Thirteen year old Nurina Sanputeri Halim and her family currently reside in Semarang, Indonesia where Nurina is a sophomore at the Middle School of Sekolah Nasional Karangturi, Semarang, Indonesia.
Nurina is an avid reader. Being the youngest of three siblings gives her the benefit of exposure to readings at a higher level than her age. She has read Hamilton’s America so often that she memorizes the entire screenplay—the script as well as the songs. One of her dreams is to one day see Hamilton on a Broadway stage in New York.
Nurina’s father is a columnist for a local newspaper. Watching her father write inspires her to write for leisure. Nurina is reachable via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanjung Lesung Beach Wrapped In Desolation
On the afternoon of December 22, 2018, thick fog and continuous thunder hit the entire Tanjung Lesung Beach, near Pandeglang, West Java, Indonesia.
“Earthquake! Earthquake! Mount Krakatau is erupting!” The villagers’ shouts and cries were heard throughout the area. Some injured villagers were tended to insithe ruins of what used to be houses. After the earthquake subsided, the village quietly restrained its sadness.
A beautiful young girl sat on a boulder on the edge of the beach with her head between her knees.
“Why are you here, child?” asked a police officer, who was making rounds at the Banten Province beach. He was assigned to find victims from the tsunami that followed the earthquake.
The girl glanced at the police officer before saying softly, “I don’t have anything anymore.”
The police officer asked the villagers for information about the girl.
The girl’s name was Fenita, he was told. Other than Fenita’s sister, who was continuing her education on another island, all of Fenita’s family members had been killed during the earthquake and tsunami.
“Fenita,” the police officer said, I’ll tell your sister what has happened. Until your sister can return, you can stay in my house. You can call me Uncle Rian,” The policeman smiled at Fenita.
“Officer — I mean, Uncle Rian, you don’t mind?” asked Fenita doubtfully.
“I live alone. So…”
Before Uncle Rian could finish his sentence, Fenita hugged him tightly. She still needed a parent’s love.
Uncle Rian enrolled Fenita into an elementary school in Tegal.
On her first day of school, Fenita felt nervous. But thanks to Uncle Rian’s support, she felt confident enough to study at the school. Fenita wasn’t shy when she met her new friends.
At school, Fenita met another girl named Winda, who had lost her parents too.
“We have to stay tough, to face all kinds of challenges,” Winda told Fenita during a school break. “Life isn’t to be wasted doing nothing.”
“You’re right.” Fenita smiled, hoping to become close friends with Winda.
“You must know our class rules,” Winda continued. “Whoever is the strongest becomes a leader. All the students will refer to that person as The Leader.”
“Is there anyone like that?”
“There is.” Winda glanced at a boy leaning against a classroom door not far from where Fenita and Winda were talking. “His name is Malik.”
“I think,” said Fenita, “that being The Leader means nothing if that person only cares about himself.”
“Sssh!” whispered Winda. “Malik is coming.”
Malik came up to them and rebuked Fenita, “This kid is a newcomer, but already brave enough to challenge me!” Malik said, upset. He looked away from Fenita and left immediately.
Fenita and Winda continued talking.
According to Winda, her classmates didn’t agree with the rules Malik made, but they didn’t dare challenge him.
“I hope I can help him change through my prayers,” said Fenita with a smile.
After school, Fenita went to wash her feet, change clothes, perform ablution, and her prayer rituals. As soon as she finished, Fenita prayed for Malik to receive guidance. Fenita read the Koran and hoped her prayer would be answered.
During the school holiday, Uncle Rian invited Fenita to join him for an outing at the beach in Tegal.
Fenita didn’t answer. She ran to her room and cried. She believed that the beach had made her an orphan.
Soon after, Uncle Rian entered Fenita’s room and sat on the edge of her bed while softly stroking her head.
Uncle Rian’s invitation had made Fenita sad. To calm herself, Fenita visited Winda, who lived nearby.
Fenita told Winda about the earthquake and the tsunami that had struck her village.
“At the time it happened, my father and I had planned to go fishing in the sea in our boat,” Fenita told Winda. “My mother quickly prepared some light snacks and bought a melon for us to take.
Then the earthquake came and shook the village. My dad immediately turned the boat back to the beach to make sure I was safe. But, the tsunami pounded the beach.
“I was told to run inland,” Fenita continued tearfully. “Instead of saving himself, my dad helped someone who was drowning in the waves. For a while, my dad was adrift between mounting waves.”
“What about your mom?” asked Winda. “What happened to her?”
“During the earthquake, my mother tripped over a melon that blocked her way as she tried to run outside. She was struck by a wooden beam.” Fenita answered. “That’s what made me hate beaches and melons. The power of nature is what made my life like this.” Fenita’s tears started dropping.
“Don’t worry,” Winda said encouragingly. “Everything we have in this world is temporary. Everything we have will go back to the Almighty. Life in this world isn’t the only way we can be happy. By making other people happy, we can be happy too. Not only will we be happy in this world, but also in the hereafter.”
“Thank you, Winda,” said Fenita, “Your words reassure me.”
“Don’t ever hate something God has created for us,” answered Winda.
The next day, Winda told Fenita about a flower-arranging competition and a photo-frame decorating competition that used materials found on the beach.
“By entering this competition, you can make your parents happy,” Winda challenged Fenita. “Hey, which is stronger? Your desire to make your parents happy or your desire to avoid the beach? For how long will you be like this?” Winda’s challenge made Fenita agree to join.
When Fenita reached the competition arena, she was amazed at how beautiful Tegal’s beach was. It had been so long since she had seen a beach.
While Fenita prepared herself for the competition, Winda waited on a patio that had been constructed at the edge of the beach.
“Hey, you again, you again. I’m tired of seeing you!”
“Malik?” Fenita was surprised, but only for a moment.
Fenita ignored Malik. She hoped Malik wouldn’t bother her. After the competition started, Fenita focused on the host who explained the rules of the competition.
The host told them how to make a flower using soap. By only using a small knife to carve, contestants were expected to create a special flower.
After the competition began, Fenita was confused. Her flannel and beads had disappeared. She tried to look for them, but didn’t find anything. It turned out her flannel and beads were with Malik. Fenita sighed. She didn’t want to deal with Malik.
Fenita racked her brain for other materials. She walked near the merchants around the beach. At first Fenita was reluctant to buy a melon because melons always reminded her of her mother’s death. Fenita finally bought a melon so later, she could carve it into a rose using the small knife given to all contestants. However, Fenita was still confused on how to decorate her photo frame. Suddenly, it crossed her mind to use the shells on the beach as the main element. She quickly grabbed a few shells with beautiful patterns.
Fenita entered the competition arena and soon started to carve the inside of the melon into a flower and arranged the seashells to decorate her photo frame.
Luckily Fenita had been told how to carve a flower using a knife so she could create a beautiful flower. Once she finished, she compiled her work and went to meet up with Winda. Fenita told Winda what she had just done. She promised she would not hate melons and beaches anymore if she won.
It was time for the announcement. Fenita won first place and Malik second place.
Fenita felt elated. She went onto the stage. However, oddly enough, Malik wasn’t next to her when the judge presented Fenita with the award and certificate.
After waiting a while, the host announced that Malik wasn’t on stage because he was in the middle of registering himself at a boarding house. The committee would take Malik’s award and certificate directly to his new boarding school.
Fenita felt happy because her prayer had come true.
After coming down from the stage Fenita immediately went to meet Winda.
Fenita saw Uncle Rian and a girl standing next to Winda. The girl was Fenita’s sister whom she had been waiting for. Fenita hugged her tightly.
Winda told her how Fenita’s prayer was also granted by God: Malik was accepted at a boarding school. “God Almighty loves all his creations. Humans can certainly happily benefit of some parts of nature. However, we are often only aware of a small part of God’s generosity,” explained Winda.