You Don’t Live Until You Have Scars.

“Hey, we don’t get our blessings today,” he said jokingly; as we walked out from our rented house–perched in one of the many small alleys in Penestanan, Ubud.

I locked the front gate while holding on to my helmet, and he started the motorbike. We didn’t think too much about the odd fact that we didn’t see canang sari (Balinese offerings) on the step outside our front gate that morning; although it was indeed, unusual.

“Probably they forget about it,” I shrugged. “It’s a bit unlikely, though…”

It was Sunday. We started that day early in the morning, and soon found ourselves got lost in the middle of a paddy field. We fell down and slipped and tripped and climbed up and down and walked back and forth to find our way to the streets for more than 2.5 hours. We laughed it all off when we got back to our rented house, and then we thought about how wonderful it was to head out to a spa for massages and scrubs after such a tiring and unlucky day.

We left in the afternoon, and when we got right in front of the spa’s parking lot, we got hit by a motorbike.

photo (4)

***

Under the hot scorching sun, I gritted my teeth and tried to chase away my tears although my right foot was hurting badly. I needed to make sure that the matter could be settled quickly. And then I needed to call a cab to take me home; because I couldn’t walk properly–and our motorbike refused to start for a while.

“Let’s go to the hospital and get you cleaned up,” he kneeled down beside me, looking all worried.

I shook my head and tears fell down on my cheek.

I got into the cab not long after, heading home, while he jumped into the motorbike again after it was being fixed, and rushed into the nearest drug store to buy a bunch of first-aid stuff.

When the shock subsided, the pain kicked in. I walked slowly and painfully from the mouth of the alley to the house, opened the lock of the front gate and I started crying my eyes out. As I stepped into the house and shut the gate behind me, all I could think of was his voice, saying, “Hey, we don’t get our blessings today.”

I guessed he was right. We obviously didn’t.

***

I have scars.

From the motorbike accident, I got significant skin-tear on my right thigh that funnily, looked like the islands Bali and Lombok in pale pink color. The incident happened in February, and the scar is still very much visible today. I still have swells and random bruises on my right leg, and my toes are still stiff–unable to be bent properly.

I have more scars. Like those skin bumps from the day I got chickenpox. And some dark spots on my legs: thanks to the terrible bug-bite episodes I had in Flores, where the itch and the heat of the bites kept me up for 2 nights in a row.

I got rashes near my armpits after I swam with my life-vest on from the ocean’s lagoon to the boat in El Nido–the edge of the life-vest scratched my skin every time I moved my hand and the salt water made it more painful that it was. I have sun spots and freckles on my face. And I have invisible scars deep down inside of me; from the time when I was being told that I was stupid by my Math teacher, when my loved ones told me that my dream was unrealistic, when my relatives reminded me every now and then that I didn’t belong, when I went through the depressing experience of being verbally attacked online, when the guy I went out with years ago called me a fat whale, when the friend with whom I share things stole from me, when my heart got broken many times…

Yes, I do have scars. And still, here I am.

***

I still wore shorts the last time I was in Bali, got into my swimsuit and swam around in the pool, didn’t really care if people could see the pink pale skin shaped like Bali and Lombok on my thigh or the dark bruises that were still clearly visible. “Bike accident,” I would answer when someone asked, and would gladly offer more gross details when they chased me further. I could not hide a smile as I got reminded of the days after the accident, limping around everywhere and couldn’t really sleep well or roll in bed because of my scars and bruises–but I have never felt that loved, well taken care of, and protected after a really long time; to the point that I was still able to clench my teeth and climb the rock stairs in Amed or walk around Seminyak. Someone was looking after me very attentively.

I got bug bites in Flores after spending the whole evening talking to my friend, Alex. We were sitting on the sand by the beach; at random times I asked him what’s the Russian for beach, stars, sky, sand. As the night crept in, we laid down with our backs on the sand, our hands supporting our heads, looking at the night sky that was full of stars. I got more bug bites when I hang out until early morning at Labuan Bajo’s Paradise Bar, singing, laughing, dancing, and making new friends. I definitely didn’t miss those bug bites, but I won’t trade the things I experienced along with the bites either. It was then when I learned that the bugs in Flores were resistant to bug repellent cream or spray. And so the best thing was to wear long pants and bring a scarf to cover my arms and shoulders–something I did when I went further east to the island of Alor.

I got rashes from the life-vest as I snorkeled for the first time in El Nido–feeding the fish while being carried away by the beautiful corals swaying lazily from a sunken ship. I got sunspots and freckles from spending too much time under the sun, walking on the botanical garden, sitting by the waterfalls in a mountain somewhere, running by the beach and feeling the sand underneath my feet.

I was being told that I was stupid in Math because I was too interested in learning other subjects. I was being told that my dreams were unrealistic because I dreamed (too) big. I was being told that I did not belong because I did not conform to the way my relatives were living their lives and decided to find my own way to live my life. I got verbally attacked online because I decided to stand up for what I believe in and cut ties with people who dragged me down and insulted me and the things I did. I was being told that I was a fat whale because I ate when I was hungry. I got a friend stole from me because I trusted them and didn’t feel like I have to watch my wallet when they were in the same room with me. I got my heart broken many times because I had the courage to love again–knowing full well about what I got myself into: that it was risky and that I had no warranty.

Yes, I do have scars.

I have scars because I try new things, because I take chances, because I live my life with my own rules, because I travel to places, because I walk under the sun. Because I will continue to have big dreams, and stand up for what I believe in, and lay on the sand. Because I will continue to savor delicious meals everywhere I go and I will continue to believe that people are kind. I will fall, get more bruises, or sprain my ankles again as I go hiking; learn how to ride a bike; or jump on a trampoline; and I will still pour my hearts out when I am in love.

I know that I will have my future scars.

“Because you don’t live until you have scars,” I remembered Angel, an acquaintance of mine, sang a country song with that lyric as he strummed his guitar in his lovely wooden house in Ubud.

And I am wearing my scars with pride.

***

The day after the motorbike accident, I noticed a canang sari on the step in front of the gate of our rented house.

“Hey, look! We are blessed today!” I poked him, smiling.

“Of course we are!” he laughed. “We are blessed! The accident could have been worse, but thank God, we’re good. And we’re here! And you’re here!” His eyes sparkled behind his glasses as he brushed his fingers against the side of my arms. “We are blessed, Sweetie.”

I felt his words on my skin and looked up to meet his smiling eyes, and I thought, indeed, we are.

24 thoughts on “You Don’t Live Until You Have Scars.

  1. jagritjain says:

    Loved your blog. Hats off to your optimistic approach towards life. You have scars because you always tried something new.
    THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN JUST INCREASING IT’S SPEED

  2. Tulisan ini indah sekali, Hanny. Saya akan mengingat pengalaman membacanya untuk waktu yg lama :)

  3. :) You are definitely blessed, blessed by the talent of writing too. Love it! as always.

  4. nadya says:

    L O V E this! I miss to have a conversation with you over coffee! This post reminds me of what we talked about when we talked about opening up and being relatable. Very well done, hugs!

  5. photographool says:

    I really love this post. Such beautiful words. I keep looking at that picture and couldn’t find Bali & Lombok. I guess it’s like one of those 3D images where only gifted people can see :)

  6. Ika Meilani Untari says:

    Love this one Hanny. Love how it seems effortlessly for you to write anything down.

  7. nicowijaya says:

    Uwuwuuwu… cibo tatiaaaan :(

    *ditendang* :))

  8. iphan says:

    I have scars. inside here. *nepuk nepuk dada*

  9. Because you are special :*

  10. akuh says:

    the colourful bruises. the inner tears. where the pain and our strength collide.
    these scars shaped us into the beautiful soul we are today.

    and Stranger,
    i do find you beautiful.

  11. Thank goodness you are okay! Absolutely your life is totally blessed. Nggak byk yg beruntung bs stay di Ubud, Kak :D But anyway, as usual you write your diary post as sweet as a poem. Yes we all have own scars because we made mistakes in life, and those mistakes make us become a better one. Wolopun lukanya nggak bakal ilang ya, but it reminds us something in the past, a good one of course (:

    By the way, sekarang menetap di Ubud, Kak?

    Cheers,
    Jane Reggievia

    • Hai, Jane! Masih bolak-balik Ubud-Bogor, kok. Belakangan ini entah kenapa malah ketarik-tarik ke Bantul :D Jadi aku ngikutin aja ke mana hidup mengarahkanku :D Yang penting hati senang, hidup tenang, dan kantong riang :D

  12. mhairig says:

    Thank you, this is lovely. And I fully agree.

    Every summer I sigh at the prospect of unleashing my slightly battered looking legs into the light – but the scars from when my leg was tractioned as a child speak to a major formative experience, the faded motorbike scar came from travelling around SE Asia alone after university…

    Without them half my biography would be erased. Who would I be without them?!

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