Posted in Personal

The Lucky Ones

“Those who really have a difficult life, never mention ‘difficulties in life’,” my late friend once told us in a small forum of five.

This quote always reminded me of one of my best friend. Despite tremendous difficulties in her life, she always, always consider herself lucky.

She was born on February the 13th. People tend to associate 13 with bad luck, but not her. She managed to flip the bad omen into luck. Or, perhaps it was the way she see things, her point of view, a constant perception to rewrite her hardships into stories of sweet revenge.

Such as these word of hers:

Sometimes I regret why my legs are short, but then I smiled remembering how far I’ve gone.

She’s petite with unusual light-brown eye color and a strong determination to thrive. She is second to the last child in her family, the most successful and sharp-minded. Despite growing up in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, where education level was compromised, she got a scholarship to study Public Health at the best university in the capital of Indonesia and became an active member of Indonesian Red Cross. She got into an exchange program to the Netherlands, as a Red Cross volunteer.

To match her unusual eye-color, she chose occupation that was also quite unique. Instead of being a civil servant to fulfill her parents wish, she worked at a juvenile prison. She got a scholarship in the Netherlands and her experience in juvenile prison set her to pursue an unusual research topic that awarded her as the top 20 research paper of our batch in graduate school.

We were schoolmates at graduate school in Den Haag. During Ramadhan, unlike most of our friends, both of us didn’t come back to our country for fieldwork. We decided to stay together as a roommate and make the most of the holy month of Ramadhan. We lived at Sunneke, a beautiful and quiet boarding house surrounded by the crispiest air. She made sure that I woke up for sahur and I took care of cooking. That way, Ramadhan fasting and thesis writing were a little easier to handle.

I used to thought, as people grow older, it would be far more difficult to make genuine friendship. I was wrong. I found genuine relationship with her because we started off with brutal honesty. I was not afraid of saying straight to her face, as my roommate at that time, that she was a bit like a dictator. Perhaps bossy would be a softer and more appropriate word, but I knew she could handle my bluntness. She did.

She said, it was the first time anybody ever gave her such comment. She explained that probably her direct-ordering style stemmed from her time as an undergraduate student in University of Indonesia, Jakarta. Being in a metropolitan, you have to be very clear and straightforward in giving “order”. You have to be demanding. Otherwise, you would not get what you need. People in big city could be ruthless.

I could understand. Coming from a small city, I realized how different the situation was. It was perhaps like a battle of survival for her. Thank God I trusted her enough to tell my concern about her dictator-likeness. Since then, the rest was history. I am so glad that we met and found no need of inhibitions with each other.

As people grow older, I learn that some of them get increasingly insecure of themselves. They thought of themselves too high. They thought they are “more” than what they actually are. They are embarrassed of themselves as they are ever-trying to achieve what they thought ideal of that age bar. They are intensely fake because they know that perhaps they wouldn’t get there anyway. These type of people tend to have difficulties forming genuine friendship because they just want to show off, without anything that is actually worthy of showing off. They are frustrated and depressed.

My dear friend I wrote about in this post, is the opposite. I’ve never heard of anyone with such life calamities to take care of, yet she managed to sustain a “bring-it” mental attitude towards whatever troubles coming her way. She’s been through a lot but that didn’t drag her down. Despite life hardships that seems never-ending, although not always easy, she still found herself lucky. Lately, one of her struggle, that was to finance her youngest brother’s undergraduate education, had finally been paid off. She visited my hometown to attend the graduation ceremony and met by newborn.


We still see each other whenever there is chance, given that now we live in different city. With her I could get one of the best feelings in the world, that is to genuinely feel happy for others. I followed through her life stories since our time in Den Haag to Jakarta, where we discovered the best street foods, casually exchanged our up-to-date life stories, and made jokes of anything overpriced. Those were reminiscence of my happy times with her and right now is another happy times of us. She’d been through a lot of struggle to finance her brother so I knew how happy she must be to finally see him graduate. I felt serene as I became so happy for her. She was also so happy for me with my newborn and it made my own happiness multiplied.

She truly is lucky at heart and it made me feel lucky to befriend such a lucky person. Here’s to more luck in our life!


on-going tensions between ready-made values and uncharted territory

7 thoughts on “The Lucky Ones

  1. They say “attitude is life”. I often find this so true – what you’re thrown in life is just the beginning. What you make of it is the journey. I love your friend’s approach to life. She’s inspiring, she’s got ‘ganas’ as they say in Spanish! “As people grow older, I learn that some of them get increasingly insecure of themselves” really resonated with me too. It’s what I also see in others; it’s what I see in myself sometimes too. The challenge is to grow older and fight this tendency.

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