Stainbul Naturil - Usman Achmad
Al Ittirof - Haddad & Sulis
The Meeting - ABWH
In My Dreams - Reo Speedwagon
Do You Know Where You're Going - Diana Ross
Adhan and Allah-O-Akbar - Dollar Brand Duo
Van Morrison - Stranded
Man Against The World - Survivor
Lonely wind - Kansas
Footprints - Barenaked Ladies
'Stainbul Naturil' is taken from the Smithsonian Archive "Guitar Music of Indonesia". A traditional guitar-based Lampung song, it is a ballad by the inimitable Usman Achmad. I remember those late nights when my uncles played this kind of song during the harvest seasons. The smells of corn-leaves-and-tobacco cigarette, the unmistakable aroma of Lampung coffee with Aren brown sugar. The past. My past, that taught me these words: "dang jalow basah mak ngisei, keranjang mulang bakkang".
The tune 'Al-Ittirof' by Haddad Alwi is also known as "Tombo Ati" by Cak Nun. However, the lyric are different: "Al-Ittiroff" is based on the so-called "Abu Nawas's prayer" from the classic Abbasid dynasty a thousand years ago. The words are vintage Abu Nawas: "dear God, my sins are as uncountable as the dust. Truly I don't deserve to be in heaven. But I'am also too weak to be in hell, either. So help me, Lord. Bless me with your forgiveness". The next song, 'The Meeting', is about our longing to meet the Creator, although obviously it can also be one of the best love song of all time. With the voice of an angel, Jon Anderson has the uniquely ethereal voice that fits with this song. Wakeman, Brufford & Howe round-up the music arrangement. Dollar Brand (aka Abdullah Ibrahim) contribute 'Adhan and Allah-o-Akbar' to this compilation. Taken from his 1974 album "Good News from Africa", this is actually the lyric of adzan sung in a Swahili-style over a sparse arrangement of piano and upright bass (cello ?). Abdullah is a renown jazz pianist from South Africa, and I'm glad I had a chance to go to his performance few months ago in London.
Reo Speedwagon plays 'In my dreams'. I first heard this song in mid-80s (boy, that was waaay...back then). I have forgot the lyrics, but I will always remember the unmistakable riffs in the intro, as well as the reason why I heard this song in the first place. 'Man against the world' by Survivor is also a track from that days-of-innocence era. While the song is actually about a boxer down in his luck (was it OST for Rocky III?), what I remember from this song is the days when all the teachers in our Junior High seems to hold a special contempt for me and my friends :). The last song from that formative years in this compilation is 'Lonely Wind' by Kansas. The very beautiful piano-solo intro never fails to remind me of those paper birds that I made flew from our class in the 2nd floor. Ah... the best days in my life.
'Do You Know Where You Going' by Diana Ross is the theme song from 1975 film, "Mahogany". My favourite version is actually the one by Rien Djamain, which she sung with Jack Lesmana combo in the "Jazz Masa Kini" concert album, but since I left the record in Indonesia, I have to include the original version instead. Listening to her singing "Do you know where you going to, do you like the things that life has showing you", I feel very odd that some twenty-years later I found Van Morrison's (2005) song "Stranded" seems to give a perfect answer to the question. "It's leaving me stranded, in my own little island. With my eyes open wide, But I'm feeling stranded".
And finally, 'Footprints' by Barenaked Ladies. Taken from their latest album "Holidays", fittingly I first heard this song a few months ago during my first winter in London. "I've followed footprints in the snow, never knowing if I was right behind you". Now the snow have long gone. But the question remain unanswered : Have I leave my footprints in the snow ?
(Seorang sahabat pergi ke langit, sepuluh tahun lalu)
datang ketika mentari belum lagi pulih
satu lagi buku kehidupan telah selesai
tintanya yang akhir belum lagi kering,
dan kita boleh kecewa karena ceritera itu
mesti terputus tiba-tiba :
ada bunga yang mesti patah
sebelum benar-benar kembang tebarkan harumnya.
(ya, kamu pergi tanpa iringan
salvo senapan atau bendera duka.
mungkin juga tidakkan jadi catatan kaki dalam sejarah
kecuali hanya sejumput kenangan yang sesekali mencuat
ingatkan kami tentang yang fana.
atau tentang waktu :
siapa kuasa menahan senja taburkan remangnya ?)
tapi kita percaya tak ada ciptaanNya yang sia-sia
kerikil terserakpun jadi bagian
memperindah lanskap di taman.
dan bunga yang patah itu kini satu
dalam untaian bunga lainnya
jadi hiasan di sudut beranda rumahNya.
Setiap jaman, dan tiap keadaan, punya pahlawannya sendiri. Ada yang memilih jadi pahlawan ditengah keramaian, tentu dengan beragam resiko yang kudu ditanggung. Ada juga yang memilih jadi pahlawan di jalan sunyi, seolah mengikuti nasihat lawas: apa yang kau beri dengan tangan kanan, tak perlu diketahui oleh tangan kiri.
Di dekade 80-an itu, ada dua buku harian yang diterbitkan dan banyak dibaca mereka yang ingin tahu tentang pergerakan kaum muda post-65. "Karya" SHG memang lebih menggairahkan untuk dibaca. Bertaburan dengan gosip politik (nasional, UI) plus "buku, pesta dan cinta". Tak erlalu mengherankan jika sekarang buku ini dilayar-lebarkan, karena selain isinya yang bernas, alur ceritanya pun layak jual (lepas dari keputusan untuk mematutkan seorang Nicholas Saputra sebagai SHG).
Buku harian lain yang akhirnya juga jadi legenda adalah "Catatan Harian Ahmad Wahib".
Jika SHG adalah anak zaman yang hiruk dengan gejolak pergerakan mahasiswa, Wahib adalah telaga kontemplasi yang hening. Sepertinya tak ada entry dalam buku harian ini yang memuat intrik politik (nasional, lokal/senat). Tapi letupan-letupan pemikirannya sungguh luar-biasa: pencarian jati diri seorang anak muda dalam konteks keislaman dan keindonesiaan: bagaimana menjadi muslim yang kaffah (seutuhnya) dan menjadi WNI sejati di zaman modern tanpa harus berujung pada kepribadian yang terbelah.
Wahib adalah mata rantai yang sering dilupakan ketika orang bicara tentang pergerakan muslim progresif Indonesia. Kita lebih mengenal Cak Nun, yang didaulat sebagai lokomotif pemikiran muslim Indonesia sejak awal 70-an. Dan kemudian kita meloncat ke Gus Dur, sampai seterusnya ke Ulil dan JIL-nya yang kontroversial pada beberapa tahun terakhir. Wahib menjadi terlupakan karena walaupun dia ada ditengah pusaran pergolakan Islam Indonesia, dia bukan figur yang ada di tengah panggung. Meminjam istilah film, dia bukan aktor atau sutradara, melainkan tim kreatif yang ide-idenya memicu para penulis naskah, pengatur lakon dan para bintang panggung meraih puncak prestasi masing-masing. Tapi seperti laiknya para pahlawan dijalan sunyi, jalan kehidupan Wahib bukan sesuatu yang menarik untuk dijual. Dia tidak pergi ke langit ditengah dentuman senapan seperti Arief Rahman Hakim. Tidak juga setelah mendaki puncak tertinggi seperti SHG. Dia mati dijalan, terhantam sepeda motor ditengah malam, sebelum digotong para gelandangan ke rumah sakit.
SHG dan Wahib, keduanya memilih jalan kepahlawanan masing-masing. Keduanya sama mengajarkan bahwa hidup yang singkat bisa dibikin punya makna. Dan seperti juga pada para pahlawan lain, membandingkan "mana yang lebih hebat ?" adalah pertanyaan yang muskil dijawab. Mungkin lebih mudah untuk mencari jawab: "dibandingkan dengan mereka, kita tergolong apa ?"
Ketika tergoda oleh buku harian SHG dan Wahib sekian tahun lewat, satu hal yang paling berbekas adalah keyakinan SHG bahwa mereka yang mati muda lebih berbahagia karena bisa meninggalkan jejak yang relatif bersih. "Dont trust anyone over forty" (or thirty ?) kutipnya. Menarik untuk berspekulasi bagaimana jalan yang dia tempuh jika dia terus hidup sampai masa2 kooptasi Orba yang begitu masif. Akankah dia memilih jalan Tides ? Arief ? Cosmas ? Akbar ? Mar'ie ?
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "aune_waindth"
> sesama pejuang, napa bilang 'ada yg lebih hebat'?
> klo kita idup d jaman 66, blom tentu brani prt gie.
> skrng? berani ngapaiiiinn??????
Willie Nelson - Shepherd Bush Empire 4 April 2005
If you had not have fallen
Then I would not have found you
Angel flying too close to the ground
The first time I’ve heard Willie Nelson’s song was “Always on My Mind”, which become a hit during mid-80s. I was just in my junior high school, and that song provided me with the perfect words to say “I was wrong, I’ve learned the lesson, can we get back again?” stuffs. Other than the lyric, another bonus point of the song was that it can be slowly strummed in the basic keys of C-F-G-Em-Am, which means life was a lot simpler for a boy who didn’t have any talent in guitar playing (or any musical instruments, for that matter). Although it turns out that the song couldn’t make the difference to my hapless situation at the time, it continues to be one of my all-time favorite, especially since you can almost always found that song in those dark and smoke-filled karaoke halls across in Indonesia
Over the years, I started to collect his albums – tapes, CDs or mp3s. Willie is a prolific artist, and in addition to his own albums which he released regularly year-after-year, he was much in demand for joint performances with other artist. Music giants such as Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles to contemporary artist like Diana Krall and Wycleff Jean have performed duets with him.
His unique musical style cannot be defined simply to country music: among his greatest achievements was the “Stardust” album where he explored standard songs such as “Stardust” or “Autumn Leaves” in style that is wholly his own way, and on par with the classic, definitive versions by Nat King Cole or other great jazz vocalists. And unlike most singers, he sings songs uniquely; not very different from the way an old man “read” a story. His best works are mostly songs that he sings accompanied only by his own guitar or other minimal arrangement. It’s like listening to a poet reading his poem, a wise man giving his advice or a lover serenading his love song directly to the audience.
Unfortunately, he has never (and possibly will not ever) perform in Indonesia. So when I found out that he would perform in London, naturally I jumped to the chance of a lifetime of being in his concert. I chose the “stalls standing” ticket, hoping that I can get to the nearest spot to the stage. But when I went inside SBE at 8.30pm, the halls was so packed it took me 15 minutes to get a beer from the bar at the left side of the halls.
The concert start around 9.15pm with a hearty rendition of the Outlaws anthem “Whiskey River”, and the restless, house-packed audiences ecstatically welcomed it with big applauses. This being a concert by a music icon that has been putting his footprints in American music since 1950s whose latest album in last year includes duets with Norah Jones, Kid Rock and the likes, the audiences varied from Grannies with snow white hairs to twenty-somethings and every generation in between.
I lost track of all the songs that he performed during the concert, but most of the hits were there. The lyric of his corny duet with Julio Iglesias “To All the Girls...” was stretched to acknowledge his debt: “I owe…and owe…and owe…and owe...and owe…a lot I know” to the women in his life. “Always on my mind”, "Funny (how time slips away)" and other hits were either sung in medleys or singles, but all were served in Willie's trademark storytelling way.
The show -normally run for 120 minutes- was supposed to end with a final rendition of "Whiskey River". Needless to say, the crowd screamed out for more, and Willie came back to the stage for several songs. This happened for several times: Willie left the stage only to come back again for sing some extra songs. Unfortunately, after several encores the show ended at around 11.30pm, in which the crowd joined the Master in the classic gospel “I saw the light”.
Fly on, fly on past the speed of sound
I’d rather see you up than see you down
Leave me if you need to, I will still remember
Angel flying too close to the ground
Terri Sciavo has spent 15 years living in life-support apparatus. Unconscious, breathed and fed by the machine. She was diagnosed to have brain-damaged and declared in a "persistent vegetative state" a few years ago. Her husband, Michael, says that his wife would not want to have her life extended - a view her parent reject. She left no written directive. The controversy grew as both parties (spouse and parent) continued their debate in legal court, which later ruled for Michael's request to remove Terri from the life-support machine. Now the case profile is raised much higher, as US Congress, Senate and George Bush all jump to the legal debates on whether the right to life in cases like this should be decided as personal choice or not. The sad thing is, as the disputes continued and the lawyers/lobbyist all earned their much-deserved fees or the politicians got press coverage they've craved, the person that matter most in this case still lays unconscious, breathed and fed by a machine. Nothing's change for her. Or, medically speaking, it's more appropriate to say she couldnt notice if there are any changes on her.
But I guess the ultimate question is: who have the right to decide when your life is over ? If it is me, I will certainly reject the notion that I should live my life in the vegetate state beyond normal time needed to reach firm medical conclusion (Indonesian medical profession should be able to do that in a few days, given their prospensity to go for the short-cut). I mean, life is not worth living if you cannot do things that make you happy. If I already lost my sight that I couldnt read the glossy mags or watch my favourite sitcom anymore, lost my hearing that I couldnt enjoy music, lost my taste buds so I couldnt know the difference between my KSTMJ and TSTMJ*, is life worth living to me then ? If I lost the ability to joke with (mostly make joke on) the people I cared about, I wouldnt want to find out what kind of life will that be.
Some people would say that the ability to think is the most precious gift of life and losing them means you have lost the reason to live, as the much-abused principle "I think therefore I am" supposed to suggest. Me, I tend to agree. Yet if I do say so, certain people would say with straightface that I already lost my mind years ago anyway. So probably my opinion doesnt count in this respect.
But deciding these kind of thing for yourself is fairly easy, much more so if you have huge debt or just being dumped by your loved ones. The dilemma is to decide what to do when it happens to the people you cared the most: your kids, lover, parent. If the good doctor tells you that they have lost hope and the only one that keeps the heart beating and the brain ticking is just a machine, would you let them go ? Is it love or selfishness when you insist that they be kept in life-support to wait for new development in medical world or the intervention of God's hand ? Is it love or selfishness when you accept the realities and agreed with the verdict that not much can be done beyond letting life-support machine (instead of nature) run its course ?
Some would also say that if God really decide that your time in this wretched earth is up, then all the life-support machines in the world wouldnt be able to keep you from going away. The flipside of this argument is that as long as the machine kept you alive, then you should. But there are some problems with this argument. What about the feelings of those who have to endure this ordeals for a long time, not knowing what kind and when it will end ? Humankind naturally strive for certainty. Should we sacrifice the life of others who otherwise could be lived to the fullest just because they have to lived in this kind of uncertainty ? The psychological cost must be devastating.
From another perspective, this case is another indirect consequences of technological advances to our religious faith, just as those posed by the human cloning technology or time-travel opportunities (no doubt still being researched by my good friend Windo and his cohorts). Our forefathers (and foremothers, in case I would again be scolded for my gender-insensitive choice of words) didnt have anything to say on this because back then life was simpler: when you cant breath own your own then your time is up. It is as if that we must always rethink our fundamental precepts in life for every leap that humankind have made.
* KSTMJ & TSTMJ: respectively, Kopi & Teh - Susu Telor Madu Jahe (Coffee or Tea plus milk, egg, honey and ginger). One of the best culinary invention Indonesia ever produced. Can be found in established Padang restaurants or traditional Makassar style cafes. The best recipe so far is served by Phoenam Cafe, Jl. Wahid Hasyim, Jakarta.
"..Till the bird on the wire flies me back to you.."
I was listening to Bon Jovi's Bed of Roses a few minutes ago when suddenly the lyric reminds me to one of my all-time favourite song: "Bird on a wire", by Leonard Cohen. Some could say that this is a song to "slit your wrist by", as one of the more famous tags given to Cohen's works. Yet to me this song is more about redemption. At least, when trapped in the melancholy of thinking on what might (or should) have been, it's nice to know that the way out can actually be started simply by making a resolution to amend.
Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
Like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.
Like a baby, stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee.
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
He said to me, "You must not ask for so much."
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
She cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"
Oh like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
A friend told me there'll be another booksale in Cambridge. This is one of those "warehouse booksale" where you are taken to, literally, a warehouse where thousands of books just laying around waiting for you to pick them up.
Last time I went there, I bought dozen of books at ₤2 each - and those books were the result of 5 unbelievable hours trying to sort which ones should be bought now and which can wait until next time. They were heavy-weight academic textbooks, of the type that can knock someones off if you throw it to them. Considering the fact that it was early winter and I had to walk around Cambridge (and London) with those books, I decided that I could only took 12 books. The rest would have to wait.
Now, those were not the main source books that I used for my study. I just bought them because I thought they could contribute to my endeavor to be one of those "learned people". And let's be honest: there's only fewer things that can add to the beauty of a student bedroom than piles of thick and monstrous-looking textbooks. Those would nicely complement piles of dirty laundry and Chinese food takeaway in the corner.
After 3 months since, did I read any of them ? Well, not really. I mean, when you're a student, often you couldn't even find enough time to read the source books. Especially if you're also prone to other temptations, which coincidentally, it is as if Satan was given a season-ticket this year to distract me from my study.
So, what's the point of buying those books then ? And why I can't control the urge to , knowing that I might not read them all ? Could it be that I''ve fallen to the hoarder's mentality trap ?
People hoard many things. Usually it is food, clothes or other basic necessities. Sometime it can take more respectable items, and instead of being called a "hoarder", people called you "collector". It's more respectable because "a collector's item" assume that they are selected of excellence qualities.
But basically hoarder and collector are the same. The difference is just minor: instead of collecting cheap goods like cans of sardine, you collect luxury items like painting, cars or (admittedly rare these days) trophy wives.
Some would say that they hoard (well, OK, "collect") because the items might be useful in the future. But is it so ? Can you imagine Imelda Marcos would ever wear that no.100 pair of shoes in her collection of thousands ? Most probably she would just bought a new pair, especially since Manolo Blahnik will release the latest spring collection in the next few weeks (naah... I just made this part up).
Some would say that it was just for showing off. Which is hard to understand. If you meet a man who collect thousands of CDs, LPs and DATs (tapes), and he doesn;t work for a library, what do you think of him ? Nuts, I would say. And don't get me wrong: a friend of mine do have that kind of collections - he agreed that there must be something wrong in him although he professed that he did all that "for the love of music". But SBY was said to have a 13,000 books in his library ? Well, firstly I doubt that he really collect (let alone read) the books all by himself. And secondly, you just can't argue with a general of the army (and a president). they live in a different sphere from the rest of us mortal souls.
Guess I have to stop here, though. My laptop have just notified me that it's running out of disk space. Apparently I have to move those 20's gB of mp3 from the system, so I can convert the next 300 CDs into my collection. Or make it 200 CDs and 10,000 Grisham-size ebooks.
Jan 25, '05 6:49 PM
"I love you, Pa".
Who-aa! If you're an Indonesian man, imagine what will happen the minute after you said that to your father. The most benign response will be something along this line: "Anything wrong with you ?". The cynical version will possibly : "What ? Did you forget to take your pills again ?". While the realistic father will simply say, "alright. How much money do you need this time ?".
It's uncommon for Indonesian to express the love to their father in words, at least in my generation. Our sisters might have more success in this regards (especially to our mothers), but believe me, things will actually get worse (or at least, awkward) if you start blurting those three magic words to him. It seems that deep in our grey cells which regulate our linguistic skills, the word "father" is more appropriately related to the feeling "respect" than "love".
Does it mean that we don't love our father ? It's hard to say, but the Indonesian version of father-son's innermost relationship is more likely based on gestures and action than on spoken words. Not that words don't play significant role, but mostly it's on the form of advice, command, banter, anger or debate. Soft, gentle words are never seen as it is but must be understood within the context of "speak softly, but carry a big stick". And when you're being too naughty, the stick more often than not are there faster than the words.
I have only once seen my father express his deepest feeling for me. It's not conveyed in words, but tears. I had a concussion due to a motorcycle accident. I was taken to the hospital, and while laying down in the ER unit, slowly drifting to unconscious state, I remembered seeing him and my mother standing beside me. Naturally, I felt terrified, especially because less than 3 months before I had crashed the car in another accident. "That's it. I'm doomed. I'll be lucky if he just throw me the harsh words". My mother was crying hysterically and blurbing questions to the doctor about my condition. She would ruefully told my father that he should not bought the motorcycle in the first place. But all those time, my father was just silently standing beside my bed. I didn't know whether he was angry, or just worried about my condition, or something else. All I could see was the tears trailing down his cheeks. THat was the moment I knew I will remember for the rest of my life every time I think about fatherly love.
Similar experiences also happened to most of my friends. We don't recall of ever saying "I love you"s to our fathers - or having our fathers saying it to their sons. It is just don't get done that way. The love is expressed by making him proud of our achievements, and by us being proud of HIS achievements. It is done by being silently grateful for all the things he have done to us. It is conveyed in the action of trying to be more successful than him. It is the main idea that drive our struggle to be better than our fathers. Those of you who read Freud for a living will say that it's the reflection of that Oedipian thing. But the fact is simple: that drive is mutually accepted as the way things should be. You will never ever meet a father who does not express his pride when he boast about his kids achievement.
Which brings us to the non-existence of "Father's Day" event in Indonesia. We do have a "Mother's Day" celebration every 22 Dec, but so far I have never heard any suggestion to have the equivalent event for the fathers. Do we need to institute the Father's Day in our calendar ? I honestly have no idea. For Mother's Day, we are supposed to do something special like letting her free from daily chores like cooking. The same thing can't be applied to our father. He never cooked for the family (even if he's a chef). He doesn't even do men's chores like washing the car anymore, cause it's already "delegated" to the kids. So, what special treatment do we give them for the Day ?