Today I am grieving for my friend, once a best friend, Astari. Some used to call her Riri. She is the same age as mine, 36 year-old. Too young or just about time?
Her name remind me of a pink doll she bought me one day. She did. I thought, “Wow, she must be rich!” A doll is expensive for me. I was bit too old for a doll. We were in 7th grade. A rich and beautiful girl. I envy her. She has thick straight jetblack hair and fair skin. Of course, I remember her wonderful white teeth. Why can’t I have those teeth? My teeth were a mess and I can’t smile freely. I forced myself to use braces in college.
Riri was a brave and sophisticated girl. She introduced me to supermarket located far from school. She knew some foods’ brands I never heard. She knew good stuffs.
Riri was a girlie with perfect laugh. She liked to make funny faces.
Of course I was not her only best friend. My best friend was her best-best friend because they went to the same high school and faced the turbulent teenage years together. The junior high school was preliminary years to what lay ahead.
In junior high, Riri became tomboy. She changed, a lot. She prefered boys crowd and we no longer hang around very much. She started to smoke. I was appalled. I tried to let her go and accepted her decision. I don’t know what get her into it. I don’t dare to ask because we have different priority. I relied to Elin, my best friend to know more about her.
Riri was an intelligent girl, no doubt about it. I imagined if I were her, I will have my best photo taken and joined popular girl competition at Aneka Yess or Gadis, two teen magazines at that time. Pretty, charming, clever, proper height, and white neat teeth. You can’t beat it!
However, she chose different path. She adventured with drug and became heavy smoker. The drugs drag her to a journey she might not expected. I don’t think she has any problem she need to escape from. Is it too much to be born beautiful and talented girl? Is it a heavy burden to be likeable?
After the ups and downs, I heard that Riri went to rehab. I was in college at that time. I pray for her. All her friends pray for her. She has so much to give to other. I was not better than her. I have my own problem and will take anything to go “beyond that” if you know what I mean. Poem saved me. I let all go through poems and short stories. I wish I can tell Riri about it. “You are not alone. You are not crazy! Look at me! I am young, skinny, ugly, angry, and I am writing poems.”
I heard she was sober and then got married. That just enough for me; to know that she’s all right. That’s the last time I heard about her. “Everything will be fine,” I imagined her whispering to me. Yes, you will be fine. You have come long and hard way, Riri. You are tougher than me. You were fighting a battle that some people have lost. I want to remember you that way, a fighter.
You have nothing to runaway from. You are your own enemy. You are your own ally. You have touched many hearts in your life, including mine. I can’t quantify the value but to appreciate your sincerity. Your gift was more than the pink doll, it was the confidence that I deserve something good. It’s priceless. Don’t take yourself lightly.
Riri, I will always carry your memory in my journey. You are essential.
Malang, 8 September 2015.