What The Velvet Butterfly Wanted
I was sitting in Desperado, a hotel bar in Surabaya whose guests are mostly expatriates, with my good male friend who had just been dumped by his gay boyfriend. It was almost midnight, and he was crying on my shoulder with a Kahlua in his right hand. The band from Canada was too loud, so sometimes I couldn't catch what he was talking about.
Then, a young, sexy and nubile gal passed our table. Her strong jasmine fragrance made me take a second look. Suddenly, she stopped and turned around, "Is it really you?" My eyes widened and I couldn't believe that it was the ex-nanny of my neighbor who used to be a good friend of mine.
Spontaneously, she dragged me into the toilet to get away from the noise. Her first words weren't "How are you?", but a comment about my very long hair. She almost didn't give me the chance to speak.
"I already have a baby. He's mixed because his father is an American," she told me proudly leaving me an immediate impression of her obsession.
In one second, my mind was deluged with question marks - wasn't she supposed to be singing a lullaby for her baby at this time of night? Did her husband mind her going to a bar alone late at night? What was she doing here?
"I'd love to meet you again, Sri. Tell me, your number!" Finally I had a chance to talk as she paused.
"Don't call me Sri. I've changed my name to June which sounds more like a city girl." She giggled really hard that night and I think she already had in fact become a city girl.
Days later, her voice on the phone surprised me. "What are you up to? I'm at Puri Matahari Apartment with my Japanese boyfriend, and we're going to have breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel," she showed off. "Can we meet up about lunch time somewhere?" she continued.
So, for the second time in 8 years I met her again. We sat in a decent Chinese restaurant and she lit up a cigarette.
"I know you are wondering what I've been doing. But, you can draw a conclusion, can't you?" she opened the conversation and started disclosing her personal life.
Like most other prostitutes, her decision to change professions was almost a cliché, for economic reasons. But her next confession really made me drop my jaw to the floor.
"I had been craving a mixed child for a long time. Their adorable faces could be a potential asset for my future. You know, many bule-looking children become celebrities in Indonesia. Besides, I feel I have more privileges by having a child from a bule. I'm more recognized," she confessed without remorse.
For a moment my eyes widened and I was about to yell, "Where did you get those ideas?" But then I realised that it's none of my business anyway.
On the way home, she invited me to come by her place, which was located close to Dolly (a big red light district in Surabaya). She asked me to sit down in the living room, and shortly brought her baby boy out.
"His name is Mickel. I'm happy that I can name my child with a western name. Budi, Santoso or Erwin, don't you think they sound boring? I'm also happy that God made my dream come true," she laughed while embracing the high-nosed baby.
I was astonished again to realize the extent of her obsession - seeing a mixed child as a future asset, having more privileges, being recognized, and taking pride in naming her child with a western name.
She didn't even care where the father was, nor if the father knew that she got pregnant. The worst thing was she didn'tdid not seem to care if someday her child asked who his father was.
I looked at her handsome baby boy and whispered inside, "Oh dear, what has she done to you?"