It was a few minutes past noon when, through the window, I saw a woman approach the gate. Oh no, I didn’t want to meet “that woman”.
I immediately switched off the TV and closed my eyes, pretending to be asleep. And then I felt her touching my hand gently and saying softly, “Mbak, are you asleep? I brought your favorite food for lunch.”
I was surprised and relieved. She was my friend, not “that woman”.
“That woman” is an energetic young person I met several times two or three years ago during morning exercises in our neighborhood. She apparently learned I had returned home after being treated for cancer and recently visited me with a box of sanitary pads in her hand.
“Many people who suffered from cancer and other diseases are cured because of these sanitary napkins. They have negative ions that can cure many diseases,” she said.
A marketer for the product, she enthusiastically told me about the pads’ magical properties.
“They are very good. If you don’t believe me, call this doctor. Let me call him for you,” she said, pressing his number on her mobile phone and handing it to me.
“So, you have breast cancer. Stick a panty liner on your breast and you need to soak four ion chips in water, which you then drink,” the doctor said.
I was reluctant to try this weird treatment, but I did not have the heart to say no when she said, with tears in her eyes, “Please try this, I want you to recover. My sister died from cancer several years before I knew about this product. You should try this, please.”
So I later drank a glass of water with ion chips soaked in it.
When I told her my body often felt stiff because I had to lie in bed for hours, she was quick with a reply.
“Oh in that case, you should try our other product: a belt that will help you with the stiffness,” she said. “It is only US$90, but if you buy it under my name, it will cost you Rp 760,000 because I am a member, and later if you want to buy it you will only need to pay around Rp 600,000.”
“I will think about it,” I said.
“Health is number one. You should buy this belt, which is good for your health.”
I said nothing and she finally left but promised to drop by and call on me.
A few days ago she came to my house and when she found out I did not buy her words, she took back the sanitary napkins she had given me earlier.
In fact, she was not the first person to offer me a “magic” product to help me recover.
Earlier, a woman brought along several of my friends for a visit. She brought a bottle of aloe concentrate and two bottles of protein drinks, samples of her herbal products.
“They are very good in helping damaged cells recover. Many people who took them, including cancer patients, got well and became fit and healthy,” she said.
Since then, she has bombarded me every day with text messages, asking how I was doing.
As I finished the aloe concentrate, I sent her a text message saying that I would like to buy some. She immediately called and started to persuade me and a relative, who is also my caregiver, to join her in the business by becoming members.
She said that with a membership fee of Rp 800,000, we could receive large discounts on the drink. She spoke for hours before I finally got a chance to turn down her offer.
I suddenly felt sick and lost interest in her products.
— T. Sima Gunawan