A Confession of A Pedestrian

I’m a pedestrian. I walk almost everywhere as long as my feet still could walk. So far, it never is a big deal to me. As long as I had my mp3 with me, as long as I could listen to music while walking, I could walk to Neverland if it’s even possible, I guess.

Again, I say, it never is a problem to me.

But one annoying thing as a pedestrian most of the time if how people react when they found out how far I walk.

I mean, some places are indeed, far, so it makes sense when they got shocked after they knew I could walk that far. Yet sometimes, the place is not even really that far. It took only about 15 – 20 minutes walking to some other places, yet people still starring at me like I’m an alien or something with superhuman feet who could walk tirelessly.

They would usually stare at me without blinking and then said something like,

“Wow.”

Or even,

“SERIOUSLY? YOU WALKED??”

And when I answered, “Well, yea. It’s only about 20 minutes, you know…”

“Wow. That’s really far.”

For Christ’s sake, there are other reasons God created those feet other than to hit the brakes and gas, you know.

So I kinda bragging, so what.

I mean, I never am really proud of doing the walking thingy, it’s nothing at all, but to see how people’s reaction, sometimes I can’t help but feeling proud (even if it is for nothing) being a pedestrian.

Yea, I’m bragging.

Another that’s been really pissing me off lately is the vehicles here.

An American friends once told me something like this, “One of the culture shock that I’ve had here is when cars and motorcycles don’t seem to have any respect at all for pedestrians. In my country, they respect people who walk, by slowing down their vehicles, but here… They just don’t care.”

I never quite understand what she meant until now.

I HATE crossing the road. I always do. Yes, “HATE” with capital letters.

You never knew if there’s a car destined to take your life right there, at that moment, when you’re supposed to cross the road. And I always think of the possibility getting hit by a bus or a truck.

Not that I’m wishing for it, really. It’s just a possibility.

I just saw a car crash this morning, on my way to Excelso.

Well, anyway, now I really am experiencing the exact same feeling my friend used to feel back then.

Every time I’m about to cross the road, I ALWAYS have to wait for several minutes before I finally got my chance to cross it. Sometimes, I try to “give” signals by taking one step further than I’m supposed to, to show that I intend to cross the road. Or sometimes I’d wave my hand (not exactly “waving,” I suppose. I don’t really have the exact term for this one in English)–well, the point is, I’d make a hand signal showing that “Hey, this lady is about to cross the street, people! Have some compassion, would you?!?”

But I always appear to be invisible to them.

And mind this, I never cross outside the zebra cross unless it’s really necessary.

Still, I’m invisible to them.

They’d just drive through, as if I’m nothing but a dust, making me taking another step backward in order to survive and live for another day.

Sometimes I think one of them would crash my feet one day, you know, considering their ignorance. They would probably see pedestrians like me, trying to cross the street and say to their friends on the seat next to them,

“Oh, look, that guy’s about to cross the street, huh? Let’s show him who rules here.” And BAM! Bye-bye fingers.

Well, knock on wood to that.

A couple days ago, I did a massive walking, and I end up hurting my feet, exhausted and upset due to the traffic. So I did something that I really won’t recommend to anyone.

Keeping in mind how I hate those vehicles, I’d take further steps ahead on the zebra cross, literally crossing the street halfway, ignoring the ignorant vehicles (partially considering the possibility of me getting crushed right there at that moment as well), and THANK GOD (seriously, don’t try this anywhere!), they don’t have any other choice but to stay out of my way and slow down.

I promise I won’t do that ever again.

At that time, doing that careless thing, seems like both of us (me and the drivers of those vehicles) wanna scream to each other, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY OR YOU’LL PAY FOR IT!”

At least that’s what I had in mind, upset, tired, and hurt.

I’m grateful, though, that none of us really pay for anything. All of us are still safe and sound, normal and sane.

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

This is a poem which turns out to be an inspiration for the title of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;

Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;

Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:

The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

*

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,

And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

*

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,

And all thy heart lies open unto me.

*

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves

A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

*

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,

And slips into the bosom of the lake:

So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip

Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Fiction vs. Reality

From books (and movies), we learn so much. We learn about life, love, despair, hatred, regret, sadness, and happiness. At the same time, those are the least things books could teach us about reality.

Despite many other quotations saying how books can truly change someone’s life, let alone teach its readers a lot of things about life (like, real life experiences, or the philosophy of life itself; recently I read The Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaarder which deals with a lot of life philosophical stuffs), when it comes to how (oh yes, the most irritating question ever), books don’t really teach us anything. No, sir, nothing.

Books surely cover a lot of theme–as well as movies, as I have also mentioned movies in the quotation–romance, revenge, discrimination, religions, etc etc. Lan Cao, in her novel Monkey Bridge tells a story of Vietnamese immigrants who moved to the States during the Vietnam war, and was struggling to adjust to American life and culture. The books shows how they deal with the cross-cultural experience by the story narrated by Mai and her mother, Thanh. Mai, as the second generation of the Vietnamese-American was adjusting very well while her mother, on the other hand, was having a shock culture.

Of course, the story of Mai and her mother are merely fictional characters, so their life story could not be a true story, but the theme of the story is not unusual. Similar topic could also be found in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.

Jostein Gaarder, in most of his novels, always write stories where the characters always question the truly meaning of life (Sophie’s World, The Solitaire Mystery, The Castle in the Pyrenees). In The Castle in the Pyrenees, which I recently read, the story revolves around two main characters: Steinn and Solrun, two ex-lovers who reunited and then exchanging emails, sharing and asking opinions about life and God. Solrun, as the religious one, asked Steinn what his belief is, and Steinn stated his doubt on superstitious things, including God and His miracles.

Again, I think this is a common subject.

There are many people who are doubting the existence of God and claim to be atheist. There are many people who only believe in what they can see, and things that can only be explained logically by science.

In The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber wrote a story about a prostitute named Sugar, who became a mistress of William Rackham (the bastard William Rackham!) and later climbed her way up to the elite society of England–well, not really ‘elite,’ I suppose, since Sugar turned from a prostitute to the governess of William’s daughter. While Sugar is indeed the main character of the novel, the story doesn’t revolve around her alone. The novel also covers the story of William’s older brother, Henry, who is complete the opposite of William: religious, and think only the best of the world.

This is not something uncommon as well, isn’t it? Even in modern times, we still have the so-called elite society, although the elites now are not so proud that they don’t wanna have anything to do with others who are not as wealthy as them. We also have prostitutes (or what most people refer to as ‘hooker,’ I guess), as well as people who devoted their lives to be clergymen.

The story is not based on something unreal.

Even science fiction novels–even if we haven’t really had any aliens or a super sophisticated spaceship like the ones in Star Trek–still deals with the most common topic in the present days: romance, hatred, anger, revenge, and blah-blah-blah.

Let’s bring up something more… cheesy. I could seriously refer to Indonesian sinetron. Whereas the stories are mostly overly exaggerated, yet the theme revolves around things that we found in everyday lives: breakups, dating, and perhaps jealousy.

Yet, referring to my earlier quotes: they could show us the worst thing that could ever happen in life–a guy got mutilated (I really need to stop watching NCIS and Criminal Minds), a girl being abused by her own mother, and treated like Cinderella (servant), a boy threatening a girl that he would jump from the 10th floor if the girl didn’t accept her love, etc etc–but when dealing with reality, no matter how similar the condition and situation we’re in with the ones in movies or novels, it never is the same.

We could always refer back to those books or novels we’re reading or watching, of course, (ohhh, this is just like the scene I just watched on Gossip Girl last night!) but when it comes to making decision, we have to come up with our own answer. We’re on our own.

In reality, life is never as beautiful/miserable/simple/complicated as movies/novels. In real life, we experience some climaxes–we experience hardships, adversities, sadness, and such–but we don’t always experience the closure, or what we always identify as the endings in novels and movies. Some of us got closure, but it might take days, weeks, months, and even years. And then the others might not even got their closures. The problems simply disappears and never solved. People experience the anticlimaxes without ever knowing the endings.

There’s a reason why I hate open-ending stories, and at the same time I love it: because I think open-endings are a glimpse of realities that the story could offer–not knowing how and when the story would end.

But I guess you all knew that already ;)

“I Believe in God.”

From my previous post “Are You Religious? Or Are You Superstitious?”, one can assume that I might have ‘lost’ my so-called Christian faith. Well, or as my cousin put it, I’m “looking for truth.”

Hell, I don’t even know which one I really belong to.

I used to claim I’m being agnostic. But then, confronted by a missionary friend, he said I’m not actually being an agnostic. Agnostic means I’m questioning the existence of the so-called God. (First I thought it’s being atheist, but turns out an atheist don’t even question that because they don’t even believe God exists.)

I do believe in God. I believe He exists somewhere up there (or as the Christian faith put it: He’s everywhere, watching over us).

I believe there’s a greater power beyond logic that rules and control this earth and all mankind. I believe some thing beyond rationality do happens.

I do realize that I hate science, I’m not even that smart to understand anything so scientific-related and logical, yet I still demand scientific and logical explanation to irrational things.

Everytime I watch or read something that explain something irrational to be logical, I feel reassurance, even if it is fiction.

It’s like, getting a guarantee there’s always a logical explanation beyond the illogical things. And I wanna cling to that. It’s like I finally found something that I could hold on to.

Yet, again, as I stated before, I don’t even think I actually fully comprehend those explanations.

In conclusion, I’m just someone pretending to be smart while actually I’m not at all.

But that’s not exactly what I wanna talk about here.

Ever since I stayed in Malang, the very question that I avoided the most was finally asked.

“So, are you a Catholic? A moslem?”

No matter how much I hate to answer that question, some other part in me kinda urged me to explain honestly about my faith. What for? To make me looked different than any other Indonesians who are mostly devoted to their God and their religion? I guess.

So I told him briefly, “I believe in God,” and without any further ado, I left him.

Well, not that fast, actually, since he asked me again,

“Huh? What?”

So I added, “I believe God exists,” and I quickly rushed to my room before he could process that answer and asked me a more complicated “personal” questions.

And so I thought that topic is resolved between me and my friend.

Until one morning, we were alone, and he was trying to get a confirmation by asking,

“Eerrrr, so…, remember when I asked you about your religion? What did you say back then? You believe in God?”

Dammit, I thought. Still, I managed to smile.

“Yes.”

“But what’s your religion? Are you a moslem?”

Bummer.

“I believe God exist. I believe there’s a greater power in this very earth that cannot be explained rationally.”

“What? Is that a kind of belief or something?”

“I suppose.”

And I’m wishing so bad he’d stop. If only I’d finished making my morning coffee.

“But what are you exactly? Are you a Christian?”

Good God, I wish I could just say yes to simply shut him up. Yet me and my big mouth keep trying to explain.

“What? Do I have to choose?” So I asked him sarcastically.

“What?” And he did, looked very much surprised. “Of course you are!”

Geez!

“And why is that?”

“What??” Oh great. And so he provided me with an answer.

And so I’m back to brewing my morning coffee. Yet he kept standing there, looking at me, as if he’s waiting for an answer. So I looked at him.

“What? Are you serious? So I have to choose? Now?”

“What? Yes, of course!”

“And why is that??”

“Are you serious?” And he looked at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“Are you?”

“Seriously, what’s in your identity card?” So he finally asked, keep looking for an answer.

Bummer.

“Ooohh, no. I’m not telling you that,” so I told him, with a sarcastic laugh.

“Why?”

“Because then you’re gonna ask me more questions, and I don’t want that.”

Wow, surprising how easily I said those words.

“Oh.” He finally said. “Okay, then… It’s just… pretty shocking.”

 I hate myself.

Why can’t I just simply told him I’m an atheist? Or I’m an agnostic. Although that might not describe my current faith precisely, but that surely would shut him up, right? So I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in God. End of story.

Or I’m an agnostic, I’m still questioning the very existence of the so-called God, finito.

Even if it might be shocking to him, he might shut up because…

(well, I can’t even guarantee he’d shut up, I guess. He might even come up with more question, like, “Are you serious? How did you become an atheist/agnostic? What was your religion?”)

but maybe he might shut up since I belong to something.

And that pretty much implies that I don’t really belong to anything right now.

But why I can’t simply state that I’m an atheist? Or an agnostic? Or why I can’t simply state I’m a Christian? That would sure shut him up.

 *

I suppose that’s because my Christian faith affects me much after all.

Even now, I’m still refering back to the bible sometimes, in my daily life.

Considering to state I’m an atheist or such, I’m still thinking of a verse in the bible where God says that if I deny Him on this earth, He shall deny me as well.

Another thing that comes to mind is whenever the so-called rapture occur, I might not be one of those people who might be neglected. And sure, I still believe in heaven and hell, and I kept thinking what if I died tomorrow and go to hell and suffer for eternity. One cannot say he might live for a long time, right? I could as well got hit by a truck or in an earthquake. I can’t deny such possibility as they do exist.

Yet I’m not confident enough to claim to be a Christian.

As I’m not.

I don’t read the bible, I don’t go to church. I’m questioning the sermons I heard at church, and I refuse to refer all my actions for God’s glory.

I live for myself. I don’t live for God, I don’t live for anyone else.

This is my life, and I shall decide what to do with my life.

And I don’t think I deserve the label Christian.

On the other hand, I keep thinking that one day, way in the future, I’ll still come back. Come back as in, becoming a devout Christian, once again. Not now, of course, as I’m still reluctant to do so, but one day, before I die, I might convert back to a faithful Christian.

I also consider the possibility of getting hit by a truck, though, and losing the very chance to covert back my faith.

But I do consider that, every day, every minute, every second.

I’m thinking if I go to sleep tonight and might not wake up in the next morning.

Yet I don’t want to go back and have the irrational Christian faith.

I used to be a devout Christian. I used to be one of those people who said that I would give my heart and my soul to Jesus Christ, and I shall bring back the lost soul to God. So I persuaded the non-Christian to be a Christian.

And that idea sounds very silly to me now, considering how much I appreciate my Christian friends who are devoted enough yet they never try to persuade me to be a Christian. That way, we could be friends.

Not even my mother do that kind of thing, as she always text me every Sunday asking whether I go to church or not.

I’m struggling to find the best words to tell her that I don’t go to church, and that I’m not even dare enough to claim to be a Christian now.

She always blame herself when I tried to explain that, as she believe that God trust her to take care of me, and that she is responsible for whatever happen to my faith. She’d definitely blame herself for this and felt so much like a failure for her only daughter turns her back against God.

My God, I’m such an unbelievable creature.

But looking back at my days as a devoted Christian–even back then, I never really have the unshakable faith. I never did.

One of my friend who I admire very much claims that his faith in God is so irrational that even if one day, someone pointed out to him the evidence that God never did existed, he would still believe in God and remained a Christian. And he, of all people, is probably one of the most rational sane person I’ve ever known. (There’s a reason why I admire him!)

I never really have that irrational faith, to be honest. Even when I was so much involved in church activities. Even when I was up in the stage, singing gospel songs, praising God. Even when I wrote a Christian song.

I always question my faith. I always has.

I remember asking to a senior church full-timer one day, as soon as I was baptized, “How did you know that this faith that you cling to now is the truth? How did you find out that this is the right one?”

I seriously asked him that. I wanted a confirmation that this is the true one.

And he answered,

“Well, I just know it.”

“Yes, but how?” So I was persistent.

You could blame my memory, but I kinda think he was kinda reluctant to answer my question, since he answered it slowly and a little bit “beat around the bush” (I just looked up for this term in the dictionary!)

“Well, one day, I was…” and blah-blah-blah, until we were interrupted by someone who I can’t remember who now, and he never did explained explicitly.

I never get a straight-to-the-point answer up to now.

Even when I discussed this to my cousin (who, gratefully, accept my explanation and appreciate whatever I believe right now) and even he seemed to be out of words trying to explain his Christian faith, and that’s when he finally found the expression that I’m currently “searching for truth.”

Hell, maybe I’m being Thomas right now.

But aren’t there a lot of Thomas in this world? And is it wrong to be Thomas?

Is it even better to have the irrational faith, yet questions keep popping out of your head?

If it is so, then why people keep switching their religions?

Elizabeth Gilbert used to be a Christian (or Catholic?), yet now she’s a Hindu. Same thing applies to Julia Roberts, and they seem to be more in peace with their new faith. Does that mean that Hindu is the right one compared to Christian?

See what I mean here?

I’m just not one of those people who can simply accept their faith without any question. I never was and I simply can’t. At least for now.

And yes, I know, even if I do believe in heaven and hell, I can’t yet answer where would I end up if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow.

“Don’t choose! Don’t take a stance! And don’t choose one set of ideas! If you do, you will only be able to view from that one angle.” ~Kudo, Foreign Studies by Shusaku Endo.

“”If these people are as you suggest, then what about yourself? At least these people have some firm religious convictions. You’re just a coward who changes colour as the occasion demands.” ~Kudo, Foreign Studies by Shusaku Endo.

“By rejecting all ideas of supernatural or extrasensory phenomena, I’m simultaneously adopting a skeptical attitude to all similar concepts within the established religion.” ~Steinn, The Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaarder.

Lamunan

   Manusia selama ini berpikir bahwa mereka tahu mengenai banyak hal. Mereka pikir mereka tahu mengenai keberadaan mereka, mengenai seluruh bumi ini dan segala isinya, mengenai apa yang ada di atas langit dan di atasnya lagi, padahal sebenarnya mereka tidak tahu apa-apa. Mereka hanya makhluk-makhluk yang berpura-pura tahu untuk menutupi bahwa sebenarnya mereka tidak tahu. Mereka mengirim kaumnya ke luar angkasa untuk menjelajahi bulan, meneliti batu-batuan dan tanah, menamai berbagai macam ilmu pengetahuan, dan bahkan mempelajari diri mereka sendiri, karena sebenarnya manusia takut akan hal-hal yang tidak mereka ketahui, sehingga mereka mencari tahu, dan saat mereka pikir mereka menemukan jawabannya, mereka pikir mereka tahu. Berpura-pura tahu, tepatnya.

   Anehnya, lama-lama kepura-puraan itu menjadi sesuatu yang nyata. Seakan-akan dunia ini menjadi terbalik; yang tidak nyata menjadi nyata, dan yang nyata terasa tidak nyata. Andai saja mereka bisa jujur, mereka akan mengakui bahwa sebenarnya sampai sekarang, mereka masihlah makhluk yang tidak tahu apapun mengenai kehidupan ini. Karena sebenarnya, siapa lagi yang paling mengetahui kehidupan kalau bukan Penciptanya seorang?

*

   Pak Kardi, supir keluargaku, sudah terlihat menungguku di depan gerbang sekolah. Begitu melihatku, ia melambai dengan semangat, memberi isyarat agar aku menuju ke tempatnya.

   “Sudah lama nunggu, pak?” tanyaku sopan seraya menyerahkan tasku ke pak Kardi. Seperti biasa, ia akan membawakan tasku sampai kami masuk ke dalam mobil.

   “Enggak. Baru lima menitan kok, non,” balasnya ramah. Ia menaruh tasku di kursi penumpang di belakang kursi sopir, kemudian memutar untuk membukakan pintu untukku.

   Aku memasukki mobil dan duduk di kursi penumpang di sebelah kursi supir, kursi pak Kardi. Pak Kardi menyalakan mesin mobil dan mengenakan sabuk pengaman. Aku sendiri merebahkan diriku di atas kursiku, merilekskan badanku.

   Jarak antara rumahku dan sekolahku bisa dikatakan cukup jauh. Rumahku terletak di pinggir kota sementara sekolahku terletak di pusat kota. Dengan mobil, biasanya perjalanan mencapai 30 menit. Itu pun kalau tidak macet. Kalau macet, bisa satu jam sendiri. Ditambah lagi dengan 4 lampu lalu lintas yang harus kami lewati dalam perjalanan.

   Kami tengah berhenti di lampu lalu lintas yang pertama. Antrian mobil yang panjang menanti lampu yang menyala merah berganti menjadi hijau dengan tidak sabar. Dengan panas matahari yang menyengat jalanan sampai jalanan pun serasa berasap, aku merasa sangat bersyukur bisa menikmati kesejukkan AC mobil. Aku melihat ke luar jendela dan melakukan aktivitas kesukaan setiap hari dalam perjalanan pulang sekolah: melamun.

   Selagi duduk di dekat jendela dan memandang ke arah luar, aku akan membayangkan sosok lain yang menemani perjalanan kami. Dalam imajinasiku, sosok lain itu akan berlari di samping kendaraan kami, menemani kami sepanjang perjalanan sampai kami tiba di rumah. Sosok itu bisa berwujud apa saja. Aku pernah membayangkan sosok itu sebagai seekor rusa, atau bahkan seekor serigala. Pernah juga aku membayangkan sosok jagoan seperti Kamen Raider atau Wolverine dari X-Men. Hari ini aku membayangkan si raksasa Lemuel Gulliver dari film Gulliver’s Travels. Mungkin karena semalam aku menonton ulang film Gulliver’s Travels untuk yang kedua kalinya maka hari ini aku memilih Lemuel Gulliver sebagai sosok yang akan menemaniku dalam perjalanan pulang. Dalam imajinasiku, Gulliver hari ini mengenakan kaos merahnya yang bertuliskan “Bucker Park” dengan gambar bola basket diikuti tulisan “Basketball” di bawahnya, serta celana pendeknya yang berwarna hijau, dan sepatu converse berwarna hitam dengan kaus kaki putih. Hari ini, ia akan mendampingi kami sepanjang perjalanan dengan berlari. Tidak masuk akal? Memang. Tapi begitulah imajinasiku, dan dalam imajinasiku tidak ada batasan apa pun. Yang tidak masuk akal pun akan jadi masuk akal. Begitu juga dengan Lemuel Gulliver hari ini. Dan di dalam imajinasiku, dia bukanlah raksasa tetapi manusia dengan ukuran yang normal—tentu saja, karena aku kan bukan liliput. Dia akan berlari sepanjang perjalanan, mendampingi mobil kami. Tentu saja, untuk menyamakan kecepatan dengan mobil kami, dia harus berlari kencang. Amat kencang. Kecuali saat kami berhenti di lampu merah atau saat macet. Saat itulah dia bisa beristirahat sebentar sebelum akhirnya mobil kami akan kembali melaju dengan cepat dan Gulliver-pun harus berlari sekencang-kencangnya untuk menyamakan kecepatan dengan kami.

   Di dalam imajinasiku, dia akan melihat kepadaku dan tersenyum, sementara kakinya terus berlari. Oh, aku hampir lupa. Hari ini Gulliver mengenakan kacamata hitam. Aku tidak memperhatikan sebelumnya karena sibuk memperhatikan larinya yang cepat. Luar biasa kan? Hari ini dia tampak berbeda dengan kacamata hitam itu. Mungkin karena sinar matahari yang sangat menyilaukan.

   Ketika jalanan mulai ramai, atau ketika ada mobil di depannya, aku membayangkan si Gulliver akan melompat tinggi melewati mobil-mobil itu. Bagaimana mungkin? Tentu saja mungkin, di dalam imajinasiku, yang tidak mungkin pun menjadi mungkin.

   “Ada apa non Dita? Kok lihat ke luar terus?” tanya pak Kardi, membuyarkan lamunanku. Kami tengah berhenti di lampu merah.

   “Nggak ada apa-apa, pak. Cuma ngeliatin mobil-mobil di jalan,” jawabku tak acuh. Dan  pak Kardi pun tidak bertanya apa-apa lagi.

   Aku berbohong kepada pak Kardi. Aku tidak yakin dia akan percaya padaku. Dan aku tidak yakin dia dapat ikut serta di dalam imajinasiku. Pernah sekali aku bercerita pada pak Kardi mengenai sosok yang selalu menemani kami, pak Kardi hanya tertawa dan bertanya balik, “Masak sih, non?” Dan beberapa hari kemudian ayah dan ibu akan mendengar cerita tersebut dari pak Kardi, dan mereka akan bertanya padaku mengenai cerita tersebut untuk mengkonfirmasi. Saat aku mengkonfirmasinya, mereka akan tertawa dan bilang, “Astaga, kamu sudah kebanyakan main dan nonton TV, Dit!” Kemudian ayah akan meremas kepalaku sementara ibu akan mencubit pipiku dengan gemas. Mereka masih menganggapku seperti gadis kecilnya yang baru saja lahir kemarin meskipun umurku sudah 13 tahun dan aku sudah memasuki Sekolah Menengah Pertama tahun ini. Biarlah. Toh, karena itu mereka selalu memanjakanku, membuatku senang bukan kepalang.

   Aku melanjutkan lamunanku dan memandang ke luar jendela lagi. Oh, Gulliver masih bersama kami. Dia di luar, sedang beristirahat mengambil napas sejenak.

   Lampu berganti menjadi hijau, dan pak Kardi melaju lagi. Gulliver pun kembali berlari mengikuti kami.

   Aku sering merasa penasaran, mungkinkah ada orang lain selain aku yang bisa melihat Gulliver? Apakah hanya aku yang bisa melihat sosok-sosok yang biasa mendampingi kami sepanjang jalan ini? Apakah mobil-mobil lain pun memiliki pendamping-pendamping yang serupa? Bagaimana dengan para pengendara motor dan pejalan kaki? Apa mereka pun memiliki sosok-sosok yang menemani mereka?

   Bagaimana jika sebenarnya masing-masing orang memang memiliki sosok-sosok yang menemani mereka kemanapun mereka pergi, tapi mereka semua tidak bisa melihatnya karena terlalu disibukkan oleh hal-hal yang sedang ada di depan mereka? Hal-hal yang mereka pikir mereka bisa lihat?

   Tunggu sebentar, ‘hal-hal yang mereka pikir mereka bisa lihat’?

   Ya, pikirku lagi, meyakinkan diri sendiri. Bagaimana kalau sebenarnya sosok-sosok yang selalu menemani kita itu sebenarnya memang ada, tetapi kita selalu mengacuhkan mereka karena kita pikir mereka tidak ada? Bagaimana kalau sebenarnya kita tidak bisa melihat mereka hanya karena kita kurang keras berusaha? Mungkinkah sebenarnya mata kita terlalu sibuk melihat apa yang kita pikir bisa kita lihat, sementara di balik itu sebenarnya penuh dengan hal-hal yang tidak bisa kita lihat?

   Aku merinding sendiri memikirkan itu. Tapi pikiranku tidak bisa berhenti.

   Bagaimana jika hal-hal yang tidak bisa kita lihat itu malahan hal-hal yang sebenarnya? Sementara kita, sibuk melihat hal-hal yang bisa kita lihat, lantas berpikir bahwa hal-hal yang bisa kita lihat itu merupakan hal-hal yang nyata, padahal sebenarnya tidak? Bagaimana jika ternyata semua itu cuma ilusi?—bahwa ternyata hal-hal yang kita rasakan dan alami di dunia selama ini bukanlah kenyataan yang sebenarnya? Dan bahwa di balik tipuan ini, sebenarnya tersembunyi dunia yang sebenarnya?

   Mungkin saja kita sebenarnya hidup di dunia yang sama sekali berbeda—tanah yang selama ini kita tapaki, benarkah itu wujud tanah yang sebenarnya? Makanan yang selama ini kita makan, apakah memang itu bentuk yang sesungguhnya? Orangtuaku—ayah, ayahku tersayang, yang selama ini memanjakanku—ayah, dengan mata hitamnya yang ramah dan kumis tebal kebanggaannya—mungkin saja itu bukanlah wujud yang sebenarnya. Dan ironisnya, bahkan ayah sendiri pun mungkin tidak menyadarinya, karena dia tidak tahu itu; karena yang dia lihat di depan cermin selama ini adalah sosoknya yang tegah, gagap, dengan kumis tebal kebanggaannya itu. Lalu ibu, dengan rambut panjangnya yang selalu ia rawat dengan sepenuh hati, dan kulit kuningnya yang langsat dan bersih seperti porselin, mungkinkah itu rambut dan kulitnya yang sebenarnya?

   Bulu kudukku merinding ngeri.

   Bagaimana kalau apa yang selama ini kita lihat di cermin, ternyata bukanlah sosok kita yang sebenarnya? Mungkin rambut panjangku yang kubanggakan selama ini sebenarnya hanyalah benang kusut yang menggantung begitu saja di atas kepalaku. Mungkin saja sepatu yang kukenakan sekarang ini sebenarnya tidak ada. Mungkin saja aku berpikir bahwa aku mengenakan sepatu itu karena aku merasakannya dan melihatnya. Tapi bagaimana kalau apa yang kurasakan dan kulihat itu sendiri ternyata hanyalah ilusi semata? Mungkin di balik “kenyataan” ini sebenarnya aku tidak mengenakan apa-apa. Mungkin aku sebenarnya bertelanjang kaki. Hanya saja aku merasa memakai sepatu karena aku ditipu oleh ilusi merasakan dan melihat sepatu.

   Astaga, bagaimana kalau itu benar?

   Aku semakin ngeri mendengar pikiran-pikiran di dalam kepalaku. Lara Croft bahkan sudah sama sekali kulupakan. Aku harap dia baik-baik saja berlari di samping mobil kami sementara aku masih asyik dengan lamunanku.

   Lalu, bagaimana kalau aku memang benar? Aku mulai curiga, mungkinkah gedung sekolah yang selama ini kumasuki memang sebuah gedung sekolah. Siapa tahu sebenarnya itu hanyalah gedung kosong tak berisi. Mungkin selama ini aku dan teman-temanku sebenarnya memasuki gedung kosong yang kami sangka adalah sekolah.

   Mungkin sebenarnya, saat Tuhan sang Pencipta menciptakan manusia, diam-diam Ia memperlengkapi setiap mereka dengan kacamata yang tidak terlihat untuk membantu mereka melihat dunia ini. Dengan kacamata itulah manusia mendapatkan definisi akan sesuatu, seperti bagaimana kita melihat kursi selayaknya kursi yang kita tahu sekarang: tempat untuk duduk, berkaki empat, dengan sandaran—atau rumah: tempat untuk tinggal, beratap dan berdinding, dilengkapi dengan jendela dan pintu. Padahal, mungkin kalau kita bisa melepaskan “kacamata” ini, kita akan melihat bahwa tempat yang selama ini kita kira rumah ternyata hanya tanah kosong belaka; dan kursi yang selama ini kita tahu ternyata tak lebih dari seonggok batu.

   Bukan hanya yang kulihat, mungkin bahkan apa yang kudengarkan selama ini pun merupakan ilusi. Mungkin Tuhan pun menaruh alat pendengaran khusus di dalam telinga manusia. Apa yang selama ini diucapkan teman-temanku, mungkin kalau aku bisa melepaskan alat pendengaran khusus ini, ternyata hanya gumaman tak jelas—atau mungkin bahkan suara lengkingan. Hanya saja karena aku mengenakan alat khusus ini, lengkingan dan gumaman tersebut “diterjemahkan” menjadi kata-kata yang kumengerti. Menjadi bahasa-bahasa yang aku kenal.

   Mungkinkah yang kupikirkan ini benar? Bagaimana kalau ternyata iya? Dapatkah aku di kemudian hari melepaskan “kacamata” dan “alat bantu dengar”-ku? Dan mungkinkah suatu hari aku akan melihat dunia yang sebenarnya? Mungkinkah suatu hari aku dapat melihat wujudku yang sebenarnya? Dan mungkin saja—mungkin, apabila aku telah melepaskan “kacamata”-ku, aku dapat melihat sosok pendampingku yang sesungguhnya. Mungkin Lemuel Gulliver pun tidak akan hanya berada di dalam imajinasiku semata.

   Aku terkesiap—astaga, Gulliver! Aku benar-benar melupakannya! Apakah dia masih berlari di samping mobil kami?

   “Sudah sampai, non,” kata pak Kardi tiba-tiba.

   Dan aku merasakan mobil memang sudah berhenti. Astaga, aku bahkan melewatkan 3 lampu lalu lintas sisanya dalam perjalanan pulang! Aku benar-benar hanyut di dalam lamunanku!

   Pak Kardi menatapku heran dan bertanya, “Non Dita, kenapa nggak turun? Melamun lagi ya?” Pak Kardi membuka pintu mobil dan turun.

   Aku melihat ke luar jendela sekali lagi. Lemuel Gulliver sudah tidak ada.

*

   “Seekor kelinci ditarik keluar dari topi pesulap. Karena ia adalah kelinci yang amat sangat besar, tipuannya perlu dipelajari selama ribuan tahun. Semua makhluk hidup dilahirkan di ujung setiap lembar bulu kelinci yang lembut, dimana mereka berada dalam posisi untuk mempertanyakan kemustahilan tipuan itu. Namun, ketika mereka bertambah umur, mereka sibuk menyelusup semakin dalam ke balik bulu-bulu itu.”[1]


[1] Gaarder, Jostein. Dunia Sophie. Trans. Rahmani Astuti. Gold Edition. Ujungberung, Bandung: Penerbit Mizan, 1991. (hal. 50-51)

Upon Reading “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Every society, in every culture, despite the differences, have one idealism of how one should live his/her life: grow up, get a spouse, get married, and have children.

Kinda reminds me of a quote I once made:

There are many ways to say hello and goodbye. Surprisingly, there’s only one way to have sex.

Well, okay, we might have a little variations here, but you get the idea. You know what I meant.

In Indonesia, it is a paradigm one’s having (and carrying) the moment he/she got out of his/her mom’s womb.

I’ve heard a saying (or perhaps a ‘judgement’?) that the less educated someone is, the younger he/she is most likely to get married.

I’m a little in between here.

I did, saw less-educated people are married at a very young age, and are likely to have lots of kids, despite the fact that their financial situation might not be able to support all the family members to prosper (schools, food, daily necessities, etc etc).

Which ALWAYS raise a question for me (not aloud, of course). These people are poor, and they knew that by heart. Sure, they might as well know, additional family members will make them even poorer, and sure they know that even if the child happen to be an ‘accident,’ they might not even able to support him/her financially. In the end, they would complaint how poor they were, how little they give to the child, and how they feel sorry for the child and themselves. So a question pop out of my head: “So why the hell did you make kids in the first place?”

A friend of mine complaint about how little he has financially, yet he decided to get married anyway, but then he ended up feeling sorry for he cannot support his wife financially, and felt ashamed of how little he could give to his wife, and his complaint was still the same, even after he got married (and got kids! Imagine that!)

Which brings me a similar question: “Why did you get married in the first place?”

I’m not opposing to the idea of marriage and having kids, I just thought that those two matters should be thought through thoroughly.

Okay, Indonesia might not be a first world modern and sophisticated country. We know that. Especially considering the number of uneducated people here. But compared to what I’ve seen in the news, what I’ve read in books, novels, magazines and newspapers, I think I can still proudly say that Indonesia is quite a modern country, with open-minded people, and there are also lots of people who are well-educated. Long story made short: we do belong in the modern era.

I’ve met people who’s so damn smart, who had traveled around the world, and reached the peak of their careers. Still, it doesn’t changed the traditional ideology planted below our sub-conscious ever since we were kids, brainwashed: grow up, get married, and have kids. Pramoedya Ananta Toer also mentioned this in one of his Buru Quartet (I forgot which book, but I guess it’s in either the first or the second book), saying:

“Dahulu, nenek moyangmu selalu mengajarkan, tidak ada yang lebih sederhana daripada hidup: lahir, makan-minum, tumbuh, beranak-pinak dan berbuat kebajikan.” ~Bunda (ibu Minke)

Translated into English, those words mean: “Long ago, your ancestors always told us that there is nothing simpler than life itself: to get out of your mother’s womb, to eat and to drink, to grow up, to have kids, and to do good.” That’s it. However, the modernization brought by Western people (a.k.a. the Dutch and other Europeans) has made more and more people now competing for better education, and to gain more and more knowledge, and in fact, is the the one reason why human beings are never satisfied.

Hmmm. Now I’m confused.

So what? Should we stop pursuing knowledge>

Or maybe that’s not what Pram meant?

Maybe I misinterpreted?

Because from what I’ve seen, those people who worked their butts off, in order to gain knowledge, then go around the world to find that fountain of wisdom, are in fact still deeply rooted to that basic principles of a simple life: grow up, get married, and have kids.

*

So I wrote down that note while I was waiting for a friend in Eat & Eat, and when I showed this to him when he finally showed up, he asked me,

“So what’s the right way to live according to you?”

“Huh? There’s no such thing as right or wrong when it comes to life. Especially in how we should live our life,” I answered.

“So?”

Strike one.

What do I want to say exactly here, actually?

Do I sound like criticizing here? Or worse, scolding?

That is definitely not what I meant.

So I told him,

“I just thought that those things have seem to become a guidelines of life that should be followed now. Grow up, get married, and have kids. That’s life. It has rooted deeply in our brains that it seems if we’re missing one or two of those elements, say, we don’t want to have kids, or maybe we want to be homosex, or even bisex, or we just want to be single for the rest of our life, people seem to view it as abnormal. Because it’s unusual, based on those guidelines.

“But let’s assume that we don’t have those guideline. People doesn’t have the paradigm of how we should live our life. Would they still view the ‘abnormal’ as abnormal? Would they still binded to the idea that life should be ‘normal’?”

Yea, maybe I’m criticizing.

I’m just trying to imagine, what might happen if we don’t have such guidelines. Would people have more room to explore themselves then?

Yea, I’m wondering.

Excuse me, this is just one big issue, especially in where I live right now.