Three strangers and hot porridge

It’s me again. So my flight to Penang landed safely at the airport last Monday. A late night flight? It was never a priority to me which in a nutshell Mom bought the tix for me upon a last-minute promotion a month before, or for whatever probable reason behind that. Ah, don’t ask me, of course I was a bit terrified even though I couldn’t express how it felt like. It wasn’t about the new semester I had under my sleeves, well, I was pretty sure it was going to be a slow start of the week, anyway. But if you ever happen to encounter this situation, getting stuck at the airport overnight with no one to accompany you, I wouldn’t have to explain myself over again. But there I was – I decided to head straight to the prayer room like I would usually do, take a rest and stay there until I get to grab a cab in the morning for my next destination. More often than not, I would have someone to accompany me since we go the same university. It was easy that way. For some reasons, my friend already confirmed it to me that she couldn’t make it. She got early flight to catch on two days before me. As much as I wanted it to get over soon, I didn’t want my parents to take care of everything or blame themselves for any uncertainties. Simple, there was no other choice but to convince my parents that it’s going to be okay, that I could handle it well. It did sound like a joke to me. Of course my parents would get worried about it although I’m a big girl already.

So I walked into the prayer room with my luggage. The place was empty – only me – until few minutes later someone entered in a rush. I tried to maintain and cover my anxious. Later then she finished her prayer and we had a little chit-chat. Nothing serious, just to kill time. She thought I was there waiting for the last flight of the night – where do you come from, where are you heading, are you alone, she asked surprisingly – so I simply explained to her about my situation. No empathy intended, really. I wasn’t sure if I was being nice to someone I just met but it wasn’t like I’d meet her anyway after that, right?

After some time she came back into the prayer room. Apart from thinking she might have left her stuff, I saw a concerned remark on her face. “Would you like to come over to my house? Not too far, I can send you tomorrow. I have daughters too and I wouldn’t leave them alone this way. Too cold here.” She asked again if I’m okay with that and her husband too was waiting outside. We both knew well to never talk to strangers but I myself couldn’t resist the offer. She sounded just like Mom. I guessed I’d just follow my heart, so I struggled to pack all my stuff with her leading me to the bench outside where her husband was. “Uncle Azizul too is a Mechanical Engineer,” she introduced him to me. I nodded and introduced myself back. “Just call me Auntie Zarina.”

Then I texted my parents to inform them regarding the invitation only after we got into the car. Mom too had her flight to KL an hour after mine had departured. She didn’t reply to my text – though she was supposed to arrive earlier than me – because her flight got delayed for some time. It was midnight as the road was already empty. They asked if I wanted to eat something so we went to McD drive-thru and ordered porridge for me. It was such a nice ride because they really wanted the conversation to go real between us so I didn’t feel left out at the passenger seat. She reminded me these for many times, “If it wasn’t because we decided to delay to perform the prayer before our flight back to here, god wouldn’t let us meet each other.” She was sad and really wanted to send off her daughter to NZ but their flight came off first so they couldn’t make it. “And then I found you.”

I think that would be the first time since forever that I thanked god for sending kind people to me – not because I deserve such kindness or I truly beg for it or I rush into making decisions. Probably because I was tested to be more grateful towards anything people have offered to me. Also the prayers I got from my parents, well, without them I won’t become the person I am today.

So here’s to many more years and the lessons I’m willing to learn from any strangers I’d call family.

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Untuk Pertama Kalinya

Untuk pertama kalinya, aku berkelakuan bodoh dengan mengatakan “I’m done with this relationship, this friendship, or whatever it is to you,” kepada dia. Without any apparent reasons. Kemudian barulah aku terdetik ingin tahu apa reaksi dia walaupun aku sendiri belum bersedia untuk terima hakikat: bodohnya aku sebab cakap macam tu. Ada jeda di situ. Dia diam lama juga sampaikan aku rasa it is better kalau aku terus-terang je dekat dia yang that was so spontaneous gila. Mungkin kalau dia dengar intonasi aku, dia akan tahu aku cuma bergurau. Tapi sengaja aku cakap aku busy, can’t even receive any calls at the moment. “Are you there?” Iya, dia menjawab, aku masih mendengar (membaca). Boleh tahu kenapa? I’m confused. One moment, we were just fine tapi lepas tu tiba-tiba cakap pasal ni, kenapa? 

Betapa coolnya dia masa tu sampaikan aku tak sampai hati nak berburuk sangka ataupun mengutuk dia (dalam fikiran aku masa tu boleh je aku made up some situations and he was the one to put the blame on. Lagipun dia memang annoying – haha nampak sangatlah aku jahat sebab suka cari point untuk jatuhkan kawan sendiri kan?), sampailah aku jujur: I was just joking, sorry.

Dan untuk kali pertama aku berfikir that was quite a mean joke, honestly. Among any other countless jokes – the hambar ones and the bullshit ones – we’ve ever encountered, his or mine, itulah antara lawak yang dipersembahkan bukan untuk jadi bahan gelak sesiapa pun. It should be kept or locked inside my mind only – because it’s never that funny or meant to be funny. Because my mind or imaginations are all funny and stupid. I look stupid for that, I know. Dan memang gila la sebab kalau kau ada kawan baik yang dah kenal banyak tahun, ada ups and downs sama-sama, tiba-tiba dia datang dan cakap “rasanya kita tak serasi berkawan lah after all these years.”

Untuk pertama kalinya juga, aku sedar kekadang kawan yang dah tahu betapa hambarnya kita ni pun boleh terlupa untuk pura-pura ketawakan lawak hambar yang kita buat. Hari itu dia juga terlupa untuk turut gelak bersama aku yang masih tersengih-sengih setelah berkata “I was just joking.” Selepas-selepas itu, dia banyak membebel dan mengutuk that joke sangatlah tidak kelakar. Aku bersungguh-sungguh minta maaf, tidak mengapa katanya. Aku tahu tu cuma bergurau. Dan kita ini, manusia, tidak mungkin semuanya sempurna. 

Tidak mungkin semuanya sempurna. Itu aku anggap cliche, selalu sangat kita dengar dan sebut – atau bagi certain people, they often use that untuk membenarkan kesalahan yang mereka buat. Benda cliche memang membosankan walaupun sebenarnya setiap satu cliche tu ada kebenaran dia sendiri yang kita tak nak say yes to. Kita buat silap hari ini, masih ada orang yang boleh menerima diri kita apa adanya. Sebab orang-orang sebegitu berfikir: peluang sentiasa ada untuk orang yang masih mahu mencuba jadi yang terbaik kepada orang lain. Dan tuhan sediakan peluang-peluang tersebut pada setiap hari di mana kita masih hidup di dalamnya. Mungkin sebelum (masih lagi) ini, aku selalu take things for granted. Semua benda-benda baik yang orang buat dekat aku, aku malas ataupun sengaja tidak mahu ingat. Benda-benda buruk yang orang buatlah yang aku kenang sampai bertahun lamanya, kelakar bukan?

And the joke is still on me.

Happiness is Fickle

“I listened to your playlists yesterday. Can I keep them?”

He kicked the ball towards my direction with the earphones dangling from his front pocket. It was quite far than what he did for the record yesterday. So I jogged past some kids as they giggled “Look! Baby crabs!” and jumped spontaneously from one spot to another. I approached him for another kicking session. Then I brushed the sand out of his hair – we both knew I wanted to discard them but my fingers seemed to allow the tiny bits even more there – focused and heard him whisper, “You’re not even listening.” I swore that slapped me hard in the face and he probably could hit me again with another farce. But I wasn’t ignoring; I wanted to distract him from the truth I had before my sealed lips.

I heard you, I heard you. “Sure, you can keep them. Are you uhm okay?”

At first glance, it seems artless. Something that is so straightforward when someone – who can’t even spend some time sitting in the same room with me – is piqued by something we both often argue about for as long as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong. It did sweat me with anxiety when we played that “guess these songs” game from his playlists. He shuffled the songs. So I listened intently, dengan kepala dah angguk along with the rhythms. For the first time he confessed, “I wanted you to learn something from this Radiohead guys but nevermind, lain kali jelah. Or maybe, Foals. The Smiths.” Dia membebel banyak lagi tapi dah lupa apa. Sejak tu aku dah mula curi-curi dengar album Madness dan My Head is an Animal. Above all that, aku sebenarnya lost passion in music dan bukan jenis yang “oh gila lah deep cut dia ni”. Tak pernah pun terfikir macam tu. Banyak dengar dari feedback dia je. And I was pretty sure he didn’t want to discuss about “kalau you dengar yang ni maybe I can fall for you even more” or “tahu tak mana satu lagu ni diorang punya masterpiece?” when he pointed that out on a whim. He wanted to be heard. He wasn’t happy. Dan dia bagitahu semua tu melalui lagu-lagu yang dia dengar.

“I listened to your playlists yesterday. Can I keep them?”

There was a pause.

“You’re not even listening.”

I heard you, I heard you. “Sure, you can keep them. Are you uhm okay?”

“Haha quite busy but I’m okay. I’m happy now.”

For many years, he wanted to be happy and he finally found his way. Mungkin orang lain akan fikir jadahnya dia ni pasal taste music pun boleh emo bertahun macam takde life – so did he distract you from minding your own business? Kalau dia dah selesa berkawan dengan kau mestilah dia share masalah dengan kau. Kau ni a-holes kot sebab tu dia – I’m all his ears, his walls. Tapi aku respect his privacy and I’m not entertained to hear any bullshits, unless kau suka macam tu? Sebenarnya kalau diikutkan – he even claimed this – aku berkawan dengan orang yang unhappy and he said I shouldn’t. What’s wrong if we are not happy? Orang yang dok cakap orang lain tak happy pun mungkin bingung dengan diri sendiri. Kelakarnya. Pernah sekali aku marah dia sampai berbulan tidak bertegur sapa hanya sebab aku tak boleh fikir jawapan kepada “find your own ways to be happy”. Dengan pujukan kawan kemudian aku belikan this one album yang dia minat sangat, only to say my sorry. Of course, that won’t make him happy but at least he felt satisfied. Maybe now, he found the reasons why.

Kenapa orang perlu anggap it’s their obligation to make someone happy whenever they found out that person isn’t happy? If they’re not happy, they’re not unhappy. Some people want (or choose) to get hurt so that they can heal. Dalam dunia yang gila ni, kau sebenarnya hanya perlu berlakon – no matter what it takes – menjadi orang yang sibuk so that tidak terikut sama dengan standards yang orang raihkan. Samada kau menjadi sibuk because you’re interested in it and you like challenges, or try so hard fitting into others definitions “how to be happy.” Kau sibukkan diri bukan sebab nak jadi anti-social atau tak peduli dengan surroundings. Get busy in something you find interesting. Be busy because you’re interested in it. Maybe the issue here isn’t really about “dengarlah cakap orang ni kalau nak bahagia”, but you know, just in case kau betul-betul dah boleh bahagia, I hope you remember all the storms and rains you ever had before. That is what keeps you alive. A base line you have already established as a reference – so that when something turns out wrong, you will remember that line and how you cannot cross it.

.

“Sure, you can keep them. Are you uhm okay?”

“Haha quite busy but I’m okay. I’m happy now.”

.

But you do know you can cross it, don’t you?

A Man Like Him Forever

Last night was cool – had that kind of relaxing conversation with him as we meditated on stuff happening in our life. Nothing more than mentioning about how thankful we both are for all the little things we keep forgetting about, the time-lapse that seems too superfluous and his preposterous jokes on me being shy. It was far from my expectation, the moment I let him in for the things I am not supposed to relinquish. Yet thinking how something inadequate can take me to an obscure level out of the darkness rooted in my heart. Even my words are getting complex now, no?

Every time I told him how disappointed I was to have insecurities guarding up these walls, he would always try to bring them down. So I woke up today realizing how mediocre my excuses were when he asked me when’s the last time you talk to your parents? 

Because today, my favorite hero turns 49.

—-

For many years, I admit that I don’t have something joyful about childhood pasted in my mind. Truth is, I wanted to erase them off in any possible ways but it appeared to be much worse. Perhaps it is easier to leave anything behind for something new or something I want to set my eyes on or something I find more interesting. You know, in any palpable form you can imagine about. Anything.

But when it comes to feelings or memories – I wish I were a better lover, daughter, and friend. I wish I would know my late Mom more than feel regret. Because more often than not, I dispute this major feeling when it reminds me of Dad (or my late Mom) – a feeling that can likely wake me up from being sinful – for I am just a loser, a failure to them in essence.

Dad defines my source of strength, always. He’s supportive, protective and any other adjectives I can’t even use to describe his whole existence in this writing, yet I’m feeling beyond content to have him as part of this story-telling. His presence or the idea of whom he is to me reminds me of everything we as a family had gone through over many years.

It wasn’t easy switching from a single father of five to a teacher for hundreds of students at one time. I didn’t know that – never imagined how it feels like to think and act as an adult – until Dad remarried another amazing woman (Mom) and it somehow changed my perspectives, beliefs, and reliance ever since. My sister and I were sent to a boarding school and it became a major turning point in my life. Dad was glad for that, of course, expecting us to be as bold as him while we only made things harder to deal with. Yeah, I survived the hell for five years, at last. If I could turn back Time, I would like to tell my younger self to take back all the words that’d hurt them. I really wish I could.

—-

You are a great teacher, thank you for everything.

Just so you know

All my prayers and thoughts are with you, Abah.

Happy Birthday xx.

Love,

Your troublesome daughter.

Confession: Newton’s Third Law is not ReallyAnthem

My blog touches more about my personal stuff than the informative ones if you doubt the things I have ever put here. It is not about how deliberately particular myself is to keep going with what I have in my head to reach my readers’ expectations, yet I admit that I have my own ups and downs in writing all along.

I am always committed to saying “writing is not really my forte” but the truth is, I would rather speak my mind in words than be loud in front of many people. I am not someone with many words in real life. If I can fit into this skin to deliver such thoughts without being told by society to do the otherwise, it would not hit me any guilty at all to receive comments to either help my writing grows or get it ruined. It is all about perspective.

In my first post, I was writing about how everyone can be a better writer if we keep practicing more and more to encourage ourselves being outside the comfort zone. Although I can go far without being someone who writes under the bed, it is common sense to concede that everyone can be good at something. I have been doing not so great on blogger for about 6 years now if I can recall it correctly – I started off in November 2010. Well, you did expect that my parents would let me rant about “how suck my Art teacher is when I am in Standard 4”, didn’t you? Never mind, you can do the Math yourself. I was so into blogging once realizing I had some of my friends on blogger too. There is nothing to brag about it but what else to say knowing that at least we had something in common?

It was obviously a phenomenon back then. Just until the SPM year came, I guess blogging is not my priority anymore. The passion only lasted for about three years and I can assure you that I keep changing and deleting blogs for no apparent reasons. Just like TayTay and her never ending break-ups. I think I still got my blog updated for a few times when I was in my Foundation year but I only made the blog accessible to a few people. If I could pick one label for my posts, it would be an honor to put them all under the “bullshits you do not wish to read” category. You already figured it out. I cannot actually get them deleted but I can pretend that I did.

Berita Harian Blogger Remaja – 18 May ago

I do not know whom would I sing my gratitude to other than my family. My parents inspire me to get better ideas on what writing and drawing are all about – albeit the only thing I have achieved so far is being cynical towards something that could not satisfy my skyrocketed curiosity. You do not wish to know what kind of statement it would be, but you get the idea, right? My Dad sees the potential in me and my sister so he keeps supporting us to produce creative stuff or get involved in a business – I disagree with Dad most of the time because of time constraint, also, we need partners for that – but I could not see myself more than a loser.

We always had a nice talk over dinner. I looked and smiled at him to each time he told me that at one point in our life, we all need to invest our creativity into something that is priceless yet affordable for others to have. Make people happy, he reminded me. At least it does not really bother me enjoying the things that I do for such a long time and I am not really looking forward to making money from there. If I am getting myself promoted that means I am open not only for opportunities but challenges as well. The pressure I am struggling to overcome make me wide awake, just nope, optimistic is not my middle name.

After a few months hiatus, I decided to make a move in August 2015. Therefore, here I am having time to still write something redundant for myself. Magenta – one of the people whom I always look up to – has helped me in many ways I could not attempt to be as a better-than-you writer. You may say that our minds are incompatible to the ways we both write about stuff, yet her blog is probably the main reason why I wanted to start fresh besides learning how to speak for myself.

It is clear to see I am not that smartass kid in the class and gets famous for the things I know, so I am open to honeyed words or criticisms to everything I post here. I am aware that we cannot control the reactions from people, but honestly, sometimes it leaves me hanging when people tend to think that “agree to disagree” is the dumbest thing they can do or react online. Disagree does not always mean you throw tantrums at people or tell them to dismiss from the discussion rudely. God – it sucks when people think they are proof (read: kalis) from any criticisms. Newton’s third law, say no more. Formally stated, Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The trope is so cliche but geez you get the meaning, right?

Yes, we do have our limits. There is nothing wrong with being mediocre and keeping some things to ourselves, but saying yes to everything is not okay too. I do not wish to touch on the right and privilege stuff anyway. If you have a preconceived idea of what disagree or agree on means, you know what to do then.

Till then.

Here I Go Again

En route to Penang.

I am thinking that maybe – at least for the moment I am letting this slip out of my mind – I should just stay away from my dreams for a while. Not that I declare it as something I already gave up from nor do I want to press any subject into matters, apart from knowing this is just the aftermath I have reluctantly wished for putting myself in this balderdash. Unless it is something I can wait – for it to happen the way I want it to be – I must confess the dumbest ways it might just turn out wrong. Even worse, my actions are agreeing to how patently absurd it is to say I can be all the things I said in my late night prayers. “When was the last time you went off to meditate on the guilty you had inside?” My mind asking me as if I am a saint who doesn’t need her temple around in any form but I just can’t stop playing Lana Del Ray’s in my head. God – should I laugh at my temptation to get these shady feelings cobwebbed in the small box under my dusty bed?

I should not feel this exhausted because I am trying to convince myself it sure would be a hella tough semester all along – I do not know – but there are lots more to come. I went to settle the documents for JPA this morning then got back for my English class at 1630 with a horrible face – God how could I describe and complaint about the “things” I see every day on my face? Perhaps one can tell it by looking at my panda eyes. Just cannot show it here though. Thankfully, everything went well for everyone despite some errors made on the papers – yes, my papers – and I gotta pretend that I was all right without my parents to scold me for the things I did wrong. At least, I was silently praying they were there to help me see things clearly while I was just too dumb to ask people my doubts. Growing up, that fears me most. You see, I could not even depend on myself now when my parents are not around, that worries me too, although I am not going to let them baby myself for something like this. I do not think I have issues with asking questions or sitting in the front row.

Maybe I am just afraid to parent myself.

Surat-surat RA Kartini

Berkongsi sedikit isi-isi daripada buku Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang (“Door Duisternis Toot Licht”), terjemahan oleh Armijn Pane. Kartini Raden Ajeng ini ialah seorang wanita yang dikagumi ideanya – bukan saja atas hal memperjuangkan hak bangsa Indonesia – malah sering menjadi suara bagi wanita lainnya.

Sewaktu kecil, Kartini pernah dimarahi oleh guru yang mengajarnya mengaji (membaca Quran) kerana dia bertanyakan maksud di sebalik ayat-ayat tersebut. Sejak itulah terjadinya konflik dalam diri Kartini.

“Mengenai agamaku Islam, Stella, aku harus menceritakan apa? Agama Islam melarang umatnya mendiskusikannya dengan umat agama lain. Lagi pula sebenarnya agamaku karena nenek moyangku Islam. Bagaimana aku dapat mencintai agamaku, kalau aku tidak mengerti, tidak boleh memahaminya? Al-Quran terlalu suci, tidak boleh diterjemahkan kedalam bahasa apa pun. Di sini tidak ada orang yang mengerti bahasa Arab. Di sini orang diajar membaca Al-Quran tetapi tidak mengerti apa yang dibacanya. Kupikir, pekerjaan orang gilakah, orang diajar membaca tapi tidak diajar makna yang dibacanya itu. Sama saja halnya seperti engkau mengajarkan aku buku bahasa Inggris, aku harus hafal kata demi kata, tetapi tidak satu patah kata pun yang kau jelaskan kepadaku apa artinya. Tidak jadi orang sholeh pun tidak apa-apa, asalkan jadi orang yang baik hati, bukankah begitu Stella?”- Surat Kartini kepada Stella Zihandelaar, 6 November 1899

“Dan waktu itu aku tidak mau lagi melakukan hal-hal yang tidak tahu apa perlunya dan apa manfaatnya. Aku tidak mau lagi membaca Al-Quran, belajar menghafal perumpamaan-perumpamaan dengan bahasa asing yang tidak aku mengerti artinya, dan jangan-jangan guru-guruku pun tidak mengerti artinya. Katakanlah kepadaku apa artinya, nanti aku akan mempelajari apa saja. Aku berdosa, kitab yang mulia itu terlalu suci sehingga kami tidak boleh mengerti apa artinya.” – Surat Kartini kepada E.E. Abendanon, 15 Ogos 1902

Juga ada waktu Kartini datang mengunjungi bapa saudaranya di Demak atas suatu hal pengajian. Inilah antara dialog Kartini bersama Kyai Sholeh Darat, sebagaimana yang telah dicatat oleh Nyonya Fadhila Sholeh, cucu kepada Kyai.

“Kyai, perkenankanlah saya menanyakan, bagaimana hukumnya apabila seorang yang berilmu, namun menyembunyikan ilmunya?”

“Mengapa Raden Ajeng bertanya demikian?” Kyai Sholeh Darat kembali bertanya.

“Kyai, selama hidupku baru kali inilah aku sempat mengerti makna dan arti surat pertama, dan induk Al-Quran yang isinya begitu indah menggetarkan sanubariku. Maka bukan buatan rasa syukur hati aku kepada Allah, namun aku heran tak habis-habisnya, mengapa selama ini para ulama kita melarang keras penerjemahan dan penafsiran Al-Quran dalam bahasa Jawa. Bukankah Al-Quran itu justru kitab pimpinan hidup bahagia dan sejahtera bagi manusia?”

——

Ini ditulis bukanlah sebagai rujukan untuk sesiapa. I found this quite interesting to read – though I may not know how exactly the letters were originally written in  Dutch, yet the one I read interprets it for me how she wrote it  very thoughtful and beautiful. How can one not be impressed for a woman at the turn of 20th century to really have thoughts like woman nowadays? Unfortunately, she died at the very young age of 25 after giving birth to her first born child. The story doesn’t end up there, banyak lagi hal-hal yang terjadi setelah itu di mana kesukaran Kyai untuk menterjemahkan Quran pada waktu pemerintahan Belanda. I know this will be slow-going but I’m still trying to finish my reading.

Till then.