IDEP conducts Family Bucket distribution in Saba (Photo: Nicolaus Sulistyo/IDEP)
In mid-July 2023, Putu, a student at Blahbatuh Public Junior High School, had just graduated from elementary school and was participating in the School Introduction Period (Masa Pengenalan Lingkungan Sekolah or MPLS). It was around 7:30 in the morning when her mother, Nyoman Mariani, accompanied her.
After dropping Putu off, Mariani proceeded to Sabha Kumara Kindergarten (TK) to drop off Komang, her third child who had just started school. The school advised parents to wait for their newly enrolled children. One teacher suggested to Mariani, “Just stay here for a while, so it’s not back and forth. Let the child settle in; it’s the first day.”
Around 9:00 in the morning, Mariani noticed an unfamiliar number calling her mobile phone. Wondering who it could be, she answered the call. It was the headmaster of Blahbatuh Public Junior High School.
“Your daughter fainted. She couldn’t continue with the MPLS. She’s been sent home.”
Mariani wanted to rush home, but her youngest child, Komang, was still at the kindergarten. She couldn’t leave without informing him about Putu’s situation.
“Your sister fainted,” Mariani told Komang.
“It’s okay, Mom. Just go home,” Komang replied.
Uncertain about leaving her five-year-old, Mariani sought permission from the teacher. Komang would be accompanied by a teacher. With that assurance, Mariani hurried home, riding her motorcycle in a state of disarray.
Putu lay on her bed when Mariani arrived. Her mother immediately inquired, asking about everything that had happened that morning, about what her child experienced leading to fainting during the activity. Putu’s body felt cold, and her legs seemed slightly yellow. Mariani took care of her, applying balm to various parts of her body.
“I fainted earlier, Mom,” Putu recounted.
“Why did you faint?” her mother asked.
“People were shaking. The path looks like it goes down and up. After that I don’t remember anything. It immediately turned dark. When I woke up, I was already in the Health Unit (UKS) and was brought home.”
“No dizziness or anything?”
“Yes, Mom, I felt dizzy.”
After briefly checking on her daughter, Mariani took Putu to Blahbatuh 2 Community Health Center. A nurse approached them.
“Why is your daughter here?”
“Sorry, I’m skipping the line. My daughter fainted at school.”
“Okay, take her to the emergency room,” the nurse instructed.
Putu had fainted several times at school, usually during flag ceremonies. Mariani had requested teachers not to force heavy physical activities on her firstborn. Putu’s condition wasn’t robust enough for prolonged standing or running like other students.
Her parents didn’t mind. They were supportive and hopeful, encouraging all their children to pursue higher education and become successful individuals.
Until a year before the pandemic, Mariani never expected that raising her children would become a solo effort.
Mariani married her husband in 2010. Putu was born a year later, followed by Kadek two years after Putu. Komang, the youngest, was born in 2018. Mariani worked as a counseling guidance teacher in Dalung, while her husband worked as a driver for a cargo agency in Padangsambian Kaja.
Initially, after graduating from high school, Mariani’s husband worked in a warehouse, handling the packaging of goods for distribution. After years of work, he felt the need to explore a different field, especially when some items went missing or were unaccounted for. Reflecting on this, he thought, “Why does this keep happening?”
He decided to learn something new. During break times meant for lunch and rest, he asked a friend to teach him how to drive. He practiced diligently almost every day. From being unable to drive at all, he progressed to becoming proficient. His determination was exceptional. Mariani mentioned that her husband had a great motivation to keep learning, eventually changing his job from handling goods to becoming a driver, distributing goods to various districts in Bali.
“Initially diagnosed as hemorrhoids, so it seemed like a minor ailment. Sitting for long hours as a driver exacerbated it. Eventually, hemorrhoids persisted with continuous bleeding, mixed with stool. The smell was extraordinary, noticeable everywhere,” explained Mariani.
In 2018, shortly after giving birth to their third child, Mariani had to unexpectedly care for her ailing husband. She even took him for treatment to Klungkung, incurring costs of up to IDR 800,000 for three round trips. According to people’s advice, three visits to Klungkung should have been enough. Her determination for her husband’s recovery was unwavering.
Explanation about the gardening package called Baby Doll, containing all household necessities for the upcoming months, including organic vegetable seeds (Photo: Nicolaus Sulistyo/IDEP)
Mariani’s life had changed drastically. Her focus had diverged, her thoughts scattered across many things. Nevertheless, the recovery of her husband remained the top priority.
Mariani took her husband to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with stage 3B cancer that had rapidly progressed to stage 4. The doctor decided to proceed with surgery. Her colleagues never failed to offer encouragement and support. They advised Mariani to focus on her husband’s recovery first.
Physically, his condition improved, but Mariani still hesitated to allow him to return to work. Her husband insisted, and he directly consulted the matter with the doctor.
“Doctor, my husband is asking for permission to go back to work.”
“Sure, let him. So he won’t be stressed at home.”
The remaining time for Mariani’s husband was limited. According to the doctor, he had only six months at most, perhaps extending to a year. When this information became known, Mariani’s husband insisted on returning to work.
Some of his colleagues were shocked and concerned. Mariani’s husband indeed showed up at the office. A staff member in his office began to inquire.
“Why are you back at work?”
“It’s okay, ma’am, I’ll just work. I’m strong.”
“Yeah, I’m strong.”
He worked full-time for three months, but his condition deteriorated further. The cancer had spread to other parts of his body. This time, the disease also affected his prostate, making it difficult for him to urinate. He began to need oxygen.
For over three months, he had to undergo hospitalization. The first month was spent at Sanglah Hospital. The next month, he was referred to Sanjiwani Hospital. In the third month, he returned to Sanglah Hospital before being admitted once again to Sanjiwani Hospital. It was in this hospital that Mariani’s husband received palliative care.
“Ma’am, medication is no longer effective. Pray, as your husband is nearing the end,” the doctor told Mariani.
Three days after that message, on Saturday, August 31, 2019, at 9:00 p.m., her husband was no more. Mariani was shattered. It felt like only her soul remained in her body. She surrendered. Mariani said her struggle seemed in vain. Her fight to care for her husband ended abruptly. “And it turns out he didn’t get better,” Mariani recalled.
Putu and Kadek also felt the loss. Fortunately, the support from family and relatives was tremendous at that time. Meanwhile, Komang only knew his father through stories. Her good father suffered from illness in the same year she was born, fighting until his last breath.
Later, Mariani realized something. It seemed that her husband’s motivation to return to work in the midst of his worsening condition was for one purpose. Her husband attempted to reactivate the health insurance that had stopped when he had to rest at home and couldn’t go to the office for quite some time.
“When I think back to that time, I was lost. I felt lost. It felt like everything was black again,” Mariani expressed at the end of the meeting.
Ni Kadek Ayu Krishna Jyoti (left) with her mother, Nyoman Mariani (right) (Photo: Nicolaus Sulistyo/IDEP)
The story was shared by Mariani when we visited her home that afternoon. It was on the same day when we distributed the Family Bucket, the same day when Putu fainted. We almost rescheduled our meeting with Mariani, but thankfully, on that day, Mariani’s children were doing well. And we hope that they always stay well. The story of a mother caring for her three children should never be forgotten. A mother is a place where silence, sadness, chaos, and pain will heal if we share our stories with her.
Article: Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation