Short Story by Rachel Diercie (The Jakarta Post, July 30, 2018)

A Family Portrait ilustration Budhi Button - The Jakarta Post.jpg
A Family Portrait ilustration Budhi Button/The Jakarta Post

On the second day of Eid celebrations—a day that’s supposed to be spent visiting family—I sat alone in a café for hours under the guise of doing my assignments. No one asked me how I had an assignment during a holiday, so I could be lying. I wasn’t lying though, I did have an assignment, but that’s a different story. However, I did spend a huge amount of time on my phone—scrolling pictures on Instagram vehemently—looking for my stepsisters from my estranged father whom I had never even met—which is only normal if I was a character in a coming-of-age movie.

This is complicated: I know I’m not going to find her, nor will I find my biological father online in a day, two or five. Even if I managed to find a supposed stepsister or two, how would I know they’re the right ones? The information my mother gave me about these girls is vague, at best; she wasn’t even sure how many of them are out there. Of course, that’s what you get when your mother randomly drops the bomb in the most uneventful and unexpected situation.

***

I was lying down after a shower in my mother’s bedroom with a stack of pillows below my head, pressing my chin against my chest, when suddenly she pinched me and said, “You’re so fat. I think you got that from your father.” I didn’t budge because I just don’t most of the time. Here we go again, I thought. I knew I looked uninterested and I felt like I was, but every time this issue was brought up I automatically took a mental note. This is one of my favorite traits, I always remember little details that aren’t really important.

Read also: The Writer – Short Story by Ben Loory (The Jakarta Post, April 30, 2018)

For instance, I remember the ethnicity of my biological father. This was something I sort of asked my mother directly. It was in the fourth grade. In our citizenship education class we had a chapter about ethnicities and back then when ethnic issues weren’t discussed as often, it was still normal for my teacher to ask everyone in the class what their ethnicity was. I panicked. Everyone seemed to know their ethnicity and I barely managed to grasp this concept. Luckily, I sat in the back, so I had some time to think. I nudged my seatmate and quietly asked, so as to not let the teacher notice my sudden wave of distress, “How do you know what ethnicity you are?”

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