I was an undergraduate 18-year-young student. I just underwent a painful first week on campus, having abundant supply of reasons to loathe some jerks on campus, as my orientation week went sour and bitter because some bad guy rubbed my face with the grains of filthy earth and sand just because I forgot bringing along the particularly odd stuff with me on that ill-fated day. I was lucky, some other got grounded with several silly excuses and had to strip almost naked. I took pity on them as they couldn’t speak for their own dignity. They had to bite their own socks. Some senior students who should have graduated or should have been doing their final projects came in only to torture the weaker, powerless students like us. Shame on them to treat the freshmen this way. I cannot totally forgive them for comitting such crime to the freshmen. Brainless beasts they were.
From that moment on, I began to see the student association as a status quo to ignore and be hostile at. Well, any established organizations with too much authority and monopoly are likely to be so, annoyingly restricting and organizing us students as though we were a dozen of wild sheep. I hate being bound and tied to such entity. I just want to be free as long as I could. I didn’t feel like I wanted to be a campus activist which meant I had to relinquished some part of my absolute freedom. I didn’t like being told what to do by others. And for that reason, I didn’t mind at all becoming the pariah. I just knew I had to stay away from the campus politics and too controlling organizations. One might find me flocking around with some students association members but to be brutally honest, that was because I did need those to fill out my academic credentials which eventually enabled me to get funded by a scholarship foundation. They just wanted to provide some financial aids for activists so I took advantage of my loose, quarter-hearted involvement in the campus students’ organizations. There I said it.
I never seriously planned to get there. I was like Robinson Crusoe stranded with a cannibal tribe or Pie floating somewhere in the ocean on a small boat with a Bengal tiger. A voice kept echoing between my ears,”This is NOT the plan! Get me outta here now or else I’ll kick you in the groin!!! You’ll be sorry for this!”
I planned to go to Yogyakarta. My mind was set to be studying at University of Gadjah Mada (UGM). But it was a twist of fate that this univer-shit-y (as I called it) approved of my submission, which was in fact completed as my plan B. But at that time I simply had to choose this certain offer or leave it only to pursue uncertainty, i.e. going to International Relations major at UGM. I as a logical person picked the certain one but I was not aware of the consequences yet.
The campus was awfully remote and located more than 12 kilometers from the downtown Semarang. As horrible as one can experience, the water supply was alarming. It was dry season in September and in spite of its being located in hilly areas full of trees, open space and fresh air, the people had to use sandy water at times just to wash clothes. And I swore I couldn’t stand the filthiness here for a long time but the fact was I had to survive for not another day but another 4 years in this unhappening place situated up the hill. I cringed.
The first night was literally a nightmare. I had to sleep alone (alone is what I want always) but apparently I was accompanied by lots of mosquitos. The next morning I realized there were some ponds and reservoirs around the house, where all the insects I hunched came from. The bathroom was dimly lit and far from spacious and poorly maintained as shown by the hardly cleaned tub. I almost dropped my jaw upon seeing all these scenes but the rented house had the most perfect location. It took me 5-10 seconds to get to campus. I was by no means kidding. That was sprint, of course, instead of crawling with your four limbs.
And in one fine morning in September, I saw on TV a fatal huge accident involving 2 twin towers and a hijacked airplane. I was buttoning my shirt before going to morning classes called “Intensive Course”, which was the most intensively and exhaustively lengthy English course I had ever signed up for. We freshmen of English Literature had no other options to choose from. Take this package of classes or bid farewell, said the policy makers. So the first semester was fully dedicated to this boring course. I had to bear and I did. However, later I knew how important the IC was to lay solid foundation for my subsequent phases of acquiring this foreign language. It did work on me.
I went to the class and studied fervently. English had been my passion so this course was supposed to be super easy. I got A at last. Almost flawless achievement. My parents were happy and happier I got. I was so happy because I had made this decision myself and been responsible for it and delivered great results more than what was expected.
The image of a plane smashing itself to a skyscraper was forgotten. I was drenched in wine of knowledge for years…
I really really had no idea that the scale of the tragedy was so tremendous the whole world was about to change dramatically overnight right after the Sept 11th mini apocalypse.
Now Obama seeks support to attack Syria. And like Michelle and almost all of you who don’t want to see another world financial and humanity crisis, I never ever agree on this. Because there is no end with this violence cycle if a new war is waged. It goes on and on and on. Who wins? No one.
I am a proud moslem and I want some peace and harmony, too. Isn’t that too much… God?
Jakarta, September 11 2013