Such Parallel Ambition of Vanilla and...

I have no choice but to tell you this story. Perhaps it is boring, perhaps it ain’t interesting at all, or not even worth to read. However, it is real, it happened, and it’s still happening up until this story is written. It is about a journey of a girl, who tries to struggle against the flow. Cliche, don’t you think? But trust me, she tries her best not to tell her bitter experience to anyone. Once again, it is me who reveals this untold story, not the girl herself.

Such Parallel Ambition of Vanilla and ...
By Pudy Kusumaningrum

It happened not long ago. Let us just call her Vanilla, a woman—no, not yet, but a girl trying to be mature in her early 20s—who is currently studying English Literature in one of the best universities around the country.

Starting from the cliche story first. This girl, Vanilla, has an uncle who works in Office of International Affair. He used to came home every four years. Vanilla loves her uncle so much. When Vanilla was a little girl, she adored him with all her heart; she wanted to be like him, being able to go around the world, not due to vacation but to work for the nation. It would feel nice, right, to serve your country and show it directly in front of the face of others? Not only that. By living overseas, there are lots of things you can see, right? Like the scenery of a very beautiful river or other view of rice field that is different from the one you always see in your everyday life...

Everytime Vanilla’s uncle went home, he would give her merchandises; she got veil from Paris, lovely and expensive key chain from Rome, a very cool calendar from Vatican,  and she got a few Dong for her pocket-money. Her little curiosity always went wild, imagining how it felt like to be able to step her own feet on the oversea countries. So then, she decided, she wanted to be like her uncle. Fortunately, her uncle, and also her parents, supported her.

But it was long ago, when Vanilla was only a student of Elementary school. She didn’t knew anything about life back then. She was innocent, she was just a little girl who wanted to fly away freely like a bird.

You know society, especially society in a very, very small town with very high religiosity. They always have some strict norms and values and its connection with women’s freedom. Of how a woman should and always have to depend her life to her husband. Women cannot have certain freedom, women have to stay in the house, and blah blah. Especially girls, as a virgin who’s growing up, there is this value not to leave her home and stay with her family because at certain age, a woman has to marry “the right man”.

In the end, she was forced not to be like her uncle, not by her parents but by the society she lived in, just because her uncle lived freely without having a wife.

Vanilla’s book of dream yet did not stop at that point. She had fallen for fantasies. She adores the Gods and Goddesses from Ancient Greek as well as Egyptian mythology. She has read so many books, though she’s barely going out of her house. She’s pretty unsocial, yet she has a very wide imagination about things and far away lands. Her desire was somehow as wide and deep as the ocean. No one could stop her, nor could they made her change her mind. No one at all; damn with society.

She kept trying to reach her dream by struggling against those values. Nevertheless, to be honest, at first, she thought that it was better to give up.

But the next thing she knew, her mother told her that her neighborhood was one with too many mouths. In social science she learnt that bad-mouthing someone in a society is a punishment of values that aren’t obeyed. When she became a target of her neighborhood’s gossip after she entered Junior High—because she was a daughter of a respected family, yet she wasn’t accepted by a prestigious Junior High School at that time. She entered a prestigious High School in her town after her own hard work, knowing that she wasn’t able to enter the Junior High that everyone expected her to be in. She got the best of grades, and her ranks were never bad. However, it seemed like no one believed in her ability—therefore, she got sick of her surrounding. Even this “bad-mouthing Vanilla” occurrence had happened until she was about to graduate from High School, just because she disliked what her neighbors believe. All she wanted to do was to protect her believe herself. After all, she had fallen very deep in her own fantasies, so deep that she became very stubborn.

The only question that she did not really want to know the answer was: what did she do wrong?

It was true that Vanilla stayed at home a lot. But it was because she loved to spend her time building her wall of fantasies. She wrote, and wrote, and wrote about princes of hell and seven deadly sins, and forgot to eat, and did not interact with the neighbors that she claimed annoying, and she wanted to go as far as possible. She wanted to be a writer. She wanted to step her own feet on some foreign lands and do something. She wanted to know other world, she was curious.

All that Vanilla wants was her own freedom. She wanted to live by herself, depending her life on herself. She wanted to prove that she is not a useless woman to her society and that her neighborhood is totally wrong. A husband can wait, but dreams cannot wait to come true without me chasing it, that is what she believes.

So she tried to break away. When she was about to graduate from high school, she decided not to go to the nearest university no matter how prestigious and how famous that university was. Vanilla wanted to enroll to the university as far as she could; the more far, the better. Therefore, she aimed to enroll into the university in a big metropolitan city like Jakarta. She prayed, day by day, to be able to enter the best university throughout the country, which is located in Depok. Not because of how people see the name of that universities, but because she wanted freedom.

However, there was this other obstacle Vanilla had to face. Once again, she was only a girl, an only daughter of a small family, a youngest girl of her entire family. And silently, her mother prayed that she won’t leave that far away from home. Afterall, the small city where Vanilla and her family lived were still her home. She did not have any other place to come but that small city, no matter how annoying her neighborhood is.

There she is, in this university in Yogyakarta. She’s still trying her best to recognize herself even until now, to find what is the most interesting matter to her, to find her own dream, after she gets her freedom. Yeah, after all her struggle, at least Yogyakarta is pretty far from her hometown, and her neighbors will not look down on her anymore. She's still aiming to go abroad though, and work in a far away land and bring her family there with her. One of her many reasons, aside from reaching her dreams and craving her fantasies into a reality, is that she simply does not want to hear about her neighbors bad-mouthing about her family anymore.

Her dreams will never stop at that certain point. There are lots of things that she wants to know. There is her dream that waits for her to reach out her hands to. Her fantasies will never dry up...

This short story is a parallel ambition of Vanilla. And I think, she is a girl who you know best who she actually is.

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