The Past

Day 455

Dearest Bournemouth,

I hope you are doing well. I am sorry I have not been speaking to you lately due to unforeseeable mood circumstances that has been looking like a hurling wind, and sometimes rainbow pony. But finally, tonight, I find a time to write to you again.

Today marks the 455th day since my arrival flight back to Indonesia. And I have never miss anything as much as I am missing you now. It probably shows through how I don't write or take pictures as much as I did. I am not even sure what this letter represent of, other than a symbol of longing, and all I know if I don't write to you soon, I am so afraid that you will go away, turning into a dusty memory.

But on lighter note, I am doing fine. I read a total of six Indonesian literature books that I grow very fond of. It makes me wish I can teach you Bahasa, even though I, myself, still haven't been able to fully understand even it is my mother language. But it's beautiful! I almost forget that it can be so poignant and graceful at the same time. These books help me build the bricks I thought had fallen over.

Reunited with family is another blessing I need to count, perhaps put on the very top list, and wishes you would see it, too. I often found myself thinking, for instance when I was helping Dzikra, my little brother, unpacking in his new dorm in the beginning of his first semester in university, if anything, they are the reason why I need to be home, and forever calling this, as home.

There are bad days, too, I must admit. Mostly anger, sadness and disappointment for not being able to reach you and how different everything is in Jakarta. Nights where I cried myself to sleep. Slamming, striking out, ripping pages out of my journal. Words were my worst enemy. Those moments were when everything was unbearable. So overpowering, it conquered over all the nice things. But eventually, all is well.

I still found you sometimes in small habit I carry. I still walk over to the sink to get water where I always ended up giggling at myself, shook my head. I still see you in Hozier songs, old messages, and taste of passion fruit beer.

You said then, everything is going to be okay. Everything is. I should not be lacking of anything but you. You and your pretty sunset face. You and your Whiskey bar. You and London. You and your adventurous, eventful seasons. You and your sandy beach. You and your Chinese takeaway. You and Desperados. You and everything else. And I wanted you to know, that you are always on my mind.

I truly wish I will see you soon.

Yours truly,

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Keep Going

I am going to tell you a secret, or a story, or a secret story I perhaps never told anybody at length because I always deem this to be the opposite of perfect; and sad, heartbreaking stories should remain silent in pandora box, never to be told.

But after watching an interview with Ms. Delevigne two hours passed midnight, I found my fingers tiptoeing across the keyboard and decide, maybe I should write this. For the hell of it, or with hope this would find someone, somewhere at the right time when the demons are asleep that they could relate and feel one of the greatest feeling, that is to feel less alone.

Let me begin by saying, I have never known Depression very well. I have never been exposed to it, other than on writings and clips floating the realm of World Wide Web. I may have romanticise the idea of Depression, like Sylvia Plath on her novel the Bell Jar, Virginia Woolf, to name a few, but regardless, how I feel lately is perhaps so close to what I assume as minor depression and I have a tough time to acknowledge it. Others perhaps have come across something tougher than this, I'm sure.

As you may have known, I have this incurable, inexplicable obsession towards the Great Britain since I learned to spell impossible. My mother believed I was born British in my past life but I’d like to think everything was magic. Instead of casting spells, it was one great thing led to another, from one sensationalised fictional novel of an orphan boy went to a wizard-y school and an incredibly fit four crazy-goodlooking guys in a band with the greatest accent, then to the first encounter of what seemed to be love with this half English, half Indonesian young man in a band with the charm of a poet. In 2011, I finally moved to England.

But the problem of motivational quotes and other fairytales is solely about getting the dream. But nobody ever tells you what’s going to happen after. The aftermath often involves two scenarios: the lucky ones who managed to stay afloat and others who struggle to keep the spirit well-lit and alive, knowing there’s no such a thing as happily ever after— in which, I am unfortunately fall under the latter.

During the four years of living my dream, the Universe constantly throws stick and stones that sometimes most nineteen or twenty year old kids find it hard to bear. Good grades fall apart, I had my whole life-standards of typical Eastern culture "you have to get good grades, otherwise you're a worthless" education up-bringing slowly decreasing, financially challenged that turned into a snowballed guilt of missing my brother's teenange rebellious phase where I should have been there by his side.

I eventually got through, with the help of beautiful strangers soon turned into friends, and the guardians of the night, bartenders and other bright creatures. In that time, it did not occur to me anything else but surviving and I’m going to have to do this on my own without the tangible moral support from the traditional sense of familiarity, as simple as a touch, a hug, from the loved ones who used to be my backbones for eighteen years. So, it passed by.

It passed by so gradualy that I didn’t realise I’ve got thicker skin yet growing a fallible, fragile heart and state of mind. The dream that once shine so bright, lowered down into a state of survival, a reality, and ordinary, that it becomes a struggle I ought to get through — and it made everything more real, which what dreams didn’t showcase in the beginning. My dream became real. My eyes were blinded with the buoyant accent and cloud-shaped ideas.

Until the day that I had to leave England, and return to the traditional, boxed definition of home that is Indonesia.

This is when it hits me — actually, it hit me when I was on a holiday, where I should feel the freedom as the water splashes on my face when I jumped off the boat and see the beauty of the coral. But once I am at shore, I realise I couldn’t shook off the hollowing gap in the centre of my chest. It didn’t stop following me. And what I didn't realised, along the way of making my dream come true, I lost some part of me, too, in the reality of struggle and just to keep the dream going. Some part of me that I’d very much like to see again and give a pat on the back for having such an amazing dream – and had it.

As soon as I returned home, more than once I thought of packing, not necessarily knowing where to go, just somewhere where my thoughts aren’t this loud. Don’t get me wrong, this journey doesn’t lessen my affection or love towards my family, if anything, it amplifies bigger than I could ever imagine. Perhaps, the reason why my thoughts are louder this time is because I unconsciously finally at rest. I am at most child-like atmosphere I have long forgotten where I finally feel save to collapse, and to let all the suppressed feelings float to the surface, because if I do break, I know the glue won’t be so far away.

But I couldn’t help the itchy feeling of longing for England now has motivationally paralyse me from blossoming, and it creates this grey guilt towards my loved ones for once I return almost feel like I have Nothing where I should have brought Everything. This feeling of alienation being in the one place I thought I’d remember most of the shortcuts has overtaken me. The old crushes who never dies in the corner of my memory, now come across so strange. The friends I held dear have grown to be a different person, even though in a better way, but I’ve had or seen enough changes so far, adding this to the pile feels too overwhelming. This is when once again England breathes hope again, this time it’s the emotion it gave me — like home should feel.

Researcher named this confusion as reverse culture shock, but to me it embodies something greater than that. Reverse culture shock was originally depicted when they studied a group of veterans returning from war. My return is far less glorified or honourable than wars. My homecoming is based on my decision, partially my fault of not working harder, there are other aspects I may have, or should have done differently, or stay stronger than this. But at the end of the day, regardless who’s fault or what should have been, I am here.

For weeks I struggle talking to myself, which often takes form in writings. And that perhaps what stresses me the most. I feed myself with distractions: work, old friends, advising someone else’s problem, only briefly mentioning mine then quickly diverted the topic to the traffic or the horrible top forty hits constantly repeated on the radio or complaints of how sad the young generation is in Jakarta for not having individual characteristics because they are all wearing the same clothes, following the same trend and listen to the same goddamned Electronic Dance music. 

But without this, I won’t be able to come into a greater conclusion, I wouldn't learn that imperfection is okay, that what makes us human – flaws are the things that make us special, the crack within us are the beautiful parts that need to shed light shine on them. And it could make a damn good story, too. This time you mean it, not just because everyone says so. That it could be one of the greatest, most beautiful part of human being.

Without this, I won’t be able to answer the question I had for myself in the very beginning: what comes after getting your dream? It’s to find a greater, bigger dream. Cause life is a constant learning process and many great, beautiful things are waiting to happen. And if you have achieved one of your dreams, what’s stopping you from the next one? It even makes it far less impossible than the first, isn't it?

I’d like to say to myself, and everyone else, that it’s okay, I love you, just keep going. 
A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Aku Harap Ibu Mengerti

Pertama kali aku memberi tahu Ibu akan keinginanku untuk memulai belajar menulis dengan Bahasa Indonesia, reaksi pertamanya adalah, "Jangan." Ketika itu kami tengah menghabiskan waktu di salah satu kedai kopi di Bandung sembari menanti adik pulang dari acara kampusnya. Aku baru membeli buku kumpulan puisi Joko Pinurbo, Malam Ini Aku Tidur Di Matamu, di toko buku kecil sebelah.
Ia takut bahwa pelajaran baru itu akan menimbun ilmu tata bahasa asing yang telah aku rajut semenjak masa remajaku. Walaupun sejujurnya bagiku salah satu cara mudah untuk mencintai suatu bangsa adalah melalui bahasa, atau sastra. Mungkin itu juga sebenarnya mengapa aku terlampau cinta akan negara kelahiran William Shakespeare. Karena awalan bahasa dan rentetan literatur yang menawan.
Aku ingin menjawab bahwa mungkin ini sudah saatnya untukku belajar mencintai tanah airku sendiri. Aku berjanji untuk tidak melupakan apa yang pernah ada, karena layaknya seperti kisah cinta, semua itu ada untuk selamanya.
Aku harap Ibu mengerti.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Relative Sizes of the Planets

The relative sizes of planet notebook says the length of one year in Jupiter is 12 years, which makes me barely 2 years old. You thought I’d write a sappy story about how two star-crossed lovers waited so many Jupiter years, but no. I won’t. I thought of it, but unfortunately there is nothing romantic or affectionate about this post. It is just something that is written on the cover of my new notebook.

This, is about distractions. A constant, endless distraction.

That small tab next to an “x” symbol, that Facebook newsfeed–upcoming American election, the recent shuffle in the government, Instagram–more American politics, some random poetry and artworks, Path–this person is getting married, oh, this one just had their wedding, the others are traveling, oh a list of 72 Pokemon this person has caught? Fascinating. Then, not to mention those mean-looking cats, adorable dogs, and oh, a flying mosquito.

I have been in this position for over too many times for these past weeks, trying to get my head around one post. I need practice for my writing, I said, anything, any one whole, finished entry. But the once again, the cat won, and I failed.

The more the day has passed, the more I feel intimidated of a white blank page. It scares me, not in a ghostly way, but almost like the mean girl in high school who reflects all the answer of your insecurities and would bully you through one silent stare. As if this quiet blank page have seen all the repeated failures of me against all the meaningless distractions and boy, it’s embarrassing.

Perhaps, I’d take it less defensive if it is about all the writer’s block bullcrap. But I don’t think It is not about not knowing what to write, but more about the constant distraction of how everything else is doing, thoughts like — where’s my phone? I’m going to check that one unread email, oh, there’s a text message, oh wait, let see how my friends, whom most of them I barely talked to, are doing. Ugh. Look how well she’s doing. Speaking of, I haven’t posted in a while, maybe I should. What about this photo I took in Trafalgar Square? This looks pretty. Damn it, I miss London terribly.

Not long after, my eyes will get weary and before I know it, the clock strikes 12. Tomorrow calls for work. Typing seems like a heavy job–think about the all harsh comments you’d be throwing to yourself, Fiya. Think about those empty moments when this stripe keeps blinking, and blinking, not knowing which word out of so many other words will fit after this. No, not this. Press delete, delete, delete. This leaves one and only solution of any other cowardly action, that is to press the Apple button top left, find Shut Down, and close my eyes.

Then repeat on the day after.

And the next.

And next

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

A Tale of Two Papers

written on September 2015

Today my diploma certificate has finally arrived in the post. Sealed with Queen Elizabeth head, the size of the letter is nothing bigger than an A4. Inside, attached two piece of cream-coloured papers. One, the symbol of a dragon and deer; one in red and the other in blue on the centre of the paper where below says Honoured to Alifia Nuril Ikrami. It gives me chills more than when I watched Game of Throne’s Red Wedding episode, and I have never been so honoured. The second paper has more capital letter than Mrs. Weasley’s angry letter, only this is a breakdown of grades, all in black capital letter as if nothing else can emphasise the importance of it.

I stared at it for a while. My mother stares at me staring, while my grand father eyes gleam, waiting for me to hand over the paper. To me, those two papers aren’t just what it is. It symbolises years of sleepless nights, coffees, bottles of wine, unhealthy snacks and 24-hour library. Days of both emotional numbness missing home and joy in learning the curves of stranger’s tongue. It is the epilogue of eighteen years worth of a dream, and my father and family’s sweat and tears. It’s the projection of bon fire nights on the beach, the loneliest Christmas tree lights, when Marta and I got our first piercing, the love I had and lost. Representation of youth, the infinite possibilities.

Those papers holds the worst of times, the best of times.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Storage Almost Full

originally published on Medium.

It begins when there’s a notification pops up on my phone, Storage Almost Full– I immediately thought of deleting some of my photos on my gallery because I know lately I have been slacking on filtering which photos deserve to stay or go, either shaky or too dark or wrong angle.

So, I opened Gallery on my main home screen, where the colourful circles after circle create shapes to some sort of flower. I scrolled up and up, until it reaches the top. The first photo is my father and brother on his graduation day, I remember I kept it for the journey back to Bournemouth in Summer 2013. And that, exactly what follows.

Strings of pictures of Bournemouth. Of me, in Bournemouth. Then, there’s this pinch at the centre of my chest. Like, maybe one of my veins intersect with, I don’t know, clashes, with something else, like there’s a thunder there or a mild car crash. Maybe it’s the muscle tighten, oxygen can’t get through. I don’t know, I’m not familiar with science, carrying this on will make me look stupid.

There’s one at Sixty Million Postcards, the hip pub in town where I had my first Bloody Mary cocktail, and my first kiss. Then there’s a picture of a pair of feet, it must’ve been Joe’s, the boy I dated many Summers ago, when I was too shy to take picture of him. I swiped left for more, there were Tya, Ratih and Omri, the home-blood relatives away from home, smiling ear to ear in front of the Winter Wonderland. I had my red reindeer hat from HnM on. We all looked incredibly, happy.

Right there, aside from an intense sense of longing, I cannot help but think, that those times were the best time of my life but how I wasn’t much aware of it when it’s happening. I know I had a great time, but I did not know yet that it’d be, or it was the greatest time of my life was happening before my eyes. In the low temperature, warmth in glass of pint, the arms of friends thousand miles away from home.

If I could go back in time, and tell the past-me that the next three years would be the greatest time I’d ever have, I probably won’t do anything differently. But I might just take more time to take a moment between the shifts of the day, at the beach, at the whiskey bar, at the bus stop, at the lower gardens, even in my bedroom to take a look around and inhale everything in, how pretty and in place everything was–


I had the option to shut my phone and put it somewhere far from my reach then tuck myself in under the duvet, but I get on. I scroll down deeper, deeper into the Nostalgia abyss. Forgetting I’m here to delete some of my pictures to have more space for now. 
A piece by : Fiya Muiz

How to Come Back

Where to begin –

I am sorry for the radio silence. I wish I can say that I have not been writing because I have been busy writing elsewhere but unfortunately not. I do not even know what I have been busy with. Work and stuff, but that is a classic bullcrap. It should hold no justice of justifying months of absence – nothing is, not even heartbreak. All I know I am becoming more and more Millennials, choosing social media as the source of distraction from doing everything else that is soul-fulfiling because hey, it is so much easier (and mindless). Times I spent for writing have been taken away for, well, whatever it is. Of course, here by writing it means hours of drafting and drafting and drafting and re-writing and so on, you get the idea, other than it is time-consuming, it is, too, soul-consuming with the ever growing of self-criticism. So.

I thought of it, writing I meant, but it goes as far as a white blank page and blinking stripe. Then soon the arrow aims for the x, close tab, and the light shuts. I tried to compensate by doing more reading. Mostly news, first thing in the morning, as if understanding politics would make me more of an adult and that should make me feel better of whatever it is. Might as well jump in when the water is cold, I thought. Sometimes I read short fiction, too. Anything's under four minutes-read. Because somehow I always feel in a hurry of being somewhere else, having something else to do.

Other times, I am trying to read more of Indonesian writings. Poetries, short stories. It's beautiful. I jolted down a shitty rhymed paragraph or two, as if it is my first time learning the language – or even the culture, too. It's awkward, and raw, and stupid. But most often, I find myself looking back to old photos. The ones on the Beach. At the Whiskey Bar. Park. Under the English sun. Listening to playlist of The Long Walk to Campus or Wish I Were Here Soundtrack. Which ultimately leads to a thought of perhaps: I don't live in the now anymore. I am somewhere in between 2011 and 2016. And I don't know how to come back. What if, what if the only place you'd feel happy is in the past?

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Ada New York Hari Ini

Hari itu aku menunggu penyair favoritku di antrian yang panjang. Diluar matahari masih malu malu untuk menyapa sehabis hujan. Sampai pada akhirnya di bubuhkannya tanda tangan pada halaman paling depan buku hitam putih bertajuk cinta dan adanya kota yang tidak pernah tidur. Terima kasih ku ucapkan tiga kali dengan nada manis, dia memberikan tatapan kembali kasih yang sederhana seraya menutup buku itu dan memberikannya kembali kepadaku. Namun, bagian favoritku bukan pada saat itu – tetapi ketika kamu berbisik sambil menunjuk ke arah tempat duduk penyair itu, "Suatu hari nanti aku percaya kamu yang akan duduk dibangku itu." 

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Dialog Dengan Malaikat

Originally published on Medium

Dulu, aku mengutuk kepulanganku ke Ibu Kota. Secara diam-diam, aku menyalahkan nasib. Aku mengutuknya karena aku sudah terlanjur jatuh cinta kepada kota kecil di tanah Ratu Elizabeth itu. Dimana rasanya empat tahun melebih 18 tahun. Dimana aku merajut awal dari masa masa menemukan apa itu sesungguhnya arti dari matahari dan cinta. Aku pikir, kepergianku adalah akhir dari suatu cerita cinta. Namun, ternyata aku salah.

Aku hanya sudah terlalu lama lupa.

Tuhan mengingatkanku melalui datangnya kembali sosok pria dari ujung jalan Masa Lalu yang hampir terbenam dalam kenangan masa SMA. Namanya Timothy, panggilannya Timmy. Dari nama dan tajamnya lekuk rahangnya, bisa di lihat dia tidak berasal dari pulau Jawa. Tetapi, tata bahasanya sehalus orang Solo.
Dia menyapa kembali dengan kehangatan yang sama sambil membawa buku berwarna merah di tangannya. ‘Judul buku ini mengingatkan aku padamu,’ Bidadari Yang Mengembara karya A.S Laksana. ‘Baca ya.’ Aku tersenyum dan menyeselesaikannya kurang dari dua hari.

Tidak lama setelah itu, tepatnya hanya selang beberapa minggu, pada suatu malam Sabtu yang penuh tawa di suatu kedai kopi di Cikini, aku menemukan sesuatu. Di tengah menu-nya tertertera puisi pendek dari Sapardi Djoko Damono, judulnya Aku Ingin. Lapisan laminating menu itu sudah lusuh, entah berapa ratus tangan pernah dengan asal melipat, atau meremas, kertas itu. Namun diatas kertas merah marun diketik dengan tinta putih, puisi itu tetap terlihat hidup. Pernahkah kamu membaca puisi itu? Akan aku bacakan sepenggal baitnya:
Aku ingin mencintaimu dengan sederhana; dengan kata yang tak sempat diucapkan kayu kepada api yang menjadikannya abu.
Aku tersedak dan langsung menaruh menu itu kembali ke meja. Dengan terburu buru aku mengambil telfon genggamku lalu menggerutu kesal kepada Timmy.

Sudah pernah baca Aku Ingin? Bagaimana caranya seseorang bisa menulis puisi seindah itu?

Bukannya aku sudah pernah bilang? Kamu baru baca?

Iya. Gila! Kata yang diucapkan kayu kepada api yang menjadikannya abu?
Kok bisa saja terpikir apa yang dikatakan kayu ketika dia sedang terbakar?

Ya, hanya orang-orang yang sering berdialog dengan malaikat
yang tahu, dan bisa, cara menulis seperti itu.


Disitu aku tersadar, bahwa kepulanganku ke Ibu Kota bukan kutukan, tapi berkat. Aku hanya terlalu lama lupa pada keindahan Ibu Pertiwi dan bahasanya. Aku hanya butuh di ingatkan kalau ini bukan akhir dari cerita cinta, tapi awal dari perjalanan aku mencintai Sastra. Sastra Indonesia.

Dan semoga saja juga untuk berdialog dengan malaikat.

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

Island in the Sun

"And me? I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it's not some place you can look for. Because it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something. And if you find that moment... It lasts forever."
(The Beach 2000)

A piece by : Fiya Muiz

A Matter of Heart


This is the hundredth attempt of me writing this story.

The first one was at the Gatwick Airport lounge as I sat on the leathered-iron chair, waiting with thousand other passengers. I had just gone through a long debacle of two overweight luggages at the check-in counter, where I'd like to tell the chubby-cheek man in uniform, "I'm sorry for trying to fit in all of four years worth of my life into two luggages. And I might've miscalculated the weighing measure. Sorry! Can I just get through? I've got nineteen hours flight ahead of me!"

Second, was at Schiphol International Airport. With two hours to kill, I sat next to the window facing the runways. I remember the scent of airplane engine waste, and the summer sun casted shadow on my brand new notebook, a parting gift from Marta that says Carpe Diem on the cover, written in shiny gold ink.

The following attempts after that were all blur. I only remember it was never longer than two sentences and involved a lot of uncomfortable feelings.

Since I stepped on the plane, I thought I was a time-bomb – I'd explode anytime soon. I imagined floods of tears, uncontrollable rage, emotional waves. But I waited only to find out, it was far bigger, quieter, deadlier than a bomb.

My body began to weaken. There it happened; regular headaches, diarrhoea, and throwing up every two weeks for one consecutive month. I often found myself face down on my pillow, or in a foetus position, holding both of my hands on my tummy, secretly asking for my mother's attention to rub minyak kayu putih on my stormy belly.
"It's psychological, Sayang." She said. "Are you unhappy?" I looked away, could not come up with an answer. So, I stayed silent.

I then remember when I looked at their eyes, when I said I loved it there, it has been difficult moving back in, I could tell to them those were just strings of words. An exaggeration. Nothing more than a statement. But to me, it was real. England had made me feel something that Indonesia couldn't and I wish I could explain how dear it felt, but I couldn't. I wish I could explain why but I couldn't get any farther than one perhaps: because it's my choice. I wasn't born to it. I chose to love that place and I found most of the things in it are larger than life, even when sometimes it doesn't make any sense.

And that what makes saying goodbye to England is beyond heartbreaking.


Nevertheless, it would be unfair to define 2015 only by one goodbye. I have said hello to the other part of continent I never thought in my wildest dream to visit last April, North Africa! To the people I met at youth hostel when I decided to travel on my own up to Liverpool and Cardiff, where I learned how to not feel uncomfortable ordering table for one at Nandos on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in Liverpool One. To a local beauty on the east side of Indonesia with a dear friend, where I learned peace does come from within. And last but not least, I did, too, say hello to the bachelor degree I finally earned after four years of great hard work (and play, of course). And all the tough love the age of twenty three has offered.


But my God, it's 2016!

Look at all of the bright places we have been to! All the emotions we have felt! People we have met! Lesson we have learned! Bands we have seen! Old sweaters we have thrown! Lips we have kissed! Tears we have shed! Well done for getting through another year in one piece with a little bump of emotional damage here and there! That's great! We're here, aren't we! Let's raise our shot glass full with liquor of your choice to get through another set of 365 days!


A piece by : Fiya Muiz