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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

Langa

Saya akan selalu ingat Langa di hatiku.
I will always remember Langa in my heart.

Moments.

Drawing butterflies with my eleven-year-old sister, Ayu, then squealing with her as she colored them in.

Cackling with Mama Lina at dinner, snorting and dying of laughter as the rest of the family looked on, oblivious of our inside joke.

Coming home from lessons to my Mami weaving, hearing the dull thump, thump, thump, of the wooden loom.

Walking back from the farm with my brother, Ifan, gnawing on corn we just picked and roasted in the fields.

My five year old brother, Edo, calling out “salamat tidur, Kakak Ari!” every night before bed.

Edo creeping toward me with his arm raised, armpit vulnerable, inviting me, the tickle monster, to chase him as he ran shrieking throughout the house.

Sitting by the cooking fire with Ifan as he did impressions of American movies.

Drinking coffee and eating avocado with my father, Bapak Rober, in the mornings before class.

Sitting on the couches with Ifan, teaching him to conjugate the verb “to be.”

Washing clothes with my Mami, making jokes about our underwear.

Serving my family their rice for dinner, grabbing each plate and asking if they want a “gunung besar” or “gunung kecil.” (Big mountain or small mountain)

Trying to tell my family a story then, mid-sentence, sprinting to my room to grab my pocket dictionary, furiously leafing through it to find the word to finish my thought.

The look of pride in my Bapak’s eyes when they served me the first corn of their crop yield this season.

Braiding my sister Ayu’s hair for school in the morning.

Edo, puffed up like a peacock, playing games with me and being “nakal.” (naughty)

Ifan teaching me Bahasa Indonesia.

Discussing life, death, happiness, family, money, drunkenness, education, and discipline with my Mami.

Laughing at family dinner, all six of us together.

Trying to keep a smile on my face as the cooking smoke in the house made tears stream down my cheeks.

Ifan, making me coffee.

Singing pop songs with my siblings as we walked to the farm.

Ayu, running to me when I came home and leaping at me with hugs and kisses.

Sitting by the cooking fire with my family, peeling garlic.

My mami, heating my water before I bathed.

The look in my mother’s face when I told her I wanted to buy her weaving. Gratitude and love and shock and humility.

Stopping Ifan and Ayu to look at the stars, them laughing at my astonishment to see the whole milky way.

Making friendship bracelets for every member of my family, and the joy in their faces when I tied them to their wrists.

Teaching Ayu American handshake games, then watching her teach her friends.

The last time I ate breakfast with them, our hearts heavy and eyes thick, promising “sampai jumpa,” see you again, never goodbye.

Saya akan pulang ke Langa.
I will return home to Langa.