What We Have But They Don’t

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“Aislinn, what makes us work?”

I felt some weight shifted from the side of my body. Aislinn pulled herself, making us seemed like two individuals sitting properly on a couch after how-many-hours-only-God-could-count spending the rest of the Sunday being two individuals clasped in one wrapped by a thick white duvet, looking like a potato made of snow. “Huh?”

“What makes us work?” I repeated.

“I cannot see where this conversation is going,” she said blatantly. I don’t blame her. My random question might have distracted her focus from solving Tommy and Tuppence’s case narrated by Agatha Christie inside the thin N or M novel she had on hand.

“We were once complete strangers, but now look at us! We’re the dynamic duo, two relationship virtuoso.” I saw her smile broadened a little. “So, I was wondering, what is the thing between us that makes us work?”

Aislinn put her book down and she then gazed at the ceilings. Her eyesight might be limited by white-painted walls around us, but I exactly know that her mind was wandering freely to the edge of the universe, seeking for answers. That’s just the way she is, a deep thinker, a great companion slash lover.

“Is it our similarities?” I asked again. “I know that we’re not so much alike, but is it those small similarities that makes us work?”

She then turned at me. Her eyes were locked at mine.. and I was lost. I was lost at her warm almond eyes. I know that ‘similarity’ was not the answer we were looking because she was diving to the deepest part of me by looking into my eye. She often did that, as if my eyes held all the answer she needed.

“I know what makes us work.” Funnily, we both said those exact words at the same time.

“What do you think it is?” she asked quickly.

“I think we have big enough hearts to understand each other. We digest information from each other thoroughly before we reply.. and I guess that’s why we’re able to understand each other well enough.”

“Hmm, similar,” she said. “I think we work because we listen. Honestly, I really appreciate it whenever you stop looking at your phone every time I called your name. It might be something very simple, but it means a lot to me. It’s a proof that you’re a good listener, and that’s all I need.”

“Oh, I just don’t want you to take my phone away just because you’re mad at me for gaming all the time,” I said. Oh, teasing her was always fun!

“If that’s so, you’re such an arse!” she sneered, sticking her tongue out at me. “But really, I think people nowadays should stop taking public speaking classes and start taking public listening classes instead, if there is one. We always want to be heard ’till we forget to listen. We humans are too selfish, aren’t we?!”

She started ranting for like a whole five minutes, condemning humanity. That’s one of the thing I like about her: she’s fully aware of anyone’s flaws (including hers) and she’s eager to mend it. She is like a program which automatically knows when to hit the refresh button.

“You know what, Aislinn?”

“Hmm?”

“I really appreciate it when you answer my silly questions seriously,” I finally said. Really, I’m truly grateful for it. Finding someone who would listen to your dorky dreams or silly stories is like seeking for a needle on a haystack. It’s hard, nearly impossible. Dear Good Gracious God, what have I done that makes me deserve her? “Thank you, love.”

She didn’t reply, but what she did next was enough to light my heart the whole evening. Our random Sunday discussion ended with her bright smile addressed to me.

Yes, to me.

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The Horcruxes We Made

1035

for Shafa and Atika: both of you are actually still here in the city
and for London, the city where I hide one of my Horcrux

Summer. It should be sunny. The dry wind should travel around, delivering light touches to some people’s exposed skin. As it is summer, those who used to be lazy has their spirit magically turned on. They go out to see some friends, have some nice barbecue, or crash someone’s party by the sea. Somewhere, in summer, laugh must’ve been the highlight of someone’s day.

But sometimes, to remind those people to stick to the ground, universe intervenes.

Once in a blue moon, a day in summer might have lost its summer. The sun has left its 7 billion fans and let sheets of grey clouds replace it. To people’s disappointment, it also starts to rain. Some might have been driven mad, and some might have been driven sad. The joy of summer is gone.

“So, this is it?” Aislinn dropped her best friend’s duffel bag next to the yellow line drawn along the platform.

“This is it.” Tanya said with a sigh. She didn’t sound regretful; it’s a kind of sigh to welcome a new chapter of her life.

“After all those silly things we’ve done, you’re still going to leave me?”

Another sigh, the kind of let-me-go sigh. “Please, don’t put it that way. You’re just making me feel more guilty. I’m off to chase my future, don’t you want me to succeed?”

“Of course I do. That question is so rhetorical.”

“And I hope your understanding is also a sign of your blessing.”

A frown. “Huh, such a trickster you are.”

“You still love me no matter what.”

“Ha! Sure.” She rolled her eyes. “Silly me.”

“Oh, come on, it is not that I’d be gone forever. I’m coming back.”

Come back? Why would she? Aislinn thought. Tanya was going to have everything. Starting tomorrow, she would be sitting next to a window with Eiffel Tower as its main view. She would study in one of the world’s most prestigious university, accompanied by her life-long companion, Tyler, who also happened to had a project to finish in Paris. She has no reason to come back to this monotonous city, NYC.

“What? You seem like you don’t want me to.”

“No, sure I want you back here. However… if I were you, I won’t come back. I mean, you’re going to a more promising place. You can have a life there! You will more likely have a future.”

“But that place… that place is just not home.”

“Don’t be silly! You once said that home is wherever love is… and there you go, you bring Tyler with you! You’re taking your home with you and it makes you have no reason to come back!”

Seeing her most independent yet somehow most needy best friend almost cry, Tanya rushed forward and gave Aislinn a last hug. She didn’t want Aislinn to know that her eyes started to go blurry too. “Don’t cry, please. You’ll be fine, no, we’ll be fine.” Just like what Tanya believed, when one is weak, the other should stay strong.

“Aislinn, think of me as Voldemort,” said Tanya.

Aislinn pulled herself from Tanya’s hug. She seemed confused. “And why should I imagine you as a nose-less monster when you’re about to leave the country?”

“Oh, come on! I thought you’re great at analogies!” shouted Tanya a little louder than she planned. When other waiting passengers turned their heads to check on them, Tanya nodded a little and mouthed “Sorry.”

“So?”

“So… I’m Voldemort. I created Horcruxes as I live, and so are you and other people if you notice. I left a little part of my soul at everything that makes me feel like I’m home. You, our cramped apartment, and New York are just three of my Horcruxes that I left here. I do bring my other Horcrux, Tyler, with me, but I also left other Horcruxes here. I left pieces of my soul here, Aislinn, of course I’ll come back.”

Aislinn went blank for a while as if electricity on her head’s circuit board were jammed somewhere. A moment later, she oooooh-ed, and give Tanya a hopeful look, “I’m one of your Horcrux?”

“Sure. I left a little part of my soul at someone who always cook me dinner these last few years, at someone who is always ready to hear my whines.”

Aislinn smiled. Somewhere, deep down, she felt warm. She never thought that her simple acts of caring would actually make her win someone’s heart. She never thought that she would be someone’s reason to come back. It had never occurred at her mind before that distance means nothing when two person cared so much at each other.

And so they both said goodbye. Aislinn and Tanya shared one last hug and exchanged promises they solemnly swear to fulfill. A few minutes later, Tanya jumped on the next train that brought her to the airport. Soon, she’ll be reunited with Tyler who had been waiting for her in Paris and she’ll start a new chapter of her life.

Being left had never been easy for Aislinn, but as time went by, it was getting easier for Aislinn to face it. From afar, Aislinn whispered, “I’ll stay here and be the reason for you to come home. I want you to succeed and be happy. Go.

Parts of Me Were Made by You

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“Hey, what are you thinking?” said the girl who wore long white dress with laces.

“Oh. Um… hey?” answered the girl who wore long black velvet dress. “Right before you came, I was thinking about how gorgeous this dress fits me.”

“You look so beautiful in that dress. I’ve always known that you would be beautiful if you made time to take care of yourself, but I’ve never thought that you will be this beautiful.”

The girl who wore long black velvet dress shrugged. Her palms were sweaty. “Thank you, I guess. Well, I won’t be this beautiful if you hadn’t give me this dress of yours. So, thank you.”

“You’re welcome, sister,” she said with her sweet signature smile. Not too broad, but enough to comfort the disturbed hearts of those who get the chance to witness it.

“I was also thinking about you, you know? I wasn’t expecting to receive this dress this soon. I wasn’t expecting at all.”

“Well, life is full of surprises, I think you already know.”

“Yeah, I do.” But this bitter surprise? I hate it.

“Besides about this dress-and my other fashion items that no longer suits me-I gave you, what thing about me are you thinking of?”

“I was also thinking about your profession. I believe that you’re going to be one hell of a human’s-mind-and-heart healer. You’re so kind and sincere, I believe lots of people will be delighted to have someone like you to talk to.”

“That’s very nice of you to say,” she blushed. “I’ve never known that you’re such a romantic person.”

“We don’t really know each other well, do we? I didn’t really recognize your age until today, I don’t know your future plans, I don’t know whether you have someone on your mind or not. I didn’t even know that you left home for that final test for months!”

“Fair, then,” she said with a nod of agreement. “But you know why I chose to devote my self in the field I studied, right?”

“Sure! I know your reason. I also know the reason why your blog’s background is black, and the origin of your blog’s name. Believe it or not, I still remember that you once want to live in Paris, Marseille, and Lyon.”

Her eyes brightened. “You do know me, after all!”

“Although we barely speak heart-to-heart, I’m your little sister, after all,” she let a downcast smile slipped through her lips.

“You are, and you will always be.”

They stared at each other for a moment. Both drowned in their own waves of emotion; joy, excitement, sorrow… all mixed in one and couldn’t be distinguished. Those emotions blended together and one couldn’t show up alone without bringing the others. They became a new kind of emotion nobody ever named.

The girl who wore long black velvet dress broke the silence. “I love you, you know. I adore you. I admire you. I’m grateful for having a great sister like you.” She started sobbing. “And I’m sorry that we rarely speak to each other, mostly because we rarely make time to meet each other. Sorry for being so distant. Sorry for taking you for granted all these years.”

“Why do you tell me all these now?”

“It’s better late than never. I know that this is very late, but I just wanted you to know.”

“Without you being this blue today, I already know. Thank you for giving me things I need instead of giving me things I want,” she said as she was about to leave. “Just promise me one thing, will you? Take care of yourself. Be bold. Say ‘I love you’ although it makes things awkward. I don’t want you to have this kind of conversation with other people. Let me be the last person you have this kind of conversation with.”

A pause. The girl who wore long black velvet dress couldn’t think of a proper goodbye since they had never had say a proper hello to each other. She hadn’t finished saying hello. And, so, she closed her eyes. She imagined reaching her sister in her arms, hugging her for the first and last time. I will, I promise. Thank you, I love you, and see you later, she whispered in her sister’s ear. She still hold her for another minute and when she was ready, she opened her eyes. Her sister had gone from her sight.

But never from her heart.

in memoriam, seven months later
so that it won’t happen again

and for those who I often talks to
I hope you all realize that I adore you
without me having to tell you

Separate Ways

23

“Hey! Long time no see!” he shouted. From afar, I saw him waving and quick-walking toward me.

“Hey! Oh my God, how long have it been?” I said, still surprised. He seemed different. His hair had grown longer, his smile was broader than the last time I saw him. However, he was still the same person as the one I met three years ago. The same quirky funny tall guy.

“Umm.. was it… wait… umm… oh God, I can’t remember! It must’ve been such a long time ago, wasn’t it?” He sounded a little apologetic, probably for not remembering that tiny detail. However, I wasn’t even mad; I did forget too.

“Yeah, it was.” I know, I’m terrible at small talks.

Both of us still stood in the middle of the crowd, watching the star of the show as it entertained those party-goers.

Suddenly, with a cup of whatever he had in his hand, he turned toward me and said, “Anyway, from now on, it will be longer, isn’t it?”

“What?”

“Us. All of us. We won’t meet in a very long time, are we? We’ll be going on our separate ways.”

And that’s all it takes to break my inner layer of walls down. He’s right. That day might be the last day I saw him for a very long time. That day might be the last day I saw anyone, forever. Who knows.

“I’m going to quote Charles Dickens: is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?” Kinda rhetorical, I just wanted to know how he react to it.

“Sometimes it is better to be lonely since the beginning than to be lonely twice. But… I don’t know. Hadn’t I have the chance to be a part of this, whatever this is-life maybe?-, I wouldn’t have met her, the love of my life, my wive,” he pointed her, the gorgeous and perky soon-to-be-ex roommate of mine. “So, maybe this is not too bad?”

I shrugged, “I think it is better to be lonely since the beginning. Being left alone sucks, you know? I love leaving waaay better than being left.”

“Hey, I know you’re upset to have her moving out to move in with me and I know you hate this kind of goodbye-apartment shindig, but let me tell you this: people will always come and go, you can’t have control on it. However, people with great distance between them can still keep in touch as long as they care for each other. The deal is not to go on an extra mile in keeping touch with everybody; the deal is to get some people who will also reach to you,” he said, lecturing me in the middle of this crowd, “And… we will always reach to you, you know that. The awful feeling of being left sometimes worth the experience.”

His answer still couldn’t comfort me as I know that people will also change as time goes by. Soon they will forget me and I will forget them too. Human relationship is nothing more than about having people to talk to for a while and then loosing them for the rest of our lives.

But maybe he had a point. Maybe all of this is worth the experience.

“Thank you, Tyler. Love Tanya for me, will you?”

“Sure, Aislinn, I will. See you later?”

“See you later, someday.”

Bukan Konsumsi Seorang Gadis

20(Disclaimer: this post is written in Indonesian because my target audience is any Indonesian, especially Indonesian parents)

Apabila kita menilik sejarah, Indonesia sudah sejak lama menganut sistem patriarki, sistem sosial yang menempatkan laki-laki sebagai sosok otoritas utama yang sentral dalam organisasi sosial. Laki-laki dinilai lebih kuat dan lebih tangguh daripada perempuan. Oleh karena itu, laki-laki berperan sebagai tulang punggung keluarga sementara perempuan lebih berperan sebagai penunjang kesuksesan laki-laki.

Sistem patriarki mungkin saja tumbuh di Indonesia berkat pengaruh berbagai pihak. Bisa saja sistem tersebut merupakan peninggalan budaya kerajaan-kerajaan masa lalu di Indonesia. Bisa juga sistem tersebut merupakan pengaruh agama tertentu yang memberikan pengajaran bahwa sejatinya mencari nafkah adalah tugas laki-laki sementara mengurus rumah tangga adalah tugas perempuan.

Budaya tetaplah budaya, suatu cara hidup yang berkembang dan dimiliki bersama oleh sekelompok orang yang diturunkan dari generasi ke generasi selanjutnya. Apabila sistem patriarki sejauh ini masih cocok dengan ideologi mayoritas masyarakat Indonesia, maka tak mengapalah sistem tersebut masih dilangsungkan. Apabila sekelompok masyarakat Indonesia masih sepaham dengan sistem ini, maka biarkanlah saja mereka meneruskan paham tersebut ke anak turun mereka. Apabila sekelompok masyarakat sudah tidak sepaham dengan sistem ini, maka biarkanlah saja pula mereka. Menurunkan suatu tradisi dari generasi ke generasi lain adalah kebebasan setiap individu, jadi tak perlulah ada perdebatan sengit di antara individu yang saling mencemooh ideologi masing-masing. Akan tetapi ada satu hal yang perlu diperhatikan ketika hendak menurunkan suatu paham, termasuk paham patriarki, kepada generasi selanjutnya: kesiapan generasi tersebut.

Sebelum kita membahas mengapa kesiapan suatu generasi perlu diperhatikan sebelum dipaparkan terhadap suatu paham, terutama paham patriarki, mari kita mengingat kembali kisah RA Kartini, pahlawan nasional pejuang kesetaraan hak bagi perempuan. RA Kartini terlahir pada 21 April 1879 di keluarga priyayi (kaum bangsawan Jawa). Pada usia 12 tahun, RA Kartini dipingit, yakni dilarang ke luar rumah. Adat pingit membatasi RA Kartini (dan ribuan perempuan lainnya pada zaman itu) dari berbagai hal, seperti menuntut ilmu di bangku sekolah. RA Kartini dipingit sampai beliau menikah dengan KRM Adipati Ario Singgih Djojo Adhiningrat yang bahkan tidak beliau kenal sebelumnya.

Sistem patriarki zaman sekarang memang hadir dalam wujud yang berbeda apabila dibandingkan dengan sistem patriarki yang ada pada zaman RA Kartini. Pada zaman sekarang, adat pingit memang sudah hampir tidak ada. Akan tetapi inti dari pemikiran sistem patriarki masih ada: bahwa laki-laki adalah tulang punggung keluarga dan perempuan berada di dapur saja.

Saya bukan seorang feminis pun seorang feminazi. Saya hanya merasa prihatin terhadap gadis-gadis Indonesia di luar sana yang masih menerima ungkapan “Kamu itu perempuan. Buat apa kamu berkarier? Perempuan berada di dapur saja.” Terlebih apalagi apabila gadis-gadis itu diperdengarkan dengan kalimat semacam “Buat apa kamu bersekolah tinggi apabila pada akhirnya kamu bertugas mengurus rumah tangga?”

Perlu orang-orang perhatikan bahwa seringan apapun perkataan yang terucap, apabila perkataan tersebut memiliki maksud untuk mempengaruhi seorang gadis untuk percaya bahwa takdirnya berada di dapur, gadis tersebut lama-kelamaan akan terpengaruhi. Lama-lama akan tertanam di benaknya bahwa apapun yang ia lakukan, ia akan menikah dan mengurusi keluarga. Karena gadis itu sudah terdoktrin, gadis tersebut tidak lagi akan serius dengan studinya. Ia tidak lagi memiliki cita-cita sebagai seorang individu. Cita-citanya beralih pada satu hal: membangun keluarga yang bahagia.

Membangun keluarga yang bahagia tentu adalah cita-cita yang mulia. Namun apabila hal itu merupakan satu-satunya cita-cita seorang gadis (yang tentunya belum menikah), yang benar saja?! Tidak ada yang bisa menjamin bahwa seorang gadis akan mendapatkan pasangan begitu ia lulus dari sekolah. Pun tidak ada yang bisa menjamin bahwa kebutuhan seorang gadis dapat dipenuhi oleh orang tuanya hingga gadis tersebut dipinang.

Seorang gadis harus memiliki ilmu yang tinggi. Ia harus dapat mandiri karena ketidakpastian itu selalu ada. Tidak ada yang menjamin bahwa pernikahan bisa memenuhi semua kebutuhan perempuan. Jika ternyata laki-laki tidak dapat memenuhi perempuan yang menjadi istrinya, perempuan tersebut bisa membantu sang laki-laki mencari nafkah. Pada dasarnya, menjadi seorang istri atau tidak, seorang perempuan harus berpendidikan tinggi. Toh generasi penerus bangsa pun memerlukan ibu yang cerdas sebagai ‘sekolah pertama’-nya apabila generasi penerus bangsa tersebut diharapkan membawa kebaikan.

Oleh karena itu, apabila seseorang hendak meneruskan paham patriarki dengan menasihati seorang perempuan mengenai prioritasnya (karier atau keluarga), lakukanlah kepada perempuan yang sudah siap, perempuan yang sekiranya sudah dapat berdiri di atas kakinya sendiri. Jangan katakan hal itu kepada seorang gadis yang masih belajar dan masih memperjuangkan cita-citanya. Jangan rusak cita-cita seorang gadis dengan visi yang belum pasti kapan akan terjadi.

Kalau Hujan

19

kalau hujan tak lagi ragu-ragu
jatuh sajalah di jalan setapak itu
basahi bebatuan yang kering
timpa ia dengan nada berdenting

kalau hujan telah bijaksana
hampiri pohon yang berbunga
barangkali ia masih tersenyum
menunggu hujan yang membuatnya ranum

kalau hujan tak perlu lagi menanti
segeralah ia bertamu pada bumi
sampaikan rindu yang telah tersimpan lama
bagi bunga yang berbahagia karenanya

**
Yogyakarta, 21 September 2016
sebuah puisi balasan terhadap “Hujan Bulan Juni” karya Sapardi Djoko Damono

Arranging A Bouquet

Processed with VSCO with e5 preset

“What is love to you?”

I once asked that question to Aislinn out of the blue several weeks before I proposed her. Her sudden facial expression was priceless: amazed yet somehow confused. I didn’t blame her as my question was kinda cheesy that day.

Aislinn put her favorite ice cream sundae down next to her and she gazed at the horizon. The thick and humid November wind blew her hair towards the land as we were sitting facing the sea. She went silent for a while, probably arranging words inside her head. And I was there, enjoying my vanilla ice cream sundae.

Several spoons of ice cream later, Aislinn answered my question. “Instead of giving you a detailed and structured definition of what love means to me, I’ll tell you a story. Well, not really a story, but you’ll get the point!”

“Okay.”

“So, I got this story from my first visit to a flower shop in the suburbs. You must notice that I had never bought a flower before because I didn’t really get the point of buying one. I mean, buying flowers are a waste of money although I’d love to get one,” she said. “Well, however, that evening was different. I had to visit my grandma at the hospital and it was raining cats and dogs that time. My family had already reached the hospital and I’m the one who was still outside. They forgot to bring something for grandma, and so they told me to buy a flower on the way there.”

“I found a small tidy flower shop on my way to the hospital. The place was so nice. Its wooden walls were painted sky blue and it smelled so good. I entered that shop to find an old man sitting on a tall wooden chair with his back hunched. By the time I entered that shop, he was arranging a bouquet-which I thought was for a wedding as it was so gigantic. He was so focused that I was pretty sure he didn’t notice me coming.”

“I approached him and asked him whether he could help me or not. I told him that I knew nothing about flowers and I really need his help to arrange one for grandma. He was really nice and gallant. Within a minute, he picked some pink roses. He asked me whether I’m okay with his choice or not. After I told him I’m totally fine with his choice, he headed back to his work desk.”

I’m not really sure where her story was going, but okay, for her, I’d love to stay longer even if it just for listening her silliest dorkiest stories.

“Before I saw him arranging a bouquet, I always thought that arranging a bouquet was a piece of cake. I thought that everyone can do it. I mean, what’s hard about picking a flower and sticking it together with a ribbon?” she said rhetorically. I could see her eyes was full of excitement like what a professional storyteller has. “But then, the magic happened. I saw him gently cutting thorns from those pink roses. He cut those thorns with full concentration. When he was done, he arranged those roses and cut the stems to adjust the height. He made the stem on the center of the bouquet a little longer so it appeared a little higher. He made sure the leaves that were left on the stem were still fresh and perfectly arranged. After he was done with the roses, he took a strap of pink ribbon and tied the roses with it. He looked at it for a while before giving the bouquet to me. That stare he gave to the flower was like the stare of a mother to her newborn baby, you know, so full of love.”

Aislinn’s tone was telling me that her story was over, yet I hadn’t understand the moral value of the story. “And so?” I asked.

“So, I finally realize that to love is like being a florist. You arrange things so beautifully. You take care of it with your heart. You put all your effort on that beautiful thing to maintain it. However, you must be ready to let it go. You cannot hold it forever. At a particular time you never know when, you must let it go,” she said.

“Does that mean that you’ll let go everyone you love?”

She frowned at me. “Of course not. I’m a selfish florist, I’ll keep those bouquets I have arranged by heart. I’ll be ready to let my bouquets go only when they died or are better off without me,” she answered. “Don’t get me wrong, I really love keeping bouquets. However, if I’m bad for it, I’ll let it go so it has a better caregiver.”