Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 13: Favourite things

Give us a list of your favourite things from 2013. Could be material items, food, people, anything!

In no particular order:

Interviewing Sharon Corr.
I have always been a fan of The Corrs, many of their songs were the anthems of some of the most memorable moments I had in the 2000's. It was only natural that I jumped into the offer to exclusively interview her when she visited Jakarta in September. In about twenty minutes, I went from being star-struck to inspired, as she talked about her many experiences and thoughts as a musician, a humanitarian, a mum, and a woman.

Taking candid pictures.
There is something challenging, yet compelling, when it comes to taking a picture of someone doing something without telling them to pose beforehand, knowing that I am about to make the moment immortal to some extent. 

Kindle Paperwhite.
After being in my wish list for far too long, I can finally own my very own e-book reader. Credit goes to Angga, who bought this for me when he went to the States earlier this year. It was almost like a birthday present, too, because I got it only a couple of days after my birthday. Yays!

Even writing the name of this food ignites my craving already. Buying it from Star Mart was almost a daily thing, then I started a new job in which not one, but two persons actually sell it at the office, willingly visit my floor and offer it right in front of my eyes. What else can I do?

Spending a week in Hong Kong and Macau with mum and baby sister.
It was raining for hours everyday during our trip, but we got to go to Disneyland, shopped like there's no tomorrow for a week, and tried delicious dishes at a halal restaurant nearby our hostel. Also, having people I hold most dear as travelling companions made me feel at home all along, only with different setting.

Van Gogh: Painted With Words
The BBC production has everything I want in a TV movie - and more. A documentary drama in period setting, check. Historical accuracy, because the entire dialogue was made from written documents, including Vincent Van Gogh's letter to his brother Theo, check. Benedict Cumberbatch, check. Completely awed? Obviously. My favourite line is when he talked about his infatuation for his cousin, Kee, "To love... what a business."

I discovered the Japanese multi-talented musician when somebody posted the music video of his song Katachi on Facebook, and I was hooked. Since then, I have been listening to his songs over and over again it practically became my anthem for the first few months of the year. One of these days, should I need a little pick-me-up, Rum Hee and Parachute never fail to put a smile upon my face.

This is a compilation of RA Kartini's letter, translated from Dutch into English. This book is an eye-opener, to say the least, especially because some of her written thoughts are unbelievably relevant after over a hundred years. Quote-worthy lines are all over the book, and one of my favourite is on gratitude: "But is it not a sad thought that we must be reminded of the lack in others, in order to appreciate our own advantage?"

A bouquet of white roses.
My two co-workers at that time, Achie and Fahmi, gave it to me for my birthday present. I still have it in its original shape. It smells like honey and I love it. Maybe, some time later, I shall make a pot-pourri out of the petals.

I get to wear this clothing item more often now, as I do not have to take public transportations to get to work any more. I enjoy wearing them as they are so versatile and I cannot get enough of them. Obviously, I intend to have more. There is no such thing as too many dresses.

Lactasoy Green Tea.
Cannot talk too much about it other than this: I would rather buy this other than any green tea blend/frappé drink from literally anywhere. It is THAT good. Plus, it is only about IDR 20k a box.

Hello Kitty travel pillow. 
When I saw it in a little store in Ladies Market area in Hong Kong, I grabbed it with no second thoughts. First, it is Hello Kitty - it has catlike ears and all. Second, it is cute. It may be white, therefore it might get dirty easily, but I can always sent it to the laundry when that happens.

Postcards sent by friends. 
I love sending and receiving postcards, although I don't really fancy the notion of "if I have sent you a postcard you must reply it". I have always wanted to display them somewhere so I can see them all the time, and I am glad to have as I dedicated a special corner for them in my room. If you feel like sending me one, let me know so I can share you my address privately ;)

Friday, December 06, 2013

Day 6: Blowing Out the Candles

You’re another year older!  How did you celebrate the passage of another year?  Did it turn out the way you had hoped?

I had rice-flavoured Cerelac for breakfast at my workplace, simply because I could. (Honestly, though, those who believe that this has to do with my, or anyone's, maturity, might want to Google a little bit more about what maturity actually is.) Did some work. Then the delivery man arrived with my order: assorted shiumay arranged in a cone shape, just like the traditional tumpeng, for everyone at the office. No candle to blow, but I did make a bit of birthday wish. It is safe to say that my colleagues loved the food, and the birthday wishes they gave me were truly heart-warming.

The holy workload called again after the lunch break. Sometime after dusk, my colleagues Achie, Fahmi and I went to a steakhouse to claim their free steak promo for everyone on their birthday. (Angga was not there because he was in San Francisco, busy mingling with Agnes Monica and all). One of the waiters at the steakhouse gave me a tiara-shaped head accessory "for the birthday girl to wear", he said. So I did. 

Some time later after that, I had a dinner with my mum and baby sister, some other after-office meetup with friends from different circles, then a lunch with my dad (not really in that order). 

There was not really any party or anything fancy, but the best celebrations are ones that includes food, friends (and/or loved ones), and conversations.

Another highlight of the day: Ery, a member of the volunteer team I worked with at the Global Youth Forum last year made me a thoroughly thoughtful video, compiling the birthday wishes from the fellow volunteers. I was overwhelmingly touched with the effort of everyone involved. This reminded me about how genuine and invaluable some presents can be, and I loved every second of it.
I cannot really recall what I hoped for on my birthday. It is good, I suppose, because I ended up not over-think about how some things did not work out. All things considered, though, it was a good start.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Day 5: Challenge

Did you take on a new challenge? What was it? Is there any challenge you deliberately avoided? What do you want to do to challenge yourself in 2014?

(Note: this will be a long post.)

On New Thrills
The word "challenge" has a special place in my dictionary. I believe that challenges come in many ways, but the way we handle them depends on how we see them at the first sight. For the past several years, I have learned not to label things as neither "difficult" nor "easy", but simply "challenging". Apparently, such state of mind helps me to take things in a more lighthearted and welcoming manner, with no unnecessary over (or under) estimation.

I am pleased to say that I did take a new challenge this year, which may even be life-changing. Starting over a career was particularly challenging, especially because I used to be so unsure about how good will I do in journalism. To finally being able to do journalism works in a regular basis is apparently very fulfilling, and I cannot be happier. 

My (at that time) prospective boss were right after all, when she said to me in the final interview, "Working here, you will encounter plenty of challenges along the way. I know you would like it, though, because you seem to like being challenged." 

True, there is something about challenges that I simply cannot get enough with. Maybe it is the sense of accomplishment, or possibly the rush of gratification for simply trying and giving my best shot. Challenges give me something to aim for, and they elevate my self-esteem once they are done.

On the other hand, I believe that challenges can also be alarming, that is if one takes it by incorporating others’ achievements into their benchmark, ending up with them making comparisons. I agree with Kristin Neff, Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, when she stated that comparing ourselves to others has been a means to generate self-esteem, and it is not seen as good enough to be average.

Arguably, this is how we start being the worst critic for our own self.

On Making Comparisons
According to social comparison theory, we compare ourselves to others in an effort to make accurate self-evaluation and produce further self-enhancement. Nevertheless, I have always felt uneasy with the notion "If others can do it, I (or you) can do it, too". It may sound discouraging, as the statement provokes the spirit of competition and conquering challenges, yet I could not really reason such discomfort, until very recently.

Comparisons may be a promising source of motivation, but it feels personally awkward for me to determine my self-worth using others as points of reference. Often times, instead of motivating, it gets me questioning my own worth, and eventually drags me into the abyss of self-doubt. 

It is not so challenging to say, "Oh, I am nothing compared to X, she is effortlessly good-looking, she has a GPA that lands her the job I have always dream of, she had been travelling to every destination I put in my "places to go before you die" list, she can get her hands on things I want to own but can never afford, her non-academic achievements are unbeatable, and look at that gorgeous boyfriend of hers…" and it goes on.

Apparently, there are two kinds of comparisons: upward (observing those who seem to have it better than us regarding qualities that we desire) and downward (observing those who seem to have it worse). Thomas Plante, Ph.D., former President of Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality of the American Psychological Association,furthermore explains, "We often feel better about ourselves and our lives when making downward comparisons, and feel bad about ourselves when making upward comparisons."

I believe that the core problem of comparisons comes down to the concept of gratitude. Many of us have been taught to be grateful "because there are a lot of less unfortunate people out there". I never quite able to grasp this concept, because what is the point of being grateful for your own life if you have to firstly take a glimpse of others’ just to be able to do that?

Even as a kid, I was happy to have a lollipop in my hand not because my other friends did not, but because I could taste it and it tasted good. Under that notion, should I then be grateful for my lollipop because I had it and others did not, even if it was because they prefer chocolate or ice cream to lollipops?

Sometime in 2013, I realised that measuring own strength and weaknesses through other people’s achievements is simply unfair. It is a losing battle, because I have always been aware that each individual in this world is unique, yet somehow I forgot that it contributes to who they are and what they could be.

Instead, it would only make me pity myself for being unable to be what others are, or to get what others have.On another hand, even if I want their accomplishments, but would I be able to walk on their shoes and die trying?

The Upcoming Challenge
To encounter self-criticism as one of the possible harms of comparisons, Neff coined the term 'self-compassion’, highlighting two problems that stop us from obtaining it. "One, when we criticize ourselves, we reinforce the illusion of control… It’s scary to admit how little control we sometimes have. Two, we really believe that we need self-criticism to motivate ourselves… [W]hen we are in a self-critical place, this is the worst possible mindset in which to do our best," she affirmed.

I believe that, although comparisons may still be relevant to some extent, it is time to start looking inward, to appreciate who we essentially are, the particular life and experiences we have, and what are we capable of as an individual, among other personal highlights.

Making peace with our own self, I suppose, is a lifelong challenge. Nevertheless, acknowledging this feels liberating, because I know that I have better alternative than to succumb to the (subjectively) vague concept of motivation and gratitude. Now that I am aware of the vicious threat of comparing myself with others, and how it interferes the way I am being genuinely thankful, I establish this notion as my main homework in 2014.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Day 4: 20/20

Hindsight is the one thing we never benefit from in the present. Is there one moment you wish you could do over?

Sometimes, nay, often, I believe that I did not work hard enough, well enough, whole-hearted enough, it makes me feel like going back to the past so I can do it better. But since I cannot, because even in time-travel related movies it is an illusion, let me take this thought into a different light and make a totally hypothetical point.

Earlier this year, I had a job interview with a prominent print media. To be one of their reporters used to be my dream job back in college, and after a few selection phases, I was there for an one-on-one interview with an executive editor.

I remember he commented on my look, and said, "If you were to work at my place, you might not be able to keep dressing up like this. You will be taking public transportations and chasing deadlines every single day, you will not have time to spare to touch-up."

I still believe that he may be right. After all, he was the one with more experience. But he may also be wrong, because he has never put any make-up on and been clueless on deciding what to wear in the morning, before leaving home and seizing the day. 

I am not sure if my answer at that time has enlightened him enough, that I believe that looking shabby should not be a prerequisite to be a newspaper journalist, and what matters more is to be presentable so your sources will not look down on you because of how you look. I would love to have a(nother) shot to tell him that.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Day 3: Brave

What was the bravest thing you did in 2013?

Bravery is a strange thing. I had to look it up on Google to find what it actually means, and I ended up not only finding entries on what it means literally and what people have previously said about it, but also myself even more confounded.

I have written something on this matter, actually, but I do not think it is not quite relevant with today's prompt. Besides, there are a lot of reason to be afraid that I have encountered this year, and some of them linger up until this very moment.

On the other hand, I believe that bravery does not come in bulky size or in form of a big, strong man who saves the world. Sometimes, it presents itself in small, virtually undetectable things, but they are things that actually matter.

Maybe, it is like when I told my mum that I have just interviewed an ENT specialist and talked about respiratory allergies. I hinted that having too much stuff in the house means more dust mites, which is one of the most common allergens. I encouraged myself to say, "I think we have a little too much."

Surprisingly, she responded, "Yes, I think you're right. Let's get rid of some stuff."

Monday, December 02, 2013

Day 2: Shine

What was the best moment of 2013?

I know that in order to have something started, something else has to end first. Probably, though, sometimes I wish for some things never to end, making me forget what I have initially known. 

Parting is such a sweet sorrow, Shakespeare wrote, and I know it is. Especially when it is a surprise farewell party, with cheesecake and some of the best co-workers in the world included.

I remember when I laughed tearfully with the people I lived this moment with. I believe that people with whom I can laugh so hard I cry my eyes out are some of the nicest people to be with, and I have found them then. Working with them was a pleasure and an honour I wish never to end.

It was like an amicable break-up, that I know will happen eventually. I felt relieved that it happened anyway, because afterwards, I returned to the path I always knew I was meant to take: journalism.

Disclaimer: this was not the actual strawberry cheesecake. Photo taken from here. Fahmi did an awesome job filming the moment, but I am so private I will not share it :p

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Day 1: Start

Where did you start 2013? Give some background on this year.

As I began 2013, I was in the heart of the capital city, spending the New Year's Eve with my mother, who came all the way from my home town. There were fireworks and music, but there was literally rain on the parade and the car-free night was awfully packed with people. It didn't matter much, because we then decided to go back to my lodging, located only ten minutes walk from where we were. 

I had a pleasant mother-daughter date in the afternoon. It felt nice to be able to take her out to lunch and dinner.

But you are not here to read that kind of bland description, are you?

At the beginning of the year, I remember feeling a void, as I realised that I was living in a borrowed heaven. I knew that the clock was ticking, and I did not like it. Knowing what was coming did not help me preparing for it, because instead, I went frantic.

I kept on telling myself that things can only get better, and in the meantime, I just need to make the most of what I had. However, I guess that at that time I was not convincing enough, because I did not believe what I said. 

Also, I believed that people can never really be ready for anything. As something happens, one got to do what one got to do, and make necessary adjustments along the way, as long as you stick with where you are going.

It brings back a little bit of bitterness actually, to reminisce and write about what happened. Nevertheless, I am glad it happened, because it made the rest of the year so much more palatable. 

Well, you know, like dark chocolate.

Photo taken from here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tentang Ramal-Meramal (Bagian II)

Menyambung post tentang ramal-meramal bagian pertama, sekarang gue mau membahas hasil pembacaan salah satu narasumber yang gue wawancara. Sang pembaca karakter lewat horoskop ini namanya Sundea, tapi biar lebih ikrib, jadilah gue manggilnya Dea.

Setelah ngobrol dengan Dea buat keperluan tugas negara, gue memutuskan memesan salah satu jenis layanan yang ditawarkan Dea di Zodiak Gembira, yaitu Zombiku alias Zodiak Gembiraku. Untuk lebih jelasnya seputar Zodiak Gembira, mampirlah kemari.

Singkat cerita, dua minggu kemudian, hasil pembacaan pun mendarat dengan manis di kotak masuk surel gue. Seperti gue sempat bilang di post pertama, menikmati hasil pembacaan karakter rasanya kaya baca buku panduan tentang diri sendiri, juga penjelasannya dari segi astrologi.

Misalnya, soal kegemaran gue menikmati saat-saat sendirian sambil memerhatikan sekeliling, karena dari sana, ada saja hal-hal yang kemudian bisa gue tulis. Rupanya, itu karena posisi matahari sekaligus Merkurius gue ada di rumah kesembilan, house of philosophy, higher learning, and personal growth. Gue jadi punya kebutuhan tinggi buat memelajari dan memahami dunia sekitar, di manapun gue berada, dan membagikan kembali pemahaman itu ke orang lain.

Di sisi lain, planet Merkurius menjadi simbol komunikasi dalam primbon astrologi. Dengan posisi Merkurius ada di bawah rasi bintang Aquarius, gue menjadi orang yang bisa menikmati argumentasi tanpa terintimidasi oleh perbedaan pendapat, alias senang berdebat. Lah, ternyata hal ini juga dipengaruhi horoskop?

Dea juga 'membaca' dengan tepat kalau hal yang paling gue suka dari sebuah perjalanan adalah memelajari budaya lain. Rupanya, berdasarkan penelusuran, dilihat dari posisi planet Mars –simbol ambisi– yang dalam kasus gue adanya di Sagitarius, ambisi gue berkaitan dengan kebebasan dan perjalanan.  

Sementara itu, dengan posisi rumah pertama, house of personality, di Taurus, gue cenderung setia dengan pola dan kebiasaan. Salah satu hal menarik dari aspek ini adalah bahwa gue ternyata tipikal yang susah pindah ke lain hati untuk urusan karier, khususnya tempat kerja. Hihihi :D

Setelah kepribadian, mari beralih ke emosi, yang direpresentasikan dalam chart oleh bulan (lunar). Bulan gue ada di Virgo, rasi bintang dengan unsur tanah seperti halnya Taurus. Kondisi ini memertegas karakteristik Taurus dalam kepribadian gue. Selain itu, sebagai seorang Lunar Virgo, gue nggak suka jadi pusat perhatian. Karena lebih senang mengamati, gue akan merasa aneh sendiri kalau gue justru jadi pihak yang diamati.

Secara keseluruhan, hasil pembacaan karakter gue versi Dea ini seru! Meski pemahaman gue relatif minim untuk urusan posisi benda-benda langit dan pengaruhnya terhadap hidup seseorang, gue nggak dibuat pusing dengan hal-hal teknis seputar primbon astrologi. Gaya penuturan Dea mengalir ringan, bikin gue nggak kebingungan untuk menghubungkan hasil pembacaan horoskop dengan karakter asli gue. Rasanya seolah lagi ngobrol dengan teman yang sudah dikenal cukup lama.

Oh ya, karena jenis layanan yang gue pesan adalah Parit alias paket irit, gue masih penasaran dengan hasil pembacaan Dea kalau dituangkan secara visual. Ini berarti, pe-er gue selanjutnya adalah memesan ilustrasi personal karya 'jin'-nya Zodiak Gembira. Hmm... dijadiin kado ulang tahun buat diri sendiri kayanya lucu juga! :)

Resensi: Rhapsody (Mahir Pradana, 2013)

Awalnya, gara-gara judulnya, awalnya saya mengira Rhapsody akan kental dengan penceritaan tentang musik (Bohemian Rhapsody, anyone?). Ternyata, setelah mengintip kamus, kata ini juga berarti "an ecstatic expression of feeling or enthusiasm." 

Ditambah dengan kalimat "Selalu ada alasan untuk pulang" di sampulnya, saya langsung terpikir satu kata: homesick. Saat seseorang merindukan rumahnya, alasan apapun yang memberi mereka kesempatan untuk pulang bisa membuat mereka senang bukan kepalang.

Dalam Rhapsody, di titik inilah cerita berawal. 

Terinspirasi dari pengalamannya saat melancong di Eropa, Abdul Latif Said alias Al memutuskan untuk 'menyulap' hotel peninggalan orangtuanya di Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan, menjadi sebuah youth hostel. Dibantu Bambang alias Bebi, yang sebelumnya bekerja di salon kakak perempuannya, Al mengelola hostelnya, Makassar Paradise, yang berada di pesisir Pantai Losari. Uniknya, ternyata nama hostel Al ini punya inisial yang sama dengan sang penulis, Mahir Pradana. Quite a catchy detail!

Sementara itu, meski sempat goyah karena usahanya seolah berjalan di tempat. Al berupaya bertahan, berpegangan pada kekuatan cita-citanya.

Aku meyakini bahwa jika aku berhasil merealisasikan dan membangun mimpiku, kebahagiaan akan datang dengan sendirinya untuk mewarnai hidupku (halaman 11).

Meminjam istilah penulis favorit Al, Paulo Coelho, semesta pun berkonspirasi untuk mewujudkan impiannya menjadi pemilik sebuah hostel. Datanglah Miguel Luis Carrion Martinez, jauh-jauh dari Madrid, Spanyol, dengan alasan yang terlalu bagus untuk jadi nyata, tapi sungguhan adanya.

"Takdir membawaku ke sini. Terus terang, aku pun tidak mengerti. Tapi, bermodalkan keyakinan dalam hati, aku memilih jalanku. Dan, semuanya harus dimulai dengan membalas budi kepadamu. That's why I'm here." (halaman 64)

Sejak munculnya Miguel, kejutan demi kejutan hadir dalam hidup Al. Tak hanya bisnisnya yang maju pesat, kisah asmaranya pun kembali semarak. Al kembali berjumpa dengan mantan kekasihnya di masa SMP, Sari, yang datang ke Makassar untuk berlibur. Padahal, di saat yang sama, ia masih berusaha memulihkan luka hatinya akibat dikhianati mantan pacarnya yang terakhir, Nadia, saat masih berada di Eropa.

Ada orang bijak zaman dulu yang bilang, history teaches everything including the future (halaman 76).

Sementara itu, kejutan-kejutan yang telah datang tak selamanya menyenangkan. Al pun harus berjuang untuk memertahankan hal-hal yang membawa rhapsody dalam hidupnya, yaitu impian dan cinta sejati.

Terlepas dari kisah Al sebagai tokoh utama, saya justru lebih terpikat pada karakter Miguel. Pengembaraannya ke negeri asing, yang digerakkan oleh tujuan membalas budi, justru menjadi awal hidup baru yang menantang, namun kemudian membawa kebahagiaan tak terduga. Jika saja Al tak pernah pergi ke Eropa, cerita hidup Miguel akan lebih menarik untuk diangkat dalam novel. Di beberapa bagian cerita, penggambaran kisah Miguel seolah mencuri spotlight, membuat sang tokoh utama cemburu. 

Di lain pihak, kisah cinta memang tak harus melulu penuh drama. Dalam Rhapsody, sosok pembawa tawa itu hadir lewat tokoh Bebi. Tak hanya membantu Al mengurus hostelnya, Bebi tampil sebagai sidekick yang setia, sekaligus comic relief dalam cerita lewat logat okkots-nya. Tak muncul hanya sebagai tokoh tempelan, sisi lain Bebi pun terkuak saat ia mengungkapkan isi hatinya pada Al.

"...Di hostel ini, orang-orang tidak pernah menertawakan saya. Sebaliknya, di tempat ini, orang-orang tertawa bersama saya." (halaman 147 – my favourite 'human moment'!)

Salah satu kekuatan Rhapsody, menurut saya, adalah latar ceritanya. Berbekal pengalaman mengunjungi sejumlah kota di benua Eropa dan tumbuh besar di Makassar, Mahir menggambarkan pesona kota-kota itu sambil mengajak pembaca menyusuri masa lalu Al. Selain itu, lewat tokoh Sari, yang kemudian diceritakan memenangkan kontes kecantikan dan bepergian keliling dunia, pesan-pesan seputar pentingnya traveling turut diperkuat. Aspek ini memang bukan sesuatu yang baru dalam karya-karya penulis Indonesia. Tapi, sebagai seseorang yang suka diajak jalan-jalan, termasuk lewat cerita orang lain, saya cukup menikmati kesempatan untuk 'melancong' bersama tokoh utama.

Dengan adanya kilas balik perjalanan Al di Eropa, juga acara tur keliling tempat-tempat bersejarah yang menjadi program andalan hostel Makassar Paradise, Rhapsody tidak semata menawarkan kisah dua sejoli yang dimabuk asmara. Ada berbagai bumbu yang ikut memerkaya kisahnya, mulai dari kekuatan impian hingga keindahan negeri sendiri, menjadikan Rhapsody sebuah kisah tentang cita dan cinta yang menghangatkan hati.

P.S: Kalau novel pertama Mahir, Here, After, membuat saya teringat kata-kata Jenderal Tian Feng di serial Kera Sakti, "Sejak dahulu beginilah cinta, deritanya tiada akhir", Rhapsody meninggalkan sebuah pesan tentang pentingnya tempat pulang: Home is where the heart is. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tentang Ramal-Meramal (Bagian I)

Penafian: Kalau nggak percaya ramalan, bacanya sampai sini aja, ya. :p

Suatu hari, gue dihadapkan dengan pertanyaan yang agak mengusik.

"Kenapa sih, cewek percaya banget sama yang namanya ramalan?"

Spontan, gue bilang, karena penasaran. Manusia boleh bercita-cita, tapi mereka nggak mungkin tahu pasti mereka nantinya jadi apa. Malah, gue menduga kalau lagu Que Sera Sera itu ditulis sama seseorang yang sudah terlalu bingung, akan jadi apa dirinya kelak. Mungkin, kalau diciptakan di zaman sekarang, judul lagunya bakal jadi "Yaudahlah Ya."

Kembali ke rasa ingin tahu. Pada umumnya, hal inilah yang mendorong seseorang, bukan hanya kaum perempuan, untuk berupaya mencari jawaban. Upaya ini rupa-rupa macamnya; mulai dari mengacungkan tangan waktu guru menerangkan pelajaran, memanfaatkan situs pencari, sampai diam-diam memantau akun media sosial pihak yang jadi incaran. Ramalan, bagi sebagian kalangan, dipandang sebagai salah satu sumber jawaban.

Buat gue pribadi, ramal-meramal adalah sekadar senang-senang. Biarpun menyadur rubrik ramalan bintang pernah jadi bagian dari pekerjaan gue, dan gue nggak jarang mengisinya dengan karangan bebas semata, horoskop adalah salah satu rubrik favorit gue sejak SMP. Selain itu, gue suka buka situs fortune cookie generator, pernah coba meramal peruntungan lewat nama di sini dan dibilang kalau gue cocoknya jadi detektif, juga iseng ngetes kecocokan horoskop gue dan pasangan. Benar atau tidaknya, lihat saja nanti. 

Di lain pihak, ramal-meramal nggak hanya sebatas urusan peruntungan di masa depan. Lewat berbagai metode, mulai dari astrologi, tarot, garis tangan, dan macam-macam lagi, karakter seseorang pun bisa dianalisa lewat penerawangan para ahli nujum, bahkan program komputer. Jasa meramal pun seringkali tidak ditawarkan dengan gratis, apalagi kalau pembacaan dilakukan secara personal dan terperinci.

Menurut gue, seseorang nggak hanya punya rasa ingin tahu terhadap keadaan sekelilingnya, tapi juga dirinya sendiri. Makanya, pembacaan karakter pribadi lewat metode-metode ramalan punya daya tarik tersendiri buat gue. Biasanya, gue coba juga mencocokkan hasil-hasil pembacaan itu dengan hasil tes psikologi (I am an INTP, by the way), maupun keadaan diri sendiri secara empiris, dan ternyata lumayan banyak benarnya.

Pucuk dicinta ulam tiba. Beberapa waktu lalu, dalam rangka menulis tentang tren jasa astrologi, gue mewawancara tiga orang pakar ramal-meramal dengan bidang keahlian masing-masing: pembaca karakter lewat horoskop, pembaca kartu tarot dan garis tangan, serta pembaca aura.

Secara garis besar, ketiganya punya kesamaan: karena hasil pembacaan mereka bisa dijelaskan dengan logika, bahkan bisa diperbandingkan keakuratannya dengan tes psikologi pada umumnya, mereka enggan dianggap bahwa ramalan adalah hal yang klenik atau mistis. Apalagi, dua di antaranya tidak menawarkan jasa ramal nasib, melainkan murni menganalisis kepribadian.

Sebagai seseorang yang sudah mencoba sendiri jasa mereka, gue mengakui hal ini. Gue nggak kesulitan memahami analisis mereka, ataupun terheran-heran dari mana mereka bisa mendapatkan hasil pembacaan itu. Paling-paling, gue dibuat bengong ketika apa yang mereka paparkan ternyata memang benar, padahal mereka semua belum pernah ketemu gue sebelumnya. 

Dengan adanya hal-hal yang sesuai sama kondisi nyata, hasil bacaan ketiga ahli ramal ini pada akhirnya gue manfaatkan sebagai bahan refleksi diri, sekaligus langkah awal untuk berusaha ‘memerbaiki’ masa depan. Karena, menurut sang pembaca aura, masa depan seseorang sangat mungkin berubah, tergantung dari apa yang dilakukannya saat ini. 

Menilik hasil analisis karakter, khususnya lewat pembacaan horoskop dan aura, rasanya seperti membaca buku panduan tentang diri sendiri. Kesempatan untuk lebih mengenali dan memahami diri sendiri turut membantu gue menerima segala "kelebihan" dan "kekurangan" pribadi. Meminjam kata-kata sang pembaca karakter, perbaikilah apa yang bisa diperbaiki, tapi jangan terlalu keras pada diri sendiri, karena kita tidak harus bisa melakukan segalanya.

Untuk soal ramalan nasib, gue berusaha santai-santai saja, meskipun hasilnya berhasil bikin gue girang sekaligus gentar. Sang pembaca tarot, yang sempat memeriksa garis tangan kiri gue dan memaparkan beberapa hal terkait masa depan, juga mengingatkan hal yang sama. Dia bilang, seorang peramal hanya bisa membacakan apa yang dilihatnya, dengan tujuan semata-mata membantu kliennya memberdayakan diri mereka sendiri. 

Pada akhirnya, percaya tidak percaya, ramalan akan selalu dicari oleh orang-orang yang dirundung rasa ingin tahu. Ke mana mereka memilih untuk bertanya, itu adalah pilihan mereka sendiri. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What the Fortune Teller Told Me

"You would not believe what the fortune teller has told me earlier tonight!"

Of course, I could not expect anything less intriguing from you as your first sentence, every time after we bid each other hello. With what you do for a living, it is only natural for you to come up with enthralling stories every now and then, and I could only respond it by eagerly saying, "Do tell!"

So, apparently, you are currently working on a story about modern fortune tellers, which has been keeping you occupied for the past week. For three days in a row, you interviewed three fortune tellers with different specialities. The first one reads people's personalities from a custom-made horoscope chart, and the other two was a tarot and palmistry specialist and an aura reader respectively.

As much as I wanted to encourage myself to be interested, I am never really into this fortune-telling thing. Others may think that believing in a fortune-teller is a form of infidelity for not solely believing in God, but I only have one word for it: bogus. I cannot comprehend that people still look for fortune tellers just to be told things that they want to hear, then stop making efforts and waiting for their life to change.

"The first thing I have to tell you is this: nobody should take what a fortune teller has said for granted and embrace it as their fate, then they would stop doing their best. This is, I believe, the biggest fallacy people have been embracing for ages, making them thinking that fortune tellers are frauds. Whether they read your personality or your future, using whatever method they are good at, the genuine fortune tellers would not fool you just so they can dig deeper into your pockets. Instead, they would help you discover who you are so you can furthermore empower and develop yourself."

"But fortune tellers are humans too, and they make mistakes just like everybody else. What if they are hiding behind this logic and actually make things up?" I argued.

"Exactly," you responded. "But nobody should even come near a fortune teller, if they know they would not believe a word from them. It is a matter of exercising your choices, really. I think it is as simple as taking things with sufficient reasoning. Also, I believe that my fate is in my own hands, not the fortune tellers', so I should not, for one, stop looking for the most suitable romantic partner although I was told that I'll be meeting him by next year."

"Nobody can win an argument with you," I sighed hopelessly. You responded with a smile, saying, "Actually, all three fortune tellers said that."

"You're joking!"

"The horoscope reader said that it has something to do with my having Aquarius in my Mercury. On the other hand, the aura reader claimed that the red in my aura is the thing to blame."
I believe my face could have told you better than having to say, 'I have no idea what any of those words mean.'

"Horoscope-wise, Mercury is the planet that represents communication. In my case, it makes me see debates as an opportunity to express my thoughts and beliefs with no hesitation in the slightest. Aura-wise, red means a logical self, making me a straightforward and dominant person. The palmist was more straightforward, she called me a dominant." We laughed in unison.

"That was spot on," I reluctantly admitted. "Nevertheless, you went to three fortune tellers in a week – that must have been an indulgence for an enthusiast like you!"

"Indeed! Other than getting my personality analysed, I got a glimpse of my future too, as thrilling as it may sound. I know that you are the kind of person who is rather sceptical on this matter, but as you've seen for yourself earlier, there are bits of their readings that actually have very similar premises, and they are bizarrely accurate."

I could not help but grinning. "Try me."

"The palmist told me that when I fall in love, I fall deeply. Probably, I have in my heart a bottomless pit into which I have the tendency to jump, and for now I have been keeping myself away from it by running in circles around it. Of course, I might have been tripped once in a while because I have poor balance, but gravity has yet to pull me into the abyss as I fall for someone.

"The horoscope and aura reader agreed with this. The former claimed that the element of Pisces and Scorpio under the romance part of my chart makes me a hopeless romantic at heart. The latter, on the other hand, believed that it has something to do with the blue-coloured aura I have in my personality."

"But you didn't interview them simply for free consultations, did you? What else did they talk about?"

"We talked a lot about human beings in general, actually. The palmist told me that it is human nature to be curious when they are being clueless about something, and once they are exposed to the truth, they have the desire to change what is supposed to happen. Some things, on the other hand, are meant to be the way it is, and nobody can change it no matter how bad they want to do so. Nevertheless, knowing that fact would make one understand the cause behind the consequence, and that would help them in accepting it, as well as making necessary improvements."

"That sounds like something a philosopher, instead of a fortune teller, I would say," I muttered. "It makes them sound more reasonable. Speaking of curiosity, though, I bet they have quite a number of curious clients?"

"Yes, actually. The aura reader told me a rather eventful fact, that many of her clients are women in their 30s with an almost similar issue: they are yet to be married and wondering what is wrong with them."

And here you are in your twenties, sharing their sentiments. You should have put such concern on hold. "Did she tell you why such thing happens?"

"They are red-dominated, this women," you said, matter-of-factly. "The presence of this colour in their personality makes them stronger, a person with ambition who strives for a successful and prosperous life. Having set a high standard for themselves, they tend to be picky in looking for a romantic partner. On another hand, many men would be intimidated by the nature of these red-coloured women. They prefer blue-coloured ones, who are somewhat less stubborn and would look up to them."

"You mean, like our mothers and grandmothers?"

"Yes. Strangely enough, the changing way of parenting actually contributes to this change of how women today behave and see themselves. My mother saw my grandmother as a stay-at-home mum growing up, and she didn't find that kind of role comfortable because it restricted her room to grow, so she taught me that I must do whatever it takes for me to be on my two feet. And now, ta-da!"

Sometimes I hate that I am so bad at encouraging people. Can you read my eyes, which tried to tell you that there's nothing wrong about being a red-coloured woman?

"Don't worry, I'm not blaming anyone here," you affirmed. "The horoscope reader told me that I should not be too pushy. 'There is nothing good from being so hard on yourself,' she said. 'You can start brushing up your personality here and there, but you must bear in mind that everybody was created with different set of characteristics, thus it is okay for us not to master everything there is to master in life.' She even said that after knowing her own character better through her reading, she doesn't blame herself as much as she used to do.

This is why I am all for horoscope and aura reading to get to understand one's personal nature better. Why should we stop trying to know ourselves a little bit more, if it would help us in understanding who we are and making the most of what we can do as a human being?

"It may sound a little unusual, but after listening to what the fortune tellers have told me, I am engulfed with relief. There is something heart-warming about getting to know someone better, and my own self is no exception. Now, I don't have the urge to say 'I might not be able to swim, or draw, or drive, or other gazillion things I cannot do, but I am not doing so badly' either, because comparing myself with others doesn't bring me anywhere."

"You are doing your best for yourself, and that's what matters." I finally managed to say something, to which you nodded in agreement.

"I am trying. I still have so much to work on. For one, I am learning not to be judgmental of others, believing that I am the only person in the world who is doing everything right. The aura reader told me that what she does now has taught her to see the good side of people. She said that no matter how 'bad' they may seem to be, there are reasons behind each of their conduct, that they don't want everybody else to see."

"I second you," I smiled, raising my mug of hazelnut latte. "To the future, and whatever fortune it may bring."

You grabbed your cup of green tea. "Cheers!"

And that was it, and then we moved on to talk about other things, but mostly about how fascinating your life has been. Not that I mind.

There is one thing, though.

I should have asked you to continue that bit about meeting your dream man in the near future. I need to know if it has any substantial clue that would draw you closer to me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

At Last

I knew this had to stop, but I had been enjoying it too much.

One day it hit me: one of us will decide to leave anyway. It is just a matter of who and when. And I do not want to be left.

So I gathered my courage. The moment I said hello, I can tell that his assistant recognised me. There must have been an instruction to keep me away, because she said that he was not available.

“Any messages?”

I hesitated for a moment, but then I pulled myself together and said, “Please send him my goodbye.”

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yang Di Atas

“Kesulitan bisa datang dari segala penjuru. Kalau sudah begitu, kamu hanya bisa berserah pada Yang Di Atas,” begitu nasihat ayahku suatu waktu.

Maka, kapanpun aku bersusah hati karena serangan kanan-kiri, aku pergi ke atap. Dari puncak tertinggi di rumahku, yang di atas terlihat sedikit lebih dekat.

Saat langit terik di siang hari, aku senang melamun ditemani matahari, dan segelas es jeruk. Bagiku, kemewahan itu layak kudapatkan setelah mencuci dan menjemur pakaian.

Kala malam, waktunya aku menikmati bintang-bintang, yang tampak seperti taburan garam di atas karton manila hitam.

Di atap, lewat terangnya benda-benda langit, aku mereka-reka petunjuk dari Yang Di Atas.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Teman Begadang

Malam ini, aku harus jauh-jauh dari kopi.

Sudah cukup aku terjaga semalaman hanya gara-gara hazelnut latte yang menemani perbincangan kita kemarin sore. Seharusnya, sebagai bentuk pertanggungjawaban, aku mengajakmu mengobrol di restoran cepat saji yang tak pernah tutup, sampai pagi menjelang dan kita bisa pulang dengan tarif Transjakarta yang lebih murah dari Kopaja.

Sudah kubilang padamu, aku dan kopi tak berjodoh. Aku, khususnya, akan menjadi pihak yang tersakiti, baik dari segi kesehatan maupun ekonomi.

Malam ini, karena tak ada kopi, aku betah berada di tempat tidur semalaman. Padahal, mataku tak terpejam hingga nyaris terbit matahari.

Kamu ternyata lebih mahir membuatku begadang.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cita-cita (Bagian II)

Waktu kecil, cita-citaku adalah menjadi bunga matahari.

Awalnya, aku terpikat bentuk dan warnanya. Kemudian, aku mengagumi nama yang disematkan padanya. Dulu, kukira bunga matahari adalah sang surya yang menjelma menjadi flora, dan bisa membawa terang ke mana saja. Pernah kupetik satu dari kebun tetangga dan kubawa pulang, untuk menyinari kamarku di waktu malam.

Ternyata, bunganya malah layu. Dan aku dimarahi ibu.

Beliau juga bilang, aku tidak akan menjelma menjadi tetumbuhan ketika dewasa.

“Bunga matahari mengakar di tanah, sedangkan takdir anak manusia adalah menjejak dan menjelajah.”

Baru sekarang, aku bersyukur karena punya sepasang kaki, yang bisa bergerak sejauh mungkin mengikuti matahari.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hari Pertama

Hari ini hari pertama Menur masuk kerja. Senangnya!

Menur ingin menjadi pekerja kantoran sejak masih gadis cilik. Saat itu, ia menyaksikan ibunya meninggalkan rumah di pagi hari dengan wajah berpulas riasan cantik. Ibu tampak sangat memesona, seolah mampu menaklukkan dunia saat mengenakan sepatu hak tinggi dan memakai lipstik.

Sejak semalam, Menur sibuk bersiap. Ia bolak-balik mencoba kombinasi blus yang satu dengan rok yang lain, mencocokkan sepatu dan aksesoris, sebelum menentukan dengan mantap. Tapi, saking gugupnya, malam itu dia sulit tidur lelap.

Di kantor, Menur menemukan lobby yang sepi, hanya ada satpam berpatroli.

Katanya, “Mbak, ngapain ke kantor hari Minggu begini?”

Friday, August 23, 2013


Let us see each other again and talk over coffee, when I shall be, instead, sipping tea.

“Please don’t forget to bring your mobile phone again, or I might have to use the public announcement,” you laughed,  “It’ll be as if I am looking for a lost child!”

“Don’t worry,” I replied, “I know that it’s best to wait in front of the usual coffee shop at the corner of the street.”

I fervently believe that we will find one another like we always do. But it is sickening, really, that I cannot seem to justify my longing for you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sembunyi dalam Gelap

Langit sudah berwarna pekat saat aku tiba. Kulihat ia duduk sendirian di meja di pojok dekat jendela, sudut favorit kami sejak dulu. Saat kami akhirnya saling menatap, kudapati wajahnya begitu letih, namun senyumnya terkembang cerah.

“Maaf sekali, aku terlambat sampai berjam-jam begini,” ucapku memelas. “Pekerjaan kadang tidak hanya menyita waktu, tapi juga hidupku.”

“Nggak apa-apa,” jawabnya hangat. “Aku sudah senang karena akhirnya bisa ketemu lagi.”

“Ini sudah larut. Istrimu nanti tidak khawatir?” Ia menggeleng. “Kami pisah ranjang sejak tiga bulan lalu. Anakmu bagaimana?”

“Dia sudah tidur. Pengasuhnya barusan meneleponku.”

Kami sudah aman sekarang. Malam ini, kami bisa menjadi sejoli kembali.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Makan Hati

“Kawin sama bule itu, bagian namain anak doang yang seru. Sisanya sama aja, laki-laki manapun bisa jadi pelit, menyebalkan, atau punya selingkuhan. Lo punya kesempatan yang sama buat makan hati sampai kenyang.”

Berkaca pada pengalaman Diana, seharusnya, aku percaya apa yang dikatakannya. Namun saat itu aku sedang mabuk kepayang, dan kupikir Bill adalah pria yang sempurna. Ternyata, ia sama seperti tagihan di akhir makan malam di restoran: untuk setiap kenikmatan yang kucicipi, ada harga yang harus kubayar.

Aku memang agak tak rela menghabiskan dana yang tak sebanding dengan kelezatan sajian, tapi apa mau dikata?

Pelajaran hidup memang kadang harganya mahal.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pentingnya Sebuah Nama

Biar kuberitahu kau sebuah rahasia: Aku bisa jatuh hati pada seseorang hanya karena namanya.

Baru-baru ini, aku berkenalan dengan seseorang bernama Aldebaran. Begitu tahu makna di balik namanya, aku jadi berdebar-debar. Ia pun jadi tampak sepuluh kali lipat lebih menarik, padahal dia pacar orang.

Aku biasanya juga akan kagum pada orangtuanya, yang memilih kata-kata yang tak biasa untuk merangkai doa-doa baik dan disematkan seumur hidup dalam sebuah nama. Lagipula, andai harapan itu terkabul, pastilah anak mereka menjadi orang baik. Siapa tahu, dengan begitu, ada yang bisa dijadikan teman hidup yang baik pula.

Tapi, untuk soal itu, aku punya cerita tersendiri.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Tiba-tiba semuanya gelap. Sekeping kenangannya mencuat ke permukaan, terulang tanpa permisi.

“Kamu berharap aku menyerah, ya?”


“Aku juga. Toh, salah satu dari kita harus menyerah pada akhirnya.”

Ia teringat senyum itu, yang menghangatkan seluruh penjuru hatinya sampai nyaris luluh. Ia harus segera menghentikannya.

“Aku bukan alasan bagus untuk diperjuangkan, tidak seperti kemerdekaan...”

“Bukan kemerdekaan, tapi kebahagiaan.”

“Kalau kamu sendiri tidak bisa membuat dirimu bahagia, tidak akan ada yang bisa. Lagipula, kita terlalu berbeda…”

“…tapi aku cinta. Lantas harus bagaimana?”

Matahari menyusup dari jendela, mengakhiri tidurnya. Ditatapnya sosok yang terpejam pulas di sampingnya. Ia tak menyangka akan sebahagia pagi ini.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Selepas Terang

Aku masih teringat saat ia mengulurkan tangannya dan menyebutkan namanya: Padang. 

Menjawab ekspresi heranku, ia tersenyum, menjelaskan, “Dari Bahasa Jawa, artinya ‘terang’.”

Tak butuh waktu lama bagi Padang untuk lantas menjadi secercah cahaya yang terbit di hatiku, mengisi dan menghangatkan setiap sudut ruangnya. Tapi, kemudian ia ternyata menjadi terang yang menyilaukan. 

Aku sempat berpaling sejenak untuk menjernihkan pandangan, tapi aku malah tak bisa menemukan penerangku kembali. Habis terang terbitlah gelap, dan aku pun kehilangan arah lagi.

Namun aku percaya, perih di jari-jariku yang habis terkena api ini akan menjadi kenang-kenangan, bahwa aku pernah berupaya menyalakan lilin demi menerangi jalanku sendiri.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Oh, rupanya begini kalau hidup jauh dari rumah.

Rasanya dingin, walaupun cuaca panas. Sepi, walau di keramaian yang penuh sesak. Lihat kanan-kiri, yang ada wajah-wajah tak dikenal. Saat rindu, bisa bertatap muka atau berbincang seru, namun tak mungkin bertukar peluk. Mau pulang, ongkosnya mahal.

Dulu, tinggal di rumah begitu membosankan. Pergi belajar, pulang dan mengerjakan pekerjaan rumah, sesekali membantu ibu bersih-bersih agar tidak kena marah. Tak sabar rasanya bisa hijrah ke kota besar, demi menghidupi diri sendiri, agar bisa hidup dengan bergaya tanpa dikomentari, “Memangnya orangtuamu ini mesin ATM?”

Sekarang aku sudah hidup seperti impianku, tapi aku malah rindu rumah.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


“Andai saja kamu mau kembali…” celetukmu, mungkin karena lelah berbasa-basi setelah kita tak sengaja bersua kembali sore itu.

“Memangnya Tania ke mana?”



“Tanya aja anak-anak,” jawabmu, merujuk pada sesama kerabat kerja kita dahulu. “Sayang sekali, kamu udah telanjur sama yang lain, ya?”

Aku tersenyum kecut.

Salahmu sendiri, melepaskanku begitu saja. Padahal, sudah kubilang aku akan bertahan selama kau menginginkannya. Tapi, kau juga tak kuasa menolak Tania. Predikat lulusan luar negeri dengan reputasi mengesankan tak bercela menjadikannya kandidat sempurna, sekaligus alasan untuk menyingkirkanku seketika.

Sekarang, kau malah harus berjuang sendirian.

Aku titip salam ya, untuk atasanmu yang banyak maunya.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Stain

“Sorry for the tell-tale sign,” he whispered. “I did not mean to make you bleed.”

She nodded slowly. He wondered why she’s been quiet after screaming his name in ecstasy just minutes before.

“We should not have done it,” she broke her silence. “I have a curfew, and I’m wearing white!”

She stormed off, ignoring his plea. Thank God she managed to be home right before midnight.

The living room was dark when she arrived. She turned on the light and found everybody shouted, “Surprise!”

“Happy sweet seventeen, darling!” Her mother embraced her. “You now have my permission to date!”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Keinginan Ibu

Belasan tahun yang lalu, aku berharap bisa cepat-cepat dewasa. Belasan tahun kemudian, aku ingin berhenti menua.

Sejak menginjak usia perak, aku mengawali hari dengan agak berbeda.

Sambil terkantuk-kantuk, aku akan menyeret langkah ke depan kaca. Memeriksa rupaku setiap pagi menjadi penting adanya. Aku siap mengangkat gendering perang, jika ada garis halus yang berani muncul sebelum waktunya.

Masa bodoh dengan mereka yang bilang bahwa kerutan adalah guratan kenangan dan pengalaman, aku lebih suka membuat wajahku amnesia.

Halaman terakhir buku harian itu sudah berulang kali kubaca. Aku masih tak mengerti mengapa ibu memilih bertaruh nyawa, menjemput janji surga demi tampak awet muda.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Bukan Sembarang Ayunan

Suasana hati sepertinya punya taman bermainnya sendiri. Dari semua permainan yang ada, ayunan adalah kesukaannya.

Ia dapat merasakan desir sensasi serupa main perosotan tanpa perlu bergeser dari kursi, apalagi memanjat tangga demi sampai ke puncak untuk kemudian meluncur kembali ke tanah. Ia juga tak perlu orang lain demi menjaga keseimbangan atau dapat bergerak naik-turun seperti saat berada di atas jungkat-jungkit.

Ia bisa mengendalikan ayunannya dengan kakinya sendiri, mulai dari soal ritme hingga kapan ingin berhenti. Tak heran, ia akan selalu kembali pada permainan yang satu ini.

Sialnya, kalau suasana hati sedang senang-senangnya main ayunan, perasaanku jadinya terombang-ambing bukan kepalang.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Padang Kenangan

Jika ada satu hal yang Binar rindukan dari masa kecilnya, itu adalah bukit di belakang rumahnya.

Di sana ada padang rumput yang membentang, bagai karpet hijau yang ditenun alam. Dulu, ia berharap bisa menemukan puing-puing piring terbang seperti Nobita dan Doraemon, atau menyanyi di puncak seperti Julie Andrews dalam The Sounds of Music. Seandainya dia mampu menaklukkan ketakutannya akan kegelapan, ia ingin bisa berbaring di atas rumput, menikmati kemilau langit malam.

Jika ada satu hal yang Binar benci dari masa lalunya, itu adalah ayahnya yang mengubah bukit di belakang rumahnya menjadi lapangan golf, demi pembangunan yang mencuri kesenangan jiwa kanak-kanaknya.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Dari Jendela

“Anda pasti suka rumah ini. Jendelanya banyak dan besar, sinar matahari leluasa masuk setiap hari.”

Perempuan itu menatap kekasihnya. Meski bertukar senyum, mereka tidak berbagi antusiasme yang sama. “Saya ambil ini!”

“Permisi sebentar,” kata kekasihnya, menggandeng perempuan itu ke sudut ruangan. “Kamu yakin?”

“Positif,” jawabnya. “Kenapa?”

“Aku merasa ada yang aneh,” lelaki itu menunjukkan lengannya. Bulu kuduknya berdiri tegak.

“Kamu hanya kedinginan.” Ia mengecup hangat kekasihnya, mengabaikan kata-katanya untuk tidak melanjutkan transaksi.

Bulan-bulan pertama, perempuan itu gemar berlama-lama duduk di depan jendela, memandang ke arah taman belakang dari lantai dua.

Ia berhenti melakukannya sejak sosok perempuan berambut panjang balas menatapnya.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Cerita Misteri

“Kamu suka Sherlock Holmes, ya?”

Kurasa jantungku berhenti berdetak. Bagaimana bisa pujaanku tiba-tiba menyapa, tepat saat aku sedang memikirkannya?

“Kok tahu?”

“Tuh, bukunya lagi kamu pegang…”

Selama ini, aku hanya mengaguminya dari kejauhan. Sebagai rekanku di tempat kerja, kami lebih banyak bertukar sapa basa-basi. Sekarang, aku malah berbincang seru dengannya, tentang kegemaran kami akan cerita misteri, di kedai kopi favoritku. Kami sedang membicarakan nikmatnya aroma kertas buku baru, saat sesosok rupawan datang menghampiri kami.

“Maaf ya, tadi ada sale novel Agatha Christie di bawah…”

Mereka bertukar kecupan, sebelum pamit minta diri.

Diam-diam, aku iri melihat mereka begitu cantik dan serasi.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Baju Lebaran Putri

“Bu, Lebaran sebentar lagi. Aku ingin baju baru,”

“Sabar ya, sekarang uangnya belum ada. Lebih baik Putri bantu ibu mencuci saja.”

Ada untungnya juga para asisten rumah tangga sudah mudik. Para penghuni perumahan elit di seberang gang jadi memasrahkan pakaian kotor mereka padaku. Bayarannya lumayan, meski tak cukup untuk belanja pakaian.

“Bu, lihat!”

Tiba-tiba, Putri kecilku sudah berpakaian bagai putri sungguhan. Dalam balutan gaun mewah warna merah muda, ia tampak sungguh menawan, meskipun ada noda berceceran di dada. Pasti bekas makanan mahal. Sekejap aku malu akan ketidakmampuanku.

“Copot baju itu, sayang,” pintaku seketika. “Jangan mengakui sesuatu yang sebenarnya bukan milikmu.”

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Tak Berbayar

Pagi ini, kutemukan keramaian yang tidak biasa.

Dalam kerumunan penuh papan unjuk rasa, kuhampiri seorang lelaki muda. Sepertinya sebaya, jika tidak satu-dua tahun lebih tua. Pernyataan dalam genggamannya membuat nalarku bertanya-tanya.

’Free hugs’ ini maksudnya apa?”

“Terkadang, seseorang hanya perlu mendapat pelukan tanpa pamrih, tak jadi soal siapa yang memberi,” dengan penuh semangat ia menjelaskan maksudnya. Ia kemudian membicarakan tentang reaksi kimia tubuh saat menerima pelukan, dan bagaimana hal ini berkembang menjadi kampanye yang mendunia.

Aku seolah diingatkan untuk tidak patah hati berlama-lama. Ketika kami bertukar peluk, perasaan hangat pun menjalar seketika.

Ah, hal-hal terbaik di dunia memang tersedia cuma-cuma.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Bukan Sepasang Sayap

Kalau sudah jengah begini, ingin rasanya punya sepasang sayap dan terbang jauh, meninggalkan ibukota yang memenjarakan dengan sederet kewajiban atas nama tanggung jawab orang dewasa.

Tapi, kalaupun sayap dijual, kurasa aku takkan sanggup membeli. Sementara itu, mereka yang mampu akan mengenakannya dengan berbangga hati, karena mereka jadi bagaikan bidadari.

Ah, tapi Tuhan memang selalu penuh kejutan. Tiba-tiba kau datang, mengetuk pintu sangkarku yang sempit dan tak berjendela, lengkap dengan buah tangan berlogo rumah makan ternama.

Guratan senyum di wajahmu seolah mengingatkanku, bahwa masih ada banyak hal di dunia yang bisa membuat hati bahagia.

Sepiring sayap untuk makan malam berdua, misalnya.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Terlalu Sibuk

Kau sedang terlarut dalam fase bulan madu. Seolah-olah dunia hanya milik berdua: kau, dan pekerjaanmu.

Sejak awal pekan, pagi hingga petang, perhatianmu terpaku pada layar monitor, membuat tatapanmu tak lagi jauh ke depan seperti dulu. Kau tak bergerak dari kursimu, tapi sebenarnya kau sedang main kejar-kejaran dengan tenggat waktu.

Mungkin ada saatnya kau beranjak, tapi seringkali alasannya adalah janji temu. Kau harus memburu artis ini, atau pejabat itu. Ini urusan serius, begitu katamu, karena aku harus memastikan bahwa semua orang dikutip dengan benar, dan khalayak mendapatkan hanya hal yang benar, selalu.

Tapi, sudah waktunya kau bereskan kamarmu.

Salam rindu,


Monday, July 01, 2013

hello, (new) beginning.

I had my first day of work today. I am now a magazine reporter once more.

I do not know if this is one of the benefits of wanting to achieve too many things, that some people sometimes glorify as "dreams". However, I do know that when an old chapter ends, a new chapter begins; and today is the first the day of living one of my dreams.

I am re-watching Suits for the millionth time while writing this, and I promptly hit the pause button when I heard someone saying, "You never forget your first." Oh, apparently Mike Ross just had his first trial (watch episode 4 for the full scoop). Interesting coincidence.

There is not much details to share on how today was like. I do not know what kind of first impression I have made, and to be honest, I do not feel like pondering about it and ended up over-analysing things like I always do. So far, though, I can tell that this living-the-dream thing is very promising, and I am ready to take up the challenge and embrace the fruitful experience.

I remember one of my friends said to me some time ago that she "won't be in this (read: media) business forever." True to her words, she have left her workplace she had back then and moved to an entirely different industry. Strange as it may sound, I am now in the very realm that she once had as a stepping stone, believing that I am in for the long haul (which might be interrupted by one or two years of studying abroad - hey, you'll never know :D).

Before this seems too much like a teenage girl's diary entry, I am going to stop here with a self-reminder: things may not be perfect, but they can get better.

Good night.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On Bravery (and Being Right)

There is an old Indonesian proverb that reminds people to "be brave because (you are) right, (and) be afraid because (you are) wrong."

I believe that this notion is not to be taken for granted. Without a thorough understanding, declaring something as "right" or "wrong" is simply a matter of providing an acceptable justification or getting the majority share.

Let’s say that we are, or have to be, brave because we are right.

However, what makes us "right"?

Does one become "right" simply because they are "not wrong"?

If one must, or at least can, be "brave" because they are "right", what should they be "brave" enough to do, and to what extent?

Also, what about one who believes that they are "right", then later encountered another who fervently thinks that what is "right" is something else on the contrary?

Before I go on, I would like to highlight that this piece is not about to discuss what is right and/or wrong, but how bravery has got to do with them. Okay, proceed.

On the other part of the sentence, being "afraid" is associated with what is "wrong". This implies that one has to be "afraid" to do "wrong", or be "afraid" to get caught for doing something "wrong". Yet, as human beings, we make mistakes every now and then and therefore prone to wrongdoings. Why on earth should we be afraid of something so naturally humane?

Apparently, there is a scientific explanation behind this.

"The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself – in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong," said Judith E. Glaser in her article titled Your Brain Is Hooked on being Right. She furthermore explained that "When you argue and win, your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible."

According to Glaser, the said chemical choice leads to the inability to regulate the body’s emotion or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. Humans will then default to one of four responses: to fight, flight, freeze, or appease. "All are harmful because they prevent the honest and productive sharing of information and opinion," she noted.

After reading Glaser’s elaboration, it came as no surprise to me that bravery is associated with being right, and fear with wrongdoings, hence the proverb.

But, in my opinion, this is where it becomes rather problematic: the proverb seems to encourage one to be "brave" only when they are "right", but not when they are "wrong".

Being "brave" when one believes themselves to be "right" is fairly easy, for it feels good and all. For example, telling a smoker to stop smoking in a non-smoking area at a public place might be hardly challenging. One would believe that they are doing the "right" thing; therefore they are "brave" enough to confront the said smoker.

However, it is a different case when one was confronted for being late for an important meeting by their boss. They might feel the need to make up an excuse ("The traffic’s unusually bad this morning", "I had a flat tire on the way", etc.), because they are "afraid" that admitting their waking up late would not be beneficial to their overall performance at work. They might get away by doing so once or twice, but when somebody else found out that their justification is fabricated, well… that is another story.

I then came to a conclusion that being "brave" is crucial regardless of one is "right" or "wrong".

One who is "afraid" when or because they do "wrong" might find it inconvenient to take the responsibility for their wrongdoing. I am not saying that one has to be "brave" by being explicitly detailed in admitting that they are "wrong"; but I believe that it is important for one to acknowledge their mistake, so they can offer apologies to those affected and do the necessary damage control. By doing so, they are willing to commit to fix the situation, and in the meantime obtain the lesson learned from their mistake.

Of course, it feels more comfortable to be "right". Glaser argues that due to the good feeling caused by adrenaline when one is winning an argument, humans are addicted to being right. However, she proposed that there is another feel-good hormone human body can produce: oxytocin. "It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing," Glaser stated.

As much as connecting and bonding with others trumps conflict, Glaser concluded that anyone "can break their addiction to being right by getting hooked on oxytocin-inducing behaviour instead."

I began this piece with an Indonesian proverb, so let me end it with another, which says, "One who is brave enough to act must also is brave enough to take responsibility." It implies that, as much as one is expected to "be brave because (they are) right", it comes to little use if one is not brave enough to handle the possible consequence of them being not entirely right.

I believe that nobody is right all the time. Therefore, to be "brave" enough to embrace the possibility of being or doing "wrong" opens oneself to sharing. Only then, one is willing to listen to dissenting opinions and exchange ideas, so they can obtain some new perspective to enrich their initial understanding.