Her jaw dropped. Her eyes widened when few strangers came up to her small house. It was a sweaty afternoon, almost 39 degree Celcius in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara. She was a little bit nervous, spontaneously did a little slap into her forehead, regret herself for being unprepared to welcome her sudden guests.
But we, her guests, weren’t need any of her preparation. We came just to ask about Atambua’s traditional instrument, likurai, same name as its traditional dance. Finding likurai in Atambua was as hard as investigation reportage. There was no souvenir shop. Couldn’t find any in traditional market, not even in traditional houses. This woman’s house, is the only place our driver referred to.
She kept said sorry for not wearing proper clothes, only a blue t-shirt and short pants. She has a brown skin and shoulder-length curly hair, tied perfectly at the back of her head. But on top of all, her smile as cool as the autumn breeze. As warm as morning at spring. As bright as the sun that afternoon.
Just before we said sorry for interupting, she guided us into her home. Its green tile felt so moist, coolen our tired feet. She almost change her clothes before finally, we said our purpose and asked about likurai instrument.
Her eyes widened, once more. She didn’t know anything about likurai making process, nor where to find them.
But she is a likurai dancer.
Margareta Sin, she mentioned her name, is a likurai dance practitioner and lecturer. Since 2001, she teaches likurai dance to young women to wipe out bad thoughts about her village.
“Karena desa ini… Dulu namanya jelek. Terkenal desa perempuan nggak benar,” so she said.
When I asked her explicitly about prostitution, she gave me a weak smile.
“Waktu itu, saya satu-satunya perempuan yang sekolah. Kemudian saya bingung bagaimana cara menghapus pandangan orang terhadap desa ini… Akhirnya saya belajar nari. Saya kumpulkan perempuan-perempuan di desa, saya ajarkan mereka.”
She entered a room next into the livingroom, brought back a box full of likurai. That traditional instrument looks like gendang, but stay in the armpit for the whole dance.
“Saya nggak tau lagi harus gimana. Saya nggak mau kalau nanti mereka benar-benar… Jadi PSK.”
She freezed. Her eyes saddened. Stared straight to the window, but I could see her mind doing a time-travel.
We did a warm chat for a while. She told me about her dream, her willingness to bring happiness and wealth to her neighbours. Talking to her is my biggest happiness that day. Her smile and kindness could make everyone’s heart melted.
We said thank you, but she kept regret herself for being (she was the only one thinking) rude and unprepared. But for me, for us, Margareta Sin is more than kindest person we met in Atambua.
On my way back to the hotel, I realized. She even didn’t know our names. Didn’t know who we are. For her, we’re just strangers. For us, she is a dancer. For me, she’s an angel.