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Short Story: Samskeyti / The Week That Plane Went Missing

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Aida stared at the screen of her phone, unblinking until it dimmed due to inactivity. Her mind went blank yet jammed at the same time and stayed that way for the next couples of minutes. The breaking news on Twitter just told her that a plane flying to Singapore lost. A plane with flight code on Rudolf’s text that she suspected got multiple recipients; herself, his company chauffeur, and his wife.

She didn’t know what to do, the news was unclear and unconfirmed. Based on an article she read on the internet, the probability of surviving a flight is 99.9999815%, much higher than surviving an affair in marriage. As she scrolled down the timeline, some people mentioned about praying. How long has she stopped praying? Should she start again?

She decided not to get her mind stuck thinking about the praying option and used her cell phone to call the airline, hoping to gain some information. The operator refused to tell anything about it and suggested to pray while waiting for the official statement. Pray. She remembered how she wanted to be a journalist during elementary school then how most of her dreams stopped growing and faded away as soon as she got into university.

One of those dreams was being happily married.

***

Aida met Rudolf during a business trip. Rudolf was always into indie music, unpolished gemstone as he described, and during the break time of meetings or conferences he would browse around local record stores. He appreciated music by having legal copies of everything. He bought CDs, purchased files in iTunes store or mailed the musician every time he copied mp3s from his friends and colleagues for free. He would say hello then write anything positive about the music; how it reminded him of his favorite butter croissant or his last days of high school. If it was dark he would spill a bit of his childhood dream of being an astronaut and sucked into the black hole. He would close the mail by asking whether the musician minded him keeping the files. If there was nothing good to write about the music, he would simply delete it. If the musician wrote back and told him that he couldn’t have it, he would also delete it.

Nobody ever wrote back and told him they minded. There were only 2 kinds of response: 1) those who say that it was so nice of Rudolf to tell them and 2) simply nothing.

Aida handled a small corner in a major record shop. Her booth consisted of limited indie CDs and old rare vinyl collection. At night, she worked as a ghostwriter or trashy clickbaits. When Rudolf came on a Thursday just before the shop closing time, still with his formal shirt, rolled up sleeves, and a bottle of half empty mineral water on his hand, she felt an urge in her stomach to impress him. She told him that they were closing as he started looking through a stack of discounted vinyl. “Come back tomorrow,” she said. He explained that his schedule was tight as he was only a couple of flight schedules away from home. She then gave Rudolf her copy of a new indie jazz singer from the ‘Now Playing’ box, “My personal local recommendation,” she said and wrote down the address of her weblog. “Just come here the next time you visit,” she added.

The following afternoon, Rudolf came again, earlier and handed back the CD. “I don’t like it,” he said with intonation that was hard to define. Aida felt surprised and offended so she just took back the CD, said a simple, “Oh, okay.” She looked away. “But I visited your blog. It reminded me of the only party I ever enjoyed because I enjoyed the setlist. You know, real good thing you rate during sober.” He told her resumed browsing from the last rack he dug out the day before and said nothing more.

They went for coffee nearby after the store closed. Rudolf brought along a paper bag with two CDs from an indie rock band inside; another recommendation from Aida of which she let him to preview first, no wanting to feel rejected for the second time. “I rescheduled my flight. I felt that if I spent more time in your section of the shop, I would find something.” He stopped for some seconds, stealing a glance on her, “Which I did,” he went on.

“Do you return every gift that you don’t like?” Aida asked, trying hard to keep her sound cool as she sipped on her Americano, burning her tongue. She usually ordered something sweet and creamy but she assumed that Rudolf would underestimate her, which was simply the last thing she wished for now.

“Well, I don’t keep things I’m not using, or music I’m not listening.” He said while holding his mug with both hands, as if transferring some exact amount of heat from the coffee. “Actually,” he continued, “I’m not a type who returns presents, but I simply would like to return.”

He raised his mug and took a sip. That moment Aida recognized a wedding band on his left ring finger. She then smirked and said, “Hey, Rudolf, you know what? You remind me of my favorite pornstar.”

“Wow. What is that supposed to mean?” Rudolf replied and laughed.

“What do you feel after I told you so?” Aida winked and continued, “That was what I felt when you told me you rescheduled your flight to return the CD I recommended just because you didn’t like it.”

***

It had been almost a year since the first time she met him. He had been coming regularly on recurring business meetings. He always came to the record store, then they would go to the café after the closing time, or walked through the nearby park as if they were in Before Sunset movie. Sometimes they stopped and kissed, but they never went beyond. He visited her studio some times but he always left after dinner. When he was not visiting and she missed him, she made a mixtape in 8tracks because he didn’t need to own the file so he wouldn’t bother mailing anyone for permission. He would mark her mixtape with heart symbol or not at all when he didn’t like more than half of total number of the tracks.

Rudolf had been married for almost 6 years and tired of her wife who kept reminding him about it and about how she wanted a baby, or babies. Aida listened and sometimes she responded with weak smile; too weak that it looked almost transparent.

Aida means many thing because it is something, at least, in Italian, Egyptian, and Japanese at the same time. According to an entry in Wikipedia, Aida might even be derived from the Rosetta Stone. In Japanese it means ‘between’. Sometimes she wondered if she was between Rudolf and his wife. Sometimes she wondered if being in between two points meant separating or connecting. Sometimes else, she just imagined herself as a hinge, a samskeyti, of Rudolf and a nothingness on the other pole without his wife.

Samskeyti.

“By the way, Aida, I was surprised you put Samskeyti on your latest mixtape. It was one of my favorite tracks on the bracket album.” Rudolf told her before he left for the airport for the last time.

“The first time I discovered that song, I still believed in God and I thought that God created Sigur Rós to present me the song.”

Then there he waved good bye and said, “Bye, Aida. I’ll text you as soon I reach airport.”

***

After a week, the plane was still missing. After the shop was closed, after having sweet and creamy and icy blended coffee, Aida walked home while gazed into the night sky once in a while. She never cried because she always knew, from the way he always drew himself back first when they kissed, that sooner or later Rudolf would be forever gone. Though she couldn’t help to wonder, what Rudolf had been thinking when the plane flew out of radar. Could it be her? Could it be his wife?

Could he be praying?

She stopped at a magazine stall and took a copy of a national magazine, special edition dedicated for the missing plane. As she flipped the pages carefully she finally landed on special pages of interview with the family and friends of the passengers. For the first time since the plane went missing, she wept without a sound.

“He would never see the baby we’ve been waiting for 6 years.”

Aida mourned for everything, for herself being; a non-working samskeyti, a useless joint.

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This short story is originally posted in B.yond W.rds, inspired by my deep condolence for 3 major place accidents in 2014. May 2015 be blessed with more peaceful sky and happier flights.

For those who haven’t been familiar yet, BW stands for B.yond W.rds. It also stands for Black & White. This is my side project where I combine my appreciation for words, Black & White photography, and other imperfect things.

Article

Next Year, Let’s Visit Jogja Again!

One done, 2 to go!

Setelah Pasar Seni ITB di Bandung kemarin, akhir tahun nanti Insya Allah saya mau solo trip ke Ubud pas liburan natal nanti. Ceritanya mau yoga-yogaan dan bersantai di kafe-kafe yang lucu kekinian (superficial abis hahaha, maafin deh yaa) berhubung ada cuti 2 hari yang mau habis masa berlakunya.

Awalnya saya mau ngajak Noumi, sahabat saya sejak SMP, karena selama lebih dari 10 tahun pertemanan kami belum pernah liburan bareng. Namun karena dia sibuk pas Natal (maklum, kerjaannya ngurusin mainan semacam Santa Claus, kekekek) akhirnya saya usulkan tahun 2015 kami ke liburan pendek bersama ke Jogja. Kebetulan ada sahabat saya yang mau wisudaan, dik Aresty. Horee :3

Jogja ini memang ngangenin walaupun saya nggak pernah tinggal atau sekolah di sana. Saya nggak pernah menghitung berapa kali ke Jogja sejak SMA. Pernah saya liburan bertiga saja dengan Bunda dan Zakki bertualang naik buswaynya Jogja maupun becak. Waktu adik saya masih sekolah di Magelang pun, saya rutin ke Jogja (dan numpang nginep di rumah Aresty, hehe). Banyak kebahagiaan setiap kali berkunjung ke sana, apalagi makanannya enak-enak dan MURAH. Mungkin Jogja ini rasanya seperti Bandung bagi yang pernah tinggal atau sekolah di sana. People surely left their heart in Yogyakarta.

Nah. Kemarin saya sempat browsing-browsing tapi belum sempat buat itinerary dan berbagai persiapan khususnya untuk akomodasi. Banyaknya pilihan tempat penginapan di Jogja mengharuskan kita untuk cermat memilih sesuai dengan kebutuhan. Contohnya, buat yang ingin menghemat budget, maka bisa cari hotel-hotel bertarif murah di Jogja. Selain itu untuk transportasi juga bisa dipilih-pilih sesuai kebutuhan. Nah, kalau semua itu udah siap, maka kita bisa lanjut ke tempat-tepat yang ingin dikunjungi. Pada kesempatan ini saya share saja list tempat yang sudah saya kunjungi (tapi mau saya kunjungi lagi karena nggak bosan!) (hint: enggak ada Keraton dan Candi Prambanan) dan tempat-tempat yang ingin saya kunjungi :)
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First Shots of Sexy One

I finally decided to give up my DSLR and got myself a mirrorless camera. After obsessively browsing and checking countless reviews (and of course heavily saving) I purchased Fujifilm XE-1 (read: Sexy One) with kit lens. I still need spending more quality time with him but so far I’m happy with the result :) Here are some of his first shots that I took during office outing to Jakarta and Bogor.

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Article

Soal Pelantikan Anggota Dewan, Masa Depan Anak Saya, dan Hal-Hal Lainnya

Dua malam yang lalu timeline ramai dengan komentar mengenai rusuhnya pelantikan anggota dewan serta highlight tingkah laku beberapa di antaranya. Saya sendiri hanya nonton dari Youtube, itupun sebagian saja karena penasaran sama palunya Ceu Popong :p Buat apa nonton kalau sudah tahu endingnya dari spoiler-spoiler yang bertebaran di timeline?

Sejujurnya sebagai rakyat Indonesia saya malu atas (mayoritas) para anggota DPR/MPR. Semoga tidak ada yang lupa bahwa DPR/MPR adalah singkatan dari Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat/Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat. Orang-orang itu terpilih mewakili saya dan dua ratus juta lebih rakyat Indonesia: orang-orang itu adalah kita. Iya termasuk Mas Anang, dia juga bagian dari kita; cerminan kita. Dengan kata lain, tingkah laku mereka adalah cerminan tingkah laku rakyat Indonesia. Silakan saja kalau mau tidak setuju tapi saya lebih tertarik berhenti buang waktu mengeluh dan berpikir ke depan.

Kalau mau mengeluh soal negara ini, mungkin saya bisa langsung membuat daftar sepanjang satu halaman penuh tanpa harus berpikir: soal pelayanan publik, sistem pendidikan, atau minimnya fungsi keamanan yang diberikan polisi. Merunut sebab-akibatnya pun seperti mau mengurai benang kusut; bingung mau mulai dari mana. We actually are them, Indonesians. PNS yang bolos, calo administrasi surat-surat, ibu-ibu berjilbab yang suka ‘nyelak’ antrian atau polisi lalu lintas yang hobinya ngumpet di bawah pohon menunggu ‘mangsa’. Sekali lagi, kita (termasuk saya) adalah mereka: mahasiswa yang titip absen dan nyontek, mobil yang naik ke jalur busway, penumpang KRL yang enggan memberikan kursi bagi yg berhak atau pegawai perusahaan minyak yang suka membanding-bandingkan gaji orang dengan gaji sendiri :p Ya kurang lebihnya sama ajalah: Oportunis.

Beberapa bulan lalu di sela-sela pemotretan pre-wedding, saya sempat dapat kesempatan ngobrol dengan Ben (I do recommend you to visit his blog and read what he writes) yang kuliah S2 tentang pendidikan di New Zealand. Ben bilang orang-orang New Zealand sangat baik (not only as ‘nice’ but also ‘kindhearted’) dan bersahabat sementara orang kita ya memang dasarnya ‘bangsat’. Sekedar reminder untuk yang nggak terima bahwa tahun 2010 New Zealand merupakan negara dengan Islamicity index tertinggi sementara Indonesia ada di urutan 140! Bahkan di bawah Papuanugini (urutan 119) yang sebatas pengetahuan saya sekedar hutan-hutan rimba :(

Lalu sayabertanya, “What is actually our problem?” Jawaban Ben: pendidikan. Salah satu yang dia sebutkan adalah sistem dan kurikulum yang terus berubah, chaotic all the time, sehingga kita tidak pernah melihat hasil baiknya. Hasil dari suatu sistem pendidikan sejatinya baru dapat dilihat puluhan tahun ke depan sewaktu produknya mengisi lini usia produktif dan menumpu (dan memimpin?) sebuah bangsa.

Kalau saya pikir-pikir lagi mengenai kurikulum pendidikan di Indonesia, setidaknya zaman saya sekolah dulu (1995 – 2007) memang terlalu banyak muatannya. Mulai dari matematika, pengetahuan alam, sejarah, bahkan dulu saya sempat harus belajar PLKJ (Pendidikan Lingkungan dan Kesenian Jakarta). Semuanya ada ujiannya dan semuanya diukur dengan nilai ujian.

Di sekolah, setidaknya zaman saya dulu, tidak ada penilaian mengenai tata cara berdiskusi, mendengarkan, atau menghargai pendapat orang lain. Tidak diprioritaskan cara memahami dan mengkritisi bacaan. Tidak diajarkan mengeksplorasi pandangan dari sisi atau pihak lain. Beruntung hal-hal tersebut saya dapatkan dari orang tua saya.

Di sekolah, setiap akhir semester dibuat rangking; ditentukan siapa yang juara dan tidak juara diukur dari kemampuan rata-ratanya dalam 12 mata pelajaran yang bervariasi. Sebagai pelajar kita dituntut untuk bisa semua dan mendapat nilai sebesar-besarnya. Adalah manusiawi jika masing-masing anak tidak sama kepintaran dan kebisaannya, namun karena terpaksa bisa akhirnya contek-menyontek menjadi jalan keluarnya. Toh hasil akhirnya berupa angka. Dapat ditebak, segera setelah seorang anak berhasil menyontek, hal tersebut berlanjut menjadi kebiasaan. Penghargaan terhadap proses pun hilang.

Menurut saya masuk akal jika kita kemudian terbentuk menjadi orang-orang yang pemalas dan ingin serba instan namun di saat yang sama kompetitif. Pokoknya menyelamatkan diri sendiri dulu, empati? Apa itu? Mental ini kemudian semakin menjadi karena jumlah penduduk Indonesia yang sangat banyak dan terbatasnya kesempatan yang ada. Ruang untuk berempati pada nasib orang lain pun nyaris nihil.

Tidak perlu jauh-jauh lah menunjuk orang lain deh. Diri saya sendiri adalah contoh nyata. Di hati kecil saya, saya ingin menjadi guru atau membuka lapangan pekerjaan yang memberdayakan orang kecil, atau mungkin menjadi social worker. Namun kalau mau realistis, kapan bisa beli rumah? Rumah di Bekasi saja sekarang harganya milyaran. Bukan tidak mungkin seandainya nanti sudah terbeli rumah, pikiran saya sudah masuk fase, “Wah, masih harus nabung untuk menyekolahkan anak sebaik-baiknya.” Susah sekali memang kalau mau tidak menjadi oportunis. Nggak tau deh kalau Mas Anang :p

Waktu jalan-jalan di London bersama suami, kami cukup sering ngobrol sambil iri dengan Inggris; keteraturannya, kemajuannya, pendidikannya, sampai bagaimana seni dan budaya berkembang dengan baik di sana. Suami saya bilang, “Ya tapi memang nggak bisa dibandingin sama Indonesia. Kita tertinggal ratusan tahun sih, nggak bisa langsung catch up sama mereka.” Kami lalu sampai pada kesimpulan, it takes generation to bring a country, a nation, to be better.

Then why don’t we be it? Kenapa nggak kita yang memulainya? Menyebarkannya dan menurunkan nilai-nilai yang lebih baik ke adik-adik kita, anak dan ponakan maupun cucu-cucu kita kelak?

Bagaimana kalau kita berhenti mengeluh dan mulai menyebarkan pikiran positif? Kembali membuka ruang empati dan mengajarkan kepada yang lebih muda tentang bagaimana mendengar dan membuka pikiran. Tentang bagaimana berdiskusi supaya tidak memalukan seperti para anggota dewan. Tentang bagaimana berjuang dan menikmati proses. Mendidik mereka di rumah dan masayarakat (jika tidak di sekolah) tentang bagaimana menjadi pemenang dan angka yang terbesar bukan segalanya, juga memaafkan jika nilai ujian mereka jelek.

Mengutip Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see.” Mengutip juga kata Aa Gym, “Mulai dari diri sendiri, mulai dari hal-hal kecil, dan mulai dari sekarang.”

Semoga generasi selanjutnya lebih baik dari generasi Mas Anang ya :)

Jadi gimana Ceu Popong? Udah ketemu palunya? :p

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