dua setengah (+ satu) tahun

pada hari Minggu pagi yang berawan dan sedikit gerimis aku sedang bersiap-siap berangkat untuk menyelesaikan beberapa urusan. pada kebetulan yang sedikit aneh kuperhatikan di cermin bahwa aku sedang mengenakan kaos warna marun dan jins berwarna hitam, yang ketika kuingat-ingat lagi, ternyata serupa dengan waktu dulu.

satu tahun sudah berlalu, dan aku ingat waktu itu aku juga mengenakan kaos warna marun dan celana panjang hitam.

satu tahun setelah aku kembali ke sini, dan tulisan ini diawali dengan cerita tentang kaos dan jins dan entah apa yang menjadi cerita tentang pemiliknya. entah pula apakah ini cara yang bagus, ya.

tapi mungkin seperti itu juga tidak apa-apa.

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satu-dua kilometer berjalan kaki dari rumah, dari tempat ini kalau diteruskan kita akan sampai ke daerah pertokoan. toko elektronik, bank, dan restoran. di sisi seberangnya ada dua ruas jalan searah yang saat ini sudah dibeton rapi. di seberangnya lagi ada toko Holland Bakery dengan menara dan kincir angin yang khas.

aku menyusuri trotoar. setelah gerimis tadi jalanan jadi sedikit basah. mobil dan sepeda motor berlalu-lalang. udara sedikit dingin dan lembab, demikian seusai hujan juga jadi tidak banyak debu.

tempat ini juga berubah, dan kurasa mungkin aku juga.

dalam satu tahun sejak aku kembali menulis di sini—dan pada gilirannya kembali menemui orang-orang lagi setelah sekian lama—selama itu pula hal-hal juga terjadi dan berlalu.

bahwa akhirnya aku punya jaket baru, misalnya. walaupun ternyata modelnya mirip-mirip juga dengan yang sebelumnya. (aku tidak keberatan)

atau bahwa ketika aku berangkat tadi tidak lagi ada ibu yang menanyakan apakah aku ingin membawa jaket dengan tudung atau sejenisnya. (kali ini aku membawanya dalam ransel)

atau pula tentang cerita dan orang-orang; ada yang pergi, ada yang datang, dan ada yang kembali.

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melangkah keluar dari gedung tempat pengiriman paket, di seberang kuperhatikan gedung swalayan Super Indo yang pada tahun lalu tutup saat ini sudah buka kembali, dan dalam beberapa puluh langkah kemudian aku sudah berada di pelataran.

pada awal tahun lalu tempat ini sempat tutup cukup lama, tapi kalau dilihat kembali saat ini tampilannya sudah kembali resik dan rapi. di lantai atasnya kini ada toko perkakas Ace Hardware dan di lantai lainnya toko furnitur Informa dengan aksen putih dan biru tua.

kuperhatikan pengunjung tampak sedikit ramai menjelang siang pada hari Minggu, masing-masing mengenakan masker dan mencuci tangan di dekat pintu masuk. demikian itu jadi aku hanya belanja seperlunya saja, tapi pada umumnya memang lebih nyaman dibandingkan sebelum perbaikan tahun lalu.

kupikir-pikir lagi, mungkin juga pada akhirnya kita semua juga menyesuaikan diri, ya.

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waktu berlalu dan kita juga berubah. walaupun mungkin tidak sepenuhnya dan tidak semuanya.

pada hari ini dalam kebetulan yang sedikit aneh aku mengenakan kaos warna marun dan celana jins hitam. serupa dengan kira-kira satu tahun lalu, tapi juga tidak sama persis: bukan kaos yang sama, bukan jins yang sama. walaupun serupa.

banyak hal berubah. sebagian lain tetap. dan dengan semuanya itu kita hanya mencoba melangkah saja, sebaik-baik yang kita bisa, walaupun ada kalanya masih tersandung juga.

tapi setidaknya, untuk saat ini, aku di sini.

walaupun, entah, mungkin akan lebih mudah seandainya di sisi langkah ini tidak selalu harus semuanya sendiri.

on recovery

twenty-three days into the new year. in these days things have been mostly back to normal, or rather, the person has been recovering, if one could put it that way.

though it does take time. on the other hand probably not in the traditional sense; like if one were to say ‘time heals all wounds’, it would probably be as helpful as saying ‘just don’t think of it and get on with life’.

not that it’s wrong, but I digress…

(c) Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

 

I remember the parallel I read once.

let’s say you are in a room with only one door. suddenly, one of the columns becomes dislodged, and if it falls it would be really dangerous for the person inside, i.e. you. so you hold your back against the dislodged column so that it won’t fall, while calling outside and people to help you get out of the place.

let’s say an hour later help comes, with the heavy equipment to alleviate you from the burden. you are finally free, you could finally walk out to safety, but then you realize that you couldn’t really walk right; your muscles feel sore, also with spasms that your gait doesn’t feel quite right.

strange, but you didn’t feel anything, not until you walk away and take some distance from the situation at least. and as one could have guessed, for the next few days you will likely have backaches and sore muscles.

but that’s normal. and that’s okay. whether physical or psychological, similar things apply too.

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people often tell me that I might have been a little bit too hard on myself at times. probably rightly so. ‘I should have been all right’. ‘I have responsibilities’. ‘I want to be back as soon as possible’. that’s what I often found me telling myself.

but it doesn’t work that way. if I had fracture on my leg, I couldn’t simply be expecting to ‘man up’ and walk again in three days. I mean, I could, but I wouldn’t be able to walk anyway. and, again, be it broken leg or broken heart, similar things apply too.

of course, me being me, I would probably (stupidly) think ‘excuse, excuse…’. and, of course, we could probably agree that it’s not really that helpful.

three years.

in the three years I may have been holding the proverbial column on my own, with no other choices but to take care of myself on my own. and I felt fine, really felt fine, probably just like the man in the room.

but then I couldn’t walk right for a while. and that’s… normal, actually.

three months.

in the three months I might have found it hard, or rather not so easy, to deal with all the loss, the recoil, and everything that comes with the package.

but expecting full recovery in three months after three years are probably too soon after all. maybe I’m expecting too much from myself too. but things do get better. or rather, the person does get better. in time. probably further 5-8 weeks (for me) to be back firing on all cylinders though…

but for me, right now, one step at a time. that would be good enough.

pts (- d)

in the morning on a Tuesday I woke up. it wasn’t pleasant. sometimes in Saturday evenings too, after a supposed quick nap, or at times in a Friday night too.

the palpitation. shortness of breath. someone’s writhing in pain. the sounds being replayed in silence.



let’s talk about what we don’t talk about when we talk about trauma, or rather the psychological aspect of it: that the ones experiencing are not necessarily aware about their existence. not until the stressors subside, not until the battle is over or whatever metaphor have you.

‘but you always seem to be well’. ‘but you managed to get through all that’. ‘but it is over already’.

if only it works that way.

we like to think that there is always supposed to be one point in time where the intense experience defined the trauma. it doesn’t necessarily work that way. there is another, less popular kind where one got the inconvenient gift through extended period of living on the edge.

the intense one-off shatters with a bang. the prolonged exposure destroys in silence.

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when you are in a siege, feelings take back seat. probably an involuntary numbness too. you calculate, decide, and work on things with the situations and uncertainties at hand.

you don’t have time to feel sore. you even feel okay-ish, taking things on, functioning well in social settings, getting things done in professional environments. basically, you are feeling fine. because in a way, even if subconsciously, you can’t afford not to.

three years.

wherein your heart breaks bits by bits every day, uncertainties assault from multiple fronts, sprinkled with palpable and audible pain of someone literally dying.

in the year that was, the assaults went full force in an unprecedented storm of circumstances.

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even broken clocks are right two times a day.

in the Thursday morning I woke up, that was hell. it was the writhing pain, the faint ‘I’m sorry’ I remembered, and the flashes of moments in the year that was. took some intense moments. managed to wake up and getting things done at work anyway. all the professionalism and the expected results.

the moments after that, though, were different story. ‘am I good enough’. ‘do I deserve others’. ‘am I too selfish’. ‘do I want too much’. probably the recoil. probably giving up too much in the process, probably for worse too.

I remember the joke, ‘the boy has more issues than National Geographic’. probably rightly so.

but, yeah, at least even broken clocks are right two times a day.

on family, or the unrelatability of it

yesterday, in one of the occasions in a new year, I went out for quite a bit. meeting people, looking at people. I saw a family of three generations. they seemed happy.

made me wonder how it feels to grow up in a ‘normal’ family. never had one. never knew any of the grandparents. didn’t have much time with Dad. then again I still had it better than it was to him. no parents since early years. left the town for junior high school.

Dad, in Mom’s affectionate words, was ‘growing wild’. I remember it was from the song Nobody’s Child; ‘no mommy’s kisses, no daddy’s smiles’. something like that. but Dad was a good person. he was kind and friendly to everyone.

I wonder how it feels to have a ‘normal’ family.

back when I was in primary school, there was this writing assignment for the class about our grandfathers and grandmothers. I didn’t know what to write, so I just wrote two or three lines that they had passed. I think others in the class wrote at least half to one page on their notebooks.

I remember once when I was little. I was still in primary school. there was this photograph in the cupboard at home, framed with an ornate decoration. Mom and Dad wasn’t a fan of putting up photographs, so that was probably why it was left in the cupboard.

it was Mom and Dad’s wedding photograph.

I remember asking why Dad’s eyes ‘looked strange’, to which Mom replied that Dad was crying on the wedding day. she said that he remembered his parents, those that passed away years before, so it messed up a bit with the wedding make up.

but Dad wasn’t alone in that too. Mom didn’t have her parents either. they had both passed away for years. I remember hearing the story that grandma died right before Mom’s scheduled exam at the medical school. she took the exam anyway and still aced it, or so I heard.

I wonder how it feels to have a ‘normal’ family.

I didn’t have much time with Dad. it was on a Wednesday afternoon when I was still in primary school. I remember I was drawing some kind of soldier in medieval armor, sword and shield and whatnot. that’s when I learned that Dad had passed.

I remember I didn’t cry, and I was still sort of joking with the classmates who came at the funeral. I felt fine. but the after effect hours and days later was, well, not so pleasant.

so, yeah, I never really had a ‘normal’ family, I guess.

that had always been a theme growing up. Dad did his best, as did Mom with all we had. I wasn’t Mom’s only child, so sometimes I got my report card taken by an aunt—not that I mind, she was one of the cool kind too. it wasn’t perfect, but we also knew we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Mom did her best. she really did her best with all we had, all the way until the very end. so when she passed, that was something we accepted. no one said it was easy. but that was also something we accepted.

but still, sometimes I wonder how it feels to have a ‘normal’ family.

I went to weddings and saw the couple with their parents. no such chance for me anyway anymore. I went to a cousin’s home and the kids were calling their grandparents with the video feed. I didn’t even know how it is to actually have one. I saw a friend saying ‘I have the best Dad in the world’. I thought, well, maybe I did too. I never knew.

in a new year I went out quite a bit. I met people, I saw people. families, or the unrelatability of it, perhaps not unlike through the looking glass, something feels so familiar yet also something I never really knew.

I don’t know how it actually is to those people. I really don’t. but honestly, though, I do hope it would be something nice for those people to cherish.