By the way ... Chasing the golden egg
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Childhood dreams can be peculiar. While many seem to be simple and irrational, they can be powerful drivers to one’s success as an adult.
Young Ilham, for instance, is dreaming of becoming a driver of an Agung Jaya bus that plies the Jakarta–Kuningan route. His family members are loyal customers of the company as their hometown is in Kuningan, West Java.
He has been resolute in his ambition for the past two years, calling such a position “the most noble and prestigious job in the world”.
His father often berates and scolds him in an attempt to make him change his mind. But no matter how angry his father or how sad his mother gets, he persistently puts across his case in a loud voice. He apparently believes the profession is the only way for him to become richer than his parents, who own a warung (cigarette and food stall) near my house.
Many children of his age often change their minds about their future careers. One day they want to be a police officer and the next day they may decide medicine is the ideal job. And soon Ilham may change his mind. So I’d rather play along with his fantasy.
Ilham is always nice to me because I let him to get in my car and accompany me when washing the Kijang Innova. After that, I let him sit in the driver’s seat, after, of course, removing the ignition key. He is always very serious.
“Kuningan Kuningan. Pretty teteh [girl] can be seated next to the driver,” he shouted loudly. He told me that only pretty girls can sit next to the driver.
Spending time with Ilham and other disadvantaged children reminds me of my own childhood in Lake Toba, North Sumatra. There is something near and dear in their innocent and unmet hopes and expectations; similar to what I experienced as a child. I share their pain and sadness.
Not so long ago I accompanied some neighbors and children to watch Soegija, a movie about a national hero and the first Indonesian Catholic bishop, Soegijapranata, in Rawamangun, East Jakarta.
Reynaldi, one of the children, came from a poor family. While waiting for the screening, he forlornly watched his friends enjoy ice cream that they had bought at a McDonald’s restaurant.
If you come from a middle- or upper-class family, it may be difficult for you to understand the boy’s misery, but imagining it came naturally to me. I quickly rushed to buy him an ice cream because memories of my own childhood came flooding back.
I was transported back to the time when my classmates and I went to Lake Toba for a farewell picnic. My friends bought boiled duck eggs. It was a luxurious treat at that time. All I could do was remain standing near the bus as my mother had insisted that I did not need to take any money on the trip.
None of my friends offered me a taste of the delicious food. Such an experience often happened during my elementary school years, even though my father was the school principal.
Reynaldi smiled and teased me after I bought him the ice cream.
“You still like ice cream. It is for children,” he said.
He is a student of a prestigious junior high school in Central Jakarta. Given the opportunity, I believe the boy could achieve the highest level of education.
One poor widow who has seven children and through sheer determination has ensured that all of them get a proper and quality education.
Two of her daughters had to stay at an orphanage because it was the only way for them to get a decent education. Her living conditions are probably beyond your wildest imagination, but her six children are all smart and diligent.
A generous Singaporean sponsors her fourth child’s education. She is now pursuing her dream to become a qualified IT technologist at a private university.
She often laughs at me when I complain about life. “I am always grateful to the Lord. He is my only friend in taking care of my children.”
Childhood can be cruel for children and even parents. Those who keep their dreams alive are the survivors and they will be rewarded in the future.
— Kornelius Purba