A bed of roses, jasmine and orchids

The only way I could concretely contribute to mother’s memorial service, was to provide a headstone which was still missing. I assumed my family did not have the financial means to buy one. I was a little hesitant however on offering my help. Didn’t know how sensitive these financial matters were (I realize I know little about Indonesian culture and manners). A headstone would cost less than twenty euro, so what we were talking about. But for their standards it was expensive. For me it was the same amount that…

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Closer to the truth

It is a true blessing that Mujihah is still alive. That she was willing to tell the story of her sister, my mother Marwiyah, to Teguh. Without aunt Mujihah I would never had known the truth. Partly it was true what Teguh had learned during his previous visit to Magelang. I was, indeed, born from an affair with a man who played no part in my mother’s life after she got pregnant. But the rest of the story didn’t add up. The version as had been told to Teguh by…

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A second visit to Magelang

Although Teguh has answered the most important question – is my mother still alive? – during his earlier visit to my hometown, it does not end my story. Instead it has caused more questions. During which period of my mother’s life was I born? Was she married to the father of my sister? Was she pregnant of me during her marriage (as my half sister is 3 years older than me)? Can anyone tell me more about the pregnancy and childbirth? Was I born in the hospital or at home?…

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Letter to my sister

Bennebroek, 3 March My dearest sister, It’s hard to write a letter to someone you’ve never met. Where do I start? Oh well, I’ll just start and we’ll see where it leads us. Because I want you to know that I’m thinking of you and our mother Marwiyah. First of all, my condolences with the loss of our mother. I can hardly express in words how sorry I am for not having searched for her a couple of days earlier. It breaks my heart when I think about her never knowing…

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I have a sister!

I was prepared for anything. Or so I thought. I had even already given up hope my mother would still be alive. Never could I have imagined an outcome quite this ironic: my mom dying just 6 days before My Roots knocked on her door on my behalf. SIX DAYS. I learned that my mother – right after she had brought me to Jakarta to give me up for adoption – changed her mind and tried to get me back. I can feel her pain as I think about that….

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Hello and goodbye, mama…

There are five stages of mourning. Denial is one of them. I think I skipped that phase conveniently. It was either that or I had already worked through it unconsciously in the last few years. Be that as it may, I believed Christine (My Roots) directly on her word when she called me. It was the most implausible story I had ever heard. And yet I didn’t doubt for a moment if it was true. My phone rang this afternoon, promptly at 3 pm. Exactly as Christine had announced in…

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