How long can you wait? 

There is a void within words that are said from a distant. Words that are honest but of different winds. A face that is love but can’t be reach.
We throw “I miss you” as easily as we wave hello to a stranger that when you want it to be meaningful, how would you do it?
Of course you can come over and bring flower and cake and everything in between – but when the road is thousands of miles away and time is a big constraint, how?

A phone call can’t convey the touch I’m so long to receive.

A voice as soft as yours, with the accent you attached to all words only you can, will only be as tender when it’s felt through my skins, when your pace of breathing is seen.
How long can you wait?

How long can I wait?
You said a few times, “forever”
But forever is a word that is too easily broken.

I’d rather you say a specific time – but you can’t and which I know.

There are hundreds of stupid things I want to tell you, like that time i screamed a little too loud in a cafe when a cat touched my feet or when I saw someone slipped off of a plastic bag, then fell into a pond.

It all sounds insignificant when we both finally have time to talk to each other. But all the little things are what made life… life.

“How are you” is your most favorite question that it almost sound like a formality I don’t feel like answering anymore.

There is no point of telling you that I just had the worst day of my life.

You will say your sympathy and I will say my thank you and we will move on with our own lives without it can’t ever be merged.

Your words and the pictures you sent me warm my heart, thou I also want not just my heart that is warm especially when it rains. Like today.

But letting you go is still so weirdly a challenge – one I don’t really want to take on but should.


Tender is the night when it rains. 

She keeps on walking thou the rain drops are at sync now with her steps. She smells the scent she’s gotten used to after living in the city for a while – the smell of fancy perfume scent of people getting out of work or club, mixed with garbage rotting in the street, ready for pickup the next day, or the day after; whenever is convenience for the garbage men, probably. 

She is watching people without covers over their heads running to look for one, and ones with umbrellas elegantly stepping through the rain – seem as if unbothered. 

She is walking. Then running a little bit. Then walking slower to catch a breath.

She is running out of breath – no, not from her sad attempt of running but from tears that feel as though it’s falling heavily inwards, towards her lungs, instead of to the black, classy eye makeup she did a few hours earlier. 

She wants so bad to just letting it out but that would mean defeat. Crying in public area in New York? “That’s a no, thank you.” She’s quietly whispering to her heart. 

Not even when the city is also watery. Not even when it will blend with the precipitation currently occurring. 
So she’s trying to busy her mind with anything but what just happened. 

The thing that happened which has caused the loud knocks of pain in her chest she is unwilling to let out. 

 She’s shouting a few texts to her friends she hasn’t talked for a bit. Asking a few things she has at the moment no interest of knowing but will at least minimize her heart’s scream for attention. The heart’s been a total attention-whore as of late: as of 2 hours ago. 

No replies yet. It’s a different time zone, she quickly realized. 

“What time is it where you are anyway?” 

Like a dam that has to hold too much water of what is intended, her eyes flooded. A stranger or two are stealing glances – perhaps noticing the puffy checks and the breathlessness she’s desperately trying to halt. 

She is picking up her pace again while soundlessly thanking God that today is raining but not for when she stumbled into what she thought to be her fate – the day when the sun pierced through her shirt and her heart. 

When in Jordan

She stepped out of the plane carrying backpack she thought was too heavy but relieved to have that hanging on her back now as it felt to be the one thing that calmed her. The bag annoyingly tugged her newly cut hair from time to time, but the annoyance was what distracted her from feeling judged by some wandering eyes around the airport. As she walked slowly toward the security while searching for her passport on her other bag, she had a deep sense that a set of eyes were following her every step but too afraid to look.

Once approved to enter the country that she only took an interest after her best friend in college moved there, she walked to a kiosk that sells sim card so her phone could function. She thought for a brief second what would happen if her phone were lost – this thing she often despised for how much of distractions and heartbreaks it stores was now the thing that gave her peace and one that dismissed her chaotic thoughts.

“Hey, I just bought a number and just looking for a cab to get to your place now” she texted the only person she knew in Jordan.

It was almost midnight and there isn’t any security around in sight. She exited the building and a man in the bright blue shirt with no company logo asked if she needs a cab.

“I do” she said almost in a whisper, unsure if this is a man to be trusted. But she followed him anyway not knowing what other options she may have.

The blue shirt guy then brought her to where the taxis were being parked and asked nonchalantly for money for directing her to the right way to her transport.

The city looks so dry and felt hot even at night – or maybe it was just her fretting over all things that could happen as the car drove to the narrow, dark, inhabited alleys.

Her phone vibrated.

“Are you okay? Are you already in a cab?” Cesi, checked up if she was in the right direction. She checked her Google map.

“Haha yeah I am fine! Already on my way.” She replied.

When she was 5 years old and chasing a kite, and climbing up a tree while waiting for her mom to pick her up in school, the current king of Jordan was just bestowed his thrown. She could never imagine what it would feel to live under a monarch country where things were given not based on merit but by birth. Is it a bad or a good thing that you wouldn’t  get to hear speeches promising you heaven once every five years? She then longed for a better government – one that would actually do useful thing if she happens to be cornered to a bad place.

“You’re here!” her friend greeted her excitedly as she only began to put her one foot out of the cab.

They hugged then enter her house.

It was Friday night and her friends were hanging in her house seemingly just got out of some club. There were three or four guys sitting across from me and not long after, her two housemates came to introduce themselves. She has always been bad with names but managed to remember a guy’s face she found attractive – his calm demeanors but with a touch of “bad boy” vibe, completed with a pair of soothing dark eyes that could very well convince her to fly out of a plane without parachute.


She and Cesi then sit idly in Cesi’s room full of what she thought look like rubbish. She asked her and she proudly explained that it’s her recycling project. She remembered how this girl who sat beside her love earth more than its inhabitants.

They talked of the current and the past, and places to go to in the next 3 days.

Morning came and they rushed from waking up too late. They took a bus tour that would take them to touristic places. It was not a tour made for foreigners so the announcements were made in Arabic.

They took a bus tour that would take them to touristic places. It was not a tour made for foreigners so all announcements were made in Arabic.

The language being spoken sounds familiar, yet so foreign in meaning to her. Her mother made her read Quran almost

Her mother made her read Quran almost every day growing up but neglected to teach the language the holy book is written in – just like most of her friends back home. There was an Indonesian version of the Quran of course so she can know what the surah she read means if she wishes to – but most times she doesn’t.

She thought of a preach in mosque or people praying when she heard people in Jordan speak – because in her brain, she associated Arabic to the language of praying.

It’s a three-hours bus ride to Petra, the city that was once the capital of Nabatean Kingdom and a famous archaeological site in southwestern desert.

“Jordanians love to sing, huh?” she told Cesi in Indonesian as to not alert others of her thought.

Everyone on the bus, except them, were singing along to some songs being put on by the driver and clap loudly. All she made up of the song was that it’s a love song for the many times she heard “Habibi” clearly pronounced.

The bus stopped for security clearance and she had to show her passport to the officer entering the bus. This was the third time she had to look for her passport. “Does the security clearances mean safety or danger?” she mumbled only to herself.

The bus neatly parked and the guide told everyone to come back in 2 hours.

The guide on the bus stopped them for their passport as they would need – and pay – for a different kind of pass to enter since they’re not locals. It’s 50x the prices of what the local paid.

She was dizzy after only five minutes out of the bus for the smothering hot weather that she felt the sun had pierced through her head.


“Petra is one of the world’s richest and largest archeological sites set in a dominating red sandstone landscape” she read on her phone on the way to Jordan and she could see why. She thought first that the varied archaeological remains and monuments from prehistoric times to medieval times bear proof to the lost civilization, which found an ingenious water management system to allow settlements until she talked to the people with eyes so fascinatingly dark.


She found out that they put charcoal around their eyes to repeal sands and that they still live here, inside caves their ancestors carved in Petra’s landscape and they are people from the Bedul tribe. They invited them for tea inside their cave but politely refused for fears of unable to come to the bus on time and, well, just to stay on the safe side – being girls and all.

Throughout their walk in Petra, they were often asked or assumed by the kids and adults alike if they’re Chinese. They felt that the question was weird because their resemblances don’t mirror any Chinese they know.

“Maybe they don’t have much access to the outside world?” She assumed and Cesi nodded.

Her headache didn’t go away but at least she was inside the bus, off to the next destination: Aqaba.

Aqaba is a port city on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba. She didn’t know if it was because of the heat but she didn’t really enjoy being there and just wish that they could move on to the next place on the list.


After half an hour, the bus was on route to Wadi Rum. It’s where a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan. The bus stopped and some jeeps already wait for people from the bus. The Jeep drove around the dessert in deliberate chaotic manner and the place looked just as how she imagined Jordan would be given what she saw on TV.


Wadi Rum became the place where they spent the night. There was a party probably organized by the tour company playing music so loud. They decided to walked away from the crowd and walked around Wadi rum only guided by the flashlight from her phone and stars shining not too brightly that night. They then sat on the sand, chatting about the unforeseeable futures while from time to time look up to the sky.

Morning came. They woke up a bit earlier than the partygoers and decided to take a small hike. The windy and chilly weather of morning was a perfect friend for the picturesque sight on top of the highest rock they could climb.

They climbed down, got breakfast and got on the bus that would take them back to Amman. The bus made a stop first in Chinatown. “So they do have a number of Chinese living here.” she thougt confusedly.

It was dark by the time they got to Amman. It was her first time seeing the city of Amman. Contradictory to what the media told her of Middle East countries, the place was just like any other city she visited – bushing with people in and out of stores and mild traffics here and there.

They took an Uber home. She learned that someone has to sit in the front passenger seat since Uber is not a hundred percent legal to operate and so if asked, they’ll have to tell them that the driver is a friend.

The next morning they just wanted to have a more relaxed schedule. They walked around town and later on were met by a guy they met on their trip in Wadi Rum. We ate with him, although we already ate before, in the place made famous because Queen Rania ate there from time to time – or was it once?



Later that night they went out to a café to meet with Cisi’s friends. One she already met but the other hasn’t. It was a cool, modern café where young people meet. The friend she just met that night was in distraught mood from compilations of family and personal problems – aren’t we all? But his was a tougher case for he carries a burden of being something the tradition and family dictated to be wrong – to identify as gay. She was just silently listening and thinking of her article she wrote on the inhuman treatments received by the LGBT community in Indonesia and how much of backlash she received. Maybe Jordan and Indonesia are not so different after all – they advertise to the world as the more advanced and forward thinking countries amongst other Muslim-majority nations, but fall short on tolerations towards those who are different from what deemed to be the standard of “normalness”

They excused themselves as they have to wake early for the Dead Sea trip.

They were again stopped several times for security clearances.

Her excitement from being able to float around without effort was soon turned into an excruciating pain of having the sea water on her eyes. Two elderly women who saw Cisi  guiding her out of the water for she can’t stand opening her eyes came with a bottled water and pour it onto her eyes.

They went to a pizza place that had a 50% off promotion for lunch and drove back home after.


She was just lying around on the bed while Cisi was drawing a sentence she wanted to be permanently put on her wrist. Cisi had a couple of friends who just starting out a Tattoo business and were coming that night to do one for her. The friend turned out to be the person she had a small crush on.

The tattoo looked great. She was debating on her mind if she wanted one but dismiss the thought knowing the person that she is – someone who changed her thought in a matter of minutes or seconds sometimes.

The next morning was her time to leave Jordan. She said her sappy goodbye and took an uber to the airport. The driver was rather talkative but she enjoyed it. He told her that in Jordan, you took the nationality of your mother. Her mother is from Palestine and so that’s his citizenship. He took his undergrad degree in Jordan but unable to look for jobs due to his being Palestine.

“Thank god for Uber” he proclaimed.

He asked where she is going and she told him that she’s going to Istanbul but New York would be her last stop.

“Are you from New York? He asked another.

“No, but I live there now – for a couple of more years that is” she answered.

“That’s cool! I’m working on my visa to go there.” He told her.


“See you in big apple!” as he was closing the car trunk after getting her luggage out.

“See you!” she said and went in to the airport.

On her way to Istanbul, she thought to herself of how much in common Jordan and her hometown have – the usualness of men examining stranger women, the daunting consequences of proclaiming one self’s identity as gay and the condition she remembered described perfectly by Adichie on her book Americanah. A script she remembered to say, “all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness.

















Selamat malam 

Teruntuk malam yang kian hening, apakah engkau bersedih dengan perginya matahari? 

Teruntuk malam yang begitu murung, apakah engkau terjaga karena takut akan terganti pada pagi hari? 

Sedih ataupun riang, toh hari akan berganti bukan? 

Senang ataupun sendu, bumi pun akan berputar berkeliling. 

Apalah sedih yang kumiliki sehari-hari ini, 

Abaikan sajalah rasa. Toh akan berganti. 

Tidak ada hal yang selamanya bersama. 

Daun pun kadang ada kadang tidak – tergantung pagi yang menentukan sedingin apa ia ingin berlalu. 

Hati, rasa, ataupun nasibpun bergulir berganti tiap harinya – atau bahkan per turunnya setetes pasir. 

Jadi, selamat malam untukmu yang begitu jauh.

Baik gelap ataupun terang, kuharap tidurmu setidaknya menenangkan.

Teruntuk yang selalu disayang,

Kala malam memberikan tenangnya untuk berpikir dan terlentang, kenangan kerap datang tak diundang, meminta hanya sekejap waktu untuk diingat. Entah itu dari tahun ketika hidup hanya tentang hari-hari yang diisi bersepeda di sekitaran sawah atau waktu di mana membuka mata terasa begitu sulit setelah seorang laki-laki merusak khayalan cinta yang kudapat dari TV.

Malam ini, cahaya malam berhias bulan dan bintang menuntun hatiku meraba memori-memori tua belasan tahun yang lalu kala umurku masih belum mencapai belasan. Waktu dimana ayah yang dulu masih kupanggil bapak berulang tahun dan kuberikan beliau kado kaset miliknya sendiri dan kubungkus dalam kertas kado warna-warni dari warung depan.

Aneh memang. Akupun tak bisa ingat kenapa aku tak membelikan kado yang lain. Tapi toh aku dengan riang memberikannya dan bapak dengan tertawa merobek bungkus kadonya. Tak ada pertanyaan atau kekesalan dan malah pelukan yang ku terima balik.

Akupun ingat ketika aku menangis terisak dan menunduk sepanjang jalan pulang karena hp pertama-ku, yang kudapat dengan merengak sepanjang minggu setelah kakak-ku punya, diambil entah oleh siapa. Rasanya tak ingin turun melihat ayah yang sudah pulang menunggu di depan pintu. Tapi malah aku dipeluknya dengan senyuman dan ledekan renyahnya yang terlalu khas.

Hari ini adalah hari ulang tahun salah satu dari kedua orang yang begitu tulus mencintaiku. Mungkin itu kenapa kenangan kado dan barang hilang belasan tahun lalu adalah yang ingin hadir ke ingatan.

Ingatan itupun membuat berpikir akan apa yang aku pernah lakukan atau akan aku lakukan sehingga Tuhan menganggapku pantas atas kasih yang tak pernah berhenti setelah beratus-ratus kali membuat dosa dan berulang kali tertidur sebelum menundukkan kepala dalam sajadah yang selalu ditaruh ibuku di kamar untuk berterima kasih. Entah budi pekerti apakah yang telah kubuat hingga aku diberikan keluarga yang selalu siap dengan pelukannya saat aku malah takut setengah mati untuk pulang.

Bagai bulan yang tak pernah lupa membuat setiap malam tak begitu menakutkan, ayah selalu membuat hidup di dunia yang akhir-akhir ini makin berasa kejam dan manusianya hilang akal terasa begitu aman. Karena terang yang aku yakin tak akan pudar, jalan di hidup yang kadang begitu terjalpun tak berasa menakutkan.

Hari ini, dengan langit begitu indah setelah hujan turun seharian, aku malah bingung karena tak tau hadiah layak apa yang bisa kuberi untuk ayah yang merayakan ulang tahunnya.

Apalah kado yang bisa menyaingi cinta yang tak pernah putus dari saat aku menangis keluar dari perut ibu. Kado apa yang bernilai sama seperti cahaya gerhana bulan yang begitu terang hingga ku tak pernah harus meraba-raba hidup.

Hingga hari dimana aku bisa menjawab pertanyaanku ini tiba, biarkan rangkaian kataku menjadi kado ulang tahun ayah yang kini dimulai dengan angka 5. Biarkan doa malamku yang mengharapakan kesehatan, kebahagian, kemakmuran dan surga Allah untukmu menjadi kadoku. Biarlah kukirim pelukan penuh sayang untuk dirimu yang masih terhimpit banyak orang dekat kabah untuk kakek yang begitu ayah sayang. Biarkan aku mendoakan diriku sendiri supaya suatu hari bisa memberikan kado berharga lebih dari sepucuk kertas yang kubuat sedikit bernada.

Selamat ulang tahun, ayah.








Hope you find your extra seat belt

There was a time when my sister and I had to bid goodbye to our small, tight-knit family and live together side-by-side. I was 17 and she was just 2 years older than me. It was more than weird for us to live in the same room as our 17-years relationship living together hadn’t always been a harmonious one. We fought for everything from TV remote to our parent’s affection. Neither of us ever wants to back off to let the other have their way.

I guess our icy bond was mostly caused by me, as I like to bother her so much just to see how far was my limit before her bedroom door would be slammed before me. Or maybe because I longed for her affection while all she wanted was some peacetime like the time I wasn’t around and she was the only heart of our parents’ heart.

Just like other little sisters, I tried to follow her step and mimicked her likes and dislikes. But I guess I could never keep up or got bored along the way for her rigid ways in conducting her life. Either way, even the attempt itself annoyed her and made her wanted to distant her even more and even further.

You see, my sister is the type of kid who bottled all her feelings inside and shows only coolness outside. She doesn’t cry, rarely complains, and follow her routines religiously. I was, on the other hand, a very erratic kid who put her heart in her sleeve. I cried in a shopping center when my parents refused to buy a shirt I want while she didn’t even shed a tear as blood was drawn from her. She kept her grades high and made sure all her homework done right while I often studied nervously in a car as I just remember a test would be given that day.

But it all changed slowly as we left with only each other. I don’t know if it’s because of the realization that our safety net, namely mom and dad, were thousand of miles away from us or that we were just forced to behave better – anyway, the awkwardness lessen and we opened up more to each other.

My view of her changed and started to understand a little better of her coldness around me. She was just always trying to be the person that she thinks she needs to be: the oldest sibling who bears responsibility for setting a good example for her younger relatives and the one kid my parents can and need to depend on.

I know it’s very selfish of me to think of her as the extra seat belt we have to put on in any extreme rides – but she is; she is the person whom I think I could always fall back on if life ever decided to throw me off balance.

I do however wish that she could think of me as not only just the hyper, erratic, irresponsible kid who seems to always be in need of a rescue, but also someone she can trust your feelings and insecurities too. Not just someone who you can slam your door to but someone who you’d also want to invite to the inside of your tears and fears from time to time. Because I know that behind her strong, independent outlook she always want to put on display lays some pain she tries so hard to council from the world. Let me be that person or let me wish you found that person that will be your extra seat-belt.

I wish that you will always be blessed and be a blessed to people all around you like you are a blessed to me. Happy 24th birthday, big sissy.

My horoscope addiction

A friend once asked me, half mockingly, of why I am so obsessed with horoscope while witnessing me checking in my three different horoscope apps on my phone. I shrugged, mumbled some words and continued reading.

My relationship with horoscope started as early as the time when I could get my hand on a weekly teen magazine; so around the age of 12. I never care too much about fashion or gossip sections and went straight to the weekly horoscope.

Then at the age of 19, a friend at school told me that he was once worked in a magazine and said the horoscope writer was in fact just made the whole thing up; that the writer never had any astrology background.

”Oh…” I said uncaringly, yet my mind went cross.

As annoyed as I was with the newly found fact, my obsession remains. I told myself that it’s just one person in one magazine. Surely, the apps hire pro people, right?

While that might be right, the fact that most of the predictions never came through is also true.

Three of my closest friends are under the same zodiac, yet their personalities cannot be any more different from each other; they  like and enjoy different things, they lead a different lifestyle and have different love fate.

There are some people suggesting that the only reason why we think horoscope holds some truth to its words is because of a theory called confirmation bias.

Those guys probably right.

But for me, at least, the real reason why I religiously look into my daily horoscope is because of myself as a person. It’s not that I’m actually belief in the horoscope itself; it’s just that I hate going blind in life. I prefer to know what to expect so I know what kind of reaction to give ahead of time.

I enjoy watching movies more for the second time because then I already know who is going to die, who is going to save the day, and when the ghost is going to appear.

I often cheat by reading the last chapter of books before I finish the previous chapters as I don’t like to be put in suspense when there is no reason to be.

I like going to the same coffee shop over and over again even if going there requires more effort than just going to a new place.

And you guessed it; I like going back to my ex because it’s familiar territory. Familiar-ly heartbreaking. Ha ha

Horoscope gives me some sort of guidance of how I should react should the prediction come true, thou most of the time it’s so far off.

It gives me some peace in navigating my adult life that is so erratic that I often find myself lost and unsure of where to go since life is an asshole that, time and time again, has disregarded my  detailed life plan when it feels like it.

But with the starting of my phoneless days (dropped it in the toilet :/), I think now is a good chance for me to try to part ways with my stupid obsession so I can be at peace with myself in deciding my life path without the universe’s guidance.

I need to feel OK if there’s an attractive guy suddenly come my way and I haven’t consult my horoscope, yet, and I need to be OK to feel a bit, or a lot, lost in life because that’s the joyful part of living; not having the last chapter of my life already written.

To take the words of my favorite writer, Jonathan Haidt, so out of its intended context,

“ The brain is like a book, the first draft of which is written by the genes during fetal development. No chapters are complete at birth, and some are just rough outlines waiting to be filled in…”

Should I believe with complete faith in my horoscope, then it would mean that I believe that I have no say in who I am, what I am, where I want to be, and how I want to go about it. And I believe that my fate is a paper, which only I and the life itself have the compatible pen.




I once wrote an opinion article on how Muslim is being negatively portrayed in western media, as well as the impact it brought to Muslims. I then found myself weary by the overwhelming comments as many thought that I’m just exaggerating a few life events.
I read almost all of the comments and still think that my experience rang true in many people of similar background as mine: a Muslim in a western world. The comments did open my eyes and saw the error in my way of expressing my thought and fact-checking effort. Even so, I remember thinking that the conclusions I drew on why people have such negative stereotypes on Muslim were valid.

I then stumbled into a theory of Naïve Realism while reading “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Haidt. The theory suggests that we sincerely believe that we see thing as it is; we believe that we carry objectivity in all of our judgment, thus naively thinking that everyone but ourselves is influenced by their ideology and self-interest.

Just like my obstinacy in believing what I wrote was true, even deeming that people commented negatively were biased by their sense of patriotism, self-interest, or their different religion.

“Naïve realism give us a world full of good and evil, and this bring us to the most disturbing implication of the sages’ advise about hypocrisy: good and evil do not exist outside of our belief about them.” Wrote Haidt on the book.

That might be why people are often so reluctant in giving up their belief and in failing to see flaws on their own views; we do and believe things in what we know to be right even if that goes against the society’s general belief.

Making Sense of the World

Like fashion, where we seem to once again adore the oldies way of styling and dressing, the life consists of war, mass destruction and prejudice seem to make its comeback. The life, in which I could have never make sense of how it all begun, once again is happening in my generation, a generation that takes pride in their forward-thinking and open mindedness.

Making sense of the world we live in today is hard; it has unfolded many events that left us confused, suspicious and scared. The world has left us stranded into the world of hatred and makes us quick into judging people based on our predisposed ideas. The world that we live in today has made people hate others whom they have yet a chance to exchange names with.

But regardless, everyone tries to put together a puzzle from little pieces of information they have and everyone seems to end up with different depictions.

There is, however, one thing, I think we all can agree on. The world has chosen the protagonist, or rather an antagonist of today’s play, and it is Islam.

Islam has been in center stage for a long time, but just recently got a brighter spotlight after the ISIS has made themselves popular through their brutal videos and transgression. The group, although shows more vengeance towards the western world, has also made its offense in a developing Southeast Asia country. Although the attack in Jakarta was far mediocre and seemed to be poorly planned than their prior attacks, it shows that no country is immune from their terror.

People around the world have taken their stand of whether they for or against Muslim. Although, I, for one belief that there is no such thing as a monolithic Muslim worldview.

Many have accused that Islam teaching is breeding terrorists, despise all western people, coming to the western land to force their beliefs toward others, and deem that Muslims will not stand a chance in assimilating well with the western culture.

In debate of whether ISIS is very Islamic or un-Islamic, an article titled “The Phony Islam of ISIS” by Caner K. Dagli was published by The Atlantic. “Aside from the Quran, Muslims are also to follow Hadith, records of sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad, which run into dozens of volumes spanning literally hundreds of thousands of texts…” The Quran and hadiths text ISIS use to back their agenda is “nothing more than cherry-picking what they like and ignoring what they do not.” (Dagli)

In another article by The Atlantic titled “Could ISIS exist without Islam?”, the writer, Kathy Gilsinan, quoted Dalia Mogahed, the research director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. “Mogahed suggested that the relationship between Islamic texts and ISIS’s brutality is actually the reverse of what both ISIS and many of its enemies claim. It’s not, she said, the group’s interpretation of Islamic texts that drives its brutality—it’s the group’s desired brutality driving its interpretation of the texts…”’

According to Mogahed, a group such as ISIS will still exist even if Islam does not. The extremist group will use what Mogahed called as “the local social currency” to justify their violence. She also mentioned that terrorism emerges time to time from Peru to Japan, societies with no Islamic tie to speak of.

Defending Your Gut Feeling

Remember the time of when you were a kid and live in close supervision of your parents? We sometimes do some of the most bizarre things, yet we always seem to found a reason to justify our act. Your argument to get yourself out of trouble, be it persuasive or implausible, was most of the times not the reason of why you did what you did. It was made up after someone questions your motives.

As Franklin once said, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.”

The Terrorists’ Assumed Motives

The world has roughly 1.6 billion Muslims. Should Islam really do breed terrorism and all Muslims are terrorist, I don’t think the world has a chance of surviving. People don’t kill another human beings, and beam with pride while doing it, because God ask them to, no matter how devoted they are to their religion.

Feeling frustrated by all the civil war going on, feeling betrayed and oppressed by their government, and feeling helpless to make a living in a trembling country can be what drives them to perform such inhuman acts.

Looking in nostalgic of how Islam had once ruled and in power could also be another reason.

Just like in “Naïve realism” theory, definition of good and evil do not exist outside of their belief. They believe creating a caliphate nation is for the greater good and that is what makes them even more horrifying; these people do not think that what they did is wrong.

Containing this extremist by fighting all Muslims worldwide will not do a world any favor; doing so will most likely extend the ISIS might to recruits. A number of people joined the group because they feel excluded and unwanted in their current state. And some decided to join because ISIS promises them money and free health care.

The people vulnerable to join will even be more fragile if we, as society, keep on judging them, without bothering to ask what is wrong and what can be done to help.

The truth is that it is easy and tempting to just cling onto our current believes, but more than ever, we need to challenge our mind. Try to understand why people would want to join. Don’t look for information to only justify your predisposed belief.

Having an open-minded and tolerance in today’s world seems to be a stronger and effective way in combating terrorism such as ISIS, than arming everyone with guns.

We, Indonesians label many things as taboo and we don’t speak about it in fear of being outcaste. We are afraid to ask questions to people in our immediate surrounding for fear that they will label us as weird, or worse, immoral. Parents often dismiss their kids’ questions by saying that it is nonsense or “because I said so” and offers no further explanation.

The recent attack in Jakarta a few weeks ago showed that terrorism in Indonesia does exist and most likely, there might still be many others who are planning another attack; yet Indonesians are proudly saying that they are not afraid of the terrorists.

But I do. I am very afraid that if we take the issue ever so lightly and instead make humor out of it, our country will be filled with people running around with gun riffles and casualty will no longer announced with names but with numbers in years to come. Because if those terrorist can be influenced to do what they did, then many others can to.

Dismissing people involved in the attack as simply immoral and misguided will not prepare us better in battling terrorism. Encourage discussion around the issue and make people feel safe to express their thought without fear of judgment in open space, I believe will.

*Also published on

A love unshared

I once was the typical hopeless romantic girl overly keen to give her heavy love. I read love novels like my dad reads his morning paper, and I watched love movies like my grandma watches her soap opera: religiously. I would then reenact the stories in my cloudy head and giggles from the excitement of my hope to live it.

A few of the guys I dated were assholes and in a few of my failed relationship, I was the asshole. But none seem to leave much-shattered scar and my hope remained intact.

Until there was you in my life.

In one random day, I met you and was charmed by your display as a faultless human being. Your words were well composed, your gestures were pleasing to eyes, and your brownish eyes underneath that flick eyelashes, make you almost too dreamy to be real.

I, on the other hand, lost for words and my heart pounded like that one rare afternoon I decided to take a boxing class. I laugh stupidly in all the words you uttered, my hands were all over my face and my hair in hope to conceal my severe delight, and my checks felt fiery, which indicated that I must blushed as red as the hoodie you were wearing.

But you were nice nevertheless and enfolded me as you said your goodbye to go to your next class.

We kept in touch and I invited you over for the first time. There was not much to show in my attempt to give you a house tour, and so we watched a movie. My mind was so busy with all my “what-ifs” that I often lost track of what you said. Then somehow we held hands and I rested my head on your secure shoulder. I told you my cotton-candy view of my life stories, and you told me yours. I don’t remember how suddenly your eyes were fixed to mine and your lips drift closer, as the movie slowly acted as our background sound.

That day closed the miles between our different worlds, or so I thought.

I was for weeks obsessed with all sounds coming from my phone, which I never was.

I was in love with how you touched me and touched my heart in a way no one has ever did, or have I ever allowed to. But I know from the start that you are not the person whom I would grow old with, and whom I should have grow sentiment for. Yet, I let you stay, knowing my heart would take a beat anytime soon.

It was unhealthy of how un-mutual our feelings were. I felt used and loathed myself for allowing it to happen.

I wrote on my journal about you and it was like a pity party for myself. I wondered what I ever did to deserve such cold shoulder from you, I asked.

But in all truthfulness, none of it was your fault as you never flaunted any interest of solemn relationship, or one with me that is, from when we met and I was mindful of it. So I ended it to prevent myself from any more midnight tears and insecurities.

I was fine for a few days until a close friend of mine asked me about him and I told her that he no longer part of my day. The act of saying it out loud broke down my wall of self-reassurance that all is well. My tears came rushing in and I was finally awakened from my exquisite dream of him.

I felt sad for losing him, but above all else, I was devastated that my idea of love crushed to ashes.

That was the year when I learned love is not innocence and lives happily ever after, like how all books and movies I had, convinced me for years.

To love is to be vulnerable, they said. But being vulnerable hurts. To put your hope on someone’s shoulders is daunting. And to lose someone who took a big portion of your days for months, then disappear without trace and fight makes a heart too dense, thus the difficulty in doing the simplest task in life: breath.

My close friends came a few times to hug and comfort me, but that didn’t do much help, as it felt wrong to feel okay. I don’t want to feel okay, because it would mean that I am admitting this is a part of life everyone has to live, thus would have to live it all over again someday.

There is a reason for everything that happens in life and his visit in my naïve life was, I think, to wake me up from my long dream. There won’t be love without work from both sides. Love from only one of two parties involved simply won’t be enough, regardless how much love you are willing to give.

Rumah yang asing

Ketika pulang ke rumah tidak lagi ditemani rasa nyaman dan senang, apakah rumah masih terbilang rumah? Ketika berjalan di gang menuju rumah berasa asing, bukankah itu artinya kita berada di jalan yang salah?

Apakah sudah selama itu aku meninggalkan rumah, sehingga tidak ada lagi perasaan akrab terhadap daerah sekitar? Bagaimana ceritanya kamar kecil dengan barang apa adanya, yang aku sewa di jalan yang kerap membawaku hilang arah berasa lebih lazim untuk ditiduri?

Perasaan sebagai tamu kerap datang ketika mata baru terbangun dari mimpi dan melihat tembok kamar dengan kejanggalan.

Aku kenal semua orang di rumah dan beberapa tetangga sekitar seperti aku mengenal huruf dan angka yang guruku ajarkan sejak taman kanak-kanak. Aku hafal kendaraan umum apa yang aku harus berhentikan untuk pergi ke daerah puluhan kilometer dari rumah tanpa harus bertanya pada peta atau orang sekitar. Ucapan hallo kerap terucap dan pelukan sering ku umbar ketika berjalan ke tempat perbelanjaan ramai dekat rumah karena kudengar namaku dipanggil oleh beberapa perempuan dan lelaki bermuka ramah yang dulu sering berpapasan saat masih sekolah.

Tidak banyak yang berubah tapi bukankah rasa tak pernah berdusta?

Aku tak pernah berpikir dan ingin untuk bermuara ke tempat asing. Hanya beberapa tahun yang lalu, hidup yang aku tahu adalah hidup yang ada disini. Yang berisi anak tetangga berlari riang dan bebas di depan rumah, ayam berkokok saat fajar tiba, dan kambing mengembing di tanah kosong dekat masjid, dimana ibu kerap membuatku berkunjung untuk belajar perintah tuhan dan mengeja quran.

Semua mimpi dan harapan hidup bernuansa keluarga dan kebersamaan. Atau bertemu pemain sinetron terkenal yang nenekku rajin tonton setiap jam enam sore.

Tidak lagikah aku menginginkan hidup yang aku impikan saat masih dalan seragam putih biruku?

Semudah itukah mimpi beralih arah?

Perasaan merindu terhadap kamar kecil di tanah asing kerap datang. Kamar mungil yang menyaksikan banyak tangisan dan tawa karena hidup sebagai seorang dewasa dan jauh dari orang tua adalah asing. Kamar dimana petualangan hidup yang menantang dan menyenangkan kubuat. Tempat dimana aku melanggar norma hidup yang aku buat sendiri.

Rumah adalah tempat dimana hatimu berada, mereka bilang.

Jadi bolehkah aku pergi mengikuti hati?