Something About Her

My encounter with her was not a coincidence, as is the case with people on the street or at school. You may call it fate, for meeting and watching over her is a direct command addressed to me by my boss with whom I have served for many years. I’m his favorite personnel, never argue, always do whatever he tells me to do.

I had no experience dealing with women and therefore this woman moved me to these wonderful new experiences inside my soul even though I only watched her pulling back her hair or stepping into high heels. She hardly did amazing things – but I enjoyed seeing her talk of trivial things, eat ice cream, and, especially, play music. One time I was deeply moved by the thrilling melody she played with her cello.

And when she made a mistake, however unrelated to me, I had got mad inside that I couldn’t accept her behavior so that I – who was usually calm and emotionless (even this thing had never approached me) – yelled at her and caused her leave in anger. My boss didn’t order me to yell; just do reporting to him. Which I deliberately didn’t do, because … because is there something in my heart? Because this time my emotions played a role, because for the first time I felt sure I had a mind of my own, which I had resolved myself.

Is this even true? I was acting awkward in confronting this reality, it was awfully unusual, it made me unable to sleep although many times I turned off the lights on the side of my bed and turned it on again because who knows it could wake me up from this madness.

Although we never met again afterwards and I was sure I was feeling fine, there was this strange drive spread through my fingers while pressing her phone number for unexplained purposes, and I forced myself to understand as she never picked them up.

My boss asked, “why are you doing this?” and I wasn’t sure how to explain. I reluctantly murmured things about conscience’s calling. He kept urging, distrusting. I didn’t have an idea yet that my boss had probably believed that I was secretly in love with her, which for him, was the reason for my defiance of duty. Not because I was a rebel. Not out of conscience. But because of her alone.

Something about her.

And so he had punished me real hard: injuring me to the last breath, wounding my body, even burying me alive.

I gradually realized that my disloyalty and dishonesty to his order is only a small matter; jealousy is the ultimate motive.

“Why do you punish me this way when I have been faithful to you for years?” I demanded, keeping my might to stay alive, crying my heart out.

“Do you really want her this much?” my boss asked in disbelief. It must had been quite shocking that his faithful dog apparently had a desire – that I broke through many hardest boundaries to earn it.

We were both silent. I ended his life. His men followed to do the same thing to me. I fell to the floor and could barely bear the remnants of my breath as my fingers, slowly – perhaps reflexively – dialed her number on my phone, out of the blue.

She replied on the other end. Her voice sounded delicate and weak. Finally, I thought, I really want to talk to you, I want us together to unravel any riddles of the world. Unable to speak, I heard somewhere the shuddering music she had used to play. The leaves were falling by the wind. Her smile to me behind the glass wall. My eyes blurred, remembering how I finally managed to smile when I first seeing her playing the music. I watched the leaves up there, and smiled again as my breath stopped.

——
Based on the movie A Bittersweet Life (2005), a Korean thought-provoking movie that has changed my life. I write this short story as my interpretation in regards of the movie, because it’s difficult to express my verdict about it perfectly – so much feels, so much lessons about life, so much pain it left you after seeing the ending credits. A very brilliant movie, I must say, very well-made, very astounding actors and actress; I haven’t seen any quite like this before.

Ode di Sudut Meja

SUDUT meja meredam kebisingan pengunjung. Sudut meja mendukung kesendirian. Memang agak temaram, tapi bukankah kegelapan membukakan mata terhadap cahaya.

Maka dia menarik kursi, lalu duduk, menyalakan komputer tablet, memainkan sebuah board game.

Pelayan datang menyajikan secangkir teh jahe. Dia mendongak, tersenyum sedetik, lalu menoleh ke jendela di sisinya. Di luar menyilaukan, maka tatapannya nyalang. Seperti mencari-cari.

Mendesah, dihirupnya teh seteguk. Hangatnya pas, sampai-sampai hatinya terasa ikut teraliri nikmatnya. Makanya dia paling gemar berkunjung kesini. Selain karena kemujaraban teh, juga karena Hamka.

Di mana sosok Hamka yang biasanya muncul mencangklong tas laptop besar dan memesan segelas susu dingin itu akhir-akhir ini?

***

BUKANNYA mereka berpacaran. Tidak, dia tidak merasa harus menjadikan Hamka pacar. Pertama, dia lebih memilih sendirian dan tak dicari-cari jika bepergian. Kedua, Hamka sudah punya pacar. Ya, yakin.

Lelaki itu pernah memegang tangannya. Sengaja, saat dia menceritakan kematian neneknya sambil tersedu-sedu. Baginya, tangan Hamka membaurkan sedih. Melahirkan cahaya baru di matanya. Sampai lalu telepon genggam di atas meja berdering, memunculkan nama seorang perempuan yang familiar, mematikan gejolak yang nyaris meledak.

Dan tak ada lagi cerita-cerita lucu yang biasa mereka bagi, sebab setelah itu Hamka pamit, pergi meninggalkan kota Kembang, jauh menuntut ilmu di negeri seberang.

***

MENANGIS itu wajar jika yang kamu tangisi adalah dia yang telah sepanjang waktu mengisi hati, lalu pergi. Tapi Hamka tak pernah selekat itu; mungkin nyaris, iya. Maka tak cukup wajar baginya menangisi kepergian Hamka yang ternyata tak cuma ke luar negeri–Hamka telah mati, nyawanya dihabisi kecelakaan lalu lintas.

Begitu jauh. Begitu mendadak.

Dan dia terus memutar ulang genggaman tangan itu, di meja itu, di sudut temaram itu. Saat Hamka masih di sini. Kadang dia tak pesan teh, melainkan susu, hangat (susu dingin membuatnya mulas), sekadar memainkan peran sebagai lidah Hamka. Hmmm. Rindunya.

Menjelang senja, dia mematikan komputer tablet, berkemas, mengeringkan matanya yang basah dengan kertas tisu.

Berjalan di trotoar, dia bertanya di hati, entah kepada siapa, apakah cinta sesungguhnya pelan-pelan menggerilya, meski hanya dia yang merasa?

Diiringi getir dan amukan bising kendaraan di jalan, diam-diam dipanjatkannya doa–masih susah percaya.