February. Get ink. Shed tears.

Last year’s February was as dark as chimney in the Croatian border during wintertime. I still do not know how to properly wrap that February. I just let that soaked under the snowfall. Hoping I will forgive the month.

This year, I had asked my mother to send me the medical records that I haven’t touched for years. I am supposed to book both check-up and therapy sessions with the experts as soon as I arrived in Indonesia, but see who forgot? Anyway, the real reason why I asked my mother in the first place was that she and my father decided to travel somewhere again and I am afraid I do not know where she put those records.

So the records consisted of papers and papers and a negative film of my brain. Also a heap of medical receipts. You know, I have neglected my body for so long that once it was shrinking to the point that my space was too. Each time I look at my own reflection, I see a resilience staring back at me. I must have been through a lot that for real, my master's degree means nothing to me at the moment.

Write of it. Sob your heart out. Sing.

I decided to paint my nails and hair. I decided to look different this time. Mother told me I look fluffier and so I told her, OK. It is good that I am now blessed with a pair of round cheeks. Probably this is how my body always wants to grow. My brother told me that change is necessary. Anyway, in his eyes, I am never more than just a thin girl, so it is okay. Acceptable, as Stephen said. But who’s Stephen? You don’t need to know. This is how random this rambling is.

For many reasons, I could not complete my grief. There were so many events, tragedies, and loss that I was supposed to mourn for two years. I lost my Oma months before my departure to Istanbul and I have not visited her tomb until now. Oma, I still want your forgiveness. Oma, weren’t you the only grandparent I used to pour my heart out to? Oma, remember that phone call before my high school examination when I told you I was not ready? You told me you would pray and you were proud of me. I was so touched by your gesture. We were apart by the seas but now we are apart by dimensions.

Last year’s April was tough as I rushed and crammed my self into Budapest’s metro station 2. I was about to attend sensitivity training that was conducted from morning until the summer sky went dark. So there I was, haggling with the ticket inspector because it just happened that even though I brought my transportation ticket with me, I forgot my wallet in the apartment. She forced me to show her my student card, which was of course inside my wallet. I told her I was sorry but she asked for some fine. I went mad at that time I yelled at her, “How the hell I pay for the fine when I forgot my wallet and do not even have a dime?” I was excused. Phew.

The time I was inside the metro, I noticed my brother had tried contacting me this whole time but I was busy arguing. He then sent me a message, “Grandma died.” My mother’s mother died that very day. I came late to the class with a pale face. During the lunch break, I ate the meal I prepared from home and ate in silence. I lost all of my sensitivity that day. She was very old when she tried to cradle me at that time in Cirebon. She must be very very old the day she left.

I lost both of my grandmothers and I have not visited their tombs. Yet.

How do I live with your ghosts?

While torrential slush that roars burns in the blackness of the spring.

Boris Pasternak’s poem strikes me hard in the feel. I once read his poem completely in Russian and it made me sad because I was totally lost in the Feeling Forest. I meant how did you pay a ride for only 6 hrivnas? (It is not something I should be concerned of). My spring was muddy because it was raining a lot (thank you, Winter-in-Denial). It was black and/or dark at least until April. But in Budapest, I did not stop grieving. I lost her. This grandma had 14 kids to raise and countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her hands had fed many mouths. She went through a lot. Who said living in a colonial ghetto was enjoyable? She had witnessed many things; from Dutch to the Japanese invasion, the Independence, the genocide…. She had seen how some of her children were buried before her eyes.

I did not perform well in my training, and my best friend who happened to take the class told the lecturer before I came that I just lost my grandmother, an ocean away.

Go. Hire a buggy for six grivnas. Race through the noise of bells and wheels. To where the ink and all you grieving are muffled when the rainshower falls.

I could not find any carriage to see my dead grandma and to attend her last day before the burial, or could I? I lost myself that day. Later, I tried my best to find any kind of cardamom in any Asian shop just to have the smell. She and mother would love to put cardamom to their delicacies. That day, I put some to my hot tea. I just wanted to feel better.

The poetry that sobs its heart out.

Confusing that I mourn my grandmothers a lot, really. Probably because I connected a lot with them during my early years. A tiny granddaughter with thin hair and pale skin, completely looked fine until they recognized my illness on my teenage years. They prayed. They wish I would recover soon.

Oma’s hands always welcomed my face. Literally. She lost her vision when I was 12 and she would put my fingers to touch my face. And she mumbled, “how do you look like?” to which I answered, “I look just fine. I look like your son.”

I don’t look fine, now, grandmas.



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Az Áfonya

Az Áfonya


Afina Nurul Faizah. Growing up nomad: Cirebon, Merauke, Bandung, Cilacap, Purwokerto, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Bogor.