“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

– Madeleine L’Engle


The Tale of a Calf and a Swallow

Last night I slept teary-eyed, feeling lost and heart broken. Well if you know me, you know it’s not something unusual, me shedding one or two tears. So I’m not trying to make any drama here, alright. I just read some news about people some kilometers away. Some peasants, some police officers. No one I personally know. The news has been slipping here and there in my Twitter timeline. Laying in my bed, I just got the time to read attentively.

Then my mind wandered to some days in May 2013. To Stasiun UI. I keep getting back to that moment because, hmm, that’s the only time I’ve ever encountered such scenario. Such mixed emotion.

People around the city is currently busy fighting about something else. I mean it’s not at all wrong, but nevertheless it makes me feel even more sad. I just.. have this little hope that our fighting spirit could reach.. wider.. beyond..

Ah, okay.

This morning I came across a song.

On a wagon bound for market
There’s a calf with a mournful eye
High above him there’s a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer’s night

Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don
Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don

Donna Donna. You may know this song from the movie Gie.

“Stop complaining”, said the farmer
“Who told you a calf to be
Why don’t you have wings to fly with
Like the swallow so proud and free”

When I first listen to this song years ago, I thought it was about don’t be like a calf, be like a swallow. I was 12 or 13 years old, pretty innocent (ha). But after last night, I see this song in a whole different light.

I see it as a satire. What the farmer said was a pure ignorance. It’s like saying to people, “Stop complaining. It’s your own fault that you don’t try hard enough. You quit school because you’re lazy. You don’t earn much because you’re lazy. That miserable life, serves you right.”

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason why
But whoever treasures freedom
Like the swallow has learned to fly

If you feel more like a swallow, instead of just ‘winging swiftly through the sky’, ‘proud and free’, how about caring for our ‘calf’ fellows? Listen to their mourning, look deep into their eyes, or just.. try to do something.

You might think that we can’t do anything to make it better. Like, after all, cows will never be able to fly. Cows would always be bound and slaughtered, that’s just how the world goes. But, mind you, I’m not saying that we should do something for them. No. We should do that for the sake of ourselves.

Ah. At the very least, please don’t be so indifferent like the farmer.