Pear, Honey and Cashew Tart

It’s been three weeks since he was gone. That almost 5 years old kid took his last breath in his father’s chest, without growled in pain or shed a tear. He just slept, that no one would notice, for eternity.

Kian, six months younger than him, with his bright big eyes asked us why we were crying. Then slowly, we explained him about death. But we know so well that there’s nothing easy about death, something we, human, barely understand with its mistery and misery. And especially explain it to a toddler who doesn’t understand yet about time and space.

Four months ago when his great grandmother died, it was a bit easier to explain her gone. We talked about life cycle, from baby, toddler, kid, teenage, adult, old people, and here comes the death. Done. Though at our surprise, Kian took it seriously. I mean, he sometimes talked about our old neighbor and said that he was old but not die yet.

But how could we explain him the cropped cycle, that death wouldn’t always come to those whose old and rotten, but also come to anyone, whether kids or teenager? Would he understand that death isn’t solely bound to physically sickness, but also because of human greed, war, criminal, mental disability, emotional shutdown, catastrophe, and other things we somehow never know why?

Death isn’t something unfamiliar to me. My brother died when I was 8 years old in distance, in unreachable state. He was coma for a month after diagnosed with Hep C. My mother took care of him at Sanglah Hospital Bali, while my father and his three daughters continue our lives in Malang. That night, ambulance came with his stiff body inside. A wayfaring brother and son came home after years without his breath. He seemed so familiar, yet so strange. And I cried that night, and nights after. And I remember, that night, for the first time in my life I was questioning God will.

Why there is a war? Dangerous disease, poverty, disability, agony, crime, angers, hatred, sadness, greed, regret, sorrow, etc? Why can’t we just live in heaven for eternity? Why God created satan, heaven and hell? Those questions remain in my head and went deeper by the time. I started to think about religion and humanity when I was in Junior School. I read Karen Armstrong, Bernard Shaw, Ahmad Deedat, Sabili Magazine, The New Testament, Quran, until some cheap old supernatural books in Senior School. The freedom and access of information in university led me to philosophy and its branches like feminism, metaphysic, hermeunetics, until post modernism. I had no idea what I was looking for in every page of human thought and Holy Book. Maybe to search for a light. For God. For understanding of life. Of God.

I hadn’t found any answer when suddenly my phone rang in that cloudy evening, when I was reading Tao of Physics. My sister’s late fiancé, with his trembling and worry voice informed me that my father passed away of accident. No sickness. No awful smell of hospital. No bottles of medicines. No long waits of miracle to cure some disease like we used to hope when my brother dying. He was just gone, in a blink of an eye, like a wind. So sudden. Yet so devastating. It was only 4 hours from home but it was the longest time I spent in the road, rolling every million tiny pieces of memories in my head. Remembering his words, his behavior, his laughs, his grin under his moustache, his dry humor that always made us laugh, his happy go lucky charm, his possessiveness to his daughters, his weird steps, his last call a day before his death, his demanding order which always made me resent, his cook (his fried rice is the best), his… everything. Hoping to keep his image before time erased him. Before soil bury him. Before his face vanish in my head, just like my brother. When the bus reached Pasuruan, an hour from my home, I realized one thing. The more I learned about death and loss, the farther I get from understanding. And once again, I was numb. Are you playing me, God?

It is always hard to understand, to accept death. Maybe because we are too accustomed to live with somebody we love. The loss is losing the activity of to love and be loved. Death is erasing their names from every conversation and every gathering. Death is reconcile and to adapt, again, with a new shape, new activity, new dictionary of what is life to continue our life; but at the same time trying to always remember their pieces in our heart, that they ever exist, came in our life, touch our soul; that whether significant or not, have help us to make us now. 

There’s nothing easy about death.

But I guess, it is quite easy for a toddler who began to think rationally but still lack of empathy.

Every time I named Sultan, mostly because I forgot that he’s gone, Kian always remind me that mas Sultan is gone. Or just like yesterday. He leaned his back against the wall while playing lego. I was reading a book when he suddenly muttered. Mas Sultan is buried alone, his body is wet when it was raining. I gasped. We’re all end up like mas Sultan, son. I breathed heavily hoping he didn’t hear me.

Or just like days ago when Kian got fever and I asked him to eat and take medicine, he answered, “When we are get sick we have to eat and rest a lot, so we don’t die like mas Sultan?” I bit my lip and nodded slowly. How is that easy for him to say death without even know the meaning behind?

Or maybe, he knows so well what the meaning of death, instead. Maybe, that is supposed to be our behavior in facing death? That death is always there and stare us whenever, wherever. That death is just a phase of life cycle that will always come, no matter ages, status, gender, whatsoever. And maybe, our fear to death is because we’re just too damn scared that the death’s eye is staring at us at the moment…

Pear, Honey and Cashew Tart
Modified from Fig, Honey and Almond Tart by Donna Hay Magazine

65 gr softened butter
75 gr superfine sugar
½ tbsp grated lemond rind
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
90 gr cashew meal
35 gr flour
½ tsp baking powder
40 gr chopped cashew
1 pear, sliced
45 gr honey

Preheat oven to 160 C. Lightly grease a 16 cm flutted loose bottomed tart tin.
Place the butter, sugar, lemon and vanilla extract in the bowl of electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the cashew meal, flour and baking powder and mix to combine.
fold in chopped cashews.
Spoon into the tart tin and spread until smooth.
Place the pear sliced on top of it, pressing down slightly.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
Remove from the oven and while still hot, brush with honey.

1 comment

  1. Dyananda, it was heartbreaking to read your post, I am so terribly sorry to hear about your loss. If there is anything I can do in any way, please don't hesitate to ask. I am thinking of you and your loved ones.