The Past

Saturday with Titi

Amidst all the craziness of adulthood, I found hidden, unexpected haven at my grandmother's house where everything seems to grow smaller as I grow older.

Since my grand father's passing, the family promised to take turn in accompanying my grandmother to comfort her in feeling less alone. Of course, it is decided by her children. Not that she ever asked, with her small figures she still likes to think of herself as a strong and independent lady. But it may also be another way for the children to cope with the sense of loss together. All of us. But either way it seems like a good idea. 

The older grand children get to sleep over every Saturday. There are three of us; We'd watch HBO before bed while Titi sits attentively. Sometimes, she'd make comments such as having never watched Harry Potter, she would throw away questions, "Why he doesn't have nose? It must be dark magic!" referring to Lord Voldemort, or "Why is she screaming at her mother?" to one of the Girls episodes. Later, we would all sleep together on the same king-sized bed like we were 7.

But my favourite part is during dinner when we all sat on the wooden round table, without phone, just us and the home-cooked meals. She would only eat with her now faded pink set of cutlery and her diabetic pills and blue plastic glass with flower-like bottom ready in front of her.

The conversation would begin organically, anything that hold relevance to everything around us. Like, my older cousin's wedding in a couple of months, the weather, the garden, newly upgraded fish tank, the parrot, and how she turns the emptiness by making herself busy at all times, even if it takes her to sleep at 3 o'clock in the morning, then stretches into far into something that we'd forget how we ended up there.

I admire how her eyes gleam, reciting the old tale she still remembers as if it happened two days ago. She sure does forget a lot of things, recent things like where she puts one of her keys that she lost for the third time as you sure cannot defy age. But the things she remembers about the past is impressive.

When the children lay around on the bed, scrolling our lives away on social media feeds, with her tiny crescent-shaped glasses, she sits next to her small corner with a tiny table and tiny green chair that she bought for the grand children back when we were five. The yellow paste reading light sheds just about the amount of lighting she needs to read one of her recipe books from 1992. The pages have gone yellow.

Follows, her routine before bed. After closing the recipe book, and only then, she'd check her smart phone, a gift from one of her sons, and learn slowly how to type Whatsapp message. Touch screen baffles her, she said. Most of the times she would accidentally send broken, unfinished message to the group chat we all try to figure out.

It is that little things in her habit that sometimes tells a story larger than what she seems. The littlest detail that I missed when I was away that must have gotten lost in the stories. How her faith in my grand father surpasses the space and time continuum.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Celebrating Humanity

I read an article on Medium once about storytelling. She said, her grandmother taught her that "storytelling is... how we relate, how we remember, how we teach, how we celebrate our humanity." 

And this is how I celebrate. 

The new wardrobe just got in a couple days ago. I needed to rearrange old dusty boxes, and throw the unused little things. In those tiny little boxes I found notes, mostly from high school, new year resolutions and dying love letters. But then, I thought of this blog– this, too, has been offering its comfort for nearly eight years. The first post on 25th November 2008.

These writings confessed how I have grown, gone through my teenage days in bad grammar and incoherent paragraphs. But however confusing and boring the posts were, it speaks innocence and honesty. Of how blinded first love was, and faux love towards band members and vampire films.

Rejoicing the good eleven years of this blog, I narrow down my top five of personal favourite entries:

Things We Forget: Class of 2015 July 2015
I think you can tell which one comes close to my heart. My mother reposted this on her Facebook. It means the world – "...the more I would like to make sure that none of us is going to spend another second of our times doing what we don't like or being pressured into doing what others deem to be right. If you are not sure yet of what you like, I suggest you to keep looking." 
I'm Sorry April 2014 
"I am sorry that I chose not to love you  although I would like to love you; hell, maybe I should, but I'm afraid I couldn't."  These are the things I'd like to say to the boy I deeply cherished but too shy to say up front when I was in England. I wrote this in less than ten minutes. This kind of writing is my personal favourite because there's this sense of raw honesty that flows in one go, without major editing in words and structure.

Hold Me Close, I've Never Been This Far From Home August 2012 
Everything is clear; even with your eyes shut." 2012 was the year I discovered how to write using with flamboyant, grande metaphors where at the end of the day, it kinda fell pretty.

Malam Itu September 2013 
The first post I wrote properly in Indonesian and I kinda am proud of how it turned out. This felt like a milestone and the inspiration for this story was very personal, too – "Tapi aku terhenti. Bayangan itu hilang seraya aku menolehkan kepalaku menjauh darinya dengan elusan akal sehat. Sekarang aku dapat merasakan nafasnya berhembus pada leherku. Hangat."

Find Me July 2013 
I remember the night I showed this to my father and asked him what did he think, "Good." and I added in joy, "It's great how I wrote this without anybody specific in mind. I wrote it for myself." He said with his eyes fixated on the TV screen, "You sure? It's kinda obvious who you are writing this for..." I re-read it again and again days after days, then I realised what he meant – "Find me in between the announcement of departing flight or at the arrival gate. Better yet, find me at the airport  because I can't stay. You can't stay. We can't stay. We are not here to stay. But still, find me, look for me."

Maybe you'd care to tell me yours?
A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Yellow Roman Candles

If 2018 was made into a film, it would begin where it almost ends.
The first scene would be a shot of empty street of Jakarta two days to New Year’s Eve where almost everyone is running away to Anywhere But Here destination. Except for the few, with whatever’s reason they chose to stay, or mostly not knowing where to go at all.
Andra, Dydy and I were the few. Sitting on a small Iga Penyet Restaurant somewhere in South Jakarta on a fervent Sunday noon, we spoiled ourselves with cold Coconut drinks and spicy food. Under the sun, my body felt like a dried crackers and so did everything else. I was quiet, as if I was still waking up from a hangover but this time, I hadn’t been drinking at all.
I remember I was stirring my drinks as I felt the slippery handle on the porcelain glass when Andra said, “Actually,” she took a brief pause while exchanging looks with Dydy, “there is a reason why we invited you for lunch.” Just in cue, from across the table Dydy pulled out a white paper bag.
She handed me over a book, You, Me and Five Bucks, with Ethan Hawke and streets of Bournemouth photos on the cover. That’s my blog! I thought.
“So, for your birthday present we curated few of your writings on your blog and made it into a book, which coincidentally marks the 10th anniversary of your blog as you started it when you were 16, and now you’re 26!”
My mouth hung open. I tried to cover it with both of my hands but I felt like I could not stop me from dissolving into tiny molecules. I could’ve screamed, or cry, or laugh, or say thank you, or hug them but not sure what it was, I just sat there with my mouth open and thought, this must’ve what it felt like to hold a baby when I had the book on my hands.
The back cover said: ‘you scare me, not in a ghostly way, but in a everything-is-temporary-and-you-have-to-make-it-count. How mortal everything is. That I have to make the greatest out of the time I have.’ I stopped and stared back to them and squinted my eyebrows, “Are you sure I really wrote this?”
They laughed as they nodded, but my eyes were getting warm and damp.
The narrator inside my head had leaned over the wall and took a deep, long breath, “How could you forget all of this? Not this, this, but this your love towards this, and these people who had put all of their chips in believing you?”
I wasn’t sure what was the answer to that but it just hit me, funny how often we got blinded by the monstrous self-doubt and fear, we were unable to see the love as big and sincere as this, it felt beautiful. The great feeling of being loved, and of loving something so passionately.
Then the scene would shift into a close up shot into my eyes, and montage of flashbacks the days in 2018 that were screaming paragraphs of stories. Like that summer, I was reunited with Marta in Singapore and we sat at a Jazz bar with blue neon lights 2 in the morning with another friend of her, talking about how vast the world is and still connected across the ocean.
And those days when my whole extended family went for a road trip across Central and East Java, convoyed with five cars and there were few nights my cousins and I sneaked out away from our parents in the middle of the night to find a local 24-hour coffee shop to have a bit of fun because the night was still young and the city was too alive to be missed.
Also, last November, when my best friends and I did a quick getaway to Bandung just a few days before my 26th birthday and met a group of strangers with the same taste in music, which we ended up doing a four-hour long karaoke session with them, singing our lungs out, re-living the glorious days of emo songs while having the whole bar for ourselves.
But I had let it dissolve into steam and just images in my phone’s gallery, not being able to process that and write it all down. I know the absence of light often overpowers the days when it actually shines. I was so close in summarising 2018 as a grey weather that looks about to rain but never does. But guess what, in the last two days, it rained! The kind of rain where it mesmerises you to stare outside the window for so long and makes you think how beautiful the Mother Nature is.
For this, I feel like I owe myself an apology: I am so sorry for being so indifferent, apathetic, so passive, when I could have fought harder in all of this. Quoting the great American rock band, Paramore, lyrics in which I wept throughout the song when they played it live in Jakarta last August: Hold onto hope if you got it / Don’t let it go for nobody / And they say that dreaming is free / But I wouldn’t care what it cost me
So, to my future self, I’d just like to let you know, I am holding on tighter than ever and I promise I won’t let it go. With this, I too, have lit the Roman candles again that Kerouac once said to stay mad: mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time.
After everything else had sunk in, the scene would return to the Restaurant. I took a deep breath, and placed down my book next to the glass. I stood up and walked to Andra and Dydy and hug them tight. Had Aysha, too, on the phone and I thanked her for the tiny push that I needed most.
Then the screen faded out into a brief glimpse of New Year’s Eve cheers: to new beginnings, to more stories to write, to all places we will go, and most of all, to more glasses of wine!
A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Earth to Fiya, Earth to Fiya

Dearest Home,
How have you been? I’ve heard you are looking gorgeous and hotter as ever with the fervent heat and cold beers. Oh dear, words cannot describe how I’ve missed you and it is so hard to believe it has been over 1,000 days since the last time I saw you.
Let me begin with an apology because at the end of this letter, you might not find this as pleasant as the ones I have sent you before. But I hope you’re still going to read me, and at least try to understand where I came from.
As you might have known, it’s been a while since the last time I wrote to you but truly, I have been quite busy with being Here.
My friends have been helping me settling down like last week, I went to a-parking-lot-turned-to-skate-park-slash-music-venue where we had Whisky on a plastic cup by the skate rank. Trains to Southampton now can be replaced with trains to Soekarno-Hatta Airport. It’s a stepping stone for Here to be a lot closer like you.
My family too, after the road trip all the way to East Java, my older cousin just gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy, adding one tiny member to our big family. Buying tiny socks and bean-sized Little Prince t-shirt had me all tingly and thinking fuck, I am old and perhaps this is one of the things that I wouldn’t want to miss.
And work’s been fine. I am missing the 11 A.M lectures and all the long walks through Alma Road, but the Gojek rides and lunch with my colleagues here are more than alright, too. I am learning new things everyday just as I was there but with different kind of grading and pressure.
I am learning to cut my meat intake too, quite drastically than I was before who used to eat everything that looks and smells delicious, and replace it with more plant-based meal. Why? Apart from trying to be more healthy, I’d like to think this can be a great contribution to Earth. Again, I am still trying; we all know how hard it is to let go cheese and beef Bulgogi, but I think it’s a pretty good start.
As you can see, I am also practising to be more mindful of the present. Part of it is by appreciating what I have now, which definitely more than enough. But sometimes you are too big, too pretty, and too heavy for me to breathe and being able to see what’s in front of me — all of those, Here.
Now that I have come to realise the first weeks or years since my return to Here, I have been resisting the fact that I am now far from you and when I thought it’s a beautiful thing to feel and defend, I have placed myself in a more uncomfortable and damaging situation more than I know.
But please don’t get me wrong, I am not forgetting you — I will never; you are the biggest and best thing that’s ever happened to me. But right now, I am just not going to see or speak to you as often as I did because I need to be here, be fully here, and give Here a chance. Making peace with whatever’s left of me in Here, and Here in me. And you know, it isn’t going to be easy when my mind keeps coming back to you.
I hope you’d understand. I know your sunsets and Summer nights will stay magical and you will always be home to me. So, I may not going to see you anytime soon, but I will. I promise you I will, one day just like how it was then.
Much love,

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Pablo, Spring

Have you ever felt so incredibly threatened at a place where it was once felt so safe and free? Not knowing what exactly happened but you knew, you were some sort of estranged. There was a lot of fears, hidden in plain sight but steady at its core. You were not you anymore, but then again, who knew which one was you? Is it you are you now or it was you then? Too many questions, no one is keeping record.

But you were here still. Distracted at its best by the smallest screen yet with the greatest power and you always kept looking for whatever it is that would keep you idle- but most of all away from the uncomfortableness being on your own, with your once beautiful but turns poisonous thoughts. Everything else is gone with a scroll of a thumb, it is now your magic wand. I thought Harry Potter isn't real?

Pablo Neruda once said, you can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming. Is it true? What if the gardener took the whole soil away, and replaced it with marbled floor where you can see your own reflection and take a picture and post it and get like; where shall the flower grow then? Whose responsible for all this mess? But is it really the time to point a finger? Oh, I cannot wait for Spring to come!

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Then, There is You

I think this world is a chain of unrequited feelings — you like her, she likes someone else, he likes me and I like you.

The thing about you is, you give every writer’s favourite thing: a blank space, a white blank page. I could fill in with unicorns and rainbow, double rum and coke, I could paint it red.

But another thing about blank space is that it can be immensely intimidating. The complete opposite of letting your creativity shape the love you would like to have. You scare me, not in a ghostly way, but in a everything-is-temporary-and-you-have-to-make-it-count. How mortal everything is. That I have to make the greatest out of the time I have.

You make memories appear like swords, the pointy end will bleed you to death. It kills you. It has the power to kill. It could kill you. 

You make glitter looks like gold. But do you know when I know (I’m sure)? When I no longer fear death when I’m with you. 

The last time I heard about her was years ago. She embodied the ideal wife. You said she’s as calm as the deepest ocean, her manner, the way she dresses, how you would consider to marry her — which where I’d like you to stop.

He likes me, he said it’s all in, liking me is like a suicide mission but he’ll take it. He looks up to me — I’m his Margo. His friends look up to him for his loyalty and bravery, sometimes foolish. Most girls adore him for his gentleness and sweetness. He makes me feel I’m stupid for thinking twice.

But then, there is you.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Anger, Mostly

I originally wrote this in 2015, days fresh after returning to Indonesia.

How do you define a big change? Would it be possible for something so big to happen and you don’t really realise that it is happening? Like you have just been put to bed, and you are dreaming, the kind of ordinary mundane state of unconsciousness between awake and asleep. And at one point, you constantly asking yourself, when am I going to wake up?
But I am not waking up, this isn’t a dream. I have travelled eighteen-hour flight, and instead of Scotland I woke up in a drier, hotter city with less greenery and funny accent. I feel I should not continue writing this because there is only anger, and agony, as if I am writing this in haste, but I have waited for over thirty days and I still haven’t got it around my head.
Airplane, has made it so easy to travel from different part of the world that it is hard to feel I have travelled half the world away. And all I’ve got is the change of climate and language. Other than that my mind hangs somewhere in the sky, in between the time difference and airplane seat belts.
In the beginning, the euphoria beats whatever anticipation of the long overdue saying hello to the place and faces I once thought as home. I whine nothing more but the sweat and crazy driving ethics, changing lanes and car’s headlight. But I did not cry, and I thought that’s a good thing.
It isn’t because it only means I am suppressing it within on the ocean’s floor of feeling. It happens so subtle and gradually when I seek the pieces of home in people. Old crushes, mostly. I am reliving what had been so good, but now seem so temporary and long ago.
It is crazy because it is happening right now but I don’t know that it is.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz