“Ayo Sri, bangun,” my friend said. “Antarin bubur.”
I groaned and sat up, reaching for my glasses on his table. I’d spent the night on his floor. I’d started out stationed in front of the TV in the family room, but we couldn’t figure out how to turn the fan on, so I’d moved to his room with the hope that the air conditioning would combat the mosquitoes. It hadn’t really worked and consequently I hadn’t gotten much sleep.
“Wait,” I said, “I’m going to change my pants.” There wasn’t much of a point to it, but I changed from one pair of pants to another and put a jacket on anyway.
By the time I made it outside, he’d already gotten his motorbike out and settled a cardboard box filled with containers bubur—rice porridge—in front of him. There was a similar box still sitting by the door. I pointed to it and raised my eyebrows, too tired to bother with talking.
“You’re going to sit sidesaddle,” his mother said, coming out of the door behind me, “And that’s going to go on your lap.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling surprisingly agreeable. I’d ridden sidesaddle twice before, both for short periods of time and both on campus so that traffic wasn’t any real concern. This was going to be in traffic to who-knew-where and I wasn’t going to really be able to hold on.
I clambered onto the back of the bike and attempted to grasp the back bar with my left hand.
“No,” my friend’s mother said, moving my arm so that it held the box of bubur instead. Then she pointed to my other arm. Obediently, I wiggled it around until it was free enough to grasp either my friend’s waist or the back bar, whichever happened to be closer when we went flying over a bump.
And then we were off. In keeping with my still-only-half-awake nonchalance, I watched quietly as motorbikes and half-familiar buildings whizzed by me. Riding sidesaddle was totally no big deal, especially because my friend turned out to be a very good driver.
Possible future career: Catering Delivery Person II