What We Have But They Don’t


“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?”


“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.


Parts of Me Were Made by You


“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

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!”


“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.”

The Break


In every long-lasting relationships, there must be a break between the people in it. Long time lover sometimes needs time to figure things he or she can’t figure when his or her lover is around. Insecurity are being built by the distance between them. Trust to each other is being tested by vicious prejudices our own mind creates. The break is an unavoidable phase which every relation must go through just to face two choices in the end of the journey: stop or continue.

I and Aislinn had one, and it was because of me.

See, I’m not really good at maintaining a relationship with anyone because simply I’m an introvert who had little experiences in dating. I tend to keep things in mind rather to boast it around. I’m quite shy too. Even though I had known Aislinn for 9 months, sometimes I was still running out of words to say to her. Not only because she’s too breathtaking, but also because I was more likely to enjoy the moment without saying anything.

What I thought as my regular habit went like a boomerang to me one day.

In the midst of June 2007, Aislinn asked me to be her company when attending Tanya and Tyler’s wedding. Indeed, it was a magnificent wedding held on a rooftop in one of New York City’s skyscraper. The food was delicious, the decoration was elegant; it was quite perfect. I thought that day was perfect too because my appearance at Tanya and Tyler’s wedding was a sign that Aislinn trusted me and I was accepted in Aislinn’s inner circle. For a moment, I felt relieved.

However, that peaceful feeling in my heart didn’t last long. Well, as an optimistic perky girl, Aislinn was surely standing among the crowd behind Tanya when she threw her bouquet. Luckily for her, she got it. I could see from afar her lips turned into a bright smile. Her eyes were fulfilled with hopes a myth had given. She’s expecting a serious relationship; a marriage.

I, as someone who had just lost my job six months ago, wasn’t sure to continue what I and Aislinn had. I’m not ready to start a serious relationship. I barely can afford living for my self, how was I supposed to afford a living for another human being? I mean, love is not enough to start a serious relationship! I won’t be a hypocrite, although money is not everything, money is important to keep us (and a relationship) alive.

Since that day, I started avoiding Aislinn. I let her calls fell into my voicemail, I told her I was busy pursuing a decent living (which was true). I focus on my career and let my love life crumbled. Aislinn was asking tons of questions, of course. She texted, called, and mailed me; she even sent Tanya to my apartment to set things straight. However, I remained silent. I love her, but I didn’t want to spoil her. Plus, I didn’t know what to say.

On one fine day on September 2007, I walked home from my second workplace (yes, I had to have two small jobs to keep my self alive) through Central Park. I’m not sure why, well, maybe because of the universe or simply because of a nostalgic feeling that I suddenly felt, I went through the place where I first met Aislinn.

The sun was on the verge of setting, but I could still see things. My eyesight was still normal, but I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: Aislinn, sitting alone on a bench where an old couple sat when we met. She was leaning backwards while staring into the void.

I was still avoiding her, but I couldn’t help saying, “Aislinn?”

In a second, Aislinn turned her sight to me. I’m not sure how should I describe Aislinn that moment, but all I could get from her was a surprised look. “Wow, the universe is really on my side,” she said.

“I’m sorry, did I interrupted you?” I asked, hoping she would say yes so I could leave immediately and regret this decision my whole life. “If yes, I’ll go.”

I thought she would be angry at me for abandoning her for almost three months. Well, she deserved to slap me in the face and yelled at me; I even expected that (that’s why I hoped she say yes to my question). Surprisingly, Aislinn stood and hugged me. “Are you okay? I’m so worried.”

And I was standing there like a stupid pole being hugged my the world’s warmest hug giver. Her red hair below me smelled like honey and cinnamon; the scent that had been too familiar to me.

“Wait, why aren’t you mad at me?” I asked.

Aislinn released her hug and said, “What for?”

“For abandoning you! For not picking up your calls and replying your messages!”

She shrugged, “I’m pretty sure you know what you were doing.”

What?! I didn’t even know what I was doing!

“Well, yes, I’m quite mad at you for not letting me know what happened,” she said. “However, since the beginning, I know that there must be something in your mind that you didn’t want to share. I thought that I could help, but your rejection of me was clearly a sign that you didn’t trust me. So, I get it.”

“But, why don’t you slap me or yelled at me? I made you mad.” Honestly, I was so surprised by her reaction. She never failed to surprise me.

Aislinn shook her head, “Peter, we are adults. Real adults don’t do that.”

She left me speechless. Neither I nor her talked. All I can hear was just the wind of Central Park in September and my own heartbeat.

“So, I understand if you still need time to be alone. I’ll wait for you.” she finally said.

The next thing she said gave me two opposite things: chills and reassurance. The next thing she said made me feel like a dumb trash who had just realized that communication is the key to every relation. The next thing she said made me realize that her patience was what made her worth everything.

The next thing she said was “However, next time you do this to me, if there’s even a next time, at least tell me what you’re up to. I don’t need details, I just need to know what you are doing so I can step out of your way. I need a reason to hold on. Because, Peter, having something to hold on is always better than guessing what’s in other people’s mind.”

She gave me a firm squeeze on my arm and then left.

Pahlawan Tidak Perlu Diselamatkan


“Zal, kalau sedang sepi begini, biasanya para maling sapi berkeliaran. Sapi-sapi itu biasanya akan dibawa ke stasiun yang kosong itu lalu diselundupkan dengan kereta yang berangkat paling pagi,” ujar Pak Mamat yang sedari tadi diam.

 “Lho, bapak kok tahu?” tanya sahabatku, Karim, kebingungan. Ketika ia berbicara sambil mengunyah kacang rebus yang direbus Bu Mamat untuk giliran ronda malam ini, ludahnya beterbangan ke mana-mana. Karim memang tidak pernah berubah sejak aku pertama mengenalnya: jorok.

“Lha, bapak itu sudah meronda di  tempat ini sejak bapak SMA. Bapak pasti tahu, lah!” Pak Mamat menjawab Karim dengan suara yang cukup keras. Mungkin Pak Mamat merasa tersinggung atau Pak Mamat lupa kalau sekarang sudah malam.

“Pak, kalau begitu, warga sekitar sudah pernah ada yang menangkap malingnya belum?” tanyaku.

Pak Mamat mengusap-usap wajahnya lalu berkata, “Belum, Zal. Kata orang, malingnya bertubuh besar kayak kingkong, jadinya susah ditangkap.”

“Wah, bapak mengada-ada saja. Mana ada orang yang bertubuh besar seperti kingkong? Memangnya bapak pernah melihat kingkong?” seloroh Karim.

Pak Mamat tampak panas mendengar celotehan Karim. “Jadi anak kok kurang ajar, to, kamu, Rim?”

Kami yang sedang berjaga di pos ronda malam itu terkikik geli melihat ulah Pak Mamat yang mendadak menjadi seperti anak kecil ketika hendak melempar sandal ke arah Karim.

“Pak, sudahlah, abaikan saja Karim itu,” kata Pak Hanif. “Lebih baik kita mengkhawatirkan awan yang malam ini sepertinya begitu tebal.”

Tanpa perlu aba-aba, kami mendongak. Benar kata Pak Hanif. Langit tampak abu-abu pertanda awan menyelimuti langit.

“Wah, lumayan, lah, kalau hujan. Besok pagi aku nggak perlu menyirami tamannya Nona Alisia,” gumamku.

Mendengar aku menyebut nama Nona Alisia, semua menoleh ke arahku.

“Kabar Nona Alisia, gimana, Zal?” tanya Karim.

“Masih hidup,” kataku. Mendadak aku merasa salah telah membawa nama gadis kembang desa itu di obrolan ronda malam ini.

Mendengar jawabanku, Pak Tiur, duda dua anak sejak lima tahun lalu, memukul lenganku. “Heh, jawaban macam apa itu? Mau kau kubunuh di rawa-rawa?”

Karim lantas menimpali, “Wah, Pak, jangan bunuh Faizal di rawa-rawa, dong, Pak. Sekalian saja bakar dia dengan bensin.”

Pak Hanif menggeleng-gelengkan kepalanya, “Hus! Kalian ini, ya, kalau membicarakan gadis aja seperti nggak ada kenyangnya. Bicarakan dengan sopan, dong.”

Karim dan Pak Tiur terkekeh mendengarnya.

“Yah, kabar seperti apa yang kalian harapkan? Nona Alisia baik-baik saja, kok. Kemarin ia memintaku ke kota membelikannya buah lemon.”

“Wah, enak, ya, kamu, Zal, bisa bekerja untuk Nona Alisia,” ujar Karim.

Tiba-tiba, Pak Mamat unjuk bicara lagi setelah diam beberapa saat. “Eh? Nona Alisia meminta buah lemon?”

Aku mengangguk.

Pak Mamat yang tadinya tampak tidak tertarik dengan obrolan ini mendadak membenarkan posisi duduknya dan menghadap lingkaran kecil kami dengan serius. “Biasanya kalau ada perempuan ingin sesuatu yang asam, dia pasti hamil!”

“Sembarangan, ah, Pak Mamat,” selaku cepat-cepat. Aku tidak mau gadis yang secara tidak langsung menghidupiku terkena kabar miring gara-gara aku.

“Lho, kok kamu tidak terima, Zal? Kamu cemburu?” balas Pak Tiur.

“Bukan begitu, Pak.”

“Faizal… Faizal… mau sampai kapan kamu menunggu Nona Alisia? Sampai mati?” tanya Pak Mamat.

Mereka berempat sontak menertawaiku. Aku yakin pipiku memerah mendengarnya, tetapi tidak ada yang bisa kuperbuat di hadapan empat orang saksi hidupku sejak kecil.

“Kalau sudah cinta mati, lantas harus bagaimana, deh, Pak?” kataku memberanikan diri.

“Cinta itu jangan sampai mati, nanti kecewa seperti saya yang ditinggal istri sendiri,” kata Pak Tiur masih tertawa. Aku tahu tawanya itu mengandung kepahitan. Kepahitan memang perlu ditertawakan demi kebahagiaan hati sendiri.

Pak Hanif memegang pundakku, “Zal, kamu ingat, kan, kalau kamu memiliki tato di tubuhmu? Apa kamu lupa kalau kamu dulunya preman pasar? Menurutmu apakah orang sesuci Nona Alisia mau bersamamu?”

Telingaku sedikit panas mendengarnya. “Bukankah saya sudah berubah, Pak? Setiap orang suci pasti memiliki masa lalu dan setiap pendosa pasti memiliki masa depan! Toh saya juga tidak pernah lagi bertingkah yang aneh-aneh. Saya pun menuruti semua permintaan Nona Alisia sebaik mungkin.”

“Nak Faizal, menyirami mawar di taman Nona Alisia setiap hari bukan jaminan hatinya akan terbuka untukmu,” kata Pak Hanif. “Jangan terlalu berharap yang berlebih. Menjadi orang yang melayaninya sekaligus teman dekatnya saja kamu seharusnya sudah bersyukur.”

Karim menghela napas panjang mendengar pembicaraanku dan Pak Hanif. Karim tahu benar betapa aku menghormati Nona Alisia lebih dari sekadar hubungan majikan dan pembantu. Karim tahu benar bahwa aku sudah lelah dengan menjadi bujang di antara gadis-gadis gatal desa ini. Karim tahu benar bahwa aku menginginkan orang seperti Nona Alisia untuk menjadi pendamping hidupku.

“Pak, sudahlah, jangan buat Faizal ingin menaruh kepalanya di bawah guillotine,” ujar Karim.

“Apa itu guillotine?” tanya Pak Tiur.

Karim mendengus, “Alat untuk bunuh diri, Pak.”

Mendengar jawaban Karim, Pak Tiur meringis, “Wah, ya maaf, Rim, kalau untuk bunuh diri, sih, saya tahunya kalau tidak tali, ya, pistol.”

Dari kejauhan, aku merasa mataku menangkap suatu bayangan yang bergerak. “Pak, ada yang bergerak kemari!”

Mereka berempat mendadak siaga dan menatap was-was ke arah pandanganku. Kami meraih benda tajam yang berada di sekitar kami, siap-siap berlari kalau-kalau maling sapi yang tadi disebut-sebut Pak Mamat beraksi.

Ketika bayangan itu mendekat, mereka berempat tidak bisa apa-apa kecuali menghela napas lega. Aku, yang duduk di pojokan, masih tercekat.

Nona Alisia.

Apakah aku bermimpi? “Nona, apa yang sedang Nona lakukan di sini?” tanyaku.

Nona Alisia berdiri di pinggir pos ronda kami dengan sedikit mengigil. Ia hanya mengenakan jilbab merah yang disampirkan di pundaknya, kardigan hitam yang selalu dipakainya setiap kali aku melihatnya, dan rok hitam yang menutupi mata kakinya. Apakah ia tidak pernah berpikir bahwa berada di tempat terbuka seperti ini pada malam hari bisa membuatnya kedinginan? Ia, kan, gadis rumahan, mana tahan dengan dinginnya malam.

“Boleh saya duduk?” tanyanya.

“Eh, silahkan,” kata Karim.

Karim dan bapak-bapak yang lainnya membuka lingkaran kami dan mempersilahkan Alisia duduk di antara kami. Dari lima tempat yang bisa didudukinya, Nona Alisia memilih duduk di antara aku dan Pak Hanif.

“Nona, sedang apa Nona di sini?” tanyaku mengulang pertanyaan.

Nona Alisia menoleh ke arahku. Aku bisa melihat kantung mata menggantung di bawah matanya. “Sudahlah, Zal. Kali ini jangan panggil aku dengan embel-embel ‘nona’. Aku sebenarnya tidak suka julukan yang orangtuaku berikan padaku di depanmu.”


“Mmm… baiklah, Alisia,” kataku sedikit ragu. “Apa yang sedang kau lakukan di sini?”

“Aku tidak bisa tidur. Aku harus mempersiapkan untuk ujian semester akhirku besok. Kalau tuntas, aku bisa lanjut mengerjakan skripsi lalu lulus,” katanya.

“Lalu kenapa tidak mencoba tidur? Tidak lama lagi gelap akan hilang dan pagi akan datang. Sebelum ujian, kan, butuh tidur,” kata Karim.

Alisia mengernyit heran, “Mengapa kamu tidak bercermin?”

Karim tampak bingung, “Lho, apa yang salah?”

“Maksud Alisia, kenapa kamu nggak ngaca, Rim,” kataku.

Alisia mengangguk-angguk. Setelah mencerna perkataan Alisia selama sekian detik, Karim menepuk jidatnya. “Duh, kamu cantik, tapi konyol, ya.”

“Lho, kenapa?”

“Kan aku lagi ronda, gimana, sih?”

“Oh, iya,” Alisia pun tertawa menyadari kekonyolannya.

Setinggi apapun kasta keluarga Alisia di desa kami, Alisia tetaplah Alisia, gadis biasa yang usianya sepantaran dengan pemuda-pemuda desa. Akan tetapi, satu hal yang ia miliki, tetapi kami tidak: masa depan yang lebih baik. Tidak seperti kebanyakan gadis di desa kami, Alisia berkesempatan mempelajari teknik biomedis di suatu kampus ternama di pusat kabupaten.

Sebenarnya, aku bisa saja ikut bersekolah di kampus yang sama dengan Alisia, mempelajari teknik penerbangan, lalu memiliki masa depan yang lebih baik pula. Dengan masa depan yang lebih baik, aku bisa saja memiliki Alisia, teman sebelah rumah sejak SMA. Akan tetapi setiap kali kusinggung dunia perkuliahan, aku hanya mendapati marah kedua orang tuaku. “Buat apa kuliah kalau kuliah hanya menunda waktumu mendapatkan penghasilan sendiri?” begitu kata mereka. Jadilah aku bekerja serabutan, mengerjakan apapun yang bisa kukerjakan, termasuk menjadi tukang kebun keluarga Alisia. Aku mencoba menerimanya dengan ikhlas sekaligus mencari sisi positifnya: selain menabung masa depan, aku bisa membuka hati Alisia perlahan-lahan.

“Tadi ketika saya berjalan kemari, kabutnya tebal. Saya bahkan hampir menabrak pohon,” ujar Alisia. “Memangnya hal seperti itu sering terjadi di jam-jam ronda, ya?”

Pak Hanif yang sedari tadi rupanya was-was dengan cuaca langsung menyahut, “Enggak, kok, Non. Entah mengapa malam ini cuacanya agak aneh. Coba perhatikan, awannya tebal sekali, kan?”

Seperti kami beberapa menit yang lalu, Alisia mendongak lalu mengangguk, membenarkan perkataan Pak Hanif. “Kira-kira nanti bakal hujan, nggak, ya, Pak? Masalahnya saya nggak bawa payung ke sini,” tanyanya.

“Yah, nanti kan bisa saya anterin, Non, kalau hujan,” sahut Pak Tiur sambil terkekeh.

Dari sudut mataku, aku bisa melihat Alisia tertawa kecil. Tawanya yang renyah memang terdengar ramah, tetapi aku tahu jelas bahwa matanya menandakan ketidaksukaan terhadap Pak Tiur. “Dengan bapak atau tidak dengan bapak kan sama saja saya kehujanan,” jawabnya sopan.

“Ada tirai di pos ini, Non. Kan saya bisa payungi Non Alisia dengan tirai itu,” jawab Pak Tiur, kali ini lebih genit lagi.

“Hus, Pak! Ada penjaganya, nih, lho,” sahut Karim sambil menunjukku. Karim memang kampret, kalau begini kan Alisia bisa tahu kalau aku menyimpan rasa padanya! “Nanti bapak bisa dilaporin Faizal ke orang tua Nona Alisia terus dibakar hidup-hidup sampai jadi abu!”

Mendadak aku paham. Karim menjulukiku sebagai penjaga Alisia karena aku bekerja untuknya. Aku tak masalah dengan itu. Aku pun bersyukur karena setelah itu Pak Tiur tidak lagi bergenit-genit dengan Alisia.

“Mau kacang, Non?” Pak Mamat menyodorkan sekantung kacang rebus yang sedari tadi kami tekuni.

Belum Alisia sempat menjawab, langit bergemuruh. Dari kejauhan, terlihat petir menyambar. Televisi yang dari tadi menyala tanpa suara di pos ronda mulai mengabu kehilangan sinyal. Tak lama kemudian, gerimis pun turun.

“Wah, tidak usah, Pak, terima kasih,” jawabnya. “Sudah mau hujan, saya pulang saja. Lumayan sudah tidak begitu penat seperti tadi. Terima kasih, Pak.”

“Ya sudah, kalau begitu bawa saja kacang ini pulang. Ini bingkisan dari kami untuk yang sedang mau ujian. Siapa tahu bisa jadi teman belajar,” kata Pak Mamat. Kantung kacang rebus yang mahalezat itu diikat oleh Pak Mamat dan diserahkan ke Alisia.

“Eh, terima kasih, Pak. Maaf malah mengambil konsumsi di sini,” ujar Alisa sambil tersenyum. Cantik.

“Nggak apa-apa, Non. Buat Non Alisia apa sih yang enggak,” sahut Pak Tiur. Dari samping, Karim menyikut Pak Tiur. “Duh!”

Alisia lantas merapatkan kardigannya dan bersiap-siap pulang. Dari kejauhan, Karim berdeham pelan, tetapi cukup keras untuk mengusikku.

“Mmm… Al, mau kutemani pulang?” tanyaku memberanikan diri.

“Nah, itu, lebih baik pulang ditemani Faizal saja, deh, daripada ditemani Pak Tiur,” seloroh Pak Hanif. “Tapi kalian jangan aneh-aneh, lho!”

Karim terkikik sementara Pak Tiur mendengus.

“Ya sudah, temani aku, ya, Zal!” seru Alisia.

Maka nikmat Tuhan manakah yang kaudustakan, Faizal? Aku bergegas memakai sandalku dan merapikan sarung yang kusampirkan di bahu. Setelah berpamitan dengan Pak Mamat, Pak Hanif, dan Pak Tiur, Karim berbisik padaku, “Rebut hatinya! Jangan jadi pangeran katak melulu!” Mendengarnya mau tidak mau aku menjitak kepalanya. Bagaimana kalau Alisia dengar?

Alisia dan aku lantas berjalan berdampingan menyusuri jalan menurun menuju rumahnya. Pos ronda ini tepat di puncak bukit di desa kami dan rumah Alisia hanya beberapa puluh meter di bawahnya. Meskipun begitu, jalannya cukup sepi dan berkelok. Kami berjalan di bawah pepohonan yang ada dengan langkah cepat supaya terhindar dari gerimis.

“Nona, memangnya besok berencana membuat skripsi tentang apa, sih?” tanyaku mencoba memecah keheningan.

Alisia menatapku dan mendengus, “Sudah, jangan panggil aku dengan ‘nona’. Kan aku sudah bilang.”

Kalau begitu berarti dia serius dengan yang dikatakannya tadi. Kukira itu hanya supaya kami tidak terkesan seperti majikan dan pesuruh di depan tetangga yang lain. Ternyata dia memang bersungguh-sungguh.

“Oke,” kataku. “Skripsinya mau tetang apa?”

“Aku berniat menulis mengenai hal-hal yang sekiranya bisa meningkatkan efisiensi alat cuci darah,” jawabnya. “Kau tahu, kan, itu alat untuk membersihkan orang yang memiliki gagal ginjal.”

Aku manggut-manggut. “Mmm… kalau seseorang mengalami gagal ginjal, kenapa tidak dioperasi saja? Bukannya cuci darah itu mahal, ya, apabila dilakukan berkali-kali?”

Mendengar pertanyaanku, mata Alisia melebar. “Nah, itu dia yang kumaksud! Eh, maksudnya, mmm… kan ginjal pengganti itu juga tidak mudah didapat. Nah, cuci darah menjadi salah satu alternatif pengobatan gagal ginjal. Karena sampai kini cuci darah itu harus dilakukan berkali-kali, aku mencoba mencari cara supaya alat cuci darah itu menjadi lebih efisien. Apabila bisa lebih efisien, kan, siapa tahu bisa mengurangi intensitas seseorang cuci darah. Akibatnya, biaya yang seseorang keluarkan untuk cuci darah bisa lebih rendah!”

Akan seberapa cerdas anakku apabila Alisia menjadi ibunya?

“Eh!” Tiba-tiba Alisia memekik. Alisia limbung sesaat dan hampir terjatuh ke depan apabila aku tidak meraih tangan kirinya.

“Tersandung akar, Al?”

Alisia meringis. Wajahnya yang pucat tampak ceria di bawah sinar bulan. “Aku nggak apa-apa, kok. Makasih, Zal!”

Aku lantas melepaskan genggamanku. Tanganku sedikit bergetar, tetapi aku berusaha menutupinya. Ketika kulihat air menetes di wajah Alisia, aku menyadari kalau kami seharusnya bergegas dan bukannya berbincang di bawah sinar bulan seperti adegan-adegan di roman picisan.

“Ayo, nanti kehujanan!” seruku.

Aku mulai berlari kecil supaya cepat sampai di rumahnya. Di sampingku, Alisia berlari mengikuti. Tak lama kemudian, kami sampai di rumahnya.

Seperti yang semua orang akan mengira, rumah Alisia adalah rumah yang paling mewah di desa ini. Pagarnya berwarna abu-abu pastel dengan lampu jingga di ujung-ujungnya. Halaman depannya cukup luas untuk menampung koleksi tumbuhan ibu Alisia—yang kurawat. Teras rumahnya juga cukup besar dan berlantaikan marmer. Semua ini begitu indah sekaligus menyedihkan; ini mempertegas mengapa aku dan Alisia tidak bisa bersatu.

Aku buka gerbang rumah Alisia yang tertutup dan mempersilakannya masuk terlebih dahulu. Aku antarkan dia sampai ke teras rumahnya. Setelah sampai di bawah lampu yang cukup terang, kuamati Alisia. Syukurlah dia tidak begitu basah.

“Terima kasih, ya, Zal, sudah mau repot-repot mengantarku pulang,” katanya. “Apa setelah ini kamu kembali ke pos ronda?”

Aku menggeleng, “Tidak. Aku sudah lelah, aku mau pulang saja. Lagipula aku sudah sering ronda, biar sekali ini aku pulang lebih awal.”

Alisia manggut-manggut. Kemudian ada jeda yang cukup panjang di antara kami.

“Eh, sebenernya tadi aku ke pos ronda juga mau ketemu kamu,” katanya.

“Oh iya? Ada apa?” kuharap aku tidak tampak malu. Kuharap aku bertingkah normal.

Alisia menunduk sambil mengayun-ayunkan tubuhnya. “Tadinya kukira bakal cuma ada kamu atau kamu dan Karim, tetapi ternyata ada bapak-bapak yang lainnya. Jadinya aku tidak jadi cerita tadi,” ujarnya.

“Mau cerita tentang apa, sih, kok beraninya sama yang muda-muda saja?” tanyaku. Kurasakan jantungku berdebar lebih cepat. Semoga Alisia tidak mendengarnya di keheningan malam ini.

“Mau cerita tentang Bayu,” katanya. “Kamu tahu, kan, laki-laki yang akhir-akhir ini sering datang ke rumah?”

Oh, tentu aku tahu. Bayu, lelaki necis dari kota, tidak kalah cemerlangnya dengan Alisia. Masa depannya cerah. Setiap bertemu denganku, dia selalu berbincang denganku. Dia sangat ramah. Hanya dengan beberapa kali berbincang, aku bisa tahu kalau Bayu itu anak pertama dari tiga bersaudara, mahasiswa teknik elektro, sedang magang di perusahaan multinasional, dan—yang paling penting dan paling mengganggu—menyukai Alisia.

“Iya. Ada apa, nih?” tanyaku mencoba menyembunyikan kekesalan.

“Mmm… nggak apa-apa, kapan-kapan aja,” ujarnya sambil mengulum senyum. Senyumnya semanis dan secantik yang sebelum-sebelumnya, tetapi karena itu muncul karena Bayu, pesona senyum itu hilang di mataku. Senyum itu justru mengirisku perlahan-lahan. “Toh kamu juga sudah lelah, kan?”

Aku mengangguk. “Ya sudah, aku pulang dulu, ya. Kamu jangan belajar sampai terlalu malam, kita manusia, bukan burung hantu.”

“Oke, makasih sekali lagi, ya, Zal! Kamu memang teman yang paling baik,” serunya. “Oh, iya, kalau ketemu Pak Mamat, tolong bilangin makasih sekali lagi untuk kacang rebusnya.”


Begitu Alisia masuk ke dalam rumah, aku bergegas keluar dari halamannya sebagai orang bodoh. Tentu saja ia akan berbicara mengenai Bayu; tidak mungkin ia mau berbicara mengenai aku! Aku mulai berpikir bahwa semua orang memang ada jodohnya: yang hebat dengan yang hebat, yang biasa dengan yang biasa.

Meski aku berusaha menjadi pahlawan di depan Alisia—melakukan apa saja yang baik di depannya—, aku hanyalah aku, tukang kebun dengan kecerdasan rata-rata dan masa depan yang biasa. Apabila Alisia kelak bersamaku, maka masa depannya mungkin hanya membantuku yang bekerja serabutan dengan penghasilan pas-pasan. Akan tetapi, apabila ia tidak bersamaku, Alisia bisa merubah dunia dengan apa yang ia miliki dan kecerdasannya. Alisia tidak perlu berkutat denganku yang masih melulu memutar otak bagaimana caranya mengisi perut dan bukannya memperbaiki dunia.

Aku tak apa-apa, pahlawan tidak perlu diselamatkan. Alisia memang terlalu baik buatku.

Aku memang teman yang paling baik.


 Tantangan dari Winda Alviranisa, Almas Fauzia Wibawa, dan Annisa Rakhma Sari untuk membuat cerita menggunakan kata-kata sebagai berikut: sepi, sapi, kereta, bingung, terbang, kingkong, panas, awan, taman, hidup, rawa, bensin, kenyang, lemon, desa, mati, mati, tato, lupa, telinga, mawar, napas, guillotine, pistol, mata, mimpi, ujian, gelap, cermin, kampus, marah, kabut, pohon, tirai, abu, malam, bingkisan, katak, televisi, tutup, akar, pahlawan, lelah, burung hantu, dan operasi.


I Said “I Do”

Holding Hands #1

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!”