Where is your sweet promises?


Aku suka menterjemah lagu-lagu bahasa asing ke Bahasa Melayu. Seperti satu latihan mengukuhkan tatabahasa, pada masa yang sama mengasah ketajaman kreativiti. Itu satu-satunya aktiviti berbentuk ala karya yang tidak lekang daripada diriku dalam beberapa bulan kebelakangan ini. Menterjemah lagu ini sesuatu yang seronok, boleh dilakukan di mana sahaja, dan menghiburkan pada masa yang sama. Apa barang terjemah secara gramatis? Terjemah secara harafiahlah, baru syok! Hakikatnya, suatu terjemahan yang diadun antara tafsiran konteks dan terjemahan harafiah secara langsung itu yang menyeronokkan. Mungkin sifatku manusia yang penuh pincang yang menarik perhatianku kepada terjemahan yang pincang juga; sifat suka sama suka, pincang ditarik oleh pincang, dan ini mengingatkan aku dari semasa ke semasa bahawa aku manusia. Aku senantiasa punyai ruang untuk bertambah baik, kerana hakikatnya aku sentiasa penuh dengan kekurangan, bukan ideal mahupun kesempurnaan. Ya. Aku punyai kekurangan, dan itu bukanlah suatu kekurangan kepadaku mahupun sesiapa sahaja di luar sana. Wear it like armor, seorang Tyrion Lannister pernah berkata dan urgh, musim terakhir Game of Thrones setakat ini sangat mengecewakan.

Serasanya, terjemahan harafiah yang pertama melekat di benakku, yang menarik diriku ke kancah terjemahan secara rambang ini dituturkan oleh seorang kawan lama ketika berada di gelanggang bola keranjang suatu petang yang suam. Terjemahan harafiahnya itu merujuk kepada kami semua ketika itu yang menunggu sesiapa yang ingin bermain untuk bermula. Dan pada masa itu seorang Hafiq Azwan berkata dalam lenggokan irama Collision Course Numb/Encore karya Linkin Park dan Jay-Z:

“Apa neraka yang kau tunggu?”

Asalnya tak masuk akal, tetapi apabila dibalikterjemah ke bahasa asalnya, perasaan lucu itu merangkul diriku dan beberapa rakan lain. Maka bermulalah sesi bola keranjang kami pada petang itu. Dan bermula juga terjemahan secara tidak gramatis diriku, haha

Namun begitu, kerja terjemahanku pada awalnya berbentuk serius. Lurus mengikut konteks. Seringkali aku bekerjasama dengan seorang lagi kawan lama, Datu Amizan, menterjemah dan mengadaptasi lagu pop Jepun daripada anime yang kami tonton. Beberapa hasil masih tersiar di akaun Soundcloud beliau. Kerja terjemahan yang paling mendapat sambutan, Pejuang, atau nama asalnya Fighter oleh Kana-Boom, serasanya sudah lebih 5000 kali dimainkan kali terakhir aku lihat. Dan Datu berkata dia mendapat mesej pujian dari serata dunia termasuklah Jepun, negara asalnya. Sesetengah terjemahan/adaptasi pula sekadar skrip tanpa cover oleh sesiapa, seperti Usurahi Shinjuu yang sejujurnya, aku tak rasa mahu dan mampu dibawa oleh sesiapa secara cantik. Kerja-kerja terjemahan/adaptasi begini juga menarik dan mengasah kreativiti, tetapi prosesnya tidak rambang. Ia suatu usaha yang dilakukan secara tekun, dan tidak mempunyai kemanisan terjemahan rambang seperti apa yang “apa neraka yang kau tunggu?” berikan kepada diriku. Seringkali aku fikirkan itu sahaja kerja terjemahan yang aku lakukan. Padahal aku selalu membuat terjemahan rambang di tempat kerja. Aku tidak menyedari perbuatanku ini sehinggalah suatu hari, seorang Kak Mas menegurku dan berkata “Bun, begitu ke kau belajar Bahasa Inggeris?”. Dan ketika itu barulah aku tersedar bahawa aku telah menterjemah lagu secara rambang selama ini tanpa sedar!

Asalnya aku sekadar menterjemah apa jua lagu yang bermain di radio pada ketika itu, sambil tangan pantas membuat kerja manakala mata lekat di skrin komputer atau pada carta ubat yang dihantar wad. Ya, kami punyai sebuah radio di bahagian pesakit dalam, dan hampir sentiasa dipasang pada kekuatan minima. Sekadar bunyi latar di tempat kerja, bukannya didengar dengan khusyuk pun. Sesetengah rakan sekerjaku berkata ini sahaja yang membezakan tempat kerja kami dengan bilik mayat, haha. Terjemahanku tidak punyai pendengar mahupun sebab. Ia sekadar suatu perbuatan rambang separa sedar mindaku, biarpun jika minda aktifku sedang sibuk mengira baki ubat yang harus dibekalkan ataupun doktor mana yang harus dihubungi jika terdapat apa-apa kemusykilan dos dan sebagainya. Segalanya berubah apabila beberapa orang rakan sekerjaku menegurku kerana jengkel atau geli mendengar lagu-lagu yang mereka suka dinyanyikan dalam Bahasa Melayu. Dan kejengkelan mereka itulah yang membangkitkan semangat untuk membuat lebih banyak terjemahan, lebih-lebih lagi lagu-lagu yang mereka suka. Ya, aku tahu aku jahat kerana menyeksa mereka dengan adaptasi yang sengaja dibuat secara spontan dan berkemungkinan besar kedengaran janggal. Tetapi saban hari, aku dapati diriku tertarik melakukan terjemahan bukan sahaja dari Bahasa Inggeris ke Bahasa Melayu, bahkan juga sebaliknya. Dan dari situlah datangnya tajuk catatan kali ini.

“Where is your sweet promises, to love me until the end of time?”

Itulah permulaannya. Kini meleret ke lagu-lagu lain seperti:

“My one and only regret is for you, my love.
Please forgive everything and everyone of my sins.
It wasn’t my intention to be harsh to you.
To me you will never be my enemy,
Oh, my love”

dan yang terkini, baru di’tukar’kan pada hari ini ialah:

“You are like crystal clear water
in a dusty-filled container..”

The kraken has been unleashed! Di manakah perjalanan terjemahan ini akan berakhir? Setakat ini, aku tidak tahu. Cuma satu harapanku, agar hobi separuh masa separuh jiwa ini tidak mencalitkan bahasa dengan kekolotan bahasa rojak. Bahasa jiwa bangsa, bak pepatah Melayu. Dan hal ini benar untuk apa jua bahasa. Apabila bercakap tentang bahasa, teringat aku secebis daripada biografi Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father rasanya. Barack Obama bercakap dengan seorang saudara yang telah lama tidak dia temui (makcik, kakak, atau sepupu, kurang pasi), dan saudara itu mengeluh mengenangkan anak/anak buahnya kini sering bertutur dalam bahasa rojak. Bagi saudara itu,idea bahawa bahasa menunjukkan identiti bangsa itu masih kuat. UNtuk bertutur dalam bahasa rojak, pastinya identiti bangsa anak/anak buah itu makin terhakis. Tetapi di hujung keluhan itu, saudar itu berkata: “Mungkin inilah identiti mereka kini. Suatu identiti yang dipupuk globalisasi dan akan menolak ke tepi perbezaan antara manusia, dan di akhirnya, mungkin identiti baru ini akan membawa kepada kemajuan dan pembangunan ketamadunan manusia,” atau sesuatu seiring dengan konotasi tersebut. Jika perkara tersebut berlaku di Afrika, tak kisah sama ada Kenya ataupun Afrika Selatan, dan perkara yang sama berlaku di Malaysia, mungkin kita juga tak patut risau dengan kelucutan identiti lama. Mungkin juga cara pemikiran konservatif bahawa “Bahasa itu adalah jiwa suatu bangsa” itu sudah luput masanya. Mungkin juga dengan identiti baru yang dipupuk oleh cara bercakap yang baru, manusia secara amnya akan melangkah ke arah yang lebih bertamadun dan maju. Dan mungkin juga terjemahan rambang lagu-lagu dari satu bahasa ke satu bahasa yang lain akan menjadi lebih meluas dan diterima ramai sebagai bahan jenaka antarabahasa yang menghiburkan dan mendidik pada masa yang sama. Jika masa depan itu yang akan tiba kepada kita, maka sayanglah aku nak, aku dapat, aku nak, aku dapat tidak akan terasa jelik dan menjengkelkan lagi.


12.34am
16 Mei 2019

Of death and reconciliation


The night is dark and full of terrors, or so said a certain red priestess from a certain tv series. And on a certain night, there’s a me who had a fight over the phone with a stranger. A stalker of sorts, he kept calling the hospital to get in touch with a colleague whilst she’s not even here. An annoyance long persisted, my head blew the moment I had the chance to let it off onto the appropriate person, the one causing us much unease as we almost doze off after supplying meds to the wards past every midnight. Distraught (or even offended) by my high voice, the guy started swearing, while my own hands shook with anger as I listen to him rampaging through all the swear words that he could find in his vocabulary. However, in the midst of getting punched and releasing my own fuck-free howlings, I started to find the whole commotion comedic. A string of wry laughs crept past my mouth, and in no time, I was laughing out loud into the receiver, while he incessantly asked me why I am doing so. Unable to get a satisfactory answer, he turned towards calling me bapuk, “and your dad must be a bapuk too”. And that only pushed me towards laughing harder. What kind of sane growned-up man calls out another guy and his dad just because you can’t get to that guy? While I was enjoying the hilarity, he fumed too hard and offed the call just like that. And that mad me laugh even harder.

In my laughter though, a little quiver of regret echoed inside my heart. This stalker guy is, according to the colleague, her ex-boyfriend. Fate took a turn, and they both got married to different spouses. While she enjoys and cherish her family life, he had tumbles in his marriage. Perhaps reminiscing their good ol’ time together, he wanted to get back with her. Him, a married guy, with her, a married lady. Perhaps he felt cornered by the whole world and she his only salvation. Perhaps. I’m no mind reader nor an expert of hearts, but my deduction based on his desperation to get in touch with her only proves so. Or at least hinted towards that notion.

And that is what’s most regretable to me.

Reason is long dead in this guy’s head, or heart, or wherever it’s supposed to be. Should you find yourself troubled, the correct route to take is to solve it, not splatter it on some other person or persons. His decision to get consoled by her is just making the puddle bigger and deeper. Yet I can only say that here, for I too know that solving a problem is far easier said than done. Should I end up in his shoes, will I have the willpower to move on, or would I take fleet in his steps too? I surely hope not, but tendencies do show up in my character of too much pondering on stuff long past. So here I pray the day of letting reason die in me will only come the day death accepts me into its cold embrace. Please God, do not let me trudge down his path.

An hour and half later, he called again, asking the same question of her whereabouts, and coincidently, even with a one out of three chance, I was the one who answered, again. Recognizing my voice, he said “oh, you’re still there”, to which I spontaneously answered ofcourse I’m still here, I’m working right now. A sigh after, he started apologizing for his behaviour the call prior. Still giggling, I said I am too, for raising my voice. He started rambling about life problems, and I just lend an ear (you think this is the Befrienders or something?). After a couple dozen apologies, justifications and enforcement of reasons for his actions, and pleas of empathy later, he said that he hopes I do not get into a tricky relationship bullshit like his. We are all human beings with our own set of problems. I hope problems on your side will be settled before long, sir- was what I said at the end, to which he said thank you and goodnight. Putting the receiver down, I laughed again while my colleagues watch on bewildered. This time, I’m laughing not only out of amusement, but also out of relief. In his pressured state, he still has the courtesy to admit his faults and even more so, to apologize for it. And to that, I give you my full unadulterated respect.

To you the stranger on the other end of the line, I hope you find solace at the end of your grief, to end your grief. I really do. And when that moment comes, whenever it comes, I hope you’d reconcile with fate and the world. May you find your own happiness. Amen.

5.52 am

13th June 2018

To be nice or..


It is a rainy Thursday evening, and I was about to doze off in the bus when a thumping sound so hard met my earphone-plugged ears. At that moment, my eyes flew open and since my head is angled so towards the seat diagonally from my position, I could make out what caused that sound. A chinese Indonesian couple were sitting a row in front of me on the other side of the aisle, and the guy just pulled back his fist from the cushion in front of him. Then, the lady sitting with him profusely apologize to the driver who was threatening to stop the bus and let them down. In the heat of the moment, an understanding arose in my mind: the guy punched the cushion in front of him (they are sitting on the front-most row behind the driver’s seat), and the driver got angry. At the same time, a question arose in the same quarter of my mind: what made the guy punch the cushion in the first place? Curiosity takes control of me, and so I lowered the volume of my music. And after eavesdropping a little, a narrative emerges.

Before I get to that part though, I’d like to tell you about the situation prior to me getting on the bus. I was rushing to the bus stand at KL Sentral to get the bus at 5.30 pm to KLIA to meet abah and pass the books ummi asked me to buy for the orphanage. A 6 pm bus is still possible for me to meet with abah, but I’d like to spend time with him over perhaps some light dinner before he gets on the plane. While waiting for the bus to open its doors, the bus from Genting Highlands pulled in, and a flock of people alighted, the Indonesian coupled included. She pushed through the crowd as if her life depends on getting through in quite the boorish manner, which was what initially pulls my attention to them. Not long after, I saw an Indian lady approaching the Genting Highland bus ticket counter next to our line for the KLIA bus, and heard that she found a wallet lying on one of the seats in the bus. Not knowing who the owner is, she left it in the custody of the ticketing girl, in hopes that the wallet may find its way back to its owner. Then, the KLIA bus finally open its doors for passengers to embark. A line was present, common courtesy when embarking and disembarking any public transport, and a lady was standing near the entrance to check our tickets.

It was my turn to board the bus when suddemly thoa couple came right in front of me, without any word or even looking at me, and cut in line like it was the most normal of things to do! These barbarians without courtesy!, I thought to myself. But I didn’t say a word. Not worth my eneegy, or so I thought, and I hope you’ll be hit by karma big time, I thought again.

Now, back to now, in the bus. The couple are talking in chinese, semi-shouting, fully tensed, and after a moment, the lady asked the bus driver if he could pull over and let them off, to which the bus driver claims to be not possible since he could get into trouble with authorities should he did so, a total 180 from his earlier threat to let them off. The lady pleades again, saying that her husband had forgotren something valuable at KL Sentral. But the driver insisted on going on. Get off at KLIA if you must, he told them.

Now, if you were me, and you saw the things that I saw, you ought to come to the same conclusion as I did, right? You now know why the guy was so frustrated, he punched the cushion, and what and where is his precious item. But at the same time, you, if you were me, will probably think, should I help them out and tell them where what they are searching for, and how to get it back the fastest? Should I be nice, or should I clench my fist and pump it up while internally scream “serves you right”?

6.33pm

1st March 2018

A shape of warmth


To think that a week or so ago, I had the audacity to proclaim that loneliness is a form of beauty from which we should draw inspiration, and to feel loneliness creeping in on me like a malicious being full of deathly intent, suffocating under the pressure of that so-call being and almost breaking down in the middle of a crowded airport, just proves to me how foolish I am as a human being.

As my sweet sister waived her last goodbye beyond the glass wall separating the departure hall from the rest of us, the ones who stayed back, and as I waived back, that same loneliness that I so admired, or so I say, came and hugged me from behind, not wanting to let go of my heart, my soul, and my very existence. Yes, I do feel lonely and yes, it is not a good feeling as how I had written so before. Perhaps all this time, deep inside me, I knew that it was hard to be alone. Perhaps optimism had gotten the best of me, so optimistic I have led my lonesome life so far. Like the people of North Korea whom revered their dear supreme leader and his descendants like the gods they act like even though in truth they are nothing but dictators ruling with iron fists, I perhaps had looked upon loneliness through the same kaleidoscope as those people, seeing a bleak and and sickening feeling as something far better than despicable. Delectable, even. Spice of life. Reminder of the sky and the starless nights the city is doomed upon. I had looked away from the fact that it is a painful existence to exist as a solitary being, whence we are social beings longing for affection and attention all year round. And at that very moment, I succumbed to the feeling of loneliness. Broken. Fractured.

I waded through the flocks of people filling the airport. People walking in all directions, each with a destination, while I had none. I almost felt like running and pushing through everyone, but I had no goal to which I could run to. Home felt so distant and sad when I know I’ll be there alone, again, just like in the thousands of people in this gigantic building connecting to the world. In a place where connection seems a theme, I am despondent and disconnected from everything. My emotions are tangled up, my shoulders dragging, but my feet steadily marched onward, as the movement of dragging feet irritates me so, I’d like to avoid it even when in low spirits. I am really broken, but tears won’t come out. The hollow feeling left when being left by loved ones is too much to bear, even tear ducts cannot fathom the need of bursting then and there. And so I walked, desperate to reach home while not wanting to at the same time. But I got home anyway.

In the bus back home, I thought of how hypocritical I was for saying that loneliness is a friend when none are there in need. Of how I tried to gloss over the unsettlingness of being alone. And of how it seems laughable now that I tried to act tough. In the end, I am human. A thought entered my mind. A memory from earlier this year, I think, when I told a friend that breaking down once in a while at least reminds you that you are human, not just a cog in a machine called society. And for that, I am grateful to be reminded so.

It was a few short days with a few members of my family, yet those days filled me with a warmth I’d long forgotten. Especially the moments I spent with my ‘girlfriend’, sweet Ema who had just finished her SPM. The moments where we got at each other at every opportunity we had reminds me of home, where the both of us and our three other siblings will get at each other from now and then, just to tease, sulk, and make up every time. Perhaps that is our way of deepening the bonds between us siblings. And tease we would all the time, reminding each other that that annoyance we felt when teased is a precious part of our social and familial life. No one can take bad jokes better than siblings.

As I was walking back towards the apartment building where I rent, another thought came to mind. If loneliness was a black cloud of eerie, malicious, sickening, suffocating robe, then what form does the warmth of people take? All I could imagine is a big, bloating ball so soft and fluffy, it also suffocates you, but you don’t want to let go of that warmth. Like a blanket on a rainy morning, or a bar of candy that is too sweet it hurts your molars. Perhaps warmth is in the shape of hugs too. Perhaps.

12.57 am

20th December 2017

Welcome Loneliness


I want to be knocked out cold, fall into a deep coma, only to come back to life after 5 or 10 years. The thought was one I had since my school days. It kind of exhilarates me, thinking about the what-ifs that comes with the prospect of falling into a coma and more importantly, waking up to an unfamiliar world.

Imagine this. Ten years ago, the first iPhone came out, and it was a revolution. Ten years later, we can’t believe that that was just ten years ago. Mobile phone technology has exploded exponentially at the speed of sound, and that is just in ten years. That is just mobile phones. How about other things? Surely, a lot has changed. So, how does it feel to open your eyes to that change, without the graduality of living everyday life and seeing it for yourself? How does it feel to be thrown into the centre of, from the perspective of a comatose person for ten years, an abrupt change?

The confusion and thrill is what made me thought of it. And at the end of that thought, another came to mind.

I’d like to experience that. I’d like to be tossed into that turmoil of catching up with the world, of catching up with people, catching up with reality, of beating down the depression and confusion and build the determination to come out as a better man. I’d like to experience that and at the end of a long hard road, stand up tall with puffed out chest saying “I survived change! I survived loneliness!”

Yes. That is the essence of that thought. Loneliness.

This thought came back to me yesterday, after long buried in the crevices of my mind. Waiting for friends for a dinner get-together, I was walking aimlessly through the crowd in a shopping complex. The day before, I was also walking about in another shopping complex through another crowd, only that time there were three of us dudes. Perhaps walking in a similar setting two days in a row enhanced the difference of the two days. Perhaps it was the A Shape of Light album I was listening to that made me realize how lonesome it felt, walking alone in the midst of a crowd. The raw sound of piano keys and the grating of static resembling amateur recording resounded with the grating feeling I felt in my own heart. I felt hollow. I felt left out. In the midst of thousands, I was one without comrade, without kin. I was swallowed but left intact, not digested, like the fibre that we eat and defecate day to day. I was insignificant until I meet those friends, eat, talk, and laughed, and became insignificant again after I left them. But I wasn’t sad about that. I wasn’t depressed about feeling hollow, about feeling being left behind. No. Not at all.

And that kind of made me relieved and worried at the same time.

That made me remember a conversation I had with a bunch of friends a few weeks back. We were talking about eating alone in a restaurant and how it must’ve felt awkward to be seen like a nail stuck out of a board, eating alone. The other three were all saying how it must’ve taken a lot of guts to even do so, and how that would catch the attention of passers-by. I said it doesn’t and people won’t even realize or give a shit about you eating alone. Impossible! How do you know that? was the response I got. And when I told them that I know from experience, that I frequently eat alone in the middle of restaurants and cafes, even food-courts, they went silent. Pity swelled in their eyes, pity which I told them to keep to themselves as I do not feel the least pity for myself. Man’s gotta eat, man’s gotta get his grub. So the circumstances of how a man got his filling doesn’t matter. And the conversation ended then and there.

There is a connotation among the common populace that being alone is pitiful. That connotation was common to me once, but has become more and more estranged to my mind lately. Sure, the food doesn’t taste as good as when eating together with someone else, but other than that, nothing’s changed. The substance that enters the digestion tract is still the same whether you eat alone or with company. And as the days pass by, this loneliness that comes from being alone, especially in a crowd or in the middle of the city has somewhat charmed me, and I have became more and more mesmerized by the beauty that comes with the silence of loneliness. That grating sound and feeling in my heart has somehow transformed into a beauty that I can’t experience when around others. The sky seems further than how it used to be. Heck, I even realize there is a sky when I’m alone. Something I always forget when with others. And another epiphany of sorts came to mind after all these alone sessions.

I am finding loneliness beautiful. Precious, even.

And this is what scares me.

Also a few weeks ago, I was working my morning shift whit three gorgeous ladies, all whom are married, seniors at my workplace. One of the akaks ask me the big Q: When will you be getting married. To that, I answered, I don’t know. I honestly don’t. And it seems like there is nothing pushing me towards that, towards marriage. Those ladies frowned at my answer, and again, pity came in their tones. “It’s interesting. You should try it out” was what Nas said the other day, and I agree whole-heartedly. But as the days go by, I am more and more inclined to feeling that marriage isn’t a necessity. This thought scares me. Is it because I find beauty in loneliness that this idea crept into my mind? Perhaps.

But in truth, it is not the idea of dying old and not getting married that’s what scares me the most. In my mind, there is an understanding that marriage changes people for the better. Marriage is the converging of two very different, very individual lives. And to do so commands a lot of strength. To come out of it as a couple, a victory in the essence that one has become a better person, as one has overcome the challenges of toleration and selfishness. One becomes an improved person.

To me, the idea of conforming to the thought of marriage isn’t necessary is what scares me the most, because if I do conform to it, I am agreeing to the idea that I am content with the current unimproved me. I will fail to get over toleration and selfishness. I will never get the bonus stats of a married person (and the troubles that come with it). I will only finish life in normal mode, never getting a whiff of victory when playing hard mode. And I don’t want that.

But I am getting more and more accustomed to this lonely life. Even tonight, walking alone from the food-court opposite my apartment complex, with puddles of rain water the only sign left of a great downpour earlier this evening and Youkoso! Hitoribocchi blaring through my earphones, I still find my lonely state and the world overlooking it beautiful. I still find looking at neon lights from a lone pair of eyes without anyone to discuss with about those lights and their reflection in the puddles of water somewhat melancholically sweet. And with it, an unsettling feeling creeps into my heart. A warning blared in my mind. I cannot enjoy this more and fall into the comfort of being alone any more than I have. Reaching my apartment, a suggestion pops up to support that warning.

Perhaps it’s time for me to find a life partner.

11.51 pm

11th December 2017

 

Youkoso! Hitoribocchi is a track from Welcome to the NHK’s OST, which literally translates into Welcome! Being Alone (or Loneliness)

Chasing Dragons on Elevated Highways


I have two guys in my seminar. I had a crush on one. He’s the silent type, but caring and respectful in every way possible. I’d shown him with what I think is obvious body language border-lining slutty and cheap that I’d like him to make a move on me, but I keep it to a bare minimum. I don’t want to appear clingy although I am. I’d also like to appear dignified, not easy. I waited, he waited more. He was so kind, it hurts inside. It is as if, although being younger than me, he looks at me with eyes of a dependable older brother, and me nothing but a younger sister whom needs help. I gave chances as if giving out food coupons at a school fair and waited some more.

But he disappoints me.

Then there’s the PhD student with every ounce of his being dedicated to making the world a better place. He’s in the same lab as me. He’s passionate, and that passion resonates within me, a struggling hatchling fumbling through her master’s degree. He has a queer eye for the mundane. Ah, yes, he’s almost like you! In that regard, I mean. lately we’ve been hitting it off quite well. He’s kind and geeky, but in a good light, I mean. And that side of him only makes my heart beats faster. The thing is, he has a girlfriend. A long distance relationship. Heard that they are in dire straits, and I can’t help but feel happy about it. I know I’m wrong in feeling so, but what can I do? Is it even wrong to be happy when seeing that the chances of you getting together with the one you like increases?

And on that other day, he sort of worded it himself. He unintentionally told the lab akak next door that he has feelings for me. My heart jumped to the news, swayed uncontrollably even. I was not prepared, although had been hoping, for this. And that is not the end to it. That was only the start of it, as I was startled by another whisper. You see, that guy I had a crush on earlier? It seems that the crush was mutual. And now lopsidedly on his end only. I’m infuriated by this piece of knowledge. Had he came and man up sooner, I’d willingly accept. I mean, I was infatuated by him. But even now, even this piece of information I got through whispers. He still acts the same around me to this day. He didn’t tell me upfront, but rather disclose this to his labmates (he’s in another lab). Why can’t you man up and tell it straight in my face? Why should you torture me so?

So now, I ask of you, what should I do? Which should I choose? The younger ‘older’ brother who secretly likes me but acts indifferent, or the dedicated societist with yet-certain relationship status? Any advice?

I smiled widely, hilarity struck me perhaps because even though the matter seems grave to her, it seems pretentious and fickle to me. Perhaps the mood is just too lighthearted for a heavy(?) conversation, what with k-pop blaring off in the background and jokes cracked out earlier. Perhaps it is indeed a grave matter as my words here may encourage her down the wrong path, and her future decidedly by words lightly given by a friend who does not see this as something serious. But I think I’m weighing my words too much. My words don’t hold merit whatsoever. What I say here may change her future is an overstatement fueled by pride and condescendence. In short, what I’ll say is bullshit, because in the end, she’s the one who’ll pull the trigger, no matter where she intends to aim. So I gave out someone’s word of advice once given to me back in 2010.

There’s this uncle I once know who told me something that may help you in this.. predicament of yours. He told me, if you are ever in a bind to choose between the one you love and the one who loves you, choose the latter, and you will find a lasting relationship.

She went silent for a moment. Thinking, I assume. Then she takes to the mic once again.

Does this apply to both men and women, or only for the girls?

Of course it’s for both. What do you mean?

Well, if you have a group of boys and girls, and each girl likes a boy who likes a different girl who in turn likes a different boy and the cycle continues, and assuming that uncle of yours is correct while putting systematical errors and deviations aside, wouldn’t that only suggest that the cycle continues, only this time in the opposite direction? Wouldn’t that create an endless goose chase?

I was hammered silent. Then she threw a smile my way.

If this simple logic experiment got your tongue, I suggest you go back to that uncle and tell him this flaw in his sage advice. Or do you not understand what I meant?

No, I understand perfectly. You do have a point. But like I said, those are not my words. They are but the uncle’s. Besides, not everyone will follow this advice because it is only an advice, not an obligation nor a rule.

That is why I told you to find that uncle you met years ago and tell him our findings tonight.

We laughed at the idea of searching for an old man I haven’t met in years only to tell him that his advice is somewhat flawed in a perfect world. Cracking at the shaved ice which had congregated into boulders in the bowl of binsu we share, she suddenly adds another point for her case.

Anyways, both are not into the idea of marriage right now, and I don’t like being dangled like some plaything. The younger one has no savings, while the societist is too focused on wanting to make the world better for society before pursuing his personal desires. Maybe that is why his relationship is kind of frosty with that PJJ girlfriend of his.

I have known her for quite some time, and am informed that as the eldest, her family wanted her to get married as soon as possible. They had hoped that someone would take her hand as soon as she graduated from her bachelor’s degree a couple of years back, but her then boyfriend was struggling with monetary and pride problems, so he called it quits in the most unceremonious of ways. And that hit her hard. Her family is well off, and although they are not ones who look down on people doing not so well, they do not understand the perspective of those they do not look down upon. Even if you are kind- no, more so if you are kind, people below you in social and wealth status will always feel inferior to you. And they will never want to stand beside her for as long as they are not on equal footing. That is what happened to her then boyfriend. Yet, her family doesn’t understand this, and neither does she.

By the way, she is, to put it in my words from my perspective, a cute girl with strong character but at the same time clingy or more appropriately, wanting attention in form of familial affection outside of her well-established nucleus family. And although initially showing protest against her family’s, mainly her father’s, idea of getting her married as soon as possible, the idea seem to have seeped into her, and she now more or less conforms to it. Such a daddy’s girl, obedient to her dad’s wishes, which is in no way wrong. Which father wouldn’t want to see their daughter happy, right?

But rushing off to find a life partner, plus eagerly so, just makes it seem like she’s one horny girl. Well yes, she is horny. Horny for affection, be it from the father who will be happy to see her wed off, and also from that man who she’ll call the king of her heart one day, in a halal manner, so to speak. And “in a halal manner” is no laughable meme here. Her family is moderately pious, and like most other Muslim Malay families I know of hailing from Bangi like hers, they do take this seriously.

So, considering her background in the background of my brain, I just worded something that may sound light but can be misinterpreted as deep. Lead her down the rabbit hole, and let her make peace with whatever decision she’ll make. By the time I finished, she laughed out loud at the absurdity of the idea, and how it seems like her decision is tied to materialism.

In that case, I only have one advice for you. Pick your banker wisely.

2.19am,

13th November 2017

Mandul Pemikiran


Bukan organ seks sahaja yang boleh menunjukkan tanda-tanda kemandulan.

Jika seseorang tidak dapat melunaskan tanggungjawabnya untuk memastikan kelestarian umat ini melalui persenyawaan, dia dikatakan mandul. Habis itu, bagaimana dengan mereka yang tidak dapat melunaskan tanggungjawab mereka untuk memastikan kebangkitan ketamadunan umat ini melalui pengzahiran ide-ide dan diskusi bermanfaat, baik konstruktif mahupun destruktif? Mandulkah mereka?

Aku kata, ya. Mereka ini golongan mandul pemikiran.

Bukanlah aku mengutuk mereka yang menjalani kehidupan seharian mereka semata-mata untuk hidup sahaja. Tidak. Usaha mereka untuk meneruskan kehidupan itu sudah cukup murni kukira, lebih-lebih lagi dalam dunia gila ini. Tetapi lambakan yes-man dalam masyarakat ini, lambakan kakatua yang mengulang kata tanpa olahan minda, membuatkan jiwaku sedikit lesu.

Dan aku bertambah lesu dan buntu apabila aku menyedari bahawa aku mula melangkah ke arah itu. Mula melangkah ke arah tak kisah, ikut sahaja ombak kata yang diilhamkan oleh entah siapa, omongkan sahaja apa yang didengari tanpa ulasan dan analisa, asalkan aku hidup. Biarlah kehidupan ini tidak bermakna.

Aku takut suatu hari nanti aku akan jadi seperti mereka yang aku benci, yang sudah mandul pemikirannya.

Atau dengan lebih tepat, aku takut pemikiranku memandul, dan akhirnya aku menjadi yes-man sahaja.

Kejarlah impianmu, mereka berkata. Itupun mengulangi ayat itu tanpa endah dari mana datangnya, asal-usulnya.

Bertindaklah mengikut gerak hati, mereka berkata. Kita semua penghasut. Jiwa anarki disemat dalam masyarakat bagai entropi kepada sistem yang tersusun. Heh! Pasti Cikgu Dabura marah jika dia ternampak ayat di atas. “Sistem yang tersusun. Itu lewah!” Ironinya, sistem ini, keteraturan ini ditentang kerana  ia disalahguna oleh beberapa pihak. Sistem yang sepatutnya murni ini sendiri telah menjadi kolot. Kolot, tanpa kasih. Sistem ini menjadi semakin tenat, semakin rumit, semakin mudah untuk disalahguna dengan kuasa menjadi taruhan. Mereka yang berjaya dijanjikan kemewahan dan kuasa, biarpun sekadar di dunia sahaja, ia cukup untuk mengaburi pemikiran ramai.

Entropi bukan sekadar dalam reaksi kimia sahaja. Ia ada dalam kehidupan seharian kita. Semakin teratur kehidupan, semakin tinggi peradaban, semakin kuat kuasa ghaib yang menolak ke arah bertentangan, ke arah destruktif, ke arah kecelaruan. Itulah entropi. Jadi, persoalan yang timbul, apakah peradaban itu suatu kesilapan? Apakah jika kita kekal di tampuk yang lama, di tahap yang rendah, entropinya kurang, dan kita akan hidup dengan lebih senang? Seperti tenaga potensi, makin tinggi duduknya, makin kuat dorogannya kemudian dalam bentuk tenaga kinetik. Maka, patutkah umat manusia kekal di titik yang rendah jika tidak ingin dihambur oleh tenaga kinetik yang bakal datang meribut? Itu satu jawapan yang boleh dipilih. Sama ada betul atau tidak, kita mungkin tidak akan pernah mengetahuinya. Lagipun, ke”betul”an suatu subjek bergantung kepada pemerhati dan nilai-nilai yang dia punyai. Tiada keadilan yang maha saksama untuk menilai apakah apa-apa subjek itu “betul” atau tidak melainkan Yang Maha Esa, dan penilaiannya rahsia kepada kita makhluk kecil di sampingNya.

Walau apapun jawapannya, kita harus terus mempersoalkan hingga jadi gila. Aku harus terus mempersoalkannya, agar aku tak melabel diriku mandul pemikiran. Pada hujung rencana ini, tetaplah diriku yang penting kepada diriku, selayaknya seseorang yang pentingkan dirinya sendiri. Biarlah semua aku dustai, kecuali kepada diriku sendiri.

 

6.35 pm

13 Oktober 2017