Moment of Truth

Ante-post: I keep thinking whether or not I should publish this post. This post has become completely random. I meant to write something completely different, but as I write things up, it turned out to be this way, and I thought… well, why not? It’s random anyway. Any grammatical correction is very much accepted. Please do correct it if you find anything wrong.

*

   Danielle looked at her shopping cart and thought of what she could have been missed. She’d put the cereal, instant coffees, toilet papers, and the detergent. She took another round to walk around the mini-market, to check whether there was anything else she’d want or need. She saw a pack of wet tissues and thought that she could use them, so she put it in her cart.

   After making sure there was nothing else that she need she went to the cashier and paid for everything.

   Just when she was about to go out of the mini-market did she hear someone calling her name.

   “Danielle! You’re Danielle, are you?”

   The one calling her was a guy, about seven-feet-tall, with a delicate look and pretty features on his face. Had he worn a skirt, people might as well thought he was a very tall woman.

   He looked at her intently, looking for recognition, and since Danielle had done nothing but stoned as she saw him, he laughed.

   “Have you forgotten me? How could you?”

   Danielle startled. Then as soon as she got her tongue, she responded,

   “Ryan?”

   The man called Ryan sighed in relief.

   “Geez! I thought you didn’t recognize me!”

   “Oh, no! How could I forget you?” Danielle tried to make an excuse. “I was just… surprised to bump into you here!”

   “How did you think I feel, seeing you here, shoppiing like an Indonesian in a place like this?”

   Danielle laughed.

   “Well, I’m still adjusting.”

   “Oh, it shouldn’t be a problem. Everybody here is so friendly, and they’re always ready to help you! But first, how did you get here at all? You never told me you’re going here in the first place!”

   Newsflash. I guess we’re no longer BFF, old pal, Danielle thought.

   “Oh, yeah… Sorry. I was…” Danielle stopped for a while, thinking of a good, logical, and perfect reason.

   Should she tell him she had planned to avoid everybody she knew in Indonesia intentionally?

   Should she tell him she had thought of not contacting him, of all people, as well as not keeping in touch with him?

   Should she tell him that she had wanted to get by on her own?

   Yet, upon seeing him–those kind eyes, and sweet smile, as well as the pretty face and most definitely friendly gesture–she really did not want to lose his benignity and warmth. And the truth was, after all, that she also felt excited to see him, too.

   “I was still trying to figure out numbers of things in this country, especially this town. I really don’t know anything about this place except for this mini-market and diners nearby,” Danielle finally explained.

   “Oh, right. Right. Yeah, it’s quite a challenge, I suppose. I mean, you’re now exposed to a complete different culture, language, and people. I can help you with that,” said Ryan, and then he grabbed Danielle’s shopping bag, the one with her new detergent, and cereal, as well as instant coffee, toilet papers, detergent, and wet tissue, as he saw Danielle was heading out of the door, eager to get out.

   “I thought you’re here to do some shopping?” asked Danielle, taking her shopping bag into her arms back.

   “Oh, right. Yes, I did. I need a new broom for my room, as well as detergent and soap,” Ryan answered, looking confused.

   “Well, then, get going!” said Danielle.

   “Oh, but…” Ryan’s hands was still on Danielle’s shopping bag, reluctant to let go, as well as reluctant to part ways.

   “I’m still gonna be here for a long time, Ryan. We could catch up some time later,” said Danielle, and tried to smile as friendly as she could.

  “Oh. Okay, then. Well, that would be nice! We haven’t bumped into each other for a long time! We should hang out sometime!”

   “And we will. You could be my tour guide here.” Stupid. Why did she say that?

  “Absolutely. It’s a promise, then. We’ll meet again soon. Can I have your number, by the way?”

   She read her number to Ryan and so Ryan miss called her cell phone.

   “Great. Now that I have your number…,” said Danielle, looking for words as she starred blankly at her cell phone screen with Ryan’s number on it. “I’ll text you,” she finally added.

   “Not if I text you first,” replied Ryan, and so he smiled cordially.

   And they finally parted ways.

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 ;)

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.