The land of the free
Sandhana Siva | Art by Annie Yao
From wall to shining wall.
When one tries to reach the sky
they’ll bump their heads.
She signed a prenup prior to her arranged marriage to the company
They will give her money in return for helping them achieve their technological alpha dominance in space exploration and free the galaxy from the aliens
They gave her amenities like a work cell
She tried to leave
But her death drive to birth algorithms came first
When she opens the curtains to let the sun in –
the ravens punctuate the brightness
With their solicitations
“Don’t cry,” she demands herself.
Tears are bioweapons.
If they see you cry, you’re a terrorist
Suffering is part of the socialist heathen agenda!
She was lucky to live in the best place in the world.
Where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
II. Home of the deported
The next month, they deport her from the company
On accounts that she’s not from Venus, but from earth?
She finds herself on a boat
As the water embraces her
She keeps rowing until the tide whispers to her
“Leave it to me child, you’ve been through enough already”
She budges and budges until she falls asleep.
Her eyes open.
” Hi Miss. My name is Dewi. I’m here to give you a tour of Yogyakarta, Indonesia”. A hijab-clad woman with accented English.
Alannis grabs her hand and takes her to the bus.
“Excuse me, where do you think you’re taking me?”
“This is a travel program for refugees from America to find the correct asylum that fits them”
“But I never signed up for this lady”. Suddenly, a deep mysterious moan appears out of nowhere. An enigma coming from the abyss of a throat. “Oh my god what is that!”.
“Ma’m that’s just a prayer”. Strangers, strange noises, strange places were all dangerous to her. But she had nowhere else to go.
The ground was laden with grass and palm trees formed canopies over their heads as the air allowed it to sway, moving side to side like a cradle rocking a child.
They walk to the bus on the soil pavement. Each passenger,each a face with thousands of stories behind it, aboard the bus to the journey that awaits them.
Dewi grabs her microphone:
“Hi everyone, as you already know, I am Dewi, your tour guide for today. I want to start off by talking about the history of Yogyakarta. The word Yogyakarta comes from the Indian city, Ayodhya, home to the Hindu god Rama. Although almost everyone here is Muslim, Yogyakarta has been a melting pot for Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim cultures over the years which has contributed to our Javanese culture. Our region is the only region in Indonesia to successfully fight the Dutch and the Japanese..”
She was in disbelief as Dewi kept talking about unity . She only thought Americans were civilized. But that was nothing compared to when Dewi mentioned the United States- sponsored anti-communist killings.
“I had a friend from Jakarta whose grandparents fled from their plantation. The Suharto government pulled the unity apart,” she lamented. “Anyways, the itinerary for today: we will visit Mt. Merapi, Borobudur temple, and at last the beach, ok?”
“Ok,” everyone responded.
They hike up the hill until everything can be seen. It was a green oasis with rocks scattered everywhere. Dewi recounted the volcano eruption from 12 years ago that incinerated homes in the mountains. Mother Earth bears too much. That was just her way of expressing anger.
She walks up to a higher altitude where the Indonesian flag can be seen. Behind her, she sees a man holding a stick with owls perched on a branch , turning their heads in all directions.The owl’s eyes as large as the earth. It was as if they were omniscient, knowing all the secrets behind the universe, but would rather use their eyes to admire what’s in front of them. There was too much profundity of beauty here for even it to intake.
She stood near the flag and closed her eyes. The organic, GMO free mist mixed with cigarettes. Everything felt so tangible yet out of reach. The prayer appeared again. It was as if the man singing also understood her. She wanted to liberate her tears.
Just then, a group of young men came to her direction. “Ma’m would you like to come with us”, they implored. She ran and ran. Dewi found her distraught, and hurled curses at them. She never felt so protected. The mountains also stood as witnesses, empathizing.
IV. Borobudur temple
Their bus arrives at Candi Borobudur. “Beware of the vendors, they can be aggressive,” Dewi warns.
They were met with sellers shoving souvenirs in their faces as if an experience can be materialized. She avoids their invasions and follows Dewi on a long walk to find the visible treasure, a soaring nine floor stupa sanctuary. At the top, you can earn the prize of Nirvana. Anyone could climb regardless of their identity. Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu, Arupadhatu. The world of desire, form, and formlessness.
Devotees were entering barefoot energy on the ground and heads up in the sky.
The mountains stood right across. Nature and manmade could coexist.
Her company wanted to find the path to happiness, but it had to come from herself, first.
The prayer appeared again. Someone was singing yet it did not feel like it.
V. Return to where she came from
Their next stop was at Parangtritis beach. Dewi said that her stay was almost over and the boat would pick her up.
Before her departure, they sat side by side on the sand. She is no invader to her, this is not her conquest. Every person is a human at the end of the day.
“What did you want to be when you grew up?” Dewi asked
“ A writer, but I changed to programming. But there is just so much more of the world to explore”
Dewi takes her to her boat and waves goodbye. The tide takes her on her next journey. “Go back to where you came from”, someone would yell. She is meant to be the traveler. The prayer comes back to her.. A voice of longing for something beyond the stationary walls.