The Girl’s Journey

A girl wandered in a forest when the sun had set. She was lost. She knew she had been with her friends, but they all took their own paths and head to different directions. She did not know how she ended up there. In fact, she did not even remember her name and where she came from. She only remembered a name: Happiness. It belonged to her friend. Thus, the girl set out to find her way back to her friend.

The forest was dark and full of tall trees. They blocked her view and her path. The girl observed the trees and hoped to find a thing or two which she could use as a marker. She could not tell the North from the South or the East from the West. She could not read the stars. She was not supposed to be there. But she was brave, so she still gave it a try although she had nothing to help her survive. She took the first step forward.

Dry leaves carpeted the ground, and the sound she made when stepping on them made her shudder. She kept walking. It was not very long before she encountered someone. She saw him at first, talking to himself. He sounded satisfied. He pointed at the trees circling him. His hands moved in a way that indicated he was measuring something. Then, he nodded several times. She greeted him and introduced herself. He replied and said his name was Acceptance.

The girl did not remember him, but she suspected he was one of her friends. Otherwise, why would anyone be in a forest alone? She asked him if he knew Happiness. “Sure I do,” he answered boastfully. “I am very close with her.” The girl was glad to hear that. She asked him how to find her. She explained that she was very close with her, too. Upon hearing this, Acceptance gave her an appraising look. “Then you must know that to find her is to be accepted by everyone,” he snorted. She asked him how she would know if she was accepted. “It is easy. When no one can find a thing to criticize from you, you are accepted,” he stated rather brusquely, “and you have to fit in.”

He gestured to the trees. “You see these trees?” The girl nodded. “They are strikingly similar to each other. That is how you know they belong to this forest. Different trees have no place here; which is actually a good thing because if they were here, they would ruin the harmony of this forest.” He took a short pause before appraising her again. “You are not similar to me. If you must find Happiness, go along this way and find someone else. Maybe you will have better luck,” he said dismissively.

The girl continued her journey. As she pondered upon everything Acceptance had said, she noticed that, indeed, the forest looked beautifully lined up with similar trees as far as her eyes could see. She had never really thought about the beauty of fitting in, but now that she did, her heart was expectant to see people with whom she was similar. Therefore, when she bumped into the next person, she felt a bit discouraged.

There was nothing similar between her and the restless man. He moved from one tree to the next in an extraordinary speed and eagerness. She called out to him and introduced herself. He ignored her at first, as he was so absorbed in going back and forth and taking notes, but finally acknowledged the girl’s presence. She apologized and introduced herself before asking if he knew Acceptance and Happiness. “Of course, I am Curiousness. I wanted to know everyone, so now I know everyone,” he answered pompously. She told him what Acceptance had told her, and asked him if he knew anyone similar with her. “That bloke is nonsensical. If you want to find Happiness, you have to indulge yourself in, and devote yourself to, knowledge. You have to have the thirst for it,” he said with the utmost certainty, “and everyone who had found Happiness had it.” She asked him what it meant.

“Say, when you arrived, did you see what I did with the trees? Of course, you did,” he did not wait for the girl to answer. “I devote myself to the knowledge of the trees. I know what every layer of a tree trunk means, what color is the tree trunk, and what color is the leaves. I know that the trees have roots and branches. And I take notes so I will not forget.” The girl, being so simple-minded, failed to understand, so she asked Curiousness what to do with the knowledge he had gathered. However, Curiousness decided that he was done with her. He waved his hand to a footpath behind the trees. “Pursue Education. She knows what to do with it. You’d better hurry; she left hours ago.”

And so the girl ran down the path. She did not know what Education looked like, but she had to run to catch up. Otherwise, she would fall too far behind. It was in the midst of running that she stumbled across someone who was collecting fruits. The girl asked her if Education had passed this way. “Education?” The fruit-collector was startled. “You will never stop running if you pursue her.” The girl explained what Curiousness had told her. She mentioned Happiness and Acceptance, too. “Well, she passed my route,” the fruit-collector explained, “and she taught me about fruits.” As she said this, she showed the girl some of the deliciously red and round fruits. The girl almost took one of them when they were pulled outside her reach. The fruit-collector snarled, “You have to pay if you want one. Nothing is free. I was the one who collected them, so you have to pay for my efforts.” The girl argued that it meant Education had a right to a part of the payment, too, considering she was the one who taught her about fruits. “Well, Education taught me indeed, but then she left. I was the one who came up with the idea to collect them!” she answered so defensively that the girl did not have the courage to argue further. “She passed my route and paid with knowledge. Besides, what is the use of Education if you get no profit from it?”

The girl, upon seeing that the fruit-collector was most likely not interested in her journey and Happiness, decided to leave. But before she left, she asked for her name. “My name is Stability,” she answered simply, before adding, “remember: what is important is not to pursue Education. It is to get money. Money guarantees your life. People like you if you work because you are not a burden for them. I am not a burden to you, but you could be a burden to me if you take my fruits without paying.”

The girl took off again, this time with knitted eyebrows. She was rather shocked to find the conflicting reasons. Her head started to hurt. If there was a positive upside from her encounter with Stability, it was that she now recognized the red blinking lights behind the thick leaves, mirroring the flickering of the stars. She had not realized there were so many fruits on the trees. Thank goodness; just in time, her stomach began growling with hunger! She could not reach even the lowest fruit hanging from the branch, so she climbed one of the trees. The girl was out of breath by the time she picked a fruit at last and silently understood why Stability had insisted for her to pay.

Long after she had done eating, the girl rested on the wide branch. Her mind drifted away, so it surprised her to hear a song sung so close, so suddenly. She looked down and found a pair of eyes staring directly at her. “Hello, what are you musing about? My name is Love.” The girl introduced herself. She explained her purpose and all the advice given to her. “You silly girl, you take the long way if you listen to them,” Love laughed. She was so carefree and bright that the girl was bedazzled. She wished she could be more like her. “Listen to me,” Love said. “You just need to find love. Love leads to Happiness, directly, via the freeway!” And as she spoke, her hand gestured to a smooth road the girl had yet to see in the midst of the forest.

That road was starkly different from the closed and tight ones she had taken. This one was not surrounded by tall trees; instead, bushes of flowers stood proudly. There were no dry leaves on the road. The girl could see the stars and the moon very clearly and she felt calmer. The road was so pretty and seemingly harmless that she was certain Love spoke the truth.

She ran and ran and ran and believed she would find Happiness at the end of the road, but when she arrived, she found that it was deserted, except for an uptight looking man. She thought he might know if Happiness was there. She told him what Love had told her, and the man scowled. “Do not trust Love blindly. There is no such thing as a freeway to Happiness,” he said, so she told him about Acceptance, Curiousness, Education, and Stability. He took his time before answering: “I am Security and I am not sure about the correct path to Happiness, but just to be safe… why don’t you just do all that you have been advised to do?” She asked him to elaborate.
“Be a little similar to everyone in order to be accepted. Have a little thirst for knowledge just in case. Pursue Education up to a certain degree, only to satisfy your curiosity. Stop if you want a little stability. Work. Love a little!” he exclaimed. The girl opened her mouth to ask more, but Security cut her off. “Now, off you go. I do not have the time to help others. I have to ensure my own safety and do everything they also tell me to do!”

The girl scuttered away in a rush. If Security did not have the time, what made her think she had? How long had Security been there? How late was she? By the time the deserted road ended, she was so tired and the night was so dark that she was frightened of everything. She arrived in an empty meadow and began to regret having started her journey at all. The advice only made her more and more confused. She doubted her purpose as she felt more and more distant from the memory of Happiness, so she cried.

The girl cried for what seemed like ages, but probably only a few hours, and wailed. She was lonely and exhausted and troubled, and the night was not helping. The moon and the stars were too far away to cheer her up. That was why she was taken aback when, between her tears, she saw someone approaching. She wiped her eyes. Before her stood a woman, older than any of the people she had met although not by far, offering her hand. The girl took it and stood.

“Why are you crying?” the woman asked. The girl told her everything: Happiness, Acceptance, Curiousness, Education, Stability, Love, Security. And that she was lost. She felt even more lost than before.

“Do not give me advice,” the girl begged, “for it will only leave me perplexed.”

The woman chuckled. “I will not because I cannot.”

“What do you mean?” The girl asked, puzzled.

“The path to Happiness differs for everyone. It is not a simple set of steps,” the woman explained. “Being accepted is what you should seek if you do not like being criticized, or maybe you would prefer to pursue education instead if you devote yourself to knowledge. Working may be great for you if you do not like being short of money and profit, but love is what you should be after if you like the bright presence of a company. Security leads you to a sense of safety, which sometimes comes along with Happiness. However, more often than not, your friend Happiness is far from him.”

“Was he lying, then?” The girl felt like a fool.

“No, of course not. He just could not recognize the face of Happiness because he was no more certain than you were. He kept going even without certainty—and it is not wrong, mind you—but I do not think you are looking for a life like his. Security has nothing to complain, and he is completely satisfied with his choices, but his way of life is not for you.”

“How do you know?” The girl inquired.

“I see it in your eyes… because Happiness has marked you. What you seek is an intense and fierce Happiness. A Happiness found in the essence of being.”

The woman smiled when she saw the girl gave her a blank look.

“Close your eyes, Little Girl, and I will guide you to Happiness.” She held the girl’s hands. When their skin touched, the girl felt waves and waves of emotion surged towards her. Memories flooded her mind; of her first breath, of her first exposure to the air, of her first cry to the world. Of her first walk, of her first word, of her first song. On and on and on it went, before finally the memory of her first introduction to Happiness arrived. Something clicked inside her, and the girl opened her eyes.

There she was, her friend Happiness… so beautiful and brilliant that it almost blinded her. Morning had come, and the knots in her heart had been untied.

The girl’s eyes met the woman’s and she whispered, “Thank you.”

“Never mind,” the woman answered. “You are bound to meet me, after all.”

“Who are you?” the girl asked.

The woman smiled again. “My name is Wisdom, and you would have never met me had you not gone on the journey you took. Happiness had been inside you all along. You just need to be reminded.”

fin

***

Cerita ini dimuat di blog saya yang lama pada tanggal 4 Juli 2016. Setelah bertahun-tahun tidak menyelesaikan cerita, akhirnya saya berhasil merampungkan kisah ini dengan tidak disangka-sangka. Begitu istimewanya cerita ini bagi saya sehingga saya putuskan untuk mengirimkannya ke salah satu dosen yang paling saya hormati. Beliau mendapati cerita ini mirip dengan The Goodman Brown (Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1835); mungkin tanpa disadari, tulisan Hawthorne itu sangat berkesan bagi saya meski waktu sudah lama berlalu sejak saya membacanya.

November 21, 2015

Today, I had you for myself

Had not intended to, but I drank happiness of you

As always, was it the circumstances,

or was it the times of previous absence,

to which I owe the bliss?

You were on stage

Your voice blaring, children laughing

You put on display

A wide grin sometimes for your own stupid jokes

A wide smile sometimes for your love of kids

You looked great, by the way

Your short hair looked good on you

I had thought you’d never ask

But you did, for me to come to your side

For a friendly company

But, boy, for me it has never been

a simply friendly thing

So for this brief Saturday afternoon

To this golden-hearted boy

I once again had a fling

And the magic wore off

when afternoon turned to night

and you were back to be someone else’s

on a Saturday night.

***

Tidak ada judul untuk puisi ini, yang dibuat setelah saya bertemu dengan dia (lagi-lagi di sebuah acara). Saat itu, sudah hampir setahun (atau lebih?) kami tidak bertemu, dan kehidupan cukup menyenangkan bagi saya. Karena itu, saya tidak menyangka bahwa akan ada lagi tulisan tentang dia. Tidak ada habisnya. Kalau begini terus, lama-lama saya harus bayar royalti padanya.

Merindu Buku Tertutup

Hai. Selamat pagi. Kamu terlihat bagus dengan baju itu. Ini sebungkus rokok yang kamu pesan. Tidak, rambutmu terlihat baik-baik saja. Jangan khawatir. Tidak ada yang aneh dengan rambutmu. Tidak, kamu tidak boleh merokok, tapi karena ini mobilmu, jadi semua terserah padamu. Aku cemas perjalanan ini akan banyak diisi dengan diam. Aku benar-benar tidak tahu akan membicarakan apa denganmu.

Ternyata kekhawatiranku tidak beralasan. Aku lupa kamu adalah orang yang punya segudang hal untuk dibicarakan. Kamu, orang yang dilahirkan untuk berada di atas panggung; bahkan jika panggung itu hanya memiliki satu penonton. Aku. Kamu pikir kita cocok menjadi penyiar radio? Kadang aku bertanya-tanya apa kamu menyadari tatapan orang terhadap kita. Apa kamu memikirkan hal yang sama denganku. Apa kamu juga sadar teman-temanku akan diam-diam mensyukuri kita semobil, akan menyadari aku senang berdua denganmu. Apa yang ada dalam pikiranmu?

Kamu lapar? Kita harus mencari tempat sarapan dulu. Silakan saja berhenti di Rest Area itu. Aku tidak lapar, tapi aku haus. Baiklah, aku akan menunggu di toko kelontong. Sudah? Sudah siap mencari makan? Kamu mau roti Starbucks? Tidak? Bagaimana dengan roti di toko kelontong? Kamu tidak mau roti? Mungkin mau beli gorengan? Oh, kamu mau mie ayam. Silakan saja beli. Aku tidak lapar. Minuman ini untukku? Lihat betapa berubahnya kamu sejak empat atau lima tahun lalu kita saling mengenal. Apa kamu sadar betapa manisnya yang kamu lakukan ini?

Mari kita berangkat lagi. Aku tidak tahu kenapa aku membicarakan dia. Tadinya ini pembicaraan yang menyenangkan, tapi kamu membuatnya menjadi seperti sidang bagiku. Kamu benar, aku memang menjadikan dia tolak ukur. Kamu benar, aku merasa rendah diri darinya. Kamu benar, meski berat bagiku untuk mengakui itu. Apalagi terhadapmu. Haruskah kamu mengatakan itu? Haruskah kamu memaparkan aku pada perasaan-perasaan buruk yang ingin aku kubur? Aku tahu ini caramu untuk membangkitkan semangatku. Tapi itu pukulan yang keras bagiku karena kamu tidak tahu bagaimana perasaan itu bermula.

Oh, hai. Halo. Senang rasanya bertemu orang lain, tapi jangan berjalan lebih dulu. Aku ingin tetap bersamamu. Tapi aku juga tidak mau terlihat terlalu lengket denganmu. Kurasa itu sebabnya aku terus mendebatmu.

Aku mau pulang. Sungguh, tidak harus denganmu, tapi barang-barangku ada di mobilmu. Kalau kamu masih mau bersama yang lain, aku sungguh tidak apa-apa. Lihat? Seseorang bahkan menawariku pulang bersamanya. Aku tidak apa-apa. Baiklah, kamu juga mau pulang. Aku perlu pulang sekarang. Aku harus pergi lagi. Kamu kapan mau pulang? Apa lebih baik aku pulang sendiri? Tidak? Baiklah, kalau begitu, ayo pulang sekarang. Aku mendapati debat denganmu ini lucu. Tapi aku sungguh harus pulang. Baik, ayo pulang sekarang.

Untuk apa, tanyamu? Aku membawa tas besar ini karena kukira tidak mungkin kamu mau langsung pulang. Aku sudah siap pulang naik kereta. Tapi terima kasih sudah mengantarku pulang. Kurasa kamu memang berbeda. Perasaanku terhadapmu memang berbeda daripada yang kurasakan untuk mereka. Tapi… bagaimana? Kamu adalah buku yang sudah kututup bertahun-tahun lalu. Aku rindu. Sangat rindu. Aku merindukan semuanya darimu. Tapi membuka kembali buku yang sudah tertutup mengundang sakit. Apa kamu sepadan dengan sakitnya?

 

***

Ini saya sedang delusional pada tanggal 24 Juli 2016. Ini saya yang tidak tahu beberapa bulan kemudian akan bertemu lagi dengannya untuk sesuatu yang lebih permanen dan profesional. Ini saya yang terpeleset sedikit ke masa lalu yang terlalu “romantis” untuk saya abaikan. Apa yang bisa saya lakukan? Manusia terkadang sulit melepaskan harapan. Hal tersebut dikonfirmasi oleh Mariah Carey dan Whitney Houston dalam lagu “When You Believe”: Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Tidak apa, sekarang harapan itu sedang mati perlahan.

A Very Subjective Review #2: “Kwon Ji Yong”

Image result for g dragon kwon ji yong album
Image Courtesy: Allkpop.com

The #KingIsBack in the K-pop industry: G-Dragon has just dropped another album!

On June 8, 2017, Kwon Jiyong, famously known as G-Dragon, brought his game changer to the international music charts: his latest mini album titled Kwon Ji Yong. He first released the MV for the title track, Untitled, 2014, and it immediately topped music charts in 41 countries. Soon enough,  Kwon Ji Yong swept the international iTunes Album Chart.

What makes it so special, though?

G-Dragon was known for his legendary rap songs, avant-garde fashion sense, remarkable charisma both on and off stage, and supposedly secretive love affairs. He has become this untouchable, experimental figure in the K-pop industry; one of the front liners of the Hallyu wave. Although mostly identified with explosive songs like Crooked and Crayon, he was also not a stranger to slower rap songs like That XX and Missing You. However, his latest title track exceeds even his past image and our expectation.

The first time I listened to Untitled, 2014, I did not understand the lyrics. I could only watch G-Dragon swaying left and right, to and fro, with a see-through lacy shirt and damp hair, singing what turned out to be a slow song I would not have expected him to create. There were a rawness and honesty in his voice and expression that were not visible in his previous songs, and they tell the story of Kwon Jiyong in a way G-Dragon never did.

For me, it was different almost in every way to his previous works, and I believe Kwon Ji Yong owes most of its success to Untitled, 2014. There is a sense of being real in this song that sets it apart from his other songs, even the ones on his latest album. Somehow, I do not think that Kwon Ji Yong would be this sensational had the title track were still BullshitIt was the element of surprise in the difference Untitled, 2014 showcases that attracted thousands of people – fans and new fans alike.

The other songs on the album, including Bullshit, are more like the G-Dragon we know. Ever since the period of Big Bang’s Fxxk It (which means ~recently~), he has adopted a slower rap style for his songs, unlike in the Crayon and Michi Go era. It is also the style he adopts in this album. Some of the songs I fell in love with because they induced feelings in me, like (of course) Untitled, 2014 and Divina Commedia. Some of the songs I like because they are so catchy and easy-listening, like Middle Fingers Up and Bullshit. I still cannot figure out Super Star, but it was quite enjoyable.

To conclude, Kwon Jiyong/G-Dragon is a gift that keeps on giving. Once, I watched a show where a K-pop star said that they would change their comeback date if it overlapped with G-Dragon’s (or Big Bang’s) comeback date. I still do not think that the statement was an exaggeration. After 10 years since his debut, G-Dragon still slays in the game.

hehe.gif

 

Again?

Seriously, what is it with you? In an alternate universe, we could probably be the greatest team that the world has ever seen (yeah, I know, I make a reference to One Direction’s song). I mean, look at us. Even people who didn’t know us well at least knew how close we were. How we bickered and then made up. How you teased me and then kept coming around. Our friends knew the story of me and you and our biggest fight. How I was mad as hell and you were too, but you stayed beside me and fought me, for goodness sake, and I cried but you stayed. You were there the whole time. We got closer every time we fought and made up, and I thought I would be the only one who think so, but then you acknowledged it. How great was that?

We were a team, though probably not the greatest. Yet, came the doomed, unfortunate day when my feelings were stronger than my reason, and I put a closure on it. After that, we were never the same. We were friends, still, but we stopped being a team. You found yourself a girlfriend, I found myself a company. It was us writing our new stories. You may ask me why, or you may not, but between us… there was never a possibility. You made it pretty clear.

So, what is it with you? Times have passed, your girlfriend stays while my doomed, unfortunate company left, and we don’t even talk anymore. Why do you come back in a form of, despite being vivid, unreal memory that mercilessly washes over me when I sleep? In this universe, we are done. Perhaps the you in my dream would like to find me and our possibility in our alternate universe? Either way, stop sneaking into my head like this and leave me hanging. By the way, I know that dream, according to Freud, is a kind of sublimation for suppressed id. That might be me and my longing for something I cannot really specify since I don’t even know what it is–that might be it, and it takes its form in you. However, that notion is so unromantic, and I decided that you are not a Freudian effect. I prefer it was you who sneaked into my mind.

But still, STOP. I love you, but it’s not worth it.

 

***

Setelah dua tahun lewat, pada 6 Maret 2016, saya menulis ini dan mencoba melucu. Perasaan saya padanya tidak lagi menggebu-gebu. Rupanya, saya sempat berhenti menulis tentang dia setelah saya ungkapkan perasaan saya padanya, diikuti dengan kabar bahwa dia sekarang punya pacar. Karena sakit hati? Mungkin. Mungkin juga karena saya tidak sanggup menulis apa-apa. Mungkin juga karena tulisan saya tidak lolos sensor untuk dimuat di blog saya sebelumnya. Siapa yang tahu? Saya bahkan tidak ingat. Anggap saja di bulan April 2014 – Februari 2016, ada missing link yang belum ditemukan.

Ranjana/Tikta

Ranjana — seperti itulah kamu terlihat

Tapi kamu itu Tikta

Orang tanya apa yang kulihat darimu

Perlukah kujelaskan?

Tak urung kujawab juga pertanyaan bodoh mereka

Kukatakan hatimu terbuat dari emas

Persahabatan denganmu saja nilainya berat seberat emas

Ranjana si penggoda yang selalu tertawa

Ranjana yang selalu disukai orang

Sedangkan Tikta–

Ah, siapa yang tahu Tikta

Buat apa kenal Tikta jika kau sudah kenal Ranjana

Padahal Ranjana adalah Tikta dan Tikta adalah Ranjana

Padahal Ranjana tidak ada kalau bukan untuk Tikta

Sedang aku–aku melihat Tikta

Nyaman dan aman bergelung di balik Ranjana

Rapi sekali tertutupi hingga mudah terlewatkan

Kutanya, kenapa, Tikta?

Kenapa tidak keluar ke hadapan orang?

Orang merasa, Tikta menjawab

Sudah cukup orang merasa, biar Ranjana jadi wajahku

 

***

Ranjana berarti “bergembira”, sedangkan Tikta berarti “hati yang dalam”. Keduanya berasal dari Bahasa Kawi. Pada tanggal 10 Maret 2014, sepertinya saya sudah mulai mengenal dia. Sebagian dari diri saya mulai merasa bahwa dia bukan pelawak kelas kakap yang selalu diperlihatkan olehnya; bahwa dia adalah aktor yang berdiri di atas panggung bernama kehidupan. Tiga tahun kemudian, saya semakin yakin itulah dirinya yang sebenarnya. Pertanyaannya: apakah saya akan kuat terus-menerus turut tampil tanpa diminta? Saya bukan aktor, pun tidak pandai belajar akting.

Tenchi

We were friends and then we were not. And then we were friends again, but this time I started to like you. And then we were some sort of enemies and some sort of close friends. And then we started over. And now we really are close friends with a lot has gone through. And all the way, I have loved you. More and more.

And you are my heaven and earth.

 

***

Alasan tag semua post yang berkaitan dengan dia adalah “tenchi” merupakan post ini. Saat itu sepertinya saya baru bertengkar hebat dengan dia, kemudian saya malah merasa lebih dekat dengannya. Hal tersebut dia akui juga: bahwa pertengkaran mendekatkan kami. Mengingat pertengkaran kami biasanya sangat hebat dan melibatkan kekeraskepalaan kami yang luar biasa, dibandingkan “heaven and earth”, dia lebih tepat disebut “heaven and hell”