The Child in All of Us

Season 3 Episode 1

Level of Indonesian and English fluency: Intermediate to Advanced

Indonesian Version

Dari kecil, orang menganggapku anak pendiam, padahal aku banyak bicara, hanya tidak kepada mereka. Kepalaku itu sangat berisik.

Yang mendengarnya sepasang kakek-nenek dan kedua cucu mereka sebayaku, seorang bayi-bayian, monyet-monyetan, beruang-beruangan, anjing-anjingan, kucing-kucingan, perahu-perahuan.

Aku pelindung mereka dari pemburu, penculik, dan pembunuh bayaran. Senjataku kain ajaib dan pedang sakti. Aku juga mengajarkan huruf dan angka agar mereka tidak mudah ditipu orang jahat.

Setiap pulang sekolah aku membersihkan papan tulis kecil dan menaruh mereka duduk berbaris di depannya. Aku akan mengulangi yang aku pelajari di sekolah kepada mereka. Sebaliknya mereka mengajariku berpikir sebebas-bebasnya dan berbuat semauku.  

Orang-orang berpikir, ya tentu saja Cyntha, mereka kan, cuma mainan, benda mati. Tapi mereka keliru telah meremehkan. Mainan-mainan membiarkan aku menjadi pencipta, tidak ada yang benar atau salah, hanya kesenangan mengisi waktu dengan bercerita.

Benda-benda mati itu membentuk isi dunia masa kecilku, dunia satu-satunya yang hanya milikku, hanya aku yang bisa menghidupkan mereka. Dunia dalam kepala adalah dunia yang disusun dengan kata yang kemudian membentuk gambar-gambar. Semakin beragam dan kompleks, semakin banyak kata yang harus kukumpulkan bagai sebuah bangunan tertinggi membutuhkan segunung batu bata.

Tanpa kusadari, aku menjadi pengumpul kata. Bila dunia di mana aku dilahirkan dan tumbuh sedang tidak ramah, (sering terjadi nih) maka aku dengan mudah bisa membangun dunia lain yang aku inginkan. 

Lalu ketika aku punya anak, aku berusaha sekali menghormati kediamannya bahkan ketika ia sedang tampak berbicara sendiri. Seorang anak mampu secara alami menghidupkan benda-benda mati. Bukankah itu sesuatu yang menakjubkan? Aku tidak menyuruh dia mencari teman, mencapnya pemalu, apalagi menganggapnya aneh.

Ia punya teman, kok, teman sekolah dan tetangga, namun ia butuh lebih dari itu. Ia perlu menciptakan dunia yang hanya miliknya. Ia yang mengatur, ia yang menulis aturan-aturannya dan ia juga bebas mendobraknya dan menuliskannya lagi. Aku, orang dewasa, yang walaupun ibunya sendiri, lebih baik membiarkannya memiliki kendali dan belajar menanggung akibat keputusannya sendiri. 

Banyak orangtua yang khawatir anaknya berkhayal namun mendorongnya untuknya berimajinasi; padahal keduanya sih sama saja bagi anak-anak. Menurutku, menciptakan dunia yang berada di luar dirinya sendiri adalah dasar pendidikan dini yang paling penting.

Dengan dia berbicara kepada dirinya sendiri atau dia pura-pura menjadi orang lain akan melatih kemampuan nalar dan emosinya. Dari menggunakan mainan sebagai alat, kemudian buku-buku cerita ketika sudah bisa membaca maka anak-anak akan merasa nyaman dengan dirinya sendiri dan tahu bahwa siapa pun dia, dia punya tempat di dunia ini. 

Ketika besar, aku menjadi penulis—dari berita, artikel, iklan sampai fiksi—namun anakku berbeda, dia menemukan dunia lain yaitu gambar. Dia mengumpulkan imaji-imaji di kepala dan menceritakannya melalui gambar. Dia akan asyik tuh seharian menggambar sampai aku harus mencerewetinya untuk makan. “Mama nih ganggu aja, tau gak sih, di duniaku, orang gak harus mandi atau makan, loh, Ma,” katanya sembari nyengir.    

“Pengumpul Kata”

Seberapa banyak kata yang kau pahami, lebahku?

Kusuapi kau kata demi kata demi hari

sambil bersenandung dan bercerita tentang segala

yang tersinari matahari dan rembulan yang tinggi hati

bahasa merdu penghantar tidur ketika laut sedang termenung

sementara jam menahan detaknya sampai setiap kata

yang ingin ia dengarkan terucap dari mulutku

dan aku harap kau simpan dalam rongga nuranimu.

Namun laut adalah laut

terusik, amukannya melahap rembulan

tangannya mencengkeram tubuhmu yang rawan

tak berdaya terguyur kata-kata runcing yang

bersemburan dari mulutku.

Apakah kau tertusuk, lebahku? Kau hanya memandangiku.

Bertahun-tahun kau mengumpulkan kata

yang kusuapi dan kusemburkan.

suatu hari dan berhari-hari seterusnya

lebahku mendengung

menyengat berkali-kali

dan mengurapiku dengan bunga dan madu.

English Version (7:37)

Since Cyntha was little, everyone saw her as a quiet kid, while in reality, she was quite talkative, just not to those people. Her head was filled with voices. Her audience were her imaginary friends: they were a pair of grandparents and their two grandchildren who were about her age, and her dolls and toys: a baby, a monkey, a bear, a dog, a cat and a boat. Cyntha was their protector against hunters, kidnappers and hired killers. Her weapons were a magic cloth and a sacred sword. She taught them letters and numbers so that they were not easily deceived by the bad guys. Everyday, after she got home from school, she cleaned up a small board and placed all her dolls and toys in front of the board. She will recite what she had learned that day in school to them.  In turn they taught her to think freely and do what she wanted to do.

People thought, of course, they were just toys, inanimate objects. People made the mistake of underestimating. Toys allowed Cyntha to become a creator, nothing was wrong nor right, there was only the joy of filling up the time by creating stories. Those inanimate objects formed her childhood world, the only world that belonged to her as she was the only one who could bring them to life. The world inside her head was a world that was formed by words which then created pictures. As the world grew more diverse and complex, she needed more words to be collected, like how a tall building required a mountain of bricks. Without her realizing it, Cyntha became a word collector. If the real world where she was born and raised was not in a friendly situation (which often happened), she could easily build another world which she wanted.

Then when Cyntha had her own child, she tried to respect her child’s silence, even when it appeared that her child was talking to herself. A child has the natural ability to give life to inanimate objects. Isn’t that amazing? She never asked her daughter to go make some friends, labeled her as shy, let alone think of her as weird. Her daughter had friends, school friends and neighbors, but she needed more than that. She needed to create her own world that only belonged to her. She was in control, was the one who laid down the rules and it was also she who broke the rules and rewrote them again. Cyntha, as the adult, the mother of her child, was better off letting her child have the control and learn the consequences of her decisions. 

Many parents worry when their children daydream, but consistently push them to be more imaginative; which are actually the same thing for children. In Cyntha’s opinion, creating a world outside of one’s self is the most important early basic education one can have. Talking to one’s self or pretending to be somebody else will help the child to train their common sense and emotions. From using toys as instruments, and then story books when they could read, children would feel comfortable with themselves and know that whoever they were, they would have a place in this world.

When Cyntha became a writer (news, articles, ads and later  fiction) her daughter found a different world through drawing.  She collected images in her head and told her stories through drawings. Her daughter would spend the day away drawing until Cyntha had to nag her to eat. Her daughter answered cheekily that her mother was bothering her as in her world nobody had to take baths or eat. 

“Word Collector” 

a poem from the book  “Ibu Mendulang Anak Berlari”

How many words do you understand, my bee? 

I fed you word for word day after day

while humming and telling stories about everything

under the sun and the proud moon

melodious language lulling you to sleep when the sea is pensive

while the clock holds its beat until each word

it wants to hear comes out of my mouth 

and I hope you keep it in the cavity of your conscience.

But the sea is the sea

disturbed, its tantrum devours the moon

its hands grip your vulnerable body in

helplessly flushed by the spiky words

bursting from my mouth.

Are you stung, my bee? You only look at me

For years you have collected words

which I feel and burst out

One day and everyday after

my bee buzzes 

stings many times

and anoints me with flowers and honey.

This is a story from Cyntha Hariadi who is a writer from Tangerang, Banten. She now resides in Ubud, Bali. Among her publications: “Ibu Mendulang Anak Berlari” (a book of poems), “Manifesto Flora” (a collection of short stories), and “Kokokan Mencari Arumbawangi” (a novel). All published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama and can be found in Gramedia bookstores and online stores. Her latest story can be found in “The Book of Jakarta” an anthology by Indonesian writers published in 2020 by Comma Press, UK. The book can be purchased online at Comma Press, UK website and at the Post Santa bookstore in Jakarta.

Vocabularies

Berisik : Noisy

Kain ajaib : Magical cloth

Pedang sakti : Sacred sword

Papan tulis : Board, Blackboard

Kediamannya : Residence

In Indonesian language, to change singular to plural, we do not add ‘s’, but we repeat the word, for instance:

bayi-bayi, monyet-monyet, beruang-beruang, etc.

However, when we add ‘an’ at the second word, the meaning changes to something is not real/toys.

bayi – bayi + an: bayi-bayian: a baby doll.

monyet-monyet +an: monyet-monyetan: a monkey toy

Indonesian language used here is in the daily-conversation format, that has influences from the local culture and custom. Should you have questions on the more formal version, please consult with your guru Bahasa Indonesia.

Level of Indonesian and English fluency: Intermediate to Advanced

Photo by: Adi Nugroho photography

Poem translated by Syarafina Vidyadhana & Rara Rizal