‘Cah Bagus’

My grandmother passed away last Wednesday.

When she was alive, I always love her. During her last years, she forgot a lot. She forgot almost everything, including her own children. But there was a time when she remembers, when she recognize my mother’s eyes, when she smiles every time she sees me. She used to rubs my hair and said, ‘good boy.’ Cah bagus…

She is the most amazing family member of mine, and I’m not exaggerating. Let me tell you a little bit of her story.

My grandmother never knew ‘love’, as the concept like we understood right now. She said it to me. When she was sixteen years old her older sister, Supini, dies at birth. Supini’s son, Sukirwan, ended up motherless. My grandmother love his only nephew very much, she took Supini’s side and marry her brother in law Girin – Supini’s husband – so Sukirwan would be hers.

‘I didn’t love your grandfather at that time. I love your uncle Sukirwan very much, I think it was the best for him.’ she said to me.

‘For me to marry him at sixteen years old, was weird. But at the end, I think I love your grandfather as well.’

From her marriage with my grandfather Giren, came four children. One of  them is my mother.

My grandfather passed away about 27 years ago, and my grandmother live her life regularly. I knew that her heart was crushed when her sisters left her alone in this world, one by one. My grandmother is the last of her generation in my family. It took so much of her life, sometimes she said to me that she doesn’t belong here anymore.

But I knew, deep down in her very heart, she loves her life. She might not pretentious, nor ambitious, but she keeps her hope. Her eyes would sparkling with joy every time she sees me, my brother and sister. On her last years, with her memory problems, she will asked me the same questions almost everyday.

‘You are big now.’

‘Where’s your brother? Your sister? Are they okay?’

‘How can you get so thin?’

It is weird that I missed her questions at these times. When she finally gone, her presence somehow still here. Her slender figure is not in her room anymore. Her voice, singing in Javanese, cannot be heard. I go downstairs and she might not be there, but somehow I was ready to answer her questions.

‘Yes, mbah. I am 25 now’

‘They are okay, mbah. They are in their room’

‘I used to be on diet, that’s why I’m thinner now, mbah

But she is not there anymore. Her room is empty, her bed is tidy.

I miss her. I know that it was the best for her, to leave all of us when we are ready. We are ready to let her go. I am ready. I should be.

I will always love you, grandma. I might not be the best person, except for you. I always be your good boy. Your cah bagus

For my beloved Grandmother: Supijah Giren


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