I took Stella to a trial day at what will become August this year, her new school.
We left our house early, when the pavement was still wet with last night’s rain. The sun hadn’t quite yet burnt off the morning softness. We walked together, hand in hand. She carried her backpack, and I thought, how big you are.
We walked between sprawling shopping malls and towering buildings, the two of us together, her little hand in mine. Early morning office workers were buying breakfast at the kaki lima carts. We walked past a line of them, tempeh frying, noodles pouring into bowls, the smell of lemongrass, ginger and cooking oil. The vendors looked up and waved at us, hallo baby! they said.
We stepped up to the sidewalk, detritus from yesterday crushed up against the curb. Even the litter looks fresh after a heavy overnight rain.
I thought, maybe we’re the luckiest family in Jakarta. We live here, in this gorgeous building in this beautiful city, everything is so vibrant and loud and wonderful and surprising. The sun shines most mornings and everything comes alive before it’s even eight. And we get to be out here, walking on this street, living it all.
Come August Stella will move to the big kid school. We’ll give up driving every morning in a taxi and inn August we’ll get to walk this way every day. In August we’ll get to recognise the food vendors. We’ll be know by the ojeks waiting for fares next to their motorcycles. We’ll wave to wave to the woman sitting next to her drinks stall with a baby on her knee. We’ll know the shortcuts between the tall buildings, and which stall has the best fried tempeh.
Come August will step out of our protective bubble. We’ll feel like regular people in a regular neighbourhood. And that sense of community, or normal, everyday real life