Friday, October 13, 2006

That Means "No" Where I Come From

The last blog post represented a breaking point for me; the day after writing it, first thing in the morning, I marched into the teacher's lounge, threw my cell phone at Ibu Maya, my favorite teacher, and told her the whole, long, sordid story. I was a little worried she would regard this as semi-normal behavior, or laugh it off, but, as I told the story, and Ibu Maya translated for the benefit of the rest of the listening audience, all the teachers gasped and said, as one, "He's crazy!"

So Indonesians think it too. I was relieved. Moreover, they instantly took action to help me: Ibu Maya drafted, in "good and clear" Indonesian, a text message telling him that I do not, hate him due to differences of religion, but rather deplore his methods of trying to get close to me, and that this is absolutely, categorically, the last text message from me. The other teachers forbade me from leaving the house for the next week. (Yeah right.) The school principal, upon hearing the story, volunteered to pick me up and drop me off from school for the next few days, saving me the walk home through public areas. I think that's a tiny bit of an overreaction, but I do appreciate the gesture; plus, it means I don't have to ride the overcrowded and overheated school bus.

As for this crazy guy himself, he didn't give up quite so easily. The last barrage of messages has swung wildly between surrender and threats, hope and disappointment. In one message he claimed he couldn't sleep for thinking of me, in the next he asked what he could do to make me forgive him. "This is just a miscommunication," he said. "Let's start a new relationship." He messaged once that he was sorry, and regretted everything, and didn't mean to bother me, but five minutes later he claimed he loved me, even though I hated him, and that he needed me, and would never surrender. "Love is a gift from God, right?" he said. That's all well and good, but it didn't feel like love when, directly after that, he messaged that "If you don't respond to respond to my texts or see me again, I'm coming to your house. You are the one who started this whole mess. Why don't you understand my feelings?"

I don't understand your feelings, dear sir, because they're not the same from text to text. You're unstable, and I refuse to be bothered any longer. I told the story to the servants and told him never to let this man into the house, and as far as I know, he hasn't tried.

The last few texts ended, as they started, on a somewhat contradictory note: first, he wrote that, "maybe I misjudged you. I thought you were a communicative person, happy to be friends, because you're a language teacher, and, besides that, you're a foreigner. I guess I was wrong." Happy to let him think that, since that text contained a note of surrender and resignation, I was steadfast in my silence, and about an hour later received another message saying, "It's already been a week since I've seen you! How long will I wait for you?"

Funny: that's exactly what I was wondering. One would think that having sent dozens of messages and received precisely three in reply would act as a strong hint not to wait. Moreover, the icy and clearly refusing nature of the replies--and I quote, "I do not want to be friends with you"--should also lead one to conclude that waiting will not create a friendship.

So far, though, it seems that a week, plus several straightforward rejections, is the upper limit of his waiting. I have now gone two days without any text messages from him, besides a chain text promising money for President Suharto's birthday that I've already received from three other friends today. I've got my fingers crossed that this means he's given up. As my school principal commented, at this point he's only embarrassing himself, Islam, Indonesia, and all males everywhere.

As for me, I've learned several things from the experience. Every story needs a moral, right? First and foremost: lie. When I first told Ibu Maya the story, her spontaneous reaction was, "What? You told him your real name?!?!" Second, I work at a good school, where they care about protecting me. (Maybe a little too much, actually, but that's a story for another day.) Third, I have good friends, who give good advice. And fourth, if I hint that I'm in danger, my mom will offer to pay for Tolkien Boy to visit. Mom, have I ever told you about the time an Asian Mafia leader threatened to release hundreds of poisonous snakes, made hyper-aggressive by pheromones, onto the school bus I ride every morning?


skyeJ said...

Wow. I just stumbled onto your blog through Master Fob. I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, I've been here about seven months, and I UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY the whole stalker/harrassment thing. From now on, LIE. That's my advice. Hopefully this guy will have gotten the hint. I'm not sure if it's Indonesian culture or not, but it's really offensive to directly critcize someone here. If I ever had a stalker, I'd make a point to chew him out publicly, directly. I hope he leaves you alone now!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your coworkers are being so helpful.

mysh said...

Hooray! We were all worried about you.

And if TB comes to see you, I'll purchase him a cricket bat *and* a badminton raquet to take along.

Melyngoch said...

Damn. If I'd offered to lawn mow him, would your mother have bought me a plane ticket?

JB said...

I'm so glad to hear how helpful everyone was! And that maybe he's ready to just leave you alone.