A Red Umbrella

His name is Alun.

Of course, It’s not his real name. Since this story based on an actual event, I’m trying to make it subtle and leave the real name behind.

Alun is one of my closest relative. We were growing together in our neighborhood, he’s a 19 years old boy now. He and I used to have a very different value when it comes to any single thing. I myself used to have a perception that Alun might be the shallowest and the crudest kid of all our big family members.

It was, until I spent my latest holiday with him. Just the two of us.

It was unplanned. The actual scheme was to spend the long weekend together with my family: my dad, my mom, and my sister. Alun was invited after, when my parents feel that it would be nice to add another person to our little party. Turned out, my parents and my sister couldn’t make it. So it just me and Alun. Just the two of us.

Let me tell you a little bit about Alun. Like I said before, I always judge Alun as a shallow and an annoying boy, and he showed this unconsciously. It’s not like he wants to appear annoying and shallow. He just expressed it naturally.

He never read, let alone write. He loves police cars and everything that goes with the uniform. He used to opened his car’s window every time he noticed a sirens coming, just to hear of its sound. He loves any movies involved any guns and war (by the time the movie showed some decent, sophisticated conversation he would likely to fall asleep. Happened all the time). He loves tacky music, cheap, easy listened music, one with any ‘love’ word on it. A depression, ballad tunes would amuse him easily. He always get the wrong messages when it comes to anything. Movies, books, even comics. (Once, he laughed at the very wrong scene when we watched Kick Ass at the theater. The scene supposed to be deeply sad and touching, but he laughed. Hard.)

I myself, never thought and don’t want to have a thought that somehow I’m not like every one else. I don’t wanna people to think of me as a cultured person, an artsy fartsy, an annoying ‘indie’ boy (which, I believe no one is actually think that I’m an ‘indie’ boy). That said, I don’t feel like I want to have a nice, sophisticated labels around me. But come to think of it again, maybe unconsciously, I want people to see me the way I told you earlier. Maybe I was thinking too high about myself, I judge people easily and automatically labeling people who has a different interest to me as crude, stupid, shallow, uncultured, mainstream, uninteresting, you name it.

Alun, is a kind of boy I easily labelled with predicates as I wrote on the last paragraph above. This labeling and judging is going into an even worse state with the fact that Alun has a trouble when it comes to behaving himself. He used to be the ‘naughtiest, misbehaved, difficult son’ in his family, the black horse that no one is actually appreciate.

Isn’t it hard, especially for me: the guy who think too high about himself, to accept him and see the different side of Alun?

Turned out it wasn’t that hard. It was easy and happened very quick.

By the time I arrived at the international airport Adjisucipto, Yogyakarta, Alun picked me up using his dad’s car. He was coming from Jakarta to Surakarta (a neighbor town separated about two hours from Yogyakarta) by train several days earlier, straight to the Hotel where his dad worked, and he picked me up at the airport as planned.

I didn’t told you before, but I have a little ambitious goal within this travel: I want to draw as much as I can. As you may foresee, it took a LOT of efforts and time to travel with a certain kind of style. You have to take a long stop on every interesting part whenever you visit something, just to take a draw from it. It’s not a picture, it’s a drawing. So, yes, I was worried that Alun would be bored to death, when I forced him to wait every time I saw an interesting object.

But I was wrong. Alun turned out to be helpful all the time. He drove me to any place I wanted, without asking anything in granted. He helped me took bunch of pictures using my camera, simply because I was too busy to sketch yet I didn’t want to miss any single good views. He was even protecting me and my moleskines (the sketch book) with an umbrella when I was drawing Bank Indonesia at Yogyakarta. It was raining all of sudden at that time and I was panicked because I hadn’t finished my drawing. Alun opened an umbrella, sat beside me and said,

‘be cool, Mas Galih. Keep drawing. I had you covered.’

It was a slap in the face to me. A hard one. This is a boy who I always looked down for whatever he did.  A boy who I easily judge and addressed by every awful labels. A boy who sometimes I used to compare with me, just to find how lucky I am to not be him. And there he was, opening an umbrella for me, waiting patiently for something that he might be didn’t understand; me drawing a building.

I was babbling a lot about how important a travel companion, especially ones who have the same travel value like you are. In my case, the ones who are okay with me spending minutes drawing something interesting. On a more pretentious words, the ones who share the similar traveling culture with me.

Alun is not having the similar traveling culture with me. But that’s why he stand out at the end. He might not understand the context nor the reason behind my so called traveling culture, yet he helped me a LOT. With his loyalty, with his nice gestures, with his time and his car accompanied and drove me to whenever I wished to be.

If we were reversing role, there’s no way I would help him doing something that I don’t even appreciate. Hell, I even loathed his hobbies and taste (even though I never said it out loud), let alone I waste my time while I’m traveling.

His name is Alun. Still not a real name, and I thank him deeply for what he did to me. Not only because he helped me on making my travel sketches happened, it’s also because he showed me something valuable. Something that not only I hadn’t seen on him before, but also something that I might not have.


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