Layers: A Memoir

Mochamad Zaqy Pribadi Komara

Drip drip drop. And so the pitter-patter of the rain continuously accompanied me in this brief respite from life. How nostalgic. Melancholic thoughts invading the premises of my consciousness whenever the rain stopped by to say hello, why wouldn’t anyone want that? The rain was like an old acquaintance that always popped up to remind you of your failures, disappointments, and regrets. It always felt so enraging and oppressive even though there was nothing that could be done about it. And yet, despite all that the rainy season also brought a feeling of warmth, comfort, and assurance something along the lines of a roof over your head and a hot drink to quench your thirst, all the while giving a feeling that everything is all right in the world. Confusing? Yes. Contradictory? Absolutely. But you have to learn to take in the good with the bad, you know? Dreary and wet days like these were of course followed by rainbows hanging over the horizon. It’s a shame that I despise rainbows. It’s red, blue, green, yellow and all sorts of colors. Why couldn’t it just pick one color and be done with it? Heck, why not make it black and white?! Make it simpler you know? But it is what it is, I suppose. Speaking of things that should be made simpler, High school should’ve been made simpler. Moody teenagers, blown up drama, and to top it all off a good three years’ worth of programming designed to make you compliant to supposed superiors, a glorified yes-man. In spite of all that, you would also gain friendships, learned to be human, made mistakes, and had fun in the end, all in order learn from it all to become a better person in the future. Hopefully. Anyways, I remember it happening as if it happened yesterday, but some things always did stuck with me, a few more than others.

The sun has once again continued its crusade against me. Its glaring light blazing through the opened holes that our cramped little classroom has as its windows and continuously assaults my tired eyes. The incoherent babbling of my classmates seems to have formed an alliance with the sunlight to assault me, for it has assailed my ears along with the darned sun’s rays. Ughhhh Mondays, truly it was the worst of days. It has perhaps earned its title as the most hated of days. Most people would point towards it being the killjoy that sucks out all the fun of the weekend. And those people would be right. Honestly, anyone who does not agree should be rounded up, put in chains, and then marched in public to shame them of such heretical thoughts. Death to all unbelievers! At least socially. Weekends are like drugs; once you get a taste then you don’t want to stop and I am definitely an addict. GIVE ME MORE WEEKENDS! As my nonsensical rambling reached its peak, the door opens with the slight crease that it has. When will they repair that thing? Or rather when will they repair this cramped little room of antiques? Creaky doors, cracked walls, broken air conditioning, and dirty windows. That’s our classroom, because all the other fancy, new, and clean rooms were reserved for other departments. I call favoritism on this! Favoritism I say! Out from the door came in our Physical Education teacher, Mr. A who quickly took a seat on the teacher’s table. He was a rather short man with trimmed hair and minimal facial hair, the outfit he wore is no different than most other gym wear all Physical Education teachers wore. He spoke with a stern voice, a rather terse tone even in comparison towards his usual “commandments.”

“Alright children, time to go and change into your gym clothes right now. We are not going to be doing outside activities, but I expect you all to still follow the regulations. You have 10 minutes to change, hurry along now.”

No ramblings about our duties as students today? No scathing comments about so and so? A bit of a strange thing for Mr. A but a welcome one nonetheless. We males are then ushered to hurry up and head towards the bathroom to change. The bathrooms for guys were disgusting; the floor was dirty, the toilet was full of used cigarettes, and the smell of dried urine permeated the room. You would think that almost being adults would have inspired in us, well the others to be honest, a change from this kind of animalistic behavior, but you would be wrong. The only change would be that now these things were done on purpose rather than because of childish reasons. I would hesitate to call it childish for this was just plain stupidity rather than ignorance. But I digress, these were not things that I should be concerned about, oh no. If the others want to wallow in the pits of their own urine and feces then they can do so. I, for one, would want my stay here to be as quick as possible.

With the disgusting bathroom out of the way, I went back to the classroom with a spring on my step and a smile on my face. Not. Why on earth would anyone be cheery and peppy on this god-forsaken day?! The sun was blazing hot, the uniform was a size too small, and we got stuck listening to Mr. A. Joy. Having said that, I took a seat in the front of the class next to the chatterbox of a classmate I have. His name was Cecep, commonly known as Gorbachev. Why? I don’t even know myself but it was what he was called.

“Do you think he’s in a bad mood?”

That’s a stupid question and I made it clear to him. When has Mr. A ever been in a good mood anyways?

“No no no, I know that. He just seems even surlier, you know?”

I don’t. I would rather not know anything about him to be honest. He never struck me as the friendly type. As we were spending our time chatting, the rest of the guys came rushing in and increasing the amount of chatter going on. All except one. Dennis, or was it Denies? Denise? Denis? Huh, I forgot. He came in a few minutes late, laughing all the while. Then the mood dropped.

“Do you think this is funny?! You think that you can just waltz around however you want when everybody else is focused?”

Denies’ laughter stopped and the whole class went quiet. A short breeze passed by as Mr. A then approached Denies and our far too dangerously close table. Please don’t drag us into this.

“If you all are going to treat me as a joke, then I might as well not be here. Goodbye.”

And he dragged us into this. As Mr. A left, he slammed our table and swept all the stuff on it. If you’re going to throw a temper tantrum then at least aim it at the right target for god’s sake. As the class descends into silence in the following minutes, Gorbachev opened his mouth to break it.

“Alright guys, we should go apologize to him. We’re not going to be better off if we let him think we don’t care. Denies, you should take responsibility for your actions.”

What do you mean, “We”? It’s Denies that screwed up; he’s the one that has to grovel before Mr. A. The rest of us didn’t do anything wrong any- and they all stood up.

“You should go too, Zak. It’ll show him we’re sincere.”

Regardless of how I felt about it, we went ahead and “apologized.” Mr. A accepted our “apology” and continued the class as usual even if he was being sulky about it. Later on, we learned from some other students that today was the anniversary of Mr. A’s son’s death. Huh, poor man. I guess even the devil has loved ones.

Photo by: Danu Damarjati/ di laman

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