Breaking up with Siti

Breaking up with a boyfriend is bad enough. Unless you’re truly unlucky, you’ll have your girlfriends to catch you, commiserate with you, tolerate your wailing over him, and more or less nurse you back to normal. But, what happened when you break up with your best pal? Who will be there to catch you?

I became an expatriate in 8th grade. We moved to Jeddah and somehow my English was deemed good enough to go to an international school there. So there I was, the only Indonesian kid there, not knowing a single soul nor understanding anything. New and confused, I was so happy when I met Siti during recess. Here’s someone who looked like me, came from a neighbouring country, shared some Malay language and voila, I found a friend. It’s not that my classmates were horrible, just the opposite, is just that in Siti I felt I found someone with the same wavelength. Soon we start spending most recess time together, yakking on the phone, she even invited me for sleep overs at her house.

As Siti is a diplomat’s child, this was not the first time she lived abroad. Unlike me, she’s lived in Bonn and some other countries, can’t remember where now. She helped me practice my English, introduced me to Anne of Green Gables, and checking out the cute guys in school. Along with my classmates, she was quite influential in making my schooldays a happy, pleasant experience. Or so I thought.

Summer came and went. This was not the era of emails so we basically lost touch during the holidays. I wasn’t a great letter writer nor was she. Wasn’t really looking forward to returning to Jeddah, but the thoughts of seeing my friends again cheered me up considerably. So of course on the first day we shrieked and hugs the way only teenage girls do. Better and more confident in my English, 9th grade is going to be a blast!

And it was at first. We decided to auditioned for the school plays. We both ended up in the chorus but it doesn’t matter. Siti and I had much fun learning the songs and dance routine. Even though we’re just the chorus, performing was great fun. I was really enjoying my days and felt really lucky to have Siti to share it with me.

Then school breaks for New Year. When we came back, I noticed Siti wasn’t as excited to see me. But she still hangs out with me so I thought she must be just tired or something. Slowly I noticed she kinda withdrew from me. She still sit at our table but she just seem distracted. Then she start spending time with other people, not really returning my calls, until she finally said well, it’s been nice knowing you but I think I’m going to hang out with other people now. Or something to that effect.

I was stunned. What did I do?

I wrote her a note. Years before I read Cosmo, she gave me this overrated line,”It’s no you, it’s me. I think you’re great!” If I’m so great then why? I was in denial about her breaking up with me. We’ve been sitting together in Business class until one day she was summoned by her new friends and move to sit with her making it crystal clear where her loyalty lies now.

Yes folks. She moved with the in-crowd and I’m not so out I go. I think I actually cried at school after that business class. It stung like hell to be dropped just like that. It really is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend. How do you manage to bounce back from that?

Luckily I do have other friends. It was a rather big school after all. The girls from my home room were my lifesaver. They were the ones that catch me and picked me up. They knew me, watched me grow from this quiet kid to somewhat chatty person as I get more fluent, accept me as I am, embraced me and lend me their shoulders. They were on my side, was just as outraged at what they see as ‘betrayal’. See, it wasn’t just me she shunned, it was practically the whole group. She had to. She can’t be seen with us ‘losers’ if she wants to be invited to parties.

Eventually I get over it. So I’m not with the in-crowd. So what? At least I’m nobody’s lapdog. But, after Siti, I don’t trust people as easily. Scarred for life, I build my wall of protection. I became a sort of pessimist, taking things with a pinch of salt. Which is funny because years later, in uni a friend of mine says I’m an open book who wears her heart on her sleeves. (Well, maybe to you Conde cuz you’re one of my bestmate ๐Ÿ˜‰

I still find it hard to make friends especially now I’m out of school and in the real world. It doesn’t help that the few bestfriends that I do have are spread all over, none are close to me. But I have faith and hope that one day I will have a best friend again, someone I can call and talk to in good times and bad times.
As for Siti, well I lost touch after we graduated. Wasn’t exactly keen to send her postcards. No idea what she’s up to now.

So there you have it. Breaking up with a girl friend is just awful. It’s not like you can burn her love letters to feel cathartic; friends don’t write each other love notes. But if you just ride it out, with the help of other friends, you’ll get over it. Life really does go on.

*to Z, A, Z, M, you guys are the best. I’m eternally grateful. Kisses. Miss you lots!*


Cerita Jumat: Tirai Puasa

Belakangan ini sering terdengar seruan, “Hormatilah yang tidak puasa.” Tinggal di Indonesia yang majemuk tentunya butuh toleransi yang besar, ada beberapa yg masuk akal, ada juga yang buat saya rada lebay. Apa aja sih?

1. Berisiknya masjid kami.
Di bulan Ramadhan, speaker-speaker masjid memang sepertinya disetel pada volume maximus. Dari bacaan tarawih sampai tadarusan menanti Subuh. Apalagi disertai panggilan untuk sahur.
Kalau kata guru saya, memang harus lihat-lihat suasana. Adzan tentu harus kencang, namanya juga penanda waktu. Tapi tadarus? Apalagi maaf maaf, kalau yang melantunkannya tidak merdu. Alih2 terhibur kuping guru saya juga gatel mendengar pelafalan yang kurang tepat. Jadi ada baiknya dipikirkan untuk mengecilkan volumenya dan pilihlah yang lafalnya bagus kalau memang mau pakai mic.
Perlu gak sih dibangunin sahur? Di satu sisi memang benar kita punya weker bisa setel sendiri. Di sisi lain kalau memang penduduk atau warga setempat mayoritas Muslim kenapa tidak? Siapa tau ada yg lupa setel wekernya? Caranya saja yang diperhalus. Juga mungkin tidak perlu dibangunkan pagi-pagi banget, setengah jam sebelum imsak saja. Sekedar menggetarkan tiang listrik tidak terlalu intrusif kan?

2. Larangan menjual makanan di siang hari.
Kalau ini rasanya agak lebay ya mengingat ritme kehidupan berjalan biasa saja selama Ramadhan, tidak dibalik seperti di Saudi. Kalau mereka dilarang berjualan, bagaimana mereka mencari uang?

Kalau klub malam? Yah rasanya lucu aja mereka buka 11 bulan dalam setahun. Trus selama sebulan itu pegawainya gimana? Apa gak lebih baik tutup aja selamanya? Tapi ya balik lagi, kan majemuk la haiii. Entahlah yang ini ntar aja klo jadi gubernur baru dipikirkan. As if ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. Pemasangan pembatas di tempat makan.
Hmm… Memang sih seyogianya kita udah pada kuat semua menahan lapar jadi gak usah ditutup. Klo niatnya kuat ada yang makan di depan kita juga gak kepingin kok.

Cuma… Nah kalau ini sih lebih ke pendapat pribadi ya. Kalau semuanya dituruti, speaker masjid dimatiin, tempat makan nblas aja, jadi gak kerasa puasanya. Garing! Tinggal bertahun-tahun di negeri non-muslim asli kangen sama tirai-tirai penutup itu. Buat saya jadi kerasa beda. Ini bulan Ramadhan. Bulan yang spesial. Oh tentu kalau mau disingkap silahkan saja, tapi rasanya gimana gitu. Ketika tirai-tirai itu dipasang, sepertinya seluruh kota ikut merayakan, bukan hanya saya sebagai individu. Apalagi mendengar tadarus subuh. Kalau arah anginnya tepat, saya bisa mendengar lantunan dari 2-3 masjid. Meski gak terlalu jelas, tapi lamat terdengar. Nikmatnya diberi karunia pendengaran.

Saya bukannya gila hormat, yo gw lagi puasa nih jangan makan dong lu. Enggak. Alhamdulillah badan sehat dan udah menuju tuwir pulak jadi insya Allah bisalah mengatasi godaan fisik. Tapi rasa puasanya itu lho yang saya cari. Asli garing deh puasa di negeri non-muslim. Idul Fitri gak libur pulak malah kudu tes. Jadi kalau sekarang saya sudah berada di negara yang mayoritasnya Muslim trus Ramadhan masih enggak dirayakan/dibedakan, rasanya kok gimanaaa gitu.

Yah mudah-mudahan toleransi bisa terus terjaga agar ciri khas ini tidak hilang. Mari kita saling tepa selira agar ritual ibadah kita tetap bisa dilakukan tanpa harus mengganggu atau merepotkan yang lain.


Marhaban yaa Ramadhan :)

Today marks the first day of Ramadhan, the holy month where able, healthy Muslims are required to fast from sunup to sunset. It may not sound very exciting, not being able to eat and drink, but the more I learn, the more Ramadhan fascinates me.

Back when I was a kid, Ramadhan means one thing; Eid is coming thus feast, celebration and new clothes! It’s like a kid waiting for their present at Christmas. Then as I get older, I start learning what the holy months is all about. There are many layers to Ramadhan, depending on your age, you learn from the very basic, the physical the gradually moving up to the spiritual.

The first lesson of ย Ramadhan for me is gratitude and compassion. By withholding from food and water all day long, we learn what it is like to go without sustenance. Being hungry and thirsty is not fun. But, we’ll get it at the end of the day (or the middle or even by mid-morning if you’re still learning ๐Ÿ™‚ I know at the end of the fast I will get water and food. There is plenty in my house. I can smell my mother’s cooking wafting through the house in the afternoon and can’t wait to taste them. Plus I only have to do this for about 30 days. But for others? Not only they might not have enough (or any), but this might be a situation for them day in day out regardless of the month.

Medical research have also shown that fasting is beneficial for your health. It is often thought of as ‘holiday’ for the digestive system. Time where they can repair themselves because they don’t have to work quite as hard digesting our food. Some people have commented, but I can’t fast, I’m sick! Well, the first rule of fasting is there’s no fasting.. eh, sorry, a vision of Brad Pitt just crossed my mind. But anyway, you do need to be healthy and able to fast. It is not meant to torture you. If you’re sick then of course you should not do it. Which brings me to another point about gratitude, being able to fast means you’re healthy. Something that we sometimes take for granted.

The second lesson of Ramadhan, the one I learned as I get older is the ability to withhold oneself, to learn to keep our emotions in check. You’re not only meant to not eat and drink but also to control yourself. To not get mad, sad, angry, easily. No instant gratification there. You learn to be patient. Patience is something that’s in short supply these days what with the digital revolution that enable us access to nearly everything at a snap. Why do you need to learn to be patient? Because things takes time. Nothing happens in an instant, there’s a process that you just gotta do to get from point A to point B. You learn to enjoy the process, not giving up or get mad when it doesn’t happen. Just go back at it.

Why’s that? Well, to keep our emotional health in check so we don’t get stressed at every single thing. Learn to pick what to let go, what to worry. Things you can’t control? Just let it go. Things you can control? Then work at it. Don’t freak out. It’s hard. Seems easy on theory but in practice? I haven’t mastered it yet! But just keep trying you know.

Of course there’s other benefit to the holy month but those are the top 2 for me. In short, I am glad we have Ramadhan. We are blessed with a month to reflect on ourselves. What we have done in the past, and to plan how we can improve for the months ahead. With that I shall end this note. For my muslim brothers and sisters, happy Ramadhan!

Ramadan Mubarak