I KNOW EXACTLY WHEN, WHAT TIME AND WHERE I decided to write. One morning in the nearly end of April 2011 in my rented room in Bandung when I was reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It’s not one of his worldwide best-seller novels. It’s not even a novel. It’s his memoir. He, himself decided to be a novelist back in 1973 at a baseball stadium in the end of his 20s and got his first novel publish in his 30.
It’s funny how much I dragged into Murakami’s life when I don’t even read his novels, such as Norwegian Wood, The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, etc. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is the first and only one so far from Murakami that I read. I decided we don’t have to read someone’s best-seller works to inspired by them. It only took a memoir, of what he thinks in daily basis – in this case – while running.
I am currently a singer of a pop band, write songs about love and what’s inside; longing, disappointment, missing, being together, being apart, jealousy, and insecurity. I realized what I wrote were almost all the uncomfortable part of love. But to be honest, that’s what I feel – and write.
I am 27 going on 28. You can still call me young, un-experienced, naïve, restless; I am all that. It’s silly how I’m writing this as my memoir, but this is it. A memoir of a singer, song writer, jobless graduate, widow, single mother.
This whole week I was reading Augusten Burrough’s Running With Scissors, also a memoir, of a young Augusten before he became a writer. So I thought, why not? I maybe don’t have such a fucked up childhood like Augusten, or a long interesting life like Murakami, but I’ve got some good stories to tell. So, why not?
MY FIRST MEMORY was the image of me holding a big glass jar, standing on stairs with dark red carpet, being yelled at by my mom “put it down!” I was standing still, looking at her, and dropped the jar. She was furious – I didn’t remember what I was thinking – but I walked down and stepped on the broken glasses. I was crying hard, and she spanked me so hard, yelled at me, till I reached her and hold her legs. What do you think I thought back then? I can’t remember how I felt, the image of the ‘coincidence’ flashes in my mind all the time. Before I sleep, when I’m running, in a class, whenever-wherever. It’s almost like something’s missing from the image of my memory. So often it flashes I feel like it’s a message. That somehow my uncompleted life so far has something to do with it.
It happened when I was 3, before my family moved to Hiroshima, Japan where my dad studied post graduate medical school. It was in family’s house, actually belongs to my grandmother – my father’s aunt. There were 3 families living in the same roof. A 2 floor building, big enough for us to live, small enough to live full of conflict. I don’t remember much of it back then, but when we’re back to this country when I was in Junior High, there are some moments when conflicts were happening all the time.
We come from traditional family. My dad’s grandfather – who lived in the house – was a king. Yes, a crowned king, of one of the oldest and strongest empire in Makassar called Maros. Also a name of a prefecture in Makassar, South Sulawesi. He was also a head of police station there. He and his wife (we called them Opa & Oma Maros) raised my dad when he abandoned by his father, after the death of his mother. My dad, my successful down-to-earth genius father, disowned by his own father, was living a vary life. Moved from this aunt’s to that aunt’s houses, learning life by his own. Adapting, compromising, as a child without a home who lives in some other people’s houses. He made it. He made such a strong character, all good. He is the resemblance of what we call survivor.
For myself, in my nearly 30, I couldn’t say the same thing about me. I lived a very happy childhood, with both parents and 2 sisters, never been experiencing a troubled phase of a childhood trauma whatsoever. And here I am, lost. In a midnight fog, I picture, in a freeway where everyone is speeding up, knowing their destination, while I’m blinded by the fog, don’t know where I’m headed.
So I’m writing this, perhaps not to tell you a story, but to collect my memories, till it one piece of a detailed big picture of an unfinished puzzle. So I know where to go.