Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin

Today is the most important of Indonesian, and I am assuming Islamic, holidays: Idul Fitri. The fasting month is over and people are celebrating. The ceremonies are family occasions; everyone who can goes back to where they grew up for a few days. The buses, trains, and planes have packed for the last week. Today, however, people are in their best clothes, purchased for the occasion, and they are walking around their neighborhood, dropping in and having cakes and asking for forgiveness for all the things they may have done wrong over the last year: “Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin”.

So, I too shall celebrate. I would like to apologize for all the things I may have done over the last year, or the last lifetime, that have caused pain, frustration, anger, or simple incredulity at how someone (being me in this case) could be so thoughtless. There are many things that I know I have done wrong, and I am certain that there are many more things that I simply never thought about. Being so far away from so many of my wonderful friends and family has disconnected me from some of the important phases of your lives; I have not always known or realized when I was needed as a friend. I know I have also been demanding, as the stresses of being abroad have gotten to me, I have demanded support from some of you at times when it was not easy for you to give. So, for all these and more, to each one of you individually, I would like to ask forgiveness, much as everyone around me is doing today.

Mind you, there is something irritatingly submissive about asking forgiveness in English. I don’t mean to be wormy or simpering here. Just, honestly, want to acknowledge that I have certainly done wrong, and make sure you know I do think about it, and I am sorry for it.

So, tomorrow I have been asked to a co-workers house to eat cakes and learn whatever more there is to be learned about Idul Fitri. The owners of the house where I live had a huge breakfast for us this morning, setting out ketupat (sticky rice cooked in leaves), coconut-cooked chicken, spicy beef, vegetable curry, and much else. Everyone looks so pretty and is feeling happy about the day, and about being done fasting, and about forgiveness. Happy Idul Fitri!

Check out for all your Idul Fitri related trivia. Rock on, Wikipedia.


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