The price of pulling someone out of the fire to paradise, while you’re struggling to get to paradise yourself….it could not be measured with anything at all.
The only One who could give the light is Allah. So we ask Him to give the light to whomever we wish.
But we are obliged to work, work hard and smart, so that our prayers will come true.
I have been struggling with myself, asking from Allah for what appears to be impossible in human eyes, but not to Allah. Why is it not impossible to Him? Because I have seen evidence upon evidence that whenever He guides, the guidance goes straight to the heart, and the person changes to become a great person. A person with a soft heart, gentle manners, and the drive to spread the light he receives to others around him.
Why struggle? Because from my human eyes, I see imperfections of a human. I struggle because I was hoping that it was not syaitan beautifying what I do right now.
How can it be syaitan though? This is a good prayer for a person so far away from me, a prayer that reminds me to pray for other things, pushed me hard to do other good things as well, and has given me so much good so far.
I listened to Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s lectures in the life story of Prophet Muhammad SAW and realized that what I’m doing now is what he (SAW) has done all those years ago. Which means, it is natural for a person to want good from someone else, especially when we see potential in them.
Since then I’m more convinced.
Praying for others is a priceless gift. A gift for praying, and a gift of light.
* * *
The path to paradise is a big struggle. One of the ways to get there is to help others journey with us.
* * *
Malam ini aku dapat mendalami melankoli kehidupan seorang Soe Hok Gie. Penuh pengharapan bahawa pemimpin negara yang dilihat semakin menekan bangsanya sendiri agar digantikan dengan seorang pemimpin yang adil dan bertanggungjawab. Pergantian itu akhirnya berlaku tetapi keadilan yang diimpikan tidak juga muncul, malah lebih banyak kezaliman yang berlaku.
Aku sendiri dapat menyelami jiwanya. Mengharapkan perubahan yang baik, tetapi nampak seolah-olah mereka yang ingin menggantikan kepimpinan yang ada itu sama tamak kuasa, sama rasis, berpura-pura menolong golongan yang miskin semata-mata ingin meraih undi. Aku belum nampak keikhlasan sesiapa pun di mana-mana pun parti politik yang ada di negara ini.
Maka apakah akhirnya negara ini akan turut merudum sepertimana negara yang Gie diami dan cintai? Yang korupsi meresap di segenap lapisan masyarakat sehingga menjadi suatu budaya yang sukar dipisahkan lagi?
Beliau berjalan seorangan sambil menyandang beg bukunya ke mana sahaja beliau pergi. Buku-buku dan alam menjadi inspirasi bagi tulisan-tulisan perjuangannya. Aku merasa kerdil berbandingnya. Pastinya pengetahuannya begitu luas dan penguasaan bahasanya begitu hebat untuk bisa berjuang demi masa depan negaranya. Terasa tidak layak untuk berkata apa-apa di alam maya mahupun di alam nyata.
Seperti kata Orchida Ramadhania daripada Universitas Indonesia:
“Saat ini….semua mulut dan jari bersuara, padahal entah buku-buku apa yang mereka baca. Dulu, yang dimusuhi adalah orang-orang visioner dan punya gagasan. Saat ini, hanya dengan olok-olok pada pemerintah seperti ‘kecebong’, atau posting kata dan gambar vulgar lainnya, sebagian orang sudah merasa paling berani dan revolusioner.”
Aku cukup terusik dengan kata-kata itu, nampak benar aku tidak cukup ilmu untuk berjuang tentang apa pun; biarpun soal kesihatan, agama, apa lagi untuk kekuatan bangsa. Yang aku mahir cuma mungkin soal patah hati sambil cuba hidup kembali!
Menonton filem Soe Hok Gie, aku tidak dapat memberi komentar sebaiknya, kerana aku bukan seorang yang biasa menonton filem, apa lagi filem sejarah seperti ini. Aku belum lagi membaca buku catatannya, dan kisah hidupnya sendiri aku baca di internet sahaja, maka sukar untuk ku katakan mana yang benar atau salah. Tapi dapat aku katakan bahawa Gie penuh dengan sifat kemanusiaan, penyayang kepada semua. Gambaran Gie membantu seorang tua berbadan kecil melintas jalan masih terbayang di mataku. Rasa bersalahnya terhadap kebangkitan militer yang akhirnya mengorbankan temannya sendiri dapat aku selami daripada ekspresi wajahnya.
Lakonan Nicholas Saputra ternyata begitu berkesan, hilanglah Rangga yang kita kenali. Gie ternyata lebih banyak tersenyum berbanding watak Rangga dalam Ada Apa Dengan Cinta. Jika melihat usianya ketika memerankan watak Gie, Nicholas juga pada ketika itu sedang kuliah di Universitas Indonesia dalam bidang arkitektur, memang cocok dengan usianya. Semakin jauh kisah ini dibawa, semakin convincing wataknya.
Pada akhirnya aku lihat Han dan Gie bermain di pantai, suatu simbolik yang membuatkan aku mengalir air mata. Puisi yang dibacakan pada penghujung filem dengan suaranya yang sudah hampir matang sepenuhnya memang amat meruntun hati, teresak-esak pula aku menangis walaupun aku sudah tahu bagaimana kesudahan hidupnya.
Kita pastinya perlukan ramai anak muda seperti Gie. Di Indonesia, di Malaysia, malah banyak tempat di dunia ini. Berilmu, dan berani menentang kemungkaran biarpun disisihkan oleh insan lain.
* * *
Puisi nukilan Soe Hok Gie bacaan Nicholas Saputra dalam filem Gie:
As a human being, there are times that I feel there are others who get things easier than I do. Like having a life without debts, not needing to work hard but still have roof over their heads, could travel overseas, have time to do all sorts of things in their own sweet time, still have people loving them although they couldn’t care less about taking care of feelings of others, gets everything they wanted so easily. Yes, there are people like that in this world, believe it or not!
But recently someone said something that made me realize how lucky I am, and that I should be thankful, very very thankful.
Like when we went for umrah, I managed to go to the masjid every single day. I missed a few prayers, yes, but most of the time, I got to be there. I did not fall sick at all until I came home, so I managed to do all sorts of things that I planned to do, mainly in the masjid.
And when I came back, especially recently, I always had the chance to perform my prayers in the masjid. Not everyday, but more often than I did before. There are also some prayers that I rarely did before but I do more lately.
And I am busy. It is indeed a blessing, because I’m busy being productive, alhamdulillah. I do look back at times and think “man, I should have done this five years ago!” but then hey, at least I’m doing this now! I have this four-books-per-month resolution (which includes one journal article per week), so far I’m quite happy with my progress although the target is only nearly achieved. It then made me able to think clearer at work, have better memory, speak less and work more efficiently. I now bring a book everywhere I go.
I wake up earlier these days, alhamdulillah.
And there are other joys in life that we could only be thankful for if we reflect in them. Like my mom is near, I’m close to my siblings, I love to read, I love to travel, having blood pressure of 106/60mmHg at age 35, needing to smile to everyone at work, giving all my heart when I’m at work so I feel satisfied when I come home, being able to apply so many of the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW from the moment I step into the hospital until the time I get home, still have time to work out after work and on weekends, could spend some money for my family, could learn so many things about life when I’m at work that others could only dream about…
The list goes on and on and on…
My intention is not to be arrogant or thinking that God loves me more than anyone. Astaghfirullahal’adzim it is not like that.
I was just…well…counting my blessings, and I need to do that a lot, so I could do sujood and thank Allah for putting that thankfulness in me.
“Tuhan, kirimkanlah aku..”
Sedang menyinar di awal pagi
Manusia kesunyian, keseorangan
Masih bersujud, kesyukuran
Meminta pada Tuhannya
“…kekasih yang baik hati…”
Bertebaran di angkasa
Dia masih memohon
Kepada Tuhan yang punya segala kuasa
Di atas tanah gersang
“…yang mencintai aku…”
Dia masih terkenang
Seorang insan lain
Yang juga terbaring
Merenung bintang di langit
Seperti dia juga
Seorang insan lain
Yang nyaman dikeliling alam
Tanaman bisa tumbuh
Di tanah yang gersang
Cuma perlu disiram
Malam tidak bisa
Dan siang tidak bisa
Memberi lalu kepada malam
Karena besarnya ketetapan Tuhan
Maka itu dia memohon lagi
Biar sampai ke jannah
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
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:
* * *
This is a short documentary about Chairil Anwar, narrated by Nicholas Saputra:
Dingin malam itu
Hujan baru reda
Angin masih menggerakkan
Dia mengangkat bahu
Tangan diseluk ke saku
Mata merenung tajam
Daun pintu yang baru tertutup
Tidak berkelip matanya
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
Saat pisah itu hampir
Air mata pasti mengalir
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
Sedang dia pasti
Saat yang tepat hanya Dia yang tahu
Beban di bahu digalas dulu
Sampai suatu waktu
Dengan yang dicintai
Biarlah sedikit lambat
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.