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Letters To My Younger Self

Dear 5 year old Dian,

Today you will get a new nickname, it’ll last for a week or so. I don’t know what you were thinking but being called ‘Kisser Girl’ and chasing boys all around the school yard is not cute. Crazy, I guess. But definitely not cute.

So what if the other girls don’t want to play with you? You draw really nice. You have a way with your hands. Boys are dense creatures that misinterpret everything girls do or say. Like you wanting to play tag and get called names instead.

Don’t ever think of killing yourself just because you haven’t any friends. You have your brothers and Mom and Dad. Your brothers, as much as they act like they despise you, will always have your back. Pilar will hook you up with great music and the love of cartoons and Yogas will teach you how to ride a bike and make friends. Oh, and for one thing, holding back your own breath hardly ever kills. It’ll make you be able to last longer swimming under water though :D.

Dear 10 year old Dian,

I bet you’re hating Indonesia right now. Especially after being laughed at by the whole class for being made fun of by Pak Ferry that sleazy art teacher. Yogas had it worse, Pak Ferry made him sing Indonesia Raya. Dad and Mom forgot to teach us that song. Poor Yogas. No worries, by 9th grade you’ll be way taller than Pak Ferry and you will go to a better college than him. Some place where they don’t teach you to make fun of little kids.

Indonesia will be cool in no time. You’ll catch up. You’ll have a crush on the transfer kid from Surabaya. Oh, you’ll have a crush on him all the way till junior high. As bitter as crushes may seem at the time, they are like training wheels of love. You practice to obsess on one guy at a time. He will eventually get married and you will be friends with him when you’re all grown up. He is a genuine sweetheart. I knew you had good taste in boys. Back then..

Dear 15 year old Dian,

I heard a guy just asked to be your boyfriend. You shouldn’t cringe like that. He was just trying to be a gentleman opening the Dunkin Donuts door for you. Sometimes your intuition saves you from stupid mistakes, this is one of them. You made a good choice asking Mom’s advice and writing that ‘I Want To Concentrate On My Studies’ letter.

Just so you know, that boy you turned down will go around telling everybody that you were his first girlfriend. It’s ok. He’s got a handful of kids by now and he’s lost a bunch of people’s trust on the financial sector. Let him be.

Dear 20 year old Dian,

I wish I could have wrote to you sooner. Before you wasted 5 years of your precious life in an unhealthy relationship. Men who disrespect your parents are not worth the fight. Are not worth the sweat of your father and tears of your mother. But I guess I wouldn’t have learned my lesson if you hadn’t gone through all that pain. I’m just glad he’s over with and you are now as confident and happy with yourself as ever.

Dear 25 year old Dian,

Being confident and happy doesn’t mean you can go around doing all this foolish stuff. Just remember Allah is watching and karma can be a bitch. Unless your intentions are purely for research in pursuing your dreams as a bestselling author. Oh, I don’t know. I’m just glad you’ve stopped in the knick of time.

Dear 30 year old Dian,

Not being married at this age does not make you a failure. It just makes you a bit picky. It gives you more time to better your self in many ways before handing over the prize — that is YOU! — to the deserving man. You might get cold feet several times. You might not go all the way while you should have. You might get turned down more than three times. But I for one know you more than you do. I know you are a smart girl. You slip and fall a lot, but you always get back up and smile.

This guy you’re with, might not be Mr. Right. But only God knows whats right for you, right?

Love, Present Dian.

Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
What’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions but only illusions.
Rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.

Someday we’ll find it the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered, when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of it, someone believed it.
Look what its done so far.

What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
What do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell, we know that its probably magic.

Have you been half asleep?
And have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Written by: Jerry Juhl & Jach Burns

Verily, verily your God is One

It is a fact intimately connected with our own life and destiny. ‘ Your Lord is one Who cares for you and cherishes you ; you are dear to Him, And He is One : it is only He that you have to look to, the source of a goodness, love, and power. You are not the sport of many contending forces or blind chances. There is complete harmony and unity in heaven and you have to put yourselves into unison with it -by discipline in ranks, by God. Here is the mystery of the manifold variety of creation verging into the absolute Unity of the Creator. 


Commentary on Verse 4 Surah Saffat of the Holy Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

Dear Kyoto

Dear Kyoto,

Kemarin saat menjenguk Tante Dayu aku ditanya Tetty, “Kapan ke Jepang lagi?” Kujawab saja, “Entahlah, mungkin 3 tahun lagi.”

Sudah lama ada semacam janji di dalam hati untuk menengokmu paling tidak 5 tahun sekali.

Menapaktilasi seluruh jalan yang kujejaki. Shirakawa, Kitayama, Karasuma, Teramachi.

Mendengarkan suara yang dikeluarkan lampu lalu lintas untuk para tuna netra, suara burung gagak yang gemar mengacak-acak sampah, kumbang yang dengingnya menandakan kehadiran musim panas dan suara speaker tukang ubi bakar yang sedikit mengobati rasa rindu pada suara adzan.

Melihat eksekutif muda berjas tapi tetap mengendarai sepeda, mencuci mata di Shinkogyoku meski pulang tanpa membeli apa-apa, dan menghentikan kayuhan di lampu merah hanya karena langit senja yang kelewat indah untuk dilewatkan. Sakura dan Momiji, tentu saja! Bagaimana mungkin saya bisa lupa!

Mengakrabi modernisasi yang bersanding serasi dengan tradisi. Turun sedikit ke daerah Gion dan jika sedang beruntung bisa bertemu dengan sosok ayu para Maiko. Restoran rumahan ternama yang dari luar tampak bersahaja namun begitu makanannya masuk mulut, lidahmu berpesta pora.

Aku merindukanmu, Kyoto.
Kau ingat siapa diriku?

Gadis yang saat gajian dengan dan tanpa malu-malu makan sushi 100 yenan 7 piring sendirian.

Kau pasti ingat diriku kan, gadis ceroboh yang jatuh ke parit di tengah deras hujan?

Kalau belum ingat juga, aku gadis yang patah hati dan mengendarai sepeda berderai air mata dari Jembatan Sanjo sampai Stasiun Kecil Shuugakuin. Ditemani ‘Simple Together’nya Alanis Morrissette. Mungkin kau pernah iba padanya tanpa bisa melakukan apa-apa selain menghela nafas sepanjang jalan.

Atau begini saja sedikit membuka rahasia semoga ibuku tidak baca, aku gadis yang berciuman di halte bus saat salju perlahan turun, lewat jam 9 malam.

Tertanda,
Reinkarnasi Murasaki Shikibu

Bagi orang Bule, Indonesia adalah Bali. Bagiku, Jepang adalah Kyoto.

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee & His Life Recipe

Question: What would you like people to think of you when you are gone?

Muhammad Ali:

I’d like them to think,
He took a few cups of Love
He took one tablespoon of Patience
One tablespoon teaspoon of Generosity
One pint of Kindness
One quart of Laughter
One pinch of Concern
In the end, he mixed Willingness with Happiness
Added lots of Faith
And he stirred it up well
Then he spread it over his span of a lifetime
And he served it to each and every deserving person he met.

Photo courtesy of http://i.telegraph.co.uk/

Surat Berkedok Puisi

“Kau tahu? Hari ini aku hampir mati.” ucapnya dengan wajah berseri.

Jangankan kamu, aku yang menatap wajahnya setiap pagi, tak kunjung mengerti. Mengapa “andai aku mati besok” menjadi topik pembicaraan favoritnya akhir-akhir ini.

Apakah ia telah lelah? Atau hanya sebuah trend yang sedang ‘happening’ dalam benaknya yang warna-warni.

Langit mengingatkanmu pada alam pikirannya yang selalu berubah, katamu. Lautan, katamu, adalah dadanya.

Bagiku ia lentera. Lentera yang bermimpi menjadi mercusuar.

Bagiku ia kaleidoskop. Kadang bikin pusing tapi seringnya menyenangkan. Padahal ia hanya serpih-serpih warna yang dipantulkan kaca. Sederhana.

Sesederhana caranya merebut sebongkah hati dengan memeluk seulas senyuman.

Bagiku ia pelukan juga telapak tangan sumber ribuan bahkan jutaan usapan untuk siapapun yang ia sayang. Salah satunya usapan di punggung pacarnya yang baru kena tilang.

“Kau tahu? Hari ini aku hampir mati.” Ucapnya sekali lagi, “Lucunya, saat elevator mendadak gelap dan gravitasi menyedotku beberapa tingkat, di dalam benak, justru bayangan Aan Mansyur yang berkelebat.”

Setelah mengucapkan kalimat itu ia diam, mimiknya berubah serius dan menatapku lekat-lekat. Aku hanya bisa balas menatapnya, pun dalam diam.

Tertanda,
Pantulannya

I miss you, Sis.

Apa kabar, Kak Sekar?

Jogja sering turun hujan belakangan ini. Halaman belakang tempat kita ngobrol sore terakhir Kakak datang, sampai tergenang dan kini menjadi tempat main favorit Max. Untung Mas Kemal punya banyak koleksi kaos partai yang bisa dipakai untuk main yang kotor-kotor :). Come to think of it, mungkin anggotadewanyangterhormat menganut tagline yang sama dengan sabun cuci yang akrab di tangan ibu-ibu: “Ngga kotor, ngga belajar.” Hehehe.

Kak Sekar harus tanggung jawab, aku sekarang jadi suka hujan! Tau kan ruang tamu mini di rumah miniku ini? Yang saking sempitnya temboknya jendela semua? Itu tuh sekarang jadi tempat ter-PW di rumah saat hujan! Air hujan menjadikan warna-warna daun dan bunga di taman kecilku semakin cerah. Udah gitu suara hujan yang menitik pada kaleng-kaleng susu bekas seperti orkestra kecil-kecilan persembahan alam. Kita harus ngobrol di sana kapan-kapan. Pas hujan tentunya :) You’ll love it. Aku buatin teh Twinings Orange kesukaan Kak Sekar dan bolu kukus rasa lemon kesukaan anak-anak. Trus kita buka sesi curhat seperti biasa. Kak Sekar tentang love-hate relationshipnya sama kerjaan plus cowok-cowok loser yang tidak kunjung sadar betapa istimewanya kakakku dan aku yang mengeluh tentang hal-hal sepele seperti noda oli di celana kerja suami dan anak-anak yang sulit disuruh tidur siang. Insya Allah nanti kalau dapat arisan, aku mau beli sofa super empuk dan penuh bantal-bantal kursi agar sesi curhat bisa semakin nyaman.

Kakakku yang cantik, bener banget apa yang Mama pernah bilang. Ternyata kalau jauh kita semakin akur dan saling sayang yah? Karena jauh atau karena merasa sudah terlalu tua untuk berantem? Atau karena koleksi episode-episode pertengkaran membuat kita cukup mengenal watak masing-masing? Apa yang disukai dan tidak disukai? Aku ingat betul pertengkaran terbesar abad ini antara aku dan Kak Sekar. Ah, tapi pasti Kak Sekar juga ingat. Kalau dipikir-pikir konyol banget kita bisa sampai dikadali cowok yang sama. And I hope his wife is karma, because karma is a bitch. *istighfar* Most important of all, I hope you’ve forgiven me for all the hurtful comments I didn’t really mean.

Kak Sekar yang mekar (seperti bunga, bukan adonan. hehehe) *peyuuuuk*. Aku baru donlot puluhan lagu kesukaanmu. Berasa sekamar lagi dengan Kak Sekar yang tanpa ampun mencekoki aku dengan Donna Lewis dan Celine Dion lalu Boyz II Men dan Nirvana. Belum lagi suara 'indah' Kak Sekar yang selalu mengiringi. Alhamdulillah (ngga pake 'yah') sekarang sudah banyak tempat karaoke yang mau menampung bakat nyanyi Kak Sekar di ruangan kedap suara :p Tapi jujur lho kak, all those songs really bring me back to you. *mendadak mellow*

Eh tapi, kurasa Mas Kemal menyesal telah mengajarkan istrinya cara mendonlot, sampai-sampai dibuat peraturan kalau weekend aku dilarang internetan. Weekend adalah gilirannya main Point Blank sampai blank. Kalau ngga inget ngasih contoh baik ke anak-anak, bisa tuh Mas Kemal ngga mandi sampai 48 jam non-stop, berhenti main cuma karena ketiduran. Tapi sekarang sudah agak mendingan, Mas Kemal mau berhenti untuk mandi dan makan bareng anak-anak. Kalau udah asik sama komputernya, biasanya aku mengajak anak-anak keluar (baca: ke mal). Jangan cemberut gitu dong Kak, gini-gini kan Mama mereka butuh kembali ke habitat asalnya. Meski kadang jengkel kenapa semakin banyak mal dibangun di kota yang notabene 'Kota Pelajar' ini. Pasti jaman Kak Sekar kuliah dulu, Jogja masih teguh memegang predikat tersebut, jadi kepikiran ntar Max dan Maya harus disekolahkan di mana? Masa iya, ke Malaysia? *galau*

Kakakku sayang, maafin Tika ya, tahun ini ngga sempat pulang ke Jakarta untuk nyekar. Mas Kemal lagi kedatangan peneliti tamu dari Australia dan harus selalu standby kalau beliau butuh pertolongan apa-apa. Surat-surat ini semacam terapi rindu di samping doa-doa yang kupanjatkan untuk Mama, Papa dan Kak Sekar. Semacam usaha menghidupkan kembali orang-orang yang amat kucinta. Tika pernah baca di suatu tempat bahwa mencintai adalah kebutuhan. Manusia cuma butuh menyalurkan cinta, itu saja. Seperti aku dan waktu yang kuluangkan untuk menulis surat-surat ini. Adalah cinta. Meski tak terkirim, aku yakin Alam Semesta telah meneguk cinta yang tertuang di dalamnya dan menyampaikannya kemanapun Mama, Papa dan Kak Sekar berada.

Jogjakarta, 14 Februari 2009

Dari yang sangat merindukan Kalian,
Atika

Message in a PET Bottle

Dear You,

I don’t know why the Universe picked you but you are definitely one of a billion. To open up a PET bottle with a letter in it takes a special kind of mind. A mind that doesn’t only see trash, but sees potential, sees the rolled up paper within as a pleasant surprise.

SURPRISE!

I have no name. I come from no where. I just happen to know the most common language on this planet. Okay, perhaps to narrow things down a bit, let’s just say I am an Earthling. I breathe. I eat. I breed. I die. Actually, I will die quite early compared to the latest statistics. I will die within one month, so says my doctor.

My previous letter was filled with all my complaints to The Big Guy Upstairs for the cards He decked me and how crumby my life turned out to be. Whoever got that one must be depressed as hell now. But I sure hope no one got that one. I hope the Universe deemed it too dark to consume and let it get bitten by a shark and leak and sink to the bottom of the ocean. I hope.

I hope therefore I live.

I don’t want to think of my doctor’s verdict. He isn’t God. I want to live in the present. I want to feel my fingers on this paper, writing with a pen instead of pencil, miserably making mistakes then mercillessly scribble away at it instead of using type-x. You can’t type-x life. You can’t delete memories of your first crush, your first love, your first marriage.

I love therefore I hope.

I love to see the sun rise and set. I love to see the moon in her different shapes. I love how the waves muffle the laughter and squeals of children playing with them or is it the other way around? I love how they hug me from behind and snuggle their chins on my shoulder blades and whisper, “I love you, Mama.” I love how little Luna skips along finding sea shells for our shell collection. “Look Auntie, it has a star shape on it!” she’d yell from somewhere, knowing it would be impossible for me to see what she’s holding from where I was sitting. I’d yell back, “That’s lovely, Darling!” giving her an approving nod and smile. She’d grin revealing the loss of her baby teeth. Then there would be Hans, sitting in a chair similar to mine reading a thick book, perhaps from my library. Using my imagination, I could see Hans immersed inside a huge bubble filled with soldiers, giant whales, floating pixy fairies, griffins, unicorns, giant beanstalks, detectives and race cars filled with gadgets. Hans, the blonde beautiful blue-eyed boy, my nephew the story-teller.

I’m sorry, I must be boring you with this. Talk about trying to hide my identity, eh? *laughs*

I’ll miss listening to my iPod. You know what? Now you can store up to thousands of songs in such a teeny-tiny device? Never in my early years did I think technology would be this brilliant and stylish. RIP, Steve. Thanks to him, and my generation X children and nephews, I have all the songs I loved ever since my childhood and a collection of folk songs from all around the world, including Balinese music that brings me back to my honeymoon days with Phillipe. I miss him. Also the soothing sound of Nina, my first born’s voice, singing the lullabies I used to sing to her. My favorite is her Barbara Streissand cover of “Smile”.

I’ve picked up my guitar again. David was like, “I never know you played, Mama!” and watched in amazement how I played and sang “Across The Universe” for him. It was like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it once you’ve learnt how. My fingers hurt after that single song though.

Ah, there I go again. I don’t even remember why I begun writing this letter in the first place. Like plenty of other things I forgot the purpose of doing in the first place. Like living. I forgot (well, we all have, haven’t we?) making a pact with God, ‘signing’ my life story and diving into my mother’s uterus.

You suddenly realize how much living is worth living when you don’t got much more life to live.

Love,
A Friend You Might Never Meet.