Tasniem, siswi kelas 9 SMP Negeri 5 Yogyakarta, merasa seakan dunianya hancur ketika mengetahui nilai ujian nasionalnya. Pasalnya, nilai ujian nasionalnya tidak mencukupi syarat minimal SMA idamannya, SMA Negeri 3 Yogyakarta. Siswi yang kerap sekali menduduki peringkat atas merasa terpuruk, merasa malu tidak mampu mendapatkan yang terbaik sesuai usahanya. Ia merasa bahwa kehidupan tidak adil ketika masa depannya hanya bergantung pada angka desimal yang ia usahakan selama ujian nasional berlangsung.
Setelah berhari-hari mengurung diri di kamar, Tasniem mencoba mengobati kegalauan hatinya. Ia pergi mengunjungi neneknya di Solo. Dalam perjalanannya, ada satu kata yang sering Tasniem temui: Singapura! Pada awalnya, Tasniem merasa tidak yakin terhadap seluruh pertanda itu, hingga perkataan neneknya membuatnya tersadar bahwa Singapura adalah pemberhentian selanjutnya.
Berbekal kemampuan bahasa Inggris yang apa adanya dan semangat untuk ‘mengambil apa yang seharusnya miliknya’, Tasniem lantas bertolah menuju Singapura untuk menuntut ilmu. Ia bersekolah di GC (Global College), sekolah internasional dengan siswa dari seluruh penjuru dunia. Di sana, Tasniem berteman dengan ketiga roommates-nya: Angelina dari Indonesia, Cecilia dari Cina, dan Aarin dari India.
Kehidupan di GC tidaklah mudah. Tasniem merindukan keluarganya, kehidupannya di Indonesia. Tasniem yang perlu mengejar ketertinggalannya dalam berbahasa Inggris juga merasa terpukul ketika mendapat nilai yang jelek di pelajaran komputer. Tasniem ingin berhenti berusaha dan kembali ke pangkuan kedua orangtuanya di Indonesia.
Suatu malam, ayah Tasniem yang saat itu sangat sibuk menjadi pegawai tinggi negara menelpon Tasniem-suatu kejadian yang bisa dibilang langka. Mendengar lantunan ayat Al-Quran dan beberapa pepatah bijak ayahnya malam itu membuat rindu Tasniem terhadap rumah terbayarkan dan semangat Tasniem kembali berkobar.
Di tanah rantau, Tasniem berusaha mendapat pengalaman sebanyak mungkin. Semua kejadian yang menimpanya sebisa mungkin ia cari sisi positifinya. Ia jalani kehidupannya dengan doa dan usaha supaya suatu saat nanti ia dapat membuat kedua orangtuanya bangga.
Sepintas, kurasa “Every cloud has a silver lining“ adalah kalimat yang tepat untuk seluruh kejadian dalam novel karya Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi ini. Pada kali pertama aku membaca sinopsis novel ini, aku langsung tahu bahwa novel ini begitu cocok untuk membangkitkan semangat para pemimpi yang telah dijauhkan dari mimpinya.
Ketika aku membuka novel ini untuk yang pertamakalinya, aku merasakan aura yang familier. Novel ini berlatar di tempat-tempat yang terasa tidak asing bagiku berkat penggambaran-penggambarannya yang begitu ‘nyata’. Novel ini terasa begitu ‘dekat’ berkat pilot chapter-nya yang menggambarkan kejadian yang sering terjadi di sekitar pelajar: NEM yang terlalu rendah untuk masuk ke SMA idaman. Plot awalnya memang merupakan suatu kejadian yang biasa, tetapi every student can relate to that point of story.
Setelah membalik beberapa puluh halaman, aku berasa membaca kembali novel-novel favoritku: trilogi Negeri 5 Menara dan tetralogi Laskar Pelangi. Ya, menurutku, novel ini memiliki semangat yang sama dengan trilogi Negeri 5 Menara dan tetralogi Laskar Pelangi. Persamaannya adalah karakter Tasniem yang sebelas-duabelas dengan karakter Alif dan Ikal yang pantang menyerah. Novel ini seakan terletak di antara trilogi dan tetralogi besar itu; tidak sereligius Negeri 5 Menara (religius karena berlatar di pondok pesantren) dan tidak seutopis Laskar Pelangi (utopis karena menurutku semua tokoh mendapat akhir yang bahagia). Malam-Malam Terang berada di titik kesetimbangan.
Menurutku, Malam-Malam Terang adalah ‘camilan’ baru bagi para pecinta novel-novel petualangan penuh inspirasi. Aku suka cara Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi membuat usaha tokoh Tasniem untuk berprestasi tampak menonjol pada cerita itu. Cara belajar Tasniem yang jitu digambarkan dengan detail, mengakibatkan cerita itu terkesan seperti tips dan trik bagi para pelajar. Bagian cerita yang menggambarkan Tasniem ketika berdoa dan bermunajat kepada Tuhan membuatku sebagai pembaca tersadar bahwa setiap usaha itu perlu disertai dengan doa. Selain itu, aku suka cara Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi menggambarkan Tasniem yang selalu berpikiran positif. Pikiran positif Tasniem terletak dimana-mana dan tidak menggurui; pikiran positif Tasniem bisa ‘mendoktrin’ pembaca dengan mudah (tentunya dalam hal-hal yang baik).
Meskipun begitu, menurutku ada beberapa hal yang membuatku berpikir “Sedikit lagi dan novel ini akan menjadi petualangan yang sangat tak terlupakan.”
Pertama, kurangnya dialog pada beberapa bagian membuat urutan-urutan kejadian dalam cerita ini kurang dapat tervisualisasi dengan jelas. Meskipun latar ceritanya digambarkan dengan penggambaran yang begitu ‘nyata’, kurangnya dialog dalam cerita membuat beberapa bagian di cerita ini kurang nge-feel.
Kedua, masih ada beberapa salah ketik yang kurasa cukup mengganggu kenyamanan pembaca. Beberapa kata yang seharusnya ditulis dengan huruf kapital justru ditulis dengan huruf kecil. Sangat disayangkan!
Terakhir, aku masih merasa digantungkan ketika membaca bab terakhir dalam buku itu. Aku merasa bingung; sebenarnya apa, sih, inti dari novel tersebut? Apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah perjuangan Tasniem melupakan sakit hatinya karena tidak diterima di SMA idamannya? Apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah pengalaman Tasniem ketika bersekolah di SMA dan hendak kuliah? Apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah upaya Tasniem untuk mendapat beasiswa kuliah di Jepang? Atau apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah kisah Tasniem untuk pada akhirnya bersama dengan Edo?
Menurutku, novel ini berisikan kepingan-kepingan kisah Tasniem yang antarkepingannya tidak begitu berhubungan. Seperti misal, pada bab awal hingga beberapa bab sebelum bab terakhir, novel ini memang terfokus pada cerita Tasniem bersekolah di GC. Namun, beberapa bab terakhirnya membahas mengenai kegiatan Tasniem di Indonesia ketika mencari beasiswa ke Jepang. Kemudian, dua bab terakhirnya membahas mengenai Tasniem yang akan ‘ditunggu’ oleh Edo dan mengenai Tasniem yang sudah sampai di Bandara Fukuoka, Jepang. Aku merasa novelnya menjadi sedikit antiklimaks karena kurasa klimaks dari cerita tersebut adalah ketika Tasniem diwisuda (adegan itu benar-benar membuatku merinding!), bukan ketika Tasniem memperoleh beasiswa ke Jepang (bersekolah di Jepang tidak menjadi fokus cerita ini dari awal). Alangkah lebih nge-feel apabila novel itu hanya sampai pada adegan Tasniem diwisuda dan adegan-adegan selanjutnya dilanjutkan di novel selanjutnya (aku benar-benar berharap ada sekuelnya yang menceritakan petualangan Tasniem di Jepang hingga pulang dan ‘bersatu’ dengan Edo, hehe).
Akan tetapi, secara keseluruhan, menurutku novel ini merupakan novel a must-read! Ada banyak sekali adegan yang ‘mencerahkan’ dan adegan-adegan yang menyentuh hati. Aku tak sabar untuk membaca sekuelnya (kalau memang ada)!
Tambahan, berikut ini beberapa kutipan yang aku suka dari novel ini, hehe:
“Memenangkan proses itu sendiri lebih dahsyat daripada memenangkan skor pertandingan.”
“Kesepian adalah kutukan bagi seorang petualang.”
“Carilah suami yang pandai membaca Al-Quran. Kalau dia pandai membaca ayat-ayat Tuhan, membacamu sebagai istri adalah perkara yang mudah.”
Judul: Malam-Malam Terang
Penulis: Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi
Penerbit: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Night had fallen and the heater had been turned on to anticipate any cold that somehow managed to sneak in through the door. It was Monday night, Aislinn and I had just arrived from work.
As usual, I picked her in her office just to walk her home safely. Whenever she saw me ready to pick her up, she always waved her hand happily as if she didn’t have any deadlines. Aislinn would jolt out from her desk, say goodbye to her colleagues, took my hand, and pace happily to our apartment.
However, that evening was different.
When I coped my arms around her and walked her to our apartment, she just gave me a weary smile. She wasn’t as talkative as usual. Her eyes were pinned to the ground and she leaned closer to me than usual. I tried to talk her out but she just answered in short answers.
After a few minutes walk from her office, we arrived at our apartment. Our apartment was still dark. The curtains of the gigantic window with the skyline view were not yet closed. In any other days, I was the one who turn the lamps, closed the curtains, turned the heater on, then took a bath while Aislinn cook us dinner.
However, that evening was different.
Seeing Aislinn’s gloomy face, as her husband, I didn’t want her to bear any more weighs.
“Hey. I know you’re not feeling well for some reasons you don’t want to tell me for a while. Why don’t you take a bath-a long shower if you think you need it-while I prepare our dinner?”
For the first time in this evening, or night, she looked me in my eyes and said helplessly, “…the lights? …the curtains? …the heater?”
“I’ll take care of those.” I gave her a peck on her forehead. “Now off you go! Pamper yourself! And when you’re done, dinner will be ready.”
“Thanks, Peter,” she said weakly. Contrary to her perky personality, she walked to the bathroom like a zombie who hadn’t eaten brains for decades. Something was surely not right.
Once I heard the faucet was turned on, I quickly did my chores. I cooked fettuccine aglio olio as it was her favorite food. I also baked some chocolate lava cake, the dessert we ate on our first date. In 30 minutes, I managed to get my chores done perfectly. I even managed to set the table with candles and hot chocolate drink to indulge her.
However, there was no signs of Aislinn getting out from the bath.
“Aislinn?” I called from the couch. No answer. “Aislinn?!” I shouted. Still no answer.
Panic started crawling inside my brain. What had happened to her? Why she was so weak and gloomy? Was she sick? Or…!
“Aislinn?!” I called as I entered the bathroom.
Aislinn was still there, sitting in the bath covered with bubbles up to her lips. Her eyes were closed. I hope she was just fallen asleep.
“Aislinn?” I shook her shoulders gently.
She didn’t move. Was she unconscious? “Honey? Are you awake? Can you hear me?
For a moment, I thought of loosing her. I thought about her laugh whenever she was making me do something silly. I thought about her high-pitched shriek I used to hear whenever she saw a cockroach approaching her. I thought about her gorgeous smile she gave me through the sheets every morning as a greeting.
I thought of simple things I barely recognized she gave me everyday and the absence of it. It gave me a pain in my heart. It created a hole in my soul I could never close.
To my surprise, Aislinn gasped in a sudden. “What? What? Where am I?”
“Oh my God, thanks God you’re alive! You’ve fallen asleep while you were taking a bath,” I said. “C’mon, Honey, let’s get you out of there.”
Aislinn nodded helplessly. I reached the closest towel and wrapped her with it when she finally stood up. Gently, I carried her on my arms. Her weight felt less heavier than the last time I carry her. As I walked to our bedroom, she curled in my arms and leaned on my shoulder.
When I let her sat on the edge of our bed, she suddenly asked, “Pete, where is my sweater?”
“Wait. I’ve seen it somewhere. Go put on your undergarments and I’ll be back.” I went to search in the living room and found her favorite sweater, a well-knitted white and purple sweater. “Got it! Do you need help to put thi on?”
“Nope, thank you, Pete. I’ve troubled you much this evening,” she said as she struggled putting her sweater on. She somehow got her head stuck beneath the fabric. Clumsy.
“Don’t tell me you don’t need my help, Aislinn,” I said as I kneed in front of her. I gave her sweater a little pull downwards and her head popped in front of me.
She pouted her mouth in front of me. “Sorry… and thanks.”
“Don’t say sorry. It’s my job-no, it’s my pleasure-to do this,” I said.
“Really? Is this your pleasure?” she asked me, somehow sounded sarcastically.
“Aislinn? What’s wrong?”
She stared at me sadly like a duck being an outcast among herds of gooses. “Is this what you want? Is this your pleasure?” she asked.
“What? Taking care of you?” I asked. “If that’s that, sure it is.”
“No,” she said with a long tone. “Well, yeah. I don’t know. Yeah,” Aislinn exhaled a deep breath. “Is marrying me before you turn 25 is what you want?”
“What? What kind of question is that?” In my entire existence, I had never thought that someday the love of my life would ask me this kind of question.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I don’t know why I get this mood swing. Maybe it’s my PMS or something, I don’t know. Just answer the question!”
“Well, there must be something that triggered you to ask that question to me. Tell me.”
“Well… I heard the boys’ convos in the office today. Dave, the guy I’ve told you once, was getting his bachelor party tonight. Out of nowhere, Alan, my other colleague, ask him ‘Why do you get married so soon? You’re not even 25, you can still hit on other girls’,” she said. “So, I just kept thinking about it. Do you regret marrying me in your early 20s?”
I let a giggle out of my mouth-I couldn’t help it. I thought she was having a major problem or hiding a big secret that could take her away from me. Thanks God I was wrong.
“Hey,” I said as I lift her chin so that her eyes were on mine. “Don’t be silly. Do you think that I want to spend my early-adulthood gallivanting around every corner of the town to hit on girls which is not you? I finally found you, the love of my life. What can I regret if I got the chance to marry the love of my life?”
“B-b-but.. what about the freedom of being single? I don’t like being alone but I suppose men do,” she said.
“Yeah, maybe some other men do, but I don’t. I’ve been single my entire life and I know it better that it’s better to have someone than being alone,” I said. “Aislinn, when I said that I will always be by your side in good and bad ’till death do us part, I really mean it. When I said ‘I do’, I really meant ‘I do’. I don’t care if people say that single life is much happier than marriage life. It may be true to them but not to me. To me, happiness is being beside you and it will always be that way.”
For the first time in those few past hours, Aislinn left a hint of smile on her lips. She rarely got insecure and when she did, the world seemed gray. To be precise, my world turned gray.
“Thank you, Peter,” she said. “I love you.”
“And I love you too,” I said as I landed a peck on her chin.
As I stood up, Aislinn hugged me from behind, making me unable to move. “I love you and I’m hungry,” she mumbled with her face on my back. Yeah, sometimes she went that absurd.
“I’ve cooked you fettuccine aglio olio. You can eat while I take a shower.”
“No, I’ll wait for you. I’ll just lay myself on bed,” she said as she flounced to the bed. Against all of the odds, Aislinn buried herself beneath the sheets.
“Don’t fall asleep and scared the hell out of me again, okay?”
“I won’t,” she said, her voice was muffled. “Now go get a shower so we can eat!”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that there’s a proverb which says “Ignorance is bliss”. Almost everyone believes it. I was too, until the day I met her. Why? Because the idea of not knowing her was, is, and never will be bliss.
December 31th 2006 should be the best night of my life yet it turned out to be the worst. I started the day with a recently brewed coffee in my right hand. I was gazing out of my apartment window which gave me the view of a snowy New York skyline when my telephone rang.
Far away across the phone, I could hear my boss’ heavy bass voice, “Peter Goode?”
What was he doing on New Year’s Eve with his employee? “Yes sir? What can I do for you?”
“Can you come to the office at 3 pm today?” he asked.
“B-b-but Sir, isn’t it right that I have my day off today? It’s New Year’s Eve, Sir,” I reminded him in case he forgot.
“Well, yeah, I know. But I need you to stop by here at 3 pm. It’s urgent,” he argued. “Anyway, I’m sure you have nothing to do on New Year’s Eve. I mean, what does a single man going to do on New Year’s Eve? You don’t even have a girlfriend to kiss at midnight.”
My ears redden hearing his sarcastic statement. That’s impolite, you know? I knew I didn’t have any girlfriend at the moment but at least he shouldn’t emphasize that!
“Hmph, okay. I’ll come around by 3 pm.”
I quickly closed the phone and checked what time was that, 1 pm. I lay myself down on the couch, staring at the ceiling, enjoying the last cold day of 2006. After I was done lying without any purpose, I took a bath and walked in the snow.
New York in December was my favourite view of the year. The way the thick snow covered the streets and the cold froze the Central Park’s lake always amaze me. Apparently, my apartment was quite far from my office. So, I could enjoy my day off before going to the office for whatever reason.
When I arrived at the office, my boss –Richard- and my colleague –Damien- were gathering around the meeting table. When I entered the room, they quickly turned at me.
“Peter, can you explain this to me?” asked Richard to me with a paper on his hand to show. Richard’s face was red and I didn’t know why. Was it possible that he’s mad because he must go to the office on his day off too? I don’t know and I don’t care.
I took the paper on Richard’s hand. It was a screenshot of a leaked program’s codes. The codes felt familiar to me before I realized that I was the one who created those codes. The program’s codes were uploaded on someone’s private blog and it was indeed an urgent problem since those codes were the core of the company where I worked.
“What’s wrong with you, Peter? Why did you upload this? I know this blog is yours!” accused Richard.
“Of course not!” I shouted right into his face. “I never owned a blog! And I’m not a fool, Richard, you know that. Never in a million years will I upload those codes.”
“But you’re the one who own the full accessible version of those codes. It can’t be anyone else,” he said.
“So you’re accusing me as the one who leaked the company’s most precious treasure?”
Richard sat back on his chair and twitched his moustache. He really seemed like Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie’s novel adaptation, but the difference was the fact that Richard was the antagonist one. “Well, no, Peter. But can it be anyone else other than you?”
It’s sure that I wasn’t the one who uploaded the codes on the blog, but Richard seemed that he would never trust me. Well, it was not really impossible for someone to break the company’s system and took a peek of the codes and shared it on a blog. Even if I explained it to Richard, he would still never trust me. He’s just a bossy boss without any knowledge about coding and programming.
“It can. If you don’t believe me, I’m out.” I couldn’t believe I had just said that.
“Well… I don’t believe you,” he said.
“Fine, then. I’ll pack my things right away.”
I felt like I lose. I couldn’t believe that I had just got fired by the most stupid boss ever existed. I quickly exited the room and went straight to my desk. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Richard and Damien smiling. Maybe they were actually planning to fire me. Maybe they’re the one who uploaded the codes to frame me. I don’t care anymore.
After packing my things into a box, I rushed my walk outside the building. I inhaled and exhaled long deep breaths. I should by happy on the last day of 2006 but I just got fired. It was so hard looking for a job in New Year. Companies won’t open any employee recruitment in the beginning of the year.
I walked back to my apartment to put my box. After snacking for a while, I got up and strolled down New York City. I wandered around Central Park with my beloved camera hanging on my neck. I always got calmer once I had my camera on my hand.
I was trying to capture the view of an old lady sleeping on her husband’s shoulder on a bench surrounded by doves when someone ran into the doves and shoo away that beautiful view.
“Are you serious? I’m trying to capture a good view here!” I shouted to her.
She was surprised by my existence. I couldn’t blame her for I was hiding behind a white tree in black coat. She walked to me. I could see that she’s way shorter than me –her head was as tall as my shoulder. She had a red hair hanging on her back. I could see her as an optimistic and a perky girl.
“Oh, hi! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that you’re trying to capture the view,” she said to me. She gave her hand towards me, “I’m Aislinn. Aislinn Aldrin.”
I shook her white delicate hands gently. “It’s okay. I’m Peter. Peter Goode.”
She smiled and I could see her eyes got bigger as enthusiasm flowed to her. “So, what are you doing back here, Peter, other than taking pictures?”
“Trying to regain my sanity,” I said.
“What?!” she shrieked in surprise.
“I just got fired from my job. Well, technically I’m the one who resigned after being accused of leaking one of my past company’s secrets.”
“Oh my God, that’s bad,” she mumbles. “You resigned on New Year’s Eve?”
“Yup.” Then I told her the whole story. I rarely shared my secrets to strangers but I guess telling her my story won’t bring me any harm. She seemed like she won’t spoil my secret.
“That’s pretty bad! Didn’t they realize that they just lose their best employee?” she said. Her eyes widened and her lips turned into a disgusted smile.
“I guess they didn’t. But thanks anyway,” I said.
Again, she smiled. She was sure was a perky girl.
“And then I got back to my apartment, put my box, took my camera, tried to capture a great view but then you ran into the doves.”
Hearing my tease, Aislinn grinned. Her circular white face redden almost as red as the edges of her hair. “Sorry, I didn’t know that you’re taking pictures. I just like running into flocks of birds and see them leaving in a rush.”
Hell, she was so cute. “It’s okay, I’m just making a point there.” I gave her a smile to assure her.
“So, I make your day worse by running into the doves,” she said. “To say sorry, I’ll accompany you till the end of the night and make this night the best day of your life!”
What did I just heard?
“You don’t owe me anything, Aislinn. Trust me.”
“Yeah, I don’t. But I insist,” she boldly said.
“Don’t you have anything to do on New Year’s Eve? Don’t you have a boyfriend to kiss tonight?” I asked. Wait! Why did I asked the last question? Was I asking for a hint?
“Nope, I don’t,” she confessed blatantly.
“I don’t believe that!” I said in disbelief. Seeing my reaction, she shrugged shyly. I was afraid that I somehow made her uncomfortable, so I asked another question, “No work to finish?”
“Technically, I’m a college student, so, no,” she answered. “Why don’t we just go somewhere and be happy?”
She sounded interesting. I’m so amazed by her ability to trust strangers. There was a possibility that I was a serial killer and that I would kidnap her yet she still trust me.
I checked my phone. It was already 7 pm. “Okay, then. Where do you want to go?”
“How if we go to a deli and buy sandwiches?” she said.
“Okay. Do you know that deli near Times Square? I love it there.”
“Do you mean that Mr. Bradley Deli? I love it there too!” she shouted. “C’mon!”
She ran before me and I could see her hair twirled around. Honest to God, she’s beautiful. She’s a beautiful stranger who was willing to accompany me for the rest of the year and I’m thankful for that. I followed her a few steps behind just to enjoy the view of Aislinn. And I felt like I was coming home.
On December 31th 2006, I quit my only job. On December 31th 2006, I was a lonely single man wandering hopelessly on the romantic snowy New York’s Central Park just to make my heart better. But I met a perky girl who should’ve ruined my day too. I met a perky girl who was willing to accompany a stranger just to make her happy. Perhaps that New Year’s Eve wasn’t so bad.
A year later, I realized that the last day of 2006 wasn’t the worst day of my life. I met her, my undeniable beautiful gorgeous wife. Perhaps the last day of 2006 was the best day of my entire existence. After all, I came to realize that if I was a dark cloud, she’s my very favourite silver lining.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Muda-mudi saling jatuh hati,
Yang tak tahu bagaimana untuk mengawali.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Manusia yang pernah saling cinta,
Namun pada waktu yang berbeda,
Hingga rasa itu sirna.
Bisa jadi kita adalah..
Pemimpi yang membuta dari realita,
Terus berharap bahwa di seberang ada gejolak yang sama.
Bisa jadi kau adalah penyaji kopiku di pagi hari..
Dan aku adalah pengikat dasimu sebelum kau pergi..
Bisa jadi kita adalah sepasang insan surgawi.
Bisa jadi kita adalah sandiwara terhebat karangan-Nya.