• Extract#5 from Eliza Vitri Handayani's 'From Now On Everything Will Be Different.' Ubud Peaceful Protest Tshirt #5.

    Eliza Vitri Handayani with Teju Cole.


    Julita looks up at the antique cuckoo clock behind her. Rizky is now one and a half hours late. He won’t show up, she is certain.

    Reluctantly she finishes the last drops of the meatball soup, which she ordered so she wouldn’t have to stare into the empty chair in front of her. Her coffee is finished as well, and the kind waiter takes away her cup, bowl, and condiment bottles. Once again there was nothing on the table to keep her from feeling alone. She takes out her Box of Unfinished Projects and empties the papers onto the table—all the things she has wished to do with her life, big and small—and gathers them into a mound. She picks at them randomly and begins making up scenarios in her mind of what her life would look like if she had completed this project or achieved that goal. She lines up the papers on the table, forming trails of her possible biographies.

    If she COMPLETED RITUALS & REALITIES, she would RE-STUDY INDONESIAN HISTORY, using local and international resources to discover the facts behind the euphemisms and propagandas fed to her in school. After that, she would revisit the provinces to HOLD PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS, and after she has managed to establish her career, she would RALLY A FUNDRAISING AND AWARENESS CAMPAIGN WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ARTISTS TO HELP TAKE CARE OF INDONESIAS PHOTOGRAPHIC HERITAGE.

    If she SHOWCASED US + THEM, she would PUBLISH IT AS A PICTURE BOOK, and then MAKE A FILM or A MULTIMEDIA INSTALLATION about her classmates. She would QUIT SMOKING. She would volunteer for Laras’s organization and HELP SPREAD THE STORIES OF SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE.

    If she EXHIBITED LOVE PORTRAITS: SELF PORTRAITS IN PARIS, she would GET HER PIECES HUNG IN GALLERIES IN EUROPE. For fun she would SHOW UP IN A HALLOWEEN PARTY COVERED IN PHOTOGRAPHS OF HER OWN NUDE BODY. And then she’d take a break from the glamorous whirl of the art world, stay in HER OWN LITTLE COTTAGE BY THE BEACH, and just hang out with friends and maybe a special someone who would stand beside her as they fight the world together. They would BUILD THEIR FURNITURE OUT OF SALVAGED MATERIALS, just like this café.

    She imagines each trail of dream petals flutter away and transform into another Julita. A hundred different Julitas leading a hundred different possible lives. She used to feel those possibilities ruffling inside her like leaves on a treetop. A thought makes her smile: maybe she is one of those possibilities, one version of Julita that happened to come true. She makes herself count the goals that have been achieved. She has earned two degrees and become fluent in two foreign languages, she has traveled to many places, embraced many lovers, and she has had so much fun and experiences to learn from. She is not the best of the possibilities, just like this world is not the best that could have been, but she is all she has. And she is still here.

    And what about here? Before the Reformasi Julita used to think that nothing she could do would ever change the way things were running. Nine years after the Reformasi she has made the decision to return and fight for the things that she cares about. It must mean that now she believes it is possible to change things. In this light Julita sees the most significant meaning of the Reformasi—it wasn’t about making everything perfect, it was about making it possible for the people to try to make things better.

    The thought spurs her to rise and start planning her next steps. She looks at the clock. Rizky is now two hours late.

    She takes a deep breath and decides to wait for just five minutes more.


    Eliza Vitri Handayani, 'From Now On Everything Will Be Different', pp.148-150.

    With Emily Bitto and Eliza's mother, Noerhayati.


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