A personal essay about how reading and writing in many languages have shaped the person and writer I am today.
This essay is part of a series commissioned by the Australia-Indonesia Centre, with leading writers and commentators from Indonesia and Australia each looking closely at their own society, cultures and political situations. When asked to contribute an essay to the series, Eliza thought of exploring the subject of Indonesian identity through personal and national trauma—specifically the May 1998 tragedy.
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.’
Somehow I knew this fire would be here when I wake up, the same way I knew you would not.
Esai ini merupakan bagian dari serangkaian yang ditugaskan oleh Pusat Australia-Indonesia—penulis dan komentator terkemuka dari Indonesia dan Australia memeriksa secara dekat masyarakat, budaya, dan situasi politik di negara masing-masing. Ketika diminta menyumbang esai untuk serial tersebut, langsung terpikir oleh Eliza untuk menyelusuri topik itu melalui tema trauma personal dan nasional, terutama tragedi Mei 1998.
Celebrate the launch of Eliza Vitri Handayani’s novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different, finally launched in Jakarta. With Kartika Jahja, Dinda Kanyadewi, Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, Jewel Topsfield, Olin Monteiro, and Vendy Methodos.
Love, freedom, and identity are all connected. If we have freed ourselves from a repressive regime, from unfair social norms, can we be free to be who we are? Can we break free from our own fears, from our own past? Are we free to choose what kind of person we want to be?
My characters and I grew up under the New Order, which enforced uniformity. Just as they were graduating college and it was time for them to enter the real world, there were all these new freedoms. Now they could be different, they didn’t have to fear censorship or persecution anymore. But as the euphoria passed, they realized there was still a lot of challenges, and they still had to face their own fears and self-destructive habits. By drawing parallels between my character’s endeavors to realize themselves and Indonesia’s efforts towards democracy, I want to write a story about how to break free and be loved for who you are.
Seraya Indonesia menjelang demokrasi pada akhir ’90-an, generasi muda bertanya: apa makna kebebasan? Seorang laki-laki dan seorang perempuan mendambakan kebebasan untuk jadi diri sendiri, meskipun itu berarti hidup di luar norma-norma masyarakat dan budaya.