Emily Was Never Being Boring

 

I’ve been in a Pet Shop Boys’s mood lately and with that came a flurry of thoughts I thought long forgotten. A kind of musical pensive so to speak. Now, because PSB are British and I started listening to them during my years in a British based school, I started to remember all things associated with my ‘Brit years’ so to speak which is really the Jeddah and the Uni years.

There I was happily remembering things from way past when cue in Being Boring. For some reason this really resonate with those wonderful 3 undergraduate years spent in that bastion of higher education in the North aka the University of Leeds. Then came that ubiquitous verse:

” all the people I was kissing, some are here and some are missing…
but I thought in spite of dreams you’d be sitting somewhere here with me…”

And immediately, without warning nor fanfare, Emily flashed into my mind…

In my third and final year, no longer wanting to share house with squabbling roommates – I’ve enough of the drama, but not really looking forward to live alone, I opt to move back to the comforts of the hall where the rent includes; food (not great but at least I don’t have to cook everyday), utilities (North of England is COLD for my tropical sensibilities) and laundry (it gets expensive and annoyingly boring to have to wait for one’s clothing lest it be stolen by those ruthless fellow students!). However, not wishing to live in the main building with rowdy, rambunctious freshers, I requested to live in the annex, a smaller 3 story building in the next street or road as it was small.

I caught a rather nasty cold just as the term about to start. Not wishing to fly when my sinuses are congested, I decided to wait and recuperate in the comfort of my parents’. Thus I was a couple of days late getting into the annex. After settling my stuff in my single room (blessedly I got the smallest one in the whole house. Great) I venture into the common lounge. I met Becky first, with her distinctive twang she said, “So you’re Sita! Your friends been looking for you! Hey Em, come here!”
Seconds later, a chocolate-brown eyes got into my view, smiled broadly and said, “Oh good, you’re here, now you can answer your door miss Popular!”

Apparently my friends been calling ever since the first day of term. Since we had to fix our final year lodging by the end of our second year, we pretty much know where everyone is going to live so no surprise that they knew where I live. Becky and Emily, while having the good fortune of getting the largest room in the house, it is also situated up front where, like it or not, they would hear every single coming and goings of the annex inhabitant, thus became the unofficial door person of the annex.

They thought I was popular, I quickly corrected, I’m merely a final year student hence the (not so rowdy) people at knocking at the door. Becky and Emily are quickly known as the Americans duo that lived in our hall. Like any good university, Leeds has exchange programs with universities around the world including Vanderbilt University. There’ll be a group of them and they’d be scattered among the various halls and student residences including the one I was in, Ellerslie Hall. Usually they would be paired with a Brit kid like Maura (the American) and Caroline (the English) and placed in the main hall. Becky and Emily are different in that they’re already BFF, shared a room, and lived in the annex.

The annex is basically a small house, so all the inhabitants pretty much see one another nearly everyday and got to know each other pretty quickly too. Since my room is the smallest and their’s the biggest, it wasn’t long before I start popping down there to chill out on their floor. We talked about nothing and everything. I’m curious about America and they would answer all my questions while I tried my best to answer theirs. I love to hear their accents, so different from the Brits. Their commentaries are amusing too; “I opened this magazine, lords and ladies start tumbling out of the pages!” was one that stuck to my head 😀

We talked, we laughed, we go out, I even helped Emily packed once. She had to go on this trip somewhere and was confused as to how to bring all the stuff she wanted to bring. With all my years of packing and unpacking I got curious and opened her suitcase. Well, no wonder. It was packed rather haphazardly. So I simply repacked it to fit everything in. Then, when summer rolled in, they decided to throw a traditional American BBQ. Or was it a picnic? I can’t remember. What they did was somehow they convinced the ruler or the annex to open the back door so we can have it in the yard. I have no idea how they managed to get a grill out. Or was it fried chicken only? It’s a while ago so details are kinda blurry. In any case, the American duo got a bucket of KFC, I made potato salad, and there were burgers, sodas, and rather stronger drinks later on. It was one of those blissful moment where everything is cool, everything is dandy, we’re all full and happy.

With summer came the end of the academic year. We had our teary goodbyes in front of the annex. The American duo returned home. I graduated, went back to my parents and potter about wondering what to do next. That wasn’t the last I saw of them actually. At some point the following year I got a chance to visit the States for the first time! And I got to see them again! This time in their home turf. So different from Leeds.

dinner_beck_em

Only Southern style cooking would do!

It is now Becky and Emily’s final year at school. They were freaking out about grades. I was freaking out about live in general. They rent an apartment off campus and I marvelled at how they simply drive everywhere. Back in Leeds I only know one or two people who brought a car. Most just use public transportation. I got to eat Southern food, visit Grand Ole Opry, and had a fabulous time with the gals. The next year I was enrolled in grad school in Boston and lost touch with all my American connection. Great. My fault really. I’m pretty bad at correspondence.

Fast forward to 2008, Facebook is now available to everyone so of course I started searching these long-lost friends. Becky! Hi! Where’s Emily?

Sadly Emily is no longer with us…

For someone I haven’t seen in years this news knocked me in the solar plexus. I can’t believe Emily is gone. So soon. I’m sad for Becky too. It’s terrible to lost a friend, a best one at that. Especially since they’ve sometimes talked about the future, how fun would it be to take walk in the park as mothers pushing their babies strollers, how they’d plan to live close to one another so their kids can be best friends too. It’s not like I plan to pack my bags and move to Nashville either, but somehow I fully expect to also see their kids via social media, to wish them happy birthdays from afar.

“And we were never holding back or worried that time would come to an end”

But time does come to an end…

I cried then. I cried again now.

I won’t ever see Emily again. Those chocolate-brown hair and beautiful smile… Guess I’ll never found out what happened to that guy who followed her around back in Leeds eh? Not that it mattered anymore.

Becky, I am glad to note, is happily busy with her beautiful family and friends. I love seeing her photos, following the renovation adventure and all the daily family stuff. Forward and onward!

Someday I hope I’ll have the chance to see them again. Until then, good night Emily and good day to you Becky.

beck_Em

The Beautiful American Duo

 

Changes and Challenges

Nothing jumps starts a new year like fresh new looks and challenges. After reading the handy-dandy report WordPress freely provided about our blogging year, it is sadly rather lacking. Apparently I only post 6. Yes, only 6 new stuff!!! What was I doing? On twitter mostly.

It is extremely easy to just flash off a sentence or two on twitter. So very easy. Although sometimes one found that one starts to write series of tweets since one’s thought on the matter is actually longer than a sentence (or two). And why am I insisting in writing in third person like this? Oh and I’ve been reading too. Crazy amount of time reading.

I got an iPad mini last year. Then I started discovering the bookstore and that there are free, FREE ebooks abound!!! Of course most of these free books were part of trilogies or more. So before I realise it, I started reading, and reading, and reading, and I’ve surpassed the challenge I set for myself on Goodreads! I set out to read 40 books and I think I read closer to 60. Some books were rather crap so I don’t bother putting it on the list. But then I also realised I’ve been feeling somewhat restless…

I’ve read and now it is time to create something. Since I’m not very good at arts and crafts, I’ll resort to writing. I’m no Rowling, but I don’t think my writing is too bad. I can craft words or two and what better way to start than giving myself a challenge?

The challenge actually one of those Facebook tag thingy but instead of the usual list of 10 things I like about Cats or something, you’re challenge to create a small works of art for friends who replied and forward the challenge too. Initially I wasn’t going to do it but then my friend assured me that writing does constitute a work or art. So I plunge forward, says I’m in and copy the status. It looks like this :

I, Sita Sidharta, hereby promise to make a small work of art for the first ten people who comment on this post and say “YES, I want in”. A ‘like’ alone is not enough of a commitment, nor is a comment about thinking Pay It Forward is a great idea.

You must in turn post this as your status update and make something for the first ten who comment on your status.

* The rules are simple: it has to be your work, made by you, and the recipient must receive it before 2014 ends… *

(Thanks to Sara A Chaudhary)

Seems simple but to write 10 things for people you know puts it to another level – at least to someone who only manage 6 posts last year 😉 So far only 5 friends is up for the challenge. It’ll probably stay that way since by tomorrow that post will be a goner, replaced by steady stream of updates from others. That’s ok. That’s still 5 piece of writing to think about. I’m excited about it actually 😀

As for the change, I change my blog theme again. This time I went for something more streamlined, less clutter. Sadly my cats don’t make an appearance despite the blog being called ‘Metro Kitmom’. I guess I’ll just have to post photos about them then. ha!

tile_cat3.jpg

tile_cat1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, those are the Bebels; Bella, Joyyo, and Lila, respectively.

Oh and feel free to take up the challenge. There are still 5 spots left so do leave a comment here and copy paste it onto your blog. I’ll write something for you. It may be a prose, a poem, flash fiction… I don’t know yet but I can promise it will come from the heart.

Have a good and productive year!

The Exes Parade

I don’t get it when people talk about being friends with their ex-boyfriend, ex-husband maybe, particularly when there’s kids involved. But mere boyfriend?

I don’t have a lot, and while I no longer feel like harming them, nor do I feel any particular needs to be friends with them, even with those who parted amicably. It just seems to me that once you moved on, which I have, they then belong firmly in the past. Unless you have to work with them or has the luck of being their neighbor then I don’t see the need to be chummy.

Having said all that, I do think about them every now and then. I would be lying if I said I’m not at all curious about how they are now. Of course I do. They once occupy a big space in my life! And once they’re in my heart, they stay there even in diminishing real estate. I don’t want them to be miserable either, I’d want them to be happy.

Back then, the only way to find out was through the grapevine. These days you can snoop around to check their online trace. Mind you, if they’re Luddites or are not socmed freaks it could get a bit difficult 😉

So yeah, I confess, I’ve googled them. Some I find, some seems to vanished. Oh well. Those that I dead able to track seems to be doing ok. They seem to be where they want to be so that can’t be bad. Am I envious? No. Do I want their life? No. Is my life better? I dunno, I certainly have a good life, I’ve been blessed. Theirs? Just different.

I do believe it works out for the best in the end. I could probably do without the heartache but hey, that’s life right?

So my dear exes, have a good life. Take care 😘

The Heart Knows Not What It Wants

The biggest battle you’ll ever face is that between your heart and your brain. This occurs almost daily and all the time. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been taught to put the brain forward with a bit of heart thrown in. I never really have much patience with those who allow their heart to rule. I always thought, get a grip! The funny thing is my best friend in college thinks that I’m an open book he said that I wear my heart on my sleeve for everyone to see. Hmm… really? 

To tell you the truth, some battle I win, some I don’t. I still haven’t won the battle to lose weight. I really am not sure why. Why is it so hard for me to change the habit? What’s with the constant self sabotage? It really is rather annoying. I am not at the point where I’m beginning to think that razor is a good idea, for gawd sake no! But nor am I on the path of slimness. The needle on the scale hardly budge to the left, more prone to the right.

Temptation is always sweeter than the righteous path; it is a self-destructive one in the long-run. I know this. My head knows this. Yet the heart refuse to listens. But the heart must listen. I do not want to self-destruct, I’m no spy, just an ordinary human.  So help me go through this hurdle. And pass it I shall.

Tentang Feminisme

Disclaimer: ini adalah hutang tulisan pendapat, bukan dicanangkan sebagai tulisan ilmiah sehingga tidak mencantumkan referensi layaknya sebuah tulisan Opini untuk media.

Bismillah,

Sependek yang saya mengerti, gerakan feminisme adalah mencari kesetaraan gender yang intinya adalah persamaan hak untuk perempuan dan laki-laki sementara feminis adalah orang yang menganut pahamnya. Gerakan ini memang dimulai dari Barat dari sekitar abad 18an. Sekarang feminisme seringkali mendapat konotasi buruk, seolah-olah seorang yang mengaku feminis artinya melarikan diri dari kodratnya sebagai perempuan, seolah-olah emansipasi itu menjadi jawaban bagi para pria untuk juga lari dari kodratnya. Padahal bukan itu maksud awalnya.

Membaca ulang beberapa artikel tentang feminisme dan dengan pemahaman saya sekarang ini maka tidak heran kalau gerakan ini adalah dari Barat karena disana tidak ada tokoh/panutan yang secara jelas dan gamblang membela kaum perempuan. Tidak ada definisi yang jelas kalau mengacu pada gereja. Gereja hanya punya 10 Commandments (perintah) yang menjabarkan peraturan hidup secara garis besar (tidak boleh membunuh, mencuri, menyeleweng, dll) namun tidak ada keterangan yang detail tentang hak dan kewajiban ayah, suami, istri, ibu, anak, dll. Gereja tertentu bahkan melarang perceraian apapun alasan dan situasinya. Jadi nggak heran kalau para perempuan Barat itu akhirnya harus berteriak meminta persamaan hak mereka. Hak untuk belajar, untuk memilih, untuk hidup tanpa bergantung pada pria karena pada kenyataannya perempuan kadang harus hidup sendiri. Tidak selamanya ada laki-laki yang bisa menopang dan melindungi mereka. Ini, hemat saya, adalah inti dari gerakan feminisme.

Bandingkan dengan panutan kita, Nabi Muhammad SAW. Dengan minimnya pengetahuan agama saya, yang lebih pandai bisa menjelaskan bahwa sebelum Islam tiba, status perempuan di Jazirah Arab sama atau malah mungkin lebih rendah dari unta. Bayi perempuan dianggap aib, dikubur hidup-hidup. Tidak punya hak waris, bisa dialih tangan sesuka hati, tidak bisa memilih jodohnya, singkat kata tidak ada perlindungan sama sekali terhadap perempuan. Datanglah Nabi Muhammad SAW dan Islam dimana perempuan dan laki-laki mempunyai hak dan kewajiban masing-masing yang apabila dikerjakan dan dilakukan sebagaimana mestinya niscaya perempuan tidak merasakan apa-apa selain kedamaian dan ketentraman. Islam, sebagaimana yang diajarkan kepada saya, sangat memperhatikan dan membela perempuan. Islam tidak misoginis. Dalam hal keimanan, laki-laki dan perempuan adalah setara. Dari ayat pertama yang turun saja, sudah jelas ini agama yang egaliter. “Iqra!” Bacalah! siapa? semua penganut Islam harus membaca. Bukan, bacalah hai laki-laki atau hanya laki-laki yang harus membaca. Hanya satu kata yang berlaku untuk semua, “Iqra!”

Perintah membaca ini bagi saya maknanya sangat luas. Kita, lelaki dan perempuan Muslim, haruslah belajar, harus membaca, harus terus mengasah otak, menimba ilmu sampai ajal menjelang. Belum lagi ajaran, anjuran dan perintah-perintah yang datang belakangan mengenai perempuan a.l. berhak atas hak waris, berhak menolak jodoh, dan berhak menggugat cerai. Memang mereka yang suka mencela sering mencibir dan berkata, lah warisannya kan 2:1, cowok dapat 2, cewek dapat 1. Betul, tapi 1 yang didapat perempuan benar-benar milik dia untuk dipakai sesuka hatinya. Mau dia beli es krim, emas, eye shadow atau mau dia bakar semua kek itu hak dia. Sementara dengan 2 yang didapat laki-laki dia masih harus menghidupi anaknya, istrinya, ibunya dan juga membantu saudara-saudaranya termasuk saudara perempuannya yang dapat 1 itu. Ada hak mereka dalam 2 yang didapat.

Masalah jodoh, adalah hak perempuan untuk menolak seorang pria yang diajukan padanya apabila dirasa pria itu tidak cocok baginya. Perempuan berhak mendapat seorang suami yang menghargai dan menghormati dia apa adanya. Soal cerai, tentu saya tidak menganjurkan perceraian, ini adalah hal yang sangat dibenci Allah, tapi, lagi-lagi Allah membuktikan bahwa dalam perjalanan hidup manusia bisa berubah, yang tadinya baik menjadi jahat. Yang tadinya mimi lan mintuna tiba-tiba merasa sangat asing dan tidak bisa memahami lagi pasangannya. Tentu yang paling baik adalah berusaha memperbaiki, tapi ada kalanya situasi sedemikian rupa sehingga bertahan menikah mungkin lebih banyak mudharatnya ketimbang berpisah. Misalnya, suami menjadi pelaku KDRT. Hidup dalam kecemasan, ketakutan, hari ini digebukin gak ya? tentunya bukan merupakan kehidupan yang sehat nan waras. Belum lagi kalau ada anak dalam pernikahan itu. Ayah yang seharusnya melindungi malah mengajari kekerasan. Bukan itu yang dimaksud dengan kehidupan pernikahan! Lagi-lagi para pencibir dan pencela itu kadang berkata, ah perempuan Islam tidak boleh menikah dengan non-Muslim, menghalangi cinta, atau, cowok Islam mah kerjanya kawin melulu. Tapi ya sudahlah itu kita bahas kapan-kapan saja, nanti melencengnya kejauhan.

Waktu kecil, saya tidak merasakan perlunya punya ‘faham feminisme’ karena Islam yang pada dasarnya sudah feminis ini diterapkan di keluarga saya. Ayah saya bertanggung jawab atas keluarganya, menyekolahkan semua anaknya, menyanyangi kami, tidak melakukan KDRT, meloloskan hampir semua permintaan yang berkaitan dengan pendidikan misalnya sering membelikan buku, membolehkan ikut les ini-itu, dll. Tidak perlu saya sebagai anak perempuan menuntut persamaan hak dengan abang saya karena orangtua saya sudah memperlakukan kami dengan adil. Kami tidak merasa dibedakan, semua diberi kesempatan yang sama, tinggal bagaimana kita menyikapi hal ini. Tidak ada standar ganda. Semua anak tidak boleh merokok. Semua anak tidak boleh naik motor. Semua anak hanya boleh menyetir setelah ada SIM. Semua anak boleh bersekolah dimana saja selama terjangkau. Bahwa kemudian abang saya lebih sering memakai mobil daripada kakak perempuan saya itu hal lain lagi. Itu masalah kecakapan negosiasi dan penjadwalan 😉

Setelah besar dan berjalan-jalan, baru saya ngeh bahwa tidak semua anak perempuan tumbuh besar dengan situasi seperti itu, apapun agamanya. Ada yang orangtuanya suka melarang dengan alasan, “Kamu anak perempuan!” sementara saudara laki-lakinya melenggang santai karena yaa dia kan anak laki-laki. Jujur saya kaget ada yang berpendapat bahwa perempuan tidak boleh sekolah, perempuan tidak boleh bekerja, tidak boleh ini-itu, pokoke harus dirumah! Iya klo ada ayah atau suami. Lha klo janda gimana? Emang segampang itu menikah lagi? Klo janda anak tunggal nggak ada abang, paman, sepupu laki2 trus gimana? Suruh ikutan dikubur bareng suami? Atau yatim-piatu anak tunggal? Ikutan dikubur bareng ortu? Atau ‘favorit’ saya, “Cowok itu ibarat teko, isinya boleh berceceran dimana-mana asal tekonya balik ke rumah. Cewek mah terima ajalah.” Halaah… Jijay bajaj! Ini terjadi dimana-mana, agama apa saja, negara mana saja. Belum lagi distorsi-distorsi yang dilakukan lelaki atas nama agama demi mempertahankan kekuasaan. “Perempuan tidak boleh keliaran diatas jam sekian, yang masih di jalan pasti pelacur!” Dyeileee… gigi lu gendut! Suudzon amat sih!!!

Saya yang tadinya nyaman dan cuek menjadi peduli. Nurani saya terusik sementara saya enak-enak kuliah ada saudara saya yang sedang diperdagangkan untuk menjadi entah apa dimana tanpa tau haknya apa, tanpa tau apakah akan kembali lagi secara utuh atau tinggal nama. Ketika belum semua perempuan disini mendapatkan pendidikan sampai setidaknya SMP seperti yang dicanangkan Diknas? Ketika perempuan bekerja belum mendapat jatah cuti hamil selama 6 bulan atau tempat yang layak untuk menyusui/memompa ASI di tempat kerjanya? Ketika seorang perempuan mengeluh ingin berhenti bekerja tapi tidak ingin dilecehkan suaminya karena hanya ‘diam di rumah’? Ingat, tidak semua perempuan bekerja karena lari dari kodrat. Banyak yang harus dan banyak pula profesi yang membutukan perempuan sebagai profesional. Atau di ranah pribadi, ketika perempuan yang menjadi korban KDRT belum mendapat perlindungan dan dilindungi sebagaimana mestinya tanpa harus takut dikucilkan atau malah dicemooh oleh polisi dan masyarakat, bagaimana saya bisa nyaman mengatakan saya bukan feminis? Butuh lebih dari 1 dekade untuk korps kepolisian Amerika untuk merubah sikap dan pendekatan mereka terhadap KDRT, bahwa ini adalah tindakan kriminal.

Apakah hal-hal diatas bertentangan dengan agama? Bertentangan dengan contoh Nabi? Bagaimana kita bisa bilang bahwa feminisme bertentangan dengan Islam ketika jelas-jelas Islam mempromosikan kesetaraan gender dengan jelas dan tegas? Bahwa pelaku-pelakunya kemudian memelintirkan ayat untuk kepentingan mereka, yah itulah kehidupan. Orangnya yang gendheng agamanya yang kena. Dus, tabayyun. Cari guru lebih dari satu. Baca tafsir lebih dari satu. Iqra.

Selama perempuan masih merasakan ketimpangan dan ketidakadilan, sebetulnya justru mendorong perempuan menjadi radikal. Apalagi kalau pelintiran-pelintiran itu dilestarikan, tidak usah heran. Siapa yang nyaman hidup dalam ketidak-adilan? Selama ketimpangan itu masih terjadi, bagaimana saya bisa tidak merangkul paham feminisme dan mendeklarasi diri seorang feminis?