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Midnight Malarkey

a peek inside the poetic freak

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Writings

So what’s your story?

“Tell me more about yourself.”

If you’re above 18 and have never been asked that, mail me and tell me what kind of life you’re living. That question is the safe starting point for interviews, first dates, or when you just want to get rid of awkward silences but skip the small talk. It’s crucial information to give people context on who you are and what make a list of appropriate topics to converse on. It’s that small bit of info you put at the top of a resume or you say in class on the first day with a new teacher.

And you, dear reader. Yes, you. How would you answer?

Common answers would include age, gender, place of birth/origin/current residence, where you go to work/education, hobbies.

Seriously, is that the best thing you can tell about yourself?

What about that one song you always play when you’re down? What about your life’s biggest achievement, or dream, or come back after a failure when the world felt like it was about to end? What about that one spot where you’re ticklish but no one knows, or that one thing you’re dying to try but afraid of the social repercussions?

You’re a human being, a unique compilation of selected social patterns that society has sculpted combined with your own individual traits. Don’t tell me that yellow is your favorite color or you’re the first child of three. Tell me what’s the most uncertain thing about the future that terrifies you, or your first memory. If it has to be something about color, tell me the color that you see when you first gain consciousness—the first seconds before you open your eyes to snooze the alarm clock (for the third time before a relative finally drags you out of bed).

I find it so heartbreaking when a friend tells me about their problems or just monologs on about their thoughts and then apologizes for making me listen to them. Did you read that right? They’re apologizing for thinking that their life struggles are unworthy of being listened to. They’re apologizing for expressing themselves.

Tell me more about yourself, darn it. Tell me what sparks your passion—that twinkle in your eyes when you talk, that slight stutter because you have so much to say about that one thing or person you love most. Who hurt you and made you think the mind is big enough to hold your thoughts but the universe isn’t? Who so excruciatingly cut your soul into little thin strips of hope you keep to yourself? Who made you believe you shouldn’t show others the causes you’re fighting for because it might just jinx all the efforts you’ve put into it, and that embarrassment of failure is a roadblock from starting again?

You’re a human being, a unique compilation of stories from selected experiences society forces you to undergo combined with your own individual choices. Don’t tell me who’s the first person you fell in love with or what you wore on your first day of something. I want to know how you figured out “Oh my gosh, this is it, this is love!” and how you calmed your nerves enough to tell that special someone.

This may make you uncomfortable. That’s okay. You’ve been conditioned to keep private information like that to yourself. That, or you’re an introvert, which is also okay. Or you’re more invested in the other person’s story, which is—surprise, surprise—okay as well.

I don’t have a point to tell from all of this. I just want to let you know that people like me exist in your life. That nice people who greets everyone passing by, the barista at your favourite café, the stranger you made eye contact with and gives that smile, expecting a conversation to start. We’re all around you, or maybe you’re one of us. In that case, you’re a story collector like me, and probably dying to tell some of the inspirational things you’ve learned about people and life.

So when you meet one of us and get that question, surprise us. Tell us your favourite cheesy joke, or that one time you felt accomplished. And even in formal occasions like interviews, pause before you answer. Think about this:

Seriously, is that the best thing you can tell about yourself?

 

We’re Gold

I opened my eyes to hers. They’re as lively as spring. They’re smiling. Her long, black hair tickled my cheeks.

“Happy first anniversary!” she hugged me before burying her face under some pillows.

“Do you think we’ll make it to fifty?” her voice was barely audible.

“I know we will.”

I kissed the palm of her smooth hand. She smiled and closed her eyes, slowly fading back to sleep.

She opened her eyes to mine. They’re as lively as spring. They’re smiling. Her nearly white hair tickled my forehead.

“Happy anniversary,” I hugged her, careful not to disturb the hoses covering her face.

“We made it to fifty,” her voice was barely audible.

“I know.”

I kissed the palm of her wrinkled hand. She smiled and closed her eyes, slowly fading away.

Bruised

I’m a woman of my word.

I thought integrity a virtue, admired those who held their tongue, worshipped who kept every uttered syllable.

That was before you and your sweet nothings.

You said you’d make me happy, treat me right. Told me I’m the one.

As tears flood my bruised cheeks, I remembered what you said the day you proposed.

“Babe, I’ll change your life forever.”

I smiled.

Finally. A promise you could keep.

Lara yang mengusik tertutup pelupuk, merembes lewat titik-titik tetes tinta, tertoreh tertata di atas kertas. Aku tak pernah menyukai duka kendati selalu menerima dengan tangan terbuka. Ia bagai tamu yang memecahkan barang, menyuruhku membereskan, tertawa kala aku tertusuk.

Nyeri yang gaib terkurung dalam bisu. Apa pula guna membagi pilu? Pun semua punya miliknya masing-masing. Hanya tubuh yang tahu, maka biar tangan bercerita apa yang ditimpa hati, didetakkan jantung, mengalir dalam pembuluh dan meyebar ke seluruh tubuh.

Lupakan ucap siapa yang mengaku ada untukmu. Niat boleh kuat namun apa mereka cukup sigap mencerna tiap kata? Aku memilih menulis. Meramu cara membuat orang lain tahu dan menjaga agar informasi ambigu. Tak sulit. Sungguh. Ada saatnya seseorang perlu menelan bulat-bulat, namun apa untung memaksa mengerti saat yang kau perlu hanya menyuarakan benakmu? Biar ku jawab: tidak.

Lara yang mengusik tertutup pelupuk. Biar jangan ada yang melihat air mata lalu bertanya-tanya. Jangan ada yang mencoba membuat lega hanya agar mereka sendiri tak perlu repot mengurus sakit.

Dua tangan ini—ya, mereka saja yang melantunkan nada rasa di atas tuts. Mereka saja yang menyebar kisah di dunia maya. Kisah beratapkan rima, beralaskan rasa, dan berdinding enigma.

Aku membiarkan bibirku menipu dengan senyum. Lebih mudah menjaga rahasia dengan begitu. Lebih hemat waktu. Kalian yang membaca ini: kalian yang “beruntung”. Kalian melihat risauku apa adanya. Kalian melihat sepotong diriku yang sepenuhnya jujur.

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