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Page 1. A comic page of 2 panels. Their white borders are shaped like ripples of water moving downwards.
Panel 1 in full colour. A young child in a white dress is standing in a wide avenue surrounded by pohon kenari/walnut trees. Narration: Being a refugee shapes lives in ways beyond what people often imagine.
Panel 2 in black lines and a blue, water textured background. The year is 2014. Mother and Stephani talk about the latter’s intention to move. Mother: “Work in KL? Why not work closer to home?” Stephani: “Ma…” Narration: “My mother never forgot.”
Page 2. A comic page of 4 panels with white borders shaped like ripples moving downwards.
Panel 1, a photograph. Sukarno reads the declaration of Independence, flanked by Mohammad Hatta. Narration: “In 1945, Indonesia declared independence from Japan...though both the Japanese and Dutch would soon try to re-establish colonial rule.” Sukarno: “Kami bangsa Indonesia dengan ini menyatakan kemerdekaan Indonesia…”
Panel 2 in full colour. A man raises the Indonesian flag proudly. This refers to the event where Indonesian soldiers ripped apart a Dutch flag and made it into an Indonesian flag. Narration: “What people remember from this period are the wars, the heroes.”
Panel 3 in black lines and blue background. In 1998, Stephani, her mother, and father discuss a potential move. Mother: “Move to Singapore? But our home is here.” Father: “Ma…”
Panel 4 in full colour. A burning town. Narration: “But wars and conflicts always displace people.”
Page 3. A comic page of 3 panels with white borders shaped like ripples moving downwards.
Panel 1 in black lines and blue background. In 1992, a younger Stephani is in bed, her mother at her side, telling a story. Mother: “When I was your age, they invaded our town…”
Panel 2 in full colour. Mother’s family gathered around a radio, listening to the news. Radio announcer: “Pasukan Sekutu telah memasuki Indonesia”. Granny: “Belanda lagi?”
Panel 3 in full colour. Narration: “Banjarnegara, my mother’s hometown, was going to be taken over by Allied forces to be turned into their base of operations against the revolution. So the Indonesian army razed it to the ground.” Mother looks out at flames engulfing the town.
Page 4. A comic page of 3 panels with white borders shaped like ripples moving downwards.
Panel 1 in full colour. The family on the road with their belongings as the town burns in the distance. Narration: “Her family had to evacuate immediately. My grandmother carried my uncle and their wet laundry.”
Panel 2 in black lines and blue background. In 1991, mother talks to young Stephani. Mother: “Did you know that Allied soldiers arrested us?” Stephani: “Hah??” Mother: “They thought we were spies, you know? Isn’t that funny! They did give us chocolates in jail…”
Panel 3 in full colour. Mother and family behind bars. A soldier with blonde hair is passing a Van Houten chocolate bar to mother, who looks excited.
Page 5. A comic page of 3 panels with white borders shaped like ripples moving downwards.
Panel 1 in full colour. The family on the road somewhere. Granny is holding a wok over a stove. Narration: “Once we ran out of cooking oil...and granny had to use petrol instead.”
Panel 2 in full colour. Close up of a hand pouring petrol from a petrol canister, while mother, a young girl, is aghast. She runs her hands through her hair. 
Panel 3 in black lines and blue background. In 1989, Mother and Stephani are eating kerupuk. Mother: “Imagine that kerupuk fried in petrol! Oh but it wasn’t all that bad, dear.” Stephani looks at the kerupuk in her hand with disgust.
Page 6. A comic page of 3 panels with white borders shaped like ripples moving downwards.
Panel 1 in full colour. Mother, still a young girl, is picking up walnut seeds from a wide road lined with walnut trees. The trees are green and flourishing, the sky blue in the background. Narration: “When we finally came back home, the trees had all recovered. And Banjarnegara’s streets were lined with seeds.”
Panel 2 in full colour. A close-up of a hand picking up a walnut seed from the ground.
Panel 3 in black lines and blue background. Mother holding baby Stephani, standing in the same road as the panels above. It is 1986. Mother: “You know, my favourite tree is the kenari. I used to pick up lots of its seeds—right here.”
Page 7. A comic page of one panel in full colour. Mother gives a walnut seed to baby Stephani. The rest of the page is filled with ripple lines, radiating out from this image.
Page 8. A comic page of one panel in full colour. Ripples in concentric circles, growing from the centre of the page. Narration: “When I think of refugees, of displacement and migration, I think of my mother, wanting nothing more than to be home. And I hope that one day, everyone can find a place to call home.”

Stephani Soejono

Stephani Soejono is an illustrator and comic artist based in Jakarta. She is passionate about Southeast Asian history and culture, travelling and food. You can find her work at stephanisoejono.com and contact her at stephani.soejono@gmail.com