Celebrating Hope’s Day

LEGEND has it that a woman named Pandora in the Greek mythology had a box and out of her curiosity, she let out everything evil kept in it. But things were going to be alright as hope is still kept inside the box. Such folklore may be the best way in old ages to motivate people to keep going when the going gets tough. But perhaps not many modern people believe in it any longer.

So the task has to be undertaken by modern novelists, as it seems. J. K Rowling once said that she created Harry Potter because she wanted a boy who – despite his damage and flaws and fragility – continues to battle against the more mighty Voldermort. Heroism draws her admiration as I saw her on the family-tree documentary of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. On it, she cried as she found out her maternal grandfather  who was French and an unexperienced soldier at war had managed to kill some German soldiers to defend their territory. It was a moment of discovery that made her drench in pools of tears.

That is hope and heroicism with good and happy endings. Harry Potter finally wins over Voldermort after all, somehow, as she makes sure of it (because no readers want a book with an easily murdered protagonist).

But sometimes such heroism is much too surreal or even too unreal. Admirable heroism and abundant hope in reality most of the time have to succumb to their opponents. They have to get down in their knees and get beheaded brutally like John Foley, that war journalist with an unfitting end of life.

While I was browsing for my source of writing inspiration, something nudged me to get to this webpage. And then I realized that January 17 is now named Hope’s Day.

So what’s special about the date anyway? It’s the birthday of the conjoined twin sisters from Iran, Ladan and Laleh Bijani, who had been so brave to encourage themselves to try a highly complex surgical procedure to separate their joined heads – and brains. The fact that their brains were also closely rooted with each other had made the surgery named Operation Hope end tragically. It was announced that they died on July 8, 2003 at the age of 29 (BBC). They exactly knew the surgery was going to be tough and rough. It lasted not for hours but days. Around the clock.

I wish I had that insurmountable valor. They might have scared as well but they kept continuing anyway. And the death is not a defeat itself. It’s a struggle to clench faithfully to the idea of “either now or nothing at all” or staying in the comfort area of “let’s stay here”.

To live in such under such a condition is another form of bravery itself. However, to decide not to live under it any longer takes not only bravery but also confidence and preparedness of the worst scenarios, which may also be construed as history for posterity.  (*)

 

Race

I sat down at the bench with the morning sunlight shining through the leaves of the trees there. As I reached some boiled peanuts, bananas and fresh water and began snacking while basking under the warm sunshine, I had a simple surprise.
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It was a band of elementary school students. I found it hard to know what class they are but I’m quite sure they’re 4 graders or older.
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A man with a thick thick moustache came along with them, marching in the front of the group. He was a sports teacher.
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What happened next was simply amusing to me. I saw a race. The students sprinted in a 10-meter distance. Quite a show to enjoy.
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I saw three students — one geeky, tiny-bodied boy with glasses and two slightly taller girls — were on their mark. The teacher yelled,”On your mark, get set, go!” and less than ten seconds later the boy won. With his short and small legs, he won the race. Unbeliavable.
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And then two plump boys got ready. Their postures are more or less the same. This time I thought they would record the same time. I was wrong. The other boy lost completely. He put on a rather large pair of shoes so when he was in the middle of the sprint, one of the shoes was suddenly thrown into the air. He finished the race in utter disgrace. Sportswise and fashionwise, I should say. I was once too in such a position decades ago, losing a race because of too large shoes and slippery grass. I hate running or any sports involving running ever since.
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Another boy looked jovial. He folded his arm and directed his elbow to his running classmates. He imagined himself shooting world-caliber sprinters on the historical olympic sprint race with a cumbersome camera in his grip. Too bad for him the authority didn’t like the imagination. The teacher with a thick thick moustache screamed and rudely reprimanded him in front of the others,”You stupid bloody idiot, stop disturbing others. Go run around this court!”
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“How many times, sir?” he asked almost naively.
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So stupid a question because if I had been him, I would have just run. I think time would teach him the importance of keeping your mouth shut when dealing with your teachers about any tasks or assignments or punishments. The more you ask, the more details you wish, the more misery you invite for yourself to bear.
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The teacher controlled the class in the most domineering, authoritative way I’ve ever seen. When he saw some boys playing a ball, he started to remind them the risk of being a rebel. “Look at that moron,”he pointed at the running cameraman-wannabe boy,”Stop playing soccer or you’ll be the next.”
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Two slender girls prepared themselves for their turn now. And they turned out to be slow sprinters despite having longer legs than the rest of class.
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What struck me most was when a boy with the height only half of the height of the girl competing with him managed to prove his dominance. Boys might mature slower but that doesn’t mean they run slower.
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While they were at it, I noticed the cameraman-wannabe boy passed me by. He was panting. I had no idea he was still running around and around the court. It must have been a scar for life to be called a moron by a teacher at such a tender age. But maybe, he just needs to stick to that talent. He would make a good sports journalist in the future.

Swana

Suasana di ruangan luas itu sibuk. Orang-orang di dalamnya bergerak sigap. Seolah setiap gerakan tak membuang waktu dan tenaga. Gedung besar itu penuh dengan barang-barang dalam kemasan kardus, kantung plastik dan sebagainya. Ada yang menurunkan barang dari truk lalu memasukkannya dalam sebuah mesin kotak berwarna gelap yang rupaya menunjukkan isi paket-paket. Mesin itu bekerja dengan kekuatan sinar X sehingga penampilan fisik barang di dalam bisa diketahui dengan lebih akurat.

Namun, prosedur itu belumlah cukup. Paket kemudian dijajarkan dalam satu garis di depan petugas lalu sejurus kemudian sebuah teriakan menggema dalam dinding gedung kuno yang lapang dan tinggi itu. Seekor anjing bersama pawangnya masuk.

Nama anjing itu tak jelas terdengar karena si pawang cuma menyebut arahan,”Good boy!!”. Tidak cuma sekali dua kali tetapi terus menerus selama ia bekerja bersama satwa berbulu coklat gelap itu.

Di suatu titik, hewan yang bernama Sansekerta “swana” itu berhenti dan mendengus. Ia duduk dan seolah meminta perhatian dari pawangnya untuk membuka paket mencurigakan itu. Benar saja. Itulah paket yang berisi narkoba.

Skenario di dalam salah satu kantor besar Bea Cukai itu cuma simulasi yang direkayasa siang itu bagi kami para pengunjung. Saya terbilang beruntung bisa menyaksikan anjing itu beraksi.

Lalu saya pikir sungguh berjasa sekali para anjing ini bagi kami. Penyelundupan barang-barang terlarang bisa diendus dan ditangkal dengan lebih mudah. Walaupun saya bukan pecinta, saya tidak akan menyakiti mereka dengan membabi buta. Karena saya percaya, ada reaksi jika ada aksi. Toh, mereka amat peka dengan itikad baik atau buruk seseorang. Kalaupun mereka berlaku buruk, itu karena asuhan yang salah dari tuannya atau karena kita sendiri yang memancarkan emosi yang kurang baik.

Kemudian saya berada di antara kandang-kandang besar mereka. Setiap anjing begitu keras menyalak tatkala rombongan orang luar ini masuk. Ada yang matanya nanar. Ada juga satu ekor yang lembut dan santai. Usut punya usut anjing itu sudah tua jadi tak berminat menggonggong terus menghabiskan tenaga yang sudah tak seberapa.

Anjing-anjing yang berjasa. Entah berapa kasus penyelundupan barang-barang terlarang yang sudah mereka berhasil turut selesaikan.

Kata si pemandu, dibutuhkan waktu 4 bulan agar calon pawang atau pemegang anjing untuk bisa bekerja dengan piawai mendeteksi zat-zat terlarang dalam kandungan paket kiriman barang yang mengalir tiada henti ke negeri ini. Apalagi dengan maraknya perdagangan daring.

Bagi kita yang muslim membenci anjing rasanya sudah membudaya. Tetapi jangan sampai lupa, mereka juga makhluk Allah. Tidak mesti harus memelihara juga tetapi setidaknya ingatlah bahwa setiap makhluk itu ada gunanya. Karena kalau tidak ada anjing yang berhidung ultra peka ini, bisa jadi makin merajalela narkoba di nusantara dan banyak anak-anak muda kita terperosok ke dalam lembah hitamnya. Banyak kasus kriminal juga tak terpecahkan jika hanya andalkan otak manusia.

October, I’m Coming!

storm
October, storms, rainfall. (Image URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Prairie#/media/File:Storm_on_the_Plains_(6059007492).jpg)

October is the time when more rainfall is pouring down on earth as the more arid months have dried up our wells and lakes and other bodies of water. Also, October is the month when I celebrate a lot of birthdays of some beloved ones. October, too, is the month when more storms and windy weather are coming along.

This year, October means a lot to me. It means freedom. Ah, in capital. FREEDOM. Words cannot describe how much I love this word and all the consequences, bad or good.

October also means rebirth to me. A rebirth after having gone through so much hardship throughout these years. It’s like the serene weather between storms.