driven insane by a geometry book

I will quote a passage from a BULK novel I am reading.

Just two sentences. Read on.

From that day on or that night on, not a week went by without the four of them calling back and forth regularly, sometimes at the oddest hours, without a though for the phone bill. Sometimes. it was Liz Norton who would call Espinoza and ask about Morini, whom she’d talk to the day before and whom she’d thought seemed a little depressed. That same day Espinoza would call Pelletier and inform him that according to Norton, Morini’s health had taken a turn for the worse, to which Pelletier would respond by immediately calling Morini, asking him bluntly how he was, laughing with him (because Morini did his best never to talk seriously about his condition), exchanging a few unimportant remarks about work, and later telephoning Norton, maybe at midnight, after putting off the pleasure of the call with a frugal and exquisite dinner, and assuring her that as far as could be hoped, Morini was fine, normal, stable, and what Norton had taken for depression was just the Italian’s natural state, sensitive as he was to changes in the weather (maybe the weather had been bad in Turin, maybe Morini had dreamed who knows what kind of horrible dream the night before), thus ending a cycle that would begin again a day later, or two days later, with Morini calling Espinoza for no reason, just to say hello, that was all, to talk for a while, the call invariable taken up with unimportant things, remarks about the weather (as if Morini and even Espinoza were adopting British conversational habits), film recommendations, dispassionate commentarry on recent books, in short, a generally soporific or at best listless hone conversation, but one that Espinoza followed with off enthusiasm, or feigned enthusiasm, or fondness, or at least civilized interest, and that Morini attended to as if his life depended on it, and which was succeeded two days or a few hours later by Espinoza calling Norton and having a conversation along essentially the same lines, and Norton calling Pelletier, and Pelletier calling Morini with the whole process starting over again days later, the call transmuted into hyperspecialized code, signifier and signified in Archimboldi, text, subtext, and paratext, reconquest of the verbal and physical territoriality in the final pages of Bitzius, which under the curcumstances was the same as talking about film or problems in the German department or the clouds that passed over their respective cities, morning to night.

I first heard about the author from my boss. I did a short review of his latest book then, only from reading other reviews, not really reading the novel. I thought he was more into criminal novel or science fiction. But we’ll see, once we finish this 898-page piece. hehehe *grin. Yeah, it’s thick. Maybe I picked up the book as I thought Murakami’s 1Q84 was…. ehm… too expensive (but as thick). But so far, I like it. Don’t you just love when you find something that suits you? Realizing that this is gonna be the one that puts a great deal of influence on your style, or anything. Read this if you would like a concise review of this one of the best books in 2008.

salin guro, mimpi indah

i don’t seem to be able to sleep. it seems that this day cant just be over without my recalling of the things that make my day, make me happy, make an important turn in my life.

first is a good bye. but it’s not a sad one as i now have three amazingly smart and kind Fillipinos whose interest is the same as mine, literature, Cora, Lily and Isabela, who are all lecturers at the University of the Philippines, who were totally strangers to me two days back. We met yesterday, the first day of a workshop/seminar on founding a literary translation body. They wanted to get some batik and souvenirs, but Thamrin City is usually closed at the same time as the offices. So I took them to a mall, playing a role of an LO, which I missed so much, but this time voluntarily. Then they treated me for dinner, and even for es teler dessert, though only at their hotel.

and they are leaving tomorrow, plane would take off around 1.30, so they won’t attend tomorrow’s seminar even the morning session. but at least i know whom to contact when i get to Manila hehehe. and after seeing Filippinio’s interest in studying Indonesia, especially the literature, I was thinking of sending Lily some Acehnese writer’s short stories that I have done for the Translation course in JNU… hmm,,

second is the hope that my translation work, of JM Coetzee’s novel, would be able to reach the hands of the author. This is made probable by Prof. Nicholas, who is one of the speakers in the seminar. He teaches creative writing (so fun!!) and… guess what… in addition to Writing and Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, he’s also in the, I better quote here, « J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide »!!!

When I was still in India, I really wished I could give a copy to my professors, especially the ones teaching Translation Studies and Postcolonial Literature. But since I only have a copy, which I luckily found in a major bookstore after I got back from India (it was published in 2005), I can only give it to one person, without shipping cost preferably. So we’ll see what happens. I know Coetzee mustn’t speak Indonesian, but I’m somewhat embarrassed. It was my first attempt of (published) translation, right after I graduated from Unpad.

third… maybe chronologically, rather than by degree… I got a reply from a publisher that my poem is accepted for their journal!!! Oh my God, I hardly write, let alone poems. And I got rejected a few times before. I only sent my three to five English poems to international journals, both print and online. And… my shortest poem is the one accepted.

They first told me that they only have 35 pages for the poems of the 24th edition, and mine would be placed on page 36 if there were such page hahaha… So the editor decided he would include it in the next edition, the 25th. I will receive a hard copy of it, since I won’t be able to travel to attend the launching. FYI, one copy costs 10 pounds….

So that’s it. I’m about to crash. See you.

emergency… that’s you, my dear (kitten got bitten)

don’t read if you don’t have the heart.

it’s sunday. no schedule on my calendar. we were just relaxing. i was in the room. two of our three kittens were with me. for information, we have a total of six cats. Madrid, the male, black and white with amazing fur; Liverpool, female, all yellow and very easily frightened (i always call her ‘bontot’, the youngest); and Milan, female, three colors and very adventurous. If I am to tell you all about them, it will take a week, though they are only about 3 or 4 months old.

So this is about Milan, my favorite cat, as she always sleeps with me, every night. In the morning, Madrid and Liverpool were in the room. Another cat, Untung, was also there, sleeping. I was just typing, browsing with my laptop. I missed her. Then I heard it was raining. If she was upstairs–in the garden, she would have gone down. Yep, she came. Running and meowing… into the room. To me. I petted her. Her fur is not as thick and soft as her siblings, but her eyes are so captivating.

Then, back to work. Suddenly I heard my mom yelled and ran to outside the house. I smelled something is wrong. My mom was still screaming, she was shooing the dogs! There were the neighbor’s Five Big Ugly Evil Ferocious Dogs! And Milan! My love! She was lying on the street! I picked her and brought her inside, put her on a mat. She bit me. I let her. Maybe she was trying to show her effort to survive, or her last power. She was gasping. Thank God there was no… large bloody too-visible wound. There were some furs lost, patches of white skin visible. There was a drop of blood on the floor, but it was mine.

My mom came in, and most probably was kinda shocked by the blood. She was screaming. I could understand her. She has been a savior for our cats several times. This is even the second time for Milan. She saw when Milan was… attacked.. with her own eyes. Then she swore to herself she would never keep a cat again. I tried to stay in focus. I had to get her to the doctor. But this is Sunday, clinics are closed. I called my brother, maybe because of my mom. She blamed him for always adopting kittens, so this is a part of his responsibility. But he said this has already happened before, several times. I felt like crying, losing myself. But then to calm the situation, and to save Milan, I changed my clothes and told my brother to take us to a clinic that, hopefully, would be open.

In the car, I sat in the back with her. She was in the cage, still silent, her mouth was gaping, there was blood in her mouth and nose. I felt sick. But then she moved a bit. With her back showed, I saw the wound, with blood. I also saw the scar on the other side of the body, no blood. That’s good news. Very little blood on the mat. But my brother said there might be internal injury. We managed to find the clinic. Fortunately the clinic was open, though it says « Sunday by appointments ». I thought my tone–when I talked to a guy who was washing his bike–was like begging. I came in while my brother parked the car.

Then the assistant weighted her on the scale. « Only for animals, » a text says. 1.98 kg. Hmm. Then there she was, lying on the operating table. Her limbs looked misplaced, wrong. I petted her, calling her name,while he measured her temperature. Then the vet came in. « When was she bitten? » she asked I after I told her what happened. « Just now, » I replied. Do you really think I could wait and just see her look like this?? I showed her the open wound. She touched her, feeling her bones. I had a bad feeling, and it came true. The vet told me that the rib was broken, and told me to touch it, to feel the ‘gap’, the difference from the other side. « The broken rib may push her lungs, that’s why she is gasping ». It broke my heart. Further, to conclude, she said, « Let’s see, the crisis period is three days. »

Crisis period. It sounded like she was dying. Like a fifty-fifty chance. She may die. *Sigh.

The assistant cleaned the wound, cut the surrounding furs. The vet took over. She dipped the wound curet, and circled it, checking the wound. Yaiks. I could see the hole, and what’s beneath the skin. She gave me two options, just applying ointment for the medication, or stitching the wound. I realized that the decision was completely up to me. I felt being responsible for this lovely little creature, perhaps like being a parent. I chose the second. Then she put out a needle, gave her an anesthetic injection on her thigh. She reminded that the internal injury actually caused higher risk for the drug. I thought the operation would be simple, just a few stitches, considering the hole of around 2mm of diameter. But NO. Beyond my expectation, she cut the wound, making it larger… to really really check the inside part. What an ugly view to see. I saw white… the bone. She stuffed Penicillin powder with the curet (the first time I saw this). Then she stitched the flesh. The curved needle went to and fro, the black thread tied and closed the wound bit by bit as the vet was making knots with the scissors. Then she did the skin. After it’s done, she was given infusion. The vet told me that Milan’s body temperature dropped, so she must be ‘heated’ by putting yellow bulb while she’s sleeping –like chicks. She was to eat soft food, like baby food. Milan is half-conscious, surrendered, the adventurous adventurous Milan was brought down. 

She was put back to the cage. My brother came. We brought her home. On the way, even I couldn’t explain him what I saw. I was afraid that he was afraid to hear it. I saw the patient’s card, with the timing. Monday to Saturday, some vet surgeon. Sunday, emergency, two female vets. Thank God. At home, my mom was already calm. But there are things I couldn’t, or mustn’t tell my mother. Even my sister, after she found out about the incident from my mother, didn’t dare to see her.

Its 6.45pm. I went up to check on her. I decided to put her out of the cage. She was angry, but I knew she just felt pain. Again I offered her food. No response. But I poured some water, she approached the saucer and drank. I felt so relieved. I tried to put the food in her mouth, but she refused, and drank water again instead. Oh, Milan, when you get better, I will give you 50 fish, for you alone!

I checked on her every now and then. I put her out of the cage. She sleeps most of the time. Whenever I went up to check her, from afar, I saw whether she was breathing or not. Once I took Liverpool, to see whether the sister wanted to lick her, kinda empathize with her… (once they were licking each other for 4 minutes! I have the video)

My thumb is throbbing with pain. Such a small bite could cause such pain, let alone what she is suffering from. Why didn’t the vet give something to soothe the pain, painkiller??

Well, this is just the first of three days of crisis.

Day I. Please stay with me, Milan, I pray to God.


cats sleep when humans sleep, and more. if we are awake, we are afraid of waking them. when they wake up, and want to wake us up, too, how to tell them that we don’t want to get up? they’re indeed cute, but petting them means shriek meows — trouble in the middle of the night. my kittens are like bonsai cats. so small in size yet so mature in behaviour. they jump high, eat much, even beg you for food. yes, this is the real world. and they sadly grow so fast.

alms for the environment

a girl caught me walking in front of her. i knew she was ‘selling’ something. and maybe because of pity i just stopped, thinking that i could avoid her later by not buying. but then she was from an international organization whose concern is the environment. of course i know that organization, i even came to its office (and bought yummy pure honey). then she explained about saving energy, clear water, earth quake, being semi-vegetarian and so on. yes, she expected me not to eat whale (of course yaaa). and eat less shrimp and some species of turtle. what ever.

the point was she wanted me to become a donor. now the organization can even debit your account from your credit card. they will just ask for your data… and you know what will come next.

but she even lured me by informing that if i ‘join the club’, i may be invited for, for example, the premiere of a movie. now this sounds very cosmopolitan.

i told her nicely, touched her shoulder slightly, that i am not interested. i didn’t told her that i was not yet ready to donate money for things that do not concern me directly. i remember that we should prioritize the people around us, or relatives, in case you want to help people. in terms of money, and since now is the holy month, i think i better give away money for zakat. alms.

what does the religion say about the environment?

make yourself more useful

a job. what else will you get after spending (wasting?) two years of your life? you have to make use of your education, whatever you have got, you title, your papers. back to the real world.

in jakarta, the real world is a material world.

when i was still in india, someone really wanted me to stay back, and even offered me jobs. it’s not that the job was not interesting, nor was it as i have thought. it’s just, maybe, not the right one for me. at least for the time being. well, you can say it’s a simple job. just like the call-center job. all you need to have is yourself, your body, your tongue, your language. you don’t have to learn anything first. but this isn’t just about talking. this job has one added-value. traveling. yes, the golden triangle: delhi-jaipu-agra. i could have become a tourist guide. an indonesian tourist guide. and they can pay me good. or at least i will get huge commission from the shops. that was what my friend said. i won’t need a work visa. just enroll to some school, and stay. no need to actually study.


another offer was a bit more challenging. but the location is totally different. it’s a ‘call’ from the motherland, if it does exist and i get it. so, the story goes that i was chatting with a friend. well, not exactly a friend because, though we were colleague, we haven’t met in person. he even had already quit when i was working in that office. maybe he is just a professional friend, a client, to be exact. he gave me some translation job, i forgot how many times. then he talked about some national-scaled project. so reportedly the president wanted an area to have less army officers and grow more for development distribution. the man to lead this project is said to be a general who handled another ‘difficult area’. however, the mou hasn’t been signed yet. first i was confused, what would i do, what does that have to do with me, a fresh (post-)graduate in a manner of speaking. then he explained that i may be some kind of a media officer. or public relations officer. then it made sense. then i was interested. then i felt i could be more useful. plus, its for the nation. oh, i would be so proud.

but i realize that it’s still to far from reality.

yet. i wonder if the salaries are the same? how do they judge? how do they value you, your service? and most importantly, what will i do? definitely, since i’m already back to indonesia (tho i wasn’t born here), i need to get a job here only. or at least apply from here.

delirium. it’s just like graduating from college, don’t know what to do. how to choose.

counting the days

So.. my time is almost over. It’s time to embrace the motherland again. What have I done? What have I got? And.. what not?

I guess I have been lucky that I didn’t suffer from any serious illness during my stay. I just got diarrhea, cough, some fever and skin problems. and hair fall. as a friend’s saying, god is on my side. i didn’t use the Ventolin inhaler for asthma, though i got the refill free from the campus’ health center. i didn’t even use a single drop of Rohto. (But I badly need Johnson’s baby powder).

packing.. packing.. what to bring and what to dispose of (or give to anyone)…

seems that I have been collecting gifts, or for personal possession ( 😛 ) for these two years. I got so many bracelets, for example. I brought from home so many books (14kg overweight) and now it can be doubled… One of my precious books (because of the cheap price and tough hunting) is Nietzsche’s Basic Writings I got from Kolkata… yummm. I have a hindi course book from Palika Bazaar, but I know I wont touch it again.

I found a broken Nokia handset (even the charger is not original) and wondering whether it’s worth repairing or even just changing the battery. I found the data cable of my lost CREATIVE mp3 player…

one of my two suitcases is already full ONLY with winter clothes… and I have even separated some for my friend, including socks and monkey cap and shawls. God knows where I can put the remaining stuffs, including clothes, rice cooker and printer…

I found a sri lankan keyring, chinese pin, UAE coin and nepal’s casino coin…

When packing, you need to think a lot. That’s why it takes such a long time. As I told someone special, it’s about choosing memories or valuable things worth keeping.

and I am yet to buy some more stuffs, especially for my mom. she loves papad. and I think pudina masala or aam powder would be awesome for her cooking.

I’m counting the numbered-boxed on the shiny happy desk calendar. So what have I not done in this wild country? Why am I just sitting here passively, sometimes staring at myself at the mirror (I just need to turn my head from where I sit)?

It’s like death is approaching. the end of life, at least life in this, again, wild country. I stopped buying things especially that are heavy. I stopped eating food especially that I can find easily in my homeland (?), and cheap. I estimate when my shampoo, or my toothpaste, or my hair oil (uh yeah, I’m almost Indian) will be depleted. I keep telling everybody when I’m leaving, like announcing my will (« come on, this is your last chance to have ME »).

But of course I also tell those back home that I’m coming. That I will join them, hang out with them etc etc. Building a discourse, rendering your existence. Also because I would need a job.
But I still can’t imagine how packed my city is now. I have asked my mom that I need a break…

well, see you later alligator

you’re beautiful

how do you response when someone says you are beautiful? for your consideration, first, this person is a guy. quite young. a stranger who happens to be near you. (meanwhile, you are actually more of a stranger, compared to him as he is a local) You may think he is just flirting. It’s nothing serious. Or you may also be flattered. You blush. You think it is a damn fact. You can as well say thank you, assuming that his statement is so blunt. The Indonesian way would be to say, « Oh, really? » It’s a way of showing a surprise.

But circumstances count. The location was a palace. To be exact, Lake Palace in Udaipur. It is a romantic place. The luxurious atmosphere really gives you a thrill, teleports you to another time and space. You’re feeling like a queen? Most probably.

lake palace

lake palace, udaipur, rajahstan, india

But does it all matter? The signified of the word beautiful is complicated, at least for me. I always find it difficult to explain the meaning of my first name. The first thing that comes in mind is ‘beautiful’. But I usually add ‘lovely’, just to avoid constricting it to visage beauty. I hate to say that my name means beautiful. It’s like saying I’m beautiful. Although my mother may mean it when she gave birth to me.

Belle, bela, جميلة, सुंदर, now the word has become an empty signifier. Too many people have said it. It is floating, waiting to be grasped by someone who really means saying it. Only this anchoring matters.