Finally A Prologue

PROLOG

Hai. Selamat datang di The Hope Center. Apakah ini merupakan kunjungan pertamamu? Kalau begitu biar kujelaskan terlebih dahulu mengenai tempat ini.

The Hope Center merupakan tempat rehabilitasi para penderita penyakit otak Alzheimer, serta pusat penelitian penyakit itu sendiri.

Penyakit Alzheimer merupakan penyakit otak dimana si penderita perlahan-lahan mengalami penurunan kinerja otak, dan pada akhirnya mengakibatkan orang tersebut kehilangan ingatannya. Memasuki tahap ini, biasanya penderita akan memerlukan bantuan dan pengawasan yang intensif untuk melakukan kegiatan rutin.

Gejala awalnya sepele, mulai dari lupa akan hal-hal yang kecil, seperti dimana ia meletakkan handphone, atau alamat rumah teman. Kemudian si penderita mulai melupakan alamat rumahnya sendiri, serta mungkin kegiatannya sehari-hari. Setelah itu ia menjadi bertambah linglung, dan mungkin mulai melupakan cara-cara melakukan kebiasaannya rutin, seperti menyikat gigi, atau mengikat sepatu. Seiring berjalannya waktu–dan bertambah parahnya penyakit, penderita mulai melupakan sanak saudaranya sendiri, mulai dari nama sampai ikatan keluarga sendiri, bahkan identitasnya sendiri. Pada akhirnya, penderita mencapai tahap dimana ia tidak mampu melakukan apa pun tanpa bantuan orang lain.

Ah, jangan khawatir. Penyakit ini biasanya menyerang orang-orang lanjut usia. Paling dini, penyakit ini akan mulai menyerang pada umur 30 tahun. Itupun termasuk kasus langka. Kemudian, otak akan mengalami kemunduran kira-kira di akhir usia 40 atau mungkin 50. Kamu kelihatannya belum setua itu. Apa kamu pernah mengalami gejala-gejala yang kusebutkan tadi, seperti melupakan rutinitas? Tidak? Ah, kalau begitu jangan khawatir. Otakmu sepertinya masih berfungsi dengan baik.

Penyebab penyakit Alzheimer sendiri sampai sekarang masih dipertanyakan. Ada beberapa spekulasi mengatakan bahwa Alzheimer sebenarnya merupakan penyakit genetik. Yang lain menyatakan bahwa depresi dan stres yang berlebihan juga dapat menyebabkan Alzheimer. Apa kamu sedang mengalami depresi atau stres yang amat sangat? Tidak? Kalau begitu jangan sampai kamu mengalaminya. Stres dan depresi bukanlah sesuatu yang sehat, dengan ataupun tanpa Alzheimer.

Banyak ahli kesehatan juga percaya bahwa benturan keras pada kepala, seperti  misalnya kecelakaan lalu lintas yang menyebabkan gegar otak atau semacamnya, merupakan salah satu penyebab Alzheimer. Apa kamu pernah mengalami gegar otak? Tidak juga? Bagus kalau begitu. Sepertinya kamu cukup aman dari penyakit otak ini.

Meskipun demikian, sampai detik ini, penyebab pasti Alzheimer masih belum diketahui. Oleh karena itulah, The Hope Center terus berusaha untuk memfasilitasi para peneliti yang berjuang tak kenal lelah untuk menjawab pertanyaan tersebut. Para ahli mengawasi dan mencatat perkembangan setiap pasien di tempat ini, dan–ah!

Kau lihat wanita yang baru saja memasuki tempat ini? Ya, wanita cantik berjaket hitam dan bercelana jeans di dekat pintu masuk. Kau melihatnya? Dia salah satu pengunjung tetap kami. Bukan, bukan. Ia bukanlah dokter maupun salah satu staff. Bukan juga peneliti, namun ia sering membantu penelitian kamu secara sukarela dengan membantu mencatat perkembangan salah satu pasien kami.

Pasien istimewa tersebut berada di kamar nomor 215, dan ia merupakan salah satu subjek penelitian kami. Pasien ini merupakan kasus khusus, dan wanita tersebut merupakan satu-satunya pengunjung tetap di kamar itu.

Ah, kau ingin tahu mengapa pasien ini istimewa? Aku ulangi lagi, ia merupakan kasus yang cukup langka. Kenapa, katamu? Karena ia baru saja didiagnosis menderita Alzheimer sekitar 5 tahun yang lalu, dan penyakitnya memburuk dengan amat cepat. Ia sudah tidak ingat apapun mengenai dirinya sendiri. Padahal umurnya baru 35 tahun. Para peneliti kami, bersama-sama dengan para dokter, berusaha sekuat tenaga untuk mencegah agar keadaannya tidak bertambah buruk. Sampai sekarang mereka masih mencari tahu penyebab serta alasan penyakit ini bertambah parah dengan amat cepat pada pasien istimewa ini. Ia baru saja terdaftar sebagai pasien di sini setahun yang lalu.

Lihat, wanita berjaket hitam tersebut hendak memasuk lift. Cepat! Ikuti dia sebelum dia menghilang dari pandangan! Tidak apa-apa, ia tidak akan keberatan. Asal kau tidak mengganggu aktivitasnya, dia tidak akan protes. Ayo, akan aku temani kau untuk kali pertama. Lihat! Pintu lift sudah terbuka! Cepat masuk!

Nah, untung saja kita tidak tertinggal lift. Sekarang, mari kuperkenalkan kau dengannya. Wanita berjaket hitam di sebelahku ini bernama Winda. Ia akan mengunjungi pasien istimewa tersebut di kamar 215 di lantai 2. Ah, kita sudah sampai di lantai 2. Ayo kita ikuti Winda.

Lihat, Winda memasuki kamar 215. Masuklah. Apa? Sungkan katamu? Baiklah, aku antarkan.

Kau lihat wanita yang sedang duduk di samping jendela itu? Ya, yang mengenakan daster berwarna putih itu. Dialah pasien istimewa kami. Dan sekarang Winda duduk di dekatnya. Sepertinya si pasien sama sekali tidak menyadari kehadiran Winda. Mungkin ia sedang melamun. ia terlihat linglung. Lihatlah tatapan matanya yang menerawang kosong ke luar jendela. Ambilah sebuah kursi dan duduklah di pojok ruangan. Jangan terlalu dekat dengan mereka berdua. Tujuanmu ke sini hanya mengobservasi penderita untuk menulis kisah tentang penyakit Alzheimer kan? Jangan mengganggu mereka.

Baiklah, aku akan meninggalkanmu dengan Winda dan si pasien sekarang. Kau akan baik-baik saja, bukan? Tenang saja, selama kau hanya duduk diam dan mengawasi, aku rasa tidak akan ada masalah. Apa katamu? Ah, ya. Aku hampir lupa. Nama pasien itu Gema.

* * *

Here’s the English translation. Any inputs, suggestions, critics and comments are happily accepted. I want to know what you guys think.

PROLOGUE

Hi. Welcome to The Hope Center. Is this your first visit? Then let me explain first about this place.

The Hope Center is a rehabilitation center for people with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is also a research center for the disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disease where the patients’ brains degraded slowly and would, in the end, lose their memories and lose the ability to function normally like other people.

The early symptoms are barely noticeable, I daresay. They might simply forget where they just put their cell phone, or perhaps a friend’s address. Then they would even forget their own address and their daily routines as well. After that, the disease would become worse, and they would forget how to do the routine itself, such as brushing their teeth, or tying their own shoes. As time goes by,  they would later forget about their family, about themselves, and would finally unable to do anything without assistance and intensive supervision.

Oh, don’t worry. People with Alzheimer’s disease are mostly elders. The earliest symptoms could appear by the age of 30, but even that’s a rare case. Afterwards, the brain would become worse in the late 40s or early 50s. You don’t appear to be that old yet. Have you ever experienced similar symptoms? No? Well, you don’t have to worry, then. Your brain seems to function normally.

The causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are still in question until today. Some speculations say that it’s a genetic disease. Others stated that depression and stress could also lead to Alzheimer. Have ever had an acute depression or stress? No? Well, don’t. Alzheimer or not, stress and depression are unhealthy anyway.

Many health experts also believe that head trauma is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease. Have you ever been in an accident and hit your head? Another ‘no’? Good, then. You seem perfectly healthy to me.

Nonetheless, the real cause of Alzheimer’s Disease is still unknown. That’s why, The Hope Center is helping researchers to answer that very question about this illness. We have experts and doctors record the patients’ progress,. Ah!

Did you see the woman who just enter this building? Yes, that pretty woman with black jacket and jeans. Did you spot her? She’s one of our visitors. Oh, no, she’s neither a doctor nor a staff. Nor is she a researcher, but she does help us often by keeping us updated with one patient’s progress.

This one patient is the one in room no. 215, and she’s one of our research subject. She’s one of a kind with a very rare case. That woman is her only visitor.

Ah, you’re curious about this patient, are you? Let me say this again: she’s a rare case. Why? Well, because she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around 5 years ago, and she’s deteriorating fast. She barely knows who she is, and she’s only 35 year-old. Our researchers and doctors are trying their best to prevent it from getting worse. We’re still finding out the cause of her illness getting worse rapidly day by day. She just got admitted a year ago.

Oh, look, that woman is waiting for the elevator. Quick! Let’s follow her before she went out of sight! Oh, no worries, she wouldn’t mind. As long as you don’t interfere with whatever she’s doing, she wouldn’t protest. Come, I’ll accompany you on the first day. Look! The elevator’s door’s opened! Let’s go!

Okay. Now that we’re in the elevator together, I’ll introduce her to you. She’s Winda, and she’s about to visit this patient in room 215 on the second floor. Wait, we’re on the second floor already. Let’s follow Winda.

Look, Winda’s going inside the room. Go enter it as well! What? Why are you so shy? Come on, let me take you inside.

Did you see the woman sitting by the window? Yes, the one wearing white pajamas. She’s the patient. And now Winda is sitting next to her. Looks like the patient doesn’t even realize it. She’s probably daydreaming. Did you see how preoccupied she looks? Look at her eyes staring outside the window. So dark. So empty. Oh, please, have a seat. Take a chair somewhere and sit on the corner, if you don’t mind. Don’t get too close. You came here merely to observe patients with the disease, right? Well, you aren’t supposed to disturb or interfere in any way.

Okay, I’ll leave you now here. You’re gonna be fine, aren’t you? Don’t worry, as long as you sit in silence and not interfering, you’re gonna be just fine. Every thing’s under control now.

Yes? What is it?

Oh, yes. I almost forgot to tell you. The patient’s name is Gema.

P.S. This story is purely fiction. Similar names of characters and places are purely coincidental.

P.S.S. The name “Gema” here is not pronounced like the English pronunciation of Gema. The “G” is pronounced like you pronounce the “G” in “God,” and the “e” is pronounced like the “a” in the article “an.” This is an Indonesian name. :) I hope it’s not too confusing!

*edited 20/09/2011: I edited minor parts, once I remembered that an acute Alzheimer’s is not merely about losing your memories, but also losing the ability to function normally like other people.

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Published by

Laksmi

An MA student at Waseda University, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyo, Japan. An avid reader. A language geek as well. And a book hoarder.

15 thoughts on “Finally A Prologue”

  1. Wow, i admire how inspiration come to torture you! Love it! hahaha.
    well, this is a piece of a really nice work, i like the overall idea of the story and definitely waiting for the continuation of it.
    so, i’d like to comment for the Indonesian version, not to say that i did’t like the English version, but it’s quite peculiar how you just lost your ability to write in Bahasa. hahahaha…

    First of all, its quite awkward to say “kamu” to a person you just met, particularly because you didnt explain the context of the scene, whether it was an old doctor and a young researcher talking, or such.
    Then, i think its better to use “Anda” rather than “kamu”, since its more polite, of course, and formal to be used to someone you just met, and in this case, in an institution. (Masih inget pengalaman resepsionis dong?)

    Secondly, the word “melupakan” means you have the intention to forget something, same thing like when you say “Saya akan mengambilkan kamu minum,” means you consciously and intentionally want to take me a glass of water. Therefore, the use of “melupakan” in your story is a bit fallible. “Lupa”, is a better word to use, since it’s also a verb anyway, and means a condition where you unexpectedly forget about a certain thing.

    Well, begitu saja, ya. Keep writing!! :D

    1. You mean you like it when I’m tortured, don’t you?

      Thanks for the Indonesian revision! Would revise it in the master document I have here, thought I might leave my blog post as it is, so people would know the revisions and corrections. ;) Thanks a bunch, Ka! *virtual hug*

  2. Hi Dian!! It’s great that you have a passion for writing. I can tell you really enjoy it. It’s so funny that you have those writer moments and wake up like that.. hehehehe
    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I’m in Japan finishing my last semester of grad school. Yes, they definitely do have a complicated system for recycling, but it’s worth it. hehehe How are you??

  3. Hei, Dian! I just discovered your blog! This is Yusak. I also blog in wordpress. hehehe…
    About the prologue, I think you’re talented to write a novel! Keep up the good work! hehee… Could you be so kind as to follow my blog? Well, basically my blog contains all things that I read, think, and write… hehehe

      1. Have you finished reading Henning Dorg? It was published on Jawa Pos 2 years ago.. Well, why don’t you leave comment? hahahaha… btw, I see your prologue is really good. Why don’t you continue the story in Bahasa Indonesia and publish it in a newspaper?? hehehhee

  4. Fascinating subject, strong introduction. Pretty confronting though reading this truth:”Oh, don’t worry. People with Alzheimer’s disease are mostly elders”. Hardly reassuring for an almost 75 y/o reader like me (^_-).

    By the way I feel sorry for any author who has to deal with inspiration that comes in the disguise of insomnia. But then, one has no choice, has one?

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