Strawberry Milky Way

“Hello, you.” she whispers as she softly touches the pink velvet cover of her journal. Hesitant at first, she opens the page where the slither of purple fabric marks June 20th 2019. How can it almost be two years since that day? When she can still feel his presence filling every corner of her chest. She combed through to a page where a dried up orchid lay. A tear fell on top of it. A flower he stole from his mom’s garden. Her heart suddenly ached with a thousand ‘i miss yous’.

She suddenly had the urge to write again. But not where she left off. Somewhere random. Somewhere she might not even remember about. Words she just needed to put to paper. To feel the pen immortalize her thoughts with every stroke of nonsense. Without a backspace or a delete button to erase them.

I never thought I’d bid you goodbye. When all the air in my chest remembers the warmth of your hugs and the scent of your cheap cologne. Axe was it? Dark Temptation.

She put down her pen. She couldn’t.

As she was about to close her journal her phone chimed.

“You up?”

She stared blankly at her phone. Blinked her eyes several times to make sure she was reading his name above the notification on her locked screen. She cursed the Universe for tuning into her thoughts. She slipped her phone under her pillow, laid on her bed holding her journal tight. Allowing herself to be swallowed by the milky way behind her closed eyes.


“Bukan. Ini salah. Tak harusnya begini.” aku berusaha menenangkan adikku yang melolong di tempat tidurku. Tangisnya adalah campuran amarah, rasa bingung dan yang paling terasa adalah kehilangan. Aku sudah lelah berteriak. Karena apapun yang kukatakan atau perbuat tidak sampai padanya. Tidak akan pernah. Aku sudah mati. Membunuh diriku sendiri. Dan Mala masih saja bertanya.

Kupikir dengan mati, segala sakit akan berakhir. Segala tanggung jawab dan tekanan akan hilang.  Kelar.

Sejak dulu, aku tidak pernah percaya pada kelahiran kembali dan hidup setelah mati. Tidak masuk akal saja. Mati ya selesai. Titik. Tamat. Tanggung jawab hanya urusan dunia. Maka jika aku mati, ibarat menyadarkan diri dari mimpi buruk, segala yang tidak mengenakkan akan sirna. Surga? Neraka? Itu hanya akal-akalan para pemuka agama dan orang-orang berharap pada yang ‘eksternal’ untuk disalahkan atas segala kekurangan dan kegagalan mereka.

Ternyata aku yang keliru. Setiap ada yang menyebut namaku atau mengingatku, aku terlahir kembali.  Seperti terjaga dari tidur yang abadi dan diharuskan menyaksikan. Hanya menyaksikan. Jelas sekali, seolah aku ada di antara mereka. Tapi tak kasatmata.

Baba, Mama dan Mala tergelak mendengar Alan mengulang cerita ketika aku meniru gaya bicara dan tingkah Mbak Pia dan tertangkap basah oleh yang bersangkutan, yang karenanya aku didiamkan selama berbulan-bulan. Dan cerita ketika Mala dan aku mencuri mangga tetangga dan harus dibalur minyak tawon dan menahan gatal semalaman gara-gara ulat bulu belum lagi kena omel Baba dan Mama dan mangga hasil curian dimakan habis Alan.

“Kak Lara suka banget ngeledekin Mbak Pia. ‘Mbak Pia dari Jogja ya?’ trus Mbak Pia jawabnya lugu banget, ‘Iya, Non.’ trus, Kak Lara nanya lagi ‘nah, kalo Lumpia dari mana?’ Mbak Pianya belum ngeh kalo dikerjain, Kak Laranya udah ngeloyor pergi. Hihihi.” Mala menyeka airmata sambil melempar pandangan keluar jendela mobil. Tangannya yang kiri meremas lembut tangan Mama.

Tiap terjaga, hanya sakit yang kurasa. Awalnya mungkin bisa ikut ketawa-ketawa. Tapi, rasa kehilangan yang aku hadirkan begitu menusuk dengan caranya yang membingungkan.

Setiap Mama melihat Mala melakukan sesuatu yang baru dengan kehidupannya, ia akan mengingat ‘anak perempuannya yang satu’ lagi. Bertanya-tanya apa kesalahannya dalam mendidikku. Apa yang harusnya ia lakukan yang luput dilakukannya untukku. Tapi suaraku sudah kugadaikan. Dan hukuman ini akan terus berlangsung selama masih ada yang merasa kehilangan Lara.





I Dream of NYC.

I dream of NYC. My teen years and way into my college days were filled with romantic comedies set in this city. I have loved listening to the big band version of Sinatra’s ‘New York’ ever since my dad introduced me to his music which included Barbara Streissand, Andy Williams and Nana Mouskouri. I have always been fascinated with lights. Be it natural lights in the sky or man made lights in buildings and skyscrapers. My idea of a perfect date is just driving through city traffic listening to whatever’s playing on the radio, or simply walking home hand in hand underneath the city lights.

The Big Apple they say: is not as pretty as it looks on your smartphone screen. People get bullied in subways just for being Asian (insert any race here). You shouldn’t touch the subway handles or train bars because they’re full of germs. Alleys hide criminals. You will never survive wearing that hijab on your head. Sirenes go off 24/7. Finding work is brutal. Street corners reek of urine. Where are you going to stay? You know it’s hard to even get a visa to the US. But hopefully not, considering you’ve pledged allegiance for 5 years of your childhood.

I know plenty of fellow Indonesians have chosen a life abroad. Where almost everything makes more sense than here. Especially now, with religion becoming more of a lifestyle than a way of living. Where you are admitted into family group chats full of hoaxes and hatred towards a certain community or religion or people who have an opinion different than them. The group chats you end up muting year after year. Where the education system is fucked up, because it changes with every presidential cabinet. Where the majority of the parliament is out to get haram happiness.

I know how tempting it is to live a life in a kingdom far far away. What an adventure it may be. But the thought of not being able to see my family not even once a year maybe kills me. Before, I thought it would be rad just to escape it all. Find the love of my life doing what I love as a living until I become an old wrinkled raisin (coz I’m sweet like that). But then, they would simply know me as Binda Dian who lives in NY. I can’t watch Gita, Nizam, Prisha, Gaza and Nadine grow up. I can’t be there to hug them when they miss me, or when I miss them. I can’t explain why life is sometimes unfair. I can’t listen to their stories.  I can’t be a part of “the village” that nourishes their souls. I can’t be their friend. I definitely don’t want to feel helpless when I know one or both of my parents have fallen ill. I definitely don’t want to be 24 hours away when Allah decides it is their final day.

I guess. NY might only live in my dreams. In my art. In my books. In my heart. Like a fairy tale land.

Because right now. My life. My loves. Are right here.

Sendirian Aja, Neng

Illustration by @harigelita

This is day #322 of my #uni365project, where I draw every day for a year. The idea is to make drawing and art something I breathe on a daily basis. It is not easy. To be honest, I am lagging by around 15 days. So, if I don’t catch up, by day #365 which falls on April 5th, well… ermm.. nothing will happen actually. Only the fact that I am a human being with my shortcomings. However, I’ve been trying my best to keep on track and I have been feeling the burn and the benefits.

You can see here.

My art on day #1


I had no sense of pallettes, what I enjoy working with, what my style was.

Now, lets take a look at:

My art on day #322

cafe morning (2)

Practice does do you good. Daily pratice especially.

Will I continue to write? Of course!

Will I continue to draw? Absolutely.

Because 2 in 1 shampoos sells easier than a shampoo and conditioner sold separately. IYKWIM.



Ribet? Ngga juga.

Bumi berputar. Masalah datang dan pergi. Dan kita, manusia, hanya bertahan hidup dari hari ke hari. Apa yang telah dipunya. Apa yang belum dipunya. Jangan biarkan keduanya memberatkan pundak. Apa yang telah dipunya, syukuri. Apa yang belum dipunya, doakan. Selesai. Lalu kerjakan apa yang bisa dikerjakan. Yang membawa kesenangan bagi apa yang dipunya dan membuka peluang bagi apa yang belum dipunya.


Ngga juga.



Sad Girls by Lang Leav – A Book Review

What would you do if you fell in love with a boy whose girlfriend you “kind of” killed, when at the time you were already in a serious relationship with the boy next door?

A tall story meant to spice up a gossip session between close friends was overheard by an outsider and caused a snowball effect until someone got really hurt and decided to kill herself. Which unfortunately stands as confirmation to the said lie.

Poor Audrey told that lie.

At the funeral, she met the dead girl’s boyfriend. Both experiencing similar shock, went on an all night drive simply to accompany each other and, well I dunno, ease the burden? Instead, they connected on almost every level.

A simple recipe for disaster, no?

Actually, yes. But most of the story was predictable. The storyline was basic. So I was just reading with not that deep of an interest. Unlike when I read Leav’s poetry. She has a way with words. In her poetry human interactions wrench your heart and makes you wonder how deep is one’s loves to be able to concoct such words, such analogies and stir up other people’s heartache from their depths?

To sum up Leav’s first novel in one word I’d probably use the word “safe”. She played by the book. Obeyed all the plot rules. Abided to her title as the thread that binds the whole story. Almost all girls/females in the book are sad people.

The ending, in my opinion is what makes this first novel quite exceptional. An honest, realistic and simply human conclusion.

If not a 4 out of 5, I would have to give Leav a 3,5 simply because I know this is just her first, and I believe she has plenty of other stories waiting to be told. Hopefully, she will learn to get out of her safety zone and write novels like she writes poetry.



(You are not) Ruled by Hormones

Being a girl sucks. Every month we are taken on this rollercoaster ride of emotions whether we like it or not. Of course we don’t have to pay for the tickets, but we have to pay for any slip of words, sassy attitude, loss of friends we get from that rollercoaster ride.

My mom says, I should know when the hormones are kicking into gear. I have the power to control these feelings. These urges to point out everybody else’s fault except my own. The urge to cry my eyeballs out just by seeing a sentimental commercial. The need to eat everything on the menu and feeling effing fat and miserable afterwards (don’t forget the PMS bloating, where the water contained in your body is a lot more near your period making you look fatter). Then, once your period starts, you’ve lost all apettite whatsoever, for food, for life. Nah, just kidding about the last one. But the frequent trips to the bathroom, checking and changing pads or tampons isn’t exactly ‘ladida hahaha’ fun. You have to make sure not to leave traces of your monthly junk in the bathroom for the next person to scorn in disgust at. Your mom would have to engrain in your head from early on that a clean white underwear is a mark of a decent girl. Then there’s that pep talk you recieve on your first period, which contents are mainly; “you can get pregnant, stay away from boys.” My first reaction was, “Do I stay away from boys only during my period or like forever stay away from them But what about Dad?” << this question obviously was only voiced in my head.

This is what a girl has to go through, throughout her productive part of life. Don’t get me started on the ‘to wear or not to wear make up’ matter (I’ll rant about this in another post).  My PMS is rather weird if not that much different from other girls.  It goes quite like this:

  1. Two weeks before my period my boobies swell and hurt.
  2. One week before I get irritated easily. You make a mistake (especially towards me), I see it, you’re doomed.
  3.  Within the one week before, I crave spicy, sour and soupy foods.
  4. Within the one week before, I am always hungry.
  5. I feel like shit. Like, I’m the ugliest, unlovable, unworthy, piece of human being living on the surface of the planet. This is around 3 to 5 days before my period.
  6. I am bloated. So I am always considering gym memberships at these times.
  7. 1 or 2 days before my period, I can cry my eyeballs out over simply anything that hits the spot.
  8. 1 or 2 days before my period, I will feel the urge to make something. Amazing ideas or thoughts will just pour into my head, begging for release. Which usually only lasts for 12-24 hours, so don’t expect a best selling novel to pop out from that tiny time span. Perhaps just a blog post (like this one) or a neat piece of art.
  9. The period comes and I don’t want to do anything except lie down on my side or on my tummy. Not because I have mean menstrual cramps like most girls do. But I just feel drained (of course, I am only draining out my uteral lining) and don’t wanna, that’s all.
  10. I get back my self confidence on day 2 or 3, become my usual enthusiastic self. All the negativity hiding away someplace and just letting me be the agreeable, kind person I am (for two weeks).

I know all of the above is just a sign of having a healthy female body, of which I am grateful. And I have no objection to any of them. But I just feel, that being a girl (especially in Indonesia) comes with many hassles and life is not that easy on us. Therefore, we are the stronger lot.

I salute my mom, for being able to keep tending to us and everything despite being susceptible to the above wave of emotions too. But Mom, until I can be at least close to your sincerety and love, please bear with me and don’t snap at me on the above mentioned days. Even if you do, I still love you, forever.