-4 degrees. Seoul today, and it is the lowest temperature in this month. December 2023, exactly two years since my first arrival here. I remember it was also winter, my first time ever seeing snowflakes fell upon my hands, my shoes, my jacket; my first time ever inhaling oxygen in my dream city. It was cold, but not as cold as I thought. I could feel my teeth clicking but something made me keep smiling. My heart, and bunch of unexplainable exciting feelings inside.
The last bus will come in about 20 minutes. I sit on the long bench–with a longing heart. I was happy two years ago. I wrote my dreams on a A3-sized paper to be plastered on my wall once I get to the new dorm. It was nice to have dreams, just thinking of pursuing them made my blood flew faster from head to toe. At least that was what I felt in my few first months; happiness. Until that first problem came. I took my master degree in Seoul fully-funded by my country. And we–scholarship awardee–had been told before to not hoping too much. It was around July when I checked my bank account and found out that nothing had been sent, not even a sen. Good timing that it was Summer, I had my break time for a month so I went for a part time job. Everything seemed fine, I could handle my life and nothing serious happened.
I clench my fists to keep myself warm. I forgot to bring my gloves even though I know today is going to be real freezing. I think about home. And my mother. And my Father. And my Brother. I have this feeling lingers inside my chest for a long time but this time, 10 p.m at this quiet bus stop, it grows bigger and it feels more torturing. I miss them. And my little cat–which isn’t actually my cat but he sleeps mostly in my house anyway. My second problem came when it was around September last year. Still no money from the government, and I’ve spent more than half of my saving for a living. Autumn to winter, what a worst timing to suffer from hunger. It was cold and I need more fats, but all I could eat was beans, and ramen, and sometimes twice-heated curry. But it was still okay, I’d bear with any hardship as long as I don’t have problem with my study.
Winter wind becomes colder at night. Five more minutes and the bus will come. But since I came to Seoul time has been absurdly going faster and slower, matching it pace with my mood swings. Sometimes when I’m happy I wouldn’t know if the sun just set, because I felt like only laughed for about two minutes. But lately, time is running slower than ever. It began three months ago, when one of my professor told me to change my thesis title. Title. I already gave up my blood and tears for making it come true; I’m already half of my way and he suddenly told me to drastically change it. From the tittle to the conclusion. Title to conclusion. I told my mother I’ll come home soon. I told her to wait a little more. I told her that I’m only one step away from my master degree. I gave her hopes, but now I’m going backwards.
The snowflakes are falling down faster; it’s raining. I felt the chill spreading to my bones. I used to love winter and its cool breeze, but now not so much. Winter reminds me of dreams I once built, but I haven’t reach. Winter reminds me of how lonely I am, in a city I once dream to live in. Winter and its snowflakes and its freezing wind. I never felt so distant from my self, from my home. I never felt so lonely and missing my mother this much. I suddenly want to hug her, snuggle my giant feet into her tiny lap. It must be nice, to feel her warm breath blowing my neck. Please, just one time, I whispered. But nothing happens. I’m still here, at this quiet bus stop with cold bench and slippery pavement. I let the snowflakes touch my hands, my shoes, my jacket. It is cold but something is colder. My heart, and the unexpected wound that suddenly opens.

Some day, the cold rain will become warm tears
And fall down
It’s alright
It’s just a passing downpour

with the thought of my bestfriend, I.

read while listening to this song:

I.O.I – Downpour



Grow Like A Sycamore

Assalamualaikum. How are you doing, pumpkin? It’s raining a lot in here every evening. I’m trying to maintain my health so you please be healthy too, do not catch a flu.
You know, Ailah, 2017 almost ends. Another year has passed, but I’m still the same. Same achievements, same skills, same characters. But I do learn a lot, I do observe a lot.
Ailah, you will hear these often when you grow up: Life is hard, Life isn’t always fun, Life is this and life is that. People will tell you how the world works. Just like what I heard in my teenage years, just like what they told me. I agreed for some parts, but I believe in my own opinion for other parts. Ailah, you do not have to be what the world tells you to. If one day you find someone belittle other because they have higher position, you don’t have to follow them. You don’t have to believe that is how the world works. You can create your own little world, where there are only you and your good deeds. You can try to change others, but, pumpkin, if that is harder than you think, you may just do it yourself. You may betray the tyranny. If at some point you become a senior in whatever field you choose, treat your junior like human, like they eat the same rice as you, like they breath the same oxygen as you, like they have people who cherish them as you do. If you are the junior, please treat them as your teacher, please understand them like your mother, please respect them as someone who lives longer. The world needs you, maybe not all of the continents, but maybe the world that belongs to someone you meet at the bus stop, maybe the world of children at the orphanages near your dorm, or maybe, it’s my world, or even your own world. You do not have to follow the rules of the world where everything needs to be classified, where you should be higher to achieve more, where you should be prettier to be recognized, where you should be superior to have anything comes to your shoes. No, pumpkin. Please build your own world. Please follow what is right, not what is usually done. Grow up, darling, like a sycamore tree. Grow higher, but also stronger, and be a shelter. For yourself, for people around you. I hope one day I can meet you and tell you more about what I learnt and observed.
Now have a warm cuddle with the stars. Till we meet again in my dream, pumpkin.


“Tapi, Bu, seberapa jauh aku harus menomor duakan kebahagiaanku?” satu dua bulir air mata ikut terjatuh saat Ia menutup matanya di pangkuan Ibu.
“Apakah dengan menomor duakan kebahagiaanmu, mereka bahagia?” Ibu mengusap puncak kepalanya.
Ia mengangguk perlahan. “Mungkin bukan bahagia yang membuat dunia terasa warna-warni, tapi bahagia karena mereka tidak harus berjalan sendiri. Tidak harus memikul semua beban sendiri, ada kawan untuk berbagi beban. Bahagia jenis itu.”
“Lalu kamu, tidakkah kamu bahagia turut membantu memikul beban? tidakkah kamu senang berjalan beriringan? tidakkah kamu bahagia, jika mereka bahagia?”
Ia terdiam. Bukan itu maksudnya, Ibu tidak mengerti. Ia bahagia, tentu saja. Ia sangat senang membantu orang lain, semenjak kecil bahkan itu sudah menjadi tujuan hidupnya. Ia bahagia turut serta meringankan beban orang lain, ada rasa puas disana. Tapi bukan ini yang ia ingin sampaikan. Ibu tidak mengerti.
Ibu mengusap puncak kepalanya sekali lagi. “Sayang, ikuti kata hatimu. Ibu tidak tahu bahagia apa yang kamu kejar, Ibu tidak akan tahu rasanya karena hanya kamu yang paham. Bahagiamu, bahagia mereka, korelasi antara keduanya, Ibu tidak akan mengerti. Maafkan Ibu, Ibu hanya bisa menyuruhmu mengikuti kata hati.”
Bagaimana caranya ia mengikuti kata hati, kalau hatinya sendiri saja terbagi? Mana yang harus ia pilih, kalau hatinya sendiri saja menyuarakan dua hal dengan sama lantang?
Bahagiaku? Bahagia mereka? Menyakiti diri sendiri? Menyakiti orang lain?
Bulir air matanya semakin deras berjatuhan.

Do We Need to Change?

Assalamualaikum! semoga kita tetap sejahtera dibawah naungan Sang Pencipta, ya. Sudah lama nggak nulis begini karena aku lagi keranjingan bikin cerpen hahaha bahkan ya setiap denger beberapa baris lirik lagu atau lihat suatu kejadian aku langsung mikir “mau nulis ah yang plotnya gini!”. Memang asal nulis sih tapi rasanya seneng banget waktu udah jadi cerpennya, bener-bener peredam stres. Tadi aku habis minum kopi dan nggak bisa tidur padahal ada kuliah jam 5.45 akhirnya otakku yang terlalu sering mikir nggak penting ini memaksa untuk menulis sesuatu, ehem, curhatan yang juga nggak penting wkwk.
Aku cerita ke temanku kalau ada orang yang nggak sependapat dengan caraku berbicara (tentunya nggak ngomong langsung, tapi melalui orang lain). Nggak cuma teman yang sangat dekat, aku juga tanya ke teman yang cukup dekat menurut mereka aku harus gimana menanggapi hal tersebut. Dan tahu apa reaksi mereka?
Dua teman sangat dekat menganggap aku tidak perlu ambil pusing karena pasti ada aja orang yang bakal nggak suka entah apapun yang kita lakukan, satu teman cukup dekat berkata aku bahkan nggak butuh buat diberi comfort karena aku keras kepala, satu teman cukup dekat menasihati sebaiknya aku memikirkan ulang cara berbicara ke orang lain dan bijak ke diri sendiri seperti aku bijak ke orang lain. Ya, disini ada tiga pendapat yang berbeda. Aku condong kemana? Ya tentu saja ke dua teman yang nyuruh santai kan manusia seneng kalau didukung, akupun begitu wkwk. Tapi pendapat dua teman lainnya yang berbeda membuatku berpikir (yang pasti hal nggak penting juga.) Jadi akhir-akhir ini lagi rame berita seorang anak marah-marah ke selingkuhan ayahnya di mal. Reaksi orang beragam banget, yang aku baca kebanyakan mendukung anak ini dan perilakunya dianggap heroik. Aku? menurutku, it’s humiliating. Terus aku melihat sebuah tulisan lewat entah dimana tapi ya namanya anak nggak penting, kuingat-ingat dong wkwk intinya ialah jangan mengomentari sesuatu yang kamu belum pernah merasakannya. Aku ngomong itu humiliating karena aku nggak setuju ada adegan dorong-dorongan dan sumpah serapah di depan umum, sama aja kayak nangkep maling trus digebukin di TKP. Tapi aku bisa ngomong gitu karena keluargaku nggak pernah diterpa badai kayak keluarga anak itu, aku nggak tahu gimana kecewanya dia sampai melakukan itu. Orang yang mendukung anak itu pun nggak tahu gimana rasanya  didorong dan dicemooh di depan publik, meskipun karena salahnya sendiri. Ya intinya kita sampai sebatas itu aja kemampuannya: menduga, lalu berkomentar.
Hubungannya dengan masalahku ialah, aku nggak ngerti rasanya ada di posisi orang lain yang berbicara denganku. Aku terbiasa dengan sikap teman sangat dekatku, mereka ketawa-ketawa aja sama bercandaanku, mereka marah-marah aja kalau aku salah tapi ngomong langsung. Aku menduga, orang lain yang nggak mengerti karakterku juga akan bersikap sama dengan mereka. Aku menduga, orang lain akan sesederhana itu buat ngomong kalau kata-kataku menyakiti mereka, ketimbang hanya memendam dalam hati. Aku menduga, mereka akan tertawa karena candaanku yang cenderung sarkas layaknya teman sangat dekatku akan terpingkal-pingkal karenanya. Pun demikian dengan orang lain ini. Mereka bisa saja menduga berbagai macam interpretasi dari ucapanku dan caraku berbicara, yang sebenarnya bukan menjadi maksudku. Mereka bisa saja menduga mudah untukku mencoba berbicara lemah lembut, padahal aku semasa SMA berlatih untuk berbicara tanpa jeda dan leaking dalam 5 menit, yaitu saat ikut klub debat (bersama Khansa* juga, aku kangen Ca!). Mereka menduga mudah untukku menahan sesuatu dalam hati dan tidak menggebu-gebu dalam bersuara, padahal aku terbiasa menyuarakan pendapat di rumah dengan sangat ekspresif dan keluargaku oke dengan itu. Aku, orang-orang ini, hanya bisa menduga-duga. Dan sebenarnya kami tidak bertanggung jawab atas dugaan satu sama lain. Aku tidak bertanggung jawab atas pikiran mereka, mereka tidak bertanggung jawab atas pikiranku. Ini kucontoh dari role model andalanku; Mbakku. Beliau selalu bilang supaya aku memerdekakan pikiran, jangan mikirin pikiran orang lain. Yang tentu saja tidak bisa kulakukan karena aku kan suka mikir yang nggak penting wkwk. Tapi aku bisa mencari alternatif, yaitu memikirkan ulang sampai aku berhasil berpikir aku tidak perlu mikir. Ya memang ribet, dan benar-benar nggak penting. Dan pada akhirnya, aku sampai pada kesimpulan bahwa aku tidak perlu berubah, tapi aku perlu berbenah. Jangan sampai dugaanku pada orang lain terlalu sering menyakiti hati, tapi jangan sampai pula dugaan mereka mengkerdilkan jati diri.
Sekian hasil pemikiran nggak penting dini hari ini, kalau suatu hari aku berubah pikiran, ingat-ingat bahwa tulisan ini pun hasil menduga-duga makna dibalik sebuah peristiwa(:

*Khansa adalah temanku satu angkatan yang dulunya merupakan adik kelas SMA (tapi dia ikut program akselerasi sehingga lulus bersama), kami satu klub debat di kelas 2 dan 3 SMA sehingga sering menghabiskan sore dengan berlatih bersama walaupun tidak begitu akrab. Dia sudah tiada, jadi aku berharap jika ada yang meluangkan waktu membaca tulisan ini, mari berdoa untuknya dan keluarganya. Semoga tenang disana ya, Aca.



Hari ini aku melihatnya tersenyum,” Ia berbisik.
setelah banyak sekali beban berat yang harus dipikirkannya. Aku tidak tahu darimana dia dapat sumber kekuatan, tapi aku senang, dia tidak lagi memasang wajah cemberut yang mengesalkan itu.
Dia hebat, kapan ya dia akan sadar? dia selalu merasa rendah diri, salah satu karakter yang aku benci darinya. Tapi sebenarnya aku sedikit takut, kalau dia sadar dan menjadi sedikit congkak. Sepertinya tidak mungkin, tapi namanya juga manusia. Aku berharap dia tidak pernah melupakan tujuan utamanya. Aku ingin dia selalu menjadi orang yang tidak pernah melupakan orang lain, apalagi menjatuhkan.” Ia tersenyum kecil. Rambut di dahinya bergerak-gerak ke kanan; tersapu angin.
Di balkon kamarnya, setiap langit berubah warna dari biru menjadi jingga, Ia akan berbisik. Bukan pada telinga, yang menurutnya hanya akan mengendap di otak sang pendengar. Ia berbisik kepada dunia, agar kawanan burung yang tidak sengaja melintas bisa menyampaikan pada kawanan lain dan daun yang tidak sengaja gugur menyampaikan pada tanah dan cacing. Bisikannya akan terekam dalam molekul hujan yang suatu hari jatuh dengan sangat deras, mengalir bersama air sungai menuju laut, menguap bersama air laut membentuk awan. Bisikannya didengar oleh setiap sel makhluk hidup maupun unsur makhluk tak hidup.
Dalam bisikannya Ia meyisipkan keluh kesah, ungkapan syukur, harapan dan doa. Bisikannya membumi, dan akan selalu sampai kepada orang yang membuatnya sedih, orang yang mengukir senyumnya, orang yang selalu Ia simpan dalam setiap pinta. Bisikannya melangit, dan akan selalu sampai kepada pencipta burung, daun gugur, tanah, cacing, hujan, air sungai, air laut, awan–kepada Yang Maha Mendengar walau bisikannya kadang hanya berupa sengal tawa dan isakan tangis.

untuk yang sedang berjuang,
dari yang selalu berbisik.

I’ll See You at Seven


4 p.m.
three hours to go, she said to herself.
keep calm, keep calm. what are you going to wear?
she got up from the chair and walked toward the cupboard to find her best clothes. she ended up with a deep sigh. she found nothing–there are 10 pairs of sweaters but she needed something more appealing.
“Kath, Can I borrow your dress?” she shouted from her room.
“do yourself a favor.” Kath, her elder sister, didn’t care about anything she does just like usual.
she went across her room–to Kath’s room–and began to try every flowery dress she could find. I need to look bright, she thought.

I’ll see you at seven, he said after they got off from school today. he looked slightly nervous, but he hid with a forced smile.
“amusement park over there?”
he is a senior, one year above her. she rarely got a chance to talk to him. in fact, today was the first day she talked to him. Tris, her friend, said that Johnny came to their class when she went to the restroom.
Johnny? that Dimple Guy Johnny?! you sure he was looking for me?” she couldn’t believe it at first.
yep. he even asked me, hey, are you by chance friends with Lisa? did you see her in class this morning? and I answered yes, she went to the restroom.”
why on earth would Johnny look for me? I mean, with every possibilities exist, why?” She still couldn’t just believe it.
Johnny. that Dimple Guy Johnny. that guy she saw in the first year at the library laughing with the madame while holding a book by Haruki Murakami. she hated that author, but the sight of a fine young man with a deep dimple on his left cheek had caught her off guard. she then met him accidentally several times; on her way to chemistry lab, at the front yard while she waited for her mom to pick her up, at the amusement park a hundred meters from school where she usually had a chit chat with her girls group. she learned his name is Johnny from her classmate who happened to be in the same middle school with him. he was popular back then because he played basketball. she once witnessed him playing basketball during his PE class–laughing charmingly like his usual laughter.
that Johnny who is a living portrait of her imaginary prince was looking for her.
what. a. news.
what did he said?” she asked her friend.
he didn’t say anything. he just left after I answered.”
she knew who Johnny was, everyone knew who Johnny was. but Johnny would probably never heard about her name. she was not that popular to be acknowledged by the school superstar. why would Johnny look for me?
she kept thinking about it she couldn’t focus on what Mrs. Dean said about the history of pyramid and stuff. Mrs. Dean was her all time favourite teacher and today she didn’t put any thought of what she taught. she felt guilty but she just couldn’t stop it.
the school bell rang, everyone ran out from class to corridor like mad dogs. she walked slowly as if the other kids are really sick and contagious. but actually she didn’t want to go home immediately, just in case Johnny would come up again.
and he did.
Lisa!” a deep voice called her from behind. she turned around.
hey.. uh, I was looking for you. I bet you already knew from your friend. so,uh.. do you by chance, have thought about going to the school annual party?” his voice trembled.
she, as far as she remembered, had never heard a guy trembling while asking to go to a party, and here is Johnny, her crush since the first year, doing everything all at once? asking her to go the annual party and trembling at the same time?
she lost the energy to open up her mouth to answer.
oh I’m sorry! I’m Johnny, senior year. I might sound creepy for not introducing myself first.”
it-it is okay. I thought about it, yeah. but I don’t think I’m going…” she said, more like she whispered. she was just as trembling as when he asked her.
he looked upset. “why?”
all of my friends decided to go with someone so.. yeah.”
he smiled and she swear it was the closest she ever saw him smiling, ten times more mesmerizing and the dimple on his left cheek just popped out, like asking to mess with her brain.
would you go with me?”
those words. she repeated and spell it out to make it easier to understand. those are simple words, but she was so dumbfounded she forgot how to interact normally.
how do you know my name?”
he was startled. “I asked the librarian. I often saw you at the bench near the window. you read so many interesting books.”
so.. which one is okay?” he looked at her.
so which one is okay? me asking the librarian about your name or going to the annual party with me?” he grinned, and really, that is the least thing he should had done in this condition because her heart was already a mess.
both, I guess.” she said, this time with a steady voice.
great! I wanna give you something to wear, you know, the corsage flower, but I left it at my house.”
did he just asked her to visit his house?!
I’ll give it to you, uh.. tonight?” he continued.
okay then. when?”
I’ll see you at seven.”

it was already 5 p.m when she finally found a dress that fit her taste. she rushed to her room and prepared for her best appearance. she never dated, not even once in her 16 years of living. this was going to be her first date–if going to school annual party could be considered as a date.

6 p.m.
she yelled again to her sister that she was going to the amusement park, and her sister didn’t even bother to reply, just like usual. she walked down the road with an ear-to-ear smile. was today a dream? she thought to herself. Johnny whom she had never even dream of giving her a smile asked her to go to the school annual party! she counted how many pretty girls from senior year are, and wondering why Johnny asked her instead of them.

6.50 p.m.
10 minutes to go. she waited anxiously. which direction did Johnny go after school today? she faced the opposite direction so that when he come, he has to call her name first and she can pull out her fake-shocked-but-laughing-prettily-face.

7.15 p.m.
he hadn’t come yet. would it be possible that he forgot their appointment?

7.20 p.m.
her cellphone rang–it’s Tris.
“go home.” the voice from the opposite said.
“what? why?”
“go home. he made fun of you. it was just a joke from the beginning. he was playing around with you. he lost a game and his friends forced him to ask a junior to go to the school annual party, and guess who? it was you. he chose you. not to literally go, but to pull out his disgusting joke.”
she didn’t answered the voice. she froze; her face turned pale in all sudden. she spaced out for a straight one minute, not knowing what to think–she was being too stupid or Johnny being ruthless, or both. she didn’t know that a high school crush could broke her heart into million pieces; she didn’t know what is worse and more pathetic: being fooled when she actually believe it or hoping that her friend was the one joking.
she ran across the school and went straight; not going home, but to the direction Johnny was going this afternoon. she would like to ask him herself, how does it feel to play with feelings? does it feel good? would he recommend her to do such a thing too? she ran and kept running until she saw a crowd. a sound of ambulance coming nearer. she slowed down a bit, wondering why the crowd made a round formation. she walked closer and  finally saw the center of the crowd: a guy with blood all over his head.
his body lied down and stood still; his eyes closed, his mouth shut.
and his name is Johnny.


10 a.m.
9 hours before.
“who’d you ask?” his group asked.
“her name is Lisa. Sophomore year.” he said with a smile.
his friend fussed around, “wow man what’s with the smile? do you really want to ask her?” 
“I lost the game, right?” his laugh followed by his group laughters.
“but I do really want to ask her, though.. despite the game.”
everyone was busy laughing, nobody heard his whisper except himself.


Kid from A to Z

30 years from now, the kids from this generation will become the leader. iya, anak-anak SMP SMA yang sekarang lagi ngeluh-ngeluh kurikulum 13 bakal ada yang jadi pejabat pemda, kepala puskesmas, anggota DPR, presiden, dan posisi-posisi berpengaruh lain. well, aku pun suka mengeluh. suka. banget. hehe. bahkan tulisan ini merupakan keluhan terselubung. satu hal yang membuatku mikir keras sebelum tidur semalam ialah, kalau aku nggak bisa menjadi contoh yang baik bagi adik didikku, kalau aku nggak bisa membimbing adik didikku, bukankah Indonesia akan kehilangan satu orang berbakat 30 tahun kedepan nanti? pertanyaan sebenarnya ialah, kalau pendidiknya kayak aku, yang mageran, yang gampang banget capek, yang dikit-dikit emosinya naik turun, emang bisa adik didiknya jadi yang etos kerjanya tinggi, yang emosinya stabil, yang solutif dan kreatif? aku malu sendiri sebenernya, karena pepatah Jawa bilang guru digugu lan ditiru. guru diperhatikan dan ditiru. apa yang bisa ditiru dari aku? waktu semalam adik didikku tantrum, dia marah nggak mau ngerjakan soal dan coret-coret bukunya, kemudian aku balik ngambek dan langsung beres-beres tas mau pulang, should I feel bad about myself? karena ya, aku benar-benar merasa buruk sesampainya di rumah. bukankah anak kecil itu emosinya masih proses pembentukan? bukankah ada ribuan cara untuk bisa menaklukkan hati seorang anak dan membuatnya tertarik akan hal yang dibencinya, selain memarahi? bukankah harusnya aku yang membuatnya luluh dan mau belajar, bukannya berharap dia yang dari awal bersemangat belajar? aku kan nggak bisa memaksa semua anak dari kecil langsung terbentuk mental pejuang? kalau gitu, berarti aku yang harus merubah biar mereka punya mental pejuang? tapi, tunggu, apa aku sendiri sudah punya mental seorang pejuang?


an online tantrum, dari seorang 20 tahun terhadap masalah sepele di hidupnya.