Nina Bobo

13 September 2021

YEPPOON – Every night my Oma and I talk for an hour or two before we go to bed. She takes her teeth out and we speak Dutch.

Apparently poorly pronounced Dutch from each other wasn’t hard enough one night so we started singing an Indonesian nursery rhyme. We couldn’t remember the words but sang through it anyway. All we knew there was a part where an old Indonesian woman who only has 2 teeth. When I learned the song 20 years ago Oma had more teeth than the old woman but now Oma has less.

Burung kakatua 
hinggap di jendela 
nenek sudah tua 
giginya tinggal dua. 

That reminded me of another song that apparently she sang to me as a baby. I found the lyrics online and read it out as best I could.

Nina bobo,
oh, nina bobo,
kalau tidak bobo,
digigit nyamuk.

“Misschien dat is correct, maar…” she leaned over and took the iPad out of my hands. “Jouw accent is echt shit.”

(Maybe that’s right, but… your accent is really shit)

Oma mixes English and Dutch words and sometimes I don’t know which is which. Maybe that’s why my Dutch sucks, or why her English sucks. Or both.

I asked her what nyamuk means.

“What’s that little thing? That gave me malaria?” She asked.

“Mosquito?”

“Yeah. That. That is nyamuk.”

So with that out the way it was finally time for bed. The last thing she always says is to her dog.

“Vrouwtje ga naar bobo! Vrouwtje moet naar bobo!”

Mum’s going to bed! Mum’s gotta go to bed!

Copyright 2010-2021 Oliver Lowe. All rights reserved.