Author Archives: writer@work

About writer@work

"MY ROOM OF THOUGHTS" Through almost the entire December 2017, I didn’t get enough chance to write. I was busy adjusting to my new fulltime job and freelance gigs, which have been too many to handle. Thankfully, my mind is still active. I have to make sure that I’ll never stop writing, no matter what. Then again, that month was also quite hard. I lost both my cousin and my best friend. (They’re two different people, by the way.) My younger cousin passed away on December 3, 2017, while my best friend was gone on the 22nd. Both had passed away due to illnesses. What I didn’t do to make my best friend proud was to keep on writing. He’d asked for my second novel (and more) when he was still alive. I realised that somehow, I’d let him down. Of course, this also means that I’ve let myself down. This year, I’ve got to produce something real instead of what everybody can read online for free. That’s it. No more delays. Time to get a move on. R.

“WILL THEY ALWAYS REPRESENT ‘HOME’?”

A house, a family

Material things

Everything’s lovely

All the joy they bring

 

Will they always represent ‘home’?

Trials come and go

Keep them all intact

Or all will burn like Rome

Thanks to Nero

 

A group of friends

Fun and games

Be yourself; don’t pretend

but which ones are harmless

jokes or something to shame?

 

Will they represent the substitute

of the ‘home’ you miss?

Will you remain in solitude

and no longer have that once societal bliss?

 

Neighbourhood, communities

Smaller bits that form a country

How to keep them close together

without potential harm on each other?

 

Will they always represent ‘home’?

How come some get all the terrirory,

while others have to flee?

The answers never satisfy me.

 

Planet Earth with all its worth

all mortals should deserve

but some believe they earn more,

banishing others for keeping scores…

 

We’re supposed to share this temporary ‘home’,

yet many of us have planted too many time bombs

inside and out,

until one day – when we’ll all be left without…

 

Will they always represent ‘home’?

 

R.

(Jakarta, 13/9/2017 – 3:40 pm)

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“THE NUMBERED DAYS”

Sometimes life is a bunch of numbered days. Everyone waits, as if there’s still plenty of time. That includes me, you, and the kids. All of us.

I know, I’ve always been impatient. You also know, even have long before we got married. Many have thought of you a great woman for putting up with me. Three decades and a half aren’t short.

However, time can also be very strange. Waiting can also mean waisting time. There never really is the right time, unless the kind that we make.

Oh, there are still many I’d like to do – just for you. Even the simplest ones, like showing you my love and gratitude…every day. Man and his ego. I’ve even lost a chance to say ‘I’m sorry’.

 

Is it all too late?

Sorry I’d scared you half to death that night. I had no idea what had made me collapse and unable to get up again. Perhaps I’d been (too) exhausted and only realised that too late.

Honey, our struggle is still far from over. This is hard on all of us. You, me, and the kids. I hate having to sit on this wheelchair. I hate feeling helpless, having to learn again, repeating all that I used to be able to do. This is unfair! How could this happen?

As usual, you’ve never stopped to ask me to remain patient. It’s fortunate that you’ve never had to take care of me all by yourself. I truly have no heart in seeing more lines on your voice way (too) quickly. You should be smiling more that your eyes shine, like old times. We should be having these twilight years together with more laughter…

— // —

Life is indeed a bunch of numbered days. Sometimes I’m tired and bored. I’d rather do something instead of just waiting.

Like that time…

Oh, what day is it today? I think I’ve lost a sense of time. Every day looks the same to me.

Then I see you. Hi, Andhara. Some have accused me of overly spoiling you. Have I? I don’t know. I’ve forgotten. If it’s true, I’m very sorry. I suppose I had been too happy the first time I was a father. Whatever you asked of me, I simply gave you.

But back then, I was also too hard on you. Not only drifting away, you started turning to be just like me. Don’t you see? Ara baby, I don’t want you to be…

“Stop being a cry-baby, boy!” That handsome little boy was crying harder after you yelled at him. Gandhi, my four-year-old grandson – your eldest son. “You know, I hate to have a weakling cry-baby boy like you!”

 

I started hyperventilating. The warm liquid filled my eyes before rolling down my cheek. I’d wanted to scold, but…oh, where was my voice? I hadn’t been able to talk since the night I fell. I’d wanted to call out to you:

Stop it, Ara! You’re only pushing him away from you…

 

I’m sorry, baby. Daddy didn’t mean to yell at you like that too when you were little…

 

My chest felt heavier. My vision started to blur. Vaguely, two people came running to me. (Who? Where??)

 

“Daddy!”

 

I felt someone putting something on my face, before everything around me turned darker…

— // —

 

Lately, my life has been nothing but a bunch of numbered days – and a long, heavy struggle. I don’t know how much time I’ve got left. I still have to (patiently) wait.

 

So do you, Andro. Not only Mama, you’ve always been there for me. Thank you, son. I am very grateful for an amazingly mature and responsible son like you are. You’ve always been reliable. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to tell you all that. Your mother has raised you well. A real gentleman doesn’t talk much nor give empty promises. A real gentleman walks the walk to make others feel happy, especially those he truly loves. He’ll never hurt anyone easily, especially women and children. Remember, they’re gentle beings that you must protect…

A real gentleman must also respect and appreciate women. Always look after your mother, son. Mama’s going to need you more than ever after all of this. I don’t know how long I can still be here. They’re all everywhere, waiting. I can’t tell you. It’s not the time that you know all.

May someday you can be the man and also imam (the leader) much better than your old man here, son. Especially when you have a family of your own.

Always remember, Andro. Besides me, you’re the only one who can lead this family. Nobody else…

— // —

We’re all still waiting. In this house, although there isn’t much time anymore. I know it’s still really hard for you, waiting to find out where I’ll be returning. I can feel it from your anxiousness. You’ve always been so strong, hiding it all.

You’ve been hiding a broken heart behind your silence, Ariana. I used to think you were just overly sensitive. (In fact, I had even thought of you a weakling cry-baby.) I remember, you’ve always hated to be caught crying in public, so you prefer locking yourself in your room every time you worry that your tears might fall. You’ve always thought that if you do it that way, you would be as strong as a man and not a weakling cry-baby like some women I never fancy. You’ve tried to make me feel proud of you.

 

I was wrong. I had misunderstood terribly. You are sensitive and that makes you a talented artist. Mama loves your writing very much. So do I.

Oh, you also rarely ask. You often wait to be asked. In fact, I often find out about you once your mother tells me. Maybe because you’ve always felt that you don’t want to be anybody’s burden. Maybe because you often feel left out – often unnoticed and misunderstood. Many have said that’s how middle children are like.

I’m sorry, Ria. Mama has always said that we’re both stubborn and temperamental. Impatient and always refusing to yield. You’re like the mirror of my past…and I’m afraid. No, you cannot end up like me – perceived as strange and difficult. You have to be better than your old man, kid. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Baby, I was too emotional. If only I could take back what I’d said…

If you were such a freak like this, then who would want to be with you?”

 

I had no idea what we’d argued about that day. I forgot. I only remember that hurt look on your face. You went all quiet and looked at me without blinking, as if I’d just slapped you. You didn’t even cry. Your eyes went so…cold. Cold and distant.

 

Then like a robot, you just got up from your chair, turned around, and left rigidly. You said nothing more.

Since then, you stopped sharing stories. We still talked, but everything felt different. There was a distance, an invisible wall that you’d deliberately built to keep me away. I could no longer delve into your ‘world’, because you no longer let me. You were afraid I’d be as judgmental as I’d been.

 

Is it too late now? Your mother told me, what I’d told you back then has badly affected you. You have a hard time trusting men, even when you’re still friends with them. You have a hard time believing that they can be really attracted to you as more than a friend, because you’re worried they might find you strange. You’re afraid that it’ll always be the same: every guy that you’ve (ever) loved will eventually end up with another.

Your mother had told me something a few weeks after I’d woken up at the hospital. The previous man you’d ever loved ended up choosing your best friend. Both had apologised to you. You didn’t even cry when you told your mother, as if you’d been resigned and used to it. As if you hadn’t felt hurt at all.

At that time, my tears were streaming down again. Oh, if only I could still talk. Nothing wrong with you, kid. That man wasn’t meant for you, that was all. God loves you very much and will replace him with someone much more special. You’re only asked to wait patiently, because He believes you’re much more patient than I was back then.

Don’t listen to people’s rubbish talk, Ariana. Don’t believe way too much in an old man’s wrath before he could even think, because people make mistakes. Once again Daddy’s so sorry, baby.

I’ve seen and heard you lately, Ariana. Your prayers are reducing my pain. I also love the writing you’ve composed and read to me. Thank you, sweetheart. I believe, one day – you’ll be a great writer. You’re very talented. Perhaps I can’t see that now, but I can feel it.

I’m praying that one day, you’ll meet a man who’s really right for you. Leave it all up to God, kid. Resign and submit to His Will…

Yes, we’ve met in dreams more often recently. That’s my only way to talk and convince you. Have no fears, you’re strong. You’ve proven that. I’m sure you’re going to be alright.

Don’t worry, crying doesn’t always mean you’re weak and a cry-baby. Only the so-called tough ones think so. Look, I’ve been doing that a lot myself lately…

— // —

Hidup ini sebuah penantian. Kita semua menunggu, meski tak semua punya waktu.

This life is a bunch of numbered days. We all wait, although not all of us have time.

“It’s time.”

 

 I know, all of you are still waiting for me patiently, not knowing where I’ll return.

Don’t be sad. Whatever it is, your effort and waiting will never go to waste. Thanks to you, now I know how much you love me.

I hope you know that I…love…you…to…

— // —

“Daddy!”

 

“Let him go, Ria. Daddy’s been so tired. Have mercy on him.”

 

The woman was sitting by the bed, gazing at the love of her life now peacefully asleep. Beside him, a girl with dark, wavy hair was kneeling on the floor, her face pressed against the bed. The woman gently stroked the girl’s shaky back, then stared outside the room. The door was wide open.

Outside, her only son was making phone calls. With a choked voice, he delivered the sad news.

And that day, his numbered days were done…

-the end-

 

(Translated from: https://www.perjalanansenja.com/sebuah-penantian-panjang/ )

“COURAGE FOR THREE WORDS”

I need to be brave

to show you these feelings I have

For too long I’ve been imprisoned

by my own creation of silence

 

I’ve been too scared

Society’s been unfair

They say I should know my place

or they’ll put me in disgrace

A lady should save her face

and always watch out what she says

 

I hate it

I’m suffocated

Why can’t I too be honest?

Why can’t this be expressed?

I think I’m also entitled

to open up and be straightforward

 

These have always happened

just because I got way too quiet

painfully shy and frightened

Why do I have to remain such a coward?

 

Every guy I’ve ever loved has gone away

without hearing what I had to say

Some say it’s life, although not okay

Others still blame me anyway

 

I think I need your help

so I won’t be too scared

Help me to find my courage

to say those three words out loud

even if I’m still choked up

by my own self-doubt:

 

“I…love…you…”

How about that?

 

R.

(Jakarta, 7/1/2018 – 9:15 am)

“DEAR NIK: Thank You”

Dear Nik,

I sometimes have no idea how to react when I dream about anyone I know who has passed away. I’ve got plenty of visits from the dead in my sleep. Pumpkin, Dad, Robbie, my younger cousin Omar…

…and now YOU.

I don’t know why I suddenly had that dream about you last weekend. It was probably because I’d returned home late that weekend after Jakarta’s Poetry Night. You’d probably have glared and scolded:

“You hang out too much! What about your second novel?!”

I know, I know. I should’ve done that a long time ago. It’s been way overdue. I’m sorry. I also know you’d never have accepted that as an excuse.

Why did I dream of you that night? Was it because someone I care about told me he’d lost a family member?

Maybe. I don’t know. All I remember was that we were both on an open field. The sun was shining down on you as you looked up to the sky, all smiling with your eyes closed. It was warm. I somehow knew that it was.

“Aww, Rew,” you said softly. “Aren’t you way too old to still be that scared?”

“What?” I turned to you in surprise. You smiled that familiar mocking smile, your eyes still closed.

You looked so peaceful. I miss you…

“You can never fool me, not even with your innocent look and silence,” You laughed heartily. “I know you too well. Your expression has always been a dead giveaway.”

“Nik.” I grinned, but somehow could feel my cheeks warm. “Come on.”

“No, you come on.” You shook your head. That smile was still on your face. “I can see that face, even when you try not to tell me or the whole world out of your usual shyness and disbelief. It’s the same face you see in your mind before you fall asleep – “

“How do you know?” You’re already dead, I’d wanted to say, feeling all choked up again. The last time I saw was that you finally turned to look at me. Your face looked serious this time.

“I know that you deserve to be happy. You always have, Rew.”

I woke up. My cheeks had been wet with tears. My body went cold and rigid. My hands were shaking.

Nik, what are you trying to tell me?

It had taken me half a day to remember what you first said in that dream:

“Aren’t you way too old to still be that scared?”

Then I knew. I breathed deeply at the thought of you.

You’re right. I guess I am.

Thank you, Nik. Rest in peace. I’ll always love you, buddy.

 

Love,

Rew.

“YOUR OLD GRAVE IN MY DREAM”

A strange dream about you

We were on an open field,

when I heard you say:

“Here’s where I buried

some older parts of me.”

 

So you started digging the grave

with half the strength you gave

bits of details spilled out of your mouth

but the rest were somewhere deep down

right there underground.

 

Almost half the job,

you slowed down to a stop

I asked you to let go of the shovel

because I could see your strong hands tremble.

 

“That’s okay,”

I assured you, as I looked at your frozen expression

“I don’t need to see it today.

I’m still here anyway.”

 

I’d wanted to reach out for your hands

but then I woke up in my bedroom again…

 

R.

(Jakarta, December 18, 2017)

“ABOUT FALLING (AND STAYING) IN LOVE”

What’s ‘falling in love’? Quite a tricky question, eh? When we were teens, we’d probably have only thought of it as something ‘skin-deep’. (Come on, just admit it. Believe me, because I’ve been there too.)

Having a major crush on that cute celebrity? Feeling your heart beat faster at the sight of that gorgeous guy/girl next door or in the next classroom? We’d easily identified that as “falling in love”. Then, we started daydreaming about the idea of being with them.

What if that didn’t come true? Perhaps this sounds a bit exaggerating, but we might have felt like the sky had fallen down on us. We were so sad. It may have gotten so bad that when they decided to be with somebody else, we’d constantly scrutinise that particular person. In our eyes, he or she was never good enough.

Usually, that feeling lasted until boredom caught up with us or when we finally found someone much cooler than they were.

What if that had come true? Wow, perhaps we’d be thrilled at first. That dream of ours had come true!

The Reality of ‘Love’

However, reality could turn us down. That particular person we’d deemed perfect turned out to have flaws as well. (They’re still human too, duh.) Even their taste in music and how they ate could turn us off. Don’t forget more about each other’s principles, from ideology to political views. Hmm, it’s getting tougher here.

Once you reach this point, what do you do? Perhaps some choose to “blind themselves” in the name of “LOVE”. It doesn’t matter that friends and family have been objecting, saying that they’re ‘no good’ for us. Some choose to ‘tolerate’ and ‘compromise’. For example: accepting the fact that they always show up late or they are very forgetful.

Until when? As long as we can stand them. The acute perfectionists (especially those fretting about even a single, tiny spot) would probably give up and leave.

Between Falling and (Staying) in Love

Come to think of it, falling in love can actually be pretty easy. Sometimes it’s not about choices, but it just happens.

Falling in love is beautiful, so no wonder it’s always been an all-time theme. This is why romantic novels, songs, and movies are often sold out – especially those with happy endings. Unfortunately, we often forget about its ‘other side’, which means to preserve love so it doesn’t fall to pieces. Seriously.

Keeping/preserving love shouldn’t be just a one-person job. How could it last if only one of them were asked to obey/submit (in fact, often under the threat of some, freely-interpreted religious teachings), while the other person did whatever they pleased? This is like you’re expecting your partner to be as perfect as someone made in heaven while you turn home into hell.

Staying in Love Is Not Easy

The effort to stay in love with each other is not easy.

The most expensive diamond should be dug first, rubbed many times before  it shines beautifully. That is the same case with two people in a relationship. If both still believe in one vision and are still willing to accept each other’s shortcomings / flaws, may both continue to grow and evolve in the relationship. All good things never come out instantly.

We’ve all been in love, perhaps some more than the others. Will we always be mature and patient enough to keep (and grow) the same love – or to let that love go when it’s no longer good to both body and soul?

Don’t ask me. Good luck in experiencing love. Keep interacting with it. May the good love be always there and for the rest of your lives…

R.

(Roughly translated from: https://www.pikiranrandom.com/tentang-jatuh-cinta-dan-tetap-mencinta/ )

“YOU’RE A MYSTERY”

Will I ever get to know
the meaning of that look?
I’m afraid to find out as I go
There might be no turning back,
once I’m hooked
Your eyes seem to refuse
to give it all away
I can’t still figure out the cues
but I won’t go crazy about it for days…
…or have I?
Have I already been drawn in too deep,
right to the point I can no longer lie?
I hate this, because I’m disturbed in my sleep
I guess I should just stop
questioning silently
For now, at least
I let you be a mystery
and enjoy every moment in bliss
Someday, I’ll find out what it is
that twinkle in your eyes
and that secret behind your smile…
R.
 
(Jakarta, 11/9/2017 – 7:15 am)