Muttie, Wir Haben Dich Sehr Lieb

My mother is a very active woman. Even in her 60’s she’s still working as a lecturer in a university about two-hour drive from her home. Whenever she has the whim or is missing her four grandchildren, she will go to the nearest bus station and hop on to a bus heading to Bekasi. She is very vigorous, very lively, and in a relatively good health. So when the news broke last Monday afternoon, I couldn’t quite grasp the reality of it.

She had lost her close friend for the past thirty-five years due to brain hemorrhage. The late Aunt Nining was in her 50’s, was still working full time, and was writing her doctoral dissertation. Everything happened so fast, too fast if I might say. My mother told me about Aunt Nining passing away when she was on her way to bury her friend. I know that her heart broke and she has become more anxious about her health ever since. Light symptoms like breathing trouble and cold sweat would make her panic and go straight to hospital to have check-ups. The results came out relatively well and she was told to rest a lot, but stroke happened nevertheless.

On Monday afternoon my mother was admitted to the ER ward of the nearest hospital from her home. My father told me to calm down because he thought she’s just overworking herself. I did become calm, but my sister and her two babies drove right away to Bandung, about one hundred thirty kilometers from where she lives. On Tuesday morning I read the messages from my sister telling me that our mother indeed had stroke and her left body parts were affected. My husband took the day off and we went to get our car which was under repair before I headed to Bandung. He kept asking me whether I was calm enough to drive alone that long distance. I kept nodding my head and saying that I would be alright, but deep down I knew that I was crumbling. I wasn’t alright, I was too shocked. I knew nothing about stroke; I knew absolutely nothing about the medication and healing process from the attack. Lucky us; my sister went to med school and she has become our source of confidence in handling our mother’s treatment.

It was the longest one hundred thirty kilometers distance in my life. At some point I couldn’t hold back the tears and I was crying while I was speeding up. I told myself that I couldn’t cry; that I mustn’t cry. It would be unsafe for me if I trembled while going 120-140 km/hour, so I’d better focus on the road. Even with that kind of speed I arrived three hours after I left home. And the first questions my mother asked me when she saw me were, who took care of my kids and when I would drive back home. I got there at one PM, and she insisted I left as early as five PM. She was ill but she’s more worried about me driving recklessly because it would be late at night, I was alone, and I was in a complete mess, emotion-wise. She was also worried that my kids would be looking for me.

My sister is the mirroring image of my mother. In her I can see strength, perseverance, and endurance like no other. She carries her two young sons, one is 11 months old and the other is 2.5 years old, everywhere; to consult with the doctors, to undergo CT scan, to consult with our cousin who’s an internist, and to move our mother from that hell-hole of a hospital to a better place. She holds on to her principles very strongly: that this too shall pass and not to sweat on small stuffs. She doesn’t waste her time and energy being sad, or angry, or upset. She just looks ahead, moves forward, and gets everything done. My brother is also coming to be with us in this tough moment. I’m blessed to have both of them as my siblings.

We’re lucky that our mother was admitted right away and got proper and responsive treatment from the hospital staff. The doctors can communicate well with us and the nurses are very attentive. Our mother has started getting the physiotherapy since yesterday. The medication works and she’s in good spirit and she is very determined to heal faster. As I washed and fed her, I remembered how it was when I myself was sick. She always stood by her sick children and grandchildren. Her love and care surpass all. Even though she’s tired, she doesn’t give up or give in.

Just as she washed, fed, and put the clothes on our backs, we will do the same thing for her.

Just as she loves us, we will love her.

We’re praying for our mother’s full recovery.

Religion and Faith

Is religion the same thing as faith? This is a question that’s been lingering in my mind for some time. Through this writing I’d like to share the definitions of religion and faith in my mind frame, a frame which can be against or approved by other people. I’m not going to talk about literal definitions, or quote what other people say about them. Our opinions may differ one from another, and that’s a fact of life. Life indeed is filled with differences in personal backgrounds, mindsets, and our agreement to disagree with each other.

To me personally, religion is not the same thing with faith. Since I was a kid I knew what religion I’m following, a religion which was plastered to me ever since I was born. I kind of accepted that system because I thought that’s how things worked in my country, Indonesia. Long before a baby can talk, he or she already has a label and is segregated into group of people to which he or she belongs. I went to Christian schools from kindergarten to junior high, and it was in sync with the education at home and the religious activities upheld by my Christian family. At home, at school, and at church, I was surrounded by the knowledge of Christianity. I called it a mere knowledge because at that time reading the Bible was considered of the same value with reading textbooks from other subjects. I was told to memorize a part/a verse/a phrase/a book, I would undergo examinations to determine whether I’d remembered it well, I would be told if I passed or not, and I would be given rank relatively to what other students achieved in the subject of Religion. That’s what happened when Religion was one of the myriad of subjects taught at the schools I attended.

When I was in junior high, I started to learn The Apostles’ Creed which is cited every time the Sunday service is about to end. The Apostles’ Creed has the following sentences:

I believe in the Holy Spirit

Church of the Holy and Am

Communion of Saints

Remission of sins

Resurrection of body

And eternal life

And every time I read about “resurrection of body and eternal life” I had this fear that I was not allowed to take part in it.

Those junior high school years were the years of rebellion and search for personal identity. Amidst the flooding knowledge I had about Christianity, I began to search for the faith I was going to choose and follow. Who owns my life? Who placed me in this certain era with these certain people? What should I be doing as long as I live? Where will I go after I die? Birth to me is as mysterious as death. I didn’t have any power to decide when, where, and around who I was born, and I also can’t decide (within natural death context) when, where, and around who I will die someday. The time I’m spending on this earth is also full of mysteries, with events beyond my will and my power to control. Those questions became my foundation in search for my faith.

The questions I had as a teenager could be concluded into two:

  1. where did I come from,
  2. and where will I go after I die?

Ever since I chose my faith, reading the Bible was not a mere obligation to get good grade in the Religion subject. The grace of salvation had been working even before I decided whom to believe. Memorizing those books in the Bible for about nine years, more or less, had prepared my heart and my conscience to accept the eternal seeds of God’s Words (for every Word spread will not return in vain).

After I chose my faith, I was faced with the following question, to which group/doctrine in the Christianity did I belong to? At that point I started to see the underlying differences between religion and faith.

Faith is about a personal relationship between the Creator and me as His creation, with the degree of intimacy which is beyond words and impossible to be experienced by other people in the same way. Religion, on the other hand, is about a group of people, with their identical rituals and routines, and certain point of views towards other groups of people. Faith focuses on the Creator and what He wants from me as His creation. I see religion as a separator, a wall which says “this is me” and “that is not me”.

My parents are the members of Lutheran church (referring to the initial reformation by Martin Luther). Ever since I had Christian faith, I had entered, learned, and drawn conclusions from the other churches with their varying doctrines. I was very confused because of the varying interpretations of the Bible and the rituals to worship our God. It is undeniable that the Bible with the news of salvation it contains is the only written guide which was left by the faith of Christianity, existing for more than 2000 years. Human’s understanding can change, religious leader will be replaced, and it is very unwise to depend one’s faith on other human being who will die someday. At the end I chose to attend the church with reformed doctrine, because they aim to return the foundation of church according to the Bible. The texts in the Bible are studied not only by their translations, but also by the syntax of sentences from the original languages used to write them (Hebrew for The Old Testament, and Greek for the New Testament), in regards of the context of the time during which the texts were written. In the reformed doctrine I see the Bible acting as a mirror which tells me the reasons why I’m here, the characters I should possess as His creation, and the place I will go to after I die. If I stick to my narrow definition of a religion, most likely I’ll have a defensive attitude regarding my own group and the truth we believe in, and a very inconsiderate attitude toward other group and their perceived truth. To me personally, the truth lies in the Bible, the book which was written by the inspiration from the Holy Spirit to reveal mistake, to correct attitude, and to educate people in real truth. That is the truth I’m holding on to as a compass to my life.

After I draw a firm line between religion and faith I believe in, I’m never bothered by the groups of other religions which have the same labels or not with the group of religion stated in every identity card I have. I believe that salvation is only by grace; there is no good deed I do that I can use as a bribe to my Creator to make Him save me. Salvation is started by a realization that human is sinful and has lost his relationship with God. Even when human is idle and not doing anything particular, he can commit a sin through his mind. The realization that human cannot erase his sin through billions of good deeds will lead to the need for salvation for every human soul. To me personally, my salvation is by grace alone from my God, Jesus Christ. Ever since I was in high school up to now, people often ask me why Christians have three gods, why the gods of the Christians have descendant. To which I did and will always reply that I will still believe in my God who has granted me salvation and faith, regardless how many personalities He possesses. Faith and salvation are sometimes hard to explain by ratio and logic, but I know that I have to always use my ratio and logic as long as I live on this earth.

I have faith in two most important laws: 1) to love my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my understanding, and 2) to love other human being like I love myself. Love our Creator and always have a grateful heart for the time granted to us to live and make something out of this life, and to treat other people just as we want other people to treat us. These two laws are the basic foundations of my faith, not a group of people with every possible distortion they might cause because of their lack of learning and knowledge.

Happy Sunday to all brothers and sisters who share the same faith in Jesus Christ.

Agama dan Iman

Apakah agama sama dengan iman? Ini adalah sebuah pertanyaan yang sudah lama ada di benak saya untuk saya renungkan. Lewat tulisan ini saya hendak membagikan pengertian agama dan iman dalam konsep berpikir saya, sebuah konsep yang mungkin bertentangan dengan atau mungkin disetujui oleh orang lain. Saya tidak hendak berbicara mengenai pengertian secara literasi ataupun mengutip pemikiran orang lain. Pendapat kita mungkin berbeda dan itu tidak apa-apa. Hidup ini selalu diisi dengan perbedaan latar belakang, perbedaan isi kepala, dan kesetujuan untuk tidak setuju terhadap satu sama lain.

Bagi saya pribadi, agama tidaklah sama dengan iman. Sejak kecil saya tahu saya memeluk agama apa, yang artinya agama yang dilekatkan pada saya sejak saya kecil. Dulu saya berpikir memang begitulah sistem di negara Indonesia, bahkan sebelum seorang bayi bisa berbicara kepada dirinya sudah dilekatkan sebuah label, sebuah pengelompokan dimana dia menjadi anggotanya. Sejak taman kanak-kanak sampai SMP saya bersekolah di sekolah Kristen. Tentu saja ini sinkron dengan pendidikan di rumah dan kegiatan beribadah yang diterapkan di keluarga saya yang beragama Kristen. Di rumah, di sekolah, dan di gereja saya dikelilingi oleh pengetahuan agama Kristen. Saya bilang ini pengetahuan, karena di masa itu membaca Alkitab diperlakukan sama dengan membaca textbook pelajaran lain. Saya akan disuruh menghafalkan sebuah bagian, dites apakah hafal, diberi nilai dan peringkat untuk menentukan kelulusan dari mata pelajaran Agama.

Waktu SMP saya mulai belajar pengakuan Iman Rasuli yang diucapkan setiap kali menjelang akhir kebaktian hari Minggu, dimana pada bagian terakhirnya ada kalimat-kalimat berikut:

Aku percaya kepada Roh Kudus

Gereja yang kudus dan am

Persekutuan orang kudus

Pengampunan dosa

Kebangkitan tubuh

Dan hidup yang kekal

Dan setiap kali saya membaca bagian tentang “kebangkitan tubuh dan hidup yang kekal”, saya takut kalau saya tidak punya bagian di situ.

Tahun-tahun di SMP adalah tahun penuh pemberontakan dan pencarian jati diri. Di tengah kepungan pengetahuan tentang agama Kristen, saya mulai mencari iman apa yang hendak saya pilih dan ikuti. Siapa yang saya pikir memiliki hidup saya? Siapa yang menempatkan saya di jaman ini dengan orang-orang ini? Apa yang harus saya lakukan selama saya diberi waktu untuk hidup? Ke manakah saya akan pergi setelah saya mati? Peristiwa kelahiran bagi saya sama misteriusnya dengan peristiwa kematian. Saya tidak punya daya sama sekali untuk memutuskan kapan, di mana, dan di sekitar siapa saya lahir, demikian pula pada kematian yang natural saya kurang-lebih tidak bisa memutuskan kapan, di mana, dan di sekitar siapa saya mati. Waktu yang dijalani selama masa hidup juga sama misteriusnya, dengan begitu banyaknya kejadian yang di luar kehendak dan kendali diri saya. Berbekal pertanyaan-pertanyaan tersebut saya memulai pencarian akan iman saya.

Semua pertanyaan yang ada di benak remaja saya sebenarnya bisa dirangkum dalam dua pertanyaan saja:

  1. dari mana saya berasal, dan
  2. ke manakah saya akan pergi setelah saya mati.

Sejak saat saya mengetahui iman yang saya yakini, membaca Alkitab tidak lagi menjadi sebuah kewajiban demi mendapat nilai bagus. Anugerah keselamatan itu sudah bekerja sejak sebelum saya memutuskan siapa yang saya percaya. Menghafal kitab-kitab selama kurang lebih sembilan tahun ternyata sudah menggemburkan tanah hati nurani untuk menaburkan biji Firman Tuhan yang kekal adanya (karena setiap Firman yang ditabur, tidak akan kembali dengan sia-sia).

Setelah saya memilih iman saya, saya dibenturkan kepada pertanyaan lain, saya masuk kelompok/doktrin yang mana dalam agama? Di situlah saya mulai melihat perbedaan mendasar dari agama dan iman.

Iman bicara tentang hubungan pribadi antara Pencipta dan saya sebagai ciptaan-Nya, dengan sebuah kedekatan yang tidak bisa digambarkan dengan kata-kata dan mustahil dialami oleh tiap orang dengan cara yang sama. Agama bicara tentang kelompok manusia, ritual dan rutinitas yang seragam/diseragamkan, dan cara pandang yang berbeda terhadap kelompok lain. Iman berfokus pada Pencipta saya dan apa yang Dia mau dari saya sebagai ciptaan. Saya melihat agama seperti pemisah, sebuah tembok yang mengatakan “ini saya” dan “itu bukan saya”.

Orang tua saya adalah anggota gereja dengan konsep Lutheran (mengacu pada reformasi oleh Martin Luther). Selama saya memiliki iman Kristen, saya sudah masuk, mempelajari dan mengambil kesimpulan dari gereja-gereja dengan doktrin lain. Kepala ini dibuat pusing bukan kepalang karena interpretasi Alkitab dan cara beribadah yang begitu beragam. Tidak bisa dipungkiri bahwa Alkitab dan berita keselamatan di dalamnya adalah satu-satunya pedoman tertulis yang ditinggalkan oleh iman kekristenan yang sudah ada selama lebih dari 2000 tahun. Pengertian manusia bisa berubah, pemimpin agama akan berganti, dan sungguh tidak bijak menggantungkan iman seseorang pada sosok manusia yang pada akhirnya akan mati. Pada akhirnya saya memilih gereja dengan doktrin reformasi (John Calvin) karena prinsip dasarnya yang kembali ke Alkitab. Alkitab dipelajari tidak hanya berdasarkan teks terjemahan, tapi juga menggali sintaks teks dari bahasa asli (Ibrani untuk Perjanjian Lama, dan Yunani untuk Perjanjian Baru), dengan melihat konteks penulisan pada jaman itu. Di doktrin reformasi saya melihat Alkitab sebagai cermin yang memberi tahu alasan saya ada di sini, karakter apa yang harus saya miliki sebagai ciptaan, dan ke mana saya akan pergi setelah saya mati. Kalau saya hanya berpatok pada agama, kemungkinan besar saya akan punya sikap ngotot tentang kelompok saya dan kebenaran yang kelompok saya anut. Bagi saya pribadi, kebenaran ada di dalam tulisan-tulisan di dalam Alkitab, yang ditulis karena pengilhaman Roh Kudus untuk menyatakan kesalahan, memperbaiki kelakuan, dan mendidik orang dalam kebenaran. Itulah kebenaran yang menjadi kompas hidup saya.

Setelah saya mengambil garis tegas antara agama dan iman yang saya percayai, sungguh saya tidak ambil pusing dengan kelompok-kelompok agama yang ada, yang berjudul sama ataupun berbeda dengan agama yang tertulis di setiap kartu identitas saya. Saya percaya keselamatan adalah anugerah, tidak ada satupun perbuatan baik yang saya lakukan yang bisa saya pakai sebagai sogokan untuk mencapainya. Keselamatan dimulai dengan suatu kesadaran kalau manusia berdosa dan sudah kehilangan hubungan dengan Tuhan. Bahkan saat manusia diam dan tidak melakukan apa-apa, dia bisa berdosa dengan pikirannya. Kesadaran kalau manusia tidak bisa membuat dosanya hilang dengan bermiliar-milar perbuatan baiklah yang membuat manusia sadar kalau dia perlu keselamatan. Buat saya pribadi, keselamatan saya adalah anugerah dari Tuhan Yesus Kristus. Sejak saya SMA sampai sekarang saya sering ditanya: mengapa Tuhan orang Kristen ada tiga, mengapa Tuhan orang Kristen beranak. Di saat seperti itu saya yang tahu kalau keselamatan dan iman saya adalah semata-mata pemberian, bisa berkata: berapapun kepribadian Tuhan yang saya yakini memiliki hidup saya, saya akan tetap mempercayainya. Iman dan keselamatan sering kali tidak bisa dijelaskan oleh nalar dan logika, tapi nalar dan logika harus saya pakai selama bersikap dalam hidup.

Saya mengimani dua hukum yang terutama: 1) kasihilah Tuhan Allah-mu dengan segenap hatimu, dengan segenap jiwamu, dan dengan segenap akal budimu, dan 2) kasihilah sesamamu manusia seperti engkau mengasihi dirimu sendiri. Kasihilah pencipta-Mu seperti ciptaan yang selalu bersyukur telah diberi kesempatan untuk hidup dan berkarya, dan perlakukanlah orang lain seperti dirimu ingin diperlakukan. Kedua hukum ini yang menjadi dasar iman saya, bukan kelompok manusia dengan segala distorsinya karena kekurangan belajar dan pengetahuan.

Selamat beribadah pada hari Minggu ini untuk saudara-saudara semua yang beriman kepada Yesus Kristus.

Renovasi Rumah Sambil Jadi Taxi Mom

Rumah yang kami tempati sekarang kami beli tahun 2008 dan direnovasi besar selama 2 kali saja. Tahun 2009, sesaat sebelum anak pertama kami lahir, dan tahun 2015 lalu. Tahun 2009 kami menambah 1 lagi kamar tidur di konfigurasi asli rumah (2KT+1KTP+2KM) dan 1 buah Home Library. Seluruh lantai perpustakaan yang kami bangun diisi oleh panggung yang dilapisi HPL motif kayu dengan meja pendek di tengahnya dan lemari buku yang menempel ke dinding. Perpustakaan ini punya 1 buah jendela besar berukuran 1.5 x 2.3 meter persegi dengan 6 buah kaca, untuk akses masuk sinar matahari dari taman dalam yang terletak di sebelahnya. Tahun 2012 kami meninggalkan rumah kosong selama 6 bulan. Sejak kami kembali di akhir 2012 mulai muncul masalah rayap karena rumah sempat lama lembab dan tidak dihuni.

Beberapa bulan lalu, anak saya yang bungsu bersandar di jendela besar di perpustakaan dan tiba-tiba kayu jendelanya berlubang! Setelah diselidiki ternyata banyak bagian jendela yang sudah dimakan rayap. Saya coba ketuk panggungnya dan terdengar banyak bagian yang kopong, berarti rayap sudah mulai menggerogoti kayu yang membentuk panggung. Untungnya lemari buku kami dari bahan partikel dan rayap tidak suka kayu yang lembek, jadi lemari dan semua buku kami terselamatkan.

Kami memutuskan mengganti jendela kayu yang rusak dengan jendela aluminium yang sudah pasti tahan cuaca dan tahan rayap (oya, merk aluminium yang paling bagus kualitasnya adalah YKK walaupun harganya paling mahal. Membuat kusen yang berwarna putih perlu waktu 1 bulan, sedangkan yang berwarna coklat/hitam perlu waktu 1 minggu saja). Sambil jendela dibongkar, tembok di bawah jendela juga dihancurkan untuk membuka akses ke panggung. Obat anti rayap dioleskan banyak-banyak, kayu penyangga panggung yang sudah dimakan rayap diganti dengan tripleks dan besi hollow sebagai penguat. Kenapa ditambahkan besi hollow? Karena anak tambah besar, buku tambah banyak, dan beban yang ditanggung oleh panggung tentunya semakin berat. Pekerjaan di perpustakaan makan waktu kurang lebih 5 hari dari total 8 hari tukang bekerja di rumah kami, mulai dari membongkar jendela lama sampai memasang dan sealing jendela baru.

Kami tidak punya pembantu, jadi bersih-bersih setelah tukang pulang saya kerjakan sendiri, sambil tetap antar-jemput anak sekolah dan les. Tahun 2015 kami mencat seluruh bagian rumah tanpa terkecuali dan semua perabotan dipindahkan ke tempat lain, jadi bersih-bersih terasa lebih gampang. Selama kurang-lebih 2 bulan kami hidup di kamar tidur berukuran 3×4 meter persegi selama rumah diperbaiki dan merasakan hidup seperti mengungsi, haha. Nah di tahun 2017 ini ada pekerjaan besar di home library dan taman dalam. Plafon taman dalam hancur kena guyuran langsung hujan karena genteng di atasnya dicuri tukang rumah tetangga untuk mengganjal karpet penahan bocor di atas genteng rumah tetangga. Setelah kedua pekerjaan itu, masih ada pekerjaan mencat tembok luar rumah dan genteng. Entah kenapa setiap kali renovasi pasti pekerjaan tambahannya lebih banyak dari pekerjaan scope awal, haha.

Mengawasi renovasi rumah sambil tetap mengurus anak dan rumah tangga rasanya melelahkan sekali. Tahun 2015 anak yang kecil belum sekolah, jadi kegiatan antar-jemput untuk anak yang besar saja. Anak yang besar juga baru kelas 1 SD jadi PR nya belum terlalu banyak. Teman-teman saya dengan baik hati membantu menjemput anak saya pulang sekolah atau pulang-pergi les selama 2 bulan. I’m forever grateful for them. Tahun ini dua anak saya sudah sekolah dengan jadwal yang berbeda. Tukang jadi tahu kalau istirahat ngaso sambil ngopi ya pas saya jemput anak dari sekolah. Kegiatan antar-jemput ini lumayan bisa makan waktu 30 menit per hari, jadi tukang ketambahan waktu istirahat setiap harinya. Pekerjaan tukang jadi lebih lama selesai, tapi apa mau dikata, kami tidak punya supir sih, haha. Setelah 8 hari renovasi saya kena flu dan badan saya rontok. Setiap sore saya capek sekali membersihkan debu. Dari jam 8 pagi sampai jam 4.30 sore saya wara-wiri mengawasi pekerjaan tukang, membeli material bangunan, antar-jemput anak, menyiapkan makan siang, dll. Di atas jam 6 sore mulai menjemput anak pulang les, menyiapkan makan malam, dan membereskan PR dan ulangan si Kakak. Awalnya kami berencana jadwal renovasi selanjutnya di tahun 2021, 6 tahun setelah renovasi terakhir tahun 2015. Apa daya, gara-gara rayap ada renovasi yang mendadak harus dikerjakan. Untuk pekerjaan kali ini saya pakai tukang baru yang ternyata langsung cocok. Cocok dalam artian tukangnya ga sok tahu, ga ngeyel, mau diarahkan. Pekerjaannya rapi dan dia suka bersih-bersih. Kayaknya dia bakal jadi langganan kami.

Di bawah ini 3 foto before-after dari home library kami:

Our home library without its window. The termites ate up all the woods within about five years:

Homelibrary_not finished yet

Our home library after the renovation:

(We still need to put back all the books and other miscellaneous stuffs inside the cabinets, though. Huff.)

Homelibrary_finished

C’est fini! Merci, mon chéri!

Homelibrary_completed

 

FF8: A Rip-off

I like watching movies and I rarely felt that I got ripped-off after I watched one. There’s always something to learn from, something to be inspired by from every scene I see, but FF8 was just as confusing as it could be.

This movie is a total rip-off, of my money and my time. I don’t know about what anybody else thinks, because, hey, this note is only a personal opinion of mine. Complimenting FF8 for being a great movie is overrated, if the comment is not meant as sarcasm.

Let’s skip the summary of the movie plots and how they somehow were probably forcibly still related to FF1 to FF7. The first scenes of the movie were shot in Cuba. Cameras soon depicted the extreme differences between Havana and most cities in USA. Young energetic people were swarming the streets with minimum clothes on their backs. Was the first race Dom was involved with happening on weekend/public holiday? I didn’t know. If it had been on weekday, it would have been uncanny to have almost the whole city cheering for the impromptu racing between Dom and the self-proclaimed ruler of the island.

Now, let’s start the review with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). Did I miss anything from previous franchises? Since when did Dom join government secret agency to perform secret missions, ones which couldn’t be traced back to the government of USA? Ever since Hobbs came into the screen, FF8 started to feel like a crossover between the original FF and XXX (whose cast was Vin Diesel. Surprise, surprise). Johnson’s priority lay in his daughter, but it didn’t sound, look, or seem convincing enough. He’s still the same Rock from The Mummy, all the way through G.I. Joe, right until FF8. That bulky body of his was his strength, but not his acting. As for Vin Diesel, yeah it’s the same difference with Johnson. The only time I was emotionally moved by his acting was when he saw his son for the first time (maybe it was because I was reminded of the cuteness of my own son). By the way, their attachment and constant wearing of tight and body-hugging undershirts made me wonder: what year is it? Is 2017 still the year of cute boy bands like *NSync with their slender and fit bodies? LOL.

The only reason I wanted to watch this movie was Charlize Theron. I was curious about how the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty portrayed the self-proclaimed world’s best hacker. My question was followed by another question after Cipher kissed Dom: o my queen, why hath thou abandoned thy throne? For her caliber, portraying Cipher was like a short slide to a career turn-off. She didn’t give distinguishing characters between the evil queen she portrayed in 2016 and the hacker she portrayed this year. Amazingly beautiful, checked. Cold and aloof, checked. Smart and manipulative, checked. What else? Nothing. Even her supposedly philosophical monologues when she was describing (or guessing, I couldn’t tell) Dom’s original natures sounded flat. I almost forgot how good she was in “Italian Job”, and how vulnerably romantic she was in “November Rain”. After seeing her in FF8, I’m not too excited to see her in the upcoming “Atomic Blonde”.

As for the government agents, Mr. Nobody was representing himself well. He’s a nobody, an unimportant and unforgettable character, to be honest. The rookie agent? I had to agree with Roman that he looked like he was recruited from a boy band. Tej and Roman’s interactions and jokes could have been developed further, but the movie timeline didn’t allow them to happen. If only they had reduced Dwayne Johnson smashing things and people in the jail scenes, Tej and Roman could have delivered more interesting dialogues. The female hacker with fake British accent, blah, not memorable at all. Dom’s wife? Same difference.

Now let’s get to the thought-provoking ideas in this movie. FF8 displayed the truth of our current world. Cameras are installed everywhere and we’re all connected online. A facial recognition of a face in Russia can be performed anywhere in the world as long as the internet is available. It gave me shiver that we can’t really hide from anything in this wholly-connected world. Even the cameras from traffic lights and ATM can be used to trace our whereabouts. In this movie, Cipher hacked the systems of self-driving cars and moved every car she could find in her radar to attack her operation target (Russia’s Ministry of Defense). I could imagine confused drivers having no control over their own vehicles. I could see chaos happening in the streets. Cipher also turned on the self-driving cars parked in high-rise parking lots, and made them all falling down to the streets and causing damage on the properties and the people. That scene gave me goose bumps, because it was possible to happen, it was very likely to happen sometimes in the future. A foolproof should be available if a machine fails to serve its original purpose. And the most important thing is man should have control over machine, not the other way around. If the other way around happens, we’re in a big trouble.

The only thing entertaining from FF8 was Jason Statham. Seriously, who would have thought that he’s such a cool Brit with gorgeous accent and intriguing sarcasm? Watching him speak was like watching Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear show. It was incredibly amusing. I never remembered Jason Statham to say much in any of his movies. His acting comprises only of his hand-to-hand combat skill and gunfight skill. But in FF8, wow, I must say, he was such a nice surprise. Ever since he was throwing insults to Hobbs’ face, I was like, yay, Team Deckard. He portrayed such a cool guy, much cooler than the supposedly main stars of the movies. I was a bit disappointed when he was pronounced death sometime before the movie ended. But then he came back with a bang. He was fighting the bad guys while protecting Dom’s son (literally carrying the car seat around while he was shooting at Cipher’s army). I literally cheered when he came back to the screen with his brother!

This movie was closed with everybody gathering around a dining table on a rooftop somewhere in New York. In his speech, Dom said something that made me frown. He said, “Thank you for not turning your back on me (family).” Err …, from what I saw throughout the movie, his friends lost their trust in Dom, turned their backs on him, and fought him with all their power. Aside from his wife, Letty, I didn’t see any loyalty implied between Dom and his team members, Hobbs, Roman, Tej, and Nobody. Not even slightly. They didn’t demand his explanations; which he didn’t seem to care to give either. I just didn’t get it; there were so many holes in the movie plots. It’s like the movie makers kind of underestimated the logic and intelligence of FF8 viewers.

The closing scene was a cliché with everyone living happily ever after. Dom was back in the gang. Letty instantly got a baby she was thinking about having. Cipher was nowhere to be found. Perhaps she would show up again in the next FF and this time would take Dom’s and Letty’s child as a hostage, ha-ha! It’s a perfect ending for everybody. At the very end, Dom introduced his son to everybody as Brian. I saw it as a kind remembrance of the late Paul Walker. That scene was nice. It made me forget a bit about wasting almost two hours watching (hopefully) the last installment of Fast and Furious.

PS: Don’t expect much information about car brands, engines, and racing techniques conveyed in FF8. Fancy cars here are just accessories, some kind of jaw-dropping eye-candies. They’re not the spirit of the movie like it used to be in FF1.

Ah Sudahlah

Sosmed dalam enam bulan terakhir udah kayak medan perang dunia gara-gara pilkada. Ga di FB, IG, dan Twitter semua orang siap dengan amunisinya masing-masing. Cara nembaknya ga melulu frontal pake pistol dan tangan kosong doang lho, cara halus nyindir-nyinyir-nyenggol-nyelekit dikit kayak orang main ketapel juga dipake. Ayolah, manusia-manusia, kapankah semua ini akan berakhir? Naga-naganya ga akan pernah berakhir selama pilkada tetap ada di negara yang rakyatnya belum dewasa ini.

Aura panas sosmed bikin saya jadi melek ciri khas manusia sebagai makhluk sosial dan makhluk individu:

  1. Beraninya kalo rame-rame

Kalau berpendapat sendirian kayaknya ga akan didengar banyak orang (kalau memang bertujuan buat dapet banyak pendengar di sosmed), tapi kalau pendapatnya di-like, di-comment, di-share ratusan sampai ribuan orang? Tiba-tiba pendapat itu jadi trend, jadi fenomena, jadi patokan, dan bisa-bisa jadi kebenaran. Namanya juga pendapat, pasti ada relativitas terhadap pendapat lain. Kalau pendapatnya manut sama pendapat kebanyakan, tambah ngumpul deh massa pendukungnya. Kalau pendapatnya bertentangan sama pendapat kebanyakan, yang ngumpul para pembencinya. Di era sosmed ini tiba-tiba semua orang ngerasa perlu ngomong dan minta didengar, everybody thinks the world owns them something (susah nerjemahin frase ini – red). Sosmed jadi alat propaganda, alat pembentuk pendapat dan kebenaran, dan orang-orang yang kurang bijak mencerna informasi dengan lugunya membantu membentuk kebenaran yang belum tentu benar. Saya suka tagline dari salah satu media online besar di Indonesia: Saring sebelum Sharing. Hari gini jempol kita harimau kita. Salah berpendapat, salah menyebarkan informasi yang salah, bisa berabe semua. Jadi saringlah dulu sebelum kita mengiyakan atau membagikannya. Kadang kita merasa lebih aman kalau ada pendapat lain yang menjustifikasi/mendukung kita, tapi menurut saya kita harus berani berpendapat saat sendiri ataupun rame-rame. Dan karena pendapat sekarang ini kebanyakan dituangkan dalam bentuk tulisan, pikirkanlah baik-baik sebelum menulis. Menulis mengabadikan pikiran kita dalam jangka panjang; dia adalah cermin pribadi kita dan warisan kita untuk orang-orang dalam hidup kita sekarang dan yang akan datang. Dan …, jangan generalisasi, apalagi bawa-bawa massa di belakangmu untuk menguatkan pendapatmu yang pukul rata itu. Please dong ah, di mana-mana ada orang jahat-orang baik, orang judes-orang ramah, orang tulus-orang licik. Satu orang nyolot, masak kamu katain semua suku bangsa dia nyolot? Emangnya dia bisa milih dilahirkan di keluarga yang gimana dan dari suku bangsa apa? Terus gimana dengan orang yang orang tuanya berasal dari dua (atau bahkan lebih) suku bangsa, mau ngatain sifat setiap suku bangsa yang ada di darahnya? Contoh: dasar orang XX-YY emang bla-bla-bla. Bah, mau ngejek, mau menghakimi aja ribet banget. Sama seperti kematian, kelahiran juga kadang bukan suatu pilihan. Kalau soal agama? Agama itu pilihan tiap individu. Tapi kembali lagi ke kenyataan bahwa pada dasarnya manusia terbagi ke dalam dua kutub, jadi ga relevan mengeneralisir satu kelompok agama karena kelakuan salah seorang anggotanya.

 

  1. Ga mau move on

Kenapa manusia ga mau move on (bukan ga bisa lho ya, tapi ga mau aja)? Karena manusia sulit mengucapkan perpisahan.Lihat aja deh fenomena mulai dari kita kecil. Kalau kita naik kelas dan ga sekelas lagi sama BFF kita, pasti deh kita sedih, mewek, pengennya sekelas lagi, masih terpaku aja sama masa lalu yang menyenangkan saat kita dulu masih sekelas. Apalagi kalau ada peristiwa pindah ke sekolah baru, mulai dari usia SD tuh rasanya kiamat kalau tiba-tiba dicabut dari pertemanan yang sudah berakar di sekolah lama, dan dilempar ke lautan pertemanan baru di sekolah baru. Peristiwa meninggalnya orang yang kita kenal/kasihi memberikan pukulan paling berat, karena dengan kematian tidak ada lagi kesempatan untuk bertemu dan berhubungan kembali. Hmm, peristiwa apa lagi ya yang menunjukkan sifat manusia yang sulit berpisah? Oh iya,  saat manusia putus cinta. Ini jenis kiamat kedua. Waktu masih pacaran sama si mantan, rasanya dunia indah, ga ada masalah. Pas mulai cek-cok dan memutuskan berpisah, mulai deh fase mengenang-mengenang dan membanding-bandingkan yang lama dengan yang baru. Dulu dengan si dia rasanya selalu lebih mudah. Lebih mudah atau kitanya aja yang malas untuk memulai baru? Memang sulit melupakan mantan, entah itu mantan pasangan atau mantan jabatan, sehingga kegalauan dan kegelisahannya bisa berlarut-larut. Jadi kenapa manusia sulit beranjak dari hasil pilkada yang udah notabene jadi fakta tak terbantahkan? Karena manusia sulit berpisah dengan rasa nyaman yang dia dapat waktu mendukung salah satu paslon. Kenapa bisa nyaman? Karena ada kesamaan: 1) asal-usul, 2) visi-misi, 3) program, 4) dan daftar ini tak berkesudahan. Jadi kalau si paslon tidak terpilih dan tujuan bersamanya tidak jadi tercapai, berarti kita harus berpisah juga dong dengan idealisme yang kita pikir bisa diwujudkan oleh si paslon. Ini yang membuat banyak orang tidak siap, apalagi kalo sentimen itu dibagi dengan banyak orang lain di berbagai kesempatan. Wah tambah sulit deh untuk mengucapkan cukup kepada satu fase singkat dalam hidup yang panjang ini, dan melanjutkan ke fase berikutnya tanpa berpaling lagi. Buat apa terus menengok ke belakang dan mengenang? Masa itu sudah lewat, waktu tidak bisa diputar kembali, sekarang waktunya melanjutkan hidup. Fakta dan kenyataan di depan ga bisa diubah, tapi sikap kita bisa diubah. Ayo angkat tangan sama-sama dan katakan bye bye bye, kita pisah di sini ya, kepada hal-hal yang kita pikir seharusnya terwujud tapi ternyata tidak bisa diwujudkan.

Yah, niat cuma nulis beberapa ratus kata aja, tiba-tiba jadi banyak. Ah sudahlah, yang penting saya lega karena saya sudah menuangkan uneg-uneg saya. Ayo bikin sosmed menyenangkan lagi; ayo posting foto-foto makan pagi-siang-malammu, foto anak dan bayimu, foto liburanmu, sharing resep, atau bahkan gosip artis (terutama artis Korea, hiahahaha #bias).

Let’s stop this madness, friends. I wrote this because I care about our future, not our past. Let’s nurture our sanity.

People’s Party

The dead body had a peculiar mark on her right arm, a colon with color darker than her skin. Jack saw it the second he laid his eyes on the lifeless body sprawled on the floor. The young detective could tell that it wasn’t a tattoo; it was more like a wound that hadn’t completely healed yet. The arm with the colon mark was facing upward as the dead woman lay on her stomach. Her long hair was spread on her back like silk. The pitch-black hair was spoiled by stream of blood that hadn’t dried up yet. Jack squatted in front of the deceased. He tilted her head a little bit to get a better look at her face. The brown eyes were still wide open, staring in awe at what was coming at her, he supposed. The side of her mouth was filled with drool and blood. Jack reached out to close her eyes. In his opinion, a dead body should depart from this world in peace, and peace was found best when one’s sleeping, or seen as sleeping. The forensic came to Jack as he got up.

“Cause of death?”

“Blunt force trauma. This is the weapon used.” The forensic showed him an orange iron in his hand.

Jack gave him a squeamish look. “Are you kidding me? Was she also killed while ironing the clothes?”

His opponent grimaced. “Apparently so. It looks like she was doing the house chores when they got into the argument. The daughters were ready to testify because they witnessed everything.”

“They did? And the suspect is?”

“Her husband. He has admitted to the crime and can’t seem to stop sobbing over there.” The forensic pointed at the far corner of the small living room where they were standing. Jim and the forensic stared at their suspect. The fact that it was done by someone who might have been the closest to the victim made it even more horrendous.

Jack walked to the husband, over many things scattered on the floor. It was a tiny house, crammed with everything one could think of to fill in a house. There was only one living room adjoining to the kitchen, and he could see the two bedrooms the house had right after he entered the front door. The wall was painted beige and the furniture was all in shades of brown, adding gloom to the already suffocating atmosphere. The only chair in the room, a two-seat sofa, was placed against the wall and was full of piles of clothes and children books. An ironing table was placed between the sofa and the TV cabinet, and the victim’s body lay not far from it. The forensic was probably right; she was likely to be ironing the clothes when she was hit on the head. Jack went to his suspect and squatted in front of him.

The husband lifted up his head when he heard Jack coming. When he met Jack’s eyes, he started wailing, “I didn’t mean that to happen! She made me so mad. I didn’t mean to hit her; I didn’t mean to kill her.” He clutched and shook Jack’s shoulder, as if he was forcing Jack to believe him. “It was an accident; we were just talking and suddenly she’s on the floor with blood on her head. I haven’t been thinking straight; something must have gotten inside of me! What should I do now? What can I do now?” he cried out.

Jim took the hands off his shoulder and put him at arm’s length. “Calm down, Sir, calm down,” Jack snapped at him. “Tell me from the beginning what happened. Pull yourself together and give me the details.”

Tears seemed to fall continuously down the husband’s cheek. He was a big man, with bald head, strong hands and terrified eyes. Jack could see the possibility of his suspect unintentionally killed his wife with his bare hands. The husband was choking on his own tears and kept pleading Jack to let him go, to let his daughters go. He kept shaking his head feverishly, insisting that it was a pure incident. Jack listened to his rant attentively, trying to find some clues from what he said. At one point Jack raised his hand and told the suspect to be quiet. He asked, “What do you mean it was also your late wife’s fault? What did she do exactly?”

“She kept mocking the mayor candidate whom I supported!”

Jack frowned. “The mayor candidate? Are you talking about the recent election of the town’s mayor?”

“Yes! We supported different candidates and mine lost the election. She had been throwing insults at my candidate at how despicable he and his voters were, how he deserved to lose. She just wouldn’t stop!”

“So, you two had different political choices? How long had you been arguing over this?”

The husband shrugged and dried up his tears with the back of his hand. “I don’t know, perhaps a couple of months since the campaign started. I can never understand what qualities she saw in the mayor she supported. He is a fraud and a people pleaser, someone without character. My candidate is a much better person than him. He has better track records than her choice,” he complained.

Jack couldn’t believe what he just heard. From what he saw, the husband didn’t show even a slight remorse of what he had done. He just continued complaining about and criticizing the political choice of his dead wife. Jack raised his hand again, “So you hit her on the head with the iron she was holding.”

“It wasn’t like that!” the husband straightened up, his eyes were filled with petrifying fanaticism and confusion. He lowered down his voice, “It wasn’t exactly like that. She was ironing the clothes over there when I turned the TV on. There was this talk show on TV, inviting the spokespersons of the candidates who won and who lost. They were pointing fingers at each other and arguing about who was cheating during the election, who was more liked by the voters, and so on. We turned our full attention to the show, and we also voiced our own opinions every now and then about what might and should have happened. She made me upset with her arguments. I don’t remember when I snatched the iron she was holding in her hand and hit her head with it. When I looked down she was already on the floor and there was this pool of blood next to her ears. I didn’t mean it to happen! I just wanted her to be quiet!” The suspect was out of breath after his lengthy confession.

Jack was too dumbfounded to even say anything. He felt too sick in his guts to even try to draw conclusion from what his suspect was saying. “You’re saying that you killed your wife over a political choice, over people you aren’t even personally acquainted with? Over people who won’t give a damn about the future of your family, of your children, after we process you for the crime you committed?”

The husband bowed his head and whispered, “She shouldn’t have been saying those nasty things about my candidate. Okay, my candidate lost, her candidate won and will become the next mayor. But it’s not fair for him if he keeps being criticized. Everybody has flaws, don’t they? Why won’t everybody stop discussing about my candidate’s past mistakes? They should all move on.” After saying that, he started wailing again.

The young detective got up and walked to the house’s bathroom. He threw up everything he ate for dinner down the toilet. When he looked at himself in the mirror, he realized he was enraged with the suspect’s stupidity that had cost his wife’s life; that had made his children lose their mother. It was all because of politics. It was because people exercised their rights to choose people over their own conscience and beliefs. The forensic came from behind Jack and startled him. He asked if Jack would like to interview the witnesses now. Jack nodded. Be right there, he said. He needed to regain his composure first.

Jack’s team had put the suspect’s daughters in the children bedroom. As he entered the room he saw the older of the two stroking the back of her younger sister, telling her to calm down. Both of them looked up and stared at him as he walked to the foot of the bed. He pulled a chair from the desk near the door and sit in front of them. A policewoman was there as well to provide psychological support. Jack took a deep breath. He hated what he was going to ask from his witnesses. “I’m sorry for the loss of your mother, and I’m really sorry for having to make you go through everything again by asking you questions,” he said to the older. “Please tell me what you saw. Everything. Enlighten me. I need to know what really happened.”

The older, who was about thirteen years old, stared at Jack with emptiness in her eyes. “We could hear what our father told you earlier in the living room. It was like that. That’s exactly what happened.”

“Their arguments …,” Jack trailed off, trying to find the right words to convey his question. “Have they been having them for a while?”

“Forever,” the younger, who was about ten years old, cut him. She looked at Jack with tears filling her eyes. “They never stopped talking about those candidates. They proudly talked about their strengths. They mocked the other’s weaknesses.”

“They had become emotionally invested,” the older added. “They thought the critics toward their candidates were actually directed at them. Mom saw dad’s candidate’s flaws as dad’s own flaws, and vice versa. We’ve heard nothing but insults, mockeries, and critics thrown at the candidates and at each other. We grew very tired of them.”

“Were you there when your dad hit your mom with the iron?”

The younger nodded. “We were sitting on the floor, doing our homework. We could hear their voices above the voices from the TV. We didn’t quite follow what’s being talked about on TV, but our parents suddenly started screaming and yelling at each other. My sister took me in her arms when dad sprang toward our mom and snatched the iron she was holding.”

“It was only one hit,” the older said with hoarse voice. “I closed my sister’s eyes. I didn’t want her to see how dad hurt our mom.” She started crying again. “Dad only hit her once and then she fell. The blood was too much; everything was too much. It shouldn’t be like that. Dad and mom were wrong to get into politics. Those people are just like other people, some good and some bad. Why did our parents have to argue and have differences over them? Those people are not important to us; they have nothing to do with us. And now they made us lose our parents.” She embraced her younger sister and wept.

The younger looked at Jack in the eyes and said, “Our parents loved those people more than they loved us. They’ve been on their toes for months, ready to attack or to defend their candidates. Mom and dad didn’t care when they yelled and screamed in front of us. I don’t understand why this is happening, but I wonder how the mayor will help us.”

“We won’t receive any help from the mayor or his people,” the older said bitterly. “Why would we after what they did to our family?”

Jack was out of words. He got up and left the room, ready to throw up again this nauseating feeling that’s eating at him. He clenched his fists and leaned on the jamb of the bathroom door. He thought that the reason for the crime committed was as ridiculous as someone telling him that the sun could rise from the west. It was unlikely to happen, but it happened. Someone was already killed, and another person would be sent to prison. His heart broke for the children who got traumatized by the whole ordeal. He cleared his throat when he heard someone approaching him.

“Are you done with the interview?” the forensic asked him.

Jack nodded, “Yes, for now. I didn’t have the heart to continue.”

The forensic pursed his lips. “I know what you mean. We’ll be transporting the body soon. Be prepared, reporters are coming.”

“Why would they?” Jim asked curiously.

“Someone has leaked to the media that the murder was triggered by the recent mayor’s election. They’ll be coming at this crime scene like packs of hungry wolves.”

“It won’t do the children any good,” Jack murmured.

“I agree with you. But I wasn’t surprised when I read the news of this crime on internet already.”

“Seriously? Did the internet reporters come here before us, or what?” Jim raised his voice. He always saw the media as a weak and disturbing link in his and his team’s effort to solve crime and decrease crime rate.

“Maybe it’s one of the neighbors. You know how it is these days; anybody with camera-equipped cell phone can appoint themselves as reporter, regardless how accurate the information they’re reporting about.” The forensic took a look at where the body was found and at the whole house. “They’re not rich people. What good would it do them to get themselves involved in politics up to this rate? A crime happened and there are victims, innocent children, for goodness sake. What a shame.”

“Maybe they dreamed of making a change by supporting certain candidate,” Jack muttered. “But they took it too far, too personally, at the cost of their family. The suspect might have had anger issue before this, considering the facts that he was able to kill his wife with one blow, and didn’t seem guilty at all about it.”

“Noted,” said the forensics. “Gosh, every time I turn my phone on I see people slaughtering each other on social media over their political choices. And in real life, I see real body sprawled on the floor because she didn’t know how to hold back her political opinion and angered her temperamental husband. This is a nightmare. Election is supposed to be a party, people’s party to celebrate people’s freedom of speech, and a party which is filled with contestation of ideas to make this world a better place.”

“Party, my ass. From what I see, political election, and what comes before and after it, provides an arena for people to direct their dislike toward people who are different from them. Everybody thinks the world owes them something; everybody needs to say something and to be heard; everybody has to vent out their emotions. Likewise, in social media and real life. Election is not a party to celebrate democracy anymore. And the ultimate power never belongs to the people; it belongs to a group who has the most money and influence in our society.”

They stopped talking when they heard the ambulance siren stop outside of the house. Jack watched as his partners put the handcuff on the husband’s hands, and as the policewoman led the daughters to one of the police cars lining outside. Jack murmured, “Stupid and unprepared people just take everything in without thinking, and change the whole democracy party into their own killing spree. This isn’t people’s party at all.”

* * *