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First Ramadan without you

This title is sooo gloomy. Yes, just like my heart right now. I prayed Tarawih and cry out loud in the sujuud. Gosh, I won’t have my dad anymore in the Idul Fitri. Dad, I hope you are doing alright in there. I pray for you a lot. Miss you dad, miss you much.

I hope this Ramadan could heal me. I thought I will be okay that time will heal me. But I’m not okay dad. Time is passing by but I’m still wounded in here, a blank big hole spot in my heart because you’ve left me. I cry like everysingle time I miss you. The loss, grieving, the feeling that I cannot speak to you anymore. It’s hard.

I hope Ramadan will give me strength and faith. Will heal my wound. Insya Allah.

Aamiin.

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Gender Inclusion – Women Entrepreneurship

Last week I attended a seminar at University of Kent, Canterbury. It’s a part of series seminars about gendered inclusion in contemporary organisation, discusses women’s role in particular organisation context and interdisciplinary perspective. One that I attended was the 5th seminar, it discussed gendered inclusion in the field of entrepreneurship.

My examiner (Dr. Huiping) informed me about the seminar, she thought it could be relevant with my research. Yes, it is. I was very excited when I read the seminar’s title. It’s quite relevant with my research about women’s entrepreneurship. And I was more mesmerized on the D-Day when read the seminars schedule: Gosh, the panels are people whom I cited most on my literature review.

Susan Marlow and Helene Ahl. Omaygat, omaygaaaat. They wrote seminal articles about women entrepreneurs. Their work is classic, must read for those do the research on women’s entrepreneurship.

As I expected, this seminar have given me broader perspective on women entrepreneurs. I had a little discussion with Susan about my research. She suggested me to consider gender perspective for my research, instead of institutional theory. Well yeah, to be honest I still have a blind spot for my research. I know that institution might affect the people’s behavior, but I still need to inquiry futher why those rules of game are different for men and women. Susan suggested me (in-line with Dr. Huiping’s suggestion) to unpack the gender role thingy from the gender perspective.

Still need a lot more reading 😅

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Women and different battlefield

Last week I talked about Multiple sclerosis (MS) for Mutiara Umat (MU) circle via SKYPE. Mutiara Umat is an Indonesian Muslimah society based in Sweden. It has approximately 100 active members. At first, I told the organiser that I might be not eligible to speak about MS since I do not have medical training background. I recommended them another name that I believe has the expertise to talk about MS. However, the organiser convinced me that rather than a comprehensive medical explanation about MS, they want me to speak about MS from the survivor’s perspectives, such as how I manage to do my daily life and its impact toward my family, and soon. Okay then.

They gave me 1.5 hours to speak and discuss MS. I spoke a glimpse about MS from a medical perspective, such as what is MS, what could cause MS, the symptoms, and the treatment or medication. I also linked it to several common types of autoimmune disease. Moreover, as requested I also discussed how I manage my daily life, especially managing fear and motivation when being challenged by autoimmune disease or disability verdict. I hope the talk can help people to identify or coupe when they or their family members have something suspected/diagnosed with MS, or autoimmune disease in general.

For me, the most interesting part is the Q&A session. The questions indeed ask about how I deal with MS, but I can summarise that the omnibus of the questions is how I manage to do my PhD aside from my roles as mum and wife. The other theme that I can sense from those questions is about women’s guilty or useless feeling because they “just stay at home and do nothing but take care the family” [italic = the exact statement was delivered the same in Bahasa Indonesia].

It makes me uncomfortable to hear women’s struggle to raise legitimacy that they are worth and contribute to the family.

Women, you are worth even when you are a stay at home mum, or whatever you do. It is only a different battlefield for a different woman.

I can do the calculation about how much a household has to spend for childcare or nanny if mummy cannot or doesn’t want to take care their children. There is also economic calculation when a mum breastfeeds the baby, instead of using formula milk. We can also count the cost we spend to eat at restaurant or cafe if mum does not cook. Those are several financial gains can be listed if somebody asks about mum’s contribution toward the family. I believe there are more can be listed.

I mentioned in the talk that people might be facing different battlefield. For me it might be MS and PhD. For other people, the battlefield might be their kids or parents, or works, or spouse, or anything. Whether you are women or men, working women or stay at home, with doctoral degree or not, prestigious school or not, affluent or not, have kids or not: it does not matter. It does not matter what women’s status or label in the society is.

For me, one battlefield is never more important or less important than the other battlefield. I believe it is all the same. In my religion, everything we do is to serve God or if you are not a Muslim, what matters is whether you intend to make society better or not. Just like Jewel mentions in her song: “In the end only kindness matter”.

Some people think my PhD student title looks fancy, not every woman can afford that title. Yes, I agree, I count it as my accomplishment. However, on the other hand, this title makes me put aside other things; such as my time with kids or my ability to cleaning the house. I sometimes envy other mum who can cook fancy food for their kids, or keeps the house always clean and tidy, or can teach their children memorising Al-Quran in very early age.

Everyone has their unique ability. It is true when a woman has a role in the public sphere (i.e. work outside the house, study, be a volunteer, etc) more people can recognise or acknowledge her work or contribution. It is natural because there are more people live outside our household than, let say, five or six family member live inside our house. There is also a tendency for a human to take for granted everything that is free. My mum never charges me for food she makes, I just enjoyed the food and forgot to say ‘thanks’ to my mum, or praise her delicious food. I just realise now that when my kids/husband say thanks or praise my food, I usually am very happy, so does my mum, maybe. What I can do when the useless or exhausted feeling come to me, I repeat it myself: “If there is nobody appreciate my roles or ability, I will make sure that I appreciate myself.”

I believe that everything we do will come back to us. You will harvest apple when you grow an apple. Maybe we can not see the result immediately. It probably comes in the future. The yield can be nice and reliable children that take care of you when you are old. Or succesful kids that make you very proud. Or people who cherish your children when they are away from you in the future. Or the better society for your children to live in. Any good deeds come to you maybe because you did something good in past.

  • – – – –

There is a story about evil ghost’s conversation with his subordinate (Apologies I do not know the source, I found it on some social media):

“If you want to ruin a family, ruin its mother first.

Firstly, make her continuously feels exhausted so that she feels weak, fatigue and powerless.

When she already feels exhausted, take away her gratefulness. Let her feels that she spends her entire life just to take care the family that gives her nothing than tired.

When she already lost her gratefulness, take away her self-confidence. Let her sees only people’s happiness thus forget that she is also happy and worth.  Make her feels the inferiority and useless feeling.

If that has happened, then take away her patience.

Moreover, you will find that house is ruined, started from the door called mother.

Because mother’s happiness leads to family’s endurance.”

  • – – – –

So, women… let’s cheer up and be proud of whatever our role and title are.

#selfreminder

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Mum, dad and coffee.

This photo was taken 5 days before my dad passed away. That day, they just landed at Jakarta from Medan (a city where my dad has an ongoing airport development project). My sister picked them up from the airport and stopped by a cafe near my parent’s house. My sister took this photo.

I never imagine this could be the last time my mum and dad have a photo as couple. My dad is looked very fine in this photo. When my sister sent this photo to our family whatsapp group, I teased my parent by saying “ciyeeee…” (word usually used to tease couple that looked good together). Then I moaned to my dad that It’s been a long time since he bought me coffee, and I asked him to buy me a lot of coffee when I come back to Indonesia in the next couple months. He okayed me, and joked “Iya nanti beli pabriknya sekalian.” (“Yes, we’ll buy the (coffee) factory as well” – his tricky words that usually used to soothe me and my siblings when we throw tantrum ask him to buy something).

But he would never buy me coffee, anymore.

Oh life we never know what is ahead.

Dad, Miss you.

Mum, be strong.

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Ayah lagi apa?

Ayah lagi apa? Semoga Ayah bahagia selalu di sana. Diangkat semua dosa2 ayah. Dilapangkan kuburnya. Terang dan nyaman di sana.

Dian sayang ayah. Dian banyak salah sama ayah, maafin dian ya yah. Dian juga jarang nanya kabar ayah. Dian kirain ayah selama ini sehat2 aja, soale ayah ga pernah ngeluh, klo ketemu ketawa melulu. Dian juga ngira ayah kadang sibuk kerja, dian ga mau ganggu. Makanya dian ga pernah kuatir dan jarang telpon-telpon atau WA. Tapi sekarang semua itu jadi kaya sekedar alesan dian aja. Harusnya dian tetep tanya kabar ayah walau dian tau ayah akan jawab “Ayah baik-baik/ sehat.”

Seandainya dian tau ayah akan pergi secepat ini, dian pasti nanya ayah tiap hari udah makan atau belum, ada yang sakit atau enggak. Dian baru sadar kalo WA dian terakhir ke ayah adalah hari Rabu, seminggu sebelum ayah ga ada. Jarang banget kan dian nanya kabar ayah. Dari hari Rabu itu, dian baru sempet videocall hari Minggu. Trus tau-tau hari Rabu berikutnya ayah ga ada. Ya Allah, cepet banget ayaaaaahhhh.

Padahal dian udah beli parfum buat kado ulang tahun ayah (waktu itu sih beli aja dulu, ga tau kasihnya kapan). Trus kalo gini, dian ga bisa kasih kadonya. Ayah 😭😭😭😭😭

Ayah.. dian kangen… ayah lagi apa.

Al- Faatihah

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I miss you till it hurts

Rest in peace, Dad. I pray for your best.

Honestly, I’m so angry these days. I feel betrayed because you go so suddenly. The fact that I know people will eventually die, cannot help me to accept the reality that you’re no longer in this world.

Rest in peace dad. You know that you always be my hero. I cannot describe it in beautiful words. It’s a comfort feeling because I always have you to support me, furthermore clean up the mess I made.

You always have ways to make mum, your children and grandchildren smile. Even make us cry in laugh. I remember there was a time when you threw joke, then I got asthma attack, cannot breath because I laughed so loud on your joke. Silly me. Silly you.

Rest in peace dad. I don’t know what I should do to ease this pain. I know time will heal me. But it’s so hard to endure this pain now. I just want to cry all day, grieving, mourning and perhaps cursing.. why you left me.. so suddenly.

I cannot give you last hug and kiss before you go. Why dad.. why didn’t you wait until I come back to Indonesia next few months.. why..

I currently have so much memories spinning in my head. Good memories, I supposed. I’m blessed that I have you as my dad. But now these good memories be like a burden. Two sided sword. I feel mixed feeling, like hate and love collide. I really don’t know if those good memories ease my pain, or even make it worse.

I’m struggling now. I try my best to hold on, keep my sanity. These lost and guilty feeling are now unbearable.

I know life must go on. I cannot be in despair for long time. I have to overcome it. I’ll try my best. I try to keep my chin up. I’ll move forward. I’ll finish my study, so that the guilty feeling I cannot see you on the day you passed away, will not be wasted.

Rest in peace, dad. We’ll meet again in Jannah. Aamiiin.

I miss you.

*21st February 2018

My dad passed away due to heart attack. He is the man I love. The central of my universe. He’s my inspiration, a humble and trustworthy person. He’s a busy man, but I can still remember he used to help me study at home, that made me (almost always) awarded as first rank at school.

He’s a civil engineer. He designed the structure and built some of notable high rise buildings, airports and highways at my country. I can remember one day when I was kid, it’s weekend but he had to go to the project site. He already promised us- his children to go to swim. We throwed tanthrum due to cancelation, of course. To make it up – he took us to his project site – the BEJ tower 1 (not the collapse one), the highest building in Indonesia by that time, he allowed us to use helmet project and rode the gondola. What a thrilled experience I ever had. From that time I feel so proud for having him as my dad, man who contribute to the landmark of our capital city.

I miss you dad.

May Allah give blessing for my dad. Aamiiin.

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PhD is my remedy

Saya mendengar banyak cerita dan membaca publikasi akademis bahwa kuliah S3 atau PhD membuat seseorang rentan terkena gangguan jiwa. Banyak juga kasus mahasiswa PhD yang memilih bunuh diri karena tidak kuat menanggung tekanan beban akademis yang dihadapi. Agak berbeda dengan yang saya baca dan dengar, saya bisa bilang (untuk saat ini) bahwa justru PhD adalah obat yang membuat saya tetap waras. Phd is my remedy. In my circumstance as MS survivor.

Ketika mendengar diagnosis Multiple Sclerosis (MS), saya hampir menyerah dan memutuskan tidak jadi melanjutkan kuliah S3. Waktu itu saya mengkhawatirkan perkembangan penyakit saya. Akankah memburuk dan membuat saya tidak bisa beraktivitas secara normal. Apakah akan mengganggu kemampuan kognitif saya, karena ada lesi (luka) yang bersarang di otak. Ketika didiagnosis MS, saya kehilangan orientasi masa depan. Misalnya muncul pikiran: buat apa sekolah lagi, tidak jelas apakah saya akan kuat untuk menyelesaikan. Kalaupun nanti kuliahnya selesai, tidak jelas apakah akan kuat bekerja atau tidak, dan seterusnya. Beragam justifikasi saya munculkan untuk menyerah, ketakutan pada hal yang belum terjadi.

Untungnya saat itu masih ada satu atau dua percikan semangat menulis di dalam diri. Dasarnya suka curhat nulis, jadi pas liat laptop jadi keluar perasaan iseng-iseng pengen curhat nulis: revisi proposal (riset s3) ah siapa tahu idenya berkembang jadi menarik. Terus pas proposalnya jadi, kepikiran lagi: kirim-kirim proposal ah, siapa tahu ada supervisor yang mau. Pas ada calon supervisor ngajakin Skype meeting ttg proposal tersebut: Belajar dulu ah sebelum meeting, siapa tahu walau ga keterima sama supervisor ini bisa dapet masukan topik atau nama supervisor yang lain. Begitulah milestone PhD saya yang kebanyakan diawali dengan iseng-iseng, tidak berani berharap banyak.

MS membuat saya tidak berani merencanakan sesuatu yang masih jauh-jauh hari. Kalo kata teman, perjalanan hidup jadi ibarat diterangi lampu mobil. Jalannya semeter-semeter, sesuai jangkauan lampu namun akhirnya sampai juga. Alhamdulillah sejauh ini jalan timik-timik PhDnya ada kemajuan. Akhirnya keterima kuliah, dapet supervisor yang ritme kerjanya sesuai dengan ritme saya. Untungnya punya supervisor yang tiap bulan kasih target, harus nulis 2000-3000 kata tentang topik tertentu, deadlinenya tiga minggu, untuk bahan meeting bulan depan. Dengan demikian saya jadi punya tujuan hidup dan passion yang terukur. Tiga minggu menurut saya adalah radius yang masih bisa saya kelola dan bayangkan. Kayanya hidup saya bakalan susah kalo dapet supervisor yang lain. Sebagai contoh, suami saya dapat supervisor yang memberikan keleluasaan besar ke mahasiswanya. Terserah mau nulis apa dan kapan, submit sesukamu kalo kamu merasa hal tersebut oke. Buat suami yang visi misi dan kapabilitasnya memungkinkan untuk berpikir jauh ke depan, supervisor model begini sangat membantu. Tapi kalo buat saya kurang cocok, tidak ada kerangka waktu dan target pencapaian yang jelas.

Tanpa disadari situasi PhD ini jadi obat untuk saya. Saya jadi punya alasan untuk terus berpikir, membuat otak tetap bekerja dan melupakan ketakutan-ketakutan akan MS. Banyak yang bilang stres itu memicu kambuhnya MS. Dan ironisnya seringkali stres yang muncul adalah karena memikirkan MS. Jadi semacam lingkaran setan. Stres mikirin penyakit dan akhirnya jadi sakit beneran. Disibukkan dengan tugas-tugas kuliah membuat saya lupa memikirkan MS.

Membaca adalah kesukaan saya, menulis menjadi terapi saya. Karena dilakukan dalam koridor kuliah dan diberi deadline, membaca dan menulisnya jadi terarah dan menghasilkan hal kongkrit, minimal jadi manuskrip draft tesis.

Kuliah PhD juga menjadi alasan bagi saya untuk tiap hari manjat tangga Ponderosa yang kecuramannya bikin bengek, untuk menuju office di Dainton building. Atau manjat Crookesmoor Road yang kemiringannya hampir 50 derajat untuk mencapai gedung management school. Tanpa disadari aktivitas fisik ini membantu pemulihan badan kiri saya yang sempat paralyses dan mati rasa ketika dahulu diserang MS. Kadang masih suka ada rasa lemah ga bisa gerakin kaki kiri, tapi Alhamdulillah sudah jaaauuuuh membaik dibanding dulu.  Jalan kaki 2-4 km perhari, yang kayanya ga mungkin saya lakukan di Indonesia, jadi makanan hari-hari di sini dan menjadi fisioterapi alami untuk saya. Kesibukan fisik ini juga konon membuat autoimun saya sibuk, sehingga si autoimun ga punya waktu untuk kembali menyerang myelin otak dan spine saya.

Saya tidak bisa mengingkari bahwa ketakutan akan efek MS masih terus hadir, terutama yang berhubungan dengan kemampuan fisik misalnya jadi mudah letih, ga bisa lagi bersih-bersih rumah dengan seksama padahal saya rada OCD. Akhirnya saya cuma bisa ikhlas, mungkin demikian cara Allah memberi saya kesempatan untuk lebih rileks. Udahlah bodo amat ga bisa lagi renang bolak-balik 50 kali kolam ukuran olimpik (kolam ya, bukan kasur springbed). Bodo amat cuma vacuum karpet ruang tamu perlu dibayar dengan tiduran 30 menit. Ga bisa lagi nyuci piring sambil diajak ngobrol, luka di otak membuat berkurangnya kemampuan multitasking. Ya udah kalo emang lagi pusing, beli ayam Shazam aja di tesco tinggal masuk oven trus kenyang, ga usah muluk-muluk harus masak menu Indonesia dengan resep dan prosedur njelimet. Yaudah bodo amat ABCDEFGH, yang penting masih bisa bersyukur, bahagia dan menikmati hidup. Jadi banyak semelehnya hehe. Entahlah kalo orang lain bilangnya kehilangan ambisi, tapi saya menamakannya berdamai dengan hati. Saya masih punya banyak cita-cita dan mimpi yang pengen dicapai, namun perlu direvisi timeline dan cara pencapaiannya karena MS ini.

Sebenernya ada satu terapi lain yang sudah lama tidak saya lakukan, padahal pengen banget: nulis cerpen mellow menye-menye hahaha. Sumpah nulis cerita cinta abal-abal itu harusnya oleh dunia kedokteran dinobatkan sebagai obat depresi 🙂

kalo kamu lagi suntuk atau merasa tak berdaya, apa remedymu?

Best Regards,

Dian