Someplace Between Respect and Desire

My confusion and alarm soon turned to fear. I felt with every cell on my skin my disadvantaged situation: I was the woman and he was the man, I was Asian and he was white, I was just another local girl and he was the dashing coveted foreigner, I was younger, less experienced, less beautiful, and I probably liked him much more than he liked me.

Us + Them

She eyed the sweaty strangers around them, tearing off pieces of flesh, crunching into crackers, red sauce dripping from their fingers. Every now and then a lone grain of rice or shred of onion would cling to the corner of their lips, like a lonely outcast or scapegoat, only to be obliterated with a swipe of their greasy hands.

From Now on Everything will be Different (excerpt)

How was it possible that these people, after three decades of silence and obedience and fear, now found the courage to protest? These people were so used to submitting to fate. How had they decided that they could break the course of History? The protests impressed him profoundly as the first confirmation that one could indeed bring about change. He would never forget how, along with the sound of thousands of students marching, he had heard God lovingly whisper in his ear, ‘You too can change your life’s course.’

Between Languages Between Worlds

My Javanese father gave me the Javanese name ‘Handayani’—he dislikes going out and likes to eat only Indonesian food; he believes it is his right and obligation to be the head of the family. My Madurese mother gave me the Western name ‘Eliza’—she likes traveling and trying cuisines from around the world; she believes in the values her parents taught her: obedience to husband, submission to God. Fate decided my middle name: I was born on Idul Fitri, but, horrified at the thought of her first-born named like every other baby girl born that day, my mother swapped the F in ‘Fitri’ for a V. ‘Vitri’: fate tweaked by free will.