Author Archives: writer@work

About writer@work

"WRITER@WORK: Stories From A Lone, Urban Girl" You never really run out of stories to tell. If you look around closely and more carefully, you’ll find plenty. That also happens if you live in Jakarta, Indonesia. Here, people always find some tales to tell, even if they’re quite mundane. Trivialities still excite them somehow – or maybe it’s just me and my point of view. Of course, the real issue is how to divide them into: 1. What’s informative and useful. 2. What’s just informative. 3. Gossips and rumours, alias hoax news. It’s nothing new that many have assumed that most Indonesians are not that well-read. They tend to fall for the last bit on the list above. Well, that’s not always true. Allow me to prove you wrong. R.


There’s still that hailstorm in my heart

The ice is solid

a perfect, although temporary patch

to fill the holes in its walls


I’m feeling cold

but silently, patiently waiting

for the hidden truth to unfold…


Come out, come out

wherever you are

Stop hiding like a coward

I’ve already known you’re a monster


I’d very much like to settle the score

Consider this is war





You probably see her roam around Jakarta alone. Day and night, she’s mostly on her own. She’s okay with it. It’s the people around her who often make a fuss about her being alone.

It’s not that she’s always alone. Once in a while, you can see her with another person – man or woman – hanging out together. If it’s a man (especially an attractive-looking one), she has learned to ignore how some people would shamelessly stare at them both.

People,  she usually scoffs in annoyance. They’re always full of assumptions. Just because she hangs out / is seen with a guy doesn’t mean it must be her boyfriend or whatever.

Then again, that’s the risk of living in Indonesia. They always pry.

Sometimes she’s seen with a group of people she calls ‘family’ or ‘friends’. Sometimes they are both. You can see from the light in her eyes and the smile on her face. Those are the people who make her feel safe. She can be real with them, no pretenses. She’s a terrible liar anyway.

Speaking of liars, that girl is so fed up with them. Let that be Rule No.1 if you ever consider being an important part of her life. Wait, that’s not it yet. There’s more about her that you need to find out. One thing’s for sure, though:

She’s not going to make it easy on you.

She’s stopped caring about her age. She’s decided not to bother so much with what they may think of her. That’s none of her damn business anyway. For too long, she’s realised: this is the real world she lives in, where she can never really win. Whatever she does, she still can’t please everybody.

Don’t be too surprised if she says no the first time you ask her out. It’s nothing personal. It’s not you. It’s the society around her, telling her to be careful with men but calling her paranoid and picky at the same time once she is careful.

Do you find her first rejection cruel? You should see the other guy before you. He was beyond cruel. He made her believe that she was something special to him. He left her feeling stupid.

Never again. She’s had enough of men like him.

No, I’m not sorry. She won’t make it easy on you, especially after what happened. She may question and second guess every word you say and everything you do. The question is:

How far can you handle it?



The secondhand poem

you once wrote for me

now used to woo another lady

Boy, you’re so lazy!

If she knew the backstory,

she’d be displeased

but the secondhand poem

was all you’ve got

a sign of your drying inspiration

and dying creativity





Eid Mubarak is the day to celebrate the victory against human urges towards hunger, thirst, lust, anger, greed, and all the things that can lead us to greater sins. It is also the time to seek forgiveness and forgive others for their past mistakes. This is the part where it gets rather tricky.

How come? What does it mean to forgive and be forgiven, but still unapologetic?

I once asked my friends this question through social media:

“How do you forgive anyone who always lies to you without a sense of guilt nor remorse?”

One of them had brilliantly answered:

“Forgiving is for you. It’s to help you to let go of your anger. If they continue to lie, you don’t need to trust them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean starting from zero. You know they lie. You don’t have to be sucked back into their lies again. Some limitations are needed on your part.”

(from Michele Tambunan)

I’ve seen someone so vengeful that they end up avoiding more people in their lives, in order to maintain the belief that they’re always right. Their world is getting smaller by the day. I’ve seen someone so vindictive that they always feel the need to retaliate. They’re only happy when they see their enemies suffer.

And for what? The vicious cycle never ends. It only takes all energies around into its bottomless black hole. How pathetic.

I’m not going to lie to you, though. It’s not easy. I’m still a temperamental human being. If you hurt me (and whatever your lousy excuse may be), I’d very much like to hurt you back. It’s anything to settle the score.

However, I’d like to challenge myself more these days. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it has to be impossible. When there’s a will, there’s a way.


Then, what does ‘unapologetic’ mean? Some people say it’s about being true to yourself, no matter what. You don’t need to explain anything to anyone. You don’t need to justify yourself. You believe in what you do. You do what you believe in.

Some people say that, before you decide to forgive others for all their wrongdoings, you’d better start with the hardest first:

Forgiving yourself.

Let’s just face it: we all make mistakes. We’ve trusted the wrong people. We’ve loved the ones who either end up leaving us, cheating on us, using us, or playing us around for their own sick amusement.

More bad news: some people are not that forgiving. They’re just plain judgmental. They can act like they’ve never made the same mistakes or any other mistakes at all.

What do these people do? They don’t always want to hear the whole story. They quickly act like such annoying know-it-alls, as if you’re stupid, gullible, lacking faith, or some or all of the above.

“Why did yo trust them? You should’ve been more careful!”

“What makes you think he really loves you? Any guy can come up with plenty lame lines like he does. You should’ve been smarter.”

Seriously, how the hell could you have known? You’ve been careful enough for all you know. Nobody should ever expect you to be a mind reader or a fortune teller, when they themselves don’t always know. That’s not fair.

If you had done the opposite, they would’ve called you paranoid. See, you can never win with them. How would they feel if the same bad thing happened to them too?


This is the part where you should be unapologetic. How? By forgiving yourself first, learning from your lessons, and then moving on. No need to listen to them.

This is your life. Own your mistakes like any brave grown-ups do, but don’t let them weigh you down a lot. You still need to walk on.

You’ve been careful enough. It’s them who have abused your trust. You’ve loved him enough. It’s him who’s never appreciated you.

You don’t have to bear the grudges. It’s time to bury the hatchet. May you be free from the likes of them, in order to start something new. Leave them all up to God. They’re not your problems anymore and shouldn’t be. Believe me, it’s better this way.



When I read about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s suicides, I suddenly think of Alexander McQueen. I think of Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Tommy Page, Kurt Cobain…should I carry on?

I’ve also thought of some people I know and strangers who are complete know-it-alls. The people I know who were on the verge of giving up but then fighting their way back up again. People I know and strangers who feel sorry for those in pain. Some sorrows are hard to name.

People I know and strangers who think people like them are all the same: weakling, cry-babies, attention-seekers, ungrateful brats, faithless…

I’d rather not carry on with the usual nasty comments. I’ve had it with them. In fact, here’s a sad fact you’d probably refuse to accept:

Sometimes, those who claim themselves to be more religious aren’t really that helpful.

You can get angry and defensive at me. Go ahead. I can take it. It’s good if you feel that your faith is still intact. Congrats if you believe that God is always on your side.

However, please refrain before you start posting those nasty comments about those who commit suicide. Think about the family and friends of the deceased. Put yourself in their shoes for once.

How would you feel? What would you do if you were them? What if it were someone you know, someone you care about?

More kindness, less judgment. None of them really wanted to die. They just wanted the pain to go away.

No matter how bleak everything seems in one’s mind, they still need to be gently reminded at least one thing – over and over again if needed.

A reason to live…



I’ve got to be honest with you. Having been a content writer (and a blogger) for a few years already means dealing with these matters, most of the time. It’s not a complaint, though. I’m just stating the facts as they are.

These days, virality matters. It is the faster, digital version of trend. Everyday, we probably go straight to #trendingtopics to check them out.

As long as many people still discuss, write about, post, and reshare the same thing – especially at the same time, then it still matters.

Of course, these are some of the problems (well, at least what I could think of) :

  1. Some people tend to get bored easily.

What’s viral really does last, even for a while. They also quickly fades away, replaced by what’s (considered) more relevant, more ‘in the now’. It’s seconds by seconds to get as much attention as possible.

However, people can still get bored. Imagine you browsing online for articles…and instantly bombarded with the same thing from several other sources. What else is there left to read – at least with an afterthought?

Maybe it’s me, but I feel like there’s hardly a room for diversity – topic-wise, that is.

  1. Some people haven’t got enough time and concentration to let the information ‘sink in’.

How come? The flood comes abruptly and then washes away in seconds. Because of its rapid spread (especially in articles from all angles at once), people can get overwhelmed. There’s so little time to process everything more thoroughly before something new comes along.

  1. Some people forget faster.

This is related to the previous point. Because it goes viral and faster, some people find it hard to remember. Unless it’s relatable, nobody bothers with yesterday’s – or a few hours’ or minutes’ – old news.

  1. The writers can get carried away too; they start writing more for the sake of earning more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’.

Okay, this is nothing new. When you write and post something that you really like, you’re happy if it’s read. You’re even happier if it’s read and liked, read and shared, and read-liked-and-shared.

I admit, I am also guilty of that.

However, anyone can get carried away. It’s true that most journalists and content writers (and sometimes bloggers too) write what the readers want to know about. Most of the time, that’s the only way to get noticed quickly.

Still, a small window of opportunity (regarding virality) means lack of indepth research – even for what’s (considered) trending.

  1. Despite their virality, some topics are not even worth discussing.

Alright, this is plainly subjective. You may agree to disagree. For example: you may think that discussing about the bridal makeup of an actress-turned-royal princess after the royal wedding is important. Since I’m not a makeup artist and have no interest in it, then I don’t find that important.

Perhaps you think complaining about the choice of a director and an actor to a movie based on a best-selling, historical literature novel will make any difference. To others, they’ll probably go: “Oh, well. We’ll see.”

Virality does matter, at least to the extent of how many people will notice what you write and find that they too can relate to the topic. To stand out, you still need to think like there’s no box – and be bold in offering something different, although maybe not entirely new.