“Dari mana, nońa,” the taxi driver asks,
“Not far,” I say, “tidak juah, tidak juah”
(Wish he wouldn’t ask.)
I’m thinking thoughts of far away
that won’t make sense to him
and he will think I’m new to here,
and charge me twice the usual fare.
That was nineteen ninety two
when I was new to “home,”
though forty years before this
there was a place I roamed
that made no sense at all.
A black sheep in a flock of white,
that was all I’d known.
But in nineteen ninety three
I’d come to know my own
and cabies didn’t call me nońa,
didn’t say that anymore.
‘Though they still asked, “Dari mana,”
they asked it to “Ibu,”
and Ibu means to them
what “mother” means to you.
So if you ask me where I’m from,
I’d have to say it's true that
I’ve lived enough to know by now
I don’t live that far away from you!
Note to reader: “Dari mana” means “where are your from” in Bahasa Indonesia.“Nońa” is the correct way to address a foreign woman in that language, similar to Miss, Ms. or Mrs. (but with the connotation you ARE a foreigner).When I was finally addressed as “Ibu” (sounds like eee-boo) or “Bu” for short, to me it was an embrace by the Javanese people that I was accepted as being one of their own.It is very common when riding in cabs for the driver to ask you where you are from whether you are a national or not.Even my driver (when I eventually got one) told me that he, being from the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi, was always asked where he was from.He explained that to the Indonesian people this was very significant because knowing where a person was from told them just about everything they needed to know.
[This message has been edited by iliana (12-09-2007 11:03 AM).]