Writing Prompt Challenge #2

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PHEW. This was quite tough to write. Mainly because I didn’t get a proper sleep and it affects my mind. Couldn’t think clear and my wordplay somehow become dull. But I gotta deal with it though, the idea’s on my mind already.

Enjoy the story! I will gladly hear your feedbacks!


 

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST CHILD banners are standing still in front of Denny’s newly-bought house. The house that was bought with a 60 times installment, with God-only-knows interest. Her wife, Dina, is 2 years younger than Denny. There was a joke that Denny married Dina because of their not-so-different name (Denny’s family loves superstition, so…), but Denny made Dina sure that love is the main reason.

Another reason why Denny married Dina was because both of them are horror maniac. Denny’s ex-girlfriends (about 2 or 3 of them) broke up with Denny because of his strange hobby of reading and collecting horror-related toys and books and other stuff. “Horror are strangely satisfying for me. There’s something fun and satisfying about scaring and being scared, you know? You’re walking on a street then suddenly a man with smiley mask bouncing around or walk with hands or legs moving in random direction… is it scary? Of course! The nature of uncertainty and unknown are scaring, but exciting in its own way.” Denny once said to one of his friend. His love of horror extends to his behavior, people could not understand him either. His first girlfriend was having a birthday, Denny planned a surprise at 12 o’ clock, sharp. A cake was prepared and around 10 or 20 thin and colorful candles are attached to the delicate top of the cake, but only God and himself knew why he wore Scream mask that day. When the girl was sleeping, Denny entered her room (with parents’ permission of course) and poked her in the arm using a toy knife. As expected, within the next minutes, Denny got hit by a thrown silver make up box. Broke up ensued immediately.

That didn’t make Denny stop and revise his life choice, though. Next girlfriend had the same fate with the previous. Only, this time it was her graduation. Denny showed up wearing red wig, denim jumpsuit, and striped long sleeve T-Shirt like worn by Chucky. Broke up ensued, again. The third one, was for the sake of prank video. Denny paid a visit to her house one day, and when she was cooking, Denny changed his clothes and wear Jigsaw mask. Walked slowly and poked her from behind, saying “wanna play a g-g-game..?” got slapped. Broke up ensued, again.

Dina stood out from the rest of the girlfriends. She met Denny right after they graduated from University of Riverbrick. Dina told Denny that she heard a lot about him, “Your seniors talked about you a lot, some despise, some entertained by, some loved your strange hobby. I eavesdropped those conversations, and I thought I should meet you.” Denny then asked why would she want to meet a freak like him, she said “Not many know that I collected posters of Jason Voorhees, Pennywise a.k.a Bob Gray, Valak even. Unlike other groups of gals, my friends never visited my house after one of them knew that I collect horrors. If you, by any chance, visit my house, you’ll meet dozens of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, and many classics such as Poe and Lovecraft.” Denny’s jaw dropped, it might be a simple jaw drop, but inside his mind and heart, he felt a sudden ‘click’ sound when Dina told him her collection, SHE IS THE ONE signs crossed his mind like a motorcycle in Jakarta’s rush hour.

They decided to name their first son ‘Dennywise’. Named after the famous Stephen King character, Pennywise, but playing with Denny and Dina’s name. ‘Dennywise’ contained D & N (Both Denny and Dina have those characters), and ‘Wise’ is their wish for their newly-born son. Strange name, the neighbors said, but the name gave them an odd satisfaction.

The neighbors and the couple’s relatives and family concern about Dennywise’s house environment. Denny’s mom worried about plethora of horror stuff, from bloody masks to life-size Pennywise figurine. “That’s not a kind of environment you’d wish your son to grow up, Denny” His mom said in a one-on-one talk with Denny “Why don’t you put those disgusting stuff in one room and let your son grow up in a totally NORMAL environment. I can’t imagine if Dennywise–even I wanted to hate that name–grow up and do pranks or strange things like you. I just can’t, Denny” Denny’s mom added.

But Dina and Denny persisted on placing those horror stuff on their default place. If you enter their house, the first thing that will greet you is a 3D picture of Sadako hanged on the living room, the iconic getting-out-from-TV picture, scare-guarantee for guests. That was on your right. On your left, hanged masks of Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, 1990 Pennywise, Jigsaw, and recently hanged, 2017 Pennywise mask. It looked exactly like this:

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The living room was separated into two parts, divided by 4 lined rectangle display glasses filled with Denny and Dina’s horror collection. On the first cabinet, there’s dozen books from the moderns like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Joe Hill, and R.L Stine, classics like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson and more. The second to third cabinet is filled with small figurines like Jenglot, Pennywise, and Alien. The fourth cabinet is filled with horror DVDs. These collections are like the second child for Denny and Dina, every Saturday they would spare 1-2 hours (While Dennywise was sleeping) and clean the dusts or any microscopic dirt out of their collection. (Of course, they spent chunks of rupiah on those).

Right behind the display glasses, the other living room has the life-size Pennywise figurine. Sitting on a chair on the corner beside the TV, facing the main living room. Sometimes, either Denny or Dina would tangle red balloons in either hands of the figurine. For what purpose? They don’t know either.

These horror stuffs become Dennywise’s friend in growing up. In his first two years, Denny was seen frequently sleeping on the life-size Pennywise figurine’s lap. Dennywise also allowed to watch gore and horror movies along with his parents. For a 3 years old child, Dennywise has a horror portfolio already. He watched A Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1990 & 2017 IT (Denny and Dina had a heated debate with the ticket seller to let Dennywise watch), The Shining, Paranormal Activity, and The Ring.

It all fun and games until one night.

On Denny’s birthday, his little family celebrated with cheesecakes and movie night. That night, they re-watch The Ring. Unlike a normal family that would close their eyes along the movie, Denny’s family enjoyed the whole thing without even a gesture to close their eyes or ears. Dennywise even said in a laugh “Sadako! Sadako! TV! TV! TV!”.

When the TV scene came, slowly Sadako crawls.

Closer.

Closer.

Dennywise laughed “Sadako! Sadako!”

Closer.

One hand got out of their TV. Other hand got out, again, from their TV.

“Did we put on the 3D version?” Denny thought.

Now the head got out, revealing strands of hair falling out like a fallen spaghetti.

“Din, tell me this is the 3D version we played.” Denny said to Dina.

“It’s not, mas.” Dina replied.

While the conversation continues, half of Sadako’s body had been out from the TV. Her body looked more real than a 4K resolution, the pale skin looked genuine to the point Denny and Dina could see the lines of Sadako’s hand, her nail also reflected the light of the chandelier above them.

Denny screamed and turned the TV off in a flash.

Sadako didn’t disappear. It stuck in the middle of the TV. Clawing the carpet, struggling to go out from the TV. The carpet’s now filled with scratch marks, some strands of hair fallen, forming a lot of S, tangled each other. Sadako shrieked, her shriek was deafening.

Denny and Dina sprinted to their bedroom, leaving Sadako alone on the TV.

Contrary to his parents who are sweating bullets, Dennywise laughed and repetitively mentioned Sadako mixed with his puny laugh. “WHAT WAS THAT!?” Denny screamed. Dina, as clueless as Denny, leaned to the wall, clutching her only son. While her brain process the seemingly impossible scene she just witnessed, she multi-tasked by slowing her rapid breath. One or two words were about to jump from Dina’s mouth, but she closed it.

Their bedroom was like the other room, it’s filled with horror stuff. IT 2017 movie poster hanged on the wall. The poster shown Georgie in his yellow slicker and Pennywise standing strong, clutching red balloons blocking it. The poster was seen directly by Dennywise.

Denny peeked from the keyhole of their bedroom to the living room. No trace of Sadako at all. “Was it still there, mas?” Dina asked. “Don’t think so… Let me take a look” Denny got up from where he was. Slowly opening the door, creaking sound breaks the silence. Shit… The creaking was creepy. A thought crossed his mind. On his hands, he hold a broom with hardwood grip, he holds it like a sword.

Sadako’s not there. But the scratch marks and strands of hair were both empirical and tangible. He doesn’t believe it either, but when he touched the marks and hair… “It’s real…” he said to himself, picked the hair and brought it back to the bedroom.

“Din, touch this.” Denny handed the hair on his hand. Dina’s eyes widened, her expression turned grim. “I don’t really know what’s happening. No idea. This hair’s as real as MY hair.” Denny rubbed his forehead and wiped the sweats residing on it. In the next minutes, both Denny and Dina were silenced. But their thoughts are screaming aloud. Fuck this! crossed each of their minds, reflected on their dreary faces.

Again, contrary to his parents, Dennywise laughed innocently. What was different from that laugh was, Dennywise didn’t mention Sadako along with his laugh, but this time, Pennywise.

“Pennywise! Pennywise!” Dennywise yelled playfully.

His mom told her to calm down. Of course, in the middle of a nonsensical scene they just witnessed, it’s the best option to shut up and figure out what is happening. If Dennywise is 10 years old, a simple “Shh… We’re thinking” would work like a charm. But knowing that Dennywise still far from that age, Dina must press her anger and hush him in a gentle fashion.

Knowing that the threat had subsided, Dina and Denny walked to the living room where Pennywise figurine sits, they were aiming for refrigerator. “My throat’s burning, Din. Let’s fetch a cold–” Before Denny finished, there’s a figure standing before them.

Holding red balloons with WHY DON’T YOU DIE TONIGHT 🙂 printed in black in each of the balloons.

It’s Pennywise.

Worse, it’s the Pennywise figurine on the living room.

“Hello there, Denny and Dina… Oh and the little Dennywise, ho ho ho!” Pennywise burst with laughter

Denny spent minutes processing the figure standing before him. Pennywise’s eyes aren’t there, it’s as black as an obsidian, face painted white with wide forehead, its lips bloody read. A real blood.

“Din, to the bedroom!” Denny sprinted and ran back to the bedroom.

“Aw… Don’t run away, pwease pway wif Pwennywiiiiiseee…” Pennywise laughed out loud.

And chased them.

Luckily, the family got back to their bedroom and locked the door, with Pennywise still on the living room, laughing.

“Something isn’t right, mas.” Dina told her husband. “This happened every time Dennywise mentioned some random character” Dina continued. Her husband nodded “I noticed that, too. Maybe our baby was cursed or anything I’m not sure, but for now, let’s stop watching horrors, Din”. Dina agreed immediately.

While they were talking, there’s a knock on their door.

“You suuuure don’t want to play with Pweeeennywiseee?

“Don’t answer it, Din. Don’t talk” Denny muttered.

“Aw… How mean, fine then. Let me invite you to my game” Pennywise said

Dennywise didn’t say anything, his eyes starts to dim. “Penny….wise” he mumbled.

“Din, I don’t know this will work or not. But go to the bathroom, sing some lullaby, let’s see if something’s changing if Dennywise’s sleeping. In the meantime, I’ll hold the door from Pennywise.” Dina doubted the decision, worried of her husband’s life. “Just go!” Denny commanded.

Dina sprinted to the bathroom, locked the door, and hugged her children while singing some nursery rhymes. The singing was off-key, but she tried her best to sing from the bottom of her heart, the heart that’s mixed between worrying her husband and wanting to protect their only son. Dennywise started to close his eyes. But the Pennywise mumbling still won’t stop.

The knocking sound came again, louder. But it’s not the bathroom, it’s their bedroom. Without realizing, Dina let out her tears, soaking her cheeks. She wiped right away, afraid the tears will disturb Dennywise’s sleeping process.

Denny stand behind the door with his back against it. He prayed in his brain and holding the door as hard as he could. Preventing Pennywise to go in.

The knocking sound stopped. This time, there was a sound similar to chainsaw.

Denny figured out the sound in a flash. It was the sound of Pennywise’s jaw and tooth, like that in the movie. Denny then moved away from the door, predicting Pennywise will hit its tooth to the door.

He’s right.

The door went bang! with teeth penetrating the door. A circle bite mark appeared on their door.

Denny’s shaken. “Din! How long ’till Dennywise asleep? Can you be quick!?” Denny screamed.

Dina got out of the bathroom, smiling. Dennywise fell asleep. Pennywise disappeared right away (They can see from the hole Pennywise made).

“Din, we really have to throw off all of our stuff. For our safety. Really. Really.” He cried and hugged his wife, she agreed, he knows. There was no argument whatsoever, the decision was unanimous.


3 years later, the family would only watch children-friendly shows. Shows like Tom and Jerry, Spongebob Squarepants, and Larva. The Pennywise figurine was not there anymore, Denny didn’t throw it off, but Pennywise disappeared by itself that night. Scary masks aren’t there anymore, DVDs were being sent to horror community by the couple, all of those display glasses were filled with family photos, Happy Meals, and Dennywise’s toys.

At Saturday nights, the family would go visit Dennywise’s house and let him play with his friends. This had been a tradition ever since the scary night happened, the main purpose was to avoid Dennywise think or mention any characters again. The couple realized that Dennywise wasn’t cursed; but he has a gift to realize his imagination if it is strong enough.

The family lived happily like other normal and happy families,

 

 

Until that night.

 

That night, Denny and his wife were teaching Dennywise about basic conversation.

“Dennywise, if you are asked by someone ‘what is your name?’ how would you respond?”

My… name is D-D-Dennywise, sir” He stuttered

“Good job! How would you spell your name?

Instead of D E N N Y W I S E, he slipped his tongue

“P-E-N-N-Y-W-I-S-E, my name’s Pennywise, sir!

 

Denny and Dina froze. Their heart skipped a beat. Can’t breathe.

“Hello Denny, Dina, and my little Dennywise! Ha Ha Ha!”  a sound could be heard behind

“It’s a clown! It’s a clown!” Dennywise pointed his finger to a figure behind his parents.

“Well, shall we pwaaay a game wiff Pwennywiseeee?” Pennywise broke with laughter

 

A sound of chainsaw could be heard.

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Writing Prompt Challenge #1

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Hi! This is my first time doing a writing prompt challenge. While there are a lot of options ranging from fantasy to young adult to romance, I took the horror option because it was the most challenging of all.

Basically, writing prompt is some sort of stimulation or ideas to write upon. You were given a short condition and it’s up to you to develop the stories and characters on it.

For this writing prompt, I don’t have specific characters or plot to refer to. It’s just what came to my mind and I write with it. This was based on many Indonesian ghost-hunting shows, as it fits with the writing prompt and I could make something with it. Plus, I am currently reading IT which story is also similar to this.

So this is my first seriously written (and rewritten) horror, enjoy!

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“Here with us, Roni.” the MC offers a handshake “Roni, thank you for coming to our show” MC continued.

“You’re welcome, I’m thrilled to be here” Roni replied. His face shows a nervous expression; was it because of the haunted house or the fact that Roni appeared on local TV show? Roni didn’t understand either.

“Roni, the house is rumored to be haunted by locals, several witness told the crew that some visitors told they saw a lot of… things. Pocong, kuntilanak, some even big spiders, clowns, and a 25-year old man said he saw a dementor from Harry Potter” The MC look flustered saying Harry Potter, she couldn’t believe it either. Dementor? Should we ask him again if he’s on drug or something? a thought crossed her mind.

“I am aware of the rumors very well. Which is why, when I heard ‘Dua Dunia’ will shoot here, I immediately send an application” Roni said with excitement (or disbelieve?). “I want to prove the rumors” he added.

The MC explained the rule to Roni; stay on taped area, do not bring any lights except the given candle, do not litter, you will stay for 5 hours, and do not say offending things. If you can’t stand it, scream or wave to the camera. Roni nodded, the crew attached the equipment required for the shoot: GoPro on head and clip-on mic. Good luck! The MC said to Roni, he give a thumbs up in reply and darted to the site, escorted by a crew.

“I heard this house reacts to personal fear” the crew told Roni while they were walking. “That explains the dementor thing. You know what’s sillier than that? A visitor once saw a Durian” the crew laughed. Roni grinned, a formality.

He walked through debris of rock. Unlike the preview Google Images and YouTube, the house is enveloped by darkness, visibility is almost 30%. The police line tape was covered by glow-in-the-dark stickers, making it glow although visibility is at minimum level. Roni was placed on the first floor. Hanged near the door a picture of an old lady grinning with two teeth dangling right under the upper-lip, her eyes black hole, a lot of wrinkles featured on her chocolate face. Upon glancing at this picture, Roni felt a goosebumps on his neck. In front of him stood 6 pillars circled by that glowing police tape, forming a runway with pillars as the border. The last two pillars couldn’t be seen due to visibility issue.

Beside the second line of pillars, two rooms stood face-to-face. The right one is bathroom, the left is a bedroom, a crew told him. On the ceilings, there was a broken fan with only three hands instead of four. “There’s a mirror on the end of this room” he remembered a crew told him that, too.

“Time starts now, Roni!” The MC announced, Roni, again, gave a thumbs up.

Roni sat down on the mountain of rock debris with candle placed on the floor. The candle lights a limited part of the house, Roni took the chance to take a good look to the nooks and crannies of the house. The pillars are enveloped by decorative rocks of various color, but due to the darkness it wasn’t eye-catching.

Roni spent his first 45 minutes staring at the darkness, deciding what to do for the next 4 hours and 15 minutes, singing some cheerful songs (he knew it won’t help), reciting prayer, and occasionally, throwing rocks.

He prepared 5 rocks to throw, first rock was thrown. thud sound echoed

Second rock thrown. thud sound echoed

Third rock thrown. thud sound echoed

Fourth rock thrown. thud sound echoed

Fifth rock thrown. No thud sound echoed

Roni’s eyes widened. His heart skipped a beat.

“…one more rock” Roni said with heart almost jumping out of his chest

Sixth rock thrown.

No thud sound echoed.

He stood up. A walking sound approached with 1 second interval. Roni hold one more rock (He know it’s not a human but for no obvious reason he hold a rock instinctively).

From a total darkness, imprinted an outline of a lower body. Without the upper part of it, walking independently. It gets closer each second, emitting a sound similar to a knocking. At first, Roni considered this as an internal prank from the crew, like the forums always pointed. “When I was on the show, I saw a boom mic pole used to knock the wooden wall on my right. Foolish of them, they probably forgot that the pole was silver, so a light from the candle reflected on the pole. But to make things scarier, I pretended to be scared” a user in a forum wrote. This must be a machine or God-knows-what… Roni assumed. At this point, his level of confidence spiked for a moment, knowing he could either kick the machine away from his sight or pretend to be scared. The first option seemed more interesting, he said to himself.

Just when he about to proceed with the kungfu-fighting, the lower body emerged. Both rocks he thrown minutes ago stuck on its hip, as if the lower body caught it. The whole lower body just stood before Roni, a horror sight of which he could not believe. Roni gasped, gathering micro energy from his inner body to scream, while at the same time his brain processed the whole being of that lower body. That lower body was literally a lower body parts of a human, from hip to toe. It has a leftover spine jutted out, as if that spine was that lower body’s head or neck. Blood gushes out and drenching the pants the lower body wear and puddled on the floor. To complete the horror, that lower body wears Aladdin shoes with pointy end.

Roni’s brain finished processing the thing that stood before his eye, the brain concluded: That’s not a machine or anything, doofus. That is a fucking lower body part of human. Ya hear me? A H U M A N.

The room filled with shriek sound produced by Roni, he sprinted forward with candle on his left hand, around the second pillar, entering the bathroom. Roni arrived at the bathroom. He leaned against the wall. Behind the wall Roni heard barraging knocking sound of that Aladdin shoes, as if that lower body was looking for Roni.

Within a minute or two, the Aladdin shoes sound subsided. By this time, Roni had successfully lowered his heartbeat from 120 bpm to steady 80 bpm (Roni learned this from Sports Science, 120 bpm means watching horror and 80 means normal. He concluded this himself). The candle, surprisingly, after some intense horror action, didn’t go out. Knowing this, Roni expressed a gratitude.

The bathroom where Roni resided was quite enormous in size. This must be a house of some crazy rich bastards or something… Roni muttered. Despite wrecked, the layout of the bathroom clearly described that this used to be a place for a well-off family, the sink and mirror on far right of the room, bathtub forming a boat complete with its drape (though tattered already), floor with marble slab on it. In fact, almost everything on this bathroom are covered by marble.

While he was enjoying the luxurious view, something knocked the bathroom ceiling. It was another thud sound.

Thud.

Thud.

The sound subsided. Roni prepared his stance to run (or scream). While observing the ceiling, he became aware that there was a square hole above the bathtub covered by square ceiling tile, not that big, but fits a body if there’s something wrong with the ceiling.

Thud.

Thud.

The sound came back. This time, it gets firmer.

Thud thud thud thud thud thud.

Roni became aware that the sound is getting closer to the ceiling tile.

The ceiling tile moved. Roni goosebumped. A creaking sound emitted from the ceiling tile. Slowly, the ceiling tile moved and a square hole become obvious. Roni foolishly focused on that specific tile.

A face appeared. Not from the ceiling, but from behind the bathroom door. Roni wasn’t aware, by this time. He was too focused on what was coming from the ceiling.

The face gets closer to Roni’s back.

It was the old lady from the picture. It (or she) tiptoed behind Roni’s back, grinning with her dangling two teeth and black hole dark eyes. This time, her body was shown fully. Wrinkles everywhere, arms and legs so thin that it was hard to tell whether that is a skin or bone, hair falling every time she moved, and walked like a spider. Slowly.

Roni noticed there was nothing in the ceiling. He guessed that it was probably a rat or cat (he sworn that if it any of those he would smack out of it because it scared the hell out of him). When he was about to turn back and lean on the wall again, he noticed that something is behind him.

“Buhihihihi….” 

Roni pulled a heavy breath. Hold it in his lungs.

“Buhihihihi….” 

He turned his head slowly. A face of that old lady welcomed him with smile. Slowly. creeping towards Roni, like a four-legged spider.

Roni jumped. Dashed from the bathroom with candle on his right hand. This time, he ran back to the first place he came in. Where an infrared camera reside.

From afar, he waved his hand to the camera.

“I GIVE UP! I FREAKING GIVE UP!!” Roni waved has hand interminably.

He kept on doing this until he arrived. Only to realize that

There was no camera, at all.

The place he first came used to have a door and some rock debris. He recalled the image perfectly.

But no door or rock debris. Only wall. A solid, concrete, thick wall stood before him.

Roni abruptly realized there was no police tape either. Only pillars.

He slapped his cheeks hoping there was a glitch or error in his brain.

No error at all. Let alone a glitch.

This is that freaking point where I stood! He screamed in disbelief.

THIS IS THE FREAKING POINT WHERE I STOOD!!

Desperate, Roni waved his hand to every direction possible. There’s a little belief in his heart that on some corners on this floor, attached a CCTV or hidden camera or anything. There’s a little belief in his heart that this was a dream. A little belief that somewhere behind this floor there are some people laughing, that he will be featured in YouTube video titled “Ghost Prank” or something, that he would beat the crap of those people if this is true. A little belief that within a minute, there will be an MC saying “we’re sorry for the technical problem“.

But none of that happened.

A face came out from the bathroom, it was the old lady. She peeked from the bathroom and started to walk with her arms and legs, slowly creeping up towards Roni. Producing sounds that nothing less than creepy.

“Buhihihi…..”

Roni shrieked. He tried waving as a desperate measure.

The old lady approaches. Slow but sure, straight to Roni’s direction.

Time stretched.

In a milisecond, Roni realized that the lady was something he was scared of. It was the picture which gave him a goosebumps upon entering this place. The lower body thing was a horror figure from MUTILATED movie he watched when he was 8 years old. He remembered clearly that it was the first horror figure that scared the heck out of him.

“The crew! It’s what the crew said!” Roni said

Roni tried to think the moments he felt joy, graduation, family gathering. As he do this, he closed his eyes.

Unfortunately, fending off fear was not easy.

The joy, graduation, family gathering moments abruptly changed.

He remembered suddenly, a scene in a movie where a person slept hugging a bolster, and in a second, the bolster changed to Pocong. The Pocong’s face appeared 5 centimeters in front of that person’s eyes.

“Crap.”

Roni opened his eyes.

A Pocong’s face appeared in front of his eyes, in a form of bolster. Without thinking, he throw the Pocong away. Tried to think another joyful moments.

As this happened, the old lady gets closer and the lower body thing reappeared and walked to Roni’s direction.

The Pocong, somehow magically, gets up and starts bouncing towards Roni’s direction.

Roni, again failed avoiding scary thoughts. Now he thought about Pennywise from IT.

Pennywise appeared alongside the Pocong, old lady, and the lower body thing.

“Hi Ronnie… You sound so much like Georgie” Pennywise said with a grim laugh.

Roni gave up. From thinking joyful moments, from running away, from hoping that there’s an exit somewhere. He just leaned against the wall, cornered. While the four of his fears walked towards him.

Pennywise opened its jaw, as wide as a plate. With teeth like a saw, its eyes protruded and its tongue swaying.

The old lady jumped to the wall, then grabbed Roni with her arms and legs. Pocong and the lower body thing just stood and bounce.

Roni is immobilized, cannot move his body. As this happened, Pennywise, with it’s saw tooth and wide jaw opened, stood before Roni.

Roni muttered,

“I should’ve stayed at home…”

 

 

Birthdays

It is just in the count of days until I hit the first day of 23.

Bear in mind that this post is not an innuendo nor it is a hint, it just came to my mind that this is the age where I should reflect and think more about my being.

The 22nd anniversary of myself was good, thrilling, and at some point, challenging. There were a lot of challenges and changes in me along the way. 22nd seemed to be a transition before I deal with real reality. In 22nd, lots of thinking process happened and I’d have to say this year, I changed quite significantly in terms of knowledge. I have read as much as 6 books (quite weak, I know) in a year, but countless of articles which stack up to my knowledge.

I also changed course. In the back of my mind, I still had an affection for my former-dream of being a diplomat, you know, sometimes you need to make your old folks and people around you happy. The image of me being a diplomat still lives somewhere in my brain, and the reaction it would spark to people around me. Instead, I chose to get off the conformity train and wanting to create path of my own, beating the bushes, tidy up the trails.

It’s not that easy, though. In fact, I probably still–if there’s a progress bar–sit in 2-3% of the 100%. It’s not easy knowing the fact that I, at some point of my life, have to make ends meet and pay the (upcoming) bills. It’s not easy knowing the fact that the society has not appreciate creativity, yet. Discourses around here are still siding with conformity; you need to go to school in order to get a proper job and neat checks and find someone to marry while raising kids at the same time with 9-5 routines. It’s not all negative, though, but deep down inside I wished for another alternative.

Quarter-life crisis is now a thing for me. The scariest thing about it was it is not visible. It just come abruptly while we were being happy. Gone all the thoughts of living easily, come all the hard-and-sometimes-unnecessary decisions. Overthinking sets the body in motion… for destruction. I am in the middle of it. Got a hard time deciding which profession fits me… or is there a thing called “lovable jobs”? Sometimes I found myself daydreaming of being a Salesperson, a Marketer, an Operation guy, a CEO, a Writer, and more. Haven’t found any clicks in it.

I probably have to re-read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in order to get rid of my awkwardness in interacting with people. Seriously, it kills me. Whenever a new person come to me, my reaction will depend on his/her position. If somehow, he/she’s not that high, I can feel myself flooded with confidence, resulting in a comfortable way of talking and gesture. But vice-versa, boy was I a creep. I remember mumbling when talking to older people with higher position than me, he understood, fortunately, but I was barraging swear words to myself. What a shame.

There is also something wrong with my system. I mean, I am fairly good in doing a lot of things, but I never learn it the correct way. I learned English since I was 6 years old, without any formal courses. Until I hit 20, I arrogantly claim that there’s no need to learn grammar as it will come naturally when you read much, but come the days when I started to write, I write crap. When friends of mine can write benefiting a beautiful idiom or writing a wonderful poem, I still struggle with the rules of grammar, and sometimes, choosing and tailor good words.

Happens as well with business, guitar, and writing (this is just a little). When I read business books and articles, I felt like I can analyze a company or understand fairly enough. But when I dive into communities, feels like they were talking in alien languages. Jargons flying around and strangely, the jargons weren’t what I read before, there’s always a layer beneath layer. And it frustrates me.

I perceived the world negatively. In my definition–after so much events–friendship never last. No matter how close you are to your friend, there’s always something new that slowly put up brick by brick and separate you and your friends completely. I do aware that it is possible to have a lifetime friend, but in my case, with all my complexities and overthinking thoughts, there’s less than single-digit percent of people who (want to) understand the way I think, the way I perceive the world, the way I approach things. At some point, I’m in dire need of that kind of friend, which I rarely find. Like Petyr Baelish, worst-case scenario is always my go-to tool. Almost can never go wrong if worst-case scenario is in hand. You expect less, worry less, fear less. Which is why the world seemed negative to me.

Occasionally, I ignore all that advice from the Board of Brain Directors and H.E. President of Brain. You know, ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ sometimes is very handy when you need a time to relax. Detach yourself from the grim reality just to sit back and enjoy your life.

 

I really, really, really need a lot to fix and add in 23. 22nd has been a hell of a journey, and a year feels like a month. I do hope that I can attain all those targets and fix all those severely bad things in the future.

Looking Back and Forward

It’ll be less than two weeks that I will be 23. It’s not an age where a full year can be used to sprinkle glitters or having a chocolate party, this is where the flowery road stops and miniature hell is upon your innocent sight.

In short, it’s going to be a hell of a journey.

School ends, your funding faucet slowly closes, no more 3-months break from college, less time to party it out or having fun. From this road, gravels or rocks will be the least of decoration of your road.

Realizing it, I couldn’t help but looking back to the past. Reminiscing good old memories which I stored in my brain attic, dusty as heck.

The ways I’m doing a nostalgia journey varies, starts with listening to old songs that I used to listen in Junior High or Senior High, or even Elementary. And each of these songs have their own link with specific memories in my brain, it’s like these songs have bar codes attached to it that when it is scanned, something popped up.

For example, I listened to Miley Cyrus’ Wherever I Go and I’ll Always Remember You. Both songs colored my near-ending Senior High School times. Both songs are a graduation-themed songs (read the lyrics here) and I played it before and after I graduated and remembered the years I’ve spent doing some silly acts and embarrassing stories behind it, the times I had my first painful heartbreak, or the good times I spent hanging out with my friends.

Another song that revives my old memory is KENO’s Ohayou and Wino’s Taiyou Wa Yoru Mo Kagayaku. If any of you is–or was–an anime fan, you’ll immediately realize that both was a soundtrack of the anime Hunter X Hunter. In addition to that, Naruto’s soundtracks like Michi, Nagareboshi, Heroes Come Back, and Seishun Kyousoukyoku were the theme of my Junior High School. To me, this was the most poignant and hurtful memories of my life. It’s the first phase my mind was aware of anything, the condition of my environment, myself, or my family. These songs are also meaningful to my younger sister, as we faced those at the same time.

Beside listening to specific songs, reviving my old memories could be attained by visiting some spots in my hometown, Bandung. Despite the positive and breakthrough changes the current mayor, Pak RK made, there is still some memories left in old places. To me, BORMA (A Bandung-based department store) that was located in Antapani serve as the best example of this

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This was after the renovation

BORMA played a significant part in my life. It was clear in my mind the time when my mom brought 6 of my friend to Hoka Hoka Bento which was located inside BORMA. It was around 2004-2005, when I was in Elementary School. I can remember my friend had no idea how to use chopstick. Instead of holding it, he was stabbing the chicken katsu as if it was a satay. We laughed at how clueless he was.

Around 2007 to 2008, I frequently came here with my mom and sister, mom had the ‘one snack policy’ which allowed me and my sister to pick one snack that we would like to buy. As for me, immediately after stepping in to BORMA, all I did was dart through the toy section and look for Yu-Gi-Oh cards, wasn’t the original but still, it’s a playable card. Afterwards, we would eat at California Fried Chicken (I’m still surprised it’s still there).

Only less than 2 weeks ago, I revisited BORMA. The layouts and the building are pretty much the same, the parking lot where I’ve been there countless times with various vehicles is still the same. The nooks and crannies are still the same.

I used the time to take a good look at every details of the store. Walked to various sections; toys, vehicle spareparts, computer accessories and stationery. It’s still the same. The pale white paint on every wall, cheap-and-lazily-made signs from a low-tier stationery, bootleg accessories and toys, and more. The cashier also stayed with an old CRT monitor and old-fashioned POS software, completed with signature ‘beep’ sound that emitted almost simultaneously from 4-8 cashier post.

But things have changed, a lot. Whether it’s me or the other party who’s changed. The pages have turned, only the writings left.

 

Life out(and in)side Earth

I agree, the title does sound like History Channel program or overtly done headlines. Besides both, the title does also sound like a conspiracy article overly mentioning Roswell or other UFO sightings accompanied by “Are We Alone In This World?” and straightforward URLs like “arewealoneinthisworld.com”

It has some correlation to it, though. But I’m not gonna spend your time reading a very obvious piece. Bear with me.

Since 2007-ish, I have an incredible level of admiration towards anything sound creepy or mysterious. When the internet become common in Indonesia, all I search that time was about Nessie (The Loch Ness monster). Nessie was the first ever monster beside Aliens that I discovered, I remember how excited I was reading how Nessie was firstly spotted in 1934 in a photograph named “Surgeon’s Photograph”. In the photo (below), the plesiosaurus-like monster was shown in a mysterious fashion and vintage filter.

 

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Surgeon’s Photograph (1934)

Ever since the discovery, I couldn’t stop surfing YouTube or other sites just to see a (probably faked) footage or sightings of Nessie. One video I remembered the most was when a tourist boat was crossing the Loch Ness, there’s a bulge on the sea surface that caught the tourists’ attention, some began to record and some screamed.

After Nessie, I found a blog full of cryptids (more info). For those of you too lazy to click the link I provided, cryptids are, in brief, mysterious creatures which existence still in doubt, since it’s known from anecdotes or other stories with lack of scientific backing. Besides Nessie, I found more cryptids like Ogopogo, Mothman, Chupacabra (There are a lot of movie about it), Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and more.

Oh, I have to mention that I was also a big fan of UFO sightings. Before Nessie, I remember I bought a book that specifically discuss about Alien. The whereabouts, about Area 51, Roswell Incident, aaaand more of it.

A childhood well-spent, I think.

My penchant towards those cryptical, mysterious, and unknown matters made me love things that are undiscovered, mysterious, or unknown. I found myself attracted to incidents and events that leads to uncertainty, or even remain unsolved.

Couple weeks ago, I read Hunter X Hunter manga (which is one of my favorite of all time). There’s this picture

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A snippet from HxH Manga

You know, this picture fascinates the inner me so much that I spent a good 2-3 minutes staring at it.

It’s just… Amazing.

Even though it’s just a manga. Think about this: we’re only living in one planet. There’s countless planets outside the Earth.

The question might be a cliche, but don’t you think there’s a lot of organisms or anything new beyond Earth? Like depicted on the HxH snippet.

I don’t know as well. But the imagination of someday a newly discovered life outside earth would appear excites me. REALLY excites me.

 

 

 

 

“Indonesian (kids) don’t know how stupid they are”

“Indonesian (kids) don’t know how stupid they are”

Sebelum Anda marah-marah karena judulnya, biar saya jelaskan kalau ini adalah artikel yang dibuat oleh Elizabeth Pisani, seorang jurnalis dari Amerika Serikat yang berfokus kepada Indonesia, terutama untuk ilmu pengetahuan, politik, serta budaya.

(Ini tautan untuk artikel yang dibuat oleh beliau Indonesian kids don’t know how stupid they are)

Kesan pertama saya membaca judulnya cukup terkejut, bukan karena tersulut ingin marah, tapi karena keberanian yang dimiliki ibu Pisani ini. Saya tidak ambil pusing sama judulnya, karena saya tahu isi artikel dan faktanya memang mirip. Lagipula, hal ini pun didukung oleh tes PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) yang diselenggarakan oleh OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development), sebuah organisasi yang dibentuk untuk memberikan informasi bagi setiap negara yang berguna untuk dijadikan sebagai referensi kebijakan untuk kemajuan ekonomi dan kesejahteraan setiap manusia.

Sedikit tentang PISA

Tes PISA sendiri dilakukan 3 tahun sekali. Sampel yang diambil adalah anak-anak berumur 15 tahun dari sekolah-sekolah yang dipilih berdasarkan standar teknis yang ditentukan melalui proses quality assurance sehingga benar-benar harus sesuai dengan standar. Materi yang diujikan ada 3; Reading (membaca), Mathematics (matematika), serta Science (ilmu pengetahuan, tidak sebatas IPA). Saya kutip dari website PISA:

PISA focuses on the assessment of student performance in reading, mathematics and science because they are foundational to a student’s ongoing education. PISA also collects valuable information on student attitudes and motivations, and formally assesses skills such as collaborative problem solving and is investigating opportunities to assess other important competencies related, for example, to global competence.

Soal yang dibuat oleh PISA sendiri tidak murni menggunakan Bahasa Inggris, di salah satu pertanyaan FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) ada kalimat yang berbunyi:

Participating PISA countries and economies are invited to submit questions that are then added to items developed by the OECD’s experts and contractors. The questions are reviewed by the international contractors and by participating countries and economies and are carefully checked for cultural bias. Only those questions that are unanimously approved are used in PISA. Further, before the main test there is a trial test run in all participating countries and economies. If any test questions prove to have been too easy or too hard in certain countries and economies, they are dropped from the main test in all countries and economies.

Jadi, pertanyaan yang dibuat oleh PISA bisa dibilang independen, dan niatnya khusus untuk mengetahui kapabilitas manusia-manusia di bumi ini.

Hasil tes PISA Indonesia

Sebelum masuk ke hasil yang Indonesia capai pada tahun 2015, saya ingin menjabarkan definisi yang ditetapkan oleh tes PISA terhadap kategori Reading, Mathematics, dan Science, disadur dari laporan PISA (hal.28) (Laporan PISA 2015)

  • Reading literacy (kemampuan membaca): Adalah kemampuan siswa untuk memahami, menggunakan, dan merefleksikan teks tertulis dengan tujuan untuk mencapai tujuan (goals), mengembangkan potensi dan pengetahuan, serta terlibat di masyarakat

 

  • Science literacy (memahami ilmu pengetahuan): Adalah kemampuan siswa untuk memahami hal-hal saintifik, serta dapat menggunakan ide dan teori saintifik sebagai alat untuk diskusi dan refleksi. Siswa dengan science literacy yang baik dapat berdiskusi dan mau terlibat dalam diskusi yang menggunakan metode-metode saintifik, termasuk dalam menjelaskan fenomena-fenomena, interpretasi data, dan memberikan bukti secara saintifik*. NB: Saintifik bukan berarti berkaitan hanya dengan Fisika, Matematika, dan Kimia.

 

  • Mathematical literacy (keterampilan matematika): Adalah kemampuan siswa untuk menggunakan, menginterpretasikan, serta merumuskan matematika dalam konteks yang berbeda-beda. Termasuk pula, berargumen dengan dasar matematika serta menggunakan konsep, alat-alat, fakta, serta prosedur matematika untuk mendeskripsikan, menjelaskan, dan memprediksi sebuah fenomena.

 

Untuk mendapatkan data komprehensif, PISA juga membagikan kuesioner tambahan untuk mengetahui informasi kontekstual dari mulai latar belakang siswa, keadaan keluarga, besar ruang kelas, hingga aspek terkecil seperti motivasi siswa, cara belajar, dan kebiasaan siswa.

Berikut adalah tabel lengkap mengenai hasil dari PISA 2015

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Indonesia berada di urutan 9 dari bawah, persis di bawah Yordania. Jika dilihat dari data yang ditampilkan, dari sejumlah siswa Indonesia yang diikutsertakan dalam tes PISA, hanya 0.8% yang merupakan Top Achievers (Mencapai level 5 atau 6 pada satu atau lebih subjek) dan 42.3% merupakan Low Achievers (Tidak melewati level 2 pada semua subjek). Artinya, siswa Indonesia masih jauh ketinggalan dari negara-negara lain.

Tetapi, untuk kebahagiaan, siswa Indonesia paling bahagia berada di sekolah menurut laporan PISA 2012

 

Lalu, apa salahnya?

Sayangnya, paling bahagia tidak menjamin seorang siswa untuk menjadi top achievers.

Semasa kuliah, saya merenungkan pilihan-pilihan saya dan apa yang telah terjadi semasa saya SD hingga SMA. Saya merasa ‘banyak yang kurang’ dari diri saya sendiri. Dulu, waktu SMA, saya pernah bercita-cita ingin jadi Tony Stark dari Indonesia, bisa punya perusahaan mobil, bisa bikin Iron Man, dan lain-lain. Masih hangat di otak saya bagaimana saya di SMA termotivasi gila-gilaan karena film Iron Man, saya dibuat cinta fisika karena film itu.

Beberapa minggu setelah menonton Iron Man, saya mengajak beberapa teman kelas yang pintar di fisika untuk membuat proyek, membuat baju exoskeleton a la Iron Man. Saya bertanya tentang gigajoule, tentang listrik, dan banyak hal lagi. Membuat sketsa baju Iron Man yang bisa melakukan hal apapun.

Namun, impian saya mulai patah ketika saya mulai tidak paham fisika. Di SMA, saya masuk jurusan IPA, beberapa kali mendapat nilai yang cukup memuaskan di fisika, kimia, dan biologi pula. Namun saya merasa ada yang kurang dari pemahaman saya. Tapi pada waktu itu, saya tidak tahu sama sekali apa yang kurang.

Lulus SMA, layaknya siswa pada umumnya, saya mencoba peruntungan dengan ikut serta dalam tes untuk masuk universitas negeri, pilihan saya jatuh ke Universitas Indonesia waktu itu. Pilihan pertama? Teknik mesin. Seingat saya, untuk memperbesar peluang masuk, sayapun memilih beberapa jurusan dengan ‘sedikit peminat’. Mengetahui kalau jurusan akan menjadi tanggungjawab saya dan pilihan karir, saya memilih jurusan seperti Arsitektur Interior, Metalurgi, dan Fisika yang seingat saya menyediakan banyak bangku kosong.

Sayangnya, saya tidak berhasil.

Saya kecewa bukan main waktu itu. Bertanya-tanya kenapa saya tidak bisa masuk UI? Hingga akhirnya saya coba evaluasi diri beberapa waktu kemudian dengan melihat soal-soal tes SIMAK UI. Awalnya saya merasa mengerjakan sesuai dengan rumus yang diajarkan. Sesuai dengan apa yang saya hafalkan sewaktu les.

Lama-lama, saya mengerti kalau sebenarnya saya tidak mengerti. Tapi hafal.

Ayah saya sering bilang:

Belajar itu ukurannya ‘paham’, ‘ngerti’. Ibaratnya, kalau kamu lihat gelas, mau dibolak-balik kaya apapun, kamu paham itu gelas. Tapi kalau hanya hafal, gelas kalau kamu lihat dari bawah cuma lingkaran. Kalau kamu lihat dari samping kaya silinder.

Mulai dari sinilah letak kesalahan saya sadari.

Kesalahan 1: Siswa diajarkan untuk ‘hafal’. 

Dulu, kami di sekolah diberikan segerombolan rumus-rumus dan cara cepat mengerjakannya. Termasuk di bimbingan belajar. Saya hanya tahu kalau rumus gravitasi adalah F= GxMm/r2. Tapi kenapa bisa begitu? Tidak tahu. Inipun terjadi di beberapa mata pelajaran lainnya. Dan ‘Cara cepat’ adalah hal yang menurut saya jelas terlihat kalau pelajaran tersebut diajarkan untuk dapat lulus Ujian Nasional. Kalau tidak, kenapa harus ada cara cepat

Kesalahan 2: Banyak jargon (istilah).

Ini pengalaman pribadi saya, jadi mungkin tidak berlaku untuk beberapa siswa. Saya tipe orang yang untuk paham hal tertentu harus dikaitkan atau dianalogikan dengan hal yang sederhana. Jargon sendiri seringkali hadir tanpa diperkenalkan terlebih dahulu. Akhirnya, saya kebingungan mengaitkan jargon satu ke jargon lainnya. Contoh:

Ia [Newton] mengemukakan bahwa benda yang memiliki massa lebih kecil akan cenderung tertarik oleh benda yang massanya lebih besar, apel tertarik oleh bumi. Gerak tersebut diakibatkan gaya tarik apel kepada bumi jauh lebih kecil jika dibandingkan gaya tarik bumi terhadap apel. Fakta ini kemudian dikenal dengan hukum gravitasi newton. (Disadur dari rumus hitung)

Tulisan yang saya tebalkan, menurut saya mengandung jargon. Karena biasanya fisika dan beberapa ilmu eksak lainnya perlu imajinasi, kalau kata-kata semacam ‘apel tertarik oleh bumi’ saja siswa sulit mengerti, bagaimana bisa lanjut ke tahap selanjutnya? Biasanya, kalau saya mengajar adik saya atau beberapa teman saya, saya selalu kaitkan istilah-istilah semacam itu dengan praktiknya di dunia nyata atau analogi dengan hal yang lebih mudah dipahami. Hal ini memudahkan siswa untuk memahami konsep dan mengenali jargon.

Kesalahan 3: Nilai = tingkat kepintaran.

Ini mungkin sudah jadi rahasia umum, tapi kenyataannya masih saja ada hal seperti ini. Saya selalu prihatin kalau nilai dikaitkan dengan tingkat kepintaran. Padahal, jelas-jelas nilai bagus tergantung dari prosesnya. Terkadang, proses juga masih sering dicampuri faktor lain, kalau siswa sedang sakit? Kalau ternyata sedang ada halangan tertentu? Bisa saja nilai terpengaruh. Sayangnya, nilai masih jadi tolak ukur yang seakan bisa jadi alat prediksi kesuksesan seorang siswa.

Hal ini juga didukung faktor eksternal seperti orang tua, lingkungan, media, bahkan pemerintah. Semuanya berputar membentuk siklus.

Orang tua —-> Lingkungan —-> Sekolah —-> Pemerintah/media —-> Orang tua

Orang tua ingin anaknya sukses. Itu pasti. Tetapi, takaran suksesnya kadang-kadang bergantung pula dengan lingkungannya, ada yang ingin anaknya punya nilai 100 semua, rapor bagus dan dapat penghargaan. Siapa yang memberi penghargaan? Sekolah. Akibat dorongan pemerintah dan media, yang secara langsung dan tidak langsung menetapkan standar tertentu bagi ‘anak berprestasi’ dan ‘pintar’, sekolah membentuk mindset sendiri bahwa anak pintar adalah yang sesuai dengan standar yang ditetapkan pemerintah secara langsung dan media secara tidak langsung. Imbasnya, tentu kembali ke orang tua. Kebanyakan orang tua pasti merasa malu kalau anaknya mendapat nilai ’40’ atau ’50’ di rapor. Lalu siklus ini kembali terulang.

Kesalahan 4: Kurang motivasi

Saya teringat guru Bahasa Indonesia saya waktu SMA, bu Anik Zubaida. Ketika seharusnya Bahasa Indonesia membosankan, bu Anik dulu sering cerita tentang hal yang tidak sepenuhnya terkait dengan teori yang diajarkan di mata pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia. Beliau malah bercerita. Saya lupa persisnya cerita tentang apa saja, tapi yang saya ingat betul, saya termotivasi untuk mulai menulis karena bu Anik. Dan bu Anik adalah salah satu guru yang meninggalkan imej ‘keren’ di otak saya.

Seperti halnya kejadian saya yang tergila-gila dengan fisika setelah menonton Iron Man, seharusnya ruang kelas tidak hanya dipenuhi oleh catatan dan papan tulis yang penuh serta LKS dan PR yang menumpuk. Siswa tidak hanya menjalankan hidup yang linear sekolah – kuliah – kerja – menikah, beberapa dari mereka mungkin akan hidup dengan cara yang tidak konvensional. Ada yang akan jadi aktivis, traveler, pebisnis, yang setelah sekolah akan menikah, dan lain – lain. Seperti yang saya alami, hampir 80% dari memori saya tentang sekolah hanyalah tentang teman dan pengalaman. Tidak semua pelajaran akhirnya digunakan, hanya sedikit. Lalu, kenapa harus memenuhi ruang kelas hanya dengan catatan?

Kesalahan 5: “Matematika itu mengerikan/ Skripsi itu mengerikan”

“Matematika itu susah!” “Gue benci hitung-hitungan!” “Sumpah gue takut entar skripsi enggak bisa!”

Itu adalah beberapa hal yang sering terdengar dari siswa dan mahasiswa di Indonesia. Mungkin di luar negeri pun begitu, hanya beda bahasa.

Buat saya sendiri, betul matematika susah, dan skripsi adalah hal yang cukup menguras otak. Tetapi, kenapa harus dijadikan ketakutan?

Saya rasa, ketakutan terhadap matematika dan skripsi terlalu berlebihan, hingga ke tahap siswa dan mahasiswa benci dan cenderung menghindari. Tidak hanya di matematika dan skripsi, tetapi beberapa subjek lain.

Kesalahan 6: Membaca & Menulis itu membosankan

Hal ini saya temukan di banyak teman dan lingkungan saya. Membaca rasanya jadi aktivitas yang membosankan, apalagi harus membaca buku tebal berbahasa Inggris. Di jurusan saya, Hubungan Internasional dulu, buku yang diberikan dosen tidak tanggung-tanggung tebalnya. Saya teringat di semester pertama ketika masih culun dan bau kencur, dosen Pengantar Hubungan Internasional saya memberikan buku Global Politics yang tebalnya kurang lebih 500 halaman dalam bahasa Inggris. Saya yang belum tahu apa-apa dulu cuma bisa menghela nafas.

Menulis juga. Tidak separah membaca, karena saya sering menemukan blog orang-orang yang berisi mulai curhatan pribadi hingga blog yang kelihatan untuk tugas. Untuk di tingkatan menulis santai atau cerpen, masih OK. Tetapi, untuk di tingkatan yang lebih tinggi, seperti menulis buku, belum begitu banyak.

Kesalahan Tambahan: Sinetron, YouTube, dan media sosial

YouTube dan media sosial sebenarnya berlaku seperti pisau bermata dua. Tergantung pemakainya menggunakan untuk apa. Tapi, di masa-masa seperti ini, ada banyak influencer dan YouTuber yang menggunakan daya pengaruhnya justru untuk membawa penonton (yang termasuk anak-anak muda) ke arah yang…. Cenderung salah.

Subjektif memang kalau berbicara tentang salah. Tetapi, menggunakan standar norma Indonesia, akhlak, dan kepribadian, saya rasa banyak yang salah. Anak-anak kecil menggunakan jari tengah sambil bernyanyi, misalnya.

Sinetron adalah yang terparah. Hampir tidak ada unsur positif selain hiburan (murah). Sinetron memperlihatkan adegan-adegan yang aneh dan jalan cerita yang itu-itu saja. Hujatan saya terhadap sinetron ada di tulisan saya yang lain. Tetapi intinya, sinetron bisa memengaruhi dan merubah penonton dengan usia muda yang belum sepenuhnya rasional.

Akibatnya, apa?

Akibat dari kesalahan-kesalahan itu (dan kesalahan lain yang belum saya temukan) adalah:

Akibat 1: Siswa/mahasiswa yang tidak berorientasi terhadap proses

Kenapa mencontek dan jual-beli kunci jawaban sering terjadi? Karena siswa panik. Dari satu sisi, mereka tidak mengerti materi yang diajarkan dan dari sisi yang lain, ujian sudah di depan mata. Mereka sadar kalau SKS (Sistem Kebut Semalam) tidak akan membantu mereka lulus ujian atau Ujian Nasional. Jadi, secara rasional, mereka memilih alternatif yang paling simpel dan menguntungkan: mencontek.

Mencontek sendiri tidak semata-mata terjadi karena itu, ada faktor-faktor lain pula seperti karena memang malas, atau hobi. Tapi untuk tulisan ini, kita anggap faktor utamanya adalah karena kepanikan.

Gabungan dari Kesalahan 1, 2, dan 3 berakibat hal ini. Terutama karena “nilai” berbanding lurus dengan kepintaran. Saya selalu eneg ketika setelah masa-masa Ujian Nasional, sering ada berita tentang siswa yang dapat nilai Ujian Nasional tertinggi. Buat saya, berita semacam itu tidak ada pentingnya kecuali karena ekspos dan nama baik untuk sekolah. Akibatnya? Secara tidak langsung, orang-orang se-Indonesia menetapkan standar bahwa pintar adalah sama dengan nilai tinggi. 

“Proses” menjadi hal yang aneh. Padahal, di masa depan, siswa dan mahasiswa akan menghadapi “proses” untuk menjadi seseorang yang sukses. Kalau terbiasa dengan pola yang melewati proses, maka sulit bagi siswa dan mahasiswa Indonesia untuk menikmati proses yang panjang.

Akibat 2: Fixed Mindset, not Growth Mindset

Saya punya kutipan yang jadi pegangan saya. Dari Elon Musk “I think it’s possible for ordinary people to become extraordinary” (Saya rasa mungkin untuk orang biasa untuk menjadi luar biasa).

Mimpi saya banyak. Mulai dari ingin bisa membuat baju Iron Man, mengerti fisika, punya jet pribadi dan lainnya. Apa semua mungkin? Mungkin. Klise memang kalau bilang ‘tidak ada yang tidak mungkin’, tapi itu betul. Saya merasa kita sebagai manusia, terlepas dari faktor geografi, budaya, dan lainnya, punya kesempatan yang sama untuk punya mimpi tinggi.

Sayangnya, masih banyak yang menganggap bahwa ‘mimpi’ seharusnya hal yang masih bisa dicapai.

Penganut kepercayaan tersebut memiliki pemikiran disebut dengan Fixed Mindset. Artinya, orang dengan Fixed Mindset percaya bahwa kemampuan yang dimilikinya adalah mutlak. Tidak bisa dikembangkan. Mereka beranggapan bahwa orang-orang sukses memiliki kemampuan yang dibawa dari lahir, sukses secara genetik.

Sebaliknya, Growth Mindset adalah orang yang percaya bahwa kemampuannya selalu bisa dikembangkan, dan “nilai” adalah sekedar angka. Mereka selalu merasa “bodoh” dan akhirnya mengembangkan kemampuan terus-menerus.

Dikutip dari artikel yang ditulis oleh Pak Rhenald Kasali:

 Seperti yang pernah saya tulis pada kolom di Jawa Pos setahun yang lalu, manusia memiliki dua jenis mindset, yaitu growth mindset dan fixed mindset. Orang-orang yang memiliki settingan pikiran tetap (fixed mindset) cenderung sangat mementingkan ijazah dan gelar sekolah, sedangkan mereka yang tumbuh (growth mindset) tetap menganggap dirinya “bodoh”. Baginya ijazah dan IPK hanya merupakan langkah kemarin, sedangkan masa depan adalah soal impak: apa yang bisa Anda diberikan atau dilahirkan.  Maka kepada mereka yang pernah belajar dengan saya selalu saya tegaskan, pintar itu bagus, tetapi impak jauh lebih penting.  Celakanya universitas banyak dikuasai orang-orang yang bermental ijazah dan asal sekolah sehingga mereka terkurung dalam penjara yang mereka set sendiri, yaitu fixed mindset. Bagi mereka impak itu sama dengan paper, atau kertas karya, terlepas dari apakah bisa dijalankan atau tidak.

Hal ini bisa terjadi karena kurangnya motivasi yang diberikan oleh setiap ruang kelas. Kita terlalu dipersiapkan untuk menjadi ‘pekerja’, bukan manusia.

Akibat 3: Konflik karena kurang baca, kurangnya buku bagus

Hal yang paling ironis saya temukan beberapa hari lalu ada di artikel yang saya cantumkan di atas. Berjudul Indonesian kids don’t know how stupid they are.

Kalau Anda lihat bagian komentarnya, sangat penuh orang Indonesia yang berbahasa Inggris, dan Indonesia beramai-ramai mencaci maki judul tulisannya.

Ditambah lagi, ada yang pura-pura terlihat saintifik dengan menanyakan metode penelitian PISA, padahal sudah terjawab semua di laman website PISA dan OECD.

STUPID
Contoh 1
STUPID1
Contoh 2

Komen-komen tersebut membuat saya… Gemas. Pasalnya, mereka yang menantang judul yang menggunakan “STUPID” justru memperlihatkan diri mereka sebagai “STUPID”. Lebih parahnya lagi, mereka tidak teliti membaca sebelum berkomentar.

Kedua, buku bacaan di Indonesia yang kurang bagus. Untuk novel dan buku cerita lainnya, saya tidak meragukan karena memang banyak yang bagus. Tapi untuk buku-buku yang memberikan pengetahuan baru? Saya rasa masih jarang. Bahkan untuk buku pengetahuan non-fiksi saja, masih sedikit.

Contohnya, kebanyakan buku-buku yang memberikan pengetahuan baru berasal dari buku luar negeri yang diterjemahkan. Kita punya buku seperti teori manajemen, makroekonomi, tapi tidak jauh berbeda dengan buku teori pada umumnya. Yang saya maksud ‘pengetahuan baru’ adalah buku yang memberikan perspektif baru, istilah baru, temuan baru yang berguna untuk khalayak luas.

Di luar negeri, banyak buku-buku seperti itu. Contoh, Outliers oleh Malcolm Gladwell, How to Win Friends and Influence People oleh Dale Carnegie, dan lain-lain. Di Indonesia, buku seperti itu tergolong sedikit, makanya dihadirkan versi terjemahan dari buku-buku semacam itu.

Hal tersebut bisa jadi merupakan imbas dari Kesalahan 6. Akhirnya tidak ada penulis buku-buku yang seperti itu.

Solusinya apa?

Solusi 1: Guru/Tutor, anggaplah kalian menjelaskan sebuah materi kepada anak 5 tahun

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand enough” kata sebuah kutipan. Kutipan ini tidak hanya sekadar kata-kata kosong, namun justru menjelaskan hal yang benar. Saya beberapa kali menemukan hal serupa. Contohnya, salah satu pertanyaan di wawancara kerja Apple adalah “Bagaimana Anda menjelaskan RAM kepada anak umur 5 tahun?”. Contoh lainnya, jika Anda senang mengunjungi website Reddit, Anda akan menemukan forum yang berjudul “Explain Like I’m 5“. Sebagai tambahan, sebuah metode belajar bernama Feynman Technique pun menyarankan untuk menjelaskan ulang menggunakan istilah-istilah sederhana.

Seperti saya uraikan di atas, penggunaan jargon yang terlalu banyak dan sulit dipahami membuat siswa/mahasiswa sulit mengerti konsep bahkan yang ada di tingkatan dasar sekalipun. Akan lebih baik jika pelajaran dibuat seperti storytelling.

Solusi 2: Orang tua, anak-anak memiliki keunikan tersendiri, dan mereka bukan robot

Orang tua ingin yang terbaik untuk anak-anak, itu pasti. Sudah hukumnya. Tetapi, kalau anak Anda dijadikan ‘alat’ untuk Anda agar mendapatkan predikat ‘orang tua hebat’ atau pujian lainnya dari lingkungan Anda, itu salah. Anak Anda punya keunikan sendiri yang mungkin Anda harus temukan perlahan, tidak semua anak bisa dan–yang terpenting–mau ikut ekskul tertentu atau menyukai pelajaran tertentu. Nilai jelek di satu pelajaran bukan berarti dia bodoh atau tidak mampu.

Anak mungkin tidak mau dipaksa, tapi kalau diberi motivasi dan support, anak pasti akan terdorong untuk menyelesaikan tugas-tugasnya.

Solusi 3: Kurangi baca cerita sukses

Untuk takaran tertentu, membaca cerita sukses bisa memberi kita energi dan motivasi untuk melakukan hal-hal yang terasa mustahil. Tapi jika terlalu banyak, cerita sukses akan memberikan perasaan kalau kita semua pada akhirnya akan sukses. Sehingga, rasa ‘harus bekerja keras’ akan hilang.

Sebaliknya, bacalah banyak cerita gagal. Ketahuilah kalau semua orang bisa bermimpi, namun eksekusi lebih penting daripada sekadar mimpi. Kita harus sadar kalau dunia terus berubah dan persaingan semakin ketat karena kualifikasi yang dibutuhkan untuk sukses akan semakin ketat pula. 20 atau 30 tahun lalu, tidak diperlukan kemahiran Digital Marketing, sekarang? Sudah perlu.

Solusi 4: Waktu adalah tsunami

Rasanya baru kemarin Pak Jokowi terpilih jadi presiden. Tapi ternyata, itu sudah 3 tahun lalu. Rasanya baru kemarin BlackBerry merajai pasar ponsel pintar, tapi sekarang sudah tergantikan oleh Apple dan Samsung.

Semakin hari, waktu tidak terasa. Satu tahun bagaikan beberapa bulan saja. Hari ini, sudah bulan ke-8 di tahun 2017, sisa 4 bulan lagi. Apa yang sudah kita lakukan untuk berubah?

Perlu disadari kalau di saat kita sedang asik menonton TV atau memandangi berita Lambe Turah, orang lain sedang mati-matian membangun dirinya dan bekerja keras. Waktu adalah mata uang yang harus kita bayarkan setiap hari, kalau kita hanya gunakan untuk leha-leha, apakah kita tidak merugi?

Sudah banyak website atau aplikasi yang bisa dimanfaatkan untuk pengembangan diri. Ingat, pengembangan diri tidak perlu dan tidak akan selesai dalam satu malam. Kita bisa sedikit demi sedikit membangun diri, kalau mengutip istilah Kaizen, hanya perlu lebih baik 1% setiap harinya. Bayangkan, kalau kita ada peningkatan 1% di diri kita setiap harinya, berarti 365% selama setahun!

Caranya? Cukup dengan baca dan belajar hal baru.

Kesimpulan

Kita sering mendengar ungkapan “Indonesia adalah bangsa besar!” atau “Indonesia memiliki potensi untuk menjadi bangsa besar di tahun 20XX”. Sekilas, itu semua terlihat seperti prediksi. Bahwa Indonesia PASTI akan menjadi besar pada beberapa tahun ke depan.

Sayangnya, itu tidak akan pernah terjadi kalau masing-masing dari kita tidak berkontribusi atau berubah sendiri.

Saya gemas dengan apa yang terjadi di dunia pendidikan Indonesia selama ini. Alasan mengapa saya menaruh “Indonesian (kids) don’t know how stupid they are” adalah karena itu memang yang terjadi. Saya mengurung (kids) karena tidak hanya anak kecil, namun kita semua.

Kita terjebak dengan cerita-cerita Indonesia berhasil memenangi olimpiade, jargon-jargon kalau Indonesia akan menjadi besar, bonus demografi, anak Indonesia pintar-pintar.

Di atas kertas, itu semua benar. Tapi pada praktiknya, saya sendiri tidak menemukan hal itu.

Saya mungkin tidak terlihat nasionalis karena tidak setuju kalau Indonesia berpotensi menjadi bangsa besar. Karena memang pada kenyataannya, untuk sekarang, seperti itu. Mungkin, jika tulisan ini berhasil menggugah pembaca, hanya dalam kurun waktu 1-2 minggu, atau bahkan hitungan hari, pesan tulisan ini akan pudar begitu saja.

Juga mungkin terlihat seperti orang yang “Cuma bisa kritik tapi enggak ada karya dan solusi”. Percayalah, solusi dan karya muncul dari observasi dan kritik.

Saya percaya Indonesia bisa menjadi bangsa besar KALAU hal-hal yang saya jabarkan di atas–dan beberapa hal lainnya–mulai teratasi. Hingga nanti, mungkin saya akan ada di satu barisan dengan Elizabeth Pisani.

Behind the Scenes

Did your mother nag so much when you got home way beyond your curfew?

Did your friend screamed at you when you make fun of them in front of his/her crush? Or in general, just screamed when you say or do something you think okay?

We all have been there. That’s why we apologize for our mistakes whether we are aware of it or not. Because each of us has a different culture, experience, trauma, or sensitivity to something.

Back when I was around 9-10 years old, my old house was located near a border between a rural village and urban house. The village was 10-steps away, bordered by a steel fence which would be closed at 10pm for security reasons. But in daytime, the people living in the village are free to roam.

I vividly remember when I was in 2nd grade (8 years old), my father bought me a McDonalds and got a toy from it. The toy was my prized possession. Loved it so much.

Then there was these village kids, approaching me and took my toy away. There were two of them, angered by the action, I ran into one of them and he would throw the toy to his friend, then I ran to the other and he throw the toy back to his friend, and it would repeat for minutes. I felt helpless and cried. A hate then grew.

I kinda remember my neighbors had the same experience with the village kids, since then, we were in constant war with them.

One day we even fight physically when one of the village kids didn’t accept the fact that they lose a competition. I didn’t participate, one of my friends initiated the fight after an intense trash-talk. The trash-talk, by the way, kept happening for years every time we met. A friend of mine who initiated the fight even screamed to them saying “you son of a dick!” or “anak setan! (Son of devil!)”, looking back at it, it was a strong word for an 8 years old.

In other occasion, after the constant war between us and the village kids subsided, an internal altercation between the neighbors broke. The friend who fought with the village kids attacked one of my close friends, he would ride a bicycle and when he passed my close friends’ house, he would scream “dasar rumah ngontrak!”. Again, such a dirty mouth for a kid.

Fast forward years, in junior high school, young people of my generation used to search for each students’ parents name and would use the name as an ultimate weapon in a battle. I remember successfully protecting the identity of my parents and people couldn’t mock me back then. But as for me…. Well, I had fun throwing off parents’ name and managed to be a double agent in finding those names. Let’s just say I had my own fair share of being a bad person.

Once, my friends and I were sitting on a pavement near our schools’ field. There were other student whom parents’ name are well-known and frequently made fun. When people made fun of his parents’ name, I joined the bandwagon and laughed. Within a moment, that guy pushed me and was about to hit me. I was surprised. However, I did the same in other occasion, but my friend, who was the target, didn’t give any reaction at all. He just calmly accept and sit in silence. Dick move, bro.

It happened to me as well. After being a straight up jerk, tables had turned.

Senior high school, 6 years ago. I broke up with someone, and when asked why, she only said because her close friends didn’t like how I look. For your information, in 2011, I was only 40 cm away from a dwarf, with zero sense of fashion (and zero budget for it, too), a look someone couldn’t be proud of. “Alright” I told myself. Worse, it didn’t end there. Weeks after the break up, I know from a friend that actually her parents also expect a tall, white guy with presentable looks.

The pain was amazing. Not because of how I looked, but how my parents’ would react if they know their ‘hardly produced’ (There’s a back story for this) child was considered “didn’t have presentable look” or in better vocabulary, “ugly”. That night I cried imagining my parents’ reaction to that. It was painful, even just a word.

That event was a wake-up slap, a total wake-up slap for me. After knowing how hurt it was, my mind started to think about the past, people who were a victim of my sharp mouth or (in my perspective) comedy. I even remember what Quran said about keeping your mouth from saying anything unnecessary, because our tongue is a sword.

Who knows if your nagging mom had experienced her worst nightmare getting home past their curfew and only wanted to protect her children from it?

Who knows if the village kids that my friend shout “son of a dick!” and “anak setan!” at cried hard, because their parents’ had passed away and they lived without their parents? Or who knows if there was a traumatic event that made the kids cried because we aren’t sensitive enough about that?

Who knows that my close friend, whom my other friend shout “dasar rumah ngontrak!” at cried because he knew his family was in financial breakdown? Or they had a struggle in paying the monthly rent? Who knows?

Who knows that the guy who pushed me for making fun of his parents loves his parents so much that he protect the pride of his parents?

Or a friend of mine who couldn’t react when I mock his parents’ name? What if his parents were sick at that time and he was thinking about his parents’ so much that he couldn’t react and just smile when I did that?

You know, people HAVE many considerations before they react to something. Ever confront an office boy who accidentally spilled a tea on your Marc Jacobs shirt? Why didn’t they react? Maybe they feel bad, they feel useless and if they react, their supervisor would push the “FIRE” button immediately, and they’ll lose the job.

It amaze me how a mere word could cause a major pain for a person. You’ll never see the chain reaction of that word because it isn’t for you to feel or see. If you ever confronted because of that, you’ll say “baper amat” or “it’s just a joke, bro” and decides not to care about it. But behind the scenes, behind the door and on the corner of the wall, you will never, ever know how that person would feel.