Muslims More Christian than Christians?

Linh Dinh

[Jakarta, 12/24/23] Some say I’m so hateful and insane, I hear voices. Today, I must come clean. At my $13 a night room at Oyo 101 Apple Platinum, sounds so fancy, I do hear a small, tinny voice inside my bathroom, and it always utters just one word, “Hello.” At first, I thought it was coming from the hallway or the next room, but then I’d hear it at 3AM, noon or around midnight, and it’s always this same, timid greeting reaching me from hell, heaven or outer space.

Maybe it’s some quirk of the plumbing or air vent, but having slept in hundreds of rooms everywhere, I’ve never heard any faceless voice so clearly, though distant. Facing the bathroom mirror in the middle of the night near the end of my life, I almost expected to see some sad being behind me.

“I’ve greeted you so many times,” he or she would say. “Why are you so heartless?”

“Yo, those are my lines! You’re stealing my shtick!”

The French believed Vietnamese were so fearful of ghosts, they wouldn’t fight at night, so could be easily smashed. We know how that turned out.

I have just days left in Jakarta. Again, I’m sitting outside Filosofi Kopi. Across the street are the Starbucks and Burger King where bombs went off just outside in 2016. Four days ago, I found a Yuval Noah Harari book here. After posing with it, I told a barista, “He’s not just a bad writer, but an evil person!” “I’m sorry!” she replied. A lovely person, she had on an “AMERICAN ICON” hoodie over her hijab.

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