When a Yogi Falls Sick…

English: Praveen Gurukkal from Kalarickal Ayur...
English: Praveen Gurukkal from Kalarickal Ayurveda shows the use of Yoga in Kalari practise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…Everyone would think one of these:

1. “Look at him. In spite of being thin, he would never listen to me. Eat a lot, for God’s sake! What is going through his mind? Does starving himself really pay? So eccentricly addicted to healthy life style. What’s the point of that? Now he’s sick and ..oh…poor wretched petite bony boy.”

2. “What is wrong with him? He’s been so fit so far and just as suddenly he declares he gets sick. That must have to do with the changing seasons.”

3. “If yoga can heal people, he should be able to cure himself. Well, he is supposed to be… Let him be.”

4. “He must have bent too much, twisted his body too often. ”

5. “He’s a human. That happens. It’s not like he gets sick every week or month. His sickness is once in an entire year. Why worry?”

6. “If that usually healthy and agile man can fall sick, how about me?? With all these abundant daily consumption of fried foods, sugary bread, greasy carnivore diets… Ah, leave it to God, and my insurance company. The world keeps spinning.”

7. “He needs bear hugs and intimate chats, I suppose. Let see if I can be of help.”

8. “He must’ve cheated on the diet plan too often.”

9. “His chakras may be clogged. He needs to fix them all.”

10. “He ought to a physician nearby.  He can heal on his own with Ayurveda but that’ll take much longer time. ”


Yoga Membuat Nafas Anda Lebih Panjang

bakasana variationEntah itu berarti dengan beryoga, hidup kita jadi lebih panjang? Sangat asyik berdebat tentang hal itu tetapi terlalu banyak faktor X yang bermain dalam menentukan usia seseorang dan satu pembahasan singkat tidak bisa mengkomodasi itu semua. Yang hanya kita temukan hanyalah debat kusir tanpa ujung.

Tetapi yang satu ini benar adanya. Jika Anda seorang penggemar yoga alias yogi/ yogini, Anda akan menemukan fakta mengejutkan bahwa efisiensi Anda dalam bernafas lebih tinggi daripada orang kebanyakan.

Ini bukan hipotesis atau teori omong kosong belaka yang saya karang di kepala. Seorang teman, Shanti namanya, pernah mengatakan betapa bergunanya latihan yoga yang ia lakukan selama ini dalam membantunya bernafas lebih efisien di dalam air yang notabene sepenuhnya bersandar pada persediaan udara bersih di tabung oksigen yang dibawa di punggung penyelam.

Menurut pengalamannya diving di Bali 2 kali dan di Gili 3 kali, ia sampai pada sebuah kesimpulan: “Sisa udara bersih yang dimiliki yogi/ yogini 2 kali lebih banyak daripada sisa udara para penyelam lain yang bukan yogi/ yogini alias tidak pernah beryoga”.

Dalam satu kali sesi menyelam, Shanti menceritakan seorang penyelam lain dari luar negeri sudah kehabisan udara saat baru di tengah-tengah perjalanan, waktu para penyelam lain masih asyik-asyiknya menelusuri alam bawah permukaan laut. Seorang dive master berbangga diri jumlah memproklamirkan sisa udaranya yang masih 60 (entah apa satuan ukurannya, karena saya sendiri belum pernah menyelam). Sementara itu, Shanti berhasil menyisakan 120. Sang dive master terperangah, mengira Shanti salah membaca tetapi justru ia yang salah.

How to Succeed When You Have No Past Hardships

I notice that extremely successful people had painful past and hardships during their younger times. My big boss, for example, lost his father before reaching his 12th birthday. The deceased father seemed to die after having been abducted by the Japanese troops known for their brutality. “He must have been dead as a prisoner,” he said. No corpse was found but the father never showed up ever since. From that moment on, his family lost all the assets and lived in poverty. And after what happened to him and his entire family, he had to move to live with his aunts, who unlike my aunts were so mean. So mean he thought they avenged him. For what reason? I have no clue.

Another example is JK Rowling, who in her childhood was suffering from poverty, having a dysfunctional father, and was struck badly by her mother’s death. To add to the list, she lost her first marriage miserably and had to earn a living for her baby alone. Depression caught her for years.

The next is Shania Twain who lost both of her parents  so suddenly due to a car accident and worked as a bread winner for her siblings at 25. The very young Twain knew something weird happened between her parents when her mother got beaten up by her father at night. Violence is such a nightmare for a child that young.

I then came to a conclusion or, I’d rather say, a wild hypothesis, that to succeed, one has to suffer so much as if s/he could not bear the misery another second. But life had made them go through that horrible phase, because the suffering is pretty much inevitable.

But my case is different from theirs. My family is, thank God, relatively functional. My father is not an abusive man or abandoned his family or drunk and left us for another woman. They love me, I love them. Everything is so normal. Things are fine and smooth. In short, my life and I are like what the community expects.

That brings me to a question I raised out of frustration:”How can I succeed so outstandingly when I have relatively problem-free a life?”

Nuts huh? So should I create these hardships on my own to push myself forward faster? But how? I’m afraid I’ll break if I can’t make it. Ah, maybe that’s why I can’t succeed for now. The hesitation always makes me linger, put off things, and at last weep on the corner of my rented room.

This has got to be stopped!

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity: “Don’t Be Daunted. Just Do Your Job”


If you really want to be a writer then just do it. Just write. Don’t complain you’re running out of ideas. Don’t moan you’re always disturbed by noise around you. Don’t find any other excuse to validate your being slack in reinforcing self-discipline. Don’t ever feel intimidated by a fear phantom whispering that you’ll lose in the middle of the journey or neglected by the rest of the world after all the toil. Keep on moving forward.

That is the core message I was trying to extract from Elizabeth Gilbert’s speech at TED in February 2009. She is the heroine I look up to in becoming a writer.

 I love books. I’ve longed for becoming a writer yet up to this very second feel like I’m a failure. Yes, I’ve been cognizant of languages for years academically but still I am not a published writer (with the self-publish online platform and a site I write at as exceptions). Not yet, on paper, on print.

So what’s my problem? Does it have to do with my introverted personality? Perhaps. But then I read, a number of published, widely acknowledged authors too are introverted. Nothing is wrong with being an introvert but what is wrong is when it holds me back with my, I hope, lifetime pursuit: writing.

As I look back and find where I am at the moment, I come to realize I actually am on the right track. I am not there just yet but only to see I’m now heading to the right direction is too good to be true. I am now in fact making a living with my linguistic skills. I write. I translate. And as a professional, I get paid for what I do. I definitely wish to earn more and more but that’s just another story of greed and ambition. I want that of course. A great deal of wealth. But I want myself to deserve the perks. I ought to earn it. Because that’s the essence of being a human. Strive, fall, or succeed, and learn from whatever lessons this life has to offer.

Back to Gilbert inspirational speech at TED, I suppose the author made 2 critical, worth noting points anyone can learn writing wise. First, one should never be afraid to start because of failure risks. And second, one must never be intimidated by success. That is all. That’s what any human has to deal with every single day, isn’t that? If you’re nothing, you want to be someone. And after reaching the peak, you’ll wonder, “What’s next? Am I going to fall down right after this, soon or later?” The fear of being in the extreme state of adversity is overwhelming. Being in nadir is too terrifying an idea. The lowest point of anything which may trap you for good, sucking you deeper for sure just like quicksand.

[…] I happen to remember that over 20 years ago, when I first started telling people – when I was a teenager – that I wanted to be a writer, I was met with this kind of, sort of fear-based reaction. And people would say,”Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to have any success? Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to work your whole life at this craft and nothing’s ever going to come of it and you’re going to die on a scrap heap of broken dreams with your mouth filled with bitter ash of failure? […]

Gilbert intelligently answered all the questions directed towards her and said with that wise tone of an aspiring philosopher, “Yes, I’m afraid of all those things. And I have always been. And I’m afraid of many, many more things besides that people can’t even guess at.”

She then shifted to the discussion of the evolution of human thoughts on creativity. The blonde 40-year-old lady quickly summarized the change of perspectives in seeing creativity from ancient Greece and ancient Rome, who thought creative works are the works of daemons helping artists work, to Renaissance school of thought stating human beings as the axis of the universe.

And she sided Renaissance, I guess at this point. As a writer, Gilbert admitted having routines. She had to “get up at the same time every day and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly”, as she put it.

Afterwards she talked about how musician Tom Waits could maintain the creative process and the quality of his works without being dictated by the so-called inspiration sent by heaven to mortals, including artists. I love how Waits handled the musical ‘revelation’ he without warning received as driving down the street. “Do I look like I can write down a song right now? If you really want to exist, come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you. Otherwise, go bother somebody else today,” Gilbert was retelling what she heard during the interview with the musician.

As approaching the end of the speech, Gilbert threw another analogy. This time was a story of an indistinct North African dancer centuries ago. He would actually become transcendent very rarely while dancing and one night he danced like he had been lit with divinity from all possible directions by the Almighty. And she elaborated:

And when this happened, back then, people knew it for what it was, you know, they called it by its name. they would put their hands together and they would start to chant,”Allah, Allah, Allah, God, God, God.”

As a moslem by upbringing, I’m of course stunned upon reading her words. Allah? Did I read it right? And yes, I did. It was later explained that piece of historical notes stated “when the Moors invaded southern Spain, they took this custom with them and the pronunciation changed over the centuries from “Allah, Allah, Allah,” to “Ole, Ole, Ole” which you still hear in bullfights and in flamenco dances.”

In Spain, she added, when a performer has done something impossible and magic,Allah, ole, ole, Allah, magnificent, bravo,” incomprehensible, there it is  — a glimpse of God. “Which is great, because we need that,” Gilbert argued. At this point she turned spiritual.

Lastly, the African dancer story ended with him becoming a mortal again, not a glimpse of God, by the next morning. This time no transcendent aura whatsoever found in his soul. The magic turned out to be a loan from the Unknown source. And this magic is to pass on to someone else when the dancer’s time was over.


“”Ole!” to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up”- Elizabeth Gilbert





Day 6 #WritingChallenge : FYI, I Suck at Fiction Writing But am Not That Bad at Telling Real Things

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
Twins haunted by the death of their mom. (Image via Wikipedia)

Still remember that writing challenge I deliberately launched days ago? Yeah, this is the 6th day and I haven’t posted anything new to answer the challenge.

So here’s today’s challenge:

Write a story that includes: twins, a 12-layer cake, a house that seems to be haunted but isn’t…”

Hey, isn’t it a coincidence? To be candid, one of my former coworkers has been contacting me recently. No, we’re not that close but we kind of know each other better than my current coworkers. And because I suck at fiction writing, I can’t make up a story about that. Rather, I have A REAL STORY about someone who happens to have a twin sister and who feels that her house is haunted by upcoming death (never mind the cake). Ain’t it even better? What is better than telling truths as surreal as Indonesian TV series people always complain about but keep on watching?

Ok, here’s how the story goes. I can’t remember when she suddenly appeared on my chat window. She just popped out and emitted the tone of the most somber spinster on earth leading her miserable (as she put it) , bitter life.

She told me, while sobbing perhaps (I need to add some drama, you know, I’m trying) that her mother is so sick. Sick of cancer. Or tumor, I guess. Or tumor advancing to cancer. Malignant or benign? The answer doesn’t really matter because the girl sounded very convinced of the upcoming death of her mother. The mother can see it coming, she added. This frightened frail girl as far as I know has that thing…you know things called “visions”, “6th sense”. I’m freaked, somewhat. I’ve never experienced such an odd experience.

I asked naively which doctor told her the horrible thing. I’m a normal person, so I think in a normal way. If people know they’re about to die, then I assume it ought to be something they’ve heard from their physicians. She afterwards told me her and her mom’s vision. They see in their vision the mother is dying soon. And I quipped, “But you both are NOT God!!!” Well, it might’ve been the best consolatory and most religious remark I’ve ever made so far. Yet it’s true. I just feel like they can’t and are NOT supposed to decide their own fate entirely before God uses His Her Its ultimate decision making power.

I was thinking of the impact of self-fulfilling prophecy. At times human beings are consumed, sucked so deep by their own imagination, dreams, fantasies of the unknown future. They make predictions, forecasts. And the forecast seems to engross their mind completely, leaving no or very little room for anything else. In this case, I’m afraid they’re so absorbed by the ‘instinct’ they turn fatalistic.

This girl has a twin sister. They live separately right after the twin sister tied the knot and has given birth to a baby. Whereas the twin sister is living quite a normal life, my former coworker simply isn’t. She was born a rebel, an outcast, a pariah, whatever that means. Her personality, if I can describe, is opaque, dark. You or anyone can’t see through it.

Therefore, while we were at the debate over whether or not she should take the vision seriously, she threw an idea. She’d ask her twin sister back. Back to live there. Oh, maybe they just can’t be split too long. That’s what I always watch on TV: twins MUST have emotional and spiritual bonds apart from their physical similarity. Ah, it must be because I watch “La Usurpadora” too much.

She said the baby, her niece or nephew, can serve as the mother’s “pain killer”. How so? Because she’ll have a nicer living ‘toy’ to play with. That way, the death that they think is haunting the mom would be harder to be after them day by day. I’d say distraction is a new concentration. Distract yourself from petty, mind-sucking stuff and concentrate on things that enrich your life no matter how hard we’ll find.

Day 1 #WritingChallenge: How to Begin?

I take on the challenge. I hate being called a loser, especially by myself. And here I am now. Still on my netbook, typing this very blog post I don’t even know how to begin. I simply type anthing on my head. I don’t judge . I just type. That’s what those prolific world -class authors teach me. JUST WRITE. But crap, I actually want to go to bed. I yawn. I want to sleep but I’m not sure I’d sleep as soon as I leave the urge to write. Instead of writing, I tweet. Or, even better, I browse the whole 9gag.com posts.

Days ago I downloaded this ebook on www.creative-writing-now.com and I ran into this 30-day challenge. It says:

The Thirty Day Challenge
There are different ways you can use this book, but here’s a suggestion. For
thirty days, challenge yourself to write at the same time every day for at least 10
minutes. Use the ideas in this book to get you started.
Many of the story ideas will take much more more than 10 minutes to write, but
don’t worry. Just get started, and at the end of the 10 minutes, decide if you
want to continue.
If not, you can abandon the story guilt-free. You’ve done your job; you’ve put in
your writing time for the day. If you’re inspired to keep going, you can either
write for a longer time or save what you’ve started and come back to it another
Keeping a regular writing schedule can be very powerful. It’s like daily exercise
that trains and strengthens the writing “muscles.”
And by working regularly at your writing, you separate yourself from the millions
of people who say, “I want to be a writer.” Instead, you can say, “I AM a writer.”
You’ve earned it.

I always love quoting. It makes my composition look a lot longer, which is good to get higher marks in Prose. Yet sadly it contradicts my plan to write things, write something to sell and make a living with it. For God’s sake, I learned English Literature for years and earned even a master but I can’t write a single short story? It’s kind of sad. I’m apparently more into translation. I’m no creative writer. DUH!!! Stop the self-fulfilling prophecy. (I think my heinous alter ego wrote that to mock me, undermine my self esteem. And so sorry to tell you, alter ego, you won’t make it!!)


Here I go….Read the instruction first, very carefully. All eyes. (In the mean time, I’m listening to 커피하우스 (Guitar Version) (Instrumental – OST “Coffee House”))

Day 1
Your character moves into a new apartment. On the surface, the place seemed ideal, but his/her first night there, your character discovers a terrible problem with the place that he/she didn’t take into account…

(Oh, it’s 11 minutes before the first day ends. Gotta hurry to write some piece here!!)


My story

Medusa, that’s how all people around her called her. She curled her hair in such a disgusting way, odd, and old-fashioned.

She just got her 40th birthday present. And now she’s got to leave her homeland, Hong Kong. She’d cried a lot as she stepped her feet on Jakarta.

She left her parent, a mother. No father is known in her life. Men suck. That’s why now he doesn’t want to date them. “One night stand is more than enough, don’t you ever think of more than that!” she mocked them all.

“What struck my mind is how I should stand this city life.

And Wake Me Up When January Ends


It’s been a tumultuous month for me, personally and professionally speaking. The wrath, the disappointment, the confusion, the haste, the expectation, the hoplessness, the tiredness, the ambition, all these are ‘inharmonious’ in some way but that’s the way it is. I won’t say much here but one thing for sure is I learned a lot from “49 Days”, that Korean drama.

The lessons to learn are myriad. Perhaps the best one to cite is “Live every second of your life to its fullest“. You’ll never know when it ends. And though anyone, I bet, at least once in their life time wants to commit suicide, there’re always people out there on earth really wanting to be him. But that’s how life and world work. Humans think everything is going to be a lot better if things go the way they want. How many times, however, do we find it wrong? They just have no idea what the future and God hold for them in the future and afterlife. And because the essence of life is change, you can’t simpy give up as things may change someday (or not). Yet what matters most is whether you live it with full consciousness or autopilot (hope Mr. President won’t get offended by the use of this last mentioned word).

I met someone days ago. He asked me, “What do you want to do?” I loath such a direct question. No, not because of any personal prejudice or hatred. It’s just how I hate my reaction to it. I couldn’t articulate what I really want WELL. I suddenly felt like a failure. I thought I knew what I want in my life, in my job, in my personal life, in my spiritual journey. But as I have to deal with such question head to head, I’ll probably find myself speechless, or a bit better, halting.

Even one of my students blatantly blurted, “You’re the most obscure  lecturer I’ve ever met here”. My heart sank to the bowel of the earth. That’s so true, and she’ll get A for that. Let’s make sure of it.


Karet Kuningan, South Jakarta





The Vacation Took Its Toll! (A Random Post Written Desperately in the Commuter Line Train)

Wednesday November 23, 2011

6.53 pm

Here I am stuck in the train . “It was struck by the lightning, he says. Ok, to tell you the truth what I worry about more is NOT about when I get home tonight but when I can have my dinner tonight. And drink! I swear I’ve been severely dehydrated after walking around the Botanical Garden all day long. It was tough, my bodily system is screaming for water. But I can’t get any here! While outside, hevy downpour is falling. My lips are so dry as well as my throat! Too many are standing here but sorry I can’t give this seat away. I’m much too weak to stand up during the rest of the train trip.

It started this morning and hell, I thought I already woke up early enough but what it apparently wasn’t.I set off around 7 am, dashed to the Sudirman Train Station, forgetting that the train is scheduled at 6.30, 6. 55, and 9.40. , which is like “CRAP, I have to wait for more than 60 minutes!”

You may remember Tata Young's "Bitchy, Naughty". And this man sets the song chorus as his phone ringtone!

Enough with the confusion! I shrieked by heart after moving from one coach to another FOUR TIMES (let’s choke the public train official commanding on the megaphone! ). How can this happen to me?? What have I done to deserve this? For God’s sake, I have to work tomorrow! And I here find myself, being stranded in a train coach with this man in front of me talking about rubbish in broken In-glish (Indonesian-English) with 3 alumni of Universitas Diponegoro. I’ve been there, having to endure this sort of conversation which is usually overly boring, so boring you want to bite the vein in his neck to prevent the boredom from killing you, figuratively saying. You simply have to act politely, open your mouth a bit once in a while to please the man and at the same time trying to digest  each and every word the preacher is blurting to no end. It’s, I swear, an ultimate torment if you’re not up to being social and kind. I feel terribly sorry for those 3 young men. They’re exhausted, bored to death and upset for being so powerless to leave the hellish conversation with someone of their grandfathers’ age. Wearing a mask and looking seemingly busy with my notebook writing this post did save me. Busy yourself with anything and no Indonesian passengers will make a mess with you.

The experience was undoubtedly fun. Not having to update any social network accounts, upload images, type like crazy, rewrite articles, summarize long texts, translate stuff, be called on the phone by coworkers or the owner, or inhale the same air of Jakarta today. But there’s a price to pay.

— ∞–

If you're wearing headphones and having a Blackberry in your hand but you litter in the train, you seem more like a neanderthal than a bipedal modern homo sapiens living in the digital age.

7.49 pm

It’s been more than an hour and we’re still here, at Pasar Minggu Station. I miss my maghrib pray, feel excruciatingly hungry and thirsty, until I reach the pointh where I could think of anything but enjoy what it is as it is. Enjoying the present, yes that is exactly what I’m trying to do now. I’ve read a number of pages of “Eat, Pray, Love“, which is kind of great as this novel is comical, witty in some way.

But well, I’m not going to act like a hypocrite. I hate it. I hate this very situation. Being stuck, being unable to rest and claim my private space, to dine, to strectch my stiff legs. I want to scream but why bother? I can’t, will not allow myself to commit such a faux pas. And this man on the loud speaker was definitely a practical joker. Thank to him, we passengers moved to and fro like a flock of fools. Please, f*cking move NOW!! Oh, and that gut said the train is about to move within 4 minutes. Yay!

Oh, speaking of what I did all day long in Bogor, I did different things this time. I metaphorically climb the same mountain but doing extra things on the list. So this is quite productive, I suppose!

Jakarta-Bogor Nov 23, 2011
This man sitting by the door spitted in front of me with his eyes glued to his smartphone! In the train! Public space! What a filthy jackass!

In short, I’d been wandering around the Botanical Garden since noon. And as I waited the pray time (around 11.40 am), I got a terribly shocking, shameful experience. So there was an elderly man (appears to be the mosque’s janitor or something) sprung out of the door and without warning asked one of us (I was there with the other two men sitting in the porch) to give the call to prayer. “Gimme a break!” I thought and grinned bitterly at the old man. I’m not afraid of making mistakes but.. you know I need rehearsal!! It’s hard to just shout the azan lines while you never do it on a regular basis before. Ok, I feel guilty but what if I did something wrong and the entire neighborhood came out of their houses and mocked me or considered that profane? That’s much too risky! And I hear kids are screaming , just like a school but this is buzzing endlessly. I-N-D-O-N-E-S-I-A!!! That’s what they’re yelling. The soccer madness lingers and even escalates in some pockets of the country, believe it or not. Considering the saddening fact that there’re two casualties who lost their lives  for a sheet of soccer match ticket at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, that is supposed to be better than a one-night-trending spirit.


LIAR! So this transportation tragedy is NOT even close to its end. He said 4 minutes, but look where we’re now still. Until now, 5 minutes after the promised time, the train doesn’t even move a single inch. I still sense NO movement at all! I can’t be  mad at anyone because it’s purely out of their control. Huge thanks to myself for bringing this notebook along. It DOES keep my brain active, to survive the unbearably boring predicament.

I swear all passengers here in this ill-fated commuter line train are so fed up right now. They’re like yawning repeatedly, exchanging texts on the phone, checking BlackBerry Messenger,  restlessly or calling people at home they’re gonna be home unusually late. But it’s true, I even want to smash my own head to the glass window.

And the man is announcing again, “The train heading to Jakarta Kota Train Station isn’t allowed to set off now just yet.” God is good. He wants to assess my patience level.


Talking about  the Botanical Garden, I already have with me a number of seeds! Yes, seeds of some plants I happened to find along the way. It was lazy of me to even jot down the names or shoot the nametag of each tree but as Shakespeare stated centuries ago, “What is a name?” Names don’t matter, to a certain extent.

And oh, there is a train moving beside our train and every one of us in this train, like responded by a quick, sudden stare filled with annoyance, envy, or hopelessness. The eyes speak for their mind, “How can they move while we’re stuck for hours here?” Or maybe what is popping out on their mind is the urge to hijack the train newly arriving? I have no idea.

Boredom is at the moment intruding even more deeply, seeping through the deeper level of our souls. I succumb. I got the Android phone and check th e Facebook newsfeed and Twitter mentions. And to my utter annoyance, the connection is stuck, just like this train. I sigh, desperately enough.

The guy announced again, only telling us to wait longer. The problem in Manggarai isn’t fixed yet and what hurts me eve more is the fact that the connection speed on this mobile phone goes a lot slower than snails. I now activate the 3G in hope that it’ll significantly boost the speed. Enough with the experiment, I switch the phone to airplane mode!


9.01 pm

It’s 9.01 pm and the God-blessed train isn’t moving yet. And this is sickening!  can’t even survive another hour. Please God, I beg of You…

Everyone starts to call or be callled by their dad, mom, or relatives at home. Can barely stand it any further.

Now I sincerely pray for the people at Manggarai that they can fix whatever the problem is IMMEDIATELY, considering it’s been more than 2 hours straight we’re in the train wasting our invaluable life time for cursing other innocent people.


10. 17 pm



Arab boy (7)

Frantically I searched for his name, that God-damn reporter name. his name sounds like a star constellation. I’d called him for like a thousand times but what I could talk with was his coworker, “Where’s he? What? Just go get him, knock on the rest room’s door if necessary. NOW!!!” The elderly pundit seemed restless, while I kept trying to get connected with this guy. “Why the hell is he is so long???”

The pundit had been whining since yesterday, as if he would’ve died once the reporter didn’t get the instruction he wanted to give. I don’t know why, he really insisted calling and talking to himself on his own.  This tiny young man is a pain in the ass, what’s taking him so long?

My cell phone vibrated, I felt it and immediately viewed the message. It was from him, saying he was away for a while for afternoon prayer. Afternoon prayer that took him 45 minutes? What kind of prayer was that? He must’ve asked lots of things with that much time.

I without delay dialed the phone. He answered the phone, I was relieved very much, “Hello, what was it that made you call me??”

I gave the phone to the pundit. He charismatically addressed the reporter at the age of his grandkids, “What’s his name?” he asked me. “Aldebaran, sir” I responded. He turned to the phone and drew it closer to the mouth,“ Hi Aldebaran, how you doing? Your name sounds like Arabic, are you one?” I could hear nothing but as far as I know, he’s not an Arab at all. Clean shaven, short, tiny with a bony facial structure, not much flesh , thin hair. An Arab should at least have sideburns, or a line of facial hair, but this is definitely nearly hairless.

“Arabic is usually shrewd,” he went on the ice-breaking part of the chat. Great to start a warm, heart-to-heart conversation. The next chat flow sounded blurred, he mumbled some words I could barely understand. With his fatherly tone, he began addressing the issue, “Why weren’t you coming yesterday?”

Poor man, he wasn’t invited. “How come you had no idea? I had invited your boss. There is no excuse you didn’t make it. The email was sent earlier. Ah, I know you’re in the bottom of this food chain.  Almost no one cared about you. But hey I still think they’re obliged to pass this on to you.”

Clinging to the Thinnest Strand

Just an ill-fated afternoon in 1994. I woke up only to find that I completely had no idea where I was. I was lying in bed, with my right leg banded all over. “What’s going on?” I wished I could’ve blurted a word out of my mouth. But I held my tongue, casting my sight to my surroundings.

The room looked very much like a ward at a local hospital. The last time I remembered where I was was I would go home along with my uncle and younger sister in Rembang, where we just had a holiday trip. Not a pleasant one. I hated the food, which simply tasted awful to my tasting buds. I guess that was the beginning of my unreasonable dislike of squids. We took a bus heading to Kudus, my hometown. And the rest was part of blurred history in my brain as I fell asleep throughout the bus trip.

Somehow I learned that we, the whole bus crew and passengers, just had a gruesome accident. To avoid hitting a biker, the bus driver directed the bus to another direction, resulting to a brutal collision with a gigantic tree and died the bus conductor at once. I later found this detailed explanation in a bundle of documents my father prepared to give the state insurance company (what was it? Jasa Raharja?) to claim the compensation.

As I regained my full consciousness, I  tried to find out what happened to my body after knowing that I was one of the casualties. Yet I couldn’t, too tired to do anything. Then I tried to move my legs. I could move my left one but couldn’t my right. “For God’s sake, does it mean I can’t walk any longer?”, I said by heart. I’ll spend my rest of life to walk with the assistance of crutches, that’s what I pictured in my immature mind. I just knew I broke my right leg, the right thigh bone to be exact.

Feeling so powerless even for shedding tears lamenting my broken thigh, I simply closed my eyelids. I tried to embrace this heart-wrenching  possibility (which I assumed to be a fixed , certain fact) that I would never ever walk normally again. My mind was wandering around.

(to be continued)

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