Sunday, June 26, 2011

Confessions of a 22-Year-Old

On June, 18th I woke up feeling great. It was my birthday. It was just the normal childish feeling that engulfs you when you know you’ve passed another year, you are older, and in a few moments everyone is going to say their best wishes for you. You feel special.

On June, 19th, I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about how on earth I could feel so great when I was turning older and my time was running out. My life just flashed in front of me: my failed ambitions, my square job, my deficit income. And I just cried my heart out, thinking about my choices and the time wasted, wishing that I could go back.

The truth is I almost hate my current occupation. I am still a trainee at the local government’s tax office. No much of anybody yet. My academic status is only from a diploma program (no offence guys). The monthly compensation I get from the government is just enough to cover my housing rent, but for food and expenses… well I’m still burdening my parents and family.

I stared into the future and saw the cramped possibilities. I could go to college again, two years later. An older me – that’s unappealing. But what about marriage? What about my family? Yes, I do have girlish fantasies. I always wanted to settle down at home and be a good wife. Unfortunately, the two ambitions were mutually exclusive for the projected period of time.

I always wanted to study my heart out in something I love and am passionate about, like literature and philosophy. I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to write and teach. Or go to law school and be a great judge. In the process, I wanted to keep inspiring people. But that night, I thought, “I am running out of time. And youth is escaping me”.

Back then, my school days were promising. I worked pretty hard. I got good grades. My teachers gave me support and plenty of assuring compliments. A kid like me thought innocently that they were the promises of a bright and exciting future.

Then my thoughts got back to the details of work. The mound of files. The untidy desks. The cramped workspace. And worst of all, the current institution forced upon me that was last on my choice list: the Tax Ministry. Dear God, I’m still not sure if tax is even legal in my religion. Worst of all is the unreliable system that is prone to so many atrocities. I don’t want to get stuck there. It’s already hard now. What would it be like in the future?

I was slightly ashamed of myself for the uncharacteristic complaining and pathetic crying. But I thought what the heck, yesterday was my birthday and I needed this time for myself. So there I was, sobbing to my best friend about my disappointment in my life and wanting to give up. I let myself be swallowed with the emotions. He tried to talk me out of the self-indulgence and gave me advices: “just live with it for a while”. “You can catch up later”. “Think of it as phase or stepping stone towards your dreams”. But you know what I ungratefully said? I told him to shut up. Haha… I already knew all those things. I told myself those things every day. Then I told him that at that moment I wanted to whine and be selfish, just for a while… And he let me (God bless him).

I continued thinking about how I desperately wanted to drop everything and start again with my ambitions. I could go to university again. I was sure I could do it. But on the other hand, I thought about how much time and money had been spent on my account and how much my parents had sacrificed. And it wasn’t just my parents; the government had been paying for my education, ensuring my job, and paying my salary from the taxpayer’s money. And I don’t think that anyone could guarantee that they were willing considering the fact that their money could’ve gone to other personal benefits.

I sighed. Why wasn’t the thought enough to console me? It only made me feel guilty. But it succeeded in shutting me up, at least.


A week later, I was sitting on my bed, sighing pathetically at the doctor’s bill from an appointment I just had the night before. I had been absent from work for almost a week because of a complication of illnesses (I prefer not to mention). I hated that I had to visit the doctor again. It was the fifth (sixth? I honestly forgot) time this year. The numbers on the bill were outrageous. But I had no choice since permission for an absence of more than 3 days required a note from the doctor in order to be valid. I also cursed silently to think about the current sanction for these absences: 5% of your monthly salary. Per day.

So folks, in Indonesia, the government punishes you for being sick with the same tariff whether you have a doctor’s note or not. They cut your salary when you might’ve been sick from working for their majesties butts and you have to pay for the doctor’s bills and the expensive unsubsidized meds in order to get well for the sake of working for them. Well okay, it is reasonable to not get paid for the days you don’t work for, but please cut us some slack.

Meanwhile, the rest of my beloved colleagues are talking about remuneration and how it is so grand and how they love the respected SMI for it (a strange reason to love her). And while some of us are trying to cope and be satisfied with the current conditions, they are busy posting in the social network, whining and rambling about how it’s so unfair that GAPOK hasn’t been given to them. That their housing costs 50-65% 0f the monthly compensation and the rest isn’t enough to cope with. And that they are sick of the false rumors of its arrival and so they’re sick of waiting… bla, bla, bla… We haven’t even been allegedly acknowledged as PNS but we’re already asking for a sooner payment for of our work. Go figure.


Suddenly I felt ashamed of my own whining. Hey, I’ve been strong enough to cope. Why give up now?

I remembered all the good things. All the friends I made, STANEC, AKSARA… all the things that I couldn’t have had without this bumpy climb.


On June, 25th a text message appeared in my inbox from my junior:

“Mb..bsok final debate mnicomp nya.. we do really hope u’ll come. pagi kok..thanks a lot.

And that message made me spirited again. I remembered the valuable times adjudicating these spirited debaters, about what an honor it was to be asked for help by them. I remembered the “tumpeng” they made for my birthday last week. I remembered how they always listened attentively and gave me the overwhelming respect I’m not even sure I deserve.

Then there were the other marvelous hang-outs I had with the EXCOMIN, the late nights at McD’s, the heart-to-heart talks… priceless.

I also remembered all the competitions, the ceremonies, and the events I experienced during my time at STAN, between the school tasks and hard work I was obliged to complete to get me here now and I thought… things aren’t so bad at all.

Then I had a revelation of the things I used to see, not so long ago. About some things I had forgotten.

“There is more to life than meets the eye. We won’t always get what we want, but there are treats along the way. Enjoy the process. You might find that your dreams have already come true”.

There’s a saying that sometimes you can see an ant across the road, but you can’t see an elephant right in front of you (that’s not the exact transliteration but it’s something like that). The quoted words above have been written on a piece of colored paper, stuck on the wall by my bedside. I stuck them there months ago. Go figure.


I always wanted to be a teacher. In essence, I just wanted to help others learn. I realize I have done that and am still doing that at least in 30% of my time by giving lessons periodically and coaching for STANEC.

I opted to be a judge. In essence, I just wanted to be the one with the authority to judge. I realize I have done that and am still doing that in at least 15% of my time, every week, by adjudicating for STANEC. It’s totally rewarding (not entirely in the materialistic sense, of course).

I dreamed of inspiring people. I hope I have done that. And I still wish to do that, through the power of words that I am so fond of, in both speech and writing.

I just forgot how to be thankful. Lack of gratitude blinds you. Now that I remember, I can see that.

Everything is great again.

Everything is going to be okay.


“For you don’t have to be a musician to play music. You don’t have to be a teacher to help others to learn. Cherish the time you have, use it well, and achieve as much as you can.”

26th June 2010

4:06 am

My room.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Quote of The Day (2)

“My religion is not a clothing that I can wear until I'm bored, mix and match it with other clothes, and throw it away when I'm done with it. It doesn't suddenly change style to adapt to the era, nor does it wear away and die. I can't wear it to just any party. So I'll proudly wear it for the "party" You created it for.”


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

prosa: balada proletariat

sejenak kau pandangi langit yang membentang luas diatasmu. langit itu tak lagi biru. seketika kau ingin merasakan kedamaian itu sebentar saja. namun ada yang keliru dengan berita yang sampai padamu. entah keliru atau mereka sekedar merayumu, membuatmu percaya bahwa semuanya baik-baik saja.

kau lihat awan yang berwarna kelabu. bukan putih, seperti yang kau idam-idamkan, seperti yang mereka katakan. karena itu memang hanya bualan mereka tentang keadaan yang ada. atau setidaknya mereka memutarbalikkan fakta tentang apa yang seharusnya dan tidak seharusnya. agar kau merasa senang dan percaya bahwa semuanya baik-baik saja.

lalu hawa panas itu menyelimutimu. tidak seperti hangatnya pelukan dari keluarga yang berkumpul di antah berantah, sesuatu yang nyaris kau lupakan. sudah terlalu lama kau tak kembali. karena mereka menjamin bahwa apa yang dibutuhkan sudah ada buatmu dan keluargamu. maka dengan santainya kau pergi ke negeri orang, mencari sesuap nasi dan segenggam berlian untuk kau bawa pulang.

tapi kau pulang untuk menemukan bahwa tidak ada yang menyambutmu. langit tak lagi biru. nafasmu sesak dengan aroma-aroma yang tidak sedap. entah itu bau amis dari maksiat mereka yang mengaku wakil rakyat. atau bau keringat proletariat yang sudah sekian lama membanting tulang di pinggir jalan, atau kolong-kolong jembatan karena menara-menara tinggi itu tak mungkin diperuntukkan bagi mereka. belum lagi darah yang sudah tumpah. dan juga tangis yang sudah lama mengering.

kau tak mengerti lagi apa yang mereka sebut sebagai “keadilan sosial” atau “permusyawaratan perwakilan”. yang jelas bukan lagi seperti yang mereka ajarkan kepadamu saat kau masih menjadi anak ingusan yang sering tertidur di bangku paling belakang. saat pak guru menjelaskan tentang pancasila, kedaulatan negara, dan kesejahteraan rakyat. bahkan sekarang kau temukan bahwa pancasila sudah berubah. tak lagi diilhami bhinekka tunggal ika. mungkin tak lagi “panca”. dan tak lagi mengenal tuhan.

kau sadari bahwa sesuap nasi dan segenggam berlian yang kau bawa pulang tak cukup untuk impian sederhanamu untuk hidup bersama sanak saudara. karena makan 3 kali sehari pun menjadi barang mewah. kau harus menurunkan standar kemewahan yang semula berupa motor, mobil, dan rumah karena inflasi-deflasi yang tak karuan. padahal mereka bilang ekonomi sudah stabil. standar hidup sudah naik. dan kau tak perlu khawatir. karena langit itu akan semakin biru.


lama kau pandangi langit itu. menahan sesak di dadamu dan panas yang membakar kulitmu. disana langit itu berujung, menyentuh bumi yang sudah tak lagi hijau. namun sampai kini kau masih menaruh harapan pada janji-janji mereka. bahwa suatu saat nanti, langit akan kembali biru. awan akan kembali putih. dan kau dapat menghirup udara sejuk kedamaian.
kau akan menunggu detik-detik kemenangan itu. walau kemenangan itu hanya sesaat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writer’s Block

I have introduced myself as a person who loves writing. I love literature. I love the whole cacophony of words in the universal art of communication.
But lately (as in months), I haven’t been able to produce an original piece of writing that I can actually acknowledge as satisfactory. I am out of ideas, also initiative, to create a piece that I can be proud of. It’s really very annoying.
So can I call it “writers block”? The reason why this question arises is that I find it too early for myself to be considered a writer. I mean, have I made any novels? Have I had my writings published in any newspapers or magazines? Have I ever won any writing competitions? It’s quite an embarrassment.
It’s not like I haven’t made any plans. I have a concept for a novel. I have an outline for a documentary. I have a plot for a short story. And poems just keep writing themselves in my mind. What is lacking is the consistency and perseverance to execute those plans.
I am sure that what I’m experiencing isn’t an uncommon "syndrome”. I just don’t know what to call it. So here I am, just for the sake of writing, writing something because I cringe at the thought of the neglect that my poor blog has suffered.
I hope I cross over this limbo very soon, because the it has made my mind scrawny. Ignorance and neglect is consuming, whereas words are food.
I have been through a lull and it’s time to be refreshed and rejuvenated!
Keep spirited!