Story of my Ancestry.

My grandfather had a love for poetry
He was also a devout believer
He would always fall asleep next to the holy text with his songkok tipped off his head
He was the kind of a man who would kept God within his reach
He led a pious life, and in return, God turned him into a poet - with a heart
Who's humble and bashful like shy mimosa plant
But his strong arms could lift the weight of the world alone
But I grew up estranged to his far and great existence
With a bagful of wishes,
To recollect lost threads
To re-arrange the puzzle about him,
Like yellowing paper filled with his hand written poems
Scattered for too long in my dimming memories
"You're never too old to learn something new," 
my grandfather used to tell me

An excerpt I wrote for a poem "Voices that Remain", also co-wrote by Putri and Qowi for our poetry evening night, Unmasked Open Mic.Vol. 5 : Ancestry.

I pay tribute to my beloved Atuk, who passed away in 2003. It has been 13 years. I think I am one of his grandchildren who grew up distant from him. He lived in Aceh, and I lived in Palembang with my family. I could only see him for once every two year, because we rotated Lebaran visit between my paternal family in Aceh and my maternal family in Palembang.

I have only met him few times, but I remembered him as a kind man. For example, my mom has this habit of sharing a tiny fried ikan patin with the whole family. So, that's the only way I know how to eat ikan patin, to share the body of the ikan with the whole family. We would never at it as a whole. 

But Atuk (my paternal grandafter), said, "Go ahead. You should not share the whole fish. Eat them whole, it is all yours."

He tended to the fishes in a little pond behind our family house in Kuala Simpang. He was a humble man and a poet. He loved to write.

Months ago, my cousin who is also fond of writing, send me a snap of a poetry written by Atuk. She asked me to translate this poem, and I couldn't. The poetry is too complex and sometimes, I find it difficult to edit or translate someone's work. Poetry is personal.

I am lucky to be able to find a response to the beautiful poetry. Together with super friends, Putri and Qowi we crafted a piece titled "Voices that remain" that told the story of our grandparents. 

Not only that I successfully redeemed myself on stage, but I am so happy to see our Unmasked Poetry Open Mic is growing. I remember we had our second event titled "Roots" with similar theme for Indonesia's Independence Celebration in a casual laid-back cafe, now we work with a giant auditorium with multimedia projections.

So I am happy, to see all of the performances from the guest poets and the open-micers. We've got to see our regular audiences and new faces. The bar is set higher, I guess. So yeay for our poetry community!

Looking forward to more collaborations and Unmasked!


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