Today is Chinese New Year in Bandung. It’s not much of a big holiday here in Indonesia compared to Singapore, or Hong Kong, or Vietnam or Taiwan, much less Mainland China. I have heard proud Sundanese deliberately whispering out loud in the bus so I can hear them wish how the holiday shouldn’t exist because “it removes people’s right to work and get money” and that “it makes people overspent” and of course the classic “We own this country, those China(s) shouldn’t be such a show off”

Since it’s Monday, however, Bandung is once again horribly jammed with vacationers enjoying the long weekend, and some even take paid leave until Wednesday. They don’t really care what holiday it is, and I know that a lot of businesses rake substantial increase in profits in the past few days. While they are here, they mingle with locals and enjoy traditional Chinese New Year dragon dance, the customary food (if you think there’s dog or cat meat in there, you are wrong. Customary Chinese new year foods are mainly fruit, vegetables, noodles, and mushrooms), the customary drinks (no blood, just rice wine, almond pudding, plum, and tea). They enjoy all the culture and traditions that are kept tight behind China(s) door otherwise, they wear red (customary new year color).

I shrug the new year whisperer off. They are not Chinese, they don’t know what it’s like to be a Chinese immigrant during the new order (and prior) in Indonesia, they don’t know what Chinese are like, so they do not have the right to offer their judgement, two cents or twenty.

One of the tradition is that we clean the house spotless the day before, and hide the brooms, mops and whatever cleaning tools on new year day. We are not allowed to sweep the floor, or mop the house, or clean whatever. If you sweep anything, it will be sweeping good fortune out of your abode. We only have to prepare sweet foods, and open our house to friends and family and guests. We worry about cleaning and the bill tomorrow.

For that tradition, I am also being ridiculed. Some with the tinge of racism, and some other bash using their holy Qoran (Indonesia is a muslim dominated country, but the nation itself is secular). I have no idea whether what they quote is real or not, but Chinese New Year has nothing to do with the Qoran. They have no idea what the tradition means, they don’t know where it come from, and we never made them do that tradition and the tradition didn’t hurt anyone, and so they have no right to offer their judgement, two cents or twenty.

But I did wonder about that particular, amusing tradition, and I seek answer in my fondness of history. The rest is theoretical logic.

On New Year day, we don’t get ourselves busy. We cleaned up all the dust and clean everything from dawn to dusk. We throw away all the garbage of the last year, so that when the new year come, we are clean as new.

On New Year day, we provide sweet food, and welcome everyone, friends, family, and enemy in between. We open our house and welcome everyone, anyone as a gesture that we open our heart to everyone, anyone. We offer whoever come the same sweet food regardless. We forget all the bitterness and welcome the sweet promises of better health, better relationship, better life, better luck.

On New Year Day, we give. We give money (fortune) to small children in appreciation, hope and cultivation of better future generation. We say thank you and exchange well wishes in appreciation of what others give, whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whatever history they have with us.

On New Year Day, we appreciate and celebrate whatever that comes and be grateful. Grateful for the air we breathe, grateful for the life full of adventure and many more that comes starting today, grateful for the beauty of the flowers, the sweetness of the fruits. Grateful of the living tree that needs to let some leaves die and dirtied our front yard so it can bless us more when it blooms in spring and bear fruit in summer. Grateful for the speck of dust on top of that drawer because it means today we have riches while many others don’t.

On New Year Day, I appreciate all the lives that comes cross my path. Some just for few hours, some longer. Some through a packet of cat food, some stays in my house.

On New Year Day, I celebrate the chance and opportunity to extend service and compassion to the specks of dust discarded and mopped by the world. Some comes with three legs, some with swollen head, some lost their eyes, the other with FIP, but all have fur, or feather, or scales.

On New Year Day, I am grateful for all the blessings that these little God and Goddesses share with me when we roll the ball and chase them together. I am grateful for the laughter they give me in exchange of a handful of kibbles. I am grateful for the joys and sadness when their lives come and go.

On this particular New Year Day, I am grateful I didn’t brush that white crumpled ball I thought was plastic bag and moved on. I am grateful I am curious enough to ask the taxi to stop and let me second check on it and found out that it was a white kitten; curling and crumpling itself under a garbage cart in the cold and damp of the morning after the rain and thunderstorm. I am grateful that I picked it up though I have to argue with the taxi driver who complained that the little kitten, just as big as the palm of my hand will make his brand new car dirty.

I am grateful I forgive him. Pay him minimum fare, and let him go. From the look in his eyes, I can bet that the incident will haunt him for the rest of the day.

On this particular New Year Day, I am grateful that I am given the chance to extend my service and compassion; from the day the small kitten came into my house, to the day I found out she contracted FCV to the day I have to let her go.

I was so busy cleaning yesterday, and she kept twisting and turning on my ankles that I tripped so many times. When I was finally done hiding my broom, she followed me into my room, something she never done, and as I lay myself on the bed, near the midnight, she climbed up my chest, curl up and sleep.

I have things to do still, but I appreciate her will and read instead.

Early this morning I had to sent out some order so I told her I will be back in just half an hour. It was nine a.m. She looked at me with her blue round eyes and sit on the door mat right in front of my room.

I was trapped under a fierce rain and thunderstorm on my way home and had to stop because I can’t see anything in front of me and got back home after lunch.

She was gone by then. Still on top of the mat, curling up, in peace.

On this particular New Year Day I am grateful for the honor of sending one of the Goddesses back to her heaven, where there be no cold and damp in the cold morning after the rain.

On this particular New Year Day I celebrate the short life that we spent together.

On this particular New Year Day, I am grateful that I am given the chance to offer service and appreciation to one of the tiniest speck of dust that everyone mopped away, and more grateful because I didn’t miss that one in a lifetime opportunity.

On this particular New Year Day, I give. I give my heart, I give my tears, I give my love. It won’t be the same, ever.

But on this particular New Year day, I forget all the bitterness and welcome the sweet promises of better service, more expertise, better luck, with the next that comes through my door.

~ Josie T Liem

We missed the last weekly fundraiser by USD 70; but at the start of new week today, the first day of the year of the monkey, I am grateful for all your help, all your support, all your prayers, all your wishes. I am grateful for the chance to exchange life experiences, love, compassion, filial piety and connection with all of you. I appreciate the ties that just getting stronger, and I am sending you my best wishes for better days, better health, better life, better luck, better fortune, better future.

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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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