Archive for March, 2015

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What Might Kills You At Night

March 29, 2015

I gulped my last sip of warm milk. A mug of warm milk always become my companion at night, before I go to sleep. It is always the same. 2 teaspoons of powdered milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar, mix it up before the mug filled with ¾ hot water and 1/3 cold water, that made a perfect warm milk –for me. With those formulas, the warm milk always entertain my whole digestive system. The sweet and fatty acidic flavor of the milk really make my tongue happy. The warmth of the milk relaxing my throat as it slides through, and when it rest in my stomach, it heats my entire body. Such a delight ! I feel sorry for those lactose intolerant people who can’t enjoy this liquid of heaven.

The mug is finally empty. It’s a red mug with words and emblem on it. “MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY OF CANADA” it said. It was my mom’s. She got it when she went abroad to take her master degree. I took it –without her consent of course, I took it secretely- because it helps me reminds me of her when I’m leaving for my master degree. I took the mug into the kitchen. I have to wash it in the kitchen sink, otherwise it will stink overnight.

I always love this kitchen. It has oven, microwave, stove, anything you need to make great and healthy food. My dad installed it for me. He’s quite royal for something like this. What makes me love this kitchen more is that it is decorated with a big window which is now directly showing the night sky. At the morning, I can see the big tree outside, hear the bird chirp as I make my breakfast –usually eggs and roasted vegetables-. It has big window shade, I can close it up at noon so the sun wouldn’t heat the room. And at night, it is simply the best. Right now –at night, I can see the sky clearly. The crescent moon is hanging over there, decorated by the stars. Sometimes I can see firefly too. But still, the main attraction is the night sky.

I always love crescent moon. It reminds me of my favorite pastry: the Croissant. I like it hot and buttery. Unhealthy dish of course, but you can always treat yourself with these kind of food once in awhile. Aside from unhealthy, it might be insulting for some. It is said that the crescent shape of the croissant (it is crescent for french) is a symbol of the European force victory against the Umayyad Caliph. You see, the flag of the state/kingdom/whatever you call it that is now known as Turkey, takes a shape of crescent, which largely symbolize the muslim. When they win against the Umayyad, the eat the tasty crescent shaped pastry as a symbol of defeating them. Well, it is not the only story that involves food and symbolization. But the night sky said so, so I bring up the story. But anyway, how can food be insulting ? As long as it taste nice, the history wouldn’t really matter.

Enough story telling, I have to wash the mug. It’s past eleven at night, but I don’t mind doing dishwashing at this kind of time. The water is warm, again, dad installed a water heater for the sink. As I finish washing every scrap off the mug, I put it on the dish shelf, upside down, so it get dried out perfectly. I washed my dish with the help of gravity. That sounds so sophisticated right ? But not really, just put the mug upside down, and the drops of water will travel itself into the bottom of the cup and left it just like that. Pulled by the gravitational force of the gravity.

Next trip is to the bathroom, where I will wash my hand, my feet, my face, and brush my teeth. Another best feeling before going to bed. I always use cold water to do these final ritual of the day. It feels good, some people says it is refreshing, but at this kind of time, for me, it makes me want to sleep even more. I don’t know why, it just does. Of course my bathroom installed with a water heater, it’s a nonsense if the dish can bath with warm water while I can’t. The ritual starts with brushing my teeth. First, I rinse my toothbrush with very hot water. So the brush will get soften, and it helps with my bleeding gum. Then I brush my teeth. Ultra withening toothpaste. I can’t handle other toothpastes since it is either too strong for my mouth or taste bad. This ultra withening one is the best. After that, I was my face, then both hands and feet. I pat my face with dried towel, and put it to the washing bin. Always use dry towel for this kind of occasion. Always. It serves you the best. I know I have to wash more, but hell, if it is comfortable, why not ?

Then, the last trip of the day: to the bed ! Yes ! Time to close my eyes, forget everything that happened today, skip off to the next day. Oh, since tomorrow is Saturday, I don’t have to listen to the sound of the alarm to wake up. I just wake up whenever I want to. Best. Feeling. Ever. I climbed up to my bed, tuck in my feet into the blanket, best feeling, another best feeling you’ll get at night, when your cold feet touch with the blanket, and you kicking it like crazy, and then, it starts to happen. Like what always happen every night. Something that always haunts me everytime I want to go to sleep.

Whenever I try to close my eyes, the wind comes. The rattling sounds of tree twigs hitting each other sounds like a disharmonizing harmony for me. I like the sound of the breeze in the morning, but at night, it sounds like something you’ll find on your nightmare. No, not your nightmare. My nightmare. Then, it starts. The first one. The shrieking sound that come out of my closet. “creekkk… creekkkk…” along with the sound of a grumbling thing inside. “GRRAAOOORRR… GRRRAAAOORRR..” I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to see what I imagine; a pair of yellow eyes from inside the closet, a big black hand with sharp nails holding the close door from inside. The creature scratch on the closet door, giving it a creepy sound effect. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to, I don’t want to. I can only hope the sounds fades away as I lost consciousness. But it’s not. I have to see it. I have to. Just like the other nights, like the nights before, whenever I see it, it disappear. I know it. It has to. It has to. I gather all my courage, turned it into the power that I use to make my head and vision move and see towards the closet. Nothing. It was nothing there. The sounds stop, and it was nothing. But I know it, I know that what inside the closet will attack me when I’m asleep. It’s the Boogeyman. I don’t know what he wants, but he attacks and kidnaps people on their sleep.

As the Boogeyman stops its advance, now come the second one. I identify her as the Knocker Lady. I named her Joanna Blackhart. Because she is evil, and therefore, have a black heart. She knocks the window at night, lurking people out, so they will get out the window and ultimately fall down. Yes, she only appears in a 2 story floor, only come to the upper floor window which leads to the outside. Pretty scary and smart creature. I don’t know how does she looks like, but I reckon, a grandma with slender hand, empty thousand miles stare, messy hair, long nail. I don’t know, only my imagination. “thump.. thump.. thump..” “thump.. thump.. thump…” the window rattles as knocks over knocks coming over to it. I stay put. I can’t get off my eyes from the closet.

As the knocks getting louder and louder, I can finally turn my neck. And again, it was nothing there. Just a plain window to the outside of my room. A big, dead, tree. I don’t know what kind of tree, but the thing is I know it’s been dead for a long time. The leaves aren’t there anymore. It’s dried out, but I can’t remove it. I don’t know why but I just can. It’s been there since the first time I came here, and it would be rude to just take it off. But then again, it’s just the tree. No grandma with slender hand and empty stare. Nothing knocking nothing. No Joanna Blackhart. Only the tree blown by the wind.

I can finally take off my eyes from the window. The closet, the window, and then the next one –I’m getting used to this, the scratching sound when thick copper rub against gravel surface. It is the walking statue. The legend said, that the priest statue build near this house always walk at night. Legend said that it is looking for it’s lost pinky. It’s been ripped by the kids in the neighbourhood. They use hammer to rip off the pinky.The kid in the neighborhood are all obnoxious. Mischievious I’d say. Most of their parents are both working, so they’re getting less attention from they parents. When they can’t get attention from they parents, they try to get attention from other adults. What do they do ? Being obnoxious. By being obnoxious, what they did will get adult’s attention, at least someone will say “no” to them. And if you got less attention, a no is a big attention.

The scratching sound is indeed eerie. But everytime I check to the outside at night, it’d be nothing there. The statue stays where it is, and there is no trace of bronze or something being dragged on the gravel. So again, it’s just another night illusion. As I get off my bed, on to the window, and look at where the statue is. It stays there. It’s not moving. Again, it is just another part of my midnight thing.

When I want to go back to the bed, this is where the fourth and the last one happened. The thing under the bed. I don’t know what should I call it, but it is a thing, lurking under my bed. Slimy, stinky, warm, ready to grab my foot and bring me to it’s realm. I imagine it’d look like the Swamp thing, a monster from an old TV series. But then again, it’s not real. Just another part of my midnight thing. But well, it’s not happening. Usually, it’s start with a loud, deep hum from under the bed. Along with the slimy sounds and drops of muds from under my bed. But this time, nothing. Weird. Well, maybe it’s my lucky day. One less thing to worry about. So I get back in the bed, tuck in my feet, and start praying:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

While hoping the sandman comes and sprinkle it sands into my eyes to get me sleepy. But it didn’t happened. But I’m not yet sleepy. It is 2 am already. Not that I have to wake up early but, I still have to sleep. Then I have this thought, pretty cool thought:

“What’re going to kill you at night is not the closet, not knocks on the window, not the walking statue, not the thing that lurks under your bed, it is the beast inside your head. The beast that keep on screaming, projecting the worst thing that may come to your bedroom. The boogeyman, Joanna Blackhart, the Statue, or the Swamp thing. It’s you. It’s your mind that is going to get you killed at night. So, if you have an calm state of mind, it won’t happen”.

Okay, that. And I can finally go to sleep. Although I still wonder where did the swamp thing go ?

I woke up at 7. It feels great. Really great. That thought of how my own mind tried to kill me last night –and I can finally stop it, really help. Maybe tonight, if I try to calm my mind like that earlier, I can sleep much faster ! Okay, cool.

Then I step off the bed. And I fell down immideately. It was slippery. Ouch. It hurts my butt. But hey, how can my bed get so slipppery ? Turned out, there are muds around my bed. And… and.. it comes from under my bed. Whoa. What ? The swamp thing ? But… But… and suddenly, a big, stinky, sticky arms come out from under my bed. It grabs my leg strongly. It starts to pull me. Slowly, but sure. I can’t escape it. It’s the swamp thing. I know it from the deep, loud hum, and the muds, and the big stinky arm… Okay.. here it is.. So, I guess what’re trying to kill you at night, will be back in the morning if they fail.

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Cracks in the Sky

March 9, 2015

June 7th, 2015. 10.30 pm. The tapping of my leather shoes is echoing in this hall of silence. It paints the room with constant, rhytmic pattern, it’s beautiful. At least, for me. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. In rhytm. It was only me, my pair of shoes, and countless locked doors in the hallway. The moon has shown her full face. It’s beatiful, hanging there in the night sky, accompanied with sparkling stars around her. I can see it through the giant window in the middle of the hallway. I stopped there for a brief moment. So does the echoing rhytm of my shoes.

I stare at the moon in awe. As a child, I always wondered, why does the moon comes in many sizes ? The first I remember, it was in a full circle, then gradually getting smaller, and smaller in a few days, and then gradually getting bigger and bigger in the next few days after. But then I found the answer in the science class. It wasn’t so fascinating at all. Sometimes, things are better left unexplained. Let the imagination paint the picture of what really happened. I always wish that it’s not the moon’s orbit that made it bigger and smaller, but rather a big giant keep eating it and spitting it out. It must be funny. The giant can’t never be satisfied by the taste of the moon and keep spitting it after he ate it. But then he ate it again because he forgets how does the moon tasted, and so on. But no, the science proved it the other way around.

I started to continue my walk, ignoring the moon. Pretty sure when I’m come back, over the window, she’ll still be there. Poor thing, have nowhere to go. Unlike human, moon never had a choice. She will always rotate on her orbit, going around and around the earth. It will never change. I wonder how she thinks about the earth ?

After a few seconds, I realized that the tapping is back. Still in a nice rhytm. It follows me everywhere I go. I just went from my friend’s hospital room, I want to sip some cold coffee from the vending machine to keep me awake. I need to finish my article. The deadline is on 00.05 am on June 8th. It’s a football article to be published on a well known football site. It’s about Everton’s disastrous 2014-2015 season. One of the hardest article ever for me. It’s always hard to openly criticize your own favorite team, for the sake of objectiveness over subjectiveness. It’s a challenge for me. I love challenge though. Walking alone in the hospital hallway in this hour is also a challenge –for most people. Although, I am not entirely sure about that. I mean, don’t you agree that hospital is the safest place on earth ?

I’m gonna explain it briefly. First, whenever something is going wrong with your body, hospital is the first place to come by. When you got an accident, you’ll go to the hospital. When you accidentally or purposedly cut off your arm, you’ll go to hospital. When you had asthma attack, you’ll go to the hospital. It’s really the place to go when your life is in danger. But, it takes time for you to go to the hospital. When it’s a matter of life and death, a few seconds could be fatal. Blood clots can be deadly if it’s treated a few seconds late. So does with brain dead, or other injuries. We can cut out those precious time if we’re already in the hospital. I know that the hospital isn’t always be able to save everyone, but at least, it’s a first step. That’s the first reason on why hospital is the safest place.

Second, in a time of war, hospital is one of the few places that can’t be attack by any means. In modern conflicts, I often see some hospital is being bombed since it become a stronghold of a combatant party. Well, that’s when hospital has lost it’s own meaning. So it’s not really a hospital. The true hospital wouldn’t store anything as dangerous as weaponry.

Third, hospital provides you the cleanliest things available. They separate dangerous trashes and normal trashes, so you don’t accidentally got stung by syringe that were once used by a hepatitist patient. You might get one in regular thrash bin. Trust me. They also mop their floor with special cleanser that will kill bacterias. You know, the familiar smell of the hospital. It’s the smell of safety for me.

Those 3 reasons for me are more than enough to make the hospital as the safest place on earth. What about contagious dead bodies ? Well, it’s technically safer than a police station where you don’t know when an angry mob will strike at will to release their leader. It happened, right ?

Many people say that hospital is scary because many people died there. Of course it’s painful to see people goes. But, a battlefield is way scarier. Severed head, body full of holes, part of arms and legs, bloody torso, anything you can hardly imagine. Ghost ? Pfft. Ghost ? Come on. The tears and screams of people who lost their family or colleague in the hospital is painful. But, do you realize, that the prayers that are being recited in the hospital is somewhat more sincere than those in the mosque, or church ? The hospital wall heard more sincere prayers than the wall of mosque and or church. Because those in the hospital are really praying to let or not letting someone goes.

While hardly thinking, about the hospital –I already forgot about my article, I finally found a vending machine. It’s a standard model I saw once in Japan when I went there with the company trip. I wonder how they exported it here ? Legally, or ilegally ? But since, there is a customer service number provided by the big soft drink company, I’m pretty sure that it is legal. I bought a can of cold coffee, since I can’t stand hot coffee. I put my 20,000 rupiah bill there, press the button, and there goes the can and the changes.

The tiny drops of water are all over the can. It’s cold. Just like what the button said. Cold. The button never lies. Machine never lies. Unlike human, they function perfectly. When the creator says A, it will do A. As long as it is not broken. And when it got broken, just replace the broken part, and it will be back to normal. Human, when the creator says A, it will do A, or what might be A, or what might not be A, or B, or C, and so on. So, which one is perfect ? Human ? Or machine ? The other voices in my head screamed: “HEI ! DID THE CREATOR REALLY SAID A ?”. I’m not gonna answer that.

I opened the can and start drinking. I always love the sensation when the sweet and bitter coffee touches my tongue. It’s cold, so it won’t burn my tongue. Perfect. The sweetness of the coffee sometimes left a bad, bitter aftertaste, but it can always be erased by the pureness of mineral water. Coffee is my best friend. I’m sure it’s every writers’ best friend. He keeps you awakes at night. He is always available. He never lies. He never complains. And he will always does his job as it is. His only weakness is that he can get expired in a few months. Human companion doesn’t. Sometimes.

I sit in the bench for quite while. A cold bench made of steel with no wood on it. Pure steel. I like this kind of bench. Doesn’t make me dozed off. Perfect place for thinking. Now, I have to think about the article. But then, suddenly I heard sound of choir. It’s in the middle of the night. Come on. It’s 10 pm. And it’s not a Christian Hospital. No reason to have a choir practice at this kind of time. I’m curious. So I go to find out where the sounds come from. Funny thing, my footsteps are tapping new sounds, accompanying the choir. It’s like I’m their beatkeeper. I’m Buddy Rich to his big band. When I finally reach the sound source, I was so disappointed. Again. The truth outgunned the imagination. I know I “pfffttt” on ghosts, but I still want to meet some. It was not a ghostly choir. It was the security man’s cellphone. He didn’t answer it quickly because he’s dozing off. Aw come on ! I missed my thinking time for that.

Then I go back to my friend’s room. He’s been sick for a while. Pulmonary Edema. Sounds sick ? Yeah, it is. He accidentally inhaled some toxic gas from a coal mine in Sunderland, England. He was on a family vacation when he went to the coal mine to learn more about the city of Sunderland and it’s famous Stadium of Light, which was built in honoring the coalminers that bring prosperity to the city. He’s been in coma for 2 weeks, and was able to be transferred back to Jakarta. Don’t ask me how, it just happened. He’s my best friend. A great friend since highschool. For tonight, I asked his family wether if I can be with him for all the night. On June 10th, I have to go to Italy for a next few months. AC Milan has exclusively asked me to be their South-East Asian scout, and I will get some intensive training for that. I don’t want to miss that. Ever. Of course I won’t let my current job goes, I can be a journo while also being a scout.

When I passed the big window that shows the moon, the moon is not there anymore. It is now shrouded behind veil of clouds. Beautiful. Sometimes, I argue with the clouds when he hides the moon, but this is one of the time that I don’t argue with the clouds, since it really is beautiful. But then, suddenly, the sky cracks. It cracks. Literally. Was it thunder ? No. It’s not. The sky cracks. It shattered in the middle. What behind the crack, I can’t really confirm it, but I’m pretty sure it’s black. Pitchblack. Like the blackest black possible. Suddenly, something is descending from the crack. A human ? No. Bird ? Too big. Oh wait, is it the Argentavis ? The giant bird of Argentina ? No, it certainly is not. Winged human ? Perhaps. As soon as the winged thing hit the ground, gracefully. The crack is starting to close up. And the clouds are all now cleared up. The moon is back there. Like a queen, she stands there magnificently. Great.

When I see my black seiko watch, it surprises me. 11.30 pm. Already. What ? I was staring at the moon for an hour ? Oh no ! My deadline ! I then rushed to my friend’s room, don’t mind the noises from my shoes, the doors here are all soundproofed. When I went there, the door is opened. Whoa. Is his family come over ? When I slowly walked into a very brightened room. My heart shattered. Crash cart sounds are filling the room. The beeping sounds that sounded like a broken pager, the doctors and nurses screaming “CLEAR !” accompanied with a big bumpy sound from my friend’s chest. He clearly is being resuscitated. Is he… died ? No. Not yet. They are trying to make him a Lazarus. Back from the dead. Come on. I know you guys can. You guys are awesome. The best in the country. And you know, when even the best failed, it is a destiny. My friend passed away. After 2 weeks in a coma.

I don’t know what to say to his family. Their father, son, uncle, died on my watch. No, not on my watch. I was gone back there. The doctor said that my friend got the flatline on 11.15 pm. Right in the time I saw the sky cracked. I didn’t see him leaving this world for eternity. Time of death is 11.32 pm. But I always think that the flatline is when his soul leaves his body. I don’t know. One thing I know for sure, he died alone.

The family comes not long after I call them and bear the news. His wife seems composed, I think she is ready. His only child keep on screaming his daddy’s name. It’s just painful. I never felt such lost. I was wrong about the hospital. It does hear more sincere prayers than church or mosque, but it also hear these heartbreaking screams. It’s painful. I think if the wall can cry, it tears must have been dried out.

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A few weeks later, I finally settled in Italy. I’m starting to get over my friend. It’s good to be able to move on this fast. Maybe because I’m really excited with this new job. It’s only the training, but it has been fun. It’s Sunday now, so I went to a public library. I pick some books randomly, but then I found this very interesting book entitled On Seraphim written by Osvaldo Arquetta. Never heard of this book. But it is a pretty old book. It smells like… well, like an old book. You know, almost like the smell of the dried ground after it’s first rain. Petrichor-ish. Turned out, it is a mini encyclopedia about angels. Complete with names and pictures on it.

One name got my attention. Azrael. It sounds cool, so I read about it. Turned out, it’s the archangel of death in islamic tradition. Oh well, he’s known as Izrail in Indonesian. What surprises me next, is the image Arquetta drawn on Azrael. The exact, same figure that I saw descended from the cracked sky. Then, it was Azrael. It was the angel of death that came from the cracked sky. I’m astonished. I stay there. Re-read the page, and still, the most information I can get from the page is that Azrael is the angel of death in islamic tradition. Someday, in the last day of doomsday –which last for three days-, Azrael will be still alive after he ‘finishes’ his job –taking every beings’ live, and then he will take his own life. It is said, in the book, that his scream will finish every life –accidentally left on earth. What a faithful servant eh ? Almost like the vending machine. Is he evil ? I don’t think so. He’s just doing his job.

That’s the bit of information I can get from the book. I was shocked. Did I see Azrael back there ? That big winged figure, which is certainly not an Argentavis nor a winged human ? Since my friend died not long after that ? I don’t know. I place the book back, and promised myself I will never-ever read that book anymore, it’s creepy. I don’t want to know what I saw. I think the book can give me the answer, but that’s it, I don’t want the answer. I decided that it was all coincidence and pure illusion. Maybe. Then, I come out the library, look up  at the sky, and it cracks.

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Greeting Death

March 5, 2015

Lately, I’ve been in a really weird mood. I had fun with friends in college, had fun with old friends, even attended my best friend’s wedding. No reason to be unhappy, but all those things are really drained me out. I’m tired. No doubt about that. Late night sleep, late night driving, late night chat, all of them are consuming my sleeping time. When I don’t have enough sleep, I become cranky, and weird. When my mood is weird, I tend to think deeply about something. Yes, when I’m on this mood, I heard news about how one of my old lecturer passed away. I was surprised. That fast ? even worse when I read the other lecturer’s facebook pages. It was painful. He seems to be a very nice guy. I never got taught by him, but whenever we bump in the campus corridor, he’s always smiling. Enough for me to judge that he was a good person. Rest in peace, Sir.

So then, driving alone, in the middle of the night, accompanied by instrumental music by Mars Volta, enough for me to think deeply about death. Death. Everyone will eventually meet it someday. So many circumstances that might lead into it, heart attack, car accident, terrorist attack, USA Airstrike, drowning, eaten by sharks, fall into a cliff, suicide, got murdered, work related accident, Karoshi, got shot on stage, drug overdose, doomsday, etc. Nobody can evade it.

I’m not gonna ask about where will our soul go when we died ? (or it might not go everywhere, human body is soulless, it’s just a biological system) But rather what will happened to the surrounding when we died. Will people get sad ? How many people cries at our funeral ? How many will regret our death ? How many people got depressed ? How many people will talks about me in past tense ? Or are there people who are happy when we died ? We might never know. We’ll be gone anyway when the time comes.

Now, about death and family. It’s not about Batman and Robin’s death in a family, but it is about what happened when one dies and left the family. To honest, I’ve discussed this matter a few times with some of my closest friends. Death is one of the reason to not start a family. When we die alone, we will die alone. No one but our friends will get sad. After we died, no one will get hysterical about our heritage, or about us. Well, maybe some friends will, but they’ll move on, they’ll find another friends. Not with family. You’ll never find another father or mother or brother when they passed away.

Is dying alone sad ? well, some said it is. Human should never die alone. But come on, think about it. Who said that ? Dying alone might not be that sad. Because there’s nothing to left. We will just gone. Poof. Like a magician’s rabbit. Disappeared into a thin air. Why does death feel painful ? It is because we will never be able to meet that person anymore. Gone forever. When a social bonds created, human are getting attached into one another. When one of them cut the bond (by death), the other one lost their attachment. I think it is what makes others death so painful. More than just losing source of money, but also losing source of ideas. Well, I don’t what to say anymore.

Seriously, this is just a random blogpost. I am not suicidal. Why should I ? I still enjoy my life. So many things still had to be done. No reason to leave early. It is just, I’m just exhausted, my mind is floating somewhere, and it greets death in its own way.

Death will always be a mystery. Because no one can ever be back from the death and tells you what it feels like. Who knows that each one’s death have a different taste ? We will never know.