I am called with many, but to her it’s first. Then there were two and three. Who would’ve thought that we were breathing the same air, digging the same hole, facing the same wall and gazing at the same sky. After the rainy season, we’re always waiting for the jasmine tree to bloom where we would sit by the window. Blooming or not, it had never been an issue. Because she would tell us to bring the chair back, clean our crumbs, and sweep the floor. We didn’t mind. We loved it. We were happy.

She was a porcelain. Made of china bone. But being forged with titanium inside. She had no doubts nor hesitation to choose color to paint. She had no doubts nor hesitation to look at the palette and trace the colors. She had no doubts nor hesitation to share her findings to her threes. She had no doubts nor hesitation to be imminent with her threes. She had no doubts nor hesitation to have repetition to remind them about their existence.

Colors to threes was the reason of their existence nowadays. They chose their colors. Carefully. Perfectly. It may not seem like rainbow, but for them it was. Although sometimes She would draw them back to their roots, to her color which she had prepared for them with her titanium walls.

To Her, they are hers with all her colors. Needed to be protected in her walls. To them, She was their savior of their future. She and Threes would separate and unite. Seeing eye to eye and from each sides were not their strongest point. But they knew, that they wouldn’t be a thing without each.



a date with dad

A date with Daddy is not something that I miss. Nor look forward to. Never have I expected to sit alone with Daddy and share stories. Huh..sharing stories is a little bit too much, I have to think a thousand times to say ‘yes’ to a dinner invitation from him. What for? He left. And now he’s trying to make it up? He has to hold on, because there are several doors that he has to knock on. Mommy’s is one of them.

But today I choose to say ‘yes’. Finally, I have a date with Daddy. In a coffee shop. Because he knows that I love coffee. Because he knows that I would refuse if it’s not a coffee shop. Because he knows that I would refuse if we are not going to a place that I want. And Daddy is missing me too much.

I pick-up Daddy in our the agreed place. In a bus stop. Daddy is smiling when he sees my car pull over to pick him up. As usual, he looks very shabby. He still has his firm figure, only not so neat. Daddy used to be very neat. With slick hair and wearing a sharp shirt. Though he has dark skin, Daddy’s face used to look fresh and charming. But that was then. When he used to be Mommy’s husband.

‘How are you Nduk?’ he asked when sitting in the car.

‘Fine.’ I replied briefly.

We don’t say a word on our way to the coffee shop. I’m not looking for a conversation either. Because Daddy knows that I don’t like to have chit chat with him. Only with him. Daddy knows that every conversation he started with me ended up with arguments. Only with him. Only with me. Therefore we, Daddy and me, decide to not say a word.

We are trying to maintain this getting better relationship. Just maintaining it, not making it into a better one. Perhaps we are going to get better. Or perhaps not. But we don’t know yet, only God knows what will come. And Daddy and Me are not God. Then we will never know. All we know is that if we are having a conversation then everything that we have maintained will be broken. We don’t want to break it at this stage.

It’s almost an hour in the car. This city is known for its traffic on Friday, which makes our journey to the coffee shop much longer. Longer than it used to be. But the coffee shop won’t go anywhere. Instead, we are getting there. Though the time distance is really frustrating.

The evening is quickly shattering and turning into night. I turn on my headlights because it’s getting dark out there. Meanwhile in the car we can only hear the music from my favorite radio station. Yes.. everything has to be in my favor. Because this is my car. Daddy doesn’t have a voice or rights or even strength to tell or rule my surroundings. It’s all gone on the day when he left Mommy. When he left me.

Suddenly Daddy takes out 5 candies. One of them is a fruity jelly candy. My favorite. He opens one then eats it. He puts the rest onto the dashboard. Daddy opens the fruity jelly candy and offers it to me. I shake my head.

‘Why?’ He asks. ‘This is your favorite candy, Nduk.’

‘That was then.’ Again, I answer briefly.

‘There’s no difference between now and then, Nduk. Especially in jelly candy.’

‘There is.’

Again, Daddy chose to be in silence after hearing my answer. He chose not to continue the father daughter conversation. He realized that if he said something wrong, then fatal will be his new friend. Though deep down inside, I regret my answer.


We arrive at the coffee shop. This place is always crowded. I’m looking for a table that’s far from the crowd. A table that’s quite shady. So no one can see that I’m on a date with Daddy.

I order a cup of coffee. Meanwhile Daddy orders a cup of tea. I also order a slice of tiramisu. Meanwhile Daddy is eating the left over fritters that he bought at the bus stop while waiting for me. Daddy doesn’t drink coffee. Daddy also doesn’t like any cakes that smell Europe. He likes getuk lindri, also nasi gudeg. Because he is a Javanese. And according to him, a Javanese must eat getuk lindri and nasi gudeg.

Again, we are in silence. I stir my black coffee and Daddy stirs his warm tea. Daddy offers me the jelly candy again. This time, I take up his offer. Daddy is smiling as I chew the candy.



‘How is Mommy?’


‘How are you?’

‘Also fine.’

‘I heard that Mommy is not in good condition. Is she sick? Is that true?’

‘Yes. But that was a month ago. Mommy is fine now.’

‘Good to hear. What was she’s suffering?’

‘Just a normal headache.’

‘May I see her?’

I don’t know how to answer that question. I am stunned. I don’t want Daddy to see Mommy. I don’t want Daddy to be near Mommy. He hurt her so much. Mommy is happy now. Without him. Mommy has me and Rasha. We are fine. Even without him.

I sip the coffee from the flowery cup that has been served by the waitress. After sipping it, I put the cup back on its saucer which also has a flowery motif. The cup motif and the name of the coffee shop, “Amor”, are really in accord. Amor means love in Italian. But that’s not in accord with my relationship with Daddy.

‘No. You can’t see her.’ My answer was firm. Straight forward.

‘Forgiveness is something that’s out of my reach right now. Right Nduk?’

I look at his face. The face of a 56 year old man who’s sitting right in front of me. A man with dark skin, curly hair like mine, face like he’s older than his age. Daddy’s face is filled with wrinkles. Daddy used to be a charmer, but now… it’s all gone. His charm got lost on its way to charm me. His face is now filled with sadness. Everyone is somehow able to feel his sorrow. Everyone.. except me.

‘I don’t know.’

‘Do I have to kneel, Nduk? I would if I have to. As long as forgiveness from you would knock on my door.’

‘Don’t be so dramatic, Dad.’

We are in silence for I don’t know how long. Daddy turns his face from me. A glimpse… I saw Daddy shed a tear. He’s able to do that now. I was stunned. When Nyai passed away, that was the first and last time I saw Daddy crying. And now is the second time. But I don’t feel sorry. I don’t pity him. I don’t care. Oh, dear God… am I made of stone?

‘But Mommy is alright, Nduk?

‘Yes Dad. She’s fine. Don’t worry.’

This time it’s his turn to sip his warm tea that’s served in front of him. The cup motif is the same as mine. Flowery.

‘I had a package yesterday, Nduk. A box of rambutans. Do you want some? You like rambutans so much.’

‘Hmm.. I do.’ I answer briefly with a smile.

‘I’ll send them to your home, Nduk. Do you want mangoes as well? Bude has lots of mango trees now. Harum manis mangoes. Though they won’t be as sweet as you used to buy. But the fruit is very juicy.’

‘Yes Daddy. I do.’ Again, a brief answer.

Daddy is smiling now. His tear has gone. Rambutans and mangoes are the only things that can make me put a smile on my face. He is satisfied enough.

‘Give some to Mommy as well. She likes mangoes so much.’

‘I will. But Mommy can’t have too many mangoes, Dad.’

‘Why?’ He asked.

‘Because her doctor said so.’

‘Oow.. well.. just don’t forget to give her a little bite. Please give my regards to Mommy. Also my apology.’

‘Yes Dad. I’ll tell her.’

That was the last conversation we had that night. We stayed at the cafe until our coffee and tea ran out and words were nil along the way. The rain was pouring hard when we decided to go home. But inside the car it started to get warm, even though I turned on the AC. As usual, I dropped Daddy at the bus stop. I never take him all the way to his house. Too much trouble, he says. Or he just basically doesn’t want me to find out about his new family. But I don’t want to have a constant argument over that. I choose to let it go.

After I drop him off, home is my next destination. I can’t wait to tell Mommy about my date with Dad. About the mangoes and rambutans that he’s going to deliver to our house. About Daddy sending his regards and apology to her. I can’t wait to tell it to Mommy tomorrow on her grave. With flowers and water and prayers. Mommy… wait for me tomorrow. Because I have a story.

  • Nduk is a Javanese word that means dear or sweetie. it is  only said to a girl or woman who is younger than the speaker.
  • Nyai – Palembang word for grand mother
  • Bude – Javanese word for Aunty

Note: translation from ‘sebuah kencan dengan ayah (https://cupofstoriesandtells.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/sebuah-kencan-dengan-ayah/)

She and He

She is a mid aged woman with an extraordinary past. He is a mid aged man with an extraordinary past. Extraordinary to them is getting through the bitter without tasting it back in the future, enduring the poignant with pain, only to die, and then having a rebirth. Reincarnation in the same body with a different soul.

They met in an extraordinary place after the past was buried. Where they were reborn with a coffin attached to their back as a reminder. A reminder of an extraordinary past. They exchanged stories and discussions until deciding to open their coffins carefully. Without fearing the dust that could remind them of an extraordinary past.

They walked in a time where the world around them was busy and exhausted. No one noticed where they went. No one noticed how they went out. All we knew was that they went out with all the bitterness and sweetness from the coffin.

But the world seemed too small for them to hide. Though hiding was never meant to be. We were able to smell their rendezvous. We could sense their feelings of being together. They were afraid that we would be able to sense their feelings. Though we had shown them that we didn’t care.

All we cared about was their enjoyment of their feelings of being together. All we wanted was for her to be happy, no matter her feelings were temporary or continuously. All we wanted was that she was smiling for the first time after being reincarnated. A happy smile. Without burdens. And carefree.

Yes, that was all we cared about.

Note: translation from ‘dia dan ia’

bukan maksud saya…

“Boleh saya minta tolong?”


“Dimana meja pendaftaran?”

Sambil menunjuk kesebelah kanan, saya menjawab, “disana.”

Saya harus makan lebih awal. Agar tidak terlalu mengikuti antrian yang panjang. Ataupun menunggu sampai sisa makanan terakhir dibawa kembali ke empunya. Semoga perut bisa kompromi mengenai jadwal makan belakangan ini.

“Hey, gadis penunjuk meja pendaftaran.”

Saya menolehkan kepala dan tersenyum. Apa maunya orang ini.


“Cepat sekali antri makan siang?”


“Sudah sebegitu lapar?”


“Iya juga tidak masalah. Namanya juga urusan perut. Daripada dimarahi pencernaan karena kurang memproduksi enzim.”

Ada benarnya orang ini. Ah, sudahlah…memang saya lapar.

“Maaf, barusan hanya bercanda. Kamu bukan partisipan?”

“Bisa partisipan kalau saya mau. Tetapi saya memilih untuk duduk dan mempelajari sesuatu hal yang berhubungan dengan pekerjaan saya.”

“Oooo…baiklah. Tapi sekedar duduk bersama untuk makan siang, tidak apa-apa kan?”


Dari duduk bersama untuk makan siang, tiba-tiba kami sudah duduk bersama kembali untuk secangkir kopi. Kemudian sepiring nasi dan sebotol bir di malam hari. Tertawa kembali keesokan pagi untuk sarapan sebelum konferensi dimulai. Setelah sekian lama, rasanya baru kali ini saya, mendengar tawa sendiri yang lepas tanpa beban. Baru kali ini beberapa botol bir tertenggak tanpa harus khawatir akan tipsy.

“Hey…gadis penunjuk meja pendaftaran.”

“Sepertinya nama saya akan berubah.”

Dia tertawa lepas.

“Kamu lucu.”

“Oke…saya anggap pujian kalau begitu.”

“Silahkan. Karena memang begitu.”

Saya tersenyum.

“Kamu…ada acara malam ini?”

“Belum ada. Kenapa?”

“Makan malam dengan saya, kalau boleh saya beri ide untuk kegiatan nanti malam.”

Kali ini saya yang tertawa lepas.

“Kamu tidak bosan menhabiskan tiga malam berturut-turut dengan saya?”

“Tidak sama sekali.”

Kali ini saya tidak tersenyum maupun tertawa. Tapi tertegun.


Makan malam luar biasa. Entah suasana dari tempatnya atau memang perasaan menikmati kehadiran satu sama lain. Atau sebenarnya hal tersebut saling mendukung. Lebih dramatis lagi karena setelahnya kami habiskan ditepi pantai. Enta berapa botol bir sudah terminum, sekali lagi tanpa perasaan takut tipsy. Saya bercerita, dia bercerita. Sampai akhirnya bercengkerama.

Harusnya  diceritakan kalau ada seseorang yang sedang menunggu saya unruk pulang. Seseorang yang merindukan saya untuk kembali kepelukannya dengan utuh. Seseorang yang sudah saya janjikan untuk sehidup semati nantinya. Harusnya saya ceritakan itu. Bukan sesuatu hal yang bisa membuatnya merasa menunggu. Bukan juga sesuatu hal yang bisa membuatnya terbang kekota saya, kemudian melihat saya mengikat janji.

Bukan, bukan maksud saya untuk membuatnya pergi tanpa kembali dari kota ini.


setiap langkah kerumahmu dan supermarket

Kalau pergi ke supermarket adalah sama jauhnya dengan pergi ketempatmu, maka akan kulakukan. Butuh keberanian besar untuk melangkah keluar dari zona nyaman pekarangan rumahku untuk pergi ketempatmu ataupun ke supermarket. Tapi, seperti yang telah kukatakan sebelumnya akan kulakukan. Menyusuri jalan menuju kerumahmu ataupun supermarket sama tegangnya. Kalau saja sesampainya disana yang kulihat adalah kamu dengan orang lain atau chips yang kucari tidak ada, entah apa yang akan kulakukan. Padahal menikmati chips sambil nonton sangat ingin kulakukan. Begitu pula berbicara empat mata denganmu. Hanya denganmu. Tidak boleh ada tambahan yang lain. Tidak boleh ada biskuit. Harus chips.

Tetapi mungkin masih dirubah keinginanku. Entahlah… selama jalan ini belum sampai kepada tujuannya, pikiranku bisa saja berganti. Mungkin aku sudah tidak mau chips ataupun tidak mau lagi berbicara denganmu. Bisa saja aku menginginkan biskuit atau coklat atau bahkan es krim. Bisa saja aku hanya ingin melihatmu kemudian pergi atau melihatmu kemudian memelukmu atau bahkan memutar arah dan menjauh dari rumahmu. Aku tidak tahu apa yang kumau saat ini untuk nanti. Masih ada separuh jalan untuk memikirkan apa yang kumau nanti.

Sudah tiga per empat jalan kujalani, tetapi yang kumau masih tak menentu. Lebih baik aku berhenti dan menarik nafas terlebih dahulu. Daripada nanti masih tak menentu mengenai apa yang kumau dan nafasku habis sehingga otakku membeku dan tidak keruan. Bukannya mendapatkan hasil pikiran, malah menuai emosi hati. Apa jadinya kalau yang dituai adalah emosi hati, bisa – bisa lipatan halus diwajahku semakin dalam.

Tidak, tidak. Keputusan harus siambil.

Setiap langkah menuju akhir jalan kerumahmu, kunikmati setiap dentumannya. Mulai dari dentuman kaki yang berat terhadap aspal, hingga hati yang beremosi. Keduanya menggema ditelinga. Kenikmatan chips perisa keju sedikit meringankan gemanya, walau masih mengawang. Tetapi kembali menggema karena imajinasi akhir perjalanan kurangkai sendiri di otak kecil. Berikut juga biskuit coklat yang nikmat.
chips dan biskuit kudapat. Sudah tandas bahkan kumakan dengan kelegaan dan amarah sebagai cairan pemuas dahaga. chips dan biskuit tampaknya dapat menggantikan bayangan sekuler ketika tiga langkah terakhir kuhentikan dan kuputar arahnya. Kuputar dan kuberjalan semakin jauh. Kuputuskan untuk memutar bukan karena dendam kesumat karena penolakanmu. Bukan juga karena aku terlalu sempurna. Tetapi karena harga diri yang semakin mahal dan melekat.


meraih mimpi

Akhirnya mereka datang. Para perempuan yang sudah lama sekali ingin kutemui. Tapi apa daya, atas nama kesibukan, kemacetan, serta berbagai alasan lain, baru sekarang hari yang kami sepakati. Setelahnya kami baru menyadari betapa waktu telah berlalu dan membuat lampau seperti baru. Padahal yang baru diantara kami hanya tambahan lekukan pada raut wajah, liku kehidupan, atau hanya sebuah tumpukan materi. Tetapi pasti ada sesuatu yang baru.

Ternyata tidak ada perubahan yang terlalu signifikan diantara mereka. A masih suka lalap. B masih suka ayam. C masih suka rendang. Dan saya, D, masih suka empal. Dan kami masih suka urap yang dimakan begitu saja. Tetapi kali ini kami memutuskan untuk mengenang masa dimana kami sekolah dulu. Restoran Perancis akhirnya menjadi pilihan bijaksana bagi kami.

Ketika appetizer ditempatkan diatas meja, dengan malu-malu kami mengambil sendok dan menyiduknya langsung kedalam mulut ketika A masih bercerita mengenai lancarnya usaha tas kulit yang sudah digeluti selama setengah dekade. Selain menimpali dan memuji kegigihannya, saya mulai bercerita mengenai karir yang semakin meninggi. Sementara C hanya terdiam sambil melihat jam. Di lain pihak, B berbicara mengenai mimpinya menjadi seorang konsultan independent. Karena sudah bukan waktunya lagi untuk ia tunduk pada sebuah kroni. Sudah waktunya B menciptakan kroninya. Tiba – tiba C meminta izin karena sudah waktunya untuk memompa air susu yang sudah tidak terbendung lagi. Selain itu agar rasa nyeri pada payudaranya segera pergi dan tidak kembali dalam waktu yang terbilang dini.

Kami melanjutkan percakapan, walaupun C masih asyik dengan pompa otomatis yang berfungsi untuk mengeluarkan air kehidupan untuk si buah hati dari payudaranya. Kala sajian utama disediakan, C kembali dengan wajah berseri karena kewajibannya telah tunai. Kewajiban yang selalu ia banggakan beberapa tahun terakhir kepada kami. Kewajiban yang selalu ia sarankan kepada kami untuk cepat mengembannya. Kewajiban sebagai ibu yang tanpa waktu.

C menunjukkan gambar ketika anaknya sudah mulai bisa tengkurap. Ketika anaknya sudah mulai bisa berdiri. Ketika A mulai memotong motong sayuran dan ikan menjadi porsi kecil agar mudah dilahap. Ketika coq au vin pesanan B akhirnya datang. Ketika saya mulai mengunyah dan menelan daging babi yang nikmat kedalam sistem pencernaan. C pun mulai melahap ikan dihadapannya, ketika suara si anak yang terekam di telepon selulernya mulai diperdengarkan kepada kami dan menjadi irama pengiring empat suap berikutnya. Empat suap kepura – puraan pertama dalam hidup saya. Empat suap dimana saya harus memaksakan senyum untuk menyukai celotehan anak kecil tersebut.

Setelah mengangkat piring – piring yang sudah tidak tersisa makanan lagi dari atas meja kami, sang pelayan menanyakan apakah kami mau memesan makanan manis untuk mencuci mulut. Saya tidak tahu apakah kemudian mulut kami akan menjadi bersih atau bahkan akan lebih berkelit dari sebelumnya. Tapi perut kami pasti akan senang menerima makanan manis sebagai tanda puas dan nikmat dari makan siang yang bergengsi ini. Seperti biasa saya memesan secangkir kopi, sementara A memesan cappuccino, B dan C memesan fruit pavlova.

Desert kami habiskan dalam waktu sepuluh menit. Entah kenapa kami sangat terburu – buru menghabiskan makanan – makanan manis tersebut. Padahal kami tidak dikejar oleh waktu ataupun hutang. Saya hanya ingin cepat keluar dari kepura – puraan. Saat si pelayan datang membawakan bon, kami berebut untuk menjadi pahlawan. Siapa yang berargumen paling keras, dialah juaranya. Calon konsultan yang kali ini menjadi pemenangnya. Kami mengucapkan selamat tinggal dan satu persatu mencium pipi kanan dan kiri.

Apakah kami akan bertemu kembali? Berkali – kali saya memikirkan itu dalam perjalanan pulang. Mungkin saja iya, mungkin juga tidak. Saya tidak tahu. Yang saya tahu, teman – teman saya sudah kembali kerutinitas.

A kembali kekantor dimana dia telah ditunggu oleh para pengacara untuk menuntaskan piutang yang telah menjeratnya beberapa tahun terakhir.

B harus kembali mencari muka beberapa kenalan dan atasan atas beberapa kecurangan laporan yang telah ia lakukan.

C harus kembali kerumah dan kembali kepada anak yang ia manjakan semenjak lahir. Baginya, menjadi ibu adalah keindahan tersalah yang pernah dilakukan.

Sementara saya harus segera kembali ke kantor. Dan membereskan meja kerja secepatnya. Karena hari ini saya dipecat. Karena uang kantor yang saya gelapkan terlacak oleh kantor. Maka saya dipecat secara tidak terhormat.

once upon an evening text

‘I miss you’ I said.

‘Howcome?’ He said.

‘I don’t know..’ I replied.

His reply was ‘…….’.

‘I’ll be away.’ He said

‘I know.. for how long?’ I aksed.

‘Few weeks’ he replied.

‘Don’t you?’ I asked again.


‘Can you not?’ He asked.

‘I can’t.’ I replied.

The text somehow stopped.

‘I have an idea.’ He said.

‘What?’ I replied.

‘I’ll be away. We’ll be get used to with distance’

My turn in silence.

‘If I still can’t?’ I asked with a little hope.

‘I’ll hurt you more.’

‘Is this you pushing me away?’ I asked again.

‘Yes.’ He said.

‘If I refuse?’

‘Can you not be so stubborn?’ He requested.

‘Anyway, I’m tired. Malam.’ He said.

Then we never speak again. Like we used to. Sometimes I miss him, jist talk about sily things. But being silly is me who still wished to be toyed by him. Just to be with him.