[Re:] #302: Happy Birthday! (6)

When envisioning the theme “Reimagine Southeast Asia”, we deliberately did not set boundaries on what this reimagination could be. We were pleasantly surprised by Pychita Julinanda’s work due to its blend of vast sci-fi world-building and the warmth of daily life. What would a post-revolution, post-climate crisis in Southeast Asia look like, where artificial intelligence and food sovereignty outside of capitalism become our daily reality?

Recording date: 16 July 2047


Today is Samudra’s birthday!

Uta woke up late today—Eucalyptus woke me up by jumping onto my belly. What a naughty cat. The cat has no idea its metal limbs can cause tremendous pain, jumping on people like that. But Uta held back the anger because, without that cat, this birthday would not have been this fun.

Turns out, Ecus woke me up because Angkasa had been waiting in the parlour. Do you remember Angkasa, the one Uta told you about in the previous recording? We had a date today, a picnic by the creek. It was not very special, but maybe it was so fun because it was so simple.

Uta misses you not because of the special moments but because of the simple moments we had together, those mundane moments in daily life. It feels odd not to cook for you or not to have you cook for Uta. It feels weird that no one reprimands Uta because the weather simulator for Kolepang Three is broken again—although it might not be Uta’s fault. Melli, Jeng Mintu’s niece, also likes to break things! 

It feels weird to listen to pre-revolution stories told by Uncle Celeng, not by you. It feels peculiar to fix Ecus’ prompter or to change its leg joint oil because it used to be your job. Ecus’ prompter would end up too high-pitched than it should be after Uta set it up. Uta also always used too much oil for Ecus’ joints, making the cat fall back again and again when attempting to walk.

[silence for a few seconds]

[clears throat] I think you would like Asa. Asa is lovely. Asa is very different from Rasi, Melli’s lover. 

How Rasi was programmed stresses me out—everything has to be minutely planned. Otherwise, she will ‘short-circuit’ if there’s any change in minor details. I am so confused about why Melli can bear to be with Rasi. Melli can’t even wake up before 1 pm.

Asa is far sweeter, like an innocent child, making me want to squeeze them. Asa likes to ask questions but also loves to listen. When processing a piece of information, Asa would look far away, as if falling into deep contemplation. Asa is also hilarious! Although sometimes, I could not understand the jokes because they were very referential. If I ask about the references behind it, they will respond very enthusiastically. Asa seems to have a huge container of memory that can accommodate so many references dedicated only to jokes.

Asa then took me home. But as it turned out, Uncle Celeng and his husband were still working at the chilli pepper field. I slapped my forehead before everything happened: Uncle Celeng saw us, called me, and reprimanded me, “Where are you going so early in the morning? We have prepared a surprise for you!”

Asa asked what kind of surprise, and Uncle Celeng, with his loud mouth, told me all about how the whole Kolepang Three collective prepared my birthday surprise, bla bla bla… Ecus and I ran away… so sad… Ah, I didn’t pay attention anymore. Then Asa asked, “Today is your birthday? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Maybe you’d ask me the same thing, but… [chuckles] today Uta only wanted to enjoy the day without any pressure. I’m not sure if Asa understands the feeling of being ‘pressured’ like what I meant, but I think they have enough data input to imagine it, although not quite ‘feel’ it. Maybe.

Yes, as you can gather, Number Three Kolepang Street is doing alright. All of the fields are tended. Machines and gardening tools aren’t always working, but we manage to fix them. We have minor conflicts with each other from time to time, but we will always eventually make up in the end. We will always share our harvest with the neighbours, just like the neighbours always share theirs with us. Banyutaring is still intact and not ravaged by the disorderly climate, unlike what you always worried about. I’m still not sure I understand how the climate could be so messed up, but maybe the situation before the revolution was that chaotic. 

So that was Uta’s birthday. But still, what Uta is waiting for the most is to watch your recording and to open the present you kept for Uta.

Bye, Dad. I miss you, Dad, always.

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