my brother come up to me last week, with this race question. what kind of chinese are we? it was his boss who are asking (his boss is this australian-chinese descendant). my brother say, dunno. his boss was asking what kind of chinese are you that you don’t know where your ancestor come from? haha, geez:D that’s us. it was like only 2 years ago that both of us went to the klenteng in bogor, first time ever, to pay respect to our ancestors here (dunno exactly which one).
then i was trying to remember hard. real hard. and i think it was hokkian, that’s what i said to him. our ancestors (that had some detectable traces), had come from the south eastern coast of china. this particular great grandfather (from my mother side) was the only one who is traceable back to the mainland, i forgot exactly what part was it. nor i remember his name (i suck at spelling and remembering chinese words) that’s all what i know, i don’t even know how to speak any chinese, let alone hokkian dialects.
then i was explaining all this race stuff and our family history that i know (and trace so far), for the next 3 hours. we even browse online to see and check some information. there’s even some interesting discussion of indonesian chinese online. yeah, us, the “jews of asia”.
for me, it’s unfair to say that i’m just chinese. i got other ancestor blood running to me, javanese, dutch and sundanese. so i had to mention all of them, you see how hard it is for me to explain to people where i exactly coming from. add being born in australia too. people always ask me, where the hell is armidale? (this small town in new south wales). i always say i’m indonesian, but for indonesian people, they always ask you, where originally? same like that questions, you’re chinese, what chinese are you?
having a chinese blood in indonesia, it’s a complicated history. i spend my first 15 years under the new order government (which discriminate chinese descendant, like how it was been with the dutch, second rate citizen and very favorite scapegoat out of all the government troubles). we have chinese riots throughout history since like the 18th century. the last was 1998, i was kinda just 60 miles away from it.
after gus dur government (2001), things change, the chinese people got their chinese new year holiday back and yes, it’s different now. some still had those discriminating attitudes (especially bureaucrats). and yes, i like to face them first hand. telling them that’s they are bloody racist. the last two was military polices that i got accident with (which friends thinks that they can get money out of me and NOT, wrong bloody person) and the other is this beggar who knock on my door when i didn’t even have a cent on me not even a rupiah (i said sorry and he was giving racist comment like chinese people never help other people, i was like WTF!!! and i nearly chase his ass out of my lawn). those racist can go and f*** themselves really! i really hate when people think you’re chinese and that you are always rich. damn. they didn’t even know that i have unpayed bills from the warung across the street in order to eat. man, i looked chinese but i also fight my way in order to survive this life. geez.
anyway, i guess my under conciousness since i was raised in the new order era, i sort of repel anything chinese (just not chinese food, they’re great), even my tongue repel spelling any chinese word, it is just bloody hard for me. scary eh, how politic can eliminate ones culture? i didn’t even realized i had chinese blood or so called peranakan chinese nor think it was a matter until the chinese riot of 1998 happen. i always think i was indonesian, that’s it, the mixed blood people living in the multicultural era. but things was not always that simple.
i saw chinese culture by watching kungfu movies. first time seeing the lion dance was when i was in high school in australia. i just received red packet at chinese new year and never see any kind of celebration before the start of the 21st century. people always think i’m rather japanese, thai, korean or even tibetian. they are hesitate to determine as chinese from the first look. i don’t act or sound chinese at all. i sound stateless sometimes. i had been formed from so many things and so many different background.
though now i try to understand the peranakan culture, celebrating their culture, introducing my son to them as i learn beside him too. but then i also celebrate others (the list for bhumy is like way longer: balinese, hindu balinese, javanese, catholic, a bit of knowledge of sundanese and dutch). and of course any local culture that we’re living in. i wish to see him being indonesian for the truer meaning and part of this multicultural world, where people valued differences.