In Time We Trust

#np Everything But The Girl – Missing

A melancholic version of the song illegally downloaded to my iPod was locked on endless repeat. It’s something I do. I like what I like for as long as I like it. I turned out the lights. Curtains were pulled back by a piece of twine as the moonlight cast scary shadows I no longer feared of. The soft light reflected from the sun by the moon onto my wall and slightly across my bed, touched the tips of my toes.

I lay there. Listening to crickets chirping all alone or with its friend maybe, somewhere in the yard outside. Loud enough to be heard through my earphones. I imagined the sound they were making was digitally edited into the song I was hearing. I was the Vitruvian Woman but with my clothes on. No sexy lingerie. No pair of hot pants with ‘KISS ME’ written on my bum or a matching pink tank top. Just a plain hand-me-down night gown my grand-mama once owned which she bought during her first Pilgrimage to Mecca.

taken by @harigelita

You looked smart tonight. You can afford cashmere now, I noticed. You wore it over a light pink shirt, that black cashmere sweater.
“Pink?” I asked quizzically.
“No, its ‘Salmon’.” you said.
“Oh, okay.” I took a sip from my cup of chamomile tea.
Your Levi’s weren’t as faded as the torn ones I was used to seeing you wear before. How many pairs do you now own, I wondered. Some sort of smart-phone rested next to your empty bottle of Perrier
“So, you drink that stuff now? Do you know how many gallons of plain drinking water you can buy for a group of street kids with that tiny green glass bottle? Who are you anyway? Do I know you even?” not looking into your eyes like I used to. But rather below your chin. Because the eyes you have now weren’t the ones I found myself drowning in before. I was getting sick just being close to you. A snobby yuppie cut-out from some sinetron.
“Oh, don’t be such a wet blanket. So what if I have extra cash to spend. So what if I can now enjoy the stuff those people over at the next table have enjoyed all their lives.”
“You’ve changed.” I mentioned with a sigh.
“Of course I have. I had to. For you.”

I ignored your last sentence deliberately.
“Remember those nights we used to spend with fellow activists, smoking pot, playing the guitar singing all the songs we knew by heart all night long?” mumbling, I rested my chin on my palm reminiscing the carefree days of college.
“Yeah, and afterwards we’d walk in the chilly August air at 3 am to tuck Indomie Goreng into our tummies at the nearest burjo stall.”
I smiled a bit. Somewhat relieved you still remembered. But I was still unable to adapt to your new exteriors.

You reached for my hand. I picked up my cup to avoid your touch. Averting my gaze into the yellow sweet-smelling liquid. Searching for the sweet you I knew within.
“Seven years, Fi. Seven years I’ve waited for this night. Why won’t you let me hold your hand?”
I assumed you already knew. Five minutes later, I left you there with your empty bottle of Perrier.
I hailed the first taxi that I saw coming. I gave the driver my destination and re-wrapped my pashmina around my chilly shoulders. The air conditioning is what you would expect from this type of taxi, a brand new Vios Limousine. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to have a chit-chat with the driver, my mind was rewinding the last 5 minutes we were together. Tears on the verge of falling.
“For me?!” absent-mindedly raising my voice, causing some heads to turn.
Embarrassed, I lowered my voice into a stern whisper. I hate public scenes.
“For me? Listen up, Tuan Rifqi. For all I remember, I carefully told you not to change because of me. But for yourself. For those who love you for who you were before. For the satisfaction of the achievement. For the sanctity of grasping your dreams. You weren’t supposed to change for me, because I refused to guarantee you anything. Remember?” I took a deep breath and continued calmly and with a coaxing tone.
“At the time, I thought it would be tough to bring you inside my world. I had experienced losing communication with my family for choosing a guy that didn’t and refused to fit their standards. The screaming and shouting, fighting and yelling, tears of frustration, was something I wanted to avoid in my future. And you, like him, were troublesome for me to love in return. Coz, we both realized that if a relationship causes casualties then we’ll never see just what we’re meant to be.”
“Every time I see you falling. I’ll get down on my knees and pray. I’m waiting for that final moment you’ll say the words that I can’t say.” you sang it in a whisper. Off tone as usual. I sat back into my side of the booth and listened. Hands folded in front of my chest in a cross because I was cross.

“The man sitting in front of you now. Look. Don’t you think he’s enough? Now?”
“More than enough. You’ve changed too much. I was hoping to be able to still see the real you beneath your new found glory, your objects, your status. But he’s gone now.”
“Look closer. It’s still me, Sofi.” you groaned helplessly. “GOD, SOFI! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!” suddenly you yelled with frustration.
I knew my face was beet red because my cheeks were suddenly hot. Burned by all the eyes within that fancy cafe looking at us. I clumsily gathered my purse and ran out of there.

***

“It’s not that!” I yelled at you late one night, due to hormone disobedience. It was that time of the month and everything you said just seemed wrong.“Louder please.” you said calmly.
I apologized immediately. I have vowed once, to never ever raise my voice again to a loved one. Once we start yelling at each other, we’ll become deaf. Gradually losing our ability to hear. To listen. Hearing is one thing, listening is another.
“I’m sorry.” I repeat myself trying hard to imitate your calm.
“All is fine dear. Now get some sleep. I think we’ve had enough of your PMS for one night, don’t you?” you laughed on the other line.
“Yes, dear. Good night.” defeated yet relieved.
“Sleep tight.”

***

I told the driver to stop. The front door is open and as I walked through the driveway, I could see Papa standing inside the living room, giving someone a handshake and pat-on-the-back-embrace. Someone with a black cashmere sweater. What the hell? I wasn’t having any of this! I tiptoed quietly through the side entrance and up to my room. At a glance, I saw Mama in the kitchen preparing drinks and cookies on a tray. Moments later, still lying in bed. I heard a knock on my door. Then another. Then the door knob was turned and a silhouette of a man is shaped by the light shining through the hallway. I closed my eyes, pretending to sleep. I heard several footsteps and then nothing but the crickets, ‘Everything But The Girl’ and that silhouette of a man’s silence. Something was propped against my pillow. The silhouette then left, leaving me with crickets and ‘Everything But The Girl’.

And I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain.

I was mad. I shouldn’t have lost seven years of him if I knew my folks would change the instant they found out he’s become all THEY ever wanted for me to have. They weren’t worthy of my sacrifice. I was content with the him before this. HE WAS FINE TO ME!!! I screamed into my pillow. GIVE ME BACK MY SEVEN YEARS! DAMN YOU STATUS! DAMN YOU PRESTIGE! I MISSED HIM!!! I missed him so much…

I wailed into the poor, poor pillow.
Something fell from my bed onto the floor with a thud. I rose my head. A package. I picked it up. Reached inside and took out from it what seemed to be a photo frame. Sticking in the front with cellophane tape was a purple envelope. I removed the envelope. The photo in the frame was in fact a family photograph. My family. But how come? With questions filling my mind, I opened the envelope. Inside was a letter, dated this day seven years ago. I started reading it,

“Dear Mr. Syahrial, please excuse my impoliteness, but I, Rifqi bin Sardjono, have a proposal to make. I am in love with your daughter, Sofi. And I am willing to do anything to fulfill your standards so you can feel at ease trusting her with me….”

The Best Things in Life are Free

From ground level the trees looked so huge and the sky was a giant blue dome decorated with cotton-like clouds that were busy pretending to be something else as they drifted lazily Westward. The grass underneath us felt nice. Our tummies were full with lemon cupcakes. I turned my head to my left and saw her lying beside me. She held her henna painted hands above her head, framing the sky with them and said,
“I wonder. If the gentle swaying of the trees are actually the ones causing these breezes?”
“Might be. It’s just how we choose to see things. Perhaps, it could be proven with a time lapse camera of 50.000 fps. That hardly visible movements of trees cause air to move as wind.” I love it when she sees things from different perspectives. I love it when she, over all people chooses me to share her wierd thoughts with.
“But even if it turns out otherwise, I’ll never love you less.” I said feeling a slight tug in my guts.
“On second thought, I certainly hope not, I mean the breeze caused by the trees.” she turned to face me with a concerned look in her eyes. “If we humans somehow -out of our intense greed- manage to wipe out all the trees, then our grandchildren will never know how lovely a passing breeze in the Summer heat would feel like.”
I traced my fingers across her rose-colored cheeks, slipped a strand of loose hair behind her left ear and nodded.
We continued watching the trees, the sky and the shape shifting clouds until the last guest and the caterers left, while our closest relatives & friends just lounged around the garden patiently allowing us to enjoy our first moment as husband and wife.

I took out my iPod and placed one earplug in her left ear, the other in my right. And pressed play on the ‘Wedding Day Playlist’ made especially for this moment.

The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine

Pertama kali jumpa dengan buku ini, sekitar 5 tahun yang lalu. Ketika itu saya masih sering menyambangi Plaza Semanggi untuk kumpul-kumpul dengan kawan-kawan kampus. Biasanya kami janjian di Gramedia, secara sahabat-sahabatku itu book freaks dan salah satu dari mereka masih bekerja untuk Elexmedia. Satu kata saja ya : Diskon!

Berhubung saya selalu sangsi terhadap buku terjemahan (padahal pernah nerjemahin ‘High School Musical’ | justru.. :p), dan tidak suka ikut-ikutan beli buku yang sedang ‘ngetrend’, saya memilih melihat-lihat buku impor (#sombongunite yoben). Setelah beberapa saat merambah buku-buku 100ribu ke atas, buku “The Female Brain” yang paling menarik minatku.

What? There’s a female brain? So is the saying that female brains weigh less than male brains true? How does a female brain think. Why do we cry easily during PMS? What happens to our brains when we fall in love, why are we all gullible all of a sudden? Holding the book for the first time got me all excited. I didn’t mind waiting for my ‘ngaret’ friends. Because the price label on the back of the book read Rp.368.000,-. Of which I never could consider buying.

And thank God, for openning Gramedia at GI and making their marketing team make a 30% of promo on all items except electronics. I finally was able to buy it. :D

The way this Doctor explains is as if she’s talking to her girlfriends. Smart, witty and fun. In the first few pages we are given a breakdown of how this book will unfold the mysteries of a female brain. From a female baby all the way to an elderly female brain. We are given a picture of the parts of a female brain, showing the Hypothalamus, Hippocampus and the Amygdala etc. No, those are not zoo animals and Amygdala isn’t Luke Skywalker’s mom, okay boys.. Dr. Brezendine will show you how the different parts of a female brain work for women. And is a male brain really superion to a female brain?
Here she says that although a female brain weighs lighter than a male brain, its cell counts are actually denser. And even at certain periods in a woman’s life her brain weight can vary.

Why I like this book is, because it explains a lot of hormonal mechanisms that even as a woman I didn’t fully understand. Why does PMS happen? Why did I resent my mom so much as a teen? What goes on in a mother-to-be’s head? What happens after menopause? Most of the mysteries are laid bare in this book.

Last but not least, I highly recommend this book to Martians (baca: C O W O K S) who think they’ve got us Venusians (baca: C E W E K S) figured out. Think again!

Note: sudah ada edisi terjemahannya dan versi lawan jenisnya “The Male Brain” :D

My Birthday.

Nobody I know knows how I spend the first few hours of my birthdays these past 5 years. Not even my parents. But I’ll make you an exception. Only if you promise not to tell anyone you know. It’s fine if you walk up to a total stranger and tell them my secret. But it must be a complete stranger or else you should stop reading my story altogether.

On the morning of my birthday which is February 25th, I wake up at 2.34. Mom said that was the time I let out my first cry. A cry barely audible, she recalled once. She said I sounded like a kitten gasping for his last breath as it was being strangled to death. As my alarm went off with that eerie ‘sci-fi’ tune, I imagined myself opening my eyes for the first time all over again. Shadows surrounding me claiming me as theirs. The street lamp managed to seep its flourescent orange through my bedroom curtains. A faint cry of an owl reached my ears.

I recited the adzan to myself. Something Dad taught me before I turned twelve. Before I had that ‘sweaty dream’ that left my boxers sticky in the morning. I repeated my faith and complete submission to Allah for another year of trying to be ‘near’. Making sure not to wake my younger brother sleeping in the adjacent bed.

The heater has been turned off. Again. Dad says boys should be able to withstand the cold. Easy for him to say, he gets to sleep with mom who has asthma. And every night around 1 AM when nature calls him, he drops by our room and turns off the heater. A good thing Mom has lovingly provided us with thick woolen bed covers and makes sure we hang our windbreakers near our bedposts, to face the chilly autumn and winter nights.

This year, like the previous, my birthday is covered with snow. The news says it’s due to global warming, I say otherwise. For me it’s just Mother Earth’s way of telling us she’s aging. I’ve spoken to God about her several times to clarify this. I know there is nothing we can do to stop her from behaving out of the ordinary. Just like Mom will too when she hits menopause. She will be sensitive and irritated most of the time. Her body will give out signs that make her feel less useful as a woman, a mother, a wife. But like the earth, it’s just her body’s way of saying goodbye a little by little. The cruel remarks, the sudden outbursts are merely sadness in disguise.

I am 13 years old today and I know these things. Well, I know quite a lot of things, things most people don’t. Like the future, spirits, other people’s thoughts. Mom says I’m indigo, the huge Cherry tree down the street says I’m among the chosen. My teacher at school thinks I’m autistic or might have ADD. “Fuck her.” my older sister said when I showed the ‘note’ that I was supposed to hand to Mom or Dad. She signed it on their behalf and voila! case closed. All my sister did was tell me to act normal around ‘them’. ‘Them’ meaning my peers and teachers at school, which was easy for someone who is actually 300-something years old in wisdom like me.
I love my sister. She’s the only one who makes living here ‘safe’ for me.

***

After praying for another year of ‘Enough’ for my family, enough shelter, enough happiness, enough wealth, enough sorrow, enough love, and so on, I put on my trench coat, a beanie, my hiking boots and grabbed the keys to my bicycle.

I walked down the apartment’s neon-lit emergency staircase, making sure not to step on any other worldly beings or chatting ghosts. Several even gave way an nodded ‘hello’, I swear I heard Weeping Willow sob a ‘happy birthday Kahfi..’ to me. Her voice is always soft and sad like an Autumn wind that sets flight to fallen leaves in the late afternoons. I cheerfully hopped from the 4th final step which startled the Lump Monster sleeping in the corner under the staircase to my right. He mumbles, changes position and falls back to sleep. I apologize sheepishly and push my way through the heavy door.

The sudden change of temperature hit my cheeks as I stepped onto a fresh layer of snow. I gave it a second thought and decided to walk to where I was going to instead.

***

[[[ to be continued ]]]

From Kyoto With Love

Kepada AM~

Hello My Love!

Today I’m writing you a letter pretending I’m in Kyoto.
I’ll be sitting near the window with my pink coffee mug that misses the baby blue color of her lover.
All is white outside. The snow reminds me of the yummy icing atop the cinnamon rolls we both love.

What are my plans for this brilliantly chilly day, you ask?

It’s morning and two degrees below here.
So of course the heater is on and I’d rather go nowhere.
I’m still wearing my PJs and thinking about putting on some Cyndi Lauper songs to sing and dance my heart out.

Of course I miss you. Must you always ask the same old question?

I wish we were cuddled up beneath a warm blanket.
So we could play our favorite game.
Of who could hold in their thoughts the longest.
Which will only end us up in seeing who giggles the soonest.
I’ll tickle you if I have to.
And you’ll might even tackle me too.
In the end, we’ll end up talking about whatever, whenever and wherever like we always do.

Ah, and of course, the question of love.

No matter how often we ask for love’s reassurance, it’s never enough.
Especially with this distance between us.
I know I’m here in Jakarta while you’re one hour ahead of me in Makassar.
But if I can pretend I am in Kyoto, then why can’t you pretend that I’m forever in love with you?
Not that it’s not true.

Err, you get me don’t you?

Okay, I’ll say it.

[strong] I Love You. [/strong]

A Not So Romantic Evening

I’m in the mood to write something romantic but all the paragraphs end up brutally murdered by the Backspace key for being so corny, leaving me this blank page and a blinking vertical line. I click the add another tab button and surf the web for some of my favourite past life songs.

He tells me he’s stepping out for a smoke. I nod with a disapproving frown. Instead he gives me one of his deadly winks. I smile. Damn. I guess the theory that a certain part of the female brain goes numb when it comes to love is right. I swore to never love a nicotine addict, but here I am at a coffee joint with one. Our death numbers won’t be very far apart it seems because I’m the caffeine addict in this relationship.

It’s a cloudy Sunday afternoon. All the house chores were done so we figured to go out for the rest of the weekend and relax somewhere cozy. Why not at home since its nice and clean, you may ask. It’s the returning to a tidy, sweet-smelling home to lay down and rest is what we love best. Not many people want to go out during the last few hours of their valuable weekend, so the city streets are not as crowded. We head not very far, to a native-owned coffee shop in front of Menteng Huis. The coffee, I’ve tasted better but the history of this place in his and my life pages is what keeps us coming back. We’ll make our own coffee shop-come-library one day, we say. But other things keep getting in our way.

You know the feeling you get when someone is staring at you? Sort of like a sense you can’t describe but your instincts tell you to look up from whatever your doing, and your instincts are correct? That feeling. I look up and outside the window, with drizzle as his background, he leans by the wall dragging his smoke while watching me idle around not getting any work done as I said I would.

A bit startled by being caught staring, he crosses his eyes and makes that goofy goldfish impression. I press my tongue to my above set of teeth with my mouth closed. My monkey look. He hates this, it makes him want to puke. Out there, knowing my intentions he closes his eyes shut. I put my headphones back on and pretend nothing happenned. The waiter sitting behind the counter was holding his laugh watching us. Especially since the man outside kept his eyes closed for a good 10 seconds, while I was already busy picking songs on Youtube. The same ‘being stared at’ sensation caught him as he glanced at the waiter and hurriedly looked the other way, took his last drag, dropped the cigarette butt in the bin and walked back inside.

He pinched my nose, knowing I was pretending not to see him coming. “I don’t have anything yet.” I sulked. “It’s OK.” he sits beside me and wraps his arm around my waist. “Is it cold outside?” I ask, as I can feel him clinging closer into me. I feel him nod. “Wanna go home now?”

His answer was no and stayed that way for a good 15 minutes of sleep, making sure to stain my cardigan with his drool.

The Sea and Me

I feel like I’m losing myself here.

I should take a step back before the waves catch the legs of my jeans.

You know how I hate having them wet and cold around my ankles.

It drives me mad.

I have to learn to release love into infinity.

Such as the waves that caress the sand and never linger.

Never expecting yet always giving.

Then,

Most possibly,

I might not be as blue as the sea before me.