Day in, day out, Rashi sells tickets to people who want to cross his favourite lake, Danua Toba (Lake Toba). In this time of the year, the ferry ride is not very popular, since it is low season. Today again, the day started off as a day like all the others. However, it did not end like that.

After a quiet morning, more and more Dutch tourists started coming. The man seemed to be able to sense the new tourists from afar. As he rushed past the small food stalls he did not notice the strong fish smell coming from the baskets standing on the floor anymore. His senses were enhanced in a way that he just knew when new people were arriving that could bring money into his pocket. “What would we have now”, Rashi thought while hurrying to the crossroad where the tourists were often dropped off. “I’ve seen many people from Holland today, I wonder if there will be more.”

Then, the man remembered what his father had taught him and what has stayed with him ever since. He heard the low husky voice of his late ayah in his head and Rashi was reminded of the mask he had to put on his face when greeting these tourists. An almost genuine smile appeared and his eyes lit up. “I have become so good at this, that my face actually stays in this position when the mask comes off”, he thought when the first girls were crawling out of the small taxi van, “you would be proud of me, ayah”, he murmured. The girls indeed turned out to be Dutch and were actually part of the group of other Dutch tourists, Rashi had helped earlier this day. After helping the five girls get on the ferry from Parapat to Tuktuk, the man stayed behind in the harbour and joined his friends again while smoking another cigarette.

After a couple of minutes, the boat set sail to Tuktuk and the man thought of his ayah again, while his fake smile slowly faded and his genuine face reappeared. With the boat almost out of sight, he turned his attention towards his friends and joined their discussion about the upcoming elections.

Written by: Jasmijn Peele, Mattia Jongerius & Féline Borsje