She was sitting alone in a café, facing her laptop. “The last work for the day, this has to be”, she murmured to herself, sipping her coffee slowly while trying to digest all the numbers in front of her.
She concentrated hard on this thing. The last thing that she wanted to look at, but for the sake of a peaceful tomorrow, she forced herself hard.
Then as she came to the very last page of the document, her two children came through the café’s door. They just finished with their music lessons in the music school nearby. The youngest daughter ran to her, hugging her. Her oldest, her teen daughter, walked slowly behind her little sister.
One quick look and she knew something was wrong with her teen daughter.
As both of her daughters sat down, she asked them, “Would you like something to drink or eat?”. The youngest wanted some hot chocolate, “And may I have a brownies too?”. She nodded and said, “Here’s the card, go and order by yourself there”.
“Could you also get me an iced chocolate?”, her teen daughter finally said something. Then the youngest ran to the counter to take her place in the queue and order.
She looked into her teen daughter’s eyes, who suddenly ran into tears. “Darling, what’s happened?. Something wrong?. At school?”. Her teen shook her head. “At the music school?”. She nodded. “Would you like to talk to me about it?”.
Her teen took a deep breath, wiped her tears, “Mom, you know this guy who used to help us whenever we had a concert?”. “Yes I do, something wrong with him?”. Her teen nodded, and sobbed a lot more. “What’s wrong with him honey?, is he sick?”. Shaking her head, sobbing even harder.
She decided not to ask questions and just let her teen daughter cried.
Her youngest daughter came with all the drinks and food, she nicely asked her to, “Please sit in that table nearby will you?, so your sister and I can talk?. Is it OK?”. She nodded and moved.
Finally, her teen daughter wiped her tears, took a deep breath, “He will undergo an operation to become a woman”.
As a woman, a mother, she was shocked to know what her daughter knew. But she kept a straight face.
“He has been trying to be normal, but he finally knew he couldn’t. So he decided to just do it”.
“What do you feel about it”. “I don’t know. Shocked, I guess. I always thought of him as a nice guy. He was very kind to us all. But he is, you know, a guy”.
She took a deep breath, held her teen daughter’s hands, “Honey, please know this. He is not going to change who he is just because he will turn into a woman. He, or later she, will still be that nice person you’ve known since you were three. He will still be the talented musician you’ve always known him to be. Don’t change how you look at him though later his appearance is different”.
Her teen daughter nodded while looking deep into her mom’s eyes, which she knew that meant her teen was really looking for an anchor, answer, something to calm her soul.
“There are people like those in this world. They are struggling too. Struggling to accept who they are. Struggling in the society. Struggling with all the judgments. It is not easy to be like them, you know. And sometimes, it’s not like they want to be like that. Sometimes it’s physical, something that they were born with. Who can control that?. They are different, but they are also the same like us. With achievements. With talents. Just because they are different, doesn’t mean they should be treated differently. Do you understand that?”.
Her daughter nodded.
“Please promise me you will not change your behaviour to that guy if you see him, whatever his appearance may be. Respect him just like you’ve been respecting him till now”.
“Mom, he has a son. His son is having a serious relationship with a girl. What if they want to get married. How will his son tell her how his father is?”, asked her daughter.
Deep inside, she was shocked. “Oh my God. My daughter is thinking that far already”.
She looked into her daughter’s eyes, “Honey, I am proud that you thought that far. But you know what, they should be able to solve that themselves. It is not for you to worry about. What you should be worried about is how you treat these people. That’s more important. If you want to be respected, then learn to respect others the way you want to be respected. There is no other way. Respect that they will have their own ways of solving their life issues. He’s been trying to be a husband, a father, but that’s not who he is. It’s not easy to make that decision, right?”.
Her daughter nodded.
“So let’s respect his decision. Support him by not judging him. Support him by acknowledging how helpful he has been to you. He’s been very supportive to you, especially in the last concert. He believed in you. And helped you. When you finished your song that day, he was very proud of you, you know. I could see it, how he clapped his hands. He was relieved too. He was happy for you. So now, be happy for him for his decision just like he was happy seeing you being able to sing well. Don’t fret about how his future may be. Just believe that everything is going to be OK for him. Pray for him that way”.
She nodded. Squeezed her hands, “OK mom, I understand”. “Are you OK now, really OK?”. She nodded. “If you still want to talk about it, you know you can, anything, anytime”. “I know mom”.
Her teen daughter walked to her sister’s table, and they started chatting and the usual little cute debates that they usually do.
She looked at them. Thinking to herself while smiling to her daughters, “Turns out the last work that I had to do today was even more difficult than looking at some numbers. I wonder how life gets complicated even at her age. My life at her age was a lot easier”.
One fine afternoon was still a one fine afternoon even with the tears she wished she would never see from her daughter’s eyes. She was happy that she was there for her daughter in times of need. She was relieved that her daughter could talk about it openly. She knew, that the growing pains, may also be, the growing delights.
But she also knew, that she would have to deal with a lot more complicated issues in the future. That one day, she may need to tell her daughter how to deal with how cruel the society may have been to differences.
One day, which she hoped it would still be another one fine afternoon, or maybe morning, or evening. A time to talk about how beautiful life is, because of those differences...
(Anakku…hidup memang penuh dengan ironi dan kejutan. Kamu akan selalu bertemu dengan segudang perbedaan. Yang kadang jadi pembatas, padahal kita seharusnya bisa membangun jembatan. Doaku hanya ini: semoga kelak kamu akan selalu bisa menjadi jembatan dari setiap perbedaan yang kau temui dalam hidupmu. Seperti doa yang kami patri lewat namamu...)