The Past

Have You Heard?


(Originally published on Medium)
Every time I caught myself apologising for not making time to write, I’d always want to interrupt and said, “Shut up. You do; if you weren’t making time to write, you wouldn’t be here right now.” or “Stop it. You’re not turning into the person don’t want to be.”
As you can tell, I obviously need to make peace with the Past, possessive version of me, that I wouldn’t be able to write as often as I did; but I’d like to look at her in the eye and tell her that it’s fine. I haven’t, and won’t, stopped doing the one thing that keeps me going.
I am still right here. You are still right there.
It is possibly because I am so used with the idea of being just one thing, and one thing only; others are invalid or inconsistent. Feeding my fear with the idea of not being able to write three days a week nor pursuing writing professionally will make me less than a writer I’ve always wanted to be.
But honestly, I think I am forgetting the Infinite Possibilities of being human. We can be so many things all at once. Or maybe, I will be a professional writer, maybe I won’t, or maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to be one because I already am the writer I’ve always wanted to be.
So, can’t you be a musician and an accountant at the same time? Or a painter and an IT engineer? I’d like to think that we can always be all the pretty things we want to be. As long as you know what makes your eyes wide open even you haven’t slept for days, makes your lips shake, makes you forget about time and space, or gives you that butterfly feeling in your stomach.
You know how I kept telling people, you shouldn’t judge yourself or the Future based on your fear of the past. What I’ve just realised, by the help of others, was: I shouldn’t conclude myself now nor my Future with the thought of happiness I once had; like England, or the fluency in writing romantic fiction. Because this only makes me more focused on it being gone and feel less and unhappy, when we all should do is freaking live.
To wrap up this on my birthday eve, I have stopped wishing to have one magic spell that can immediately erase the shame, the guilt and the fear in one go. Cause apart from we are muggles, happiness or peace cannot live without them all. To certain extent, they are born from it.
Happy 25, Fiya. As always, I am still forever rooting for you.
Love,
F.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Cigarette Break

Hi! How have you been? I hope you are well. It feels so good to sneak out from this adulthood routine for half an hour, or an hour, who cares. We’re here. Feels good doesn’t it? So much like breaking the rules in high school times when we skipped classes to do nothing or coming home past our curfews. Only the difference now is the rules are not made an institution on or our parents, but made by our own self-critic in collaboration with Responsibilities and Anxiety. Those two are a hell of a pair.
I know there are probably a dozen of other things we need, or suppose, to do now; the presentation, the deadline, the email, the Whatever-That-Is-That-Pays-Our-Bills. But it’s okay now, it can wait. I’m just glad we make the time to be here, sit down together, smoking cigarette that you have been planning to cut down these past months yet here you are with your second pack of the day, it’s fine, it’s fine. Let’s just stare at the sky. That big blue sky. Do you see how the cloud moves as if they were walking themselves to catch the rush hour train? No? Maybe not.
Here, we get to remember even for just a minute about the things we’d always wanted to do when we were teenagers, or the late night drive to the beach when you accidentally fell over but hell it was so much fun, or the day I cried at the school library because the boy I had a crush on just moved to the States, or the prom night when everyone else at our age was busy getting wasted yet all we did was just driving around the city and listening to the radio, or the day we fell in love on our own from the corner of a live music stage. Oh, the innocence!
The ashes of your cigarette is now hanging off your finger, nearly touching your middle finger as you can feel the heat is getting stronger. But you don’t seem to bother. Do you remember your first cigarette? How shaky your lips when you were terrified getting caught by your parents. And somehow it just grows on you, you said. Now it’s the only thing that keeps you sane amidst all the Pressures and Expectations. I’d just smile, neither agreeing or disagreeing. Whatever floats your boat, I said. We’re all worship something in our own way anyway.
Ah, I think our time is running out. ’Cause I know we both have started to think about the buzzing notifications and possible miscalls on our phones that we left upstairs, or the unread yellow envelop shaped notice on your mailbox. How long have we been away for? An hour and a half? It’s good to have the time to sit down with you. On how we get to reminisce the things that makes us once happy; if happy’s too much as the word seems so strange and mythical now, maybe things that makes us okay is good enough. Okay is good right? Okay is great. Cause at least, if there isn’t anything now that gives us goosebumps or butterfly feeling, we were once had it. I’m sure we can hold on to it and don’t waste it all away for nothing.
Okay. Make sure we do this regularly, so you don’t caught up too much on your thoughts, or cigarette.
I’m going that way.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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The Hypothetical Speech



I remember when she said, “He’s pretty annoying, isn’t he?” pointing at Ezra, the cute boy in class. It was the first days of Junior High School, and we were both fifteen with outraged teen haircut and practically strangers. Cassandra sat in front of me, with her long puffy hair almost reached her waist. Out of politeness, I grinned without saying a word, hoping she’d turn her head forward and not speak to me again. Because even I agreed Ezra was annoying, but she did not have to say that and most of all, the way she emphasised differently on ‘pretty’ and ‘annoying’ felt like just to deliberately make it a cynical and contradictory statement while she actually meant, “He’s cute,”. But I had laid eyes on him first since he walked inside the classroom with messy hair and oversized blue trousers, so when Cassandra turned around and said those things, I sensed an immediate threat and competition.


But just like the beginning of every great friendship stories, she did speak to me again, and many thousands of days later, we are now sitting at an Italian restaurants in the heart of Kemang where the customers are mostly expats, drinking red wine, and talking about Politics. If any of you wondered about Ezra, that story sunk by the second semester of Junior High when we realised we were obsessed with the same British boyband and ended up writing together a total of 1,000-page of fan fiction novel every Wednesday and Friday for the next two years at her house.


“You gotta see this,” Cass said as she handed over her phone, showing a picture of her nephew dancing with a girl at a school event, dressed as Romeo and Juliet. “He’s freaking 17 now! Did you remember when we used to drop him off at his kindergarten?”
The sound of jazzy piano on the background fit perfectly as I nodded, reminiscing the rainbow-coloured fence and mickey mouse posters placed on the window class 10 years ago.
“We’re going to be 30 in six years.”
“Fuck.”
“I know, right?” We responded the rhetorical question by drinking the remaining wine left in our glass, and I poured some more from the bottle. We were celebrating Cass’ 24th birthday and my arrival back to the City after years of wandering in the land of Harry Potter.
Well, it was all an excuse because her birthday was two months ago, and I have residing back to the city one and a half months ago, all this was just to drink away the sorrow of growing old and shitty adjustment to the traffic and manners and million other things that makes this city overwhelming and a lot to take on. But really, unsatisfactory complaints aside, what I’d like to think is, this is a remembrance of the best gift to be given to each other now isn’t Union Jack sweater nor Star Wars figurine, but time. Time and unfiltered conversations–and maybe a mixture of crappy love advice and glass(es) of wine.


Cassandra now has cut her hair bob-short, just below her ears and dyed it brick red, matched with her lipstick and crazy fury earrings. Her somewhat baggy clothes now has changed into some K-Pop style fashion with plain white t-shirt and vintage overall jeans. The way I saw it, it is as an act of rebellion, a statement, however minor it may seem, that she has been longing to show to the world, but most of all to her family, since 7th grade being the youngest amongst her siblings. That is how she said, ‘I’m an adult now, and I’m going to take control.’


Drifting away with the idea of how close 30 is and half-empty wine bottle next to our hand, she interrupted in between the comfortable silence, “You’re going to be my bridesmaid.”
I almost choked on my spaghetti, “Y-You’re getting married?”
She smiled and shook her head, “No, not anytime soon, but when I do, you’re going to have to make a speech.”
Initially, I’d like to use an excuse that most Indonesian weddings do not have a bridesmaid-speech as part of the ceremonial process, but then I know she’d dismiss it all ‘cause when she said so, she’d make it happen. So, I played with the remaining food on my plate. “But what am I going to talk about?”
She drank more of her wine, “You have two years to figure it out. But you’re an amazing writer anyway, so I’m sure you won’t have a problem with that.”


Fuck.


Unlike the 1,000 pages of fan fiction, then I had not yet awaken the angry self-critic, and now, it has been louder than before. Feeling unqualified of love and all that, I went quiet for a while, constructing what should I say in the hypothetical wedding speech even though I am aware it is not due tomorrow or next month but in another year the soonest. The crippling thoughts of being not good with love and relationships where I tend to make a reckless and impulsive decisions, makes me nauseous and unfit to speak. But then again, in all hypothetical scenarios, maybe I should speak one thing that I may know better in the past 11 years: her.


The way I imagine it, she’d have a special event held at this fancy restaurant one day before the big day–which she’d probably finished everything a week early because she is crazy organised like that, where most of her closest friends gathered and seated on a long table with white cloth. Decorated perhaps in purple and yellow, she’d sat at the end of the table, leaning towards her future partner, squeezing his hand tight, before I stand up and speak.


I’d probably begin with a lousy jokes that none of the guests would laugh at, but regardless I carry on and tell one of the embarrassing tales I have never told before, which involved a nerdy boy in a band whom she met online.
This boy was tall and awkward, but by the fourth meeting, Cass told me she had a crush on him. I laughed. By the third month we all knew one another, this tall and awkward boy confessed he had a crush on me at McDonald’s. I laughed again, thought he was joking. I said give me time, I need to think about it.


I remembered asking Cass, in which she said she had known about it for a while but she did not want to tell me before he did, and with glassy eyes, she said she’s fine with whatever decision I make. Of course, as a sixteen years old, taking feelings lightly and being self-centred, I said yes to this boy. Not knowing, I had broke her trust. The relationship lasted shorter than a summer, in which I barely talked to Cass throughout. But what shook me was when she initiated to meet, being the bigger person she is, she said we need to talk. We were probably sixteen, not knowing what was really happening but it was then felt like, a cold war was coming. At least that was what I thought, but instead, when we met, she looked into my eyes and said, “It’s okay. It’s not your fault. If anything, this makes our friendship stronger than ever. So, I’m fine, if you’re fine.”

My lips shook and my words disappeared. I probably cried then on her shoulder.


That day when I knew Cass has the kindest heart of all. And she has been since. This is the part where I close the speech with mandatory wisdom that whatever storms ahead, they would get through it together. He should know that he is marrying one of the kindest, most forgiving person I know. Then back to crappy jokes.


Returning to the present, still with the Jazzy piano on the background and loud conversation from the next table, I finished the last sip of my wine, placed it back on the table, feeling the cold dew on the side of the glass. And said, “Okay, sure.”


A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Little Hell

I remember the days when I swivel in my insecurities on my single-bed bedroom in a small town in the Southern part of England on my own. I was twenty two, and I wanted nothing more than to sulk in my mother's arm. Not that it would kill the little demons inside my head, but at least, I am not on my own.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Satu Hari Bersama Nenek


Pagi itu datang secara tiba tiba. Aku baru saja berdiri dari tempat tidur ketika Ibu masuk tanpa mengetuk, “Bisa temani Titi hari ini ke Mall?” Pertanyaan itu, seperti pertanyaan lainnya yang datang dari orang tua, sebenarnya bukan pertanyaan melainkan perintah yang dibungkus dengan tanda tanya. Jika aku bilang tidak bisa, akan ada perasaan bersalah yang mencekik pelan dan ditambah kerut di wajah Ibu. Jika aku bilang bisa, ya, aku harus melewatkan waktu yang seharusnya bisa aku habiskan bersama diriku sendiri, waktu yang terlalu nyaman, untuk acara lain. Betapa egoisnya kamu, Sofia. Setelah dialog pendek di dalam otakku berlalu, aku mengangguk. Ibu tersenyum, gestur tanda terima kasih yang sering tak terucap namun tersampaikan oleh mata.
Titi adalah panggilan sayang untuk nenek. Nama itu diambil dari Yang Ti, dan Kung untuk Eyang Kakung, namun karena cucu-cucu waktu itu masih terlalu muda dalam berucap, sehingga hadirlah panggilan sayang itu yang lebih mudah disebut. Titi sudah hampir 85 tahun, namun paras cantiknya masih bersinar seperti dia belia. Seperti putri keraton Madura yang tidak pernah terdengar massa.
Jam baru berdentang dua belas kali ketika aku sampai rumah Titi. Di rumah Titi ada dua pintu masuk: pintu depan melalui teras dan pintu belakang melewati garasi. Aku keluar melalui pintu belakang, sedangkan Kung yang tidak bisa berjalan terlalu jauh memilih pintu depan, yang lebih dekat ke ruang tamu.
Pintu depan posisinya terhalangi oleh mobil Serena yang berukuran cukup besar, sehingga Titi harus sedikit berputar untuk melihat ke teras depan. “Mana Bapak?” dia bertanya pelan kepada Asisten Rumah Tangga nya yang sebelum berjalan kesamping mobil itu dan menemukan Kung sudah berdiri menanti di teras dengan handuk Good Morning melingkar di lehernya. “Pergi dulu ya, Pa.” Kata Titi untuk kali kedua sambil melambaikan tangan kecilnya. Kung menjawab ya pelan dan melambaikan tangannya. Aku dengan cepat memalingkan muka. Rasanya aku tidak mau mencuri momen intim yang sungguh sederhana dan telah mereka bagi lebih dari 50 tahun ini. Walaupun sesederhana dua kali berpamitan.
Itupun bukan pertama kalinya aku melihat kejadian serupa. Satu sore, Tante dan Ibuku mengajak Titi untuk jalan-jalan ke salah satu mall di Kasablanka. Namun, kurang dari satu jam berkeliling Titi sudah meminta pulang. Kalimat ini datang dari seorang Titi yang hobinya adalah berbelanja. “Kasihan Papa sendirian,” katanya kepada Ibuku. Dengan rayuan halus, akhirnya Ia setuju untuk pergi ke satu toko lagi, janji Tante.
Kita mampir ke Ace Hardware, Ibu mencari keperluan dapur. Sedangkan aku menemani Titi berkeliling, tapi Ia tidak mengambil apapun sampai pada saat kita berada di kasir. Ia berhenti pada rak di pojok kiri yang berisi barang unik untuk menaruh kacamata. Bentuknya seperti hidung kecil dengan ilustrasi kumis melengkung, dan satu lagi bibir bergincu pink. Tanpa pikir panjang, Ia mengambil satu pasang, “Buat oleh-oleh Kung.”
Aku tersenyum. Hanya sejauh 30 menit berkendara, Ia merasa perlu membelikan oleh-oleh.
Sepulangnya dari Mall, Titi mengajak aku untuk makan di meja makan bundar yang umurnya mungkin sudah lebih tua dari umurku. Dia mulai menceritakan tentang kebun di Pasar Minggu yang dulu pernah dia beli dari uang untuk beli mobil bekas. Bagaimana setiap musim panen, rumah akan penuh dengan buah-buahan seperti pisang, kecapi dan rambutan Rapika berwarna merah yang rasanya manis sekali.
“Dulu waktu Om Heri ulang tahun yang ke 17, rumah banjir dengan rambutan Rapika dari depan sampai belakang. Tapi ditinggal beberapa jam semuanya sudah habis!” Antusiasme Titi membuatku lupa akan sendok makanan yang sudah siap masuk kedalam mulutku lalu ku taruh kembali lesu di piring.
Kung tidak lama datang, dan duduk pada satu bangku yang jika ditarik garis berada di tengah ruangan, menghadap akuarium yang menjadi batas antara ruangan sebelah. Ia mengelus pelan bahu Titi dan duduk.
Banyak cerita yang aku dengar tentang Titi dari anak-anaknya, tetapi bukan tentang kebun di Pasar Minggu. Tentang bagaimana Titi yang sekarang adalah bukan Titi yang dulu.
Aku ingat di jalan ke Kota Kasablanka, Titi yang duduk di sebelahku bercerita tentang berpergian keluar negri dengan Kung,
“Siti itu tidak ada, yang ada itu hanya Nonya Yadi.”
Mudah sekali untuk mendengar pernyataan itu dengan reaksi humor dengan intonasi orang tua yang selalu terdengar seperti bahan omelan, tetapi, ketika ku coba untuk mengulang pernyataan itu terdengar sedikit pilu. Apa itu artinya, sepanjang hidupnya Ia tidak pernah menjadi dirinya sendiri, tetapi hanya bagian dari orang lain?
Tapi aku bersumpah, pandangan Titi kepada Kung, dan sebaliknya, menurutku adalah bentuk cinta paling nyata yang pernah aku lihat seumur hidupku — dan aku tidak sabar untuk menemukan itu.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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Rediscovering Home Part I

Andra and I decided to go on a (not-so) spontaneous trip to Central Java. Both of us had gone through too much long days at work, we knew we had to have a breath of fresh air. Jogja sounds pretty reasonable as for the distance and budget at the time we were planning it – two weeks before the departure. Apart from the recent hits from Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2, the last time I went to Jogja was when I was 15. So, this would be the right time to revisit or I might call, a part of the journey rediscovering Indonesia that I had, perhaps, forgotten because I was too busy being in my own Brits bubble for far too long.

We stayed at Greenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman, notably known for 'Bule' area because there are many pubs nearby. Too bad we did not have the chance to explore. You will know why later on this post. I don't want to bore you with all the details, so I am going to tell you my favourite part of this trip.

Holiday with your best friend - our flight to Jakarta with Citilink was delayed for about fifteen minutes due to the crowded lanes at Adisucipto Airport. Since we already on the plane, and no bookshop to kill time, I told Andra, let's play a game. Which ended up not a game, but more like an intimate post-trip experience interview. We realised then this trip was more than just a getaway from our 9-to-5 routines but this was actually a long overdue trip for both of us to celebrate our lifetime friendship since way before we, or I, know how to differentiate love and obsession back in junior high. We both are quite a handful kind of people, thus having this trip hassle-free was a blessing in its own way. More so, with all the adulthood craziness in our early 20s, we tend to forget what matters. This trip allowed us to take the time we need, to be reminded of why we're best friends at the first place.

Stories - Jogja keeps a lot of stories. That was why, unlike most of other tourists, we were willing to spend extra money on tour guide when we visited Candi Borobudur and Taman Sari. We arrived at Borobudur at 6.15 A.M just about the time when the mist were making their way to the bottom of the hillside, and most of all, there were not many people just yet. This first tour guide was perhaps in his late 40s or early fifties, dressed in all white. He had almost grey eyes behind thin gold-framed glasses, and massive akik ring around his finger. He told the stories with rather flamboyant voice as if it scripted at the back of his head. Funny sometimes he slipped English terminology with funny accent in between the stories. I loved listening to stories as you might have noticed. Especially when it is based on history, somehow it reminded us the lives before us and how majestic history is. The philosophy behind each of the carvings, the number of statues leading to one ultimate nirwana amazed me.

Making the most of 24 hours hotel services - This, would be my favourite part of the trip. You might find this bizarre or hilarious but to me in the ordinary sometimes lies great beauty. On the last night of our stay, Andra and I agreed to book a massage session at our hotel. Thinking after 'hiking' to the top of Borobudur (I know, I know it perhaps nothing for you, but I could not help but deny the lifestyle of living in Jakarta and its minimum habit of walking around) and other long walks to Gumuk Pasir, it seemed like a marvelous and well-deserve treat/idea for us. Therefore, we headed back to our hotel early and skipped dinner. We thought we'd be alright considering the heavy lunch and many other snacks on our way back. But apparently, we were wrong.

After such relaxing massage, the night was still young. Half nine, it was. We could have gone to the nearest pub, perhaps five minutes walk away, but when the question popped up, we both ended up staring at each other silently. 'Let's just order a room service.' and marched back to our room. I laughed at myself as I browsed over the recycled paper-menu, never thought ordering room service would be so much fun. Perhaps, the exchanging look was more of 'guess we're not that young and adventurous anymore let's do something calmer'. I'd say adulthood isn't too bad after all. 


P.s: If any of you are planning to go to Jogja anytime soon, please do visit Museum Vredenberg just across Mirota Batik on Malioboro Street. It deserves more recognition (and visit too) than it has now. 










A piece by : Fiya Muiz
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