In this expatriate village on this small Indonesian Island, where the road tar bubbles like tiny lungs in the hot sun and where the low waves blunder greyly into shore, this is where I grow up between a bejungled golf course and a cul de sac. We do our schooling by correspondence – Clive Corro Awards and teachers on tape and Mum sitting nearby with steaming coffee and gluten free toast. In the afternoon we’re free to play. We play cars in the dirt on the driveway, the dirt which, in the wet season, will be turned into slick brown puddles. If we get too hot, I go inside to my room – sit on the flecked white tiles right next to the air conditioner and read my favourite Richard Scarry book about the teddy who gets his tonsils out and eats only ice cream and jelly. My brothers share a room but the oldest already left for boarding school when I was only four. One day my other brother claims a headache and gets out of doing schoolwork. I remember being in my room next door thinking he was faking. But he’s soon very sick and my Mum is pale. He ends up in Cikini Hospital in Jakarta (there’s no suitable facilities on this island) and I’m farmed out to a neighbour for a while. The neighbour’s son is around my age and he remembers all his dreams. He tells me them in the mornings. We sneak into the kitchen and half fill a plastic cup each with Milo and then just dribble in a little milk. Mud in a cup. One day I slam my finger in another friend’s door. It hurts a lot and her Mum is a nurse. But I just want my own Mum and I back away crying. When we go to visit my brother, the company driver who is taking us to the airport gets mesmerized by the Kombi’s windscreen wipers in afternoon storm. We run into a bus and I hit my head. We’re on a dirt road in a forest of coconut palms – trunks as long and vertical as the pouring rain. Dad is fossicking in the luggage for something to stem the bleeding. Red shorts for red blood. When we get to the airport a kind man leaps up from his seat to give me a bandaid. In Jakarta, I get five stitches from a needle like a skinny silver sickle.
Memories like mud puddles
stitched in time any old how.
Still a tiny scar on my forehead.
Written for dVerse Poets Pub - Haibun Monday