Hard Realizations: A Memoir

Hard Realizations

Muhammad Aulia Rachman


One day, I sat on the bench in front of the class. Had I not listening to my music playlist, I would think a lot of these final days in high school. In three days, we were going to Bali as a part of a week-long study tour, which was more a “tour” than a “study.” While most of the friends I know began to think what should they brought to Bali, I remained silent and minding my own business, just as most would do. Had I not joined my parents in their reunion with their co-workers, I might carry two suitcases to Bali and spend too much money on souvenirs, and pleasing everyone else but me. I fell in love with Ajeng, my former classmate and my gaming counterpart, but I found that by stalking, it did not make the situation any better. 2015 was not my peak performance in class and in social skills.

The day comes and we embarked on a three-day journey through the roads of Java by singing, talking, and even messing around with each other. Although the road was unpleasant for most of the times, it was something that makes everything worthed. 2015 might be the end of the line, I once thought. I was not special, I was not famous, I was not someone that people would rely on, but I was something that people always look upon when they need certain knowledge – especially in English and History. My seat was on the back of the bus and it is near the window, which was my special place in every study tour like this one. We had one local guide to lighten up the journey, but I felt that I was out of place and started to put out my earphone and listening to my music playlist. Kemal, one of my classmates, were the rudest and the silliest person I could ever meet. He bullied everyone else, but at that time, he was just messing around and people never take that seriously. Everyone laughed whenever he was around. I believed that Kemal is a nice guy who had discovered the good side of being a bully and a silly person.

At that time, all I had in mind was Ajeng and how attractive she was. I would write another novel about her, but it was certainly not possible to do so, and I knew that it would be so corny to write it all out. I could write a poem about her. Had I did not end up being a small-time stalker, it would be so much better for me and for Ajeng. Because of that careless stalking and purposely wandering the schoolyard, I ended up a bit embarrassed when people brought Ajeng in every conversation and for the worse, it also became a talk of the school. Ajeng and I were mistakenly known as a couple, but we were not even dating at that time, and at this very moment, I knew, I fucked up. A lot. In every conversation about the relationship, people will always bring Ajeng’s name and I would deny everything they threw at me about this.

I had a few friends accompanying me in the back seat of the bus. They are Stevanie, Anggi (nicknamed Tio), Fauzi, Mahardika, Arin (nicknamed Aye), and Syauqi. These guys would be hanging out with Kemal a lot and I knew these guys would make everything better, in the worst of times. They are the “Jelema Gobs,” it was something I made up, but it was something that would perfectly describe Kemal’s gang. They would mess around with people for most of the times and thinks that it was something funny when they had to had a prank on Fauzi. He was tall and nice, but he was Kemal’s target for most of his time in our class – he had just become the class’ meme, people even called him “Korong” or in short, “Jirong.” Not something pleasant to the ear, but it was something funny. I recalled that people began to call Fauzi “Korong” since 2014, a year before the study tour, and there was certainly a lot of things happened back then.

We arrived in Banyuwangi at dawn and ate breakfast in one of the last restaurants near the port. Fauzi “Korong” and Tio were posing to what seemingly looks like long-lost brothers as I enjoyed seeing the sun rises from the east. They did not even take a bath when they hugged each other in a playful manner, and I had barely eaten anything ever since the first day of the journey. It was a relieve when I knew there is a restaurant and immediately eat what I’d like to eat that morning. Miss Alis, my homeroom teacher, who was also my favourite teacher, had worried if I was ill due to lack of food intake for most of the journey. I knew I refuse to eat for most of the times and pretends that I already filled up my belly.

Two days felt like it was just five hours. The bus finally parked on the lower level of the ferry boat and we were standing and hanging out together on the upper level while seeing the sea as far as our eyes can see. The ferry’s bobbing was hard to deal with and whether it’s acceptable or not, I forced myself to look like a drunkard while maintaining a sober state of mind. As long as the teachers and friends see it as something funny, I am okay with it. A few hours later, we are landed in Bali and the bus was some kind of “all Hell broke loose.” We were partying and dancing to the rhythm of dangdut, while everyone else dancing around and shaking the bus to the ground, my mind was… thinking about Ajeng. Most of the journey, that is. Although we were suffering from severe fatigue.

The week-long journey finally ended and the bus was packed with souvenirs and snacks. They were having a good time together and it was a very pleasant journey, to an extent. They stopped at Jogjakarta to buy even more souvenirs and snacks and I used this stop to ask a security officer whether there was any university that likely to have an English major and located to the nearest rented dormitory available in the area.

For most of the night, I could not sleep well as Kemal danced in front of Fauzi Ahmad (nicknamed Uji Pump, because he had a lot of… experience in playing “pump.” That dancing arcade.) and made everyone who saw him with Aye bursts out laughing, although they had to keep it down. Fauzi is seen to be sleeping while his head was leaning towards the bus’s floor and the word “Melendoy” was used quite often as Kemal continued dancing in front of Uji Pump (this person was, in any way, not related to the rapper Lil Pump). Jelema Gobs and I had to do the same. We were laughing that night not because we are trying to laugh at Uji Pump, but we are trying to laugh at how uncomfortable his sleeping position was.

My, how time flies so fast. I did not have enough footage to remember it all, but I was glad I was there. It was amazing and memorable, had I not forgotten where did I put the folder which contains all of my photographs taken there. Might even have to see it again to refresh my memory that seemed to be fading slowly.

The photo was screenshotted from my older Instagram post.
Link to the post: https://www.instagram.com/p/38hEyNAayW/

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