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.
A story about a group of punks in an Islamic school in Jakarta, who stood up against an abusive teacher. Published in the Griffith Review’s New Asia Now edition, featuring 49 authors from Asia Pacific under 45 years of age.
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.
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.’
Aku ingin karyaku turut memajukan kisah inovasi lintas benua dan lintas zaman, aku ingin menciptakan diriku dari apa pun yang kuyakini dapat mendekatkanku ke sebaik-baik Eliza Vitri Handayani.
Kita berhutang pada diri kita sendiri untuk menjaga keberagaman kita—untuk mewujudkan sebuah bangsa di mana semua orang dapat, dengan aman dan leluasa, menjadi diri mereka masing-masing.
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.
To censor is to say certain voices are not okay. When you don’t see people like yourself represented, you may feel isolated. That’s why intolerant groups must not be allowed to define what it means to be Indonesian. We owe it to ourselves to take care of our diversity—to realize a country where everyone can be true to themselves.
26 August-17 September 2016 Eliza had the opportunity to tour Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide to promote her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different. Her appearances were supported by WrICE and Vagabond Press.