Pearls of Life

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

The deep and beauty before the eyes of a lover

They are dreamers and lovers who travel thousands of miles to Australia. Everything is done for love. Should we give humiliation, injustice, and uncertainty to those who dedicate their lives in the name of love?

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.

Nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
(All You Need is Love by The Beatles)

Since one year now my friends and I are visiting asylum seekers and refugees held in one of Indonesia’s 13 immigration detention centers, sharing happy and sad moments with them often only able to bring an open heart and listen to their thoughts and concerns. When hearing a Beatles song the other day it felt like it echoes their feelings and voices. Here I want to share some of their thoughts and experiences with you in the hope it might inspire some to care about those forgotten behind bars.

“Why are they doing this to me?” said a detainee. His face wrinkled, his voice husky. His eyes stared at the blank brownish wall resembling his fatigue. Another detainee sat on the floor on newspapers. Drops of blood were dripping from his torn forehead. Pieces of glass covered the floor in the corner of the room. “They will only move me to Pontianak over my dead body!” one detainee shouted to another. The confusion, anger and fatigue were tense in the Immigration Detention Center that morning. Ten of policemen guarded the moving process stood without any words. The weapons strapped on their shoulders did not need to be fired. Maybe this was the first time they witnessed the desperate melancholy of people excluded from their land of birth. These asylum seekers went against injustice their own way, by harming themselves. Life for them seems unfair. For no apparent reason, they become target of groups fighting in the name of ‘truth’. “They say that they are Muslims, but what they did to us was beyond what is taught by our Prophet Muhammad,” said one asylum seeker. On their way to a promising peace in asylum, they dealt with the side of the world was far from loving and peaceful. “I met someone from Indonesia in front of UNHCR office in Jakarta. He promised to take me to Australia through Surabaya. We went to Surabaya with a bus, but in the bus he took my money and passport. I lost him in Surabaya, “said an Iranian detainee. Life for detainees is full of the question “why”. A clear and honest answer is a luxury. Baba, in the novel by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, said that the biggest crime in life is stealing. Killing is a theft to the right to life. Lying means theft of truth.

“Chitori, hubbi? Tasyakur, Alhamdulillah,”[1] said one asylum seeker from Afghanistan while clutching his hands to his chest. He left his wife and 11 children in Afghanistan. “I left Afghanistan because a group of people went to my home saying we had no right to live there. They killed my brother and beat me with wood,” he explained. He really loved his family and was willing to leave the family at his no longer young age to seek peace in the land of others. “I want to bring my family to Australia,” he continued.

Everyone has a different story. But behind all of those stories there is the longing of love and peace. “I left my children in Afghanistan. I miss them every day. Since the day I left Gazni, I lost my contact with them. I did this for my family because I love them,” said another asylum seeker. These stories weave their hidden feelings, inner conflicts, dreams, and expectations. We will not find it behind their smile and warm hugs every time we meet them. At the moment, those feelings are their hidden treasure in result to losing everything. It is the treasure needed to be re-emerged with love. In order to see what is not revealed, all you need is love.

We need love to find treasures crimpled under every question, doubt, fear, and uncertainty. They are more than just helpless people who wait for our pity. Finding a treasure means finding love and dreams; finding the fire that always gives life to their hopes every day. “I was sad when I left my parents and sister. My mother cried all night. But I know that through this, I will meet them again in a better condition,” said 15-year old teenager who had to leave his family in Quetta. Their biggest desire is to be reunited with their family after finding peace and love. Currently, as the hope is not yet brought to realization, the turbulent feeling of love is expressed through poetry, writing, images, or the surge of emotion at the injustice. Everything is because of love. “My love, you are like honey, when I kiss your lips, my heart feels your sweetness. The look in your eyes is the pearl in my life. You held me in longing as I went away from you,” one asylum seeker wrote in his poem for his beloved wife.

They are not prisoners. They are dreamers and lovers who travel thousands of miles to Australia. They left their family in the midst of war and surrendered their faith on the promise of a person they have never met before. Everything is done for love. Should we give humiliation, injustice, and uncertainty to those who dedicate their lives in the name of love?

“We can not force them because they are not criminals or prisoners,” said security officer when he was being requested to force the detainees to move to another immigration detention center.

Paulus Enggal


[1] How are you? Good? Thank you, Thank God.

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