Angpao

Tis the time of the year,

When Confucian temples rouse with pilgrims a-bustlin’,

Incense twirling like ballerinas of age, wisdom, and dried flowers,

Mooncakes glistening, their bounce succulent, like baby’s butt cheeks.
Tis the time of the year when,

Fire dragons writhe out of their lair,

Trading excited shrieks with children of bakpao-cheeks,

Paper lanterns lit, a thousand good wishes freed,

Raw fish salad mixed, families feast,

And luck, luck, is a lady in red, all red.
Tis the time of the year,

when,

in envelopes of deep-hued cinnabar,

Sheathing stacks of non-jade precious green,

The gift of angpao… is handed around.
Angpao,

just as how it is the heart of joy of many young souls,

Lunar New Year’s version of presents in socks or Idul Fitri’s new clothes,

soothes the juvenile mind,

from throwing tantrum.
***
Juvenile minds throwing tantrum,

like,

411 in last year, year of the monkey,

Monkeys bellow and rage,

Indomaret raped and Pluit cars smashed,

Not unlike 1998.

Last year’s Christmas, monkeys invade

Stephen Tong’s KKR soireé, Surabaya and Jatinangor’s accessory banquet,

Angry monkeys,

having not been provided with enough angpaos.


And, and…

Suppose Ahok allowed corrupt civil servants to nibble enough angpao from Jakarta’s gubernatorial projects,

“Religious blasphemy” might have not ever seen the light of day.

***
Angpao,

yes, economic jealousy at the heart of this racial divide,

Much like Rwanda’s Hutu vs. Tutsi,

One group propped up by former tyrant’s revenant wings,

Their trump card to ride,

in case things go awry,

much like 1998.
Economic jealousy prompting many to bitterly, threateningly, spout labels like “amoy” or “cina”,

or blame pork festivals,

when at the core of it all, they just wished they had more angpao.
As we depart from last year,

Pray that monkeys truly wave their goodbyes,

While the phoenix-like hope of the fire rooster cockadoodledoos.

Economic jealousy should not persist to fuel racial divide.

We continue to stand at this fork of nationalism,

this true test of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.

Say goodbye to petty “non-pribumi”, as if Indonesian earth is pre-destined,

Who are “pribumi” anyway? — all our ancestors all came from Indo-China.

Tis the year of fire rooster,

and the rooster that breathes glorious fire,

is Garuda Indonesia,

under its wings we stand as neighbors, merdeka.

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