Category Archives: Fiction

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?”

“Nikita.”

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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When He’s Blinded By His Dream

There was a man, a man with a dream to become a doctor, a surgeon.

But unfortunately, he’s having a hemophobia (phobia of blood), a bad thing that made him have to walk a different way to reach his dream. The thing that on that time was unknown for its contribution for humanity.

The man kept looking for a way to reach his dream, and as spoken ‘when there’s a will, there’s a way,’ therefore he found a clue of how to fix the problem.

“That’s right, I’ve to cure my phobia first.” so he went to a psychiatrist where he could only find that the psychological treatment couldn’t help him. But he wouldn’t give up. He went to the most extensive library and then found a book about coping phobias. It was a chemistry book.

“I need to learn about this. This can help me.”

Thus, he took a higher education for the chemistry course on his 22. There, inspired by his dream to become a doctor, he studied as hard as a human can possibly does. He learnt about countless compounds, mixtures of substances, played with vials, liquids, and so on until on one of the unknown day, He finally invented his own combination to make the perfect medicine to cure his phobia of blood.

After 6 years of hardwork, he succeed and the medicine to cure phobias was then officially accepted globally with the name of Arcantium-Phobiatica (derived from the words, arch, anti, and phobia). This type of medicine was also a breakthrough in the medic field since it had no side-effect at all to the takers (which also why it was named with Arch, a higher level of state that needs onerous atomic combination to prevent the unwanted effects to occur on human bodies when taken).

When he was 28, after he had cured his phobia and gained fame from his A.P., he continued his step to pursue his real dream to become a surgeon. Of course, he had tried his own invention and successfully cured his phobia. Happily, he applied to the best-known university for the field of surgery, of which is the hardest to enter, of only 1000 people will be accepted per year, from all over the world.

But, obviously, he’s too smart and genius to not be accepted.

Another 6 years passed and he had held the title of Doctor. He’s 35, and he knew he’s getting closer to reach his dream, but the thing he didn’t know was the fact that he’s unfortunately had suffered from Parkinson, the cruel disease that’s going to block his dream and also take his life away. Hearing the news, undeniably, he felt devastated, but the devastation didn’t stay for a long time.

His dreams and will to live were stronger than his shaking hands and uncontrollable nervous system.

With all the little control of his motoric ability, he pursued the knowledge of neurobiology, he rapid read hundreds of books from different languages, learn researches done by famous neurobiologists related to the Parkinson disease. For 5 years, all the thing he did were to read and try to understand how to fix his condition. But it is not a useless effort, on the 6th year, when he almost couldn’t open his eyes anymore, he found the solution to end his suffering.

In that instant, he summoned the most experienced and intelligent neurosurgeon & biologist to consult his finding and after hearing what he said, they couldn’t help but to shake their heads of disbelief, of excitement, of admiration, and of worship of how a man that had such a minor control of his own body could find, regardless of his bad condition. Yes, it was a good news because they both agreed and also saw the light to cure the Parkinson disease.

“Do it to me, the surgery.” using the latest communication method applied for a person with the disease, he proposed himself to become the guinea pig for the experiment. It was a good option actually, since if it’s not done, he’s going to die anyway. So, nothing to lose. On the other hand, if the surgery succeed and his finding was right, he would have the control of his own body back.

And he did, the surgery went smooth, and his Parkinson’s only left as a history.

That was one of the happiest thing he’d ever had. But, his struggle had not finished yet, after years of losing his body control, some of his muscles had suffered from athropy. He needed to take physical-painful therapies to rejuvenate them, of which took him another 2 years. And of course he succeed on that challenge also. After he finished so, he was 45 years old and regained his health again, and he’s back to achieve his dream again, a surgeon.

“I have a dream, and I won’t let anything hold me from reaching it.”

Now, after another years of learning about surgery, he’s one of the most famous surgeon in the world. But that’s not what’s most amazing thing about him, the greatest thing is that he had found the cure for phobia and Parkinson,

when he is blinded by his dream,

he built bridges for so many people in the world to re-reach their dreams.

***

P.S.

*this story is only a fiction

*any similiarity is definitely only a coincidence

*just for fun

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How Cold’s Love?

“Let’s pretend like we’ve just met and haven’t hurt each other yet.” you said, I can feel the scent of frozen blood on your lips. It’s from the last night, you had a fight with the wall, the mirror, and yourself.

“I wish I can.” standing right in front of you, I almost fall down, but I know if I fall this time, I’ll end up spending the rest of my life in freezing hell. “I wish I can’t.” I’m not sure what I’m saying, I’m not sure about my own opinion of your offering, I’m not sure about everything.

I’m not sure about myself.

“Don’t wish for it, just do it…” You run outside my room, close the door and open it again in a blink of eyes. “Hello!” you said. “Oooops, sorry, I think I’ve just entered the wrong room.”

I am muted. What are you doing?

“Well, are you okay?”

I don’t think so. What are you doing?

“Do you want me to leave?” you asked, I can see you’re begging under your faint smile.

I shook my head. What am I doing?

“Do you want me to stay?”

I shook my head. What am I doing?

“What do you want me to do, then?”

“Now, you tell me.” I dared you.

“I don’t know. I’ve done everything to make this relationship to work.

Come on, I love you, you know?” you said.

“Really?”

“Yes, I really love you. So let’s stop making this harder for the both of us.”

“If it’s true, then stop doing it.”

“What?”

“Loving me.” and make everything looks like my fault.

“Why? I don’t understand you.”

“The thing you called ‘love’ is hurting me.” I finally found my strength back. “And yes, you don’t. You don’t understand me.”

“I… I… love you, I love you…” that’s all the things you can say?

“And you think that ‘I love you‘ can fix the things you broke, here?” I pointed to my heart. “And here?” I pointed to my head.

“…” now you’re the one muted.

“So, no, I don’t want you to leave, I don’t want you to leave any of your belongings in my place, not even one. And no, I don’t want you to stay here, is that clear for you?”

“But, I love you.”

“Yes! But,” I gathered your stuffs and bring it to you. “I believe you need to buy a dictionary and bible to understand the meaning of love first before you keep saying it.”

“I really love you!”

“But you are not doing it!” I push you out from my house and my life and close the door.

Forever.

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Close Too Far

Dear my heart,

do you remember the time when we used to walk home together, or to sit down on a lazy bench while we’re on a school break? Do you still remember the time you talked about how boring mrs. Lee’s teaching is?

“I think she has picked the wrong job.” You said.

“You think so?” I responded.

“Yeah, she’ll better be an insomniac therapist. She’s just lullabizing. And that suits her best.”

And we laughed our ass off. You know what? I really miss that time, especially the sound you made when you laughed.

And I hope you haven’t forgotten this one too.

Usually, after the school bell rang, you ran to your class, I ran to mine. But before I got into my class, I turned back my head to see you once again. I found you did the same silly thing.

Weird, isn’t it? I always think that it wasn’t a coincidence, was it? Now, I really wish when I turned back my head, you’re still there. But you can’t. Not anymore.

And, oh… do you remember how we used to walk home together? Do you want me to tell you what’s the coolest thing about it? Here it is!

We didn’t hold each other’s hand, but I felt like we’re connected, closer, tighter, and deeper than how the skin interactions can make.

Did you feel the same?

I hope so. I really hope so, because frankly I must say that I still feel the same, now, even when you are already… gone.

I miss you a lot. And it kills me inside. I just really miss you. Every memory I have about you, strikes me brutally, constantly.

Like on one day, I suddenly remember the reminiscence when we were in college, we walked home together. I always wonder if you know that I purposely walked slower? Made my steps shorter so I could spend more time with you? At times, I’d look at you, admire how beautiful you were, and enjoy making you upset by letting you walk in those new shoes you just bought that bruised your foot.

“Don’t wear them if they hurt.” I said, worried about your foot.

“I can’t, I look good in these.”

“You look good in anything, silly, and when you’re wearing nothing on your foot.”

And your upset face turned absurd. A priceless expression I must say. And I laughed while remembering it, but tears keep flowing out from my eyes at the same time. I must have been crazed out by you. Or the memories of you.

Damn it. Damn it.

I really miss you.

I hope I can do those memories once again, or better to make new ones. But this wish I am having is not realistic. I really hope so. But I know it won’t come true. I’ve lost my chance. You’re married now, your childern are having different father, yeah, I’ve lost my chance. And I really regret it.

I supposed to tell you before you’re this far, yet close to me. Now, it’s impossible to say the thing I always wanted to tell you. I lost my chance, but you know what?

“Trust me, I still love you. Inside, outside, all-side.”

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Survival’s Guilt

All of them died. Died not because of me. I was out to hang out with friends. When i got home, i found my house had burnt down. My whole family couldn’t escape. They were inside and had never got out from the fire. I wasn’t there. The fire did it all until it ended by the rain. It was the thing that killed them, explosion from leaking gas pipe.

It wasn’t because of me. But why i feel so guilty? I survived. They died. It was of fire. I wasn’t there.

My mind had always been engulfed since the tragic occurence. The storm of memories which was mixed of the fire and my family were the very reason of my incapicated logic.

“Why i wasn’t there?” I asked myself in front of the dirty mirror, again and again. The mirror always answers me with the same word of ‘silence’. It was always grey, covered with ashes created by the most remorseful-triggering inferno—–left overs from what it is meant to be regreted.

“Maybe it was actually because of me? What if i were there? Maybe i could sense the fire before it went berserk? If i were there, maybe there would be no fire and no one would die.”

Screw! It was my fault. If i were there, i wouldn’t let it happen. I have a powerful sense of smell. I could have known the gas before it erupted.

It was of fire. And the fire was of me. It was my fault. I got home. My family couldn’t ever welcomed me anymore. I should have got home earlier. Before the fire started. Before my family couldn’t get out from the flames.

It was of me. The leaking gas. The fire. The no escapee. It was of me. It was all my fault.

How could i barely accept the fact that i was the only survivor? Especially after i killed my whole family? How could i live like that?

I am a murderer who murdered people by letting fire burn down my house into painful ashes. Grey. Sad. Feeling-less.

It seems not real. It seems like a fiction. But after awhile i realized it was all truly my fault. If i were at house.

The ashes wouldn’t look so grey…

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