Beyond Retrospect (Prolog)

Prose by: Irwan Juanda

Also available in Indonesian Version


I went home while holding afterthoughts, something which is more to be sheets of cotton blanket inside my head. Tender, adorable, and sweet. My steps are like floating, as though I just got out from a different world. When 2 stalks of flower-which forsythia I’ve no idea about-came to my sight by the edge of the river that is going to my house, I was recalled of the two persons I just interviewed. Nikita and Jeremy.

You can say I am dumb, silly, or whatsoever. But as a journalist, I suppose their story is compelling, and  precious. Inspiring, to be exact. So I wrote this, as chances are this tale won’t get to be published on the magazine I am working for. Instead what’s what, but the magazine I am working for is an automotive magazine. Well yes, I am kind of ridiculous.

Yet, here’s how I caught this story. First of all I was covering a story about a motorcycle lovers club in this place, then I was introduced to the chairman of the club. “He’s easily recognized. There’s a long scar on his face.” This was the clue I had and turned out to be completely right because at the time I met him, I knew that he is… him. There’s a line of deep scar starting from his forehead to almost-half of his right face, I mean, what are the chances for 2 persons to have that same kind of scar? So, yup, that must be him.

I didn’t know anything about this man, but the first impression I got from him was that he is reticent, intensely quiet. I need to emphasize here, not stolid, but solemn, tough, like a rock, well I don’t really know how to describe him, but surely he is quiet. When I was interviewing him, he didn’t speak much, the kind of perplexing informant for me, then at some point he abruptly said, “there’s a  more appropriate person you need to meet for this thing.”

“Who is it?”


It’s his wife. Since 12 years ago.


“Hi,” Nikita addressed me with risen hands, bulging eyes, and ‘O’-letter mouthed when she saw me appeared from Jeremy’s back. Expressive. Besides that, the other first things that got to my attention were a big black-thick framed eyeglasses that she wore and her overhead-pigtailed hair, she looked like a tulip lady, a tulip lady with smart vestige.

While saying, “I am cooking, so, beg your pardon if I must make you wait. Problem is I just learnt this, and I am deeply worried and afraid that I am going to make my dishes overcooked into ashes. If they are, you bet that couldn’t be good since they’re going to be our lunch. Oh right, you haven’t had your lunch, have you? I bet you haven’t, so, well… I immediately added the portion when Jem told me you’d come.” And many more, Nikita brought me to the living room. Then the sound of something boom-ed in the kitchen made her rush there. Then in another second she came back with flashing movements, “but you don’t mind to have lunch with me and Jem, right? You haven’t planned anything with your lover or whoever it is, have you?”

I shook my head. Nikita nodded with excitements, “Great!”

At the same time, Jeremy who’s right behind Nikita’s back walked-need to note: soundless-to the kitchen when he seemed to see something was flickeringly-sparking from there (the kicthen is positioned at the left side after passing a corridor-like space which 2 big fully-bookloaded bookcases were existed on its left and right sides). In short time after that something boom-ed again. “For Shakespeare! My dishes!” Nikita disappeared again right after telling me to wait in the living room.

Nikita and Jeremy’s living room was themed with Victorian touch, believe it or not, there’re Bal du moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Woman Reading by Henri Matisse paintings facing one another in that room, though I was sure they’re imitations. I mean, for real? What’s weirder was, why those two paintings were in this room? Though am not an art lover, I knew the two elements of those two paintings are far-widely varied to one another as I heard or read from a source I couldn’t remember anymore. But, oh well, I don’t want to explain too much since this tale is supposedly not about Nikita and Jeremy’s living room, nor about those paintings.

While waiting in the living room, I could hear Nikita’s ear-popping voice from the kitchen.

“Just three tea-spoons, Jem. Three. As I read, it ought to be three unless it’d taste weirdly bizzare.”

But I failed to catch Jeremy’s reply.

“We must stir it with a movement creating the ‘M’ letter, Jem. This movement will help the flavors to mix.”

I still failed to hear Jeremy’s voice.

“Jem, please get me a bowl.”

Oh well, at least I got to make sure one thing nonetheless kept failing to hear Jeremy’s voice (or he actually didn’t say anything at all?).

 Point 7: Nikita calls Jeremy with “Jem”

Nikita and Jeremy seemed to still need much more time to deal in the kitchen, so I explored 3 books sprawled on a round wooden table in that room. First book was Half The Sky written by Nicholas D. Kristof, then there’s Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, and the last (also the most compelling for me) was Codex Alimentarius, which contents were less or more consisted of basis, code of practices and other internationally approved recommendations related to the making and safety of food and of course the food itself. Those two paintings, and Codex Alimentarius. Seriously, this is unusual.

Half an hour later Nikita came back, Jeremy’s seen bringing portions of dishes to the other direction of the house behind her. Truth is I was a bit confounded, it’s not about feeling that they’re impolite, but what I mean is, even so Jeremy was (as said) an ex-thug or so, letting a barely known person to be alone in a quite long time like this in your house, when worse, there’s  one of the most expensive paintings in the world looking free to be taken away (notwithstanding the fact it’s most probably fake), what’s in the heck is in this husband and wife’s very mind?

“Sorry for keep you waiting for this much long time. Like I said, I just learnt the art of cooking. Haha…” Nikita laughed politely. Her tulip hair moved adorably while she did it.

“Oh, no worries. Your living room is very cozy, frankly I am not lying, I even am willing to be left much longer here.”

“Really?” Nikita looked flattered by my answer before her expression changed into a jolt when she saw a thing she called, “ah, there there my cooking book! Turned out I put it here.”

Guess what’s the book she meant.


“So, how long have you been a journalist?” Nikita asked after finished serving lunch she cooked. The three of us sat neatly on the table. I was facing Nikita. Jeremy sat on her right side. When they sat like this, I could see chemistry sparkles between them. Two, odd couple, looked good and bad together at the same time. An anomaly, I suppose.

“Almost 2 years. 1 year, 11 months, 27 days, to be exact.”

“Haha. Detailed. I like that.” Nikita, she took a mouthful vegetable to Jeremy’s plate.

Jeremy started eating without much talking, actually, he hadn’t even talked at all since he took me to this house of his.

“So, I think now we can start your interview while eating. Relax, in this house, there’s no rule that says ‘no talking while eating’, someone can talk when he wants to, and can not-to-talk when he doesn’t want to. Isn’t that so, Jem?” Nikita.

Jeremy gave smile with his closed mouth to Nikita. I am sure that meant, “Yes.”

Then, Nikita began telling about Jeremy’s motorcycle lover club. How it all started, its purpose, and stuffs. In one of her utterances, Nikita also mentioned Jeremy’s ‘credibility’ as the chairman of the club.

“Someone needs not to talk much to be a good leader. Leader, boss, or anything with the same position with it, gives examples, not orders. Your actions are more important than your words. That’s my opinion.”

But after reaching some point (actually since getting into that house), I was no longer possessing any interest in the motorcycle lover club material as planned before. There’s something else more ticklish to be explored.

“Sorry. But… can we talk about you guys instead?”

(To Be Continued)

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