We talk as if we are next to each other instead of half a world apart, more than 6,000 miles away. We talk about everything under the sun. Sometimes, I touch his face when we Skype and I can almost feel the smile on his lips; the way he looks into my eyes melts the physical miles away. Our many whatsapp messages will catch each other at the most inopportune time; sometimes, I could almost hear him groaning at the inappropriateness of my words when he is in a serious work situation, trying to concentrate. But that omnipresent bond between us that has been there for almost 9 years had never ever felt like a burden – rather, it is a joy that brings bright spots of happiness into our day.
I sent him this photograph of two owls sheltering under a leaf from the rain. Nothing meaningful, except that the photograph was taken in Jakarta:
“That was us sitting in the waroeng near your place waiting for the rain to stop, eating bloody nasi goreng,” I reminded him. We were so different then (maybe we still are). He embraced the Jakarta life fully, living in a kos amongst the locals whilst I lived the expat lifestyle. In those early days, we fought so much that I never saw the beauty of him, that in fighting him, I was actually fighting myself. It took me almost nine years to recognise that.
When did I recognise that ‘self’ thing?
When I woke up one day and realised that however far we are apart from each other geographically, he is always my knight in shining armour. I, who have never thought I needed one, was suddenly glad of his strong arms wrapped tightly round my weary soul. “You are my strength,” I often tell him.
“No, Jac, I am just the mirror, not the strength.”
I see the best and also the worst of myself in him. But the one thing I have always seen with my heart even in those warring days was the familiarity of him – we were sitting in the taxi in a Jakarta traffic jam one day and he was talking about his mother and hats, and I thought, “I know you.”
He says things that resonate deep in my heart because those were the words I grew up with – though yes, I hear a lot of “Oh Lord Krishna” from him which makes me smile – and it always makes me happy to hear from him even when we are fighting. Because he is home.
The bottom line is, I have always known him. For he is my home country, and that home country is his chest that I can always rest my head on and the heart whose heartbeats fill mine with joy. It was worth being in Indonesia all those years just to find him.