A story in a copper spoon

“Why not you use my coffee spoon?” My father’s line sounded like a sweet surprising melody to my ears. I never heard it coming from his mouth before.

copper spoon. A long slim brassy spoon. It looks like it was made for a perfect coffee spoon. It is sturdy and stirs well, easily reaching to the bottom of any coffee glass/mug. My father is quite possessive about it. He never lets anybody use it, even though I – the only child in the family who shares his love for coffee – secretly used the spoon without his knowing several too many times.

For as long as I live, I know my father as a coffee drinker. He makes his first coffee very early in the morning before he takes a shower. Black with a little sugar, in the blue plastic thermal mug he has been using since 1977, twenty thirty three years ago. When he comes out of the bedroom, fully dressed, the coffee would be on perfect temperature for him to drink. He told me multiple times that he had calculated how much time needed for coffee temperature to go down to a desirable one and that he matched it with how much time he should use for showering and dressing up every morning.

I started drinking coffee when I was quite young, around 3-4 years old. I remember vividly how I used to ‘steal’ one teaspoon of coffee (using that copper spoon) from my father’s mug when he left for the bathroom.  My dad didn’t like me drinking his coffee without his permission. He always knew when someone (=I) ‘stole’ his coffee. As soon as he found out he would scream in Sundanese, “Naha dekok? Saha nu nginum?” (Why there is a dent/cavity? Who drank it?) It’s funny that my dad, who speaks in his mother tongue, uses that term, dekok. Certainly  dekok is not a proper term to be used in this context since the surface of coffee (liquid) is always flat, it’d never have any dent/cavity aka dekok 😀 Now, in recalling that moment, I found the word dekok very endearing.

That morning, when he said, “Why not you use my coffee spoon?”, I was surprised and very flattered. For the first time in my life, after more than 30 years, my very own father offered me to use his dear copper spoon. I, trying not to show my excitement, gladly welcomed his offer.

While stirring my own cup of coffee, my father told me a story. He said the copper spoon was the only thing left from his grandfather. When his grandfather died, he was inherited the spoon, yes only the spoon. The spoon had been owned by Abah Juru, the grandpa, since he moved to Dayeuh Kolot (where my parents live) in 1898. So, the spoon is, at least, 112 years old and it is the only thing that connects my father to his Abah Juru. 

I asked whether I can have the spoon someday when he leaves this world. He said, “Of course, you can”. I could barely hold the tears. He had no idea how beautiful that short answer was to my ears.

My father rarely has any communication with me. He never says how he feels about me. He never tells me whether he approves who I am and what I am doing now. Regardless any reason behind his surrendering the copper spoon, I want to think of the gesture as a symbolic act of appreciation. Perhaps it’s his way of telling me that he approves and appreciates me. I don’t dare to hope that it was to say “I am proud of you” or “I love you.” I just had hoped that it was his way of saying “I am so sorry.” Perhaps. Maybe.

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