The Remedy

“You look so chubby.” She pinched my cheeks once. “What have you eaten in the past two weeks?”

“Am I?” My cheekbones hurt. It was so hard to smile.

Everything started from here. I did not talk about what I had been through in the past two weeks as much as possible. Escapade was probably the best word to depict those fourteen days.


I was looking for snow. Europe had always been my dream destination, and I started from Turkey. From the worldwide knowledge you would know that Turkey was located both in Europe and Asia. Winter. This was the season you wouldn’t find in Indonesia. Snow, Europe, and winter—I was pretty sure that I could find these three things in Turkey.

So, this is winter, I told myself. I sneezed once before I got on a train after exchanging my USD to Turkish Lira. Everybody seemed so busy. Books, gadgets, and shopping bags were their friends. They were as ignorant as I had predicted.

I had saved my money for one year long. There was nothing left. It was only for this trip. My first trip abroad. And I did it myself! Thrilling? Super! Plus, this trip had become more thrilling as my family did not know that I went to Turkey. What they knew was that I was busy preparing my final exam for these two weeks.


I hadn’t missed home. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and slight fever. Oh, gosh. I knew that I was allergic to cold, but I insisted to come to a country with winter. By the time I got sick, I knew it was a mistake to have this very first abroad trip by myself.

So, I jumped out of my bed, getting myself ready to go out from the apartment I rented. I need to find a medicine.

I opened the door, and found a middle-aged woman. She must be my neighbor. “Günaydın[1],” I greeted her.

Günaydın.” She kissed my cheeks. She wore a veil.

I smiled. At the same time we greeted each other, I still remembered she had just locked up her apartment and was ready to go. However, she opened her door, and let me in. The apartment was not big, but it was so organized. It was totally neat.

Moments later I found her serving a green-apple extract in a glass for me. She mixed it with honey and cinnamon powder. I watched her carefully. She wanted me to drink it with gestures. I was confused. What was this? I would become so rude to refuse drinking it. But, what was this?

Someone came to the kitchen. She must be her daughter. She also wore a veil. They talked in Turkish. They ignored me for two minutes. “Hello, my name is Sümeyye Doğan. My mom said you were sick. Don’t be afraid, this is a Turkish remedy. This is good for you. She just wants to help you.” She put her hand out and shook my hand.

My eyes widened. Her English was very good. How dared I to refuse a help? Teşekkür ederim[2]. My name is Joanna.”

That evening, Sümeyye and her mom wanted me to stay. In the end, I stayed in their apartment until the last day I stayed in Turkey. I ate breakfast with the whole family everyday. It was always a full table. There were ekmek or bread, several kinds of cheese, fresh tomatoes, and olives. I would not find this kind of breakfast back at home. They fed me well.

Doğan family had even invited their relatives to see me before I came back to Jakarta. They also gave me presents. That was how the Turkish treated their guests. I had met Sümeyye’s grandparents, uncle, aunts, and cousins. At the same time, I realized that I rarely met my relatives in Jakarta. I began to miss home.

[1] Good morning. (Turkish)

[2] Thank you. (Turkish)

I wrote this story for a writing competition. Yeah, you know, I did not win. This story is dedicated to my host family in Kocaeli, Turkey.

August 2013.

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