My handwriting may be terrible, but my heart is pure: no relevance between the two but I could care no more. Today, I am officially declared literate — meaning I can read fluently and write readable text. It’s safe to say, I’m proud for this glaring achievement. My mum is not even hands-on in these two fields of expertise. It’s not like excellence is mine, but it’s worth-announcing enough for those like me.
Who am I… Well, to start with, my name is Humayra. My mum said that in Arabic it means the one with the rosy cheeks, though until today I still can’t quite relate the beautiful meaning of my name with my very own resemblance. How are my cheeks different from my mum’s or my two little brothers’? Just so you know, no visible parts of my body are pinkish or reddish in colour. They are generally brown to dark brown, just like most people I see on the streets. But my dad once told me that “Humayra” was how Prophet Muhammad called his beloved second wife, and when I was born, all parts of my body were pale except for my cheeks. Growing up in a pesantren — a boarding school in which students learn the Islamic traditions and sciences, my dad looked up to Islamic history when naming his children. My 7 and 3 year-old brothers, Hasan and Husain, derived their names similarly, from the two grandsons of the Prophet.
By the way, I’m 11.
As far as I can remember, I’ve spent my whole life roaming on the streets of Jakarta. My dad is a carton collector, and my mum… the wife of a carton collector. What do carton collectors do? Well, they collect unused cartons, cardboards, boxes, and any paper products in general, and sell them to wholesaler for bulk sale to recycling factories. I have been helping my parents collecting cartons and other paper products since I could sing children rhymes fluently; I was four then. Scrapping garbage piles at the junkyard or hopping into a large dumpster days and nights, I’ve become familiar with the world of used cartons and paper products. Pleased to say, I’ve had 7 years of experience, highly qualified for a pay increase.
However, I wouldn’t know about a raise, nor a promotion — I’m not paid! I’m simply helping my dad and mum earning more each day so we can have decent meals on the next day. That’s all. We basically take one day at a time, doing our best every single day while enjoying life to its max. My dad said, “Complaining makes everything harder. Being content makes even the toughest situation become easy. So,” he continued, “Why be sad if being happy makes things easier.” Our family has held on to this principle for sometime now. We constantly remind each other of every little thing we can be happy of, instead of putting unnecessary spotlight to our issues.
Thank God, 7 years have passed quickly, almost like the airplane I saw flying on the sky just now. A minute ago it was above me, the next it was way beyond the horizon. Now, it’s Husain’s time, taking over my ancient bed, slumbering comfortably on piles of cartons under the shade of an old umbrella fixed onto our wooden cart. My dad and mum are resting under the tree, he fanning himself with his conical bamboo hat, she leaning on the tree trunk catching some breath. Hasan is next to them, trying to patch the kite he found dumped on the grassy stretch we walked across earlier. As I’m observing them, my dear family, I smile — feeling blessed that we have each other and happy to know that starting today I can write our stories.