Give no f*ck: Perceptions Don’t Get the Work Done

Sometime last year, at a book festival in Indonesia, I approached an author to ask her if she was carrying copies of her book. For some reason, Gramedia does not carry titles under her name so I thought maybe I could get it directly from her. I was happy to learn that she brought one of those novels I had been looking for. “But it’s expensive, mind you,” she said.

At that moment, I didn’t have time to process what she said. My excitement to finally get a copy of her work filled the air. “Oh come on, I don’t mind at all!” I said, and them my ego started to diminish. As I reached home, I found myself devouring a plate of gorengan I bought on my way from the event. “Does she seriously think I can’t afford her book?” I asked myself, with a part of me wanting to e-mail her not as a fan, but as a GMRC (good manners and right conduct) police. Today, I look at the books I shipped from Indonesia to the Philippines and imagine how much I’ve spent for these so they can reach my new home. What if I sent her that message? Will it matter? Looking at it now — I learned that in life there will always be people who think you can’t afford ‘it’. ‘It’ can mean an MBA, a brand new car, a house, or an ideal body weight. But you know what? What they think about you doesn’t matter. Perceptions don’t pay books, get loan applications approved, or help lose weight. It’s what you’re doing that makes you move forward. So don’t let .

What if at that moment, the author was just worried that the quality of her book didn’t quite match the price tag? Well, anyway, I don’t think much of that moment now. In case you ask, the book was around $5.00 — roughly the same cost of my Apple Music monthly subscription — or a trip from home to work by cab.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a wonderful reading on the same topic.

Advertisements

Adonis Durado’s ‘Dili Tanang Matagak Mahagbong’ in Bahasa Indonesia

Sometime in June this year, I was invited to talk about Philippine literature in Malang, Indonesia. During the event, Denny Mizhar, the founder of Pelangi Sastra Malang read three poems which I translated to Bahasa Indonesia; Adonis Durado’s “Dil Tanang Matagak Mahagbong” was one of them.

Here is my translation of the poem which was originally written in Cebuano:

Tidak Semua Yang Jatuh Akan Turun

Adonis Durado

Bayangkan kawanan burung yang terbang

membuang kotoran di balik awan tebal di atas langit
Apa yang akan terjadi dengan kotoran mereka?
Akankah meluncur utuh
ke atap?
Atau musnah,
Seperti bintang jatuh, yang hancur lebur jauh sebelum
Mencapai telapak tangan kita yang menengadah?
Mungkin tak semua yang jatuh akan turun
Tak semua proyektil punya target –
Segala yang lepas dari tangan (Atau jatuh dari langit)
tak perlu mendarat di mana pun.
Penerjun payung itu hanya beruntung
diselamatkan atap, seperti layangan
yang terjerat tiang listrik;
Buah mangga yang terhempas dari tangkainya;
Hujan yang menetes dari lubang di atap
pada kaleng bekas berkarat—semua ini
mematuhi hukum fisika.
Tapi di manakah (jika benar ada) gelakmu terpelanting
Saat kita melompat sambil cekikikan di atas sumur tua?
Nama-nama dan kata-kata yang sudah kabur dari kenangan:
Ke manakah semua itu pergi?
(Serupa anak yang bertanya:
Angin, yang juga membawa kotak makan siangnya,
bertiup ke mana, jika tidak tertelan gerhana?)
Dan siapa yang berani menjamin cincin
Yang tergelincir dari jarimu dan
Melompat ke ombak itu,
barangkali masih turun,
hingga tiba di kedalaman entah?
Kini, aku ingin percaya
Jiwa-jiwa pasangan kekasih yang meloncat dari tebing itu
Masih terapung-apung entah di mana,
Melayang-layang di udara.

Writer’s note: Wawan Eko Yulianto helped edit this translation

Memperkecil Cinta: Puisi “Bonsai” oleh Edith Tiempo dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Terkadang, bila kita memikirkan tentang cinta, kita menganggapnya seperti pohon: sebuah konsep raksasa yang sulit dipahami manusia. Tetapi, bagaimana jika kita mengecilkan ukuranya seperti membuat bonsai? Apakah cinta menjadi kurang bermakna?

Dalam puisi “Bonsai“, cinta dianggap sebagai hal yang dapat ditemukan bahkan dalam hal-hal terkecil. Bahwa cinta dapat dipegang oleh tangan. Bahwa itu bisa terjadi di hari-hari biasa.

Puisi ini awalnya ditulis oleh Edith Tiempo (1919-2011) dalam Bahasa Inggris. Tiempo adalah seorang penyair, penulis fiksi, guru, dan seorang kritikus sastra dari Filipina.

Dalam tulisan ini, saya menerjemahkan karya beliau ke Bahasa Indonesia karena saya merasa tak seorang penulis pun pernah menggunakan bonsai sebagai metafora untuk cinta.

(UPDATE: Wawan Eko Yulianto helped in editing this translation)

Bonsai
By Edith Tiempo

All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.
All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment-
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son’s note or Dad’s one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.
It’s utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart’s control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size
Till seashells are broken pieces
From God’s own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.

Bonsai
Oleh Edith Tiempo

Semua yang kucintai
Aku lipat sekali
Dan sekali lagi
Agar pas masuk kardus
Atau diselipkan dalam bis surat
Atau dalam sepatuku.
Semua yang kucinta?
Tentu sementara saja—
Atau seterusnya, atau keduanya.
Sesuatu yang mudah dilipat dan disimpan,
Surat dari anak atau dasi murahan ayah,
Gambar foto seorang ratu,
Selendang India warna biru,
Bahkan selembar uang kertas.
Inilah sesungguhnya sublimasi,
Prestasi, kemampuan hati ini
Untuk selalu
Memperkecil cinta
Hingga dapat digenggam
Sampai kerang-kerang itu hanya serpihan
Dari gigi-gigi Tuhan yang cemerlang
Dan hidup serta cinta adalah
Hal-hal nyata yang bisa
Kau jalankan dan
Serahkan
Kepada anak semata wayang.

Public domain photo taken here.

Macario Tiu’s “Bago Aplaya” in Bahasa Indonesia

Thanks to Karlo David for the wonderful English translation of Macario Tiu’s Bago Aplaya, which I first read when I was in college.

It’s only now upon reading this translation that I am able to delve into the poem’s deeper meaning.

And as a gesture of gratitude, I have tried my best to translate the poem to Bahasa Indonesia.

Bago Aplaya
Oleh Macario Tiu

Betapa lembut ombak nya
Dan air pasang meninggi

Sang pendeta memberkati perahu;
Dan kita diperciki air suci
Bersama dengan para nelayan yang rendah hati.

Aku senang untuk kebahagiaan mereka, mendapatkan
Alat baru untuk memancing:
Inilah yang kita rayakan. Namun

Betapa lembut ombak nya
Dan air pasang meninggi.

Dan, seperti beberapa penyair tua
Ku merasakan kesedihan yang terus menerus melanda tanpa henti
Terdampar oleh ombak.

Tapi bukan karena aku mendengar
Manusia mendesah tanpa henti
Namun karena keadaan ku yang teramat menyedihkan

Esok, kau tinggalkanku sendiri selamanya
Sedangkan betapa lembut ombak nya
Dan air pasang meninggi.

Lefthandedsnake

Bago Aplaya
by Macario Tiu

Hinay ang tapya sa balod
Ug nagsugod na ang taob.

Namasbas ang pari sa bangkang de motor,
Ug lakip tang nawiskan sa bendita.
Uban sa mga gagmayng mananagat nga nanag-alirong.

Nalipay ako sa ilang kalipay
Nga nakaangkog himan sa panagat:
mao kana ang atong gisaulog.

Apan hinay ang tapya sa balod
Ug nagsugod na ang taob.

Ug sama sa karaang magbabalak,
Akong nabati ang walay kataposang kasubo
Nga dala sa balod.

Apan dili tungod sa pangagho sa katawhan
kondili sa akong kaugalingong kahimtang.
Ugma, mobiya ka na sa hangtod
Samtang hinay ang tapya sa balod
Ug magsugod na ang taob

Bago Aplaya

Gentle is the dashing of the waves
and the tide is rising.

The priest blesses the motor powered boat;
and we are sprinkled by holy water
along with the humble fishermen gathered.

I am happy for their happiness, gaining
a new tool for…

View original post 1,302 more words

How to Compliment People in a (More) Sincere Way

The curse of working as a journalist for almost a decade is that spotting truth from deceit comes so easily. And it does in a way that could render you jaded looking at how often people lie to you, without them being aware that you could actually tell that they’re not telling the truth.

Continue reading

The Allegory of the Trees

It’s the grueling time of the year again where I need patience: immigration paperwork. Often, I meet the most undesirable people who don’t seem to be helpful in processing my permits. As it turns to be unbearable, I ask my self a question: what the hell am I doing here?

img_6787

This morning, when that question popped in my mind, I happened to notice the unripe mango fruits of this tree standing outside my house. Trees are a metaphor to me. They remind me of the universal truths, like there will always be a time for flowers to bloom. Likewise, there will be a season for them to transform into fruits. Though at times they won’t — but there’ll be another time that they will. What is this mango tree doing here? No one knows. Maybe to ask what am I doing here is a question that’s not too fruitful to pursue. Or maybe, I should ponder on things like if I were to imagine that I were a tree, what fruits do I want to bear? I want to bear fruits of hope. So wherever I am planted, my existence is a gift to anyone around me. But then the pessimistic in me asked: what if the fruits of hope fall into the ground and later turns out to be of no use? I look at the tree again. The fruits may rot, but later the seeds they carry will turn into new trees. Or, whatever happens to the fruits the mother tree has given birth to, she remains to be a tree. No more, no less.

 

Poetry: Kapok

(In Bahasa Indonesia, Kapok can mean two things. First, it may refer to the Kapok tree. Second, it may mean deterrent; or that someone is not going to do it again. In Cebuano, the second meaning can be translated to tagam.)

The clouds in Lombok

are trapped in cocoons.

They wait for the time

Before they can bloom.

 

In a small village called

Sesait, I was told the trees

that imprison the clouds

are named kapok. “They

use it to soften your bedding,”

one of the farmers explained.

Ah, I know. So cotton, it is,

the innards of the pillow I

tucked under your head,

one night when you said

you’re spending the night

with me. So kapok is

the cushion that carried

your weight when I tossed

you into my bed of faded flowers

which breathed the fragrance

pulsating from your neck.

Now I remember, when I

buried my face into your silk

thighs; when you gasped for air —

your fingers whirled on my skin

like they were reading secrets

coded in braille. As I reached for

your face so I could tuck my lips

into yours  —

your hands pushed my head,

and you asked:

“How can you say that in Lombok,

the clouds bloom from cocoons?”

I said, there’ll come a time.

And they’ll bloom soon.

Maybe, before they could bloom,

I’d have to wait under

a hopeless sky.

So, I also know that apart from

Cottons, the word kapok

Could mean another thing

on the island of Java.

It could also refer

to a time where I’d tell myself:

This is the last time I’m doing this.

When I succumbed into

believing that you like

poetry whispered

in your wet ears,

you said not to expect.

Some cocoons give birth to

a plague of moths,

instead of butterflies,

or answered prayers.

 

And even as the kapok trees bear

flowers that resemble

beautiful clouds,

they’re not the exact

things we expect

they would become.