When I was 18, after I had made my debut as a writer, I used to go to the Jakarta Arts Center Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) where I met artists and intellectuals just as weird as myself — which made me feel right at home!
One day, in the outdoor café where we used to hang out, out of the blue, Nashar, a well-known painter asked me, “Who are you?” Understanding immediately that he was testing me, an upstart young writer, I replied, “Hmm, even I don’t know who I am”.
He nodded vigorously. Apparently my answer satisfied him, as he realized that I had interpreted his presumably factual question as an existential, philosophical one.
Indeed, “Who am I?” is one of the most basic questions in life, certainly when one embarks on a path of spirituality and self-awareness.
In these days of identity politi...
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