Short Story by Yudhi Herwibowo (The Jakarta Post, September 25, 2017)

The Cry Baby ilustration Budhi Button - The Jakarta Post.jpg
The Crybaby ilustration Budhi Button/The Jakarta Post

I hear him whisper slowly, “Where is my big sister?”

I’m not sure whether the question is meant for me, so I remain silent. Deep down, I want to ask the same question, but I know it’s no use. I’ve asked it so many times before, both in my silence and by whispering painfully just like the boy next to me. I once tried to scream these words aloud, but it only ended up hurting my throat.

Nobody answers our painful loss. Ever.

I remember the day I got separated from my big sister. We went to the night market. “We will find many customers there,” she said.

I smiled. “Will we make a lot of money? May I buy cotton candy later?”

“Of course. You can buy as much as you want.”

The night market was too crowded. From the moment we went through the gate, my sister was quick to wrap her hand around my fingers. “You don’t let go.”

I obeyed her. I tried my best to hold on to her, but the ocean of people was too much to handle. The crowd jostled and eventually we were separated from each other.

I called out to her repeatedly, yet the only answer I received came from the dangdut singer performing on the stage: “Buka sitik jooosss…[take off some clothes, oh yeah…]”

Kaaaaaaaakkkk…” I screamed again, in vain, for my big sister.

I began to cry and in my own devastation I tried to reach out to anyone who would listen to me, and help me. However, no one seemed to care. They simply gave me a disgusted look and drove me away.

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