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Maria-Syamsi

From My Heart

Kirimkanlah Aku

“Tuhan, kirimkanlah aku..”



Bulan mengambang

Sedang menyinar di awal pagi

Waktu tahajjud 

Manusia kesunyian, keseorangan

Masih bersujud, kesyukuran

Meminta pada Tuhannya

“…kekasih yang baik hati…”




Bintang-bintang berkerlipan

Bertebaran di angkasa

Dia masih memohon

Kepada Tuhan yang punya segala kuasa

Memutarkan bulan

Menggerakkan awan

Menumbuhkan pohon

Di atas tanah gersang 

“…yang mencintai aku…”



Karena

Dia masih terkenang

Seorang insan lain

Yang juga terbaring

Merenung bintang di langit 

Seperti dia juga

Seorang insan lain

Yang nyaman dikeliling alam

Walau bersendirian

“…apa adanya…”




Benar

Tanaman bisa tumbuh

Di tanah yang gersang

Cuma perlu disiram

Titik-titik hujan

Benar

Malam tidak bisa

Mendahului siang

Dan siang tidak bisa

Memberi lalu kepada malam

Karena besarnya ketetapan Tuhan

Maka itu dia memohon lagi

Terangkanlah

Siramkanlah

Suburkanlah

Tetapkanlah

Biar sampai ke jannah

My Reading List – Part 1

Late last year, I was blessed to have been inspired by the Indonesian actress Dian Sastrowardoyo, who spoke about being told by her mother to read one book per week when she was in school. It was not supposed to be any book, but most of them were Indonesian literature. After finishing them, she’d be asked about the lessons and her thoughts on the books.

So I made a new year resolution – to read four books per month (rather than one book per week, because of my other commitments like on calls, weekend rounds and studying for exams). In January I finished only one book, although I did read four books simultaneously (different books are placed in different locations). By now I have finished three and am going to complete another two soon. But I’m still rather happy with myself because on top of the books, I managed to read (and digest) at least 3-4 journal articles in January, so for the time being I think I’m fine.
Anyway, let me start with the books.

1. The Muse by Jessie Burton


This was written by the author of The Miniaturist which was released about two years ago. I did not like her previous book at all, but having read through the synopsis of this book, I decided to give it a try.

It is a period novel which sets place in two eras, the 1930s and 1960s. It is about a girl who found a new job that she has always wanted, and with that came her lady boss. The author brings you back and forth between the two eras which will make you try to figure out the relationship between the two groups of seemingly-unconnected people.

I like this much better than The Miniaturist because, as much as the book left us wondering about the characters and the possible twists, the pace is good. There is always something going on, and there are some nerve-wrecking moments in the story. The Miniaturist made us wait in awkward silence and the ending was even more let down. 

Having said that, I don’t think I will read this book again.

2. Adik Datang by A. Samad Said


First and foremost, who am I to comment on our national literary prize winner? 

I have not read a Malay novel for so long. Most Malay books these days appear to be superficial and has nothing much to talk about (judging from the titles and the synopsis, or the movie/TV drama they are made into), except for marriage and…erm…marriage. So my brother suggested for me to read this book (which I gave him for his birthday many years ago). 

The strory is set up very near the beginning of World War 2, or rather, the time when it affected Malaya. It is a story about the people of a small village on a smal island, each of the inhabitants have their own life story. The challenges they faced included the lack of job opportunities because of the ongoing world war, loss of family members, illness, domestic violence, immigration of people who actually still wanted to fight for their country, and promoting education. In the end not everything worked out well, but then that is the nature of life, isn’t it?

I had trouble making out and remembering the characters in the story, which person is related to the other, their jobs or previous jobs, and their main issues. It’s not like I have never read a book with many characters but I needed to figure them out from their dialogues; not much was explained in the narration.

The book showed the high level of knowledge and life experience the author has, as well as his wisdom; it should inspire us to read and travel more.

3. Aku by Sjuman Djaya


I picked this book off the shelves because it was featured in Ada Apa Dengan Cinta. In that movie, this book was read by Rangga and later Cinta, and became something that connected the two of them, which turned out to be a beautiful love story. 

It says here that it is based on the life and works of Indonesia’s notable poet, Chairil Anwar. However I do not know how much of it should I believe because the whole story sounds too far fetched for a person being born and raised in a majority Muslim, Asian country. But then I guess it could happen anywhere in this world.

It defines the free-spirited, passionate nature that I recognise Indonesians with. I see them as people who have strong emotions and tend to react to whatever they are, be it love, anger, passion, or sadness. They would fight all their might for their love ones, against those they are angry towards, pursue their passion until they reach it, and show their sadness in the most dramatic way. I guess that is the special thing about Indonesians, which shows in their artistic works.

What I did not expect was the hedonistic nature of Chairil Anwar’s life. Modern-day hedonists would tell me to not judge his life and his choice because he has produced hundreds if not thousands of great poems all his life. Of course, I would not deny the fact that he excelled in his chosen field, but I could not shake off that feel of gloom and darkness which I have associated with a guideless, heedless life, only aiming for pleasure. It is the same kind of feeling that I had when I read the book One Day by David Nichols.

It is written almost like a script, so it is easier to imagine watching a movie titled Aku while reading through the book. The author inserted many of Chairil’s poems in betwee the narratives, but to read whole poems we’d need to get his original works.
The story is set on the background of pre-World War 2 Indonesia, which coincides with the book Adik Datang. I just happened to read two books of the same era at the sane time! Now I’m watching the movie about Soe Hok Gie, who was a revolutionist in Indonesia at about the same period of time.
I might not read the whole story again but I would like to go through it another time to decipher the words that I did not understand.

* * *

This is a song from an Indonesian movie, Sang Pemimpi, which could be a nice background music for the book Adik Datang:

Fatwa Pujangga – Rendy Ahmad (OST Sang Pemimpi)

* * *

This is a short documentary about Chairil Anwar, narrated by Nicholas Saputra:

Maestro Indonesia – Chairil Anwar

Menggoncang Dua Dunia

Dingin malam itu

Hujan baru reda

Angin masih menggerakkan

Dahan-dahan basah

Daun-daun menitiskan

Titik-titik air

Dia mengangkat bahu

Tangan diseluk ke saku

Mata merenung tajam

Daun pintu yang baru tertutup

Tidak berkelip matanya

Hati bermonolog

Apakah ini cinta?

Tibanya tidak dijangka

Baginya bukan saatnya

Karena kaki harus melangkah pergi

Tidak lama lagi

Jauh dari kota tua ini

Apakah ini cinta?

Jika bener, mengapa bibir tidak bisa mngukir

Senyuman tiap kali kau hadir

Mungkin karena

Saat pisah itu hampir

Air mata pasti mengalir

Wanita itu

Mengikat kerudungnya

Berbisik kepada Tuhan

Tolonglah berikan jawaban

Suatu doa yang pasti

Mengubah dua hati

Menggoncang dua dunia

Tiada siapa yang sangka

Sedang mobilnya menyusur dalam hujan

Berbisik dia lagi kepada Tuhan

Berikanku kekuatan

Dalam penantian

Sedang dia pasti

Saat yang tepat hanya Dia yang tahu

Lantaran itu

Beban di bahu digalas dulu

Sampai suatu waktu

Dikongsi, dibahagi

Dengan yang dicintai

Biarlah sedikit lambat

Janji akhirnya

Sampai jua ke syurga

Bawa Aku Pergi – 2

I have this thing about having children around me when I travel. Or sometimes even when I’m not travelling. I don’t have kids here and I rarely bring little kids with me when I travel, but of course, kids are EVERYWHERE.

Once I was stuck in Dublin Airport because a few flights were delayed due to bad weather. A few kids were standing near the glass window looking out of the terminal, watching some planes land and fly out. Of course, they would jump and squeal with excitement when they saw a plane, be it landing or flying away. 
Guess what, they were expressing exactly what I was feeling inside. It amused me, so I stood there watching the planes and the kids.
Another time, I rode the tram in Dublin City. When I was a student, the tram rails were just being set, I could still hear the sounds of the drills. So during my visit after 11 years, one of the must-do things is to ride the tram!

There was a fanily with two kids maybe between two to five years old. One of them was standing holding the bar. Everytime the tram stopped, the boy would squeal “weeeeeeee!!!”. It happened everytime the tram started to move.
The boy expressed what exactly I felt at that time. I really was excited!
Recently, I had dinner with my best friend and her little family in a place near our house. The restaurant is near the airport. Her two-year-old would shout “aeroplane!!” whenever she hears a plane pass by.
Again, she was expressing my excitement. 

At that particular time, I have just booked a ticket to Jakarta and was feeling very excited about the upcoming trip, so even hearing the plane soar made my heart leap!
So yes. I get very excited about traveling, usually about the journey, somehow. I am looking for a traveling partner who would be as thrilled as I am, or at least attentive to my excitement. Obviously someone who looks at the phone most of the time would be out of my list. We travel to see the world, and see each other.
I have a few favourites, although it is more because I travel often with them.
Almost five years ago, I had a pleasant surprise that my best friend actually felt thrilled when the plane we rode on took off, and she showed it! All this while, I kept the excitement to myself, so when I found that she feels the same way, I was elated! We travelled quite a bit together, although we could not do it anymore now that she’s married. But she’s one of my best travel buddies.
Another person is none other than my dearest little sister. We went to the UK about three years back, and I miss every single moment there. Yes, we had a few long-faced moments but it was one of the best trips in my life.
My two brothers are great travel buddies for me too. I think all four of us think almost alike, give similar response to many situations, protect each other, and of course, love each other. At times I envy the way the two of them have their excursions at night when others are asleep. Often I am too tired to follow (and I don’t think they wanted me to, it is probablu their boys’ outing kind of thing).
It is in my dreams, and it is in my prayers, that one day I will get a travel partner who will be attentive when I feel happy, and I will be as attentive to him. A travel partner who would bring me wherever he wants to go, and wherever I am curious about but won’t dare go alone (I’m a bit worried about my own safety). I pray for a person who could protect me from all sorts of things, and brave enough to go to all sorts of places with me. 
A travel partner who would look and reflect or even stare, with me, at something interesting, something beautiful, something out of our norm; be it natural or cultural. Someone who would ask for me if I’m too shy to ask. A travel partner who would absorb the experience together, rather than lost in his own world.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not acting like a damsel in distress. I travel anyway, with or without my dream partner. I would venture out anyway, only I have to admit, I have a bit more self preservation habits that I dare not go beyond certain limits. I want to live a healthy, trauma-less life. 
Being single for many years has taught me many things. Amongst them, is that you can very well be happy alone, but awesomeness is usually achieved with loved ones around.

Dakapan Itu

Mungkin dia sudah lupa erti rindu

Yang sudah ditepiskan bertahun-tahun dulu
Tangisan yang tidak tersambut

Panggilan tidak tersahut

Dingin tak terselimut

Hanya malam kelam

Hidup mandiri

Belajar sendiri

Berjalan sendiri

Bermain sendiri

Berkelana juga sendiri

“Saya sudah tidak punya ibu.”

Suara dalam anak muda

Sudah lama putus asa

Mengharap ibunya kembali

Namun Sukma memanggil

Merayu

“Tapi dia tetap ibu kamu.”

Hati anak muda

Yang awalnya putus asa

Tergerak jua

Sambil mencari kembali

Cinta

Merenung, memikir

Dalam keliru mundar mandir

Cuba mentafsir

Apa ertinya semua ini

Lalu akhirnya

Dengan debar di dadanya

Gelisah di fikirannya

Pintu diketuk

Sukma menyambut

Senyuman manis di wajahnya

Wanita tua itu dipimpin keluar

Dengan wajah tidak pasti

Mereka saling mendekati

Dakapan wanita tua itu

Dibalasnya kembali

Dua puluh lima tahun menanti

Saat ini

Nafas ditarik 

Mengambil setiap detik

Pertemuan

Rasa yang tersemat di raga

Tidak terungkap dengan kata-kata

Maka mengalirlah air mata

Dua insan

Anak dan ibunya

Melepas kerinduan

Yang menusuk segenap jiwa

Maafkanlah

Bersatulah

Ibu itu tetap ibu

Encircle

“Do you know one of the ways you should see tawaf?” the ustaz asked. 

He answered his own question, “You see, when a child wants something, he would hold his mother’s skirt, asking for it, going around his mother, until he gets it.”

Quiet.

“That’s how you should do it. Pray just for anything. Ask Allah anything you want, anything at all, with your own words, like that child who wants a toy from his mother. That’s how you should do your tawaf,” he continued.
. . .

Millions upon millions of people have come.

Millions upon millions have walked around the Kaabah since thousands of years ago.

They may have come asking for different things, but towards only one God, and ultimately to achieve His paradise.

Thousands of people circumbulating at a time.

But somehow, you know you are alone with God.

The solitude is deeply felt.

The hope soars up to the skies.

Feet sore out of dryness and they crack, but it does not matter.

Tears flow, of love, of fear, of hope.

Hope that no matter what challenges are faced in this world, we would stand up to it, and not let them drag us down to jahannam. To destruction.
Hope that no matter how difficult it might be, we could overcome them and attain eternal success.
Hope to face the world with dignity, with courage, with kindness.

No matter what the world throws at us.

We all came with different needs, but in the end there is only one need.

To have His blessings in this world and the next.

The grandeur of the Kaabah only reminds us of the Grandeur of the One who gave the foundation.

The grandeur of the Kaabah only reminds us of how small we are, how weak, how powerless.

Like when you are married for so long and you yearn to have offsprings of your own.

Or when your children are not as well mannerred as you want them to be.

Or you saw a man you want to marry, but you want him to be faithful to God first, so that the light will not only be with him, but also shine from him in this life and the next. Because you saw the enormous potential in him.

Or you are just unwell and you need cure.

You have problems with your own manners, anger management issues, memory issues, anything at all that you could not seem to find the solution.

Or your parents, you just want them to live in peace in this world and the next. And so will your siblings be.

Or for your husband to stop smoking.

And those Syrians and Palestinians and Yemenis, our brothers in faith. Their suffering has touched us deep inside that we could not even voice out, it is unfathomable except for the fact that we believe there is something better for them in the next world. The next world where they will forget all the pain they had in this temporary world. We are all as helpless as the next person, not knowing what to do so we ask from the One who is Powerful to stop all this. 

We work hard so that our children would not become oppressors. 
So helpless and powerless we feel, but in Him we hope.
Who knows, at that moment we are praying, a bullet missed its target.

Who knows, the war may not have stopped but food supplies came in.

Who knows, they may have died without any pain.

Who knows, the more we pray, the kinder our children will be, so they will in turn care for humanity, the way it should be.

Encircle.

We are all powerless.

For nothing could happen without His permission.

Even if a thousand hands tried to help us.

Encircle.

Because He is Great. And we are small.

Encircle.

Make du’a and think of it like it has already happened.

Encircle.

Because every single du’a matters.

Ngobrol Soal Politik

Talk about politics.
Actually no. I don’t want to talk about politics. 
I just want to say what would be lovely. 
It’s a cold night right now and I am imagining a rainy evening, lights dimmed, we’re talking with mugs of coffee in our hands, at times sitting quitely just listening to the beautiful harmony of the rain falling onto our roof.
We’re talking about books.
Books we have read and why we read the books at the first place.

Our favourite genres, or rather how we don’t have favourite genres. We read whatever we need or we feel like at that time. The languages we read in. 

The kind of knowledge and inspiration we gained from each book.

The characters in the fictions that we indulged in, the mysterious stories, the emotions we had during our encounters with those characters.

The situations in our lives or our countries while we were reading those books. How some books happened to resonate with our lives at those points of time.

The scent of a new book.

The smell of an old book.
Real books versus e-books.

The habit of reading. 

How we ended up with each other after reading all of those books. Our own little book club. Just the two of us.

And then the night deepens.

“Ayuh tidur. Esok kita ke toko buku lagi.”

(Let’s go to bed. We’ll visit the bookshop again tomorrow.)

That would be really lovely.

What’s With Love and Politics

“Saya senantiasa ikut Pemilu,” he said.”Kamu pilih siapa?” she responded.

He smiled. A meaningful smile.

She smiled back.

“Kiranya kita memilih yang sama ya?”

They still smiled at each other.

“Kecewa?” he asked.
For some reason, I feel that this is the sweetest conversation in the whole movie. Just two people who used to love each other (and perhaps still do) talking about something as real as a national election. Not about sweet promises, not about the past, not praises towards each other.
I guess politics have been a small but significant part of the movie, the first one even more. Rangga had to follow his father to New York 15 years ago because of political pressure. Some of the scenes in the first movie were set up indicating the political situation in Indonesia at that time.
Now that their political landscape has changed, the issue still popped out, but in just a dialogue rather than as part of the story line.
Perhaps I found it sweet because it showed the depth of their relationship. They understood each other’s love for the country, the way they think, the way they see others around them, the way they see the world. 
For me, personally, I grew up not knowing what my parents voted for. They would never ever tell us no matter how we asked. I doubt they even told each other. They held very tightly to the rule that your vote is to be kept secret.
And in this movie, they did not say who they voted for, what they were frustrated about, but only gave such meaningful smiles to each other.
And personally, I’d appreciate that kind of relationship, where we could share similar wavelength about many things, having similar opinions about the world around us. That’s why I’d prefer a man who both reads (not only text books) and travels. 
Since childhood, I have always been amazed with Indonesian’s patriotism. I found that they are extremely passionate about their country and would do anything to defend their name. If you see them during sports tournaments, their energy is extraordinary, and I believe patriotism is part of it.
I tried to shake off that feeling that Indonesians love their country more than Malaysians do ours. But even when I’ve grown up, I still get that vibe from them. Maybe they really do, or maybe it is just because their population is larger.
At least they still speak their language while many of us Malaysians either never spoke Malay, or lost the ability to do so.
These are my gut feelings. I might be wrong.

So what I’m gonna do this year onwards, is to find out whether I’m right. 

From Mecca to Jakarta (With Sweet Dreams and Poetry In Between)

“Dicari karya Chairil Anwar tapi gak ada. Langsung dibaca perjalanan hidupnya dulu.”

Since I had two cups of coffee today (and the latest was at 8pm 😰), I gave myself the rights to ramble. Hahah.

(1) One of my few resolutions for the year is to finish four books per month, and one journal/guideline per week. I am trying hard and rather pressured to fulfill this, just because I really really wanted to. I have been too slow in the books division and there are so many things I need to learn, to expose myself to. For January, I need to finish these books:

– Adik Datang by A Samad Said

– The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffmann

– The Muse by Jessie Burton

– The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons

Four very different genres; two of them are fictions. The cheating part is I have started reading the non fictions about weeks to months ago. Yet I’m struggling to finish it.

Not forgetting the ESC ACS guidelines that I started reading last Wednesday.

(2) I have not gone out since coming back from Umrah. What with my cough and multiple oncall days and weekend rounds, I have not even gone to the gym. So today I managed to get some exercise, went for dinner in Kinokuniya, and browsed its shelves after that. So I got myself these books. Yes, despite not reaching my January goals yet.

(3) The place I’ve been, the place I will be. From Maqam Ibrahim to Jakarta. In between there are sweet dreams and poetry. And hope. A lot of hope.

(4) Browsing the net for information about a city is probably much cheaper than buying a book, and as far as I know, information in travel books might be as (in)accurate as travellers’ blogs. But with my job and all the reading I need to do, I don’t think I will have time to do a proper research for my short trip there. So I decided to grab a book about Jakarta (it is not cheap 😰). I hope it will be useful.

(5) I am not happy with the quality of Malay books these days. Many books in the market are basically compilations of tweets, Facebook statuses and blogs. However, the language is often too rough, even when they are written by young ustazs. Apparently these kinds of books sell better. “As long as the message gets across.” But I don’t believe in compromising language for marketing/popularity purposes. We need to be more responsible. 

Using simple language is alright, but using rough slangs and inappropriate, incorrect words are just unacceptable.
Therefore I get back to classics. 😊

(6) The movie Ada Apa Dengan Cinta managed to re-ignite my love towards Malay poetry. I recognised the book “Aku” from afar, and excitedly, I grabbed a copy. It is not written by Chairil Anwar but it is based on his life and his works. I do wish to get a copy of his works one day. Maybe in Jakarta.
So good night. I hope I will be able to sleep well despite the coffee. 😴😴

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