Now it’s funny

Living in Indonesia means you have to be accustomed to natural disasters and mysterious parking men whom we have to pay money to for their unavailing assistance. Western part of Sumatra island is prone to earthquake, that is where I had most of my earthquake experience when I stayed there for five years since my senior year in high school until I finished college.

I hate earthquake not only because it scares the hell out of me but also because it forces me to make ultra super quick decisions about my life. I am very bad at being spontaneous, even when I navigate a journey with a GPS, if the driver asks me suddenly which way to go, I often say the wrong direction. My brain could not synchronize under pressure.

My first earthquake experience in West Sumatra happened to me in the worst situation anyone would want to be during an earthquake, which is when I was totally naked. I was enjoying my bath like a princess, shampooing my hair like Pantene commercials, life was perfect. Until then all of a sudden I felt my boarding house was moving like waves, I thought my shampoo had caused me drunk, but it’s not possible because I used the shampoo on my hair, not in my mouth. It was the bloody earthquake! OMG, can’t you just wait until I get dressed, earthquake??!!

That’s the first time in my life I had to choose between my self-esteem and my safety. What if I ran out naked and the earthquake stopped after I threw away my dignity–that I actually questioned if I had one. But if I chose to at least get dressed first, what if the earthquake got worse and torn the house apart? Then I could have died while locking my bra, which is not the dead position I want to die in. I waited for some seconds, still naked, but the shaking kept getting harder so I just got out of the bathroom and found something to cover my body with. No bra, underwear nor pants needed, a very simple and cover-it-all clothing, which was a mukena (RED–a praying cloth for muslim women) that was not even mine!

I managed to escape out of the house with my emergency-dignity-saving cloth, my flatmates and landlords were already outside, frightened. Not because of seeing me coming out of the house, but because of the earthquake of course. I saw some of the neighbors were also wearing mukenas, I wondered if they were also naked underneath.

Then my landlord decided to take us all to safer place heading to higher area in the city because we were afraid it had tsunami potentials, so we should move from the downtown area to a more hilly place. So my landlord commanded us to hurrily pack our belongings and valuables. We entered the house with anxiety and fear of following earthquakes. The first thing I did was of course getting dressed, then another earthquake hit when I just finished clothing my self, but again and again I had to make a quick decisions about the things I had to bring for my survival, what are the things I couldnt live without that I had to pack in my pink backpack. I didn’t think much, I just grabbed anything I saw and ran downstairs.

In the car, my flatmates and I were still shocked by our experience. Since now I had more laxness to think and breathe normally, I wanted to check what I had packed inside my backpack, because it felt heavy. And what I found inside made my eyes out!! I just put my school textbooks into my survival kit! WTH was I thinking?? Ironically the textbooks I brought were Math and History. Seriously, of all subjects that Indonesian kids are forced to learn, why did I choose to save my Math book, a subject that I am most allergic to!! History book was still okay, just in case I couldn’t sleep if we had to stay in evacuation place, the book would be useful for my bedtime story. But Math??? It’s the first thing that I said “I hate you” to in my life, I felt haunted by it, like it forced to stay in my life. To make it worse, that goddamn math textbook was fricking thick like 300 pages, meanwhile my history book was only 200 something. For real?? As I can remember math books were just filled with numbers, spaces, brackets, and Xs and Ys, how could it be thicker than my history book?? Whose idea was this?? I needed to kill him/ her.

I looked at my friend’s next to me, I realised that the t-shirt she chose to wear on that scary day had this writing : “Oh, what a wonderful experience!” along with drawings of sunflower, rainbow and butterfly. Really?? Of all her clothes she chose that reality-contradictory tee?? I wondered if what she had in her bag was worse than my choice or not.

From that first experience, I learned that I had to always prepare my survival backpack so that I could easily directly grabbed if earthquake happened again. I promised my self to directly prepare my survival and pack my valuables as soon as we got back.

It’s almost midnight that we reached back home and chose to sleep in our boarding house as the condition was getting calmer. With a strong determination, I walked to my room, ready to pack my valuables. Then I just realised, I was a high school student and hadn’t started earning money, the question was not even “What valuable things in my life that I have to CHOOSE to save?” but “Do I even have anything worth-saving??” What I treated like gold and diamond at that time was my Naruto DVDs collection, that wouldn’t help me if Armageddon came to me. I didn’t have laptop or netbook, just a very old computer inherited from my brother that I would have been so thankful if anything destroyed it. It’s a kind of mixed feelings knowing that everything I had in my life was worthless, but at the same time relieved that I didn’t need to worry about anything but my own life.

I knocked on my flatmate’s door, she was also packing. I saw a teddy bear doll in her survival bag, I asked why she needed a doll for an emergency situation, she said it was from her boyfriend, she’s taking all the gifts from her BF inside her bag, maybe she thought that would be a romantic way to die. That’s a proof that love makes us stupid sometimes. I looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t need to save any stupid dolls because I didn’t have any BF to give me any silly furry things, I hadn’t even dated at that age as I was a late blossom. My nothingness was complete. I felt free.

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A Letter to Little Me—30-Day-Writing Challenge#2

Hi Little Cita,

I miss being you. So young and free, living without burdens. No worries about the future. I miss wanting to grow bigger and older like you do, now, every birthday and new year makes me sweat.

I really like you, your cool nature, boyish style, bravery, straightforwardness, and you are very practical. I envy you because you could be happy by just blowing bubbles or playing hide-and-seek with your friends. I also admire the fact that you’re a late bloomer.

When I miss being you, I read your diaries until your teenage years. They never get old.

I remember when you always tried to find where the rainbow ends, then you lost track of the way home. At that time, GPS was not invented yet. Your mom was very mad. But the next days, you repeated the same thing. Because you wanted to shower with the rainbow lights and slide on the curve like what you saw in cartoon movies.

I remember you entertained bus passengers on the way from Lampung to Padang by mimicking all TV commercials that you easily memorized at 4 years old.

I remember you always make recaps of TV series episodes that were booming at that time and shared it the next morning to your classmates. Nobody asked you to do that, you just loved doing that.

Then you skipped school to go to library or cyber cafes. At that time, people in your country didn’t even know what internet was. You skipped classes selectively because you didn’t like the subjects and you thought internet gives you more knowledge than a 1,5 hours boring lesson.

I remember that since elementary school until college, you always fell asleep during muhasabah (renungan suci) while your friends and every one in the room were crying out loud.

And you wore men’s hair wax on your hair!

You PAID your brother to do your math chores but then afraid if you would get the highest score, so you erased some of the answers.

You even prayed wearing man’s cap instead of woman’s mukena.

When you’re 4, people know you as the girl who asks shocking questions. But two years after that and onwards, they tell you to stop.

There will be times when you believe all the negativity people throw at you on your intelligence, look, achievement, ways of life, points of views. Comparing you with your brother and other girls. You will meet a lot of people that kill your dreams and what you believe, even since the age of 6 years old.

They say you’re not as smart as your brother and not as gentle as how girls should be. They say your tongue is too sharp for a girl. They say you’re not beautiful and they call you a rebel. They tell you how to feel, behave and what to dream. For dozens of years, this will haunt you until finally you get tired of being scared and dictated.

I wish I were there when they made you feel low and insecure. I wish I had told you earlier so that you didn’t need to undertake this insecurity and hold grudges for so long.

Don’t worry that much about math, you’ll get high scores on it from elementary school to high school. By cheating of course. I remember how you hate math so much that you plan to destroy math from the world. At my age, you’ll forgive math because there are so many other things to destroy; ignorance, injustice, stupid stereotypes, and pop culture rubbish.

Don’t complain about the color of your skin, you’ll be proud of it.

Don’t hate your body, you will look good even in yoga pants.

Don’t worry about losing friends, selection is important. In your teenage, when you enter a room of people, you look around and wonder if they like you. At my age, I look around and wonder if I like them.

It’s ok if you cant and don’t want to fit in. The only person you should not lie to is your self.

You will be sad witnessing people come and go in your life, even those who were so close to you. But that’s the only way you learn about life.

You will be betrayed so many times, but that doesn’t make you innocent. You will betray people too. That’s how you learn that everyone deserves a second chance.

Looking at you know, I realized no matter how much I missed being you, I would never be able to do that again. What I can is to learn from you. To have that passion and chill back. There were years I forgot how to do that. I didn’t feel happy.

But I will make us proud. Promise.

Cheers,

The Adult You

Diary Masa (terlalu) Muda

IMG_9969Dari pertama kali bisa menulis, gw udah mulai menulis diary (yang akhirnya keterusan sampe ke jaman internet ini). Foto di atas adalah foto diary pertama gw yang gw tulis dari umur 6 – 10 tahun. Buku diary gambar Little Bob Dog ini lagi nge-hits banget saat itu. Terus di kelas 4 SD, semua anak SD yang gw kenal terjangkit virus biodata, yaitu tuker-tukeran biodata lengkap dengan data makanan favorit dan pantun-pantunan. Entah lah ya anak SD jaman sekarang ngerasaain ini apa enggak, mungkin mereka gak tau apa itu diary, taunya Snapchat dan Live IG.

Waktu umur 10 tahun, gw memergoki nyokap gw yang lagi baca buku diary gw tanpa izin. Dari kecil kayaknya gw udah menjunjung tinggi konsep privasi jadi saat itu gw marah besar dan berjanji gak mau nulis diary lagi setelah insiden pelanggaran privacy oleh ibu kandung tsb. Ternyata gw gak tahan kalo gak nulis, jadi gw ganti strategi menulis. I didn’t want to keep it, jadi setelah habis nulis, kertasnya gw sobek-sobek, sampe-sampe gw kena marah juga karena kerjaannya buang-buang kertas. Ternyata nyokap gw lebih menghargai kertas daripada privasi dan kepercayaan anaknya. Sedih.

Tahun lalu gw gak sengaja nemuin diary pertama gw ini. Dulu, rasanya diary gw ini adalah top secret dan harus dijaga karena isinya penting banget. Setelah gw baca 20 tahun kemudian, gw merasakan gedubrag moment karena waktu SD dulu mungkin gw delutional. Siapa juga yang mau maling diary anak SD begini sih yang isinya cuma agenda maen ke rumah si Ewin tetangga sebelah rumah.

Anyway, diary gw ini memberikan gw fakta-fakta tentang masa kecil gw yang baru gw sadari sekarang. Ini beberapa di antaranya:

Bahkan dari umur 6 tahun pun gw udah tau kalo buku yang baik itu harus punya intro.

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Ternyata gw pernah jadi anak penurut, demi Mama, gw rela cuci otak. Kandas cita-cita gw show bareng Agnes Monica Tralalal Trilili.

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Dari umur 6 tahun ternyata gw adalah seorang cerpenis alias penulis cerita pendek. Bukan hanya pendek, tapi super pendek! Mungkin saat itu gw terinspirasi oleh karya 6 katanya Hemingway!

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Bukan hanya cerpen, tapi juga puisi dengan berbagai macam tema, dari tema kesepian sampe nasionalis. Kalo aja bakat puisi kesepian ini diasah, mungkin gw udah jadi kayak Adele.

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Kadang tulisan gw juga kayak orang yang mengidap masalah kejiwaan karena semua benda mati gw anggap hidup dan seolah-olah mereka temen ngobrol gw yang bernyawa, gw suka ngomong sama robot-robotan, mobil-mobilan, lego, sampe diary.

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Kalo aja dulu udah ada vlog, begini lah kira-kira konten daily vlog gw:

Juga ada perseteruan sengit antara gw dan kakak gw. Nasib seorang adik yang ‘disiksa’ kakaknya yang tidak tahu terimakasih.

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Ketika sedang bahagia, gw anaknya tidak suka pamer karena kata ibu guru PPKn, pamer itu sifat yang tidak baik. Sebagai anak yang selalu dapet rangking baik (hanya sekali terjun bebas karena kecelakaan mobil), gw tidak boleh memiliki sifat yang tidak baik. Rakus boleh, pamer jangan.

Terakhir, entah kenapa ini favorit gw. IMG_9993