I saw you on a boat ride from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan. You were sitting by yourself not far from the bow, resting your back on the wooden pole. You had a bottle of mineral water in your hand. It was hard to guess, at first (especially from this distance), whether you came from Latin or South Asian descendent. There was something ‘foreign’ about the way you carry yourself, about the golden color of your skin, about the structure of your bones, about the small backpack lying next to you. I just knew that you were not from here. Then I zoomed at you through my camera lens, noticed the red string bracelet on your wrist, and made my guess.
I noticed you because from where I sat, you looked like a painting. You just sat there, gazing at the ocean, not moving. What are you up to? Why are you here? I wondered what went through your mind back then. Did you think about the girl that you loved? Why did you leave her? Or why did she leave you? Did you miss her? Did you come to this island all by yourself to run away from those painful memories? Would you write to her during your stay here? Would you send her a postcard? Or texted her when you reached the port just for the sake of the good old times?
What is your story?
Some people asked me where do I get the inspiration to write. Well, to be honest, it’s from him. The guy I met on a 30-minute boat ride. The woman who sold olive hand cream in Fira. Two Japanese guys at Dubai airport who passed me by at around 2 a.m. The bartender at Palia Kameni. The male flight attendant with a sad look on his face. An old taxi driver in Lagos who sat next to me and started talking to me in Portuguese. A guy who took my hand and asked me to dance the night away by the pool. The girl behind the cinema’s popcorn counter. The owner of a small food stall and his teenage son. Someone inside a panda costume, who sat alone by the beach on a sunny afternoon…
I didn’t know who you are. I didn’t know your name. We didn’t really talk. But I looked at you, and a story popped up in my mind.