Monday, March 18, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

  A couple of months ago, I finished reading the last page of Me Before You.  I closed the book and sat back on my chair.  My heart was full.  Sometimes, when the heart is too full, you don’t know what to say, you can’t describe it.  So you borrow someone else’s words, otherwise your heart will burst.  And for this book, I’m borrowing a passage from Acts of Faith by Iyanla Vanzant.

Reason, Season, or Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use
in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Whether they’re in one another’s lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, you’ll have to read this book yourself to find out (which, I hope, you would, because it’s worth it, really), but that’s what happened between Louisa Clark and Will Traynor.  They found each other, in the most unexpected circumstances---she, a working-class girl in desperate need of a job;  he, an ex City-whiz kid, wealthy, intelligent, and very unhappy after spending two years as a quadriplegic. Despite their dislikes toward each other during the early stages, somehow their relationship grew, and she was determined to help him
            This book will stay with me for a long time, amongst one of those “unforgettable books” in my list. It’s beautiful in all its simplicity, yet the emotions it evokes are not so simple. It leads one to contemplation and maybe you will wonder what you will do if you were in their shoes, if you were in Will’s shoes, particularly.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It was a Pigeon
I made the call. Because of a pigeon. And a windowsill. It wasn't even a real pigeon. Nor a real windowsill. It was in the book I was reading. A pigeon cooed on the windowsill, it said. It puffed up its body, marched back and forth, and took flight. A mental image immediately took shape in my mind, of a fat, grey, beady-eyed pigeon, and a windowsill. Not just any windowsill, but one particular windowsill. How one word could make a difference. Without the "windowsill" the phrase would probably have gone unnoticed. As it was, it made me stop, and the pictures reappeared, certain images, certain memories. A pigeon, a room. Winter without snow. A face. And suddenly the pictures were complete. In less than a second. And next thing I knew, I reached for the phone and made the call.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Saat Keraguan Menyapa

Dalam bukunya, Seperti Sungai yang Mengalir, salah satu tulisan Coelho yang paling mengena buat saya adalah Doa yang Terlupakan.  Doa ini ditulisnya lama berselang, disisipkan di sampul sebelah dalam sebuah buku puisi, dan bertahun-tahun kemudian doa ini kembali kepadanya dalam cara yang sungguh luar biasa---di selebaran yang disodorkan seseorang kepadanya ketika dia sedang berjalan-jalan di Sao Paulo.  Doa yang indah dan tak akan lekang oleh waktu.  Demikian bunyinya:

 Tuhan, lindungilah keraguan-keraguan kami, sebab Keraguan pun sebentuk doa.  Keraguan-lah yang membuat kami bertumbuh dan memaksa kami untuk tak takut melihat sekian banyak jawaban yang tersedia untuk satu pertanyaan.  Kabulkanlah doa kami…
          Tuhan, lindungilah keputusan-keputusan kami, sebab membuat Keputusan pun sebentuk doa.  Setelah bergulat dengan keraguan, beri kami keberanian untuk memilih antara satu jalan dengan jalan lainnya.  Biarlah kiranya pilihan YA tetap YA dan pilihan TIDAK tetap TIDAK.  Setelah kami memilih jalan kami, kiranya kami tidak pernah menoleh lagi atau membiarkan jiwa kami digerogoti penyesalan.  Kabulkanlah doa kami…
          Tuhan, lindungilah tindakan-tindakan kami, sebab Tindakan pun sebentuk doa.  Kiranya makanan kami sehari-hari menjadi buah dari segala yang terbaik dalam diri kami.  Kiranya kami bisa berbagi walau sedikit saja dari Kasih yang kami terima, melalui karya dan perbuatan.  Kabulkanlah doa kami…
          Tuhan, lindungilah impian-impian kami, sebab Bermimpi pun sebentuk doa.  Kiranya usia maupun keadaan-keadaan tidak menghalangi kami untuk tetap mempertahankan nyala api harapan dan kegigihan yang suci itu di dalam hati kami.  Kabulkanlah doa kami…       
          Tuhan, berikanlah antusiasme kepada kami, sebab Antusiasme pun sebentuk doa.  Antusiasme-lah yang memberitahu kami bahwa hasrat-hasrat kami penting dan layak diperjuangkan semaksimal mungkin.  Antusiasme-lah yang mengukuhkan kepada kami bahwa segala sesuatu tidaklah mustahil asalkan kami sepenuhnya berkomitmen pada apa yang kami lakukan.  Kabulkanlah doa kami…
          Tuhan, lindungilah kami, sebab Hidup ini adalah satu-satunya cara bagi kami untuk mengejawantahkan kuasa keajaibanMu.  Kiranya bumi tetap mengolah benih menjadi gandum, kiranya kami bisa tetap mengubah gandum menjadi roti.  Dan semua ini hanya dimungkinkan apabila kami memiliki Kasih;  karenanya, janganlah kami ditinggalkan seorang diri.  Biarlah selalu ada Engkau di sisi kami, dan ada orang-orang lain---laki-laki dan perempuan-perempuan---yang menyimpan keraguan-keraguan, yang bertindak dan bermimpi dan merasakan antusiasme, yang menjalani setiap hari dengan sepenuhnya membaktikannya kepada kemuliaanMu.  Amin.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Little Things That Warm the Heart

A cup of hot chocolate, a letter from a friend (a nice, old-fashioned, ink on paper letter), and a beautiful poem by Tagore to complete my morning. 

The Gardener: XXVIII  

Your questioning eyes are sad. They seek to know my meaning as the moon would fathom the sea.
I have bared my life before your eyes from end to end, with nothing hidden or held back. That is why you know me not.
If it were only a gem I could break it into a hundred pieces and string them into a chain to put on your neck.
If it were only a flower, round and small and sweet, I could pluck it from its stem to set it in your hair.
But it is a heart, my beloved. Where are its shores and its bottom?
You know not the limits of this kingdom, still you are its queen.
If it were only a moment of pleasure it would flower in an easy smile, and you could see it and read it in a moment.
If it were merely a pain it would melt in limpid tears, reflecting its inmost secret without a word.
But it is love, my beloved.
Its pleasure and pain are boundless, and endless its wants and wealth.
It is as near to you as your life, but you can never wholly know it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

50. Let the Right One In

* Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
   Cover design:  Satya Utama Jadi

At first I was a bit sceptical about this book. It’s a vampire novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist. The synopsis did not help to convince me at all. So I really don’t know why, in the end, I decided to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. It’s like no other vampire novels I’ve ever read. The story was gruesome, dark, and yet beautifully moving, heartwrenching, at the same time. It haunted me long after I finished reading it. I brought this book with me everywhere for a couple of weeks, reading several pages each day and  from time to time I put it down and thought, “What is it like to read it in the dark of winter?”The dreary, long winter in Blackeberg seemed to rise from every page and hovered in the air even as I read under the sun. Yes, that’s where it took place. Blackeberg, a working suburb in Stockholm, and the year was 1981. That’s where Oskar met Eli. Oskar was a 12 year-old-boy who lived with his mother in a drab apartment complex, he had no friends and he was always bullied at school; Eli was a little girl who lived next door with her “patron”, Håkan Bengtsson. Both Oskar and Eli were victims of circumstances, both are alone, and that’s why they became friends and took care of each other, even after Oskar knew that Eli was a vampire who lived on fresh blood.

          But this book is much much more than just a vampire novel. It takes on a lot of other subjects as well: human depravity, social problems, loneliness, the needs to belong, and many others. And eventhough most of the characters were twisted and social outcasts---Oskar himself was a sociopath in the making, Håkan was a pedophile, and the secondary characters were all hopeless drunkards---yet somehow you feel for them. And despite some horribly bloody episodes, there was also a lot of love, and some poignant moments, such as when Håkan thought of Eli as “Samuel Beckett’s eyes in Audrey Hepburn’s face”. Or in one of my favourite moments, when Eli and Oskar kissed and:

For a few seconds Oskar saw through Eli’s eyes. And what he saw was…himself. Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself. Seen with love.

It was also those lines that redeemed Eli in my mind. I was questioning her motives to Oskar. Surely she was just manipulating him, trying to turn him into another Håkan? But after those lines, no, she couldn’t have. She did love him.
          And oh… the movie was very good too---the original Swedish movie, I’m not so sure about the American remake.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Farewell, Mb. Lis

*Farewell, Mb. Lis

Beloved editor, translator, mentor, shipmate, captain.

Joy, shipmate, joy!
Your life is closed, your life begins,
The long, long anchorage you leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore,
Joy, shipmate, joy

(from Songs of Parting---Walt Whitman)

June 24, 2010

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Magic" in a Tube

* "Magic" in a Tube

Salah satu “mainan” favorit saya adalah kaleidoscope. Ya, benda berupa tabung cermin berisi manik-manik atau objek-objek berwarna lain, yang pantulannya membentuk pola-pola abstrak yang indah, rumit, dan selalu berubah-ubah. Saya betah memandangi pola-pola yang mirip kaca patri ini berlama-lama. Duluu sekali saya pernah punya satu kaleidoscope. Tapi gara-gara ceroboh, pecahlah benda kesayangan itu. Nah, baru-baru ini saya menemukan penggantinya di Frankfurt Book Fair.

Di antara kesibukan mondar-mandir memenuhi jadwal-jadwal janji temu di Book Fair itu, biasanya sesekali saya berusaha mengambil napas sejenak dengan berdiri di pojokan sambil makan es krim, atau keluar ke halaman. Hari itu sebagian besar janji temu adalah di Hall 3 yang (selalu) lebih ramai dibandingkan hall-hall lainnya. Masih ada waktu sekitar satu jam sebelum janji temu berikutnya di Hall 8 yang cukup jauh dari Hall 3. Saya keluar ke halaman, untuk sedikit ganti suasana. Begitu keluar pintu, angin dingin yang tajam menggigit langsung menerpa wajah saya. Banyak perokok di luar sini, dan banyak juga yang duduk-duduk di bangku taman sambil menikmati makan siang atau sekadar memeriksa kertas-kertas catatan mereka. Saya berjalan ke arah Hall 5. Asyik juga berjalan santai dalam udara dingin begini. Di depan Hall 5 ternyata banyak kios yang menjual berbagai pernak-pernik, mulai dari perhiasan, syal, topi, batu-batuan, ukir-ukiran, dsb. Saya melihat-lihat sambil lalu saja. Hanya berhenti agak lama di depan kios ukiran kayu, untuk memperhatikan si pemilik kios yang sedang mengukir sepotong kayu menjadi bentuk burung hantu. Foto-foto hitam-putih yang digantung di kiosnya juga menarik perhatian saya. Foto-foto hutan, berbagai tanaman, dan pohon-pohon. Lalu saya melanjutkan berjalan. Yang kemudian membuat langkah saya benar-benar terhenti adalah sebuah kios yang---oh-sungguh-tak-disangka---menjual "mainan" favorit saya, benda yang sudah begitu lama saya cari-cari. Kaleidoscope. Dan kaleidoscope yang dipajang di kios itu cantik-cantik sekali desain eksteriornya. Yang paling kecil seukuran tabung lipstik dan harganya jauh lebih mahal. Setelah bingung memilih-milih, karena semuanya bagus, jadilah saya membeli dua kaleidoscope ukuran sedang. Yang satu eksteriornya biru tua bermotif, dengan isi manik-manik berwarna-warni cemerlang. Yang satu lagi berbentuk mercu suar, diisi dengan minyak dan kerang-kerang serta bebatuan laut. Senaaaang sekali rasanya, menemukan pengganti yang dulu pecah itu.

Selain kaleidoscope, ada juga dijual teleidoscope. Bedanya adalah teleidoscope digunakan untuk membentuk pola-pola kaleidoskopis dari objek di luar benda tsb. Sambil membungkus belanjaan saya, Monika, si perancang dan pembuat kaleidoscope itu, tak lupa menyelipkan kartu namanya. Kalau berminat melihat website-nya, lihat di sini

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

49. Three Shadows

* Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa

I'm glad to announce here that I've finished translating this beautifully written and visually stunning graphic novel by French writer Cyril Pedrosa. It's one of those books that move you so much and this book speaks a lot in all its simplicity. The little boy Joachim lives a happy and simple life with his parents. Everything was perfect, until the three shadows start to appear. The parents know they are after the little boy, and they know what it means. The mother is resigned, but the father tries with all his might to save his son.

It's a story that should be familiar to all of us. We all have come face to face with the Three Shadows, at one time or another in our life, and we all react differently. Some may welcome them, others may shun them, try to escape, try to buy time. Joachim's father spares nothing is his efforts to save his son, but...

48. Teen Ink

* Teen Ink: Love & Relationship

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tim Burton's Stain Boy

* Tim Burton's Stain Boy

I was looking for something light to read this afternoon when, among the stacks of books, I found my old copy of The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton, so of course I had to read it again. It's an all time favourite book of mine and it's truly awesome. I especially like The Girl Who Turns Into a Bed, but I don't think this one has been made into an animation yet.

Anyway, here's a movie about Stain Boy. He's one of the characters in the book. A superhero, albeit an unusual one, because his only ability is to leave a nasty stain. The movie tells about the birth of Stain Boy and how, in the Charity Home, he met other characters in the book: the Girl with Many Eyes, Brie Boy, the Boy with Nails in His Eyes, and the Penguin Boy.