Island Getaway Unsung: Tidung

"Hey, let's have a beach getaway!"

"Sounds great. Where to?"


I was about to strangle my friend who proposed this idea, but then it hit me. Jakarta is not all about an over-crowded, over-polluted city. Jakarta is also about the high criminal rate and endless floo... err, that's not it. What I was trying to say is that Jakarta also has Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands) under its administration. The chain of islands are located north of Jakarta's shoreline and they have a lot to offer.
So after a long time of preparation, me and my friends went to Pulau Tidung, one of the islands in Kepulauan Seribu. We left from Bandung only a few hours after midnight, and we arrived in Jakarta really early in the morning. To take the ship that would take us to Pulau Tidung, we went to the pier in Muara Angke. OK, so the place smelled bad (it's a fish market, d'oh). But I was just glad that the place didn't really live up to its name (Muara Angke = carcass estuary).
Hm, something smells. Oh, it's Muara Angke in the morning

Sardines ready to leave for Tidung
I seriously thought that the ship carried more people than it can handle, we were all packed like sardines. But since I was with friends it wasn't so bad. We arrived on the island after approximately 2.5 hours, just like what people told us. I was feeling a bit under the weather at that time, but the promise of an enjoyable vacation gave me strength. White sandy beach and clear blue water, just what the doctor ordered!

After we've finished unpacking in our homestay, there were some funny moments as we tried to get familiar with our rented bicycles. God, when was the last time I rode a bicycle? But somehow we managed, and that afternoon the residents of Pulau Tidung saw six city geezers on their bikes going to the beach. From there, we took a boat to Pulau Ayer to do some snorkeling.

Sore eyes and sea water, perfect!
It was really a wonder to see the coral reefs teeming with all sort of underwater creatures in the shallow waters of Pulau Ayer. The clear water didn't hide anything, the fish went about just like they didn't care about us being there. Lucky for us, we have some pictures of our visit to the underwater garden courtesy of Phebe's camera. After a satisfying session of snorkeling, we went back to Pulau Tidung.

The fish didn't  run away when they saw us. Maybe because we smelled fishy?
There were various activities offered on the beach, we chose banana boat and canoeing. The banana boat ride turned out to be a so-so experience, but I somehow enjoyed canoeing. Yes, me. The lazy bum who hated sports. I might regret writing this in the future, but let's leave it at that for the moment.

Going bananas... nah, not really
Of course, there was also the legendary Jembatan Cinta (Love Bridge) that connects Pulau Tidung Besar (Big Tidung Island) and Pulau Tidung Kecil (Small Tidung Island). Did I jump off of it? Oh yes, I did! I even have a video to prove it. But I haven't got anything out of it yet. Aren't I supposed to meet the love of my life by now? What? Wrong legend?

Can you see the Love Bridge in the distance?
Ah, yes. I was expecting the food to be expensive, as usually they have the tendency to rip you off in touristy areas. But in Pulau Tidung, the price range was normal and the people were friendly. I remember thinking, "There's nothing 'Jakarta' about this place!"

All in all, it was a nice experience in Pulau Tidung. Despite all my aversion to the capital, I'm convinced that you can actually go to Jakarta for a vacation. The trick is; don't actually go to Jakarta. Ha.

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Only in Indonesia: Iftar for Idiots

As Ramadan will soon be drawing to an end, I'd like to share a story about Ramadan in my country. In Indonesia, Ramadan is the time to make rooms in your agenda for having iftar (breaking of the fast) together with friends and colleagues. Even if you are not Muslims and not fasting, you'll find yourselves with iftar invitations. Something that most Indonesians wouldn't want to miss since it's a perfect time to meet old friends or just to have those moments of bonding with your colleagues.

This story is about a friend of mine. He already has it written in his blog, but I think he wouldn't mind me making an English version of it (right, Tom-tom?). So let's just get started!

Once upon a time, there was this handsome sex sales executive. He was working on his daily chores when he received a call from a friend of his. Here's an excerpt of their conversation (real names withheld):
Ruhut Sitompul: Yo-yo-yo, Gie. Whaddup?
Kwik Kian Gie: My man, Ruhut! How about having iftar together this evening?
Ruhut Sitompul: Sounds terrific! I'm in!
Kwik Kian Gie: Kewl! Let me contact some of our friends.
Ruhut Sitompul: See you later, alligator!

*You think this conversation's lame? Wait until you meet the actual person. He's so lame, he makes Carrot Top look cool. Kidding! He's an awesome kid.*

To make a long story short, all of the invitees arrived at the designated eatery. After carefully inspecting all of his friends, Ruhut Sitompul came to a conclusion. "None of us here are really fasting huh, Gie?"

Wishing you all a Happy Eid-ul-Fitr 2011! Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1432H, Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin! Taqabalallahu Minna Wa Minkum, Shiyamana Wa Shiyamakum, Kullu'aalamin Wa Antum Bikhair...

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Ullen Sentalu: A Homage to the Women of the Javanese Courts

In the golden era of Indonesia's history when mighty empires flourished, Javanese women could be everything they wanted to be. High priestesses, admirals, governors, and even queens. Hell, they could even be swashbuckling maniacs ransacking foreign ships every other Sunday if they really wanted to. A few centuries ago, however, things changed for the worse for them. With the advent of Islam, women no longer have the right to ascend to the throne. As time goes by, more and more of their roles have been put aside, and now the idea of a Javanese woman is one who is docile and obedient. Javanese women are described as "konco wingking" which is Javanese for "a friend who walks right behind you," something that the society have become accustomed to.

Indeed it was a hard time for Javanese women. It was even worse for the women of courts. At least the commoners had their own freedom, their girls are free to make friends and even meet boys. Sounds a lot like your high school? That was the reality, even though their life was hard, at least they were free. The women of the courts had to follow strict rules that made them suffered even more. Sure, as noblewomen they had some access to education, they could even immerse themselves in art. Several royal batik motifs and court dances are believed to be created by women. Unfortunately, everything they created had to be attributed to the ruler and their names remained unknown. That's a really bright concept, isn't it. Just leave it to a delusional man to lead the people, no wonder these courts weren't very successful with the Western colonialists. In the end, you can not hide true beauty, even if you really try hard to. In most museums in Yogyakarta, the sultan is the focus and the women around him are all but ignored. It's like everybody is conspiring to feed his huge ego. But one particular museum in Yogyakarta takes you to the world behind the centuries-old veil to expose the true source of the light, the world of the women of the Javanese courts.

Ullen Sentalu stands for ulating blencong sejatining tataraning lumaku (Javanese: the light of the lamp is the light of the life). Located in Kaliurang Village, on the slopes of Mount Merapi, the museum blends in harmony with nature. The building which is built with natural stones is sheltered by trees, creating a serene atmosphere. Walk in cool shades of the trees as you go through lush gardens and courtyards. The museum's surrounding is inviting as it is, but the real attraction lies underground. The friendly and hospitable (and not to forget; English-speaking) guide will take you to Guwo Selo Giri, a fascinating stone labyrinth that kept the most inspiring tales of the princesses of the Mataram kingdom. There are sad stories, but there are happy ones as well. The women were repressed, but in no way they were silent observers. With their subtle whispers from the background, the women influenced the most important decisions made by the courts. Strong figures fought for what they believed in, resisting petty and old-fangled customs. After all, they might walk behind you. But that's a very strategical position. They drive you to a promised land, or they could shove you to the deepest demise.

This is an adventure which takes you to the past, which gives you a perspective on the present and the future. Women are the most important part of our society, the success of any nation depends on the roles of the women. Adults should come to educate themselves, and you should also take your children here to introduce them to local wisdom. Needless to say, a visit to this museum is a must when you're in Yogyakarta.

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Adopt Your Own Tree

With only Rp.50,000, you can adopt your own tree. You can even plant it yourself, like what we did a couple of months ago. My friends and I took a train from Bandung to Cicalengka. For a a very cheap fare (only Rp.5,000), the train is quite decent. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about the passengers. From Cicalengka we had to continue by a pickup truck to reach the Mt. Masigit Conversation Area. The ride was kinda bumpy, but it really paid off when we reached the conservation area. We absorbed the beautiful green scenery surrounding us for a moment, and then we're off to become tree guardians.

Why do they call it "tree guardians"? Apparently, the process is a bit like adopting your own child. The trees that we plant will become ours. We reserve the right to name them, we can even create our own mini-forests if we plant numerous trees. We will get our tree guardian certificates and you will act as foster parents for the trees you planted, even though in reality it's the residents of the area who will take care of them. Imagine, with only Rp.50,000 you'll get your own seed and it will be taken care of for the rest of its life! If the tree dies, we are entitled to ask for a replacement with the same species and age with the previous one.

There was this sense of satisfaction after we planted the trees. We felt like we were actually doing something for Mother Earth, when in fact what we did was leaving our "children" to total strangers hahahaha... But this is actually a part of the program. By involving the locals, the guys at  the Mt. Masigit Conservation Area hope that they can be more successful in saving the area from deforestation.

Aside from the tree-planting, we also had fun feeding the deers and exploring the river with canoes. They also have some tree-houses that we can rent. You can spend the night there for only Rp. 150,000. The house is pretty cozy, and it got the most important thing in the world: a bathroom with proper plumbing. There was also this flying-fox, but we didn't have the time to try it out since we had to catch the last train to Bandung.
Overall, it has been a wonderful experience. We're definitely going to go back to visit our "children"! Maybe next time you can join us to play our small part in caring for the Earth. Remember, we have only one Earth. So we better care for it if we don't want to lose it!

Special thanks to Imoel, Yosef, and Fitri for the wonderful pictures!

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Fantastic 4? What About Fantastic 1, 2, and 3?

My high school friends are so cool. Although we've left high school for like millions of light years ago, but each time meet it's always exciting and we feel like teenagers again (read: shameful), and for some reason, there is always a story to tell.

One of them is as follows (their real names are hidden to respect their so-called private life):

Michael "lipstick" Jackson: Let's watch something!
Catwoman: Hmmm, what should we watch?
Michael "lipstick" Jackson: How about Fantastic 4?
Catwoman: Oh, but I haven't watched Fantastic 1, 2, and 3.
(Note: This is a true story, honest!)

The story immediately spread to our other friends all over Indonesia. And of course as a good friend I felt the obligation to tell this story with great enthusiasm to practically anyone in every opportunity.

Actually this is an old story really (just imagine, the Fantastic Four was still in). But it suddenly came to our attention again, when a friend of mine in Jakarta suddenly sent me a message on facebook. She told me that she heard the same story which was broadcasted by Jakarta's Radio Gen FM. "How to tell if your friend is socially backward" was the name of the show.

Having consulted with others, we finally decided: There's no way you can find anyone else in this world who's as weird as our friend, and that story that was broadcasted by the radio was hers. If our assumption is right, isn't it a small world after all?

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Marriage: Natural or Artificial?

I've just read an interesting article from a link given by my Ms. Raden that makes me want to write. I have the urge to write it even more when I heard a friend of mine who fell sick because of the stress after being asked the same question over and over again by her parents.

Unfortunately I also feel kind of weary, and I do not have the right mood to make a proper writing good my blog. So for now I am just going to write just to share my thoughts with some friends. About what, you ask? About marriage.

What's up with marriage, anyway? Clearly, back in pre-historic time human did not have this weird thing called "marriage". If you liked someone, you could just cut to the chase and have your way in an instance. After done with your business, you could each continue with your own lives. If a woman was pregnant and eventually gave birth to a child, the only bond the child has was with the mother. In this way, women became a central figure for her descendants.

But then one day men suspected that they had a role in the phenomenon of proliferation. This arouse the desire to claim their descendants. At one point during the ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia, men increasingly asserted their power by forming an institution where men can pay an amount of dowry and provide for women's lives, and in return they get an exclusive sexual access.

So the idea of a marriage according to the major religions in the world today is nothing new at all. Centuries before, there were already various arrangements to restrict women so they won't be "mischievous", daughters to be always under the authority of their fathers and wives must obey their husbands. If the women resisted and rebelled, they will be given the label of "prostitute" and thus considered to be vile.

Whatever the reason (social, emotional, economic, spiritual, religious, legal, etc.), even people in the most modern societies these days are still being pressured to marry and start a household. Actually there is nothing wrong with it all. The problem is when for some reason people still have to fuss about marriage. Many have become extremely intolerant, condemning, and judgmental to other people who have the kinds of relationship that does not fit the norm that they believed in themselves. Yet the forms of marriage that they believed in are something that is subject to relativity , something that might have a parallel nature in many communities today but to consider it universal would be exaggerating.

If recently some people in Indonesia insisted on maintaining unregistered marriage or polygamy (or rather polygyny, one husband with multiple wives), I wonder if they can also accept the fact that there are a group of people in a not-so-distant part of the world that embrace polyandry (one wife with many husbands), or other group of people that allow women and men to mingle outside of wedlock?

Women of Mosuo ethnic group (PRC) has a very important role in their society. Couples in this tribe are not bound in wedlock. Every woman who are considered to be of age are allowed to have a separate room in her house in which she can let her lover come and visit at any given time. If the girl ever feel bored, all she had to do was to close the door and her lover would stop visiting. If a child was born out of this relationship, then the child would become a part of the mother's family and inherited his/her mother's family name.

And then there is another ethnic group named Nyinba Tribe that lived in southwestern Nepal. This tribe practice polyandry in which a woman can marry not just a man, but also his brothers.

The conclusion? What was the reason for me to write this lengthy note? There is no special reason, really. I just wanted to remind my dear friends who may be feeling pressured by society or family, that although it has become a solid institution for a long time, in the end marriage is just another manmade concept. As other manmade objects, these institutions are not perfect and they might not be suitable for everyone. Like any other human creation, these institutions can bring good and bad. I would like to remind also, that there are many ways and methods to establish a meaningful relationship. Just because something has become a custom for most people, it does not mean we should mindlessly concur just like that, just because we thought that we won't be happy if we don't follow them through.

But that does not mean I want you to stone pro-marriage people to death either! I just want to implore to you to seek your own happiness, your own way :)

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Kisah ini ditulis oleh Tasaro GK, penulis novel bestseller “Galaksi
Kinanthi”, ketua FLP Jawa Barat saat ini. Semoga kita bisa mengambil kebaikan dari cerita ini. Terima kasih kepada Sdr Lubis yang telah berbagi kisah ini kepada saya.

Di mana lagi aku temui perempuan semacammu?
Tilawahmu tidaklah terlalu merdu, keimananmu pun seolah bersandar
Tapi, di mana lagi aku temui perempuan seikhlasmu?
Wajahmu tak cantik melulu, masakanmu pun tidak lezat selalu.
Tapi, katakan kepadaku, di mana lagi aku jumpai perempuan seperkasamu?
Kau bahkan tidak biasa berbicara mewakili dirimu sendiri, dan acapkali
menyampaikan isi hatimu dalam bahasa yang tak berkata-kata.

Demi Tuhan, tapi aku benar-benar tidak tahu, ke mana lagi aku cari
perempuan seinspiratif dirimu?
Ingatkah lima tahun lalu aku hanya memberimu selingkar cincin 3 gram
yang engkau pilih sendirian? Tidak ada yang spektakuler pada awal
penyatuan kita dulu. Hanya itu. Karena aku memang tidak punya apa-apa.
Ah, bagaimana bisa aku menemukan perempuan lain sepertimu?

Aku tidak akan melupakan amplop-amplop lusuhmu, menyimpan lembaran
ribuan yang kausiapkan untuk belanja satu bulan. Dua ribu per hari.
Sudah kauhitung dengan cermat. Berapa rupiah untuk minyak tanah, tempe,
cabe, dan sawi. Ingatkah, Sayang? Dulu kita begitu akrab dengan racikan
menu itu. Setiap hari. Sekarang aku mulai merasa, itulah masa paling
indah sepanjang pernikahan kita.

Lepas maghrib aku pulang, berkeringat sebadan, dan kaumenyambutku dengan
tenang. Segelas air putih, makan malam: tempe, sambal, dan lalap sawi.
Kita bahagia. Sangat bahagia…..

Aku bercerita, seharian ada apa di tempat kerja. Kau memijiti punggungku
dengan jemarimu yang lemah tapi digdaya. Kau lalu bercerita tentang
tingkah anak-anak tetangga… Kala itu kita begitu menginginkan
hadirnya buah cinta yang namanya pun telah kusiapkan sejak
bertahun-tahun sebelumnya.
Kita tidak pernah berhenti berharap, kan, Honey?
Dua kali engkau menahan tangismu di ruang dokter saat kandunganmu mesti
digugurkan. Aku menyiapkan dadaku untuk kepalamu, lalu membisikkan
kata-kata sebisaku, "tidak apa-apa. Nanti kita coba lagi. Tidak

Di atas angkot, sepulang dari dokter, kita sama-sama menangis, tanpa
isak, dan menatap arah yang berlawanan. Tapi, masih saja kukatakan
kepadamu, "Tidak apa-apa, Sayang. Tidak apa-apa. Kita masih
muda." Engkau tahu betapa lukanya aku. Namun, aku sangat tahu,
lukamu berkali lipat lebih menganga dibanding yang kupunya. Engkau
selalu bisa segera tersenyum setelah merasakan sakit yang mengaduk
perutmu, saat calon bayi kita dikeluarkan. Kaumemintaku menguburkannya
di depan rumah kita yang sepetak. "Yang dalam, Kang. Biar nggak
digali anjing."
Jadi, ke mana aku bisa mencari perempuan sekuat dirimu?

Kaupasti tak pernah tahu, ketika suatu petang, sewaktu aku masih di
tempat kerja, hampir merembes air mataku ketika kauberitahu. "Kang,
Mimi ke Ujung Berung, jual cincin." Cincin yang mana lagi? Engkau
sedang membicarakan cincin kawinmu, Sayang. Yang 3 gram itu. Aku
membayangkan bagaimana kau beradu tawar menawar dengan pembeli emas
pinggir jalan. Bukankah seharusnya aku masih mampu memberimu uang untuk
makan kita beberapa hari ke depan? Tidak harus engkau yang ke luar
rumah, melawan gemetar badanmu, bertemu dengan orang-orang asing.
Terutama … untuk menjual cincinmu? Cincin yang seharusnya menjadi
monumen cinta kita. Tapi kausanggup melakukannya. Dan, ketika kupulang,
dengan keringat sebadan, engkau menyambutku dengan tenang. Malam itu,
tidak cuma tempe, cabe, dan lalap sawi yang kita makan. Kaupulang
membawa uang.

Duh, Gusti, jadi bagaimana aku sanggup berpikir untuk mencari perempuan
lain seperti dirinya?
Ketika kondisi kita membaik, bukankah engkau tidak pernah meminta
macam-macam, Cinta? Engkau tetap sesederhana dulu. Kaubelanja dengan
penuh perhitungan. Kauminta perhatianku sedikit saja. Kau kerjakan semua
yang seharusnya dikerjakan beberapa orang. Kaucintai aku sampai ke
lapisan tulang. Sampai membran tertipis pada hatimu.

Ingatkah, Sayang? Aku pernah menghadiahimu baju, yang setelah itu kautak
mau lagi membeli pakaian selama bertahun-tahun kemudian. Baju itu
seharga kambing, katamu. Kautak mau buang-buang uang. Bukankah telah
kubebaskan kau mengelola uang kita? Kautetap seperti dulu. Membuat
prioritas-prioritas yang kadang membuatku kesal. Kau lebih suka mengisi
celengan ayam jagomu daripada membeli sedikit kebutuhanmu sendiri.

Dunia, kupikir aku tak akan pernah menemui lagi perempuan seperti dia.
Sepekan lalu, Sayang, sementara di rahimmu anak kita telah sempurna,
kaumasih memikirkan aku. Menanyai bagaimana puasaku, bukaku, sahurku?
Siapa yang mencuci baju-bajuku, menyetrika pakaianku. Bukankah sudah
kupersilakan engkau menikmati kehamilanmu dan menyiapkan diri untuk
perjuanganmu melahirkan anak kita?

"Kang, maaf, ya, dah bikin khawatir, gak boleh libur juga gak papa.
Tadi tiba-tiba gak enak perasaan. Tau nih, mungkin krn bentar lagi."
Bunyi smsmu saat kudalam perjalanan menuju Jakarta. Panggilan tugas.
Dan, engkau sangat tahu, bagiku pekerjaan bukan neraka, tetapi komitmen.
Seberat apa pun, sepepat apa pun, pekerjaan adalah sebuah proses
menyelesaikan apa yang pernah aku mulai. Tidak boleh mengeluh, tidak
boleh menjadikannya kambing hitam. Membaca lagi SMSmu membuatku semakin
tebal bertanya, ke mana lagi kucari seorang pecinta semacammu.
Kaumencintaiku dengan memberiku sayap. Sayap yang mampu membawaku
terbang bebas, namun selalu memberiku alamat pulang kepadamu. Selalu.

Lalu SMS mu itu kemudian menjadi firasat. Sebab, segera menyusul
teleponmu, pecah ketubanmu. Aku harus segera menemuimu. Secepat-cepatnya
meninggalkan Bandung menuju Cirebon untuk mendampingimu. "Terus kamu
kenapa masih di sini? Pulang saja," kata atasanku ketika itu. Engkau
tahu, Sayang, aku masih berada di dalam meeting ketika teleponmu
mengabarkan semakin mendekatnya detik-detik lahirnya "tentara
kecil" kita. Ketika itu aku masih berpikir, boleh kuselesaikan
meeting itu dulu, agar tidak ada beban yang belum terselesaikan. Tapi,
tidak. Atasanku bilang, tidak. "Pulang saja," katanya. Baru
kubetul-betul sadar, memang aku segera harus pulang. Menemuimu.
Menemanimu. Lalu, kusalami mereka yang ada di ruang rapat itu satu-satu.
Tidak ada yang tidak memberikan dorongan, kekuatan, dukungan.

Lima jam kemudian aku ada di sisihmu. Seranjang sempit rumah sakit
dengan infuse di pergelangan tangan kirimu. Kaumulai merasakan mulas,
semakin lama semakin menggila. Semalaman engkau tidak tidur. Begitu juga
aku. Berpikir untuk memejamkan mata pun tak bisa. Aku tatap baik-baik
ekspresi sakitmu, detik per detik. Semalaman, hingga lepas subuh, ketika
engkau bilang tak tahan lagi. Lalu, aku berlari ke ruang perawat.
"Istri saya akan melahirkan," kataku yakin.

Bergerak cepat waktu kemudian. Engkau dibawa ke ruang persalinan, dan
aku menolak untuk meninggalkanmu. "Dulu ada suami yang ngotot
menemani istrinya melahirkan, lihat darah, tahu-tahu jatuh pingsan,"
kata dokter yang membantu persalinanmu. Aku tersenyum, yang pasti
laki-laki itu bukan aku. Sebab aku merasa berada di luar ruang
persalinan itu akan jauh lebih menyiksa. Aku ingin tetap di sisihmu.
Mengalirkan energi lewat genggaman tanganku, juga tatapan mataku.

Terjadilah. Satu jam. Engkau mengerahkan semua tenaga yang engkau tabung
selama bertahun-tahun. Keringatmu seperti guyuran air. Membuat mengilap
seluruh kulitmu. Terutama wajahmu. Menjerit kadangkala. Tanganmu
mencengkeram genggamanku dengan kekuatan yang belum pernah kurasakan
sebelumnya. Kekuatan yang lahir oleh kesakitan. Engkau sangat kesakitan,
sementara "tentara kecil" kita tak pula mau beranjak.

"Banyak kasus bayi sungsang masih bisa lahir normal, kaki duluan.
Tapi anak ini kakinya melintang," kata dokter. Aku berusaha tenang.
Sebab kegaduhan hatiku tidak bisa membantu apa-apa. Kusaksikan lagi
wajah berpeluhmu, Sayang. Kurekam baik-baik, seperti fungsi kamera
terbaik di dunia. Kusimpan lalu di benakku yang paling tersembunyi.
Sejak itu kuniatkan, rekaman itu akan kuputar jika suatu ketika
kuberniat mencurangimu, menyakitimu, melukaimu, mengecewakanmu. Aku akan
mengingat wajah itu. Wajah yang hampir kehilangan jiwa hanya karena
ingin membuatku bahagia.

"Sudah tidak kuat, Kang. Nggak ada tenaga," bisikmu persis di
telingaku. Karena sengaja kulekatkan telingaku ke bibirmu. Aku tahu, ini
urusan nyawa. Lalu kumerekam bisikanmu itu. Aku berjanji pada hati,
rekaman suaramu itu akan kuputar setiap lahir niatku untuk
meminggirkanmu, mengecilkan cintamu, menafikkan betapa engkau permata
bagi hidupku.

Aku mengangguk kepada dokter ketika ia meminta kesanggupanku agar engkau
dioperasi. Tidak ada jalan lain. Aku membisikimu lagi, persis di
telingamu, "Mimi kuat ya. Siap, ya. Ingat, ini yang kita tunggu
selama 5 tahun. Hayu semangat!"
Engkau mengangguk dengan binar mata yang hampir tak bercahaya. Aku tahu,
ini urusan nyawa. Tapi mana boleh aku memukuli dinding, menangis
sekencang angin, lalu mendongak ke Tuhan, "Kenapa saya, Tuhan!
Kenapa kami?" Sebab, Tuhan akan menjawab, "Kenapa bukan kamu?
Kenapa bukan kalian?"

Aku mencoba tersenyum lagi. Mengangguk lagi kepadamu. "Semua akan
baik-baik saja." Maka menunggumu di depan ruang operasi adalah saat
di mana doa menjadi berjejal dan bernilai terkhusyuk sepanjang hidup.
Seandainya aku boleh mendampingi operasimu…. Tapi tidak boleh. Aku
menunggumu sembari berkomat-kamit sebisaku. Aku sendirian. Berusaha
tersenyum, tetapi sendirian. Tidak … tidak terlalu sendirian. Ada
seseorang mengirimiku pesan pendek dan mengatakan kepadaku, "Aku ada
di situ, menemanimu." Kalimat senada kukatakan kepadanya suatu kali,
ketika dia mengalami kondisi yang memberatkan. "Apa kepala bebalmu
tidak merasa? Aku ada di situ! Menemanimu!"

Lalu, tangis itu! Rasanya seperti ada yang mencabut nyawaku dengan cara
terindah sedunia. Tangis itu! Tentara kecil kita. Menjadi gila rasanya
ketika menunggu namaku disebut. Berlari ke lorong rumah sakit ketika
tubuh mungil itu disorongkan kepadaku. "Ini anak Bapak…"

Tahukah engkau, Sayang. Ini bayi yang baru keluar dari rahimmu, dan aku
harus menggendongnya. Bukankah dia terlau rapuh untuk tangan-tangan
berdosaku? Dokter memberiku dukungan. Dia tersenyum dengan cara yang
sangat senior. "Selamat, ya. Bayinya laki-laki."

Sendirian, berusaha tenang. Lalu kuterima bayi dalam bedongan itu. Ya,
Allah….bagaimana membahasakan sebuah perasaan yang tidak terjemahkan
oleh semua kata yang ada di dunia??? Makhluk itu terpejam tenang semacam
malaikat; tak berdosa. Sembari menahan sesak di dadaku, tak ingin
menyakitinya, lalu kudengungkan azan sebisaku. Sebisaku. Sebab, terakhir
kukumandangkan azan, belasan tahun lalu, di sebuah surau di pelosok
Gunung Kidul. Azan yang tertukar redaksinya dengan Iqomat.

Mendanau mataku. Begini rasanya menjadi bapak? Rasanya seperti tertimpa
surga. Aku tak pedul lagi seperti apa itu surga. Rasanya sudah tidak
perlu apa-apa lagi untuk bahagia. Momentum itu berumur sekitar lima
menit. Tentara kecil kita diminta oleh perawat untuk dibersihkan.
Ingatanku kembali kepadamu. Bagaimana denganmu, Sayang? Kukirimkan kabar
tentang tentara kecil kita kepada seseorang yang semalaman menemani kita
bergadang dari kejauhan. Dia seorang sahabat, guru, inspirator, pencari,
dan saudara kembarku. "He is so cute," kata SMS ku kepadanya.
Sesuatu yang membuat laki-laki di seberang lautan itu menangis dan
mengutuk dirinya untuk menyayangi bayi kita seperti dia merindukan
dirinya sendiri. Sebuah kutukan penuh cinta.

Setengah jam kemudian, berkumpul di ruangan itu. Kamar perawatan kelas
dua yang kita jadikan kapal pecah oleh barang-barang kita. Engkau, aku,
dan tentara kecil kita. Seorang lagi; keponakan yang sangat membantuku
di saat-saat sulit itu. Seorang mahasiswi yang tentu juga tidak tahu
banyak bagaimana mengurusi bayi. Tapi dia sungguh memberiku tangannya
dan ketelatenannya untuk mengurusi bayi kita.

Engkau butuh 24 jam untuk mulai berbicara normal, setelah sebelumnya
seperti mumi. Seluruh tubuhmu diam, kecuali gerakan mata dan sedikit
getaran di bibir. Aku memandangimu, merekam wajahmu, lalu berjanji pada
hati, 50 tahun lagi, engkau tidak akan tergantikan oleh siapa pun di
dunia ini.

Lima hari, Sayang. Lima hari empat malam kita menikmati bulan madu kita
sebenar-benarnya. Aku begitu banyak berimprovisasi setiap hari.
Mengurusi bayi tidak pernah ilmunya kupelajari. Namun, apa yang harus
kulakukan jika memang telah tak ada pilihan? Aku menikmati itu. Berusaha
mengurusmu dengan baik, juga menenangkan tentara kecil kita supaya
tangisnya tak meledak-ledak.

"Terima kasih, Kang," katamu setelah kubantu mengurusi kebutuhan
kamar mandimu. Lima tahun ini apa keperluanku yang tidak engkau urus,
Sayang? Mengapa hanya untuk pekerjaan kecil yang memang tak sanggup
engkau lakukan sendiri, engkau berterima kasih dengan cara paling tulus
sedunia? Lalu ke mana kata "terima kasih" yang seharusnya
kukatakan kepadamu sepanjang lima tahun ini? Tahukah engkau, kata
"terima kasih" mu itu membuat wajahmu semelekat maghnet paling
kuat di kepalaku.

Mengurusimu dan bayi kita. Lima hari itu, aku menemukan banyak gaya
menangisnya yang kuhafal di luar kepala, agar aku tahu apa pesan yang
ingin dia sampaikan. Gaya kucing kehilangan induk ketika ia buang
kotoran. Gaya derit pintu ketika dia merasa kesepian, gaya tangis bayi
klasik (seperti di film-film atau sandiwara radio) jika dia merasa tidak
nyaman, dan paling istimewa gaya mercon banting; setiap dia kelaparan.
Tidak ada tandingnya di rumah sakit bersalin yang punya seribu nyamuk
namun tidak satu pun cermin itu. Dari ujung lorong pun aku bisa tahu itu
tangisannya meski di lantai yang sama ada bayi-bayi lain menangis pada
waktu bersamaan.

Ah, indahnya. Tak pernah bosan kutatapi wajah itu lalu kucari jejak
diriku di sana. Terlalu banyak jejakku di sana. Awalnya kupikir 50:50
cukup adil. Agar engkau juga merasa mewariskan dirimu kepadanya. Tapi
memang terlalu banyak diriku pada diri bayi itu. Hidung, dagu, rahang,
jidat, tangis ngototnya, bahkan detail cuping telinga yang kupikir tidak
ada duanya di dunia. Ada bisik bangga, "Ini anakku… anak
laki-lakiku. " Tapi tenang saja, istriku, kulitnya seterang dan
sebening kulitmu. Rambutnya pun tak seikal rambutku. Kuharap, hatinya
kelak semembentang hatimu.

Kupanggil dia Sena yang berarti tentara. Penggalan dari nama
sempurnanya: Senandika Himada. Sebuah nama yang sejarahnya tidak
serta-merta. Panjang dan penuh keajaiban. Senandika bermakna berbicara
dengan diri sendiri; kontemplasi, muhasabbah, berkhalwat dengan Allah.
Sedangkan Himada memiliki makna yang sama dengan Hamida atau Muhammad:
YANG TERPUJI… dan itulah doa kita untuknya bukan, Sayang? Kita ingin
dia menjadi pribadi yang terpuji dunia akhirat. Kaya nomor sekian,
pintar pun demikian, terkenal apalagi. Yang penting adalah terpuji…
mulia…dan ini bukan akhir kita, bukan, Honey? Ini menjadi awal yang
indah. Awalku jatuh cinta (lagi) kepadamu.

(persembahan buat setiap perempuan, dan ibu yang hatinya semembentang

Silakan membagi kisah ini kepada orang-orang terdekat Anda, karena kita semua adalah anak dari seorang ibu yang pantas dijunjung tinggi. Khususnya silakan dibagi kepada para suami agar lebih menyadari arti seorang istri.

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Southeast Asian Masterpieces

Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity was made by the Director-General of UNESCO starting in 2001 to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage and encourage local communities to protect them and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural expressions.
Several manifestations of intangible heritage around the world were awarded the title of Masterpieces to recognize the value of the non-material component of culture, as well as entail the commitment of states to promote and safeguard the Masterpieces. Further proclamations occurred biennially until 2005.
To date, a total of 90 Masterpieces from 70 countries have been proclaimed. It's a long list, but I would like to focus on Southeast Asian masterpieces.
The Royal Ballet of Cambodia
Sbek Thom, Khmer Shadow Theatre
The Wayang Puppet Theatre
The Indonesian Kris
The Indonesian Batik
Mak Yong Theatre
The Darangen Epic of the Maranao People of Lake Lanao
Nha Nhac, Vietnamese Court Music
Space of Gong Culture
The Quan ho folk songs

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A Message of Peace on the Holy Month

Look at this building and have a guess... What do you see? A Hindu temple? Or a Buddhist one, perhaps? In fact, this is an Islamic mosque. The name is Masjid Menara Kudus located in Kauman Village, Central Java, Indonesia.

This old minaret of the mosque built by Sunan Kudus (one of the '9 Saints' credited for the spread of Islam on Java island) in 1549 adopted traditional Javanese architecture of that time, which was heavily influenced by Hindu and Buddhist styles. Sunan Kudus was very gentle and tolerant to the local culture. He made good use of the symbolisms in Hinduism and Buddhism such as Noble Eightfold Path ('Ārya'ṣṭāṅga mārgaḥ' in Buddhism) and manifested it into architecure (especially for mosques, minarets, entrance gates, and place of ablutions).

To respect the Hindus, on one occasion he deliberately tied his cow on the courtyard of his mosque. The Hindus who revered cows soon felt sympathetic after listening to his explanation. To this very day, there are still a lot of people in the area (most of them are Muslims) who refused to slaughter bulls and cows out of respect to his teachings.

Isn't it a wonderful world if respect each other and maintain peace? As the new moon begins to reveal itself in the nightsky, we would like to wish our Muslim sisters and brothers Ramadan Kareem, Happy Ramadan! May this holy month shower blessing upon you and the entire world. Let peace be your guide! Selamat Menunaikan Ibadah Puasa Bulan Suci Ramadhan!

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Hospital Blues

Setelah menghabiskan beberapa hari di dalam RS, saya tiba-tiba disadarkan tentang nikmatnya kesehatan dan mahalnya biaya perawatan di tanah air. Saya masih merasa beruntung karena dikelilingi oleh keluarga dan teman-teman yang peduli dengan saya. Menghabiskan hari kebangkitan nasional di RS, miris rasanya membayangkan masih banyaknya saudara-saudara kita yang menderita karena penyakit mereka namun terhalang oleh biaya yang mahal. Tuhan, beri kekuatan bagi bangsa ini untuk bangkit, seluruh jiwa dan raga rakyatnya dan juga pemerintahnya untuk mengatasi segala kesulitan dan menyongsong hari esok yang lebih baik.

Agak terlambat, tapi tak lupa saya ucapkan Selamat Hari Trisuci Waisak 2552 bagi yang merayakannya.

Our deepest respect to the great teacher, may peace be bestowed upon our earth, blessing each and everyone of us. Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta. Semoga Semua Makhluk Berbahagia.

pic credit: national geographic

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