Pagi itu dia datang, karena itu aku tak merasa harus bangun. Dia yang lama kukenal sudah kembali, dingin, pemalu, dan menggigit. Kapan terakhir kali dia memelukku seerat ini sampai aku bisa merasakan tiupan nafasnya? Aku tidak menyesal pernah merindukannya, rasanya menyegarkan bisa menyambutnya kembali di ranjang walau aku tidak akan pernah menyediakan tempat untuknya. Udara pagi Bandung yang dingin—
selamat datang kembali.
Four months long was I gone. Twice have I appeared and disappeared again in writing. The life out of me has been drained from my skin. Feelings are anything but ordinary now. The only things that move me are pain that I inflict upon myself and pleasure that I intentionally receive from touching you.
Things have been deeply troubling within my everyday ever since January slipped through my grasp. Even so, I managed to turn 19. I have a few things I would like to tell you now. Though they may be of no substantial meaning or purpose for you, I still want to force these writings to your knowledge. And I hope, that you will accept them.
I admit that it’s been quiet awhile since I last wrote here, which I deeply apologise for. But know that I needed time to grow, to change, in order to understand.
The beginning of this second semester, I was determined to focus on my academics, and in the process, unconsciously yet willingly forgot about the group of friends I have acquired from the last semester. This had obviously created somewhat of a calamity, one that I had never consented to, let alone was aware of, and I can now no longer approach the people I used to approach as easily. They had mistaken my being quiet and withdrawn as having a feud with them, and I was beginning to hear unpleasant things of me from people who have very little knowledge of who I am anymore.
Truthfully, it had hurt to a certain degree. Writing this again now, even after weeks of drafting this post and of living with a new truth, I still choke by my throat because I am reminded of the reality that I have no one, and that I may have indeed hurt others unknowingly. And so I seek to separate myself from everyone even more, in hopes of hurting everyone less.
However, along with my being oblivious, this also had a lot to do with how we’re all changing to adapt to our newly given routines and separate environments. And because I am not one to care, nor do I see any reason to shorten the distance or try to correct the misunderstanding anymore, I came to no lengths to try and make these people understand: they do not need to understand.
Regarding how well being determined to focus on my academics had been, I’m regretful to say that that too hadn’t really been working out as much as I had anticipated to. The first half of the semester it proved to be quiet helpful in certain subjects. But the other subjects in which I could not be saved in, left me scarred horribly. I remember receiving the lowest score I have ever received in all my life and just returning home, not caring for anything else in the world, fell to bed, and immediately cried for hours on end with a few cuts accompanying me by my arms. It was such a stupid thing to be so emotionally anguished about, but it was the most I could feel in so long. And as any numb person would go, I embraced the feeling.
Before long, the second half of the semester came by uninvited and I was starting to get bored of being alone so excessively. I needed a change. A feeling, or two. Perhaps someone I could pull into my orbit too. Whatever it was, I ached for something that could evoke me to continue on living deeply. Driven by the fear of not running as far as I can within the time that I was given, I then sought to trying new things that I have never touched before.
One of them is liberating my hair,
for the sake of both my physical and mental health.
The second was understanding that I needed time,
and that Allah does care, and that He is there, for me
regardless of how horrible of a person I am.
The third was finally drinking my medicine,
when I’m given them by the doctor.
About falling ill: I don’t know if I remember correctly, but I’m sure that I’ve written about getting sick a lot in my previous posts. Granted, I’m still getting sick a lot. Although it’s not as often as last semester, the intensity seems to becoming more aggressive and I’ve grown to become really weak and even more easily fatigued. But because they don’t necessarily appeal to me as something significant, I didn’t worry much about it. Even though I’ve already gotten checked and diagnosed by a doctor my mom forced me to see by bringing him home, and after receiving three bottles of herbal medicines to drink.
That was until I fell really ill, and I didn’t have the strength to know what to do.
By this time, I was already not drinking any of the medicines I was given to drink for the things that I’ve been getting sick for. And I was also not the best at taking care of myself. So I finally told my mom that I was sick again, and confessed to her that I’ve not been drinking any of my medicines, let alone the extra herbals she entrusted me to drink every now and then.
She then told me that I “have symptoms of cancer” and that my becoming weak and easily fatigued was not something I could disregard very easily. The next day, I went to get myself checked again and was finally drinking my medicine.
The more exciting parts of these new things, however, include cutting my hair by my shoulder, watching my friends play softball matches at a time where I supposedly should be studying, thrift-shopping as a new way of filling my wardrobe and of defining my personality through what meets the eye (this could mean that I have a horrible personality though), returning back to the ice rink after seven months (despite no more plans of returning again due to how incredibly time-and-money-consuming it is), founding Novel Thinkers i.e. a project that I’m currently working on which I will write more about soon, and playfully trying out film photography!
I would love to sit with you and have a chat instead of writing down everything and having you read it since it would be so exhausting for you.
But yes, the second semester is truly one of a kind. It was so horrible since I was getting sick all the time and I had all these confusing phases where I didn’t know what to do, but at the same time, the months were being incredibly heartwarming and very accompanying. How is that possible? How can two entire universe of emotions within me meet and leave me still alive?
the most overwhelming year I have yet to endure, after a very painfully disheartening set of years, is about the end tomorrow. Let’s hope Zee can live through 2018 with all the people she loves, through all the things that will happen: events heavy in knowledge and experience, events exciting and hopeful, and events full of love and kindness.
2018, please be kind, but more importantly, be exciting and rich of knowledge.
This morning I woke up early and decided to sleep in. After what felt like minutes of wonderful dreams, I woke up, realised that it was almost 10a.m., then finally, gathered enough courage to shove my blanket away so that I could go on about with my day. It’s been a few days already since I turned down a hang out offer this week, or to put it in better words, slept through a hang out offer, and I’m feeling more accomplished than ever. Accomplished that I had decided to stay in my room to give my mind and body time to rest and unwind, just before the storm comes.
Now it’s the noon of Saturday the 13th and I wanted to write. Mainly because I have successfully convinced my dad to continue my domain’s annual subscription, but also because I have things to write about that I would like you to know. And one of them has to be the silly accident I got in while I was on my way to campus.
It was Tuesday, and our first Business Statistics auditorium session starts at 8:00, which was in favour for all of us SBM students because we always had lessons start at 7:00 back then. Anyhow, I was walking down the stairs when my ordered driver (Gojek) called me, telling me that he’s arrived to pick me up. When I walked outside of my boarding house, I saw two drivers waiting. I approached the one nearest to me and asked if he was picking up a “Zee”. He uttered a name that sounded muffled, but he nodded when I asked if it was for me, “Zee”, so I got on the seat and we were off.
Just after about two minutes of riding this Go-ride, I received a call from an anonymous number which I, out of habit, declined. But then I saw two texts from my supposed driver telling me that he’s arrived since forever and has been waiting for quiet some time now… When I read that, I had a mini panic shudder and told the driver I was with that he got the wrong customer. Upon hearing this, he immediately made a u-turn and rushed back to my place to fetch his actual customer.
I could already tell by the speed that he was driving in that he was anxious of being late to pick whoever-it-was up, and I felt like I was in the wrong for carelessly getting on his motorbike when it was “clearly” not my ride. You see, the road in my particular neighbourhood *cough* Dago Asri 3 *cough* is pretty much in ruins and so it was nervewrecking that this driver intensely drove through all that without much attention. Even when a speed bump emerged (well not literally, it’s been there all the time) right in front of us, he sped through that!
Consequently, we both jumped off our seats, but the driver was in safe hands because he had his weight back to the motorbike as he was holding onto it. I, on the other hand, didn’t. And so I was bounced off the seat, thrown into the air, and tossed onto the asphalt road where my body scraped the ground and my helmet was snapped away from my head. For a few seconds it took awhile for me to absorb what just happened, my sight was spinning beyond control. I looked at my bag that was now on the ground a few feet away from me and the first thing that I immediately worried about was my laptop inside.
Funnily enough, this happened just two/three houses away from my place, and there were several passerby staring at the incident. When the driver looked at what just happened, he dropped his motorbike and helped me stand up. I grabbed my bag, stroked my head, and thought of Bagas (my dearest friend who passed away from a motorbike accident more than a year ago).
This is the conversation that follows as he grabbed my arm, supporting me to stand up (shortened and translated):
Panicked Driver:“My goodness, I am terribly sorry. Are you okay miss?”
Lunatic who thinks she’s perfectly fine:“Yeah I’m fine haha, don’t worry.”
Worried Driver:“Are you sure? Let me bring you to a clinic right now to get that checked.”
Lunatic who still thinks she’s perfectly fine:“What? No, I’m fine.”
Puzzled Driver:“I can’t let you do that, I have to bring you to a clinic.”
Lunatic who still, even though the driver has pointed out the stain left on her jeans, thinks she’s perfectly fine:“I can’t go, I have a class to attend.”
And that was it. I was too stubborn to attend this class, so I assured the driver that it was fine, that I was left unharmed, and that I have to go.
When I was finally on my way to campus with my actual driver though, was when the pain started kicking in. I felt a sore wound on my left arm and on the lower part of my back, along with an incredibly throbbing set of headaches that forced me to endure it with a helmet on as I gritted my teeth. Apart from that, I worried about how I had looked. I honestly thought I looked great before the accident, but after being thrown like that, I was sure that I looked messed up to some degree. And I was probably right.
This is the part that somewhat broke my heart.
When the realisation of how much my body was in pain finally dawned on me, I arrived in campus wanting to hug someone and just cry because of how much it had hurt. But I can’t do that because there was a crowd by the auditorium and… I didn’t really have anyone I could hug. Besides, I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself so I rushed to the toilet to have a look at wounds instead.
Indeed, it was true. I had a bleeding, scratched, wound on my left arm by the elbow, some scratches that was also bleeding on the lower part of my back, and several bruises on my legs: one mighty on the centre of my left thigh. I frowned at them, and simply kept them hidden beneath my clothes because I didn’t know what else to do. I then walked into the auditorium and sat next to my classmates.
When I announced to my group of friends of what just happened through chat, they made it clear that my current condition was in no way that worrisome and that I should just go get myself checked right then and there. Of course, I didn’t want to go alone. I mean, I was still shaking and my heart was still pounding relentlessly from the accident. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that I needed someone to accompany me to go there. Naturally, I would expect at least one of them to volunteer to help. But none of that came even as the lecture passed by. They acted as if falling off a motorbike and getting wounds were the most natural thing for someone to do before going to campus. But, I’ll admit, it was partially my fault. I didn’t fall a little harder & I didn’t have wounds that were a little more visible. Maybe if I did, they would actually start to care. But that is a very childish way of thinking. The truth is I just have to deal with the reality that this is college here that I’m attending, that I cannot expect anything towards other people who essentially do not care about me. It’s a shame that things are like this but there’s nothing I could do about it.
So in the end, I had to ask a friend to assist me in finding my way to Bumi Medika Ganesha, which is a campus owned clinic. Along the way, I told her about this and she had conceded to me that it was true. What my dad told me after I informed him about this too, was that this incident showed me who amongst my friends were true to me in good nature. Although I was left feeling a slight disgust with the reality of what I experienced, and although it had an effect on me that I shall now be more careful with who I choose to entrust my vulnerabilities to, it encouraged me to appreciate my friends more and accompany them, and help them, when they are in need without having them ask me first (because I surely would have appreciated that). This is simply a way for me to see if they are right for me, that if I finally become a better friend, would they become a better friend too? And once I learn that they are not, I would at least then know who to leave.
It’s funny how I’m so outspoken about such an emotional tragedy. I suppose this could be justified by allowing you to understand that I rarely feel raw and strong emotions anymore that the moment that I do, I find them as intriguing materials to write about and give to you. Besides, writing like this in itself is a form of catharsis for me. So I hope you have found this mini journal entry to be profoundly worthwhile, the way I have, as I was writing it down for you.
Now that an entire semester has passed, where should I begin?
Mungkin sudah saatnya kamu melupakan apa yang memang tidak pernah diartikan untukmu. Mungkin sudah saatnya untuk akhirnya membuka diri kepada kemana ini akan membawamu. Walaupun masih sakit, aku yakin suatu hari kamu akan pulih; dan aku yakin kamu akan menerima lebih dari apa yang kamu inginkan.
Jangan putus asa sekarang-
You are more than just a fallen dream.
-Jakarta, 28 July 2017
Tidak disangka sudah hampir satu semester aku lewati disini, di Institut Terbaik Bangsa*. Ya, aku sadar bahdwa ini semua hanya akan berjalan untuk dua tahun, dan setelah itu aku harus berpisah dengan mereka ke negara asing. Maka dari itu, aku ingin mencoba lari sejauh mungkin diwaktu 2 tahun ini. Aku telah membuka diri ke hal-hal yang dulunya aku anggap “taboo” dan aku sedang mencoba untuk tidak terikat kepada sesuatu yang dari awalnya memang bukan untuk mengikatku. Dunia ini, dan kepercayaanku atasnya, lebih dari hanya sebuah tulisan. Aku sadar bahdwa aku harus lebih terbuka & lebih menerima.
Bersama dengan itu, aku yakin Tuhan ingin aku mencoba untuk lari sejauh mungkin. Sebelum akhirnya waktuku disini habis. Ini hanyalah awal dari penjelajahanku. Dan aku berharap, pada akhirnya, aku bisa berlari lebih jauh dari apa yang awalnya aku bayangkan.
-Bandung, 28 November 2017
I am well aware that 5 months is an awfully long time to not appear in writing. That I’ve gone beyond people’s remembrance of my blog’s existence to even write here anymore. Within that time, however, I found myself experiencing an abundance of things that I would often bookmark as something I’d write about. But I could never find the right words to illustrate them correctly. To tell you the truth, I have made several attempts to write again but they always end up as unfinished drafts that would leave me unsatisfied with how lacking I am in my flow of words. In fact, writing this now, I have absolutely no expectations of delivering these words to you knowing just how terrible I have been with my blog. Regardless, I am still here writing.
Anyhow, remember when I wrote about crying two days in a row out of ‘plain fear’ when I learned that ITB had accepted me (that plain fear being the realisation that I would not pursue my undergraduate degree in America)? Well, I think those two days have changed me incredibly, in a way that I am now numb towards whatever life proffers to me. Between those two days, I felt something inside of me poured empty. There is nothing left there, and that nothingness had morphed me, almost immediately. I don’t know whether or not that’s a good thing: that I no longer expect a lot of things from life, but I realise that that has helped me experience things in a more pleasantly surprising way.
When I first introduced myself to Bandung, say, I was pleasantly surprised at how brisk the atmosphere was; especially around the boarding house I lived in for three months before moving to a more commodious space. The tiny room I had occupied was equipped with two very broad windows which allowed natural light and wind to enter very easily so I would always open them as far as they could go. In the morning when I wake up all groggy, the room would be filled with an unbearable chill piercing into my body: I had to first close the windows to sleep in.
I shared the same experience when it comes to meeting the friends that I have now. To tell you the truth, I walked into ITB with absolutely no intensions of making friends. I wanted to graduate as soon as possible, with no strings attached to any human being. And I had my faculty’s benefit for that: in the School of Business and Management, it only takes us three years to complete our degree. But that all changed when I decided to meet the other new students of the international class who transferred from Abu Dhabi over breakfast, right before re-registration hour, and when someone courageously gathered all the *noisy people into one, (anti-)depressing, group, that of which consisted of people I would have never imagined to be friends with.
Because I don’t yet want to introduce these wonderful human beings to you and end up writing a novel about how things unravelled from there on, I thought it would be better to keep quiet about this first, especially noting how terrible I am at procedural writings. But yes, life happened to want me friends. And truthfully, I don’t hate it.
It’s interesting to say that people from my past have said that I have gotten a lot happier. Which is true, because I am a lot happier than who I used to be. At the same time, however, I find myself breaking down emotionally, most of the times physically, because of how overwhelming the changes that I have had to endure have been.
What sort of changes?
Well, first of all, there’s this almost inevitable trend amongst college students (note: not applicable to everyone on certain conditions) called “living alone” that subsequently carries “individualism” along with it too. As someone who’s never done a difficult day of work, who has the memory of a goldfish and the carelessness of a Zahra Thania towards money, deadlines, times of eating, and time in general, and who constantly has a personal driver who would take her as her heart pleases which consequently fails her at navigations, it’s plausible to say that I was not terrific at taking care of myself. In fact, I can not take care of myself as mannerly as other people. Which I suppose could explain why the only reason I ever really contact my parents is when I fall sick, or basically when my gastropathy and headaches come running to me like a train.
And then there’s also the academics that I have to keep up with. Although the studies in SBM aren’t tremendously challenging or at all difficult when compared to other faculties, since they are mostly comprised of exhibitions and group projects, managing the time and mind to actually sit down and study the core understanding of it, is. I’m sure that if I had the same ambitious drive back in high school, I wouldn’t be as disappointed with the results of this first semester. Regardless, I am not regretful.
All in all, now that the storm is over, I think it’s fair to say that although things didn’t work out as I have planned it to, I am wholeheartedly pleasant with how things turned out to be. It’s true. If God has decreed something for you, irrespective of your plans, desires, and sufferings, what will occur and how it will unravel is entirely up to God. Whether or not they seem to be in your favour, in the end, you will learn to understand that what God has decreed for you is what is most suited for you. You may not see it now, since your existence in His plans is not necessarily strictly until death, but you will come to see it some day.
In my case, I just happened to see it now after a long time hurting myself.
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
So I finally sent a withdrawal letter to UMass Lowell on June 30th, which I double checked with my friend who I trust for these matters and since then, I’ve never dared to look back. Strangely, I’m also not looking forward to anything at all in the institution that I will be attending by next month. If anything, the most I’ve done -apart from doing what most incoming students are- is praying to God that everything works out for me in the end. In the meantime, I haven’t really been doing anything worthwhile due to my “becoming numb” towards my interests so forgive me for not writing to you at all for the past several weeks.
I think it’s funny now because half a year ago I was still constantly refreshing my email awaiting for a letter or announcement from all four universities that I applied to, and now I barely even do so because I know I wouldn’t receive anything like that anymore.
It’s funny now because I used to get excited of imagining how different things would be by July and the months after “knowing” that I wouldn’t be here in this country anymore, and now I don’t imagine anything at all.
It’s funny now because all the effort that I have given in seems like a dream instead of a memory.
Below is the withdrawal letter for you to read in case you were curious of how I overcame my college heartbreak:
Dear University of Massachusetts Lowell,
My name is Zahra Thania and my student ID is: ——— and I am a registered incoming freshman at your university.
I’ve gathered enough courage to write this email to let you know that I am unable to attend your university as my family and I are not yet financially prepared to pay for the tuition fee and therefore would like to withdraw my admission from the Manning School of Business.
I apologize for not informing you anytime soon. I’ve only recently decided to stay in my home country, Indonesia, and attend the Institute of Technology Bandung after thoughtful consideration.
Thank you for taking your time to review and accept my application. Please let me know if I need to fill in any form for my withdrawal.
Zahra Thania Atmoko.
This will be my last post for my College Dilemma series as I have finally made a decision to attend a certain university (note: it’s ITB). Once I begin my college days, I will be sure to let you know and write a new series of stories and I hope that you will keep being here.
Tonight I wanted to write to you about what’s been happening to me lately. I’ve been wanting to write about something a bit more frustrating and personal, but I’ve never been upset enough to pour it all into a post. I am now however, so let’s begin shall we?
May 1st has passed. Which means that I have made a decision to commit to a university in the US. And this might come as a surprise, but I chose University of Massachusetts Lowell instead. After quiet awhile seeking for more information from the two universities that I have been admitted to, I decided to settle for UMass Lowell and sort of became a part of Umass Lowell’s Class of 2021.
Funnily, I did not realize that May 1st was also the deadline for housing applications for those who wants to live on campus. I only learned that it was when I finally (after two months of receiving the letter of acceptance online) received the admittance package in the mail. I apparently had to apply for housing sooner that I had anticipated to. And so I rushed to have it finished and applied a week overdue.
Long story short, I emailed the administration about this issue and received an incredibly brief explanation: I will still be accepted for housing but not for the Living-Learning Community “because you are late“. Nonetheless, I made a friend from the roommate matching profiles, which to me sounds a lot like finding a savior because at least now I get to know more about the housing process at UMass Lowell.
But in all honesty, I find that accepting an invitation to a university is a lot more difficult than receiving an invitation. What I mean by that is that finishing the requirements to apply and being admitted to a university is nowhere near the struggle of preparing yourself to attend the university. Unless of course you have no trouble with the cost and distance of said choice. Which in that case…why the hell did I make this decision?
It’s been awhile hasn’t it?
The first several paragraphs I wrote above dates back to before I discovered I had been admitted to the Institute of Technology Bandung. I had applied there as a backup university in Indonesia in case America didn’t work out for me, and without a surprise, they accepted me.
I say that because I know that it’s easier to get admitted to their international undergraduate program, or at least that’s what my friend who attends their regular undergrad program says. And I know this might sound pathetic, or at least funny, but I actually cried two days in a row out of plain fear when I learned that ITB accepted me.
All in all, it’s still hard for me to get over my dreamy fantasy of wanting to pursue my undergrad in UML (even though I saw it coming from the look of my parents’ eyes). And I still don’t really know how it’s going to work out in the end. I’m currently simply carrying on with whatever life has in store for me. Be it not going to America yet, be it staying in Indonesia for a couple more years.
So yeah, that’s that. I could have written this post a little bit better, but I decided it would be nice to go a bit more candid.
I was thinking about you in the afternoon of the last day of the national examination. But along the way, I realized something odd about my thinking of you. So I wrote a letter for you that day, intending to make it my last for you.
13 February 2017
For someone who I once knew to be thoughtful,
You know —now that my memory is growing ever so distant and you seem to be clearer in my mind, you were nowhere near special. You owned no distinctive features and you liked all sorts of different things that didn’t have a place in my heart. You also had a depressingly bad taste in music, which I hate and which I couldn’t do anything about. I also doubt you even read books. Now that I’m thinking of you after everything has passed, I wonder what the importance of our encounter was. There seemed to be no shared meaning, and it passed so easily. It was simply the type of encounter that you become hopeful of at first, and slowly notice how painfully deluded you were for ever thinking that way. And writing this today, at this moment that I’m listening to a playlist I made under your *name, I almost wish we had never met. It could have been easier on me, and I could have spared a few more space for other people in my heart. So if you asked me whether or not I “remember” you, I will tell you that I don’t. Because I have chosen not to, the same way you had chosen to.