 Oct 2017

Cloud and the Blue Sky

What if the sky only has blue?

Would it remain beautiful?

The blue sky lives in solitude of its dull monotony

Then God creates the cloud to accompany the blue sky

The blue sky becomes happy with the new company

Together they spent their days enjoying the view of the world below them

But one day cloud realize that she is fading away and turn to rainfall

The blue sky felt so sad until it almost fades its blue color to grey

But then the rainfall went to the sea and ascents to the blue sky to reform itself

They met and each of them tell their stories. They finally realized that they will live together, again…

VZ

A CONCERT OF POP MUSIC AT THE HEART OF THE CITY

IMG_5003.JPG

What do you see during the concert of pop music at heart of the city?

 

Is it the setting of the stage where the blinking lights are all around?

 

Is it the unstoppable speech of the host?

 

The native and foreign singers who sing with their beautiful voices?

 

The dancers who shake themselves in an amazing style?

 

Or, the crowds who surface like ants?

 

As for me. I am not only looking at these things.

 

Eyes of mine supposed to only look straightforward, yet they draw me to see a five-year-old boy holding a bunch of five balloons and selling them around.

 

Then, a father holding her little daughter buys a pink balloon from the five-year-old boy who sold the balloon. The father gives the balloon to her daughter. The little girl laughs out excitedly.

 

After that, a woman came along and took the little girl from her father. She kissed her daughter with laughter.

 

The three of them stand right in front of me holding the pink balloon they just bought and watching the concert of pop music at the heart of the city.

 

Now, I am the one who cannot see that concert of pop music at the heart of the city.

 

VZ

Largo Lecidere, Dili, Timor-leste, August 29, 2017

From Dili to Jakarta via Bali (1)

It was the last day of June 2013.

I was full of excitement as a teen.

Waiting for my Sriwijaya flight at the Nicolau Lobato Airport in Dili.

With a mind of a wanderer, I asked,  “Would this trip be a jolly?”.

Later the flight came and I went ahead in a tremble along the departure gate.

I got on the airplane; a beautiful air hostess with red dress greeted me.

She had the most beautiful smile of the day.

I showed her my boarding pass; she guided me to my seat.

DSCN0622 - Copy

I sat contently yet carefully paying attention instead.

Another air hostess was demonstrating the flight safety guide.

After an hour, the plane left the ground and started to take off. My heart jumped.

‘I am flying high!’ my mind exclaimed.

DSCN0636 - Copy

It was my first trip from Dili to Jakarta.

There is a short transit at Ngurah Rai airport of Denpasar in Bali.

That was also my first time to see Bali, although just at a glance.

DSCN0627

Down there, I saw Bali’s beautiful blue sea with the white cliffs.

The red-brown houses formed like beads.

They spread over a huge green carpet of its green field.

DSCN0632 - Copy

A very long bridge shaped a curvy line over the sea.

How I wondered to explore those places one day.

“Oh, how wonderful isn’t it?” myself said.

DSCN0633 - Copy

I had heard about Bali since I was a child in 1990s.

People said that Bali is an island of gods, a paradise for tourists.

That time, I wish that one day I too could visit Bali, as a tourist.

I wanted to see the gods. I wanted to enjoy being at its paradise.

Finally, my wish did come true. Even though only for an instance.

Vitalia Ze, Dili-Bali-Jakarta, 30 June 2013.