It’s funny how our brain works sometimes. It tends to forget things that make you upset.
I had another business trip last week, to Medan, North Sumatra. I was quite thrilled because I used to live in the city more than 10 years ago. I lived there when I was on the 5th grade, all the way to 7th and then moved to Pekanbaru, Riau.
I still remember vaguely how hesitant I was to moved from Bogor to Medan; all my friends were in Bogor, I’m afraid of all the new people I’m going to meet, I’m scared that I wouldn’t be able to adapt with my new school. I remember I had to flew there on my own; my dad already lived in Medan for several years and mum would have to wait for a couple months to move. It wasn’t frightening, flying alone even though I was still a little girl. What startled me most was the idea of moving to a new city that I never know.
Back to the present. We arrived in Kuala Namu International Airport (KNO) just an hour before noon. The last time I was in Medan, the airport wasn’t even exist; the only airport was Polonia Airport in Medan that had to stop operating because it’s too close to the city. The new airport is around an hour drive to the capital city or 45 minutes by train.
An hour later, we arrived in the city. I was ready to see things that I recognize, some part of my childhood. Street where I used to wander, places my dad used to take me to.
Nothing. I remember nothing.
It was weird, because the city doesn’t look strange to me; everything was familiar. It’s not like the city has changed drastically, because it’s not. It still has the same malls. The street didn’t look different. Everything stays the same yet I can’t remember a thing. Which I don’t think it’s because I was there more than 10 years ago, but rather because of other reasons that I couldn’t grasp.
On my last day, I took a walk around the city, to find things I might familiar with. Instead, I found a lot of new places that already exist even when I was a kid but never visit it because well, what a little kid could do? Bit by bit, everything comes to my head again; there are parts of this city that I remember very much.
My hotel wasn’t far enough from the street that filled with music shop, where I got my first violin. Apparently, it’s one of the many china town area in Medan. There’s this house, an old Chinese settlement that is now become a museum. Many old buildings in the 1 kilometer long street, I can’t stop taking pictures and marveled at it’s antiques. The sound of swallow screeching through the evening sky, something that very much a Medan thing; many people breed swallow and use their nest as medicine.
Then I walk to Kampung Keling (Little India). I remember when I was a kid there’s a store in the area that sells food and dairy from the UK. I went there and the store still exist! I was thrilled, and hoping that I could get some of the British crisps there. But they don’t sell it anymore. The stores now only have several stuff from Malaysia, and the rest are Indonesian goods. I was a bit bummed but hey, doesn’t matter. In overall, Kampung Keling still look the same, only more quiet. The Hindu temple that I used to took a picture too is now in gold, back then it was paint with various pastel colors.
It was almost dark when I finished walking around Kampung Keling, so I turn to my phone for dinner recommendation. Mind you, I grew up in a muslim family so I never had any chance to taste the actual Medan food when I was living there. Now… haram time! I found out that most people recommend Jalan Selat Panjang for good porky dish. I thought it’s only one restaurant name, but apparently it’s one street full of Chinese food!
Fucking delicious. I’m going to hell, indeed. As a rock star.
After dinner, I took a walk back to my hotel, around 4 kilometers. A good distance for contemplating, that made me realize… My brain has shut me down from remembering things that were upsetting me. That is why some part of this city is strange to me.
My childhood in Medan wasn’t all fun and games. I hate my school; I was bullied because how I look (back then having a skinny, dark skin body and curly hair was considered unappealing). I don’t have many friends, that’s why I didn’t go out a lot. And finally, the reason we moved from the city because of something that would disturb our life forever; and that wiped out the memories I had when I lived in Medan.
All the places that I remember was part of my good memories. The time when I want to learn how to play violin, and going to the store with mum. Almost every morning, I cycled through the city and stopped in front of the temple in Kampung Keling. Watching movie in my dad’s office when mum hasn’t stayed with us yet. Only the good part.
Cheeky brain, I thought.
But maybe it’s for a good thing. Sometimes we need that; a reset. Let only the good memory that stays.
Jakarta, soon you might be one the thing that I need to reset in my life.