Archive for January, 2013

Rumah Tua
January 4, 2013

Malam ini, aku kembali memasuki rumah yang sudah kosong. Hanya ada dedaunan kering yang sayup-sayup tertiup angin di pekarangan. Cat kuning di tembok sudah mengelupas di berbagai tempat. Hanya atap merahnya saja yang masih kokoh, dalam kemurungannya masih menaungi interior rumah.

Rumah ini bukan milikku, pun tak pernah aku singgah ketika rumah ini masih riuh dengan hidup. Saat itu aku masih terlalu muda. Lebih tepatnya, aku belum merangkak.

Rumah ini rumah orangtuaku. Mereka, meski belum terlalu menua, sudah menanggalkan jubah kepemimpinan dan menyerahkan tonggak kekuasaan pada bibi dan saudaraku. Meski bukan kekuasaan untuk otoritas sebesar presiden maupun sekaya sultan, bukan juga seprestisius profesor agung, tapi orangtuaku sudah meninggalkan gading-gading terbesar di dalam gua. Dengan harapan gading-gading lain juga akan ditaruh nantinya, mengguratkan ceruk di lantai. Namun kedua gading mereka tentunya akan tetap jadi yang terpuja, simbol kali pertama pembentukan gua peristirahatan para gajah.

Aku memasuki rumah tua itu dengan waswas. Sedikit berharap di hati, mungkin aku bisa menemukan sisa-sisa artefak kejayaan orangtuaku. Atau malah mencium bau bangkai cicak yang mereka injak suatu malam dengan sengaja.

Mohon dimaklumi, meski diantara sekian jumlah saudaraku aku tergolong remaja, tapi ketika kembali menjelajahi kawasan perumahan tempat kami tinggal, aku merasa terlambat lahir. Sehingga sejarah hidup maupun catatan peninggalan orangtuaku, aku tak pernah jadi saksi langsung. Hanya mendengar omongan seorang tante yang sering menyenggol orangtuaku dengan candanya.

Penasaran, aku jadi memasuki lagi rumah tua ini, mencoba menghidupi kenangan yang tersisa.

Di depan pintu, ada tanda yang sudah familier aku kenal. Mulai hari ini, pindah ke rumah besar di pojok perumahan. Ya, aku hafal dengan tanda ini karena disinilah biasanya aku berhenti menapak, hanya termangu membaca alamat rumah yang kini kami tinggali. Tapi hari ini, aku sudah meniatkan diri untuk terus merangsek masuk.

Pintu rumah memang tidak terkunci, tapi jalan masuk setelah ruang tamu sungguh seperti labirin. Tak jelas koridor mana yang ke kiri, ke kanan, bahkan jika ada koridor. Aku terpaksa meraba-raba dalam gelap dengan cangkir berisi sebatang lilin putih yang sudah terbakar sumbunya. Pada dinding-dinding yang kulewati terpampang foto-foto lama para tante yang pertama kali kukenal, tapi foto-foto tersebut sungguh asing. Kelihatan sekali bahwa mereka masih beberapa tahun lebih muda. Di setiap sisi pigura tercantum tanggal pengambilan foto. Kuhitung-hitung perkiraan umur mereka ketika itu sambil kulalui setiap gambar.

Bukannya aku tak tertarik menyelami kehidupan lama mereka, tapi tujuanku kemari adalah untuk mencari tahu tentang orangtuaku. Hari yang sudah kelewat malam membuatku tidak bisa berlama-lama di dalam. Aku terus tertatih dalam gelap hingga ketika tertangkap di ujung mataku nama ibuku. Kukira itu kamar tidurnya.

Pintu kayu menderit perlahan ketika kudorong daunnya. Dadaku berdegup perlahan, tegang dalam sunyinya. Tegang karena antisipasi akan penemuan yang menungguku.

Seperti dugaanku, di dalam kamar tertinggal beberapa perabotan tua hasil karya ibu. Kususuri satu persatu, kuamati yang terlihat menarik, kutinggalkan yang agaknya terlalu teknis. Beberapa karyanya membuatku cukup takjub karena detail dan desainnya, tapi aku masih mencari sesuatu yang lebih menakjubkan lagi. Aku ingin tahu kenapa tanteku si tertua begitu memujanya. Aku ingin tahu kenapa tanteku si urakan selalu mengatainya.

Belum banyak yang kuamati ketika kulihat sebuah perkamen tergeletak di atas meja.

Aku meraihnya, membukanya dengan penasaran. Terkejut aku.

Sebuah buku renungan terbaring persis di sampingnya. Kubuka pula buku itu, tak seberapa tebalnya. Terpana aku.

Kututup buku itu dengan kebingungan. Anehnya, sepertinya ruangan ini tak terlalu terisi barang. Atau memang aku yang kurang awas. Tapi segera aku menjejak keluar kamar, masih penuh tanda tanya yang buram tak terbentuk jelas.

Aku berdiri di pekarangan. Daun-daun sudah berhenti tertiup angin, namun cat di dinding masih terkelupas di sana-sini. Aku memandangi rumput di tanah yang tumbuh tak rata, hijau disana, kuning disini, dan tanah gundul kebanyakan.

Perlahan kucermati kekagetanku.

Kata mereka, ibuku otoriter dan galak.

Kata mereka, ibuku filsuf ternama.

Kata mereka, ibuku berlidah seperti ular, bertaring seperti singa.

Kata mereka, semuanya aku percaya.

Hari ini, aku baru melihat seorang ibu yang lembut, tegas, religius.

 

Aku mau bukti hebat dan dinginnya dia.

Rupanya ibuku manusia yang punya rasa.

 

***

*catatan: bukan mengenai orangtua sebenarnya.

Alejandro
January 3, 2013

Alejandro is handsome

But I love Alessandra.

The Story about My Menstruation
January 2, 2013

I have a confession to make. This is something that I usually avoid discussing with people, but lately I’ve had a lingering question that rose after reading a book. It’s a graphic novel titled “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel. Although only in a small portion, Bechdel mentions several times about menopause. Suddenly I have a fear of menopause.

You see, when I was young my parents indulged me with food. When I was five or six KFC had just developed several franchisees in the country. It was pretty much the first fast food joint to be established on where I lived, and everyone was hyped. Apparently, I’d loved KFC so much that Dad brought it home nearly everyday.

I was in second grade when I arrived home, went into the bedroom I shared with my elder sister, and she immediately pointed to between my legs yelling, “There’s red on your panties!” I looked down and, sure there was, a big red stain.

At an age that young, I did not understand the concept of “menstruation” or why I should keep it secretive from male friends. I was actually proud that I had something that seemed unique – none of my friends, not even my sister, had had period – and even more, that everyone seemed to treat me specially when it came to the menstruation topic, so I talked about it with my female friends. Four years later, I’d had a girl asked me in the washroom if it was true that I got my first menstruation when I was in third grade. Ashamed enough to have it at a young age and to have an acquaintance asked about it, I didn’t correct her that I actually got it a year earlier. After that incident, I stopped talking about my first menstruation with anyone. Actually, I barely talk about my periods, but it’s only because unlike my friends who have it rough – accompanied with cramps, physical exhaustion, mood swings, unsteady flux and a boost in appetite – my periods are normal, if not barely noticeable apart from the appearance of blood. The fact that my periods have been pain free and unobstructed in flux is the only thing I appreciate.

To this day, even though I feel deep guilt whenever I thought about this, I’ve been blaming my parents for my early menstruation. I blamed them that I am now the shortest in the family. I used to blame them that I’m overweight, but I’ve accepted it now because I realized that I could fix it. Height isn’t something I can fix. I truly wish I were taller. I’m working on this issue with myself right now.

Anyway. It was not until I was in either fourth or fifth grade when an optometrist, noticing my unusual height (I had a growth spurt from second grade to seventh grade and stopped growing pretty much since), suggested that my parents brought me to a hormone doctor. I remembered that his last name was Batubara (it means “coal”). He examined my breasts for several minutes and then asked Dad and I to wait outside so that he could have a talk with Mom. During the examination, however, he remarked that it had been too late to make any corrective attempts.

I never got to hear his full explanation since my parents never brought it up anymore. I never asked too. I never had a concern about it until lately. The only question I’ve asked my Mom when I was in high school was, “Had I got menstruation at the proper age, would I have been taller now?” She looked at me for a moment. I can’t remember if she looked surprised, but I remember getting a vibe that it wasn’t something she’d like to talk about. I can’t even remember if she looked at me while answering or looked away, but she said, “Maybe.” After that, I avoid bringing up the issue with Mom again. However, that one remark by the doctor alone is enough to fuel the blame on my parents, that had they brought me to a professional earlier, I might have been “corrected.”

This issue had been forgotten during the last years, but now that I’m reading this graphic novel, I’m reminded about it again. I start questioning if I’ll get menopause earlier. I learned that girls usually get their first periods around thirteen years old. If I had mine six years earlier, wouldn’t that mean menopause would also come six years earlier too? Will I get menopause when I’m in the early forties, or even perhaps in the late thirties?

Furthermore, is it too late if there ever comes a time when I want to have my own children? Will the any remaining ova I have be qualified enough?

The only thing I want now is to have a talk with Mom about what the doctor had said, to know the truth about what had happened to me instead of suspecting possibilities. I can’t do it now, though, because I’m far away from home and this is not something I feel like discussing on BBM or through Skype. I want a face-to-face conversation. A real, serious talk.

***

I wasn’t planning to write this too, but it came up to me suddenly and I wondered about it.

Last year my family (parents and aunt) were talking about my 10-year-old cousin who Mom suspected was going to get her first menstruation soon. She said that if so, my cousin would not be able to grow taller much more. Dad then said that it was possible, if my aunt was willing to do it, to bring my cousin to a hormone doctor and have her menstruation delayed so that she could still grow taller.

I wonder if he learned about that from Mom.

I asked him spontaneously if it could also make me taller. He commented casually that it was what we could have done if it weren’t too late.

I wonder if he ever felt guilty about it.

My aunt and Mom became silent afterwards and they moved to a different topic. I’m sure that what happened to me has been a common knowledge to my extended family that is uncomfortable to discuss, but thankfully have been learned. They must have learned not to do as what my parents did, not to feed their children fast food. I would probably become a legend in the family, the girl who had her menstruation too early, a valid character whose story would be told over and over again to new mothers and later generations as some sort of a “health warning.” I’m a living proof of it.

(P.S.: I’m reading a book titled “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. I must be the gladdest person to know that health warnings about fast food on children have risen these days)