After a few weeks of pure bliss, hanging out together, enjoying each other’s company, we started to talk about the future, and where this was all going. Agus turned to me, with a serious look in his eyes and said
“I have one thing that I need you to do if we are going to be together”
“ok….what is that?” I inquired nervously
“I need you to become Indonesian, if you can’t do that, we cannot be together”
“Ok, but you have to give me time to think”
“There is nothing to think about, do you want to be with me or not?”
It was so black and white to him, such a simple request, and so typical of his character to this day. He was so convinced that this was the only way forward. For me, nothing is so clear cut, and this seemed to be a huge request. By taking on Indonesian citizenship, I would need to renounce my British nationality. My British passport had been a faithful companion for many years. It had enabled me to go to many different countries with ease, and represented freedom to me. It is one of the most coveted passports in the world, and here I was being asked to give it up and take on a new identity as an Indonesian.
I had barely been a few months in this country, and did not even speak the language. This was such a big decision, and one I was struggling with. On the one hand I loved Agus and was willing to do anything to be able to stay with him, on the other, it was all still so new, and this was a big commitment. What if the relationship did not work out?
My mind was racing, I talked to everyone I could, and most people were telling me it was a crazy idea. Finally, I found myself in Ubud, a small artists community in the hills of Bali. This magical village had attracted many foreigners over the years, many western women had married local men, and made their lives there. I met some of these wonderful women and asked for their advice. These wise ladies had been faced with the same dilemma many years before, and had chosen to become Indonesian. They were convinced it had been the best decision.
They presented the situation to me, if I remained British, I would be on a visa, and have to leave the country regularly, which would be costly. I would not be able to work, unless I had a work visa. I would not be able to own property, and would have no rights to my children if the relationship did not work out. Put like that, it seemed there was only one solution. If I was going to make a life for myself here, I needed to jump in with two feet. All or nothing.
So I did it, I renounced my British passport. I still have it, kept in a drawer for prosperity, with the corner snipped off, and a red stamp inside. Proof of my former identity, the young girl with innocent eyes.
It was the biggest, most important decision I have made in my life. One that I did not take lightly, and I do not regret the path I took. Yes, an Indonesian passport is not as coveted as a British one, we do need to get visas when we travel, but we just have to plan a bit more. Anything is possible. I lost one nationality, and gained a new one. A passport does not define who I am, I am still the same person inside, I just have a different colored book!