Sunday, November 24, 2013

Watching, Talking, Changing

Talking to Ria is hard.

And I'm not just referring to the obvious logistical necessities.

You see, I don't really have signal reception in my village so the number of outgoing phone calls I've made during the year from Batui V can be counted off with a single hand. Add that to my preexisting inclination to avoid phone calls and the reason become obviously evident.

I wished that my time in places awash with cell signal were freer; that I'd have more time to connect with friends. Alas, that isn't the case with me having to spend three months trying to get in touch with my sister. I guess I'd have better luck trying to get through to the President of Burkina Faso than to her. The thing is, after the fifteenth failed call or so, I'm drained off the energy to place another call to other person, be they friends or family. So forging connections fell to the wayside.

On the other hand, though, it's not like Ria—or any PM, really—have abundant free time. If we're not being busybodies in our local Dinas Dikpora, then chances are we'll be made busy by our students. If only for a trip to the river or jungle. On the odd times that I get through, my call would come at an inopportune time.

Yet those aren't what make things hard. Because despite the absence of calls, the smattering of messages from her often give me pause.

One of the noteworthy one was when I messaged her, telling that we'd had hoots of laughter watching her episode of Lentera Indonesia. For me, it was the first episode that I watched in entirety with friends where we can miss the key messages to make juvenile remarks on the episode.

"Wah ada colokan listriknya!" I exclaimed.

"Waduh, waduh, duduk di meja," said Auliya.

"Product placement!" Yanti pointed out.

And of course, the obligatory, "Ebeeeeeh, iklan sampoo!"

When I told all that to her, though, she quipped a question that made me felt bad, "Emang episodeku sejelek itu ya?"

And so I learned a lesson how bullying could start innocuously. (Though admittedly, the notion of bullying Ria is rather.... uninstinctive. If anything, we're the ones who felt we'd shrunk under her glare.)

In retrospect, maybe our response was really provoked from nostalgia. That was really what it was like watching her when we were at the training camp together. Her mannerism was translated well. Down to her glares.

Has it really been a year since the 52 of us waved goodbyes?

Watching how at ease she was before a camera, we can only envy her. Watching how orderly her class was, *I* wished I could get my students to be as well behaved.

And then Luqman's episode was aired. Minus Lilli, all five of us sat in Wisma Radja to watch his episode. Afterwards, unaware that for other PMs the novelty of watching our friends on TV might've worn off, I sent shout outs to the group, clamoring Hey, look, temen gw masuk TV!

To which Ria quipped that didn't I consider the other PMs who've been covered my friends, too?


It was only then that I thought to myself, the list of PM V who have been covered by Lentera Indonesia has grown long, isn't it? And I know these people! It will never cease to amaze me that I have the privilege of calling them my friends.

Movers. Shakers. Doers.

Four years ago, I am comfortable calling myself a cynic. Today, they have helped change that. Thank you, guys.

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