Bread and Rice: A Tale of a Young Girl
By Mike Marino
Minnie Mouse Meets Mickey Mouse
From the age of 10 to 18, Rosa threw herself into her studies at school, taking an exceptional interest in all things Western, primarily the English language. She held various jobs that were available to a young Muslim girl which was as a maid to wealthy couples and nanny work. Not very demanding for a young girl with an insatiable hunger for learning.
Since her rape she had relied on the comfort of family, especially her father, the biggest influence in her life, as well as her circle of friends who also gave her love and a reason to smile. Not all was well however as word got around she was raped which in Western culture is not acceptable. In her religious culture it meant you were not a virgin and thereby not desirable as a wife. Used goods to be made fun off...chastised...pointed at on the street.
She now carried with her not only the scars of that dreadful day,”the day of spilled rice” is how she put it to me, but she carried with her a fear of sex and men in general. Why she chose me to trust I still don’t know, but thank the gods, real or imagined, for sending this angel to my heart and soul.
We met online, the new garden for the seeds of relationships. She happened to read my articles and book chapters and because I was a writer, she contacted me first as a fan, then as our relationship grew as my pupil. I helped her with her writing and English. My use of the English language is not exactly kosher so fortunately we worked mainly on the tense of words and interpret American slang.
When she was 10 another milestone in her life happened when to cheer her up at the local souvenir shop her Mama purchased a pair of Mickey Mouse Club ears. When we met online I commented on the ears and called her Minnie Mouse...she read one of my auto bio pieces and saw that I was referred to as Mickey, which is what my family called me when growing up.
Back to the story...from then on we were Mickey and Minnie. We began skyping to hear each other’s voices, see faces and get to know each other. Not intending anything to go anywhere beyond friendship (I didn’t know of her past only that she was an 18 year old friend who I was teaching bad western habits too and even worse, my idea of English)
One day on Skype she had a small tear running down her cheek. I asked her what was wrong, and she responded by telling me she was “heart stabbed”! My immediate reaction was anger at who had stabbed her and why...rage was building. I kept asking who did this to you?? She started to smile, more tears and said in her sweet soft gentle voice, “No one stabbed me, my heart is stabbed for you. I love you!”
My own heart raced. In a flash instant I realized I had been holding back my emotions regarding her. I was not her teacher anymore, I was not her mentor anymore, All of a sudden I belonged to her as it hit me...I too was heart stabbed by this girl who had been through so much that I didn’t even know yet how horrendous of an experience she had to endure!
The weight left my body, I couldn’t breathe, I was a mass of Jello and knew I was now the shadow to her Sun. She had awakened me to love again...it had been awhile since I trusted anyone to give my heart too. Now….the wall came crashing down...I was free once again, Lazarus risen from the dead, fate now sealed, my path was now chosen. Follow her to the ends of the Earth. My future was now in her hands. I was very much older than her, but Rosa was now the teacher.
I was now learning about life and loyalty. In the past I was cavalier with my relationships, even having multiple relations simultaneously, but now I could only see and follow the light from her heart to guide me. 18 and already wise beyond her years and mine.
I also found out later after she told me about the rape, why she had such an affinity for children and wanted to nurture and protect them. She was that child once and never wanted another child to go through the pain and emotional anguish that she suffered.
Things raced along. In time we were talking marriage and she said yes. I offered to send her money because she was poor as was her family. I wanted to help the family so he Mama and Papa didn’t have to work so hard. She refused and said, “I work, no want your money. I want you and our babies!”
Her rape and love of children was the foundation of our Little Hands, Little Voices Project she wanted to start in Indonesia. Where we would buy property and set up ma Peace Garden and school for kids to learn art and poetry and the arts to teach them that diversity was OK, cultural and religious differences were the food of life, non- violence versus violence, love not hate..classes to be free for their families as well. I was going to fund the entire project with my writing money. (When first posted about the project many wanted to donate but we refused any donations.) western wedding dresses
We also were going to write children’s books highlighting these values and make them available on life for free in Vietnamese, Japanese, Tagalog and any language that was requested of us..again for free. Rosa was Mother Teresa and would have qualified for sainthood herself.
Everyday I would send photos of Mickey and Minnie Mouse kissing, Mickey giving Minnie flowers, and that sort of thing. After a time she was writing poems about us and babies. She had sent pictures of Indonesian wedding dresses and the wardrobe Indo men wear at weddings. I was excited. An Asian wedding and damn..I could wear sandals!
It wasn’t long after we decided to marry that she told me about what happened to that sweet innocent 10 year old girls with the Mickey Mouse Club ears. I was speechless. Because of my silence she began to cry. She said she hadn’t told another person ever outside of family and I was first man she trusted enough to give her heart too. I tried to calm her down. In her mind she felt I wouldn’t want her. That was the furthest thing from my mind. My initial and subsequent reactions was to protect her all costs. Lay down my life for her if the need arose.
I even told her that if she died before me...I would follow the day after she was laid to rest.
She stopped crying and began to smile and choke back her tears, while I was trying to stifle mine. Not manly you know….the hell with it. Our mutual tears were binding us as one person, our shared joy from our love made as she said “immortal”. We’d live forever in Paradise after death together waiting for out children and grandchildren to join us.
I bought and sent her Mickey and Minnie stuffed dolls from the Disney store and she knocked me off my feet when she took what little money she earned and being an avid skateboarder bought a Mickey and Minnie designed skateboard!!
I was ready to make the move, contacting the Indonesian Embassy for documents required, and had my passport renewed, and looked up requirements for Americans to purchase a home in Pemalang.
Things were moving along and I was on wings….but getting there was half the battle. We found however when together we had a bigger battle ahead of us...the twin battles of racism and a religion that we had to overcome and fight...together as one soul bound by undying love.