I was afraid.
I will be lying if I tell you that yesterday, when a terrorist attack in front of Sarinah happened and afterwards, I was not.
I was afraid. I was afraid that there could be another bomb, that there could be more lives taken, that there could be more mothers out there that lost their sons and daughters, that there could be more children that would have one less parent.
I passed Sarinah in the morning of 14 January 2016 on my way to a meeting in Bunderan HI area, where my taxi stopped in the red traffic light and people getting off the busway en route to their office. It was a normal morning. I even thought of going to the Starbucks that morning. So, having learned later on the day that the very normal crossroad I passed through was the ground zero for some open gunfire, bombs, and grenades, it was nauseating. I lost my appetite for lunch that day, and was surprised that such thing could happen to my city.
It was also surprising for me how my fellow Jakartans reacted to the attack. It was initially fear (obviously, especially some of us were in the vicinity of Sarinah), and then a sense of unity (for which I applaud), and then spirit to “fight” back (for which I really admire). The hashtags came, from #PrayForJakarta (which I personally think, wouldn’t really affect the exchange rate) to #IndonesiaKuat (strong Indonesia) to #KamiTidakTakut (we are not afraid).
Being in the digital age that we are, of course there are plentiful of memes and stories that arose, the most famous one being the satay vendor that are seen 100 m away from ground zero, already selling the food with a lot of customers waiting for their plates to be served. The point of that post was to show that we, Indonesians, are not afraid. And the day will continue to be normal afterwards.
But for me, the day didn’t. I have calmed down, but I kept my alertness up. If the agendas were not urgent, I didn’t end up going.
An attack did happen, a bomb did blow up, people did die – these are the reasons why I refuse to laugh about the attack.
What I thought was: yes, I should not be drowned in terror because that’s exactly what terrorist attacks are for, but I should not also be careless and take the attack lightly.
And I am writing and sharing my two cents just to spread the message to my fellow Jakartans, we do stand together and united, but please, please also keep in mind that yesterday was real. Although arguably in a smaller scale than what happened in Paris, it was still a terrorist attack. Please don’t let your guard down, please always be mindful of your safety and security.
I’m not trying to exaggerate anything, neither am I understating it.
A terrorist attack is not a small matter.