Ratih Kusuma Negara
Summary: “I really hate to say this but I would always remember the day that Pak Sarpan took me out for coffee.” – Temporary Dian
Tuesday, December 15th 2015
12.13 AM (GMT+07.00)
Dear stupid diary,
It’s been a week since my last mission of the year. I am currently assigned to tail one of the well-known entrepreneurs in Jatinangor and call myself one of those trainee reporters. There were just some occasions that I had to personally deal with Bu Anita, the businesswoman herself. However, I struggled the most at the times when I had to dig information from Pak Sarpan, the one who took care of Bu Anita’s house. Being nasty and flirty at the same time was a huge struggle to deal with the said man. He basically suffocated me with those typical lewd jokes you always heard exchanged between truck drivers and angkot drivers. They were simply unfunny, very lewd and dirty.
That old wiz who called himself ‘Pak Superman’—very dumb and annoying right?— once asked me to go on what he would call ‘date’ and try to get some drink at the coffee stall nearby his second house. I was beyond mad and disgusted. How can he, being almost around his fifties still want to mess with this almost thirties woman? That was just unbelievable! And I just knew that in the end, out of the oh-so-called courtesy and professionalism, I had to agree to go.
Good Lord, I can’t believe that my first date would be something like that! That was just downright disappointing. I’ve always imagined that my first date would at least be sipping a cup of lukewarm caramel macchiato in a simply fancy coffee shop nearby the crowd of a big city in a calming wintry breeze. Now I know it was just what novels loved to depict about romantic dates.
I wore my thrifty black shirt and a ten-thousand-rupiahs-worth parka paired up with my old blue jeans, spiced up with a dab of flowery baby powder and a swab of typical Arabian gincu that old women would wear. The old man should have been very thankful that I really forced my utmost, totally minimum will with a very minimum effort just to waste the time of my life pretending to be glad in his company. Right, my life is basically a pretense how can I live without pretending. Thus, I had to tell a genuine bye-bye to my sleeping hour that night.
It was 8.30 PM and the road was slightly muddy that I thanked myself for wearing sneakers. Walking down the said meeting spot, the old man approached me and tried to hold my left hand. He’s crazy I tell you. But my systems automatically ordered to back away from the sudden disaster and launched a few polite bows. I ended up walking behind him busied myself with my phone. Stood exactly by the corner of the Cisarang Alley, there was a coffee shop named after a famous Indonesian dangdut song. Just a few centimeters from its old humid roof, there hanged a huge banner with a blurry Pilkada candidate’s face peeking from its back. The tawny banner said “MERIANG, Merindukan Kasih Sayang”.
The place was like a small old room with a long table and chair in each side of the room. The humid and cobwebbed ceilings were just right to tell that the place was lacking of sanitary care. Like come on, what would you expect from a small coffee shop in a small region? I sat on the table by the counter, readied myself for another loud chattering session.
“Pak Tipan, this is the Dian I’ve been talking about. Look at how stunning she is! Like a beautiful flower from Bali. Very exotic! Phahahahahahahaha!” said he like a very loud and creepy old man would speak to his old friend. I forced a smile to ease my sudden urge to run away. I really don’t want to say that I was used to it. Mother, I really wanted to go home that moment.
Trickling away from the empty talks, I drifted the discussion into the topic of my target.
“Oh, Bu Anita is a very successful business woman! She started small and continued to work her own way up until now.” In the middle of the talk, came in a man with a few cups of coffee on a black flowery tray.
“Thank you, Am!” the old man said.
The said man, Aam, put the hot instant coffee right on my table with care and gave a light nod to excuse himself. I know it very well that his kind gesture was nothing special. I mean, it is a common gesture towards anyone in this nation, specifically of this place. But somehow my eyes followed where he was going. He was nothing like a swoon-worthy tanned figure of pearly whites from western romance movies. He was nothing like the glimmering and flowery Korean idols that hormonal teenage girls would bawl at either.
Sitting down there for a few hours, I decided that he was pious. When all the dudes were busy catcalling cute girls that passed by, he remained at the back of the counter reading Dee Lestari’s Madre or any of that. His red checkered shirt screamed ordinary, a good kind of ordinary. Or maybe I was too fast to judge that he was pious. It was just a few hours though and I haven’t even talked to him. I tried to lock my eyes at the typical Rumah Makan Padang calendar behind him, afraid that he’d caught on where my gaze was directing.
I don’t know. I bet he was aware of all of this. That glint of oh-so-ordinary stare of black orbs somehow told me that he could read me like a book of sodding fairytales, nothing new. Do I know him? I thought to myself that time. He saw me like he’d known me from years ago. I sensed the feeling of greeting me like an old friend but his mouth stopped at that creepy Superman blabbering about on my fake identity, praising one of my achievements on scenery photography that I plotted on my dummy curriculum vitae. The old man was just too stupid for his own good.
I’ve been telling myself that I was just being delusional. But then this question kept coming into my mind.
Should I go back and find out?
Tuesday, December 29th 2015
02.13 AM (GMT+07.00)
Dear stupid diary,
It’s been two weeks since my stay in Jatinangor started and I am no longer dealing with the so-called Superman. It was such a huge relief when I got a call from mas Anggo, my boss of this alienated region, informed me to go back to Jakarta this afternoon. But the other side of my brain feels gloomy about it. Yes I’ve been a regular customer to the lousy coffee shop I never thought I would go back to. That Aam guy should really take all the blame. I still haven’t had the chance to talk to him—well in this case I probably would never talk to him. But we casually gave light nods every time we met. You can’t call it an improvement, can you?
My sanity officially joined his little fan club after I saw a particular side of him. It was a noisy Saturday night. I was trying to break down a list of information to report on my assignment, but the bands out there kept singing their hearts out rocking that bass through the walls of my room. I was no longer in the mood to get anything done so I stepped out of my room for a walk.
The street was full of bright lights from tens of food stalls. After strolling down the smell of delish I’ve never encountered in this region, I decided to stop by and sit in front of a booth that sold churros and nachos. Just when I was about to devour my food, a familiar face passed by in front of me. Yes, it was Aam. But he wasn’t alone.
A small figure with shocking pink headscarf was holding tight on to his right arm. Just a few seconds after I looked at the two’s back figures I heard him said,
“Mom, what would you like to order?”
That being said, I took a closer look at the woman that was said to be his mother.
Right, it was his mother. He smiled as he took a huge piece of green cotton candy and hand it over to the woman. Oh, the warmth he was emitting when he hold his mother’s hand. After I got caught up with such heartwarming scene, nothing much happened. The night ends after I decided to follow them both watching a huge layar tancep. Admiring the two’s romantic mother-son date. I couldn’t help watching them from afar and let my mind went away with the pixies, depicting the goodness I might feel when going on a date with him.
And in that moment, I realized that I had it bad.
Will I be able to leave like this?
A gust of cold wind surrounds her plain white shirt. It pained her to hear the sound of rocks colliding with the rounds of her luggage. Hesitation builds her speed going slow as she almost reached the corner’s street nearby Pak Sarpan’s house. She felt like she had to say goodbye when she knew it would be very awkward. She was so done with that kind of confusion. With a slight moment of silence, she decided to walk away. After a few minutes walk that felt like hours, she found herself lost in deep thoughts by the drizzled angkot window, staring empty at the green yellowing meadow. Moving on.
- Kind Looking Eyes by Ahmad Tohari (in depicting the setting)
- https://twitter.com/BTS_twt/status/720623148073226240 (the mother-son date)
Word Count: 1616