The seatbelt buckle clinked on my waist as I resigned myself to the cramped aisle seat. As the plane tilted slightly, I looked towards my left to the window. The flickering city lights got smaller gradually, like a circuit board with its grids. From a distance, the sheer extent of this place that I have called home for the last eight years doesn't even feel like much.
Flying always makes me uneasy, especially long flights. Yet on this occasion, once a year, I welcome it. With seven hours ahead of me, I decided to put on the headphones by the seat in front of me to listen to some music. After some minutes of scrolling through the tiny monitor, I found an album close to my heart; Utha Likumahuwa's Aku Pasti Datang. The air conditioner hums faintly above my head and the fourth track starts playing. While it is indeed Utha Likumahuwa's voice coming from the headphones, all I can hear is my mother singing the same song.
Of course, the decision to move thousands of kilometers from home was one that my mother supported. Settling in a place where I have no roots in is, however, a matter more difficult to bear-even with encouragement from family and friends. I can't speak about how our distance affects them, but the absence of their physical presence in my daily life is something that I still sorely miss. With each annual trip, I can see the small changes in their faces.
As the screen in front of me turns black, I can see my reflection staring back at me. I trace the signs of aging I've accumulated since I moved-hoping all the while that I wouldn't see the same ones on my mother's face. I do know that her expression while welcoming home will remain the same. A trace of relief, some pride, and endless warmth. I also know that her cooking awaits me in the comfort of my childhood home. Did she sing her favorite songs while preparing it? Perhaps, the same one I'm listening to during this flight?
While it is about someone promising to his lover that he will certainly see her again, for my situation, the last lines speak more about the connection I have with my homeland, family, and friends. The plane continues its flight and the song nears its end.
"Aku pasti datang..."