Describing myself, I am the thin slim 100,000 rupiah note that was printed years ago in a government workshop. The day I was born, I was transferred to a bank with a bunch of my friends who were one-by-one leaving for the free world.
Having a picture of Sukarno and Hatta on my body, I thought I would be treated with more respect than my other low value friends. I was always proud of my paper quality which was so superior to them and ranking the highest among them gave me a feeling that I would be treated more carefully and with more respect by my owners. But fate had her own plans.
The day came close when I was stripped out from my bunch and was handed over to my first owner who carefully kept me in his wallet. I had no idea of what would be the outside world,but I was ready to face destiny. And from then on, I am being exchanged from one wallet to another enjoying their sometimes stinking, sometimes good leather all the time.
Describing my till today life experiences, I would mention that I enjoy the best hospitality when I am in the pockets of poor people who take care of me like I am their newborn kid. Even though they hide me in clothes and cupboards for a long time, they exchange me only when they are in a really urgent need to get something in exchange for me, and most of the time it’s school fees, or I would enter into a warung(small shop selling household items),or land in one of the stinking wet traditional vegetable markets.
And when I landed in one of these situations, I would always wait for the time that these low class owners would drop me in a nearby bank so I could meet new friends and get a chance to have a different class of new owners.
Secondly, describing my life experiences, I always get tired when I reach into the pockets of the rich. Because instead of thinking of my hospitality, their minds always work by means of plans on how and when are they going to use me. I, who has their freedom fighter leader printed on myself, am always being treated like a hard working slave, from clubs to movie theatres, from supermarkets to shopping malls the rich exchange me so fast that I hardly ever get a chance to see their faces.
But sometimes, a chance happens that I travel indirectly from the rich to the poor. Once, I was being offered to a pembantu (house maid) at home who was so happy to receive me, she took care of me well. She packed some of my colleagues in an envelope and brought them to a nearby post office so she could send them to her family in Kampung (her home town). Because of my good looks, she chose me to be with her and everyday she used to stare at me dreaming of a new dream in how she could use me for her needs.
After several months, she made up her mind and exchanged me at a nearby salon so that she could groom her hair in such a way so she could have her hairstyle like her most favorite dangdut (traditional Indonesian folk music) singer.
The chances of living lonely are more when you get into the hands of such poor people who dream when looking on me, but I also get ready to work hard day and night when I land into the rich pockets. I find a lot of friends in their wallets and safes, where I get a chance to chit-chat and share life experiences with them.
But I really hate the tourist people who visit my own country and take me as their companion. They look at me like I am a pain in their ass; they want to get rid of me as soon as possible. Their eyes normally are searching for the daily currency exchange prices so they could get a good exchange rate out of me. These people are like hunters who wait for their prey to make the exact move and then attack, but sometimes when their time has really come to an end in my country, they exchange me for another currency for any price available because they know I would be just a mere piece of paper in their country without any significant value.
And now, after years and years of moving all around Indonesia, I have landed in a piggy bank of a young rich Indonesian kid, who plans every day how to use me. I have heard, sometimes when he talks with his mom, that he is soon going to exchange me to buy an internet game voucher Ragnarok (children paid games on the internet) so he can play along with his friends on the internet.
Sometimes, when I get a chance to relax in a piggy bank or around the clothes of poor people, I think of the experiences I have gone through. My looks may not be in the best shape today, but I still have some value. How much is the difference between the dreams of a person and the needs of a person? So many of their tears, their laughs, depend on me. I always pray to God that, the use of me doesn’t bring someone unhappiness. I wish I had wings so I could travel to the poor people more often, and satisfy their hunger, basic needs and education, rather than landing in the hands of the people who misuse me for buying drugs and other useless materical things. I wish I possessed freedom of speech and expression so that I could advise these people to get on the right path of life.
(This story was first published in www.indahnesia.com. Story & Photo copyright by Aliakbar Campwala 2004.)