On being 25

If I think about how many possibilities of death and heavy problems I managed to escape, I am so grateful for the life I have now. I write this after recently survived a typhus without being hospitalized. Lucky me, as I’ve always been most of the times. Many of my friends can’t make it until today because of sick or accidents, others live in despair because of the inescapable shits they created. I will be 25 years old in less than 10 hours, and even though I haven’t acquired material possessions I desired and felt fulfilled with my career or education, I can say that I am pretty happy with the person I am today. Life is a real luxury I never asked for, yet it has given me so much.

Before experiencing this state of acceptance, I was so unhappy because I constantly compared myself to my friends on social media. I felt envy to many who have been graduated from university, who already started a family in an early age, who already had cute kids to love and play with, who studied abroad, who are smarter than me. I was envy to those who made better jobs and income, to the vacations and business trips they updated on my social media feeds, to A-list dress and makeups they wore. I was so furious to see how other people living their lives. I hated myself for not being able to hold their standard of living.

I only stopped after realizing there are hidden process and things I can’t see behind all of the wonderful updates I saw on my social media. Not all of them are entirely true, sometimes people made up stories. They always retouched and heavily curated the images before presenting them in social media, even those with hashtag statements: #nofilter #noedit. All the picture perfect family they reflected must be not that perfect, because people are difficult most of the times and relationship is no easy. Others must work really hard for all the good things they got, by sacrificing their personal freedom and time. Only God knows how many sleepless nights, anti-depressants and drugs they take to help them soothe the problems. It’s not fair if I got jealous just because of pictures they presented, moreover when I didn’t really work hard to achieve the similar output.

I also stopped being envy to people too much because I realized that after all the shits  happened to me for the past 25 years of living, I am still alive and doing okay. In fact I became a much better and mature person from who I’ve ever had. I handled and approached problems in a better way, I listened to people more, I became more patience to deal with all the form of insanity in my society, I tried to be more kind and understandable to people who were closed-minded and intolerant, I forgave a lot, I could connect with different kind of people from various backgrounds which helped me understanding more about reality of life. I rented my own space and moved out from house 2 months ago, I got back my independence. I understood English well which enabled me to grasp unlimited source of information to enhance my knowledge, I learned French which gave me a beautiful identity and made myself feel more feminine. I am content of the life I have, because I own it. No one will do my life for me. I am responsible for who I am, what I feel and what I will become.

Thank God and the universe that tomorrow I will be 25 with feeling good about it. No cakes needed, no surprises are required. All I need is love to myself and for her to be ready for whatever life will give.

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Krisis Iman Masyarakat Muslim Indonesia, Tuduh Diri Sendiri Terlebih Dulu

Semakin sering kita temui orang yang menyampingkan agama dari kehidupannya tapi tetap mengakui dirinya sebagai seorang muslim. Muslim yang tidak puasa, tidak shalat, tidak mengaji; hanya mengaku muslim karena Islam telah menjadi identitas dari dirinya, hanya karena dia dibesarkan dalam norma-norma agama Islam. Hari ini, orang-orang yang shalat lima waktu – berjilbab atau tidak berjilbab, berjanggut atau tidak berjanggut – adalah termasuk orang-orang yang ditahbiskan paling shaleh dan shalehah di lingkungan bermasyarakat, padahal tiada yang istimewa dari hal tersebut karena shalat hukumnya adalah fardu ain, super wajib tidak kenal kondisi. Meskipun secara kuantitas Indonesia adalah negara dengan populasi muslim terbesar di dunia, secara kualitas faktanya berbanding terbalik. Masyarakat muslim di Indonesia sedang berada dalam krisis keimanan akut yang mengkhawatirkan. Dalam menganalisa fenomena krisis keimanan ini, seringkali ditemui banyak muslim secara agresif menyalahkan aktor dan faktor intra-Islam tanpa terlebih dahulu berusaha menganalisa bobrok di tubuh sendiri.

indonesia_muslim

Untuk memahami krisis keimanan masyarakat muslim Indonesia, diperlukan pengetahuan atas apa yang terjadi dalam kelompok masyarakat Islam selama beberapa tahun belakangan ini. Hal ini dapat dimulai dengan memahami kondisi kualitas keimanan masyarakat muslim Indonesia saat ini, mengidentifikasi aktor-aktor dalam inter-muslim dan mengamati cara tiap aktor saling berinteraksi. Pertama-tama harus diakui bahwa dalam tubuh masyarakat muslim terdapat kelompok orang yang sama sekali tidak relijius tapi mengaku muslim. Kelompok ini adalah orang yang tidak berprinsip teguh, tidak totok memihak antara hitam dan putih, Islam dan tidak Islam; mereka adalah kelompok abu-abu. Dalam masyarakat muslim Indonesia, kelompok abu-abu ini adalah mayoritas dari jumlah populasi.

Mereka terbagi lagi menjadi dua golongan, yaitu golongan kritis yang rata-rata cerdas, pintar dan gemar berpikir praktikal; tricky untuk dipengaruhi, gampang-gampang susah. Dalam hal beragama, golongan kritis mempertanyakan banyak hal tentang Tuhan, asal-muasal terciptanya alam semesta, kandungan isi ayat Qur’an, hukum-hukum Islam, sejarah Islam dan hal-hal bersifat metafisika yang secara logika tidak dapat diyakini tanpa pemahaman dan keyakinan atas iman terhadap Islam. Golongan kedua adalah golongan masa bodoh, golongan ini sangat mudah dipengaruhi dengan jargon-jargon persuasif dan strategi carrot and stick andalan pemuka agama. Golongan kedua lebih banyak jumlahnya dari golongan kritis.

Kelompok kedua adalah para pemuka agama dan orang-orang relijius yang kerap kali melabeli diri sebagai Islam aliran Sunni. Kelompok ini memiliki tanggung jawab Maha Berat untuk mengedukasi kelompok abu-abu untuk kembali mempelajari Islam, yaitu Islam yang toleran terhadap situasi sosial-politik-budaya di Indonesia. Tanggung jawab para pemuka agama dan orang-orang relijius dikatakan berat karena mereka harus melakukan pendekatan yang elegan dan diplomatis secara ajeg dan konsisten untuk menumbuhkan masyarakat muslim yang sadar agama dan istiqamah; masyarakat muslim yang tidak labil, yang sehari shalat besok tidak, hari ini yakin terhadap ajaran agama besok mempertanyakan eksistensi Tuhan, hari ini sibuk mengaji Qur’an dan hukum-hukum Islam besoknya masa bodoh. Tiap-tiap pemuka agama dan orang relijius memiliki tugas untuk menumbuhkan kesadaran beragama yang stabil, pemahaman agama yang dapat diterima oleh akal dan iman, dan hal ini membutuhkan waktu serta strategi rumit untuk dilaksanakan.

Abdul Qodir ‘Audah, salah seorang ulama besar Mesir pernah berkata, kemunduran umat muslim saat ini disebabkan Islam berada di tengah-tengah kebodohan umatnya dan ketidakmampuan ulama-ulamanya.

Kondisi yang terjadi dalam tubuh masyarakat muslim Indonesia saat ini adalah para pemuka agama dan orang-orang relijius sibuk berpolitik dan malas dalam melakukan strategi pendekatan yang elegan dan diplomatis secara ajeg dan konsisten untuk menarik kelompok abu-abu kembali mempelajari Islam dan memiliki kesadaran iman yang stabil. Para pemuka agama dan orang-orang relijius hampir setiap waktu melakukan pendekatan carrot and stick serta pendekatan-pendekatan lain yang hasilnya tidak signifikan untuk membuat orang untuk ‘kembali’ ke Islam dan menyetujui ide bahwa sebagai seorang muslim diperlukan kesadaran beragama dan keberimanan yang kuat. Carrot: “Lakukanlah hal A sesuai menurut pendapat saya, maka kalian akan mendapatkan banyak pahala dan masuk surga.” Stick: “Jika tidak A sesuai menurut pendapat saya, maka kalian akan berdosa masuk neraka.” Strategi lainnya adalah, Labelling: “Kamu ini muslim atau bukan, kok tidak melakukan hal A sesuai dengan pemahaman saya akan sesuatu?” atau Accusation: “Kamu tidak melakukan hal A, maka kamu bisa jadi golongan Kafir! Syiah! Munafik!”

Keempat strategi tersebut adalah strategi umum dari para pemuka agama dan orang-orang relijius dalam masyarakat muslim Indonesia – strategi kacangan impulsif, tidak sabar, tidak hati-hati dan bodoh dari orang yang malas bertindak dan berpikir. Carrot and Stick mungkin dapat mengembalikan golongan masa bodoh dari kelompok abu-abu untuk kembali mempelajari Islam, namun bukan didasari oleh kesadaran beragama dan keberagamaan yang kuat, melainkan ketakutan dan harap. Selain itu strategi ini dapat menciptakan kelompok muslim radikal dan militan yang rela mengorbankan akal dan pikiran hanya dengan doktrin hitung-hitungan pahala dan dosa, surga atau neraka. Hal ini jelas tidak akan menyembuhkan krisis keimanan kelompok abu-abu, boro-boro memperkuat Islam. Tidak adanya penerimaan dari ide-ide atas mengapa kelompok abu-abu perlu untuk kembali menumbuhkan iman dengan mempelajari agama hanya akan menciptakan generasi muslim yang tidak stabil. Strategi labelling dan accusation apalagi, kedua strategi ini hanya membuat orang menjadi defensif dan tidak mau mempelajari Islam karena kenyinyiran dan ketidakramahan tidak membuat orang betah berlama-lama tinggal dalam suatu kelompok. Hal ini justru berbahaya, khususnya untuk golongan kritis dalam kelompok abu-abu, karena bisa jadi mereka lebih memilih untuk meninggalkan Islam sama sekali.

Kecacatan cara berinteraksi antara aktor-aktor dalam masyarakat muslim Indonesia ini dapat dibenahi dengan pembenahan kualitas dakwah dan komunikasi. Alih-alih terus-menerus melakukan empat strategi tidak efektif dan justru berbahaya meningkatkan krisis iman yang telah disebutkan sebelumnya, para pemuka agama dan orang-orang relijius dalam masyarakat muslim Indonesia dapat melakukan strategi-strategi pendekatan yang lemah lembut, elegan dan diplomatis; tentunya diimbangi dengan kajian materi pendidikan agama Islam yang luas, tidak memaksakan kehendak dan toleran terhadap situasi sosial-politik-budaya masyarakat Indonesia secara keseluruhan. Strategi pendekatan yang berkualitas tentu membutuhkan pemikiran dan eksekusi tindakan yang hati-hati, ajeg dan konsisten; semua aktor dalam tubuh masyarakat muslim Indonesia harus bekerja keras dalam membangun hal ini. Tidak ada cara instan dan mudah, semua membutuhkan waktu dan usaha besar. Namun mimpi ini bukanlah sesuatu yang tidak mungkin terjadi. Mungkin suatu hari nanti masyarakat muslim Indonesia dapat hidup tenteram dan damai karena kesadaran beragama dan keberagamaan yang kuat dan stabil dari dalam jiwanya, dan berhenti menuduh aktor-aktor beragama lain menzhalimi dirinya tanpa melihat bahwa bobrok yang sesungguhnya ada dalam tubuh diri sendiri.

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4 Puisi Lama

Niat

Tanpa niat untuk terlihat, kau adalah jelas bagiku
Bagai rontokan kemboja merah jambu
jatuh mesra di beranda

rumahku,
dulu adalah sejenis penaungan yang tak kan habis digerogot zaman

Sebab aku dan hujan telah sepakat untuk iseng menggurit dendam
dalam enggan. Diam yang tak berkesudahan, lalu
jika kau sudah berampas jadi debu, jangan pernah lupa nama wajah bayangku

kerling
pagut
rengkuh

luka?

gelung rambut

Kegenitan menggurat
bukti kita pernah jadi jasad.

(pasca hujan banter, Januari 2012)

Pandir

Begitu malam datang, aku langsung berkarib dengan kata. Tak ada hiburan lain lebih menarik rupanya. Dan telah kuputuskan malam ini aku harus belajar menulis. Seburuk apapun tulisanku, sekecut apapun aku dibenak kalian. Aku harus menulis.

Perkenalkan, aku, anomali kalian. Jika mungkin bagiku hidup belantara, aku pilih begitu. Bebas dan sejauhnya dari kota ini aku pasti lebur dengan alam. Namun selamanya aku anak ibu dan bapakku, dan mereka menghendaki aku ambil bagian di peradaban.

Menekurkan sepi dan hatiku damai permanen, seperti sawah kuning habis panen. Menyuburkan perut-perut desa, memakmurkan kota. Dan ketika ladang dibakar, menjelantahkan langit. Adalah hatiku juga menggegap, lalu padi ditanamkan kembali, dan ia ikut hijau lagi.

Seperti Tuban, aku takut sendiriku jatuh ke kuasa orang. Sebab aku bukan ningrat, bukan bendoro. Aku sahaya, tapi menghendaki diriku sebesar Tuban sebelum zaman atas angin datang ke bumi lewat selatan. Aku bercita menjadi pembesar bagi diriku sendiri. Di dalam kepalaku, aku membuat kerajaan atas diriku dan tentu aku ningrat tertinggi. Seorang raja.

Sebab aku adalah kerajaan dan raja membutuhkan patih, maka aku menghendaki patih yang setia dan cakap maka telah turunlah titahku kepada tiap-tiap bulir darah dan gurat-gurat nadiku, siap mati demi aku. Mereka jadi patih karena darahku darah raja.

Tiada raja tanpa rakyat, aku tentu harus memiliki rakyat yang harus kusokong dan mereka harus cinta aku. Maka aku suburkan pikiranku dengan apa saja yang mampu aku baca dan beri pada kerajaanku melalui tulisan-tulisanku. Betapa buruknya itu. Busuk bisa jadi, tapi rakyatku mutlak harus cinta aku.

Barangkali aku titisan Ken Arok menjelma wanita dan Majapahit menjelma kerajaan dalam pikir, hanya dalam pikirku. Jika begitu maka aku harus punya selir banyak, wanita berselir seratus diri sendiri jika mau. Tapi dari selir-selirku itu akan tumbuh pinakan-pinak baru walau mengancam diriku sendiri, kerajaanku. Karena aku lupa nama mereka, dari biang-biang yang mana dan mereka haus harta hanya sebab darah raja. Tidak cukupkah kuangkat mereka yang cakap jadi bupati hati dan mereka minta jantung? Maruk. Aku harus selamatkan kerajaanku, sebab aku adalah raja. Mereka harus takut aku.

Kerajaan selamanya membosankan tanpa taklukan. Dan aku mengintai kalian sekarang dalam tidur. Jaga kerajaan kalian, aku mau rebut diam-diam. Kalian harus takluk oleh karenaku dan malam. Bandar harus ramai, syahbandar dan patih beserta balatentara sudah dipersiapkan. Bagaimana pasukan gajahku? Buat mereka melihat dalam gelap ganti dengan mata kucing, ganti taringnya lahar mortar. Susupi jiwa mereka dengan sebul bermantra jin goa-goa dasar gunung halimun. Agar jangan hanya tercenung remuk dihembus-hembusi malam. Ya! Sebelum kalian kirim patih sampaikan titah balik menyerang, aku sudah robekkan kerajaan kalian pecah menjelmai panca. Aku bunuh rajanya dan aku angkat diriku jadi raja dan rakyat. Dan selamanya aku hidup didalamnya berselirkan seribu diri sendiri jika mau.

(November, 2011)

Aku dan Aku Saja Rupanya

Mungkin benar adanya terlalu banyak makan bermuara pandir jadinya, sebab aku rasakan demikian

kacau!

Berdering telepon, ratus?

pesanmu masuk selayar teleponku. Begitu keringnya
kau, mirip hujan membenturi tebing-tebing karst. Diam-diam membuat keropos.

Gila. Dan kita harus mengaku bahwa telah pernah saling tergila-gila.
Entah bagaimana caranya serupa
surga dan kini kita mancal oleh karena kenang selamanya tak doyan kekal.
Aku rasa semua dimulai ketika orang bertutur jangan ada awal, sebab adalah akhir selalu mengekor meski tak punya buntut.

Lalu kita mancal ke tentang, setuju tidak saling melihat dalam terang. Sepakat tak bicara meski hanya dalam gamang. Lalu,

kudapati tak lagi telepon dan pesanmu menggenangi pikir, belakangan hanya hujan menggenangi kubang berpelesir.

Sering aku menerima duka dengan tangan kosong. Duka
siapa berani sembarang menyelasar? Sebelum rambutku seluruhnya perak, aku
mau penjelasan duka kiriman siapa ini? Lalu diam
dan diam saja.

Ya.

Jika saja sukma ikhlas cerai dari raga mungkin Ia juga tak seduka itu.

Mahir rupanya aku sekarang bermonolog dan semua lunas aku jumput dalam sunyi.

Didalamnya ada
kenang yang telah lewat, ada bincang dengan orang yang telah mati, ada
rindu yang selembut adas. Seluruhnya tak berbalas.

Dan ketika aku terbangun dari bumi nyata, aku
hanya mampu bersamamu lewat reka-reka.

(Desember, 2011)

Desember dan Wanita Takut Winter

Bagaimana dapat kutanggalkan tubuh jarang di jejak tanah basah? Padahal tak serintik pun hujan jatuh menengadah sebaik pinggul penari melenggok pongah.

Berpasang mata sibuk bertransaksi dalam gelap, menimang ragu dalam samar-samar aman.

Bising adalah bagian yang tak tamat-tamatnya diselasari sebab adalah muasal kami bernaungkan damai. Setelah itu dikeloni sunyi yang aman meski tak selamanya mencukupi.

Aku, kau dan mereka tak suatu pun ada. Semua dilakukan atas nama cinta dan begitu adanya kita jadikan pembenaran. Pernah kubilang padamu bahwa kelak kita bangunkan si waktu yang rakus itu agar jangan menembagakan rambut, tapi kemudian ia datang bersekutu maut. Apakah kita pernah bosan berpagut? Tak perlu menjawab jika takut.

Dan dilorong bising ini kembali daging jadi dagangan, bibir menggumpal dihitamkan gincu murahan. Biar kita bareng mati perlahan. Melati menguarkan wangi neraka sebab tiap kepul dan kegenitan yang dihirup bercampur dosa, persetan sejak haram hanya sebuah konsep.

Kau mengenalku sebagai gadis dan seterusnyalah kau memujaku.

Jangan salahkan Tuhan sebab Ia hanya menjalankan sebaiknya peran. Kau pernah berhijab dan begini kenyataannya : manusia butuh makan. Kau, aku dan anak kita kelak adalah manusia. Aku pergi atas nama pembenaran.

Sudah terkantuk-kantuk disini berdiri berkawan sepi, tak seperak pun menyebulkan dapur.

“Duduklah barang sebentar, aku buatkan kopi.”
Kau jawab dengan keletihanmu, namun
jangan salahkan Tuhan sebab demikianlah sebaik Ia berperan.

“Duduklah barang sebentar, mari aku temani.”

Kemudian barangkali hatimu luluh dan kita tidur dalam peluh. Hingga akhirnya matahari jatuh hati memendarkan sinar pertamanya lewat berkas genting. Hangat menyemburat di mukaku.

Itu sebagian, jawab dari segala-segala di batas kabur sejarah..

***

Untuk apa ada nama jika aku hanya sepotong daging? Dan kau,

kau tak lebih buduk dari anjing! Meloba-loba dengan liur seperti hujan mengisi waduk, tanggul-tanggul jebol.

Ini kali ke lima, kau dan aku beradu.

Aku memuntahkan bajumu karena panas dan cemas. Aku memuntahkan bajumu agar aku lupa ini kali ke lima dan kau entah dimana.

Orang-orang dibawah seliweran, rambutnya pirang mirip kerang ketimpa matahari, menatapku enggan namun bertubi-tubi. Sementara aku masih asyik, berteriakan dalam sunyi dengan bahasa yang barangkali mereka tak mengerti.

Bahasa anjing! Ya?

Maka selamanya adalah rahasia, jangan ditutur jika ragu. Bisikkan saja jika hendak merayu. Teriakkan juga dalam sunyi dan Ia akan aman kembali.

Ya. Bahasa anjing!

Bule-bule itu menatapku enggan dan buru-buru mengalihkan pandang sebelum mataku ketemu mata-mata cucuk mereka. Aku marah sebab mataku sedikit basah dan aku maki mereka seluruhnya dengan tatapanku jika kebetulan beradu.

Pemandangan menarik di suatu pagi awal summer, jarang agaknya wanita berwarna dengan rambut legam mencak-mencak di balkon rumah sewanya. Mondar-mandir.

Dinding lemur mengelotek kena panas.

Membuntal-buntalkan baju lalu kemudian memuntahkan segala hingga tebar ke jalanan. Buyar.

Biar.

Biar dipungut gelandangan dan gembel yang pirang-pirang atau orang maroko yang jantungnya ketir-ketir berburu dengan polisi dan zaman.

Angin semi masih menyelirkan dingin dan tengkukku remang jadinya. Aku masuk, menutup jendela dua katup, meringkuk

dalam pembaringan sofa beludru merah jambu.

Persis bayi prematur dalam inkuban, pejam dan khidmat yang terlihat. Namun pikiranku sudah mancal jauh berkali-kali, mancal ke entah dan segala yang mungkin aku reguk dengan persiapan atau tanpa pertahanan.

Tapi yang paling sering, aku mancal menuju kau.

Sergio.
Sergio.

Sergio. Sergio.

Sergio!

Satu mantra dan ini kali ke lima, aku masih mabuk dalam sisa-sisa gelembung champagne saat kita berenang telanjang di dalamnya. Hangat. Tenggelam
dengan buih, berenang ke hulu lalu

ke tepi kemudian menyelam merentang semuanya

nekat telanjang.

Ketika sumbat dibuka.

Plop!
Kita hambur bersama menuju udara, mendarat ke entah siapa peduli akan hari kemarin. Nafasmu hangat. Begitu bahagianya

mendengar, Plop! Dan kita gugur

hambur seperti daun kembang sepatu jatuh bersama hingga pagi selanjutnya.

(Desember, 2011)

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On Jealousy

Being the only child of my parents, I feel so familiar with jealousy that occurs in every people’s life from time to time; yet I understand about it. But I think I’m not the only one, even my super cool friends who are relatively good in controlling their emotions can be jealous to their partners, friends’ of their partners, successful friends, public figures, or strangers sometimes. We can notice the jealousy comes by the pace of our breath after seeing someone do things better than us, by the time we became grumpy to ourselves, by the time we felt insecure and unfulfilled, by the time we constantly compare ourselves to the quality that other’s people have – all of them suck the happiness in ourselves. Especially when the jealousy is directed to someone we can relate.

Alain de Botton helped me to understand it well that the reason of jealousy comes from the fact that we can relate to someone who has something we desire. Alain took an example of why we don’t feel jealous to Queen Elizabeth, even though she was born from a wealthy and aristocrat family, has huge houses across England, wear diamonds crown and other fancy material things everyone wants; the reason why we don’t feel jealous to Queen Elizabeth is because we cannot relate to her and she speaks weirdly :p (I love Alain de Botton!). He later explained that we are likely to be jealous when coming to school reunion and hangout with successful people in our age.

I was surprised how accurate it is.

I’m not jealous at all to the Queen of England, it’s just totally unrelatable. But it’s hard not to be jealous to someone who got a successful career than me even though they are not bright, to the girl who always misspell English words but can make a better income than me, to the rude girl who has a good boyfriend who loves her as she is. I felt I wanna punch the wall sometimes. Ha ha!

But the more I thought about it, the less happier I become.

Then I realized that I should control my jealousy because it sucks to be unhappy. I began shifting my direction to myself and not to other people. I showered myself with kindness and understanding that everyone has a good and bad side that cannot be oversimplified by the job, the level of intelligence, their fluency and concerns about English grammar, the relationships they have. I also tried to improve myself by identifying things I don’t like about myself and do something about it: I really hate myself when I feel stupid, therefore I read more books; I don’t like when I explained something vaguely, I started to write again; I don’t like being too skinny and unhealthy, I exercise everyday, I eat good food, I dress up – basically I do things that make me feel better about myself.

The second thing is to accept that jealousy is an emotion which is same like sad and anger. To be jealous is normal and we should always control our emotions as an adult. In a relationship, I tried to see things from stranger’s perspectives and the kind of relationship I’m in. I should not feel jealous to the girls who are emotionally close to my partner, I believe that a man who values me will always try to respect my feelings by keeping the openness and honesty as our fundamental traits. I should control my jealousy if it’s an open or casual relationship and try to distant myself when things get too attached. (we will talk about it later ;))

The world is full of wonderful people who can do things better than us; but we are the only person who can stand for ourselves at best. By being kind-loving to ourselves, focus our attention on our self-development and understanding our emotions, we can be the better version of us, even though when the jealousy arises sometimes.

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5 Short Pieces from Kafka Metamorphosis and Other Stories

This week I met Kafka. He is painfully famous but I have been illiterate for years, only recently I could read well so that is why I only knew him now. I adore how formal but funny and familiar he is. Though I have not finished his book, Metamorphosis and Other Stories, I have already had some favourites. And here I share you my five favourites from his Contemplation on 1913.

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The Plight of the Bachelor

The prospect of remaining a bachelor is so awful: to be an old man and struggle to preserve one’s dignity while asking to be taken in for an evening’s worth of human society; to be sick and to gaze for weeks on end into one’s empty room from the vantage point of one’s bed; always to say goodbye at the front door; never to make one’s way upstairs at the side of one’s wife; to have the side doors to one’s room always opening on to others’ apartments; to carry one’s supper home in one hand; to have to stare at children, without always adding, unasked: ‘I haven’t any myself’; to model one’s apparel and demeanour on one or two bachelors one might remember from one’s own early years.

And so it will be, save that it will be oneself standing there, then thereafter, with a body and a veritable head, and therefore a brow to smite with the flat of one’s hand.

The Excursion into the Mountains

‘I don’t know,’ I cried in a toneless voice, ‘I really don’t know. If nobody comes, then nobody comes. I’ve done nobody any harm, nobody ever did me any harm, yet nobody wants to come to my aid. Nobody upon nobody. But that’s not it either. Only nobody comes to help me – nobody upon nobody would be fine. I would quite like – and why wouldn’t I? – to go on an excursion with a crowd of nobodies. Into the mountains, of course, where else? The way those nobodies would crowd together, all their crossed and linked arms, their many feet, separated by minute steps! Naturally, they’re all in tailcoats. We’re walking along without a care in the world, the wind is pushing through the gaps between us and our various limbs. Our throats feel free in the mountains! It’s a miracle we haven’t burst into song!’

The Rejection

When I meet a pretty girl and ask her: ‘Please, come with me!’ and she passes me in silence, then what she means is this:

‘You’re not a duke with a name to conjure with, no power-fully built American Indian with square-shouldered physique, with calm impassive gaze, with skin laved by the air of the prairies and the rivers that irrigate them, you have never been to the great lakes, or sailed on them, wherever they are to be found. So, tell me, why should a pretty girl like me go with you?’

‘You forget that no automobile is carrying you swaying through the streets in powerful thrusts; I don’t seem to see a retinue of gentlemen pressed into livery attending you, murmuring blessings as they follow you in a pedantic semi-circle; your breasts are stowed away tidily enough in your corset, but your hips and thighs make up for their parsimony;  you are wearing a taffeta dress with plissé pleats of the sort that delighted us last autumn, and – garbed in this menace as you are – still you don’t scruple to throw us a smile from time to time.’

‘Yes, we are both quite right, and, lest we become irrefutably persuaded of the fact, why don’t we now each to go to our separate homes.’

For the Consideration of Amateur Jockeys

Nothing, on reflection, is sufficient to tempt one to come first in a race.

The renowned of being hailed as the best rider in the country is too strong at the moment the band strikes up for there not to be some regret on the following morning.

The envy of our competitors, cunning and fairly influential persons, is certain to hurt us in that narrow gap that we must ride through after that plain that lay empty before us, with the exception of a few vanquished horsemen, who minutely approached the edge of the horizon.

Many of our friends hasten to collect their winnings, and only shout their congratulations to us over their shoulders from the booths of various remote turf accountants; our best friends, meanwhile haven’t staked anything on us at all, since they feared their probable losing would compel them to be sore at us, but now that our horse has come in first and they didn’t win anything, they avert their eyes from us and look at the stands we pass.

Our defeated rivals behind us, upright in the saddle, try to see the past the misfortune that has befallen them and the injustice that has wantonly been dealt them; they look newly determined, as for the beginning of a fresh race, an earnest one following this child’s play.

To many of the ladies, the victor will look ridiculous, all puffed up and yet not quite knowing how to go about the endless round of shaking hands, greeting, bowing, and waving to distant admirers, while the defeated jockeys keep their mouths shut, and gently pat the necks of their generally whinnying horses.

And to cap it all, the heavens turn grey, and it starts to rain.

The Window on the Street

Whoever lives in solitude and yet would nevertheless find some form of contact, whoever in view of the changing hours, the weathers, the circumstances of his job and so forth, seeks some arm or other to cling on to – such a man will not be able to get by for very long without a window on the street. And even if he isn’t looking for anything in particular, and is just tired, letting his eyes drift between the public and the sky as he steps up to his window, head back, apathetically, even then the horses will take him away with them in their retinue of waggons and clatter, off in the end to some human participation.

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Imagined Situation: Claude I

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As I walked into the room, he turned off the lamp. The illumination from a standing lamp beside the bed blinded my eyes but I managed to adapt by closing them for three seconds; 1, 2 and 3, I took an unnoticeable deep breath to shrug aside the whimsicality and fastening heartbeat. He smiled finally at eleven at night and I smelled his scalp, it reminded me of a spiritual eucalyptus field, I always wanted to go; I instinctively mimicked his smile. I wandered and lost in my naive fantasy while he was talking about his dreams and espoirs.

It was different that night. He never let me listen to his philosophical stories more than 3 hours but at that time he whispered me to stay. I felt nothing but a simple happiness to have a companion from a man I had vaguely known some time ago.

As I sunk my head into the pillow, he mildly took me near his chest and I could hear the race between his breath and mellifluous heartbeat. We fell asleep locking arms, face to face, eyes to eyes. I kept awake several times at night, I found myself faraway against his direction but my hand always gravitated to his hips. He was still sleeping but led my right hand to his chest where there is a little tattoo in an ancient language means sincerity. I kissed the back of his shoulder with my eyes closed and the morning arrived.

I stared at his Michelangelo’s David face with a prudent adoration, if not infatuation. That should not be something less than love but I appreciated all of my unrehearsed feelings. I let them stay for quite a moment because I knew they never demanded back. I put my hand an inch away from his face and played with the contour. Even without showing his green hazel eyes, I could still amazed by the beauty of his lids and the gallant orbital notch; with his mouth closed, I played my favorite conversation between he and I about God we always doubt, the wilderness of the roads, the beauty of our ancestors, and the separate future we might embrace.

As he woke up, he kissed my head.

“Can you love me this morning?” I unasked

He didn’t say a word. He bit me and we kissed. He started loving me the entire morning.

I captured all of the scenes on my memory before I said goodbye and back to the world.

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Two Kinds of Judgments

It takes courage to write and share our writing online, because people are judgmental in nature. Clever people are intimidating, yet interesting ones. They corrected your grammar, shallow opinion, trivial talks; they made you feel unfulfilled and uncomfortable with your presence. They challenged you to think the opposite of your thinking system, which will expand your thoughts to meet the new intriguing and unpredictable things so that you can learn and stand up for yourself. They will rebut you with wittiness, sarcasm and difficult Latin lexicons but alluring argumentation. They are dangerous to the ignorance.

Stupid people are comforting, they made you believe that they are your ultimate friends. They made you feel comfortable with your being and think that change is unnecessary or a sin. They hailed dogma and identity over rationality, they respond the facts and knowledge you presented with guilt. They absorbed your time with talking about rumors and plain desires. They want you to make tons of children and love to see you being dependent on things you cannot control, because actually they want to see you fall so that they can talk about you with others. They are dangerous to sanity and critical thinking.

These two kinds of people determined their judgments about our writings. There are two kinds of people’s judgments, the good kind and the bad kind. The good one is where people judge something by using facts and knowledge, they carefully analyze and present the hypothesis supported by legitimate and make sense reasons. They are confident with the results but ready to alter their assumptions when new theories failed theirs – the applicability of the theories is another thing to argue.

The bad kind is the easiest to meet. They don’t read and comprehend, they only judge and fight. They are susceptible of radicalization and mobilization.

The latest made up the majority of our society. Be wise with your writings, bad judgments are everywhere.

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Review: Sukin Charcoal Skincare Products

This would be my first review ever of skin care products.

I became a huge fan of organic products for the past year. I love to make a debut by writing my first encounter with an Australian natural skin care brand, Sukin Organics. My best friend, Sabine, gave me a set of charcoal anti-pollution skin care products as a New Year gift when she was abroad a month ago (it’s cute and funny that she bought them in London, not somewhere in Australia :p). What a thoughtful and perfect gift for someone who counter Jakarta’s air pollution in a daily basis like me! Merci mille, my Kakak Sabine 🙂

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I got four products to review: Oil Balancing Purifying Gel Cleanser, Oil Balancing Pore Refining Facial Scrub, Oil Balancing Mattifying Moisturizer and Oil Balancing Anti-Pollution Facial Masque. I’ve been using them for 4 days and I love each of them. Previously I only used Viva Cleansing Milk as a makeup remover and Nivea as a face-body moisturizer for my moderately-oily skin type (I know I’m terrible), so this recent four steps face regimen brought me to the whole new world! Ha ha ha..

This complete face regimen takes 30 minutes to do.

First I dropped a small amount of gel cleanser on my hand and applied it to my face and neck in a circular motion. It’s a gel based cleanser so it left my face slick even after I washed my face with warm water. But once I dried it with towel, it felt so good that it didn’t make my face too dry like when I used other average non-gel based cleanser for oily skin type.

The second step is using the facial scrub. Oh this one is my favorite! The texture is thick and grainy. I put a small drop of it on my fingertips and gently scrubbed my T area, and later to all my face and neck. I adore how soft the beads mingled with my skin, it’s not too coarse or too soft – it’s perfect for me. The light grey color changed my thought about super black charcoal image. I washed my face with cold water and dried it.

The third step is using the facial masque. Again, I thought it would be as black as Daiso Charcoal Mask, but it turned out to be a beautiful light grey color just like the scrub and gel cleanser. I applied it to my face with fingertips and wait 15-20 minutes. Then I washed it thoroughly with a soaked hand towel. I was not attentive enough that there were still masque on my face. I had to wash it again.

I felt magical. LOL. The masque made my skin felt so tender and chewy. Chewy chewy chewy like baby’s butt. Oh yeah!

For the last step, I applied the moisturizer and slept with a literally happy face. Different than the three previous products, the moisturizer is white. It quickly absorbed to skin. I like the fact that it’s non-greasy, totally different from Nivea creme.

I decided to do this complete face regimen twice a week before hitting bed. For my daily routine I only use the cleanser and moisturizer.

In conclusion, I really love the natural and organic charcoal skin care products from Sukin; it went nicely on my face, no allergic and rash, no pimple breakouts. All of them contain of bamboo charcoal, rooibos, bilberry and coconut extracts – all the natural and organic goodness for skin, mine proved it. I’m not really concerned whether it’s certified organic or not, I believe it’s much better than average skin products in the market because Sukin products do not contain a myriad of harsh chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, synthetic fragrances, animal derivatives, harsh detergents, propylene glycol, artificial colours, triethanolamine, mineral oils, EDTA or parabens. Other particular things that I like are the smell, it made me feel so clean and hygiene; the simple packaging and well-written products descriptions. I’ll definitely buy them when they’re finished.

Living in Jakarta demands a full-time commitment dealing with air-pollution, any kind of it. It’s time to take care of myself better by consuming organic products and doing a healthy lifestyle. Sukin has just made it to the list.

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Imagined Conversation with Claude

Me: You are beautiful beyond physical realm, Claude. You should be together with something reciprocal. Why don’t you move to Tibet or –Stan countries instead of staying in Jakarta? Your next place should give you a thorough beauty. I love the way Tibetans and Kazakhs look, they are beautiful. Just like you! There you can be happy surrounded by beauty.

Claude: Beauty is easy to find. We can reflect from the nature, landscape, arts, poems, even from calamity and things that happen in the aftermath. But one should not move merely for the sake of beauty, not for me. Beautiful women are everywhere: the constellation of someone’s body, thoughts, childhood, voice, experience created a complex spectrum of colors for each individual. For me everyone is unique; I appreciated the opportunity to see and grab life from all the people I met. But, I need something bigger than beauty. I haven’t found the answer, but I will keep searching for it. When the time has come, I will let you know: I’m ready to go.

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Whining

I never became so easily distracted that I forgot my presence in order to satisfy others, I sacrificed myself so bad to be exposed by the demands of the crowds I did not really like. I cheered their vagueness and ignorance in a hope to feel accepted and celebrated as a part of the group. When it’s all over, I came home and loathed myself for the facts that I unconsciously adopted their figures into a small chunk of myself. I am a filthy sponge.

I became moody and unenthusiastic to contemplate my life, I skipped my solitary and sacred reading and writing time. It is weird because I used to be fond of them many years before adulthood coming. Now, I barely finished my works or personal projects because the tiredness of being the unwanted version of myself consumed me to the bones. I avoided any chance that put me closer to risks, yet I never felt safe and stable.  Later, all I wanted to do is meeting my good friends – not through the telephone or computer screen, I demanded their presence: their voices, how fast their eyes blinked, wrinkles on their cheeks and nose when they were laughing, the gestures they made to express compassion, their particular choice of words in my mother tongue, their infused British accents, the love and sincerity they had for me, the sense of belonging we created – things that I craved.

Alas, on these days, good friends turned so hard to reach. They are busy growing up which is normal. It created new identity for me: anti-normal. I left myself wandering on my childhood and high school memories for the rawness and freedom that I had, and quickly made a comparison about relationships with my closest people back then and now. Some of them died, others just busy with life, and the rest, I don’t know. Suddenly I examined the word “close”, should it be measured by the distance, blood ties, the shared ideologies and values, the similarities, what? The word close felt not fit in with its original intention any longer.

I took a deep breathe, all changed.

Did I change too?

The last time my good friends and I talked, inevitable frictions sparked; the differences of our views toward dogma, approach of life and humanity widen the gaps between us, we are badly compartmentalized by them. Then, I stopped praying, yet so much questions emerged unanswered – but I know the answers are no longer relied in religion. Or God? And, yes, everyone’s changed.

At the end of the day, I always chose to sleep over the problems and repeated the same days I despised. I curled up inside the blanket, like a giant fetus embracing its frailness and naivety. Far, far away. Escaping from a reality, just for a moment.

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