Hildawati / Jeneponto – South Sulawesi
“In Front of the Door”
“In Front of the Door”
Jeneponto – South Sulawesi
Everyone, throughout their life, passes through a boundary between spaces called a door. But have we ever counted how many times a day we pass it and how big the role of the door in our lives is. Doors are not only limited to objects such as houses, vehicles, closets. A man’s heart also needs a door, for the circulation of new feelings.
The role of the door for me is even more complex than that. (My) door is the witness that keeps all journeys, experiences, prayers and secrets. In front of the door, I am a naked person with many feelings.
Those many kinds of feelings include being sad, anxious, doubtful, hopeful, optimistic, pessimistic, excited, sometimes even angry and emotional. About what happens to me, how I feel, what I am worried about, how complicated my feelings are, who I will meet and what kind of world I will see behind that door. I prepare many things before reaching the door because I know behind the door, prejudice and people’s lips can create anything.
So what should I do to defuse the prejudice? Not giving a f*uck cannot even be the best way out. Should I open my door wide and let anyone in and see my whole universe? Should I keep explaining myself? Or should we get to know each other? Out of sight, out of mind. After being known, I don’t even expect everyone to love me but at least they can stop making their judgment about me and my life.
Well, let me introduce myself!
My name is Hildawati. Hilda in Anglo-Saxon means war, Wati in Javanese means woman and in Egyptian means rebel. I don’t know what my mom meant by that name. Some seniors on campus call me Aco (a nickname for a Makassar boy newly born and doesn’t have a name yet) because I walk like a boy. My mom also thinks I’m a bit masculine simply because I don’t have a skirt or a robe that girls in my family usually wear. Some of my close friends call me Cebong. You know a man go through several phases of age: Toddler-Teenager-Tacky-Adult. In passing the tacky phase, I named my Facebook account name Hilda Kecebong (please don’t laugh). Cebong is an intimate call from my friends long before the politics in this beloved country made people use Cebong and Kampret to insult each other. It’s terrible when my name is always followed by a swear word. I’m an average girl, nothing special. I love movies, food, K-pop, the sky, the sound of rain and I am materialistic. The only thing special about me is the fact that I like to chat with google when I’m lonely. It’s interesting to me but some acquaintances who know my habits find it weird.
This year, in October I turned 32. The age that viewed through people’s eyes I should have been carrying children, having my own house, having a car, a good career and a well-established husband. I don’t want to pity my life. I am quite grateful for my profession as a dance artist who lives in a 5 x 8 meter-rented room and jostles with dance costumes as they are a source of money for me as a dancer to survive with the projects that come like the unpredictable weather. The dance costumes rental at the studio I founded in 2014 is supportive enough to make me a devoted child for my family. Unfortunately, the word devoted for my mom seems incomplete without me being a wife. I’m actually quite nervous when my mother visits my place. Because my neighbours are young moms and the others are newlyweds. I think I have to be tough, especially since they are younger than me. Well… Isn’t age just a number? This certainly sounds like justification. Because when I step through the door of my room and mingle with society, the established ideal order and standard are there, like a fixed price.
For people, especially in my hometown, dancing is not a profession. What is meant by professions are teachers, police, soldiers, bank employees, state civil servants. If you are well educated and you are an artist (dancer), okay: you are wasting titles and diplomas. My profession as an artist has often been linked with why until now I am still not taken. People have always considered the artist to live a relaxed life, enjoy hobbies, love to play, be a lazy person and have no clear future. The ideal type of hard worker in society is to leave early in the morning and come home at night wearing uniforms. Some people tend to think that they know what’s going on and don’t want to know what the impact of their “know-it-all attitude” is and what kind of trauma and fear they have created. Although I’ve tried to make a shield, there are situations where the judgment they come up with was quite disturbing to me.
What’s most impactful, the world then suddenly had an unexpected guest to ruin existing plans: Covid-19. The pandemic broke down my door and the doors of all of us that we even have closed as tightly as possible. Several projects were postponed and even cancelled and costume rentals were forced to temporarily close as I lost customers. This made me quite shaken. Plus, my fear of social judgement, once again, blamed my status as an artist. They said if I had a more stable job, I wouldn’t be so hit financially by Corona.
My social anxiety has even prompted me to close my social media accounts and all lines of communication. I get hurt and feel useless every time I see friends’ posts. Why does everyone seem fine when I’m so pathetic? I keep comparing my life and other people’s lives. I forgot that the grass is (always) greener (on the other side). While many people are complaining there, others are just sharing the fun part of their lives. They don’t mean to make other people insecure, but maybe they want to share positive things. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of social media does give some peace of mind. But then it slowly took my sanity away. God must still love me. Little by little I regain my sanity. It felt wrong to block my line of communication which is the way I could meet my friends with whom I share the same values. I forgot that what I need most for my mental health is socializing. I started to think positively. The brilliant achievements of other people motivate me and I absorb their good energy. Social media is land for information, education and networking. This discomfort must be overcome one by one. The first step, of course, is to stop hurting yourself by comparing yourself and others. I started to open the door, stepping out into the world where I belonged.
I can find again the dreamy me. It’s great to daydream because in my imagination I can be anything and anyone. Sometimes I’m a little worried, if I keep doing it and it’s too much, it might take me further away from reality. But in many cases, I have come to believe that each imagination of mine must be transformed into prayers in my subconscious. God then recorded it, God saved it and gave it to me at the right time. I still believe in Him because some of my fantasies miraculously turned into reality. Of course, it’s not like my dream of living in the comic world when I was a student in an Islamic junior high school or a dream of living in a fairy tale world where I could communicate with plants and objects when I was in high school. But my imagination about college was the time when I became acquainted with dance.
I often fantasize about flying from one city to another, from one country to another, performing on stage with total strangers as my audience. Then in 2012, the door seemed to pull me from the fantasy world to reality. That year, for the first time I caught a look of pride in my mother’s eyes. For the first time, my mother was willing to come and watch me dance on the day of my release to leave for Colombo, Sri Lanka to be part of the Colombo International Theater Festival. Whereas before, he always asked me when I would stop dancing, start focusing on finishing my studies and quickly get a decent job.
Despite feeling proud, a settled way of life was still my mom’s priority. So one day, after getting my bachelor’s degree, I started to make my mom’s dream come true by working in a private office as a finance admin. I seem to have endured it well for two years. Hahaha… But in fact, I’m not that patient. I was secretly working on a show for the Palembang festival and it’s too bad that our team got the first best presenter. It became a great temptation that I had a chance to return to my ninja way. The climax came when the audition that I secretly participated in Jakarta made its door wide open for me. Through Purnati Indonesia, I graduated as one of the actors in a performance project directed by Theater Maestro Tadashi Suzuki. I couldn’t handle the temptation more by knowing that this project lasted for 3 years. I couldn’t wait to leave my stable life. My mom? She protested and worried. However, she is still a mother who will not be able to dim the happy twinkle in her eldest daughter’s eyes. The dimension that borders the door between dream and reality is that thin. That’s how God’s destiny works.
To me believing in destiny is the cure for all things. Sometimes, when things don’t go as I plan, I regret my decisions. But then again when I hold on to my belief that all things are predestined, I become less hurt inside. Ah, humans shouldn’t be so greedy. We love to see the sky and forget to thank the earth. I should be grateful for how My Door has become a loyal friend who hides who I am inside and outside, a sparring partner that also confirmed my so many requests to God, a universal hand that guides me to meet many similar and different people. My door is not as magical as Doraemon’s but I guarantee it is no less reliable. Yes, although sometimes I think it would be nice if I were Shizuka Minamoto. Because the person who loves him is Nobita who can whine and ask Doraemon for anything.