Choose Peace

This post was originally from my Facebook post, written immediately at Dunkin Donuts, Pondok Indah Mall 1. I may have edited bits from the original post for this blog post.

I had to go to Pondok Indah Mall and my Grab fare was IDR 35000. I shouted around the house for small change because all I had were the hundreds. The owner of the house said, “My money is in the ATM,” and asked his maid. His maid said she had just bought clothes (true, a postman just came and she paid Rp 350 000 to him). Nobody had small change. I hoped that my Grab driver would have money to give me in return and said waited for my ride.

Gosh, Jakarta housing areas are confusing. I asked the maid to come with me to help me tell the driver our whereabouts. She told me she’s been working here for over a year. She took my phone and told the driver she didn’t know where we were at. I facepalmed, and she left me kind of stunned when she returned my phone with its screen being oily. I am particular about these kinds of things, you know? I told her it’s okay and talked to the driver myself. “Just follow the GPS, I said.” “But it’s usually wrong,” he told me. He said he’s going to ask around. Without my phone I wouldn’t know how to get out of this labyrinth that is the Jakarta housing area either, but I had my phone and my GPS has never failed me.

A Toyota Rush came into view soon after. I hopped in. First thing I noticed about my Grab driver was his AlKitab bible in between the driver and front passenger’s seat, and that he looked like someone from Timur Leste. People from these areas would have a lot of stories to tell. Imagine going all the way from near Australia to Jakarta! I had swallowed one paracetamol the previous night so I was well enough to talk to him (I had been sick for five days…my coughing did all the talking in previous rides). It turns out he’s from Sulawesi areas, wherever that is!

We discussed religion first. “I’m Christian, but my Christian is the Islamic-kind of Christian. I don’t eat pork, I don’t drink alcohol. I hate eating at Chinese places because they add lard to everything. I hate the smell. When I eat I look for halal food. My whole life. I’ve never touched alcohol.”

“So what Christian are you?”
“Seventh-Day Adventists.”
“The one that believes God makes a day in seven days and takes a rest?”
“In six days. That seventh day is Saturday.”
“You don’t work on Saturdays?”
“I don’t work on Saturdays.”
“So tell me more about your beliefs.

And he did. We later moved on to talking about English, how he’s now taking a degree in some university in Social Work. He wanted to take Social Politics (or something like that) but he could only take Social Work (or something like that).

“I want to do some kind of work to help the kids back home, you know. If my English was good I would do well at home.”
“Did you learn English in school?”
“I did, and I was the best among my friends. But I’ve forgotten everything. I don’t think I can learn English anymore. It’s too difficult. Spanish is easier. I got a C in my high-school level English in college. Can you imagine how embarrassing that is? English is too difficult, the whole grammar thing.”
“I don’t think grammar is important. What’s important is you’re understood.”
“I can’t.”
“Maybe it’s something you’ve told yourself too much that you’ve believed in it. Start telling yourself you can. And I think you can.”

From the rear view mirror I saw his face giving it a thought.

“You’re right.”

Our conversation made the traffic and journey seem short.

We have arrived.

And oh dear, ….he did not have change. My fare was Rp 35 000 and I gave him the Rp 100 000 note.

“Let’s pretend to park inside then,” he said as he entered the carpark. Usually when drivers enter a parking area I’ll have to pay for the parking fee too. I calculated the Rp 2000 notes I had.

“I have Rp 33 000 only….”
“And that’s okay! I’ll take that!”

He swerved right into an empty parking spot (it was 10 AM at a mall).

“No, maybe we could… um,…no that’s not very nice.”
“It’s okay! I enjoyed talking to you. I’ll take that Rp 33 000.”
“Are you sure?!”
“Yes, I am very sure.”

I hesitantly gave him my crumpled notes. He did not even count them.

“I hope you find a rich customer after this.”
“Amen,” he responded.

I walked into Dunkin Donuts hungry but happy to finally eat something my throat would like. I like Indonesia, but the food…notsomuch. I’m not an eater in the first place, a very picky one too so I looked forward to my croissant breakfast after 10 days of being there. I was ordering when I saw a familiar number on my phone screen, ringing. Familiar as in it’s the same number that called me to ask for directions just this morning.

Oh dear, I was nervous. It’s the Grab guy just now. He didn’t even count how much money I gave him. What if he just did and it turned out I only gave him Rp 30 000! Is he going to get angry or something? I slide my phone to answer it.

“Hi, Ms Salam?”
“Yes?”

This is the Grab driver, he said. I know, I told him.

“I wanted to thank you for your prayer.”
“Oh?” I replied, confused. What prayer?
“My next ride is Rp 200 000. Thank you for your prayer.”

He sounded genuinely grateful. He said it’s okay to my lack of Rp 2000 and in return got 100 folds.

I said alhamdullilah. He said alhamdullilah. That was the last I’ve heard from him.

This was written before the Indonesian governor elections. I don’t really want to get involved in politics (and then they’d say those who don’t care are kafirs!) but from what I see in my timeline on Facebook it’s not very pretty. I have both Anies and Ahok supporters on my timeline and I literally do not care about them because to me, fighting does not ensure peace.

I wrote this on my Facebook post at Dunkin Donuts that day: So you guys still want to bicker over who is right and wrong when it is actually more blissful to talk in peace?

Because you see, me and that Grab driver, do not hold the same religious views. He has his own faith, I have my own faith. But he believed in my “prayer” as I did not mind wishing or “praying” for the best for him nonetheless. We all can be friends, you know?

P.S My croissant sandwich, however, was a disappointment. Hurhurhur.

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