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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Antibiotics

Not all friendships are not meant to be healthy.

Some of them are just plain bad; toxic. The person you find to be so comfortable with, slowly drowns you, bit by bit. This friend tells you all the sweet words after beating you so hard you cannot feel your limbs. This friend gives you water after feeding you with extremely hot dishes you cannot taste well any longer. This friend stays just to suck your life out of you.

But then there were moments when it was all just perfect; hours-long talks on the phone, deep, meaningful conversations, night drives that took your mind somewhere away. All the things you would want to be parts of your friendships. And all these started when he literally saved your life without him knowing.

This person gave you hard slaps which turned out to be the only things you could digest well among all the supportive talks you had at that desperate moment; your darkest time in life. This particular friend made you, with your own bare hands, stop hurting yourself mentally and physically. This someone gave you hope that there were still people who truly cared for you. And of course you expected heated arguments. You expected both of you to be just human beings. You knew that there were never any smooth friendships, if they truly were at the first place.

You had it all in your friendship with this particular person. And little did you know, this person became your muse to all your songs, all your poems, your most significant influence to your art.

After a year separating ways with all the evil friends and your perfect friend, you met more people in life and started to figure out its meaning. You felt happier; your happiest state since a long, long time ago. You didn't talk much to each other, and your mind was busy doing all the things you were so passionate about. But then you knew that this person had a quite big part in your life, that without your friend, the puzzle would never ever be complete. So you still talked to this person once in a while, sharing random stories about what had happened in each other's life.

But then you still thought that you were missing something.

You found this person's message to be very offensive. Well, this friend is an ass, after all. You thought that it was okay since you were friends, but it seemed to cut you as deep as all those bullies had done long before. You noticed that your so-called friend barely treated you the way you saw your other friends did to each other. And you started scrolling up, and up, and up, reading all your virtual conversations, word by word. You tried to recall every single thing you both had said, trailing it down to the first time you begged for help. Yes, that afternoon when you suddenly had your typical anxiety, such panic attack that would not let you breathe. That sick thing you had had for so long, suffocating you.

It all seemed wrong. It all seemed too artificial. Had this person really done it all for you? Or you, as someone who is so expectant, had created these scenarios where he thought of you as a dear friend too rather than a patient needs to be taken care of?

Today, I came to a realization that no, it was not entirely artificial. Yes, I had so many expectations, and I had hoped that my friend could meet them. But no, I accepted this dear person for who they are, and I tried to be fluid; adaptive to this person's situations. This person did try to do the same. But in the end, we both failed to do it at all times. We were right for each other at one point, but contradicted at another.

I figured this whole friendship out. This friendship is very like antibiotics.

You see, antibiotics are kinds of medicine, designed for sickness. But you can't consume antibiotics on a daily basis. They are kinds of medicine you only take as the last resort. They are initially toxic to your body, as they are basically inhibited bacteria that causes the diseases you are currently having. The consumption of this particular drug is very strict, It has to be taken with discipline. You can't stop drinking it after the whole prescripted amount has been taken.

That is the perfect analogy for my friendship with this person. We are good for each other, to comfort each other when we are in pain. But we cannot share the same happiness. When we try to, we will end up ripping it apart, injecting it with such negative thoughts. We have made each other better over our tragedies, but we have also been toxic to each other frequently.

I realized that this is not exactly the friendship I had pictured to have, but it is not entirely bad. It is okay, to have such friends. But I don't think that it is meant to be a kind of friendship where you talk to each other everyday, share all your random thoughts, or send gifts to each other. It is a friendship where you came to talk, and to cry, and to mend all the pains together.

My friends told me to step away; to give up. I had been intoxicated with the thought that this person was my hero, they said. But that was actually true. This person did save me, in his own ways. I do need, at certain times, his different perspectives to truly value something. We both uphold a role as antibiotics to each other; only needed when you had no else where to go.

I just learned that I have to let go of this friend's hand, touching it only for just a high-five in certain occasions. I have to learn not to hug so tight, exchanging the hugs with some pats on the back. I have to quickly realize that maybe, this person will not be there for wishing me on all my birthdays, but this person will surely wish me all the best at my wedding.

Basically, I wrote this to tell you not to ditch a sinking ship just like that. You would have to see the surface, how big the hole is, to finally decide what's best to be done. Think about all the good things you have done with your particular friend, before making a choice you truly deserve. Not all bad people are not worth of being friends with, but not all those people can meet your hopes and expectations. And by this, I would have to suggest you not to expect from people so much, or you will end up getting hurt even more.

So my friend, if you're ever reading this, I would have to say that I still value this friendship. I care for you more than you know, yet I really don't know what you expect of me. But do know, that there should be love and respect as well in a friendship, despite all the nasty jokes we shall share. I still am looking forward for more meetings over Starbucks whenever you're home in the coming future, and I hope you are too.

Love,

-Abigail Gee

Monday, February 20, 2017

Reflection

Imagine this.

You are a girl with ambitions and dreams and hopes. You have always imagined yourself standing with pride behind a podium, delivering a speech regarding women empowerment. You have dreamed to be someone people can count on, trust, and believe in. You have wanted yourself to achieve all the good things in life, as a reward of your hard work. You have set plans on where you want to continue studying, working, and eventually reaching all your life goals. You have always been persistent in getting your dreams, making them come true, because you know that your loved ones have faith in you, yet you never truly realized that these people never expected anything from you but to be a kind and loving human being in the future.

You have tried to please your parents and become someone your brother can look up to. You have tried to be this student the teachers will always remember. You have achieved so many things in life. You have become a familiar face to everyone, and yet, you have never felt like you're good enough.

But then you somehow become very ambitious. You slowly become arrogant and bossy, trying to justify all of your actions. You disagree with all decisions others make and instead force them to see from your perspective. You are just one uptight bitch.

Then they start to hate you. They talk about you behind your back, they make fun of you, and they cooperate to bring you down. As you have no idea about it, you just keep thinking that life seems to shower you with all the luck in the world.

But then they show it. They ridicule you in public, they confront you with mocks and they call you names. The whole class hates you, they throw rubbish at you, they make you do everything. You are powerless. You have no friends left to defend you. You do have friends who live far away from you, but they can't be there for you everyday and help you to get through the day. You only find comfort at home and your books, where no one judges you and they forgive.

Then you try to be friends with those who care less about your problems. You start hanging out with them. You take them to your house, showering them with treats and delights. They like having you. Then you let your guard down, and you start forgetting about all your pains. You think you finally found people who can take you for who you are.

But then, when it comes to your special day, they refuse to come because you don't pamper them enough. They think it is such a waste to go to your house to celebrate the happiest day for you because you cannot fulfill that water park visit you've promised them because you suddenly have your period.

Then you think that everything is a lie. You start finding shelter elsewhere, but no one seems to bother trying to be nice to you. You feel completely alone. You sometimes hang out with other people from other classes, but it seems like they have their own gangs as well. You end up skipping classes, doing badly in the class, and cry when no one sees you.

You start hurting yourself, both mentally and physically. Scissors and cutters are your favorite things, and you love seeing yourself bleeding. You'd rather cut your arms and wrists, than to feel the pain you have in the chest. You then spend most of your time to think and decide that you'll just kneel down to every one of them.

You start to believe that if you do something good, it will go back to you. You start to think that people will like you if you please them. So you make the best of yourself and basically offer yourself to them, expecting that they will do the same to you. You look weak, you look hopeless, you look miserably desperate. You get your friends, but then you feel incomplete and unhappy.

And you make friends in the middle of your desperation with some kind acquaintances. They sincerely want to help you, but then you mistake them as not just your saviors, but your best friends. You declare your friendships quickly and you are very excited about having them around for quite some time.

But turns out they don't think the same of you. They find you annoying. They want to be friends with you, for free food or other privileges they may not have if they're not friends with you. You give them everything. Anything they ask, everything you own. You want them to be pleased, and so they will treat you like you're one of them.

And your birthday comes along. You have promised them that you will take them to the best waterpark in town, alongside with the food treats. You will make them so happy and you remind them about presents and gifts you're expecting. But then you see red stains on your pants; you're having your period. You can't go to the waterpark and you promise them good food instead.

Your mom has been cooking since dawn for your friends, hoping that they will celebrate your birthday at your house. You've prepared everything from meals and beverages, to decorations. You still want to make them delighted with your party.

But then you receive mails that they all decided not to come, as you break your promise on taking them to waterpark. All you can do is just stand there and you don't dare to tell your mom about your friends. You end up crying on your own, in your room, sobbing while hoping that your mom will not find out about the tears.

With your swollen eyes then you come to your mom and tell her the bad news. Her face looks sad and all she does is be silent. She says nothing as she does not know what to say to you, how to comfort you, and how to tell you that it is okay when everything isn't.

And soon you choose to move to another city and be happy for a whole year, because everyone is so welcoming. The environment is so diverse that you feel like you belong there, since everyone is accepted.

But then high school comes and you choose to attend a school far away from home, being isolated from the outer world. You get to know three hundred new people introduced to you as your new friends. And they all start to make peer groups, and you're left behind, just like the all days.

Your anxiety comes around again, as if visiting an old friend. It stays there for two years, and you have nothing else to say and to lose. You live in pains you cannot share with your family, or simply no one. You are completely alone.

You win championships, but then people resent you for it. People think that you are not cool, you don't look nice, you are not pretty, you're unworthy of everything. So you start to look for your old friends; scissors and cutters.

Then you suffer from panic attacks, severe ones. You start to doubt yourself and the same pattern of cycle happens again and makes you feel a lot more miserable.

Until a gentle hand offers you a help to get out of the darkness. This man offers you shoulders to cry on. And you get to smile again.

And with only just one person, you feel fine.

And you may also call him a friend.

And then you get to survive life and high school.

With some dramas, of course. But life seems to be all better.

And college days come and you happily embrace them. You know that things will be alright. You will be fine, as long as you keep the closest ones to the heart. You start to know people and be friends with them. You dare yourself to join organizations and drown yourself in hectic schedule. You make yourself brave enough to be happy and to be carefree for a little while.

And now, you get to see the sky so bright and blue, while whispering your favorite mantra,

"Life is not so bad after all."

Would you finally find genuine happiness within?

-Abigail Gee

Can Love Multiply?

Sometimes I wonder how people define love. Love, for me, is an abstract matter that portrays different meanings for each individual. The way I interpret my feelings, for me, is far away from how I think love is like. Love is something a lot more fundamental than just being attracted and mentally attached to one self or someone else. I believe love also means being fully responsible towards the ideas, implications, and problems that may follow the affection, and completely accepting flaws and mistakes of one self or someone else.

And you may fall in love with more than one person at the same time.

But when you are emotionally and and officially attached to someone, is the feeling of loving someone else other than your s.o. a form of infidelity? I don't think so.

I think there will always be moment when one is currently with another, can give the same amount of affection to a third person (and/or more) as love is limitless. Love is just, infinite.

I don't know if I believe this, but I think we all are capable of loving more than just one person and love each one of them as equal. I don't think love has limited seats for certain people only; and love comes in different forms. I feel attached towards both, and maybe more.

I am happy. I just am.

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I am sorry, this is just a short piece of mind. I'll bring you longer posts next time!

Love,

-Abigail Gee

Saturday, January 14, 2017

[Bahasa] Bukan Keistimewaan

Ketika saya bertemu dengan beberapa teman lama di sebuah pusat perbelanjaan, saya terdiam. Mereka dengan gestur anggunnya mulai berkisah tentang liburan masing-masing. Berbeda dengan saya yang datang dari keluarga kelas menengah, mereka lahir di lingkungan yang berkelebihan. Satu baru saja kembali dari tur keliling Eropa, yang lain dari negeri kangguru. Saya hanya duduk dan diam mendengarkan, sementara mereka berdebat mengenai perbedaan harga sebuah tas Chanel di kedua negara. Tak satupun dari mereka yang menggaet saya untuk masuk dalam percakapan. Saya seakan menyatu dengan tembok yang melatar belakangi meja kami. Seharusnya saya tidak seperti itu. Seharusnya, saya sadar bahwa berbicara merupakan hak asasi saya, bukan keistimewaan.

Di hari yang lain, saya mengalami sakit demam yang berkepanjangan. Keadaan itu memaksa saya untuk pergi ke rumah sakit untuk tes darah. Saya pun duduk di sebuah bangku panjang di ruang tunggu, menanti nama saya dipanggil oleh salah satu perawat. Setelah berurusan dengan dokter dan menerima resep obat, saya beranjak menuju kasir untuk menebus obat dan biaya periksa.  Seseorang di depan saya, dengan kartu asuransi yang ternama, dibebaskan dari biaya periksa dan hanya perlu membayar obat. Giliran saya pun tiba. Saya menyerahkan kartu BPJS saya. Tetapi, kasir tersebut dengan tersenyum kecil memberitahu saya 'dengan menyesal' bahwa BPJS tidak diterima di rumah sakit tersebut. Orang yang membayar sebelum saya itupun, yang masih menunggu obatnya datang, memberikan saya pandangan iba. Saya pun menunduk malu dan dengan segera mengeluarkan uang tunai. Saya seharusnya tidak seperti itu. Saya seharusnya sadar, bahwa kesehatan dan perlakuan sopan itu adalah hak asasi saya, bukan keistimewaan.

Di hari yang lain lagi, saya berjalan melewati  sebuah sekolah negeri terkemuka di belahan kota Jakarta. Anak-anak dengan seragam putih merahnya berjalan menyeruak dari gerbang besarnya. Tiba-tiba pandangan saya terpaku pada segerombolan anak ingusan yang mengitari seorang temannya dengan perawakan kecil dan lemah. Mereka memojokkannya dengan wajah penuh keangkuhan. Jagoan kecil, ceritanya. Saya pun dengan rasa penasaran mendekati gerombolan tersebut dan mendengar kata-kata yang terlontar dari mulut salah seorang anak, "Heh. Duitnya mana? Jangan lupa sekalian bunganya, loh!" Saya pun naik pitam dan mulai membentak sekumpulan anak itu, "Kalian ngapain? Kenapa malakin temen sendiri?! Sekarang semua pulang. Bubar!" Mereka dengan ketakutan berlari ke arah yang berbeda, membubarkan geng kecil tersebut. Saya tahu mereka tidak seharusnya seperti itu. Rasa aman itu hak dari anak kecil itu, bukan keistimewaan.

Dari kisah yang saya alami itu pun saya tersadar, bahwa hal-hal kecil yang kita anggap tidak penting; barang sebuah rasa aman maupun rasa dihargai, adalah hak asasi tiap-tiap manusia, bukanlah sebuah keistimewaan. Mereka tidak didapatkan hanya bila kita telah mendapatkan sebuah status sosial tertentu. Terkadang, kita lupa bahwa manusia, memiliki hak-hak dasar yang sama, yang didapatkan sejak keluar dari rahim ibu. Terkadang, kita lupa bahwa terdapat hak asasi orang lain yang harus dipenuhi dan kita hargai. Kita bahkan terkadang lupa bahwa kita sendiri memiliki hak tersebut.

Dan dari kisah anak yang ditindas oleh teman-temannya, saya menemukan satu pelajaran. Apabila saya tidak datang di waktu yang tepat, anak tersebut mungkin akan kehilangan uangnya untuk pulang naik angkutan umum. Sama dengan hak asasi pada umumnya. Apabila kita tidak menyadari adanya hak asasi orang-orang lain yang dilanggar oleh sebuah sistem maupun pihak tertentu, tidak akan ada sebuah gerakan nyata untuk membela mereka yang lemah dan tidak memiliki daya untuk menyuarakan nuraninya. Dan bila kesadaran itu sepenuhnya lenyap dari muka bumi, dimana tiap individu tak lagi mementingkan hak orang lain sedikitpun, maka tidak akan lagi tercipta konsep kemanusiaan.

Sehingga, dapat disimpulkan bahwa terdapat tiga hal yang harus kita sadari. Pertama, sadarilah bahwa hak asasi adalah hal yang harus dan sepantasnya kita terima, bukan keistimewaan. Kedua, sadarilah bahwa hak asasi itu juga dimiliki orang lain, bukan keistimewaan kita sendiri. Ketiga, sadarilah bahwa menyadari bahwa hak asasi bukanlah keistimewaan, adalah alasan mengapa kemanusiaan tetap eksis sampai saat ini.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." -Mother Teresa

-Salsabila S. Surtiwa

[Bahasa] Berkenalan dengan Pengabdian

Aku duduk di pojok auditorium, memerangi rasa kantuk yang menjadi-jadi. Aku sudah tidak tidur selama dua hari dan semangatku mengikuti kegiatan PSAF sudah menguap bersama tenagaku. Tiba-tiba sebuah panji merah berukuran besar melambai seakan memberi salam kepada segenap mahasiswa baru. Samar-samar kudengar sambutan yang diucapkan oleh senior satu persatu. Lalu microphone digilir kepada seorang perempuan dengan rok merah menyala dan rambut pendeknya yang disisir rapi, dan aku pun mulai menaruh minat pada apa yang disampaikannya. Ia menyerukan salam mahasiswa dengan kencang, dan kata-katanya tersusun begitu indah. Sejak saat itulah, aku mulai jatuh hati pada konsep pengabdian.

Pada tanggal 29 Agustus, aku menerjang keramaian mahasiswa baru yang hendak mendatangi stand Barikara. Aku pun dengan mantap mengisi formulir pendaftaran Barikara. Hingga tiba hari Mekar, aku pun dengan penuh harap berjalan menuju Balai Sidang mengenakan jaket kuningku. Disana aku melihat sosok-sosok yang kemudian aku segani, dan mereka menyambutku—kami—dengan hangat. Aku menikmati setiap presentasi yang diberikan, hingga saatnya kami diminta untuk mendaftar ulang. Setelah selesai mengisi formulir tersebut, seorang abang berkacamata—yang nantinya kukenal sebagai Bang Emir—meminta izin untuk mengambil fotoku. Awalnya aku bingung, namun akhirnya kusadari bahwa Mekar itu sendiri adalah penyisihan awal. Seleksi sudah dimulai.

Suatu siang, kami dikumpulkan di Selasar Auditorium. Kami diberikan pengarahan mengenai tanggal-tanggal penting dan pembagian kelompok. Semua tugas kami selesaikan satu per satu; menulis esai sesuai batas waktu yang diberikan, menyusun proposal diskusi publik, melakukan research dan membahasnya, serta membuat presentasi seapik mungkin. Kami juga menghadiri dua kelas SKIP yang diadakan oleh panitia. Kelas pertama memberikan sebuah introduksi kepada nilai-nilai yang diusung baik Barikara maupun SKIP, serta contoh pergerakan konkrit yang telah dilakukan oleh senior maupun alumni-alumni FHUI sebelumnya. Kami juga diminta untuk menuangkan pemikiran kami dalam sebuah surat, yang berisi harapan kami akan bangsa dan negara ini di masa depan. Sebuah kelas yang begitu edukatif dan semakin menggelorakan keinginan kami untuk turut mengabdi. Sayangnya, aku tidak dapat mengikuti kelas SKIP kedua karena adikku yang baru saja menyelesaikan masa basisnya sehingga aku harus menghadiri upacaranya di Bandung.

Di tengah-tengah perjuangan itu, dua dari kami gugur dan berpamitan. Tapi lima dari kami terus bertahan, menjadi salah satu kelompok yang ‘paling’ lengkap. Hingga akhirnya, kami dengan berdebar menanti pengumuman dari senior akan lolosnya kami ke tahap seleksi selanjutnya. Kami pun lolos ke tahap wawancara terakhir. Rasanya, jujur, seperti dikeroyok. Kami dihujani banyak pertanyaan oleh senior, dan terkadang kami ragu dalam menjawab atau berharap kami bias menjawab dengan lebih baik. Aku pun berbagi pengalaman wawancaraku dengan teman-teman sekelompok. Kami saling menyemangati dan optimis bahwa kami berlima bisa masuk ke tahap terakhir, yaitu live-in.

Pada malam suatu hari Kamis, satu persatu dari kami mendapatkan pesan pribadi dari senior. Aku dengan gundah menanti pesanku, berharap bahwa pesan itu akan memberikan kabar baik. Hingga pukul setengah sepuluh malam, Mbak Githa menyampaikan sebuah kabar gembira yang membuat air mataku merebak. Katanya, besok aku akan ke Ciracas.

Dengan sebuah ransel dan sepasang sandal jepit, aku bergabung dengan teman-teman yang lainnya di kampus pada malam hari Jumat. Kami diantar ke desa binaan itu, yang pernah kukunjungi sekali sebelumnya, dengan menumpang angkutan umum. Dan sesampainya disana, hatiku sesak oleh haru melihat puluhan wajah sumringah yang menyambut kami; wajah mamah-mamah baru kami. Kami diminta untuk menyampaikan salam kami dan dipanggil satu persatu untuk bertemu dengan ibu asuh kami. Saat itulah aku diperkenalkan kepada ibu baruku, Mamah Dewi. Mamah Dewi dengan segera menganggapku seperti anaknya sendiri. Beliau hidup sebatang kara, sehingga beliau sangat senang dengan kehadiranku walau seorang diri karena Yola yang sedang sakit. Aku belajar banyak dari kehidupan Mamah Dewi, iba akan kondisi hidupnya yang tidak seberuntung aku, dan merasa malu karena tidak pernah bersyukur, apalagi melakukan suatu hal yang berarti bagi orang-orang seperti Mamah Dewi.

Pada malam hari kedua, kami dikumpulkan di Matalangi untuk melakukan sebuah pentas kecil-kecilan di hadapan senior. Setelah itu, kami diminta untuk menutup mata dengan jaket kami. Satu per satu dari kami dituntun oleh senior, ke sebuah tempat lapang berumput. Aku merasakan hawa panas di kulitku, segera menyadari bahwa ada api unggun yang cukup besar di hadapanku. Tiba-tiba terdengar seruan Abang Mba, yang menyampaikan pesan-pesan pengabdian yang semakin membesarkan semangatku dalam mengabdi seperti halnya kobaran api di depanku. Rasa pegal dan gatal yang kurasakan di tungkai kakiku semakin lama semakin samar dan sirna bersama dengan keraguanku untuk bergabung dalam pergerakan ini. Tiba-tiba lantunan lagu nasional yang mengiringi pesan-pesan senior menyatu dalam senyapnya malam. Kami diminta untuk mengangkat tangan kanan kami dan meletakkan tangan yang lain diatas dada. Tiba-tiba aku merasakan tangan Mba Veve menyelipkan sesuatu di kedua tanganku. Sebuah surat dan sebuah emblem. Genggamanku semakin kuat, hingga air mataku mengalir deras penuh rasa haru dan syukur

Di hari terakhir, kami mengajar anak-anak Desa Kebun Sayur Ciracas, makan bersama di Matalangi, dan berpamitan dengan keluarga asuh kami. Tangisku meledak karena tidak hanya pengalaman live in, tetapi seluruh rangkaian SKIP ini telah memberikan banyak pengalaman dan kesan yang membekas di hati. Dan tiap kali aku merasa jenuh, aku selalu mengingatkan diriku akan sebuah perjuangan, cerita berkesan, dan tujuan mulia yang ingin aku capai. Itulah kisah bagaimana aku berkenalan dengan pengabdian, dan menjadi satu dengannya.

-Salsabila S. Surtiwa