Archive for the 'Adventure' Category

Melangkah Masuk Bagian II


Aku tidak mengerti apa yang tentara itu ucapkan.
“Maaf aku tidak mengerti apa yang kamu ucapkan.”

Para tentara berdiskusi satu sama lain dan satu, lain dari yang tadi, bertanya padaku.

“Apa yang Saudara mau lakukan di sini?”

Ah, akhirnya, bahasa yang kumengerti.

“Aku ingin jadi raja di sini.”

Tentara itu terpingkal-pingkal dan terguling. Ada barang tiga menit dia di tanah terguling kiri-kanan sembari yang lain kebingungan, sebelum dia berujar lagi kepadaku.

“Saudaraku datang dari negeri yang jauh ingin menjadi raja di sini? Hahahahaha! Saudara bahkan tak mengerti bahasa kami.”

Keringat bercucuran. Tentara itu mendekatiku dan berkata lagi.

“Saudaraku, tak ada raja di sini. Ada lima jenderal konsul yang memimpin kota ini, langsung di bawah Kaisar Bizantiya. Kalau Saudaraku ingin jadi jenderal konsul, Saudaraku harus bisa berbahasa Yunani dan lahir di sini, atau Saudara mendapat rekomendasi langsung dari Kaisar. Jadi sebaiknya Saudara tidak bermimpi yang aneh-aneh. Tentu saja, kami mempersilakan Saudara bertamu ke kota kami. Tapi gerbang ini hanya untuk saudagar-saudagar dengan izin resmi dari Kaisar. Saudara harus lewat gerbang yang lain, 40 stadia barat daya gerbang ini. ”

“…baiklah, terima kasih.”

Langit hampir gelap, jadi aku berjalan sedikit agak cepat mengikuti dinding kota ke barat. Dari belakang terdengar ramai tawa tentara-tentara. Mungkin mereka saling menceritakan kejadian barusan. Lebih dari empat, pasti. Mungkin ada barak di dekat gerbang itu…









Tapi tentu yang tadi cuma ada di pikiranku saja. Aku tidak segila itu untuk mengatakan niatku yang sebenarnya.

“…Tuan, aku datang dari desa di tengah Gurun Al-Jafr, dan aku ingin mencari peruntungan di sini.”

“Maaf Saudaraku, gerbang ini hanya untuk saudagar-saudagar dengan izin resmi dari Kaisar. Saudaraku harus lewat gerbang yang lain, 40 stadia barat daya gerbang ini. Akan ada petugas yang mengurusi pendatang-pendatang. Harap sedikit cepat karena sebentar lagi malam, dan kami akan menutup semua gerbang.”

“…terima kasih.”

Aku tak tahu 40 stadia itu berapa jauh, jadi cuma kukira-kira saja, sepertinya cukup jauh. Aku berjalan sedikit agak cepat mengikuti dinding kota ke barat. Ada sedikit kegembiraan di hatiku, karena setelah berapa lama, akhirnya aku memberanikan diri mendekati kota ini. Ada secercah harapan. Tapi masa depan tiada yang pasti, dan aku tak tahu apa yang menghadapiku, ataupun kesempatan macam apa yang ada di dalam kota ini.

Angin sore ini kering dan dingin. Entah kenapa sepertinya lebih kering dan dingin dari beberapa hari belakangan.


Melangkah Masuk

=== al-Sa’ada ===

Tertulis di papan di atas gerbang kota itu.
Empat tentara berdiri menjaga gerbang.

Aku tertegun.
Nama kota Bahasa Arab.
Saudagar keluar masuk bicara Bahasa Arab.
Beberapa bicara Ibrani.
Beberapa bicara Persia.
Beberapa bicara aku tak tahu bahasa apa, nampaknya dari negeri jauh di Timur.
Dan seragam tentara ini jelas seragam Qustantiniyah.

Ini kota kota makmur.
Tempat pedagang bertukar dagangan.

Aku melangkah masuk…

Gerbang Kota al-Sa’ada, di tengah Gurun al-Naqab
Tahun 521, barangkali bulan 8


Before I started my journey,
when I was much younger,
I ran away from home
leaving for a wadi in the middle of desert
rumoured to be a gold deposit
abandoned by people of the past

Well I was young
so I prepared not much
and bandits did roam the place
where the gold deposit was actually non-existent
and the lore was all a lie.
Enough to say that I was once beaten and abducted
And my whole village people had to attack the bandit’s lair and rescue me

Once home, I cried
But Father and Mother didn’t scold me
They were happy that I reached home safely


It is a scar I still carry even today
I am scared
What if Murrakus is not like what I thought?
What if it is actually a filthy place?
What if all the promises are all lies?
My journey will be a waste!


So I opened a letter my Father wrote to me
shortly before he passed away.

“The reason why I named you Akbar
is so that you become a great person.
Go to every corner of the Earth,
and conquer prosperous territories Iskandar never had.”

I smiled.

The night is late
I should sleep soon.

Nearing the misterious city in al-Naqab
Year 521, probably the seventh moon

Step by Step II

In this scorchingly sunny day,
I find myself in an unfamiliar place
But there is a growing dot in my sight
A big city with towering structures

Some people passed me by
Wealthy merchants, they seem to be,
Whose language I have never known before
Carrying quality gold and silk
They, men and women, are travelling to foreign lands

Cold air I feel on my spine
If I go there, I may find some help to continue my journey
But honestly, I have little courage of approaching it,
a city whose language I don’t speak
and I, coming from an impoverished village,
am meeting them is like a donkey meeting a tiger.

But more truthfully, weeks have passed since I started encircling that very city,
and I am tired of wandering around.

So I begin to walk, step by step, towards it…

(Hopefully) at the other end of al-Naqab
Year 521, probably the seventh moon, after a deadly sandstorm

Step by Step

Whatever happened to all the dreams we dreamt in our early days?
That we would someday kick poverty down the well,
trading comforting stagnancy with silk and gold
and with cartography and alchemy
That I would continue my family line with relative wealth?

As I await behind my camel for the nightly al-Naqab sandstorm to be over,
I sit and ponder.
This journey is much harder than what I thought
Will I someday reach Murrakus?
Will I ever someday realise my dreams?
What if I just return home?
Do I really need to go to Murrakus?


Is there ever a need to go to Murrakus et al?
I don’t even know what awaits there.
Everything I know of it is third hand
and possibly some decades old.
Is it a peaceful city?
Is it flourishing?
Or is it currently under enemy attack?
Will I even ever get to do what I want to do there?

Memories flash back
Ali, Aziz, Wahab, my childhood friends
Just the day before I left, Aziz got married.
Ali got married a long time ago, and he has set up a shop in our small town.
Wahab, I heard last time, was studying in al-Salt.
He was smart, and he wanted to teach the kids in our village.
What an honourable dream

They seemed content with their lives.
Only I was too crazy to start all these things

Tonight’s storm seems stronger than last week
I hate to admit this, but I feel tears drop in my eye
Going round and round and round in al-Naqab
This lonely man is a foolish man
with no clear direction on how to get to Sina

Just like the nights before
I look up on the now blurry dark sky
Praying to God, who some elders said
is not actually up there
But right here next to us
accompanying us
in every breath we take
and every move we make

Almighty God,
with every sigh I make
with every tear dropping from my eye
strengthen my faith
Never let me astray
and keep me focused on this journey.
I am just hoping that this will someday pay off.

…and that’s when I remember
what my late father said when I was four
“Be patient, and move step by step
Because you will never make it if you don’t watch each of your steps”
As I was never the most patient in our family

Father, I miss you.


The storm is over, the sun is high
I must have been asleep
I shall continue my journey
Step by step
Making every possible change
If not for my family, then for myself
For myself
From myself

A companion has not arrived





Somewhere in the middle of al-Naqab
Year 521, probably the fifth moon, on the day which I have lost count

Musafir Muda

Musafir muda berjalan tak tentu
Mengikut arah angin

Musafir muda teringat
Besar mimpinya
Dari tengah Gurun al-Jafr
Ingin kunjungi semua sudut bumi

Musafir muda tersenyum
Segala puncak peradaban didengarnya
dari Murrakus, Qusṭantiniyah, sampai Shyan
Terbayang janji kemegahan ilmu budaya dunia

Musafir muda termenung
Kosong hatinya
Mendamba teman perjalanan
Tak satu gadis di rumpunnya mau pergi

Musafir muda mendengar
Serigala berlari bersembunyi
Malam mendingin
Badai kan datang

Musafir muda
entah tolol entah malas
sudah tujuh bulan
terjebak, berputar di al-Naqab

Lighting Business

“Daddy!” I called him last week.

“Daddy, I found one lamp, one antique lamp, which looks wonderful, and may look good for our house. Take a look at this photo…*sending e-mail*…how do you find it?”

“Well, son,” he replied, “it indeed looks good…and indeed it is your right to choose a good lamp for you. But are you sure that it can match other lamps in our house? You know that our house is very old and have a very Javanese atmosphere.”

“Yeah, I know, Dad, that a Javanese-style lamp might fit better…but I am in Singapore, how can I find Javanese lamp sellers here? My network contains mostly locals–Chinese, Malay, Indian, you name it–and some more from other countries. If I should go for the ‘perfect fit’, I should just return home, right. And to be honest, I want to have some foreign touches to a little bit diversify our house. You can see that the houses in our neighbourhood; no, our hometown, are very local. We are not global enough, and in fact that is why I started my journey to go abroad.”

“No no no. Son, I am fine if you look for a foreign-style lamp. But you have to know that this lamp has to match our electricity configuration and house style. Our concern is still compatibility. The lamp does not need to be of Javanese style, but it has to fit a Javanese atmosphere here. You don’t want the lamp to explode or fall to our heads, right?” *laugh*

“…Hahaha, yes, I  agree with you on that thing Dad. That’s the scary thing. I don’t want our house to explode because of a single lamp…”

“…and I have to be honest with you: based on my experience, the style of the lamp in the photo is not generally suitable for a Javanese house like ours. Well, I am not saying that all lamps which fall under this category are not compatible, no. Some are compatible (I have seen some), but not all. Heh, even some Javanese kind of lamps are also not suitable for us. If you really want foreign style kind of lamps, why don’t you look for such and such styles?”

“…Dad, my network is limited, and lamp with those styles are very rare here…”

“Well, I understand that…”

“…Dad, I am scared now. Actually I have doubts as well about that lamp…*explaining such and such doubts*…and that’s why I haven’t made any enquiry.”

“It’s OK. It’s just an enquiry, so if you think the lamp looks good, go for it: contact the seller and ask things about the lamp. I just have to warn you: 1) do not, I repeat, do not say prematurely that you want to buy it, and 2) do look around as well. Take a look if there are actually lamps which actually are more suitable.”

“Yes Dad, I undestand that. The thing is this…if it turns out not to be compatible, it is easy. I can go to other sellers in my list,”—I do make a list!—“but what if it looks compatible? Can I proceed with the paperwork? Because I can’t help to think about it (I mean the above things), and if you don’t like the style at all then I better don’t enquire at all, right? Waste of energy.”



I forget the rest. Well I can just ask him though. Anyway, my hope is actually simple: to find one lamp which I can use not only to brighten my room, but also other rooms in my house. But given my journey, this turns out to be not so simple. I have been dreaming, since I was a kid (probably about 14 or so) to have my own lamp someday. But I always failed in the past. Now that I have gained some knowledge on electricity and lighting art as well as some skills in business negotiation, I want to try it again, but my past failures make me very very careful now. Doing lighting business is quite tricky (and I do speak in understatement): one day you might find a lamp is good, another day you don’t. You may suddenly decide that one lamp does not fit your house style, but the seller may think that you are a perfect buyer (well lamps are precious!), and ha! Drama. I have seen some friends’ lamps crack, fall, or even burn an entire house because of these things, and these add up the worry. On the other hand, I saw some friends—or competitors, depending on your point of view—find their lamps so easily, to the point that I wonder, are those lamps really fine for their households?

Anyway, if a good situation arises, I have to make my enquiry. I have concerns, a lot of concerns, but apart from being constantly tied to computers (because of my job), I think solving compatibility issues is another thing I am “trapped with” in my entire life, as I want to visit many countries and broaden my knowledge on different styles of lamps. I have to face them and solve them. For now, at least I am glad that I (think I) have been given a green light.

lambrtz looks like this


You can write comments in any language that you want, but please bear in mind that I only understand 4 languages: English, Indonesian, Javanese and Malay.



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