As Embers Die: A Memoir

Mohammad Rizky Lucky Putranto

Sometimes I asked myself, when did it all changed for me? And my mind would always answer with something different each time. It could be because my mother fell ill, because I have worked before, or because I did not see any point to be eager when every day is the same routine. Point is, I became bored out of my mind most of the time. Losing the spark—ambition—to do anything with enthusiasm because at the end, it is just a routine for me.

The dim lights provided by the window cast shadows on the room. It was a room used as a place to gather for the whole family, it was a place where memories are made. The cracked walls gives off the atmosphere of warmth, while the TV cabinet sits on the corner of the room. While it is warm, the sofa lined in one side of the room gives the impression of the room being full, it’s rectangular shape having almost no place for a person to move. To the direction of the north two door directing to my room and my parent’s room sat, to the east there is a doorway into the kitchen. While in the south of the room lies the bathroom and the west is a window and door facing the garage. It is a place filled with many memories, and it was the place I’m having a breakdown at the moment.

Oftentimes, people spoke of their drive, ambition, or dreams easily. They would show their drive and their passion. It is visible within their eyes. Their eyes would light up as they speak, and their mouth would ever so slightly smile. It was subtle, but one could see the change in them—however slight it its—from their body language to their tone when speaking. It was very rare for people to take a quiet demeanour when they’re talking about their dreams and what they aspire to be in the future. Rarer still for people to take a determined expression when they speak about it. And within these throngs of people, I am very envious of the last kind, one who is determined to reach their dreams and aspirations.

Losing sight of one’s dream and ambitions is something akin to falling into depression. The world as it was seen through our eyes lost its colour and became lacklustre and monochrome. As if we’ve become colour-blind, we could not see the world as a beautiful place again. The sounds—or rather the music—that we once enjoyed became a noise to our ears. I become lethargic, having no energy and struggling to do my daily routine. And the furious beating of our heart when we see or hear something that inspired us and motivated us became nothing but a steady beat of heart. I became disillusioned to the world—untrusting, cynical—and only feel the powerful thrum of excitement by doing something new, something outside of my daily routine. It is rarer for me to feel the spark of my ambition again. But when it does come to me, it turns into a roaring flame of desire for a time before dimming again.

It was glorious, intoxicating and all around a self-destructive trait of mine. For when the spark does come to me, I would prioritize it over everything else. Nothing can discourage me from doing what I desperately want to do—not my classes, not my economic situation, not my friends, not even my parents’—I will indiscriminately hate. It is truly confusing to me, what is classes but another chore for me to do? What is a well-meaning friends warning but a distraction? And what does it matter if what I wanted to do will affect my health? Or even endanger my life? Let me do my own thing and I will not do anything to you. When the inspiration struck me, I will do it with all I have, because I did not know when it would come again.

When I am alone and look back at my memory, the earliest that I can feel this emptiness is when my parents forced me out of my job to continue my education. “It’s for your own good, so you can have a future” they said. I said bollocks to that, my future is my own, and education did not guarantee a good life. As evidenced by the fact that I am the head of a division within the company and I have three interns—two of which is an undergraduate and one graduate—while me myself is only graduated from high school. My parents forced me to drop all my hard work for a year and half to continue my education without looking at what I have achieved because it is not ‘proper’ and they want to keep their image within the neighbourhood and within their own family.

I was devastated back then, disappointed at my family and disappointed with myself for hiding my efforts to make a surprise for them. With empty eyes I called my boss, shakily informing him of my resignation from my position. I was lucky, my boss understands my plight and replies with a brotherly tone; “don’t lose sight of your goals and do well in college. When you graduate, we’ll call you again.” But instead of reassuring me, his words just makes me catatonic. Sweat drenches my face and my body, my body temperature instantly rocketing. Because I understand, that while they would be needing my services again in the future, I would be placed in a lower position or would be placed in the side-lines to work on some unimportant thing while somebody else becomes my replacement. Such is the law in an IT industry, if you are out of it, you will be left behind for the development and innovation within it is fast indeed. My parents, upon seeing my face, began to frown, and when I’m not showing any changes in my demeanour, their entire demeanour starts to change.

I could see the change—subtle as it was—clearly, as their stern frown and dismissive eyes gradually change into that of a worried person. The crease of their brows softened, their thin lips starting to be full again and their eyes started to show the signs of worry over my predicament. As they softly asked what’s wrong—a clear difference from what they’re doing before—I decided to not give them an answer. My eyes began to burn, I began to see red all around me as If I’m inside a raging inferno. For a split second, I fell my eyes tightens, lips pulling back into a snarl and ready to lash out with the most hateful comment I can thought of. But I held back, my own conscience pulling me back from the brink of hate. ‘No,’ I decided, ‘my parent’s didn’t deserve their only son to lash out at them even if I really want to do it.’ It would affect my parent health badly, so I smiled—as genuine as I could, but still a fake smile—to my parents whilst saying it’s alright. “After all” and here my smile turns into a smirk “I have to be ‘proper’ and follow what my parents say” I said. Their eyes widens, shocked of their son’s behaviour. ‘That’s all right’ I thought, ‘after all, I decided to be passive aggressive to them for this’. “Clearly, I must follow the pretence that I am educated and have many achievements to keep your so called ‘image’, right?” I asked with honeyed words, enjoying the bafflement of my parents as my admission that was once a raging inferno slowly dies out into embers inside me.

Word count: 1293

Photo by: Adrian Pelletier, via Pixnio (CC0)

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