the change in a room

when i was a child the change in a room, or its function, always felt like magic. one obvious example would be our family’s old living room when christmas was coming. i would stare at the baubles and fairy lights on our christmas tree as if there were many different little worlds in them. not ones incubated by elves or magical creatures, no. they were more like ours, filled with regular people. and i would be in one of them. i didn’t know what i would do in them but at that time the thought felt nice.

there was this other time when the school organized a sleepover for the students. and we would all sleep in our classrooms. i thought it sounded fun but i guess i didn’t think long enough. early in the afternoon, before the events of what would be one of the worst nights in my life began to roll out, my parents actually asked me to choose whether i go with them to puncak or stay and camp at school. i chose the latter — a stupid, stupid choice. when the teachers turned off the lights, what i thought would be an innocent sleepover — camping, they said — turned into a crazy horror show and our school was the horrible setting. i felt this uncontrollable urge to just go to where my parents were. it was an emotion rather unfamiliar for me. it was rage, abandonment, and painful regret all at once. but in hindsight, it went a little bit beyond that. i felt utterly and thoroughly deceived, both by my teachers and parents. i wanted to show independence and plunged myself right into it. what could a little sleepover at our safe little school do to me. well, nobody fucking told me they would fucking scare the children!

but there was nothing i could do, not even cry. it would be social suicide to cry when you were stuck spending the night with the whole school. in the morning, i was a different person i think. i grew up a bit, into an adult who always try to hold her tears just a bit longer every time. so it was good, eh?

until something finally went bust and leaked.

“ruangan ini ditutup & disegel”

we used to look outside
commenting on the many lives passing by our window at the corner
thinking we should at least have a bit of fun while we waste ours

though only secretly

and in our big little heads we wanted to believe
take pride even
in having total control of the process
we thought this wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t let it

and so we told stories
none of them ours
held on to the neverending,
hopefully like the night,
glasses of cheers
laughed sinister laughs
pleasant to our heartless ears

while inside
we had the suspicion this could actually be

love,

prayed hard for it,
then washed it down with
jokes
they brought tears to our hopeless eyes

then one night we held hands under the table

another we tried to look more drunk than we really were
(after you kissed me in the rest room)

and now we are looking in
at the dusts sitting in our chairs

(what would we say about us?)

and we walk
home

of seeing you behind my tears

you stood glossed in front of me.

like an antique.

purified.

like porcelain.

and everything else just stopped.

like portrait.

frozen-still.

like almost dead.

 

you stood blurred in front of me.

like a shadow.

darkening.

like a demon.

and the rest just faded away.

like a small feather.

hovering.

like almost gone.

 

 

 

 

21 january 2001
“bagaimana sembuh dari asmara, kecuali dengan perang?” (centhini – kekasih yang tersembunyi, hal. 31)

song for Ofelia*

tears
bleed like
silver

under
the full moon

light
tips of forest

trees
glow

with golden
shimmer

and fireflies
are fairies

withering like
dreams

when she falls
asleep

deep
in the labyrinth

within
mist of lullabyes

word
less

 

 

*Ofelia is the central character in “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), played beautifully by Ivana Baquero. The film is written, produced and directed by Guillermo del Toro.