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*Little children are like angels without wings. But if twenty of them are put in a class for you to teach, it turns out that some of them do have horns*

She was only six years old. She was the prettiest little girl I’ve ever seen, with brilliant black eyes and long black eyelashes. She was a daughter every mother would dream of. Everything about her can be described in one word only. Perfect!

She was standing in front of the class, shouting to her classmates.

“Everybody!!! Please be quiet and listen to Miss S****…!!!”

It had been a chaos from the very beginning. Not really from the very beginning, though. The class was quiet when the schoolteacher was still there. When the time had come for English lessons, the schoolteacher smiled at me and left. Actually I would rather have her in the class, because once she left, there would be chaos.

A very few students remained on their seats (mostly girls). The others were running around, shouting, chasing each other, quarreling, hopping on their tables, turning chairs upside down, throwing away friend’s belongings, just mention it.

What am I supposed to do? Well, since you are the teacher, I guess you should teach them. Welcome to the real world, my friend.

I had just graduated from faculty of education, English department, and I can speak a little bit of (hopefully) good English. But I wasn’t equipped with sufficient knowledge, as how to calm the second-grade-elementary students, and how to make them sit nicely and listen to the teacher’s words.

Like a statue, I was standing near the door, busy thinking of what to do next. And there she was, doing all she could to discipline her classmates. It was her responsibility because she was appointed to be the head of the class.

Well, I was the teacher. It was actually my responsibility. I should never burden the adorable little girl. I smiled, thanked her, and suddenly I felt my spirit rise! I’m the teacher, rite? I’ll do what I have to do.

I walked to the middle of the room with the smile still on my face, shouting as loudly as possible.

“WHO WANTS TO PLAY???”

Of course everybody WANTS to play!!!

Then we sang along together.

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…

Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is just a dream… (2x)

Catch a fish, throw it away

Catch a fish, throw it away

Catch a fish… what is it?

It’s a shark!!!

The song ended, and the beautiful teacher (narsis amat seh!!! red.) suddenly grew her sharp teeth and became a vicious SHARK!!!

“Aaaaaaaa…!!!” The students ran away from the shark to save their lives. Some of them climbed the tables. Some of them stood on the chairs. But the shark managed to catch several students! Yummy…!

After 5 minutes or so, the teacher decided it was time to stop playing. She shouted once more.

“WHO’S TIRED???”

Of course, everybody was tired. The time had finally come to study.

“I have stickers for those who can sit nicely in five… four… three… two… one…!!!”

‘Sticker’ is a magic word. Everybody sat nicely in five seconds.

Thanks to the great LITTLE motivator. I should never give up.

*As rice paddy to Indonesian people, as stickers to teachers*

^^

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red-squirrel-4He sneaked into my room through the little window in the dark of the night, and crept quietly under my blanket. Only his cute little snout could be seen.

If it were a cartoon movie, I would have dropped my jaw!

He whispered to me with his heavy breath.

“We’ve lost, we’ve lost the battle!”

Well, I was ‘lost’ as well, for I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“What battle?” I asked.

“The battle, for heaven’s sake! The battle against the pox virus, of course! Where have you been?” cried the little fella, frustrated. His twinkling little black eyes examined me carefully. Suddenly he jumped out of the blanket.

“Gosh, I’ve climbed into the wrong house! I have to go!”

But he didn’t. His eyes examined me once more.

“I’m so exhausted, I may not be strong enough to travel again. Well, you’re a human, right? And you look like a nice one… you won’t hurt me… will you? ‘Cause you’re so big and I’m so small”

“I would never hurt you,” said I. “You’re so cute! I have always wanted to see you! A British Red Squirrel??? In my room??? I’m not even in Britain right now!”

He looked a bit insulted. “I don’t think ‘cute’ is the proper word. But yeah, I am the British red squirrel.” His voice was weak.

“Can I offer you a drink or something? Some hazelnuts maybe?” He only smiled and shook his head faintly.

I noticed something wrong.

“There are lesions around your eyes… and your mouth is swollen… did anything bad happen to you recently?”

“It’s the pox.” Again he whispered as if unable to speak. Then he sat, with his back leaning on my pillow, and told me his sad story.

“There used to be a plenty of us in Britain. We were simply everywhere! Until the gray squirrels arrived from America over a century ago. They brought along something called pox virus. A virus that does no harm to them, yet threatens the lives of my kin! Once we are infected by that virus, a will must be prepared, a grave must be dug.”

The black eyes of his were then full of tears.

“The virus doesn’t kill us instantly. But it affects our health, causes lesions around our eyes and mouth. We cannot eat or drink. Thus we would starve to death in fifteen days.”

He forced a smile upon his face.

“You know something? It has been fifteen days since I got infected. Yea, fifteen. And I’m so tired.”

He closed his eyes.

“Where am I?”

“At a safe place,” said I. “Just go to sleep now, little dear.”

“Well, it’s a bit cold.”

“I’ll hold you.”

There I was, spending the night with the adorable little fella sleeping peacefully in my arms.

In the morning he had gone. What a strange dream. Maybe I’ve read too much Beatrix Potter.

May God help the scientists to develop a vaccine against the squirrel pox virus, and save the lives of the British red squirrels.

NB: The picture is taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Squirrel

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Setiap pagi, Kura-Kura Kecil berjalan kaki ke sekolah. Untuk tiba di sekolah yang berjarak satu kilometer dari rumahnya, kura-kura kecil membutuhkan waktu 2 jam berjalan kaki. Artinya, bila sekolah dimulai pukul tujuh, Kura-Kura Kecil harus berangkat tepat pukul lima pagi, agar tidak terlambat sampai di sekolah.

Suatu hari, terjadilah suatu kejaiban. Kura-Kura Kecil tiba di sekolah pukul tujuh kurang lima belas menit! Rupanya tanpa disadari ia berangkat lebih pagi dari biasanya. Atau jam di rumahnya lebih cepat lima belas menit. Entahlah. Yang penting, Kura-Kura Kecil jadi punya waktu untuk mengobrol dengan seekor Burung Hantu Tua yang tengah bertengger terkantuk-kantuk di dahan pohon.

“Selamat pagi, Wahai Burung Hantu Yang Terhormat!” sapa Kura-Kura Kecil, riang.

“Selamat pagi, Anak Manis. Kelihatannya kau cape sekali ya?” sahut si Burung Hantu Tua.

“Beginilah nasibku,” Kura-Kura Kecil berubah muram. “Aku terlahir sebagai kura-kura yang lamban. Jauh sebelum matahari terbit, aku harus bangun. Pukul lima tepat, aku harus sudah berangkat ke sekolah. Sedangkan kawanku, Si Kelinci yang tinggal di sebelah rumah, hanya perlu berlari selama lima menit ke sekolah. Jadi, setiba di sekolah aku sudah cape sekali. Sedangkan Si Kelinci masih segar bugar. Sungguh tidak adil!”

“Setahuku, usaha keras tidak mungkin sia-sia,” gumam Burung Hantu Tua sambil berpikir. “Coba ceritakan padaku, Anak Manis, apa saja yang kau jumpai sepanjang perjalananmu ke sekolah.”

“Banyak sekali,” keluh Kura-Kura Kecil. “Aku jadi tak tahu harus mulai dari mana. Misalnya, hari ini aku bertemu dengan Ular Sanca. Dulu aku takut padanya, tapi sekarang ia jadi temanku. Lalu, aku bertemu dengan sahabat lamaku Si Angsa yang baru kembali dari berlibur di Selatan. Tahukah kau, wahai Burung Hantu Yang Terhormat, rupanya di Selatan itu cuacanya selalu panas! Iklim tropis, begitu namanya. Setiap tahun, Angsa dan ribuan unggas lain pergi berlibur ke sana. Enak ya, mereka tidak harus mengalami musim dingin!”

Kini wajah Kura-Kura Kecil berseri-seri. Tiba-tiba, ia ingin bercerita lebih banyak lagi. Kura-Kura Kecil bercerita tentang bagaimana ia biasa mengamati tanda-tanda perubahan cuaca di langit, bagaimana ia bisa menumpang aliran sungai kecil ke sekolah bila musim hujan tiba, di mana bisa ditemukan buah ceri yang paling manis (ssst… ini rahasia!), bagaimana membedakan ular dan katak yang beracun dan yang tidak beracun, dan masih banyak lagi. Dan tahukah Burung Hantu Yang Terhormat, bagaimana asal mula terbentuknya angin lesus? Kura-Kura Kecil tahu, karena ia pernah melihat prosesnya secara langsung!

Burung Hantu Tua tersenyum. “Kau pandai sekali, Anak Manis. Rupanya 2 jam perjalanan ke sekolah tidak kau sia-siakan. Kau bersahabat dengan banyak binatang, serta mempelajari banyak hal.”

Kura-Kura Kecil tersentak. Ia tidak pernah menyadari, betapa beruntungnya ia. Tergesa ia mengucapkan selamat tinggal pada Burung Hantu Tua. Sekolah segera dimulai.

Si Kelinci sudah tiba, dan duduk tepat di samping Kura-Kura Kecil.

“Selamat pagi Si Kelinci sahabatku, apa saja yang kau lihat di sepanjang perjalanan tadi?” sapa Kura-Kura Kecil dengan ramah.

“Aku berlari kencang sekali sehingga tidak melihat apa-apa,” jawab Si Kelinci.

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Klan Jentik Miring

Marilah kita mundur ke masa 2000 tahun yang lalu.

Alkisah pada zaman dahulu di Tiongkok terdapat sebuah klan yang bekerja sebagai agen rahasia. Untuk menjaga agar kerahasiaan tidak bocor, seluruh personilnya harus terdiri dari anggota keluarga tertentu. Tugas mereka antara lain mengawal surat rahasia, peta rahasia, cap kerajaan dan benda-benda berharga lainnya kepada pihak yang berhak. Misalnya, ada suatu kekuatan di istana yang bertujuan menggulingkan kaisar, nah kaisar kan harus minta tolong pada panglima … yang paling setia, namun sialnya kok ya panglima tersebut pas ditugaskan di garis depan, jauh dari istana. Nah, kaisar akan mengirimkan cap kerajaan plus surat berisi pesan rahasia agar sang panglima membawa pulang ratusan ribu pasukannya, menggagalkan aksi pemberontakan dan melindungi kaisar.

Tentunya dibutuhkan banyak orang untuk mengemban misi itu. Ada yang bertugas menjadi kurir, membawa surat dan cap kerajaan, ada juga kurir palsu dengan surat palsu untuk mengelabui musuh, ada yang bertugas mengawasi dan melindungi kurir yang asli, kadang demi menjaga kerahasiaan, surat dan cap harus berulang kali pindah tangan, dll. Namun seluruh personil haruslah orang yang bisa dipercaya, yang memiliki tujuan dan idealisme sama. Itulah sebabnya, tugas ini hanya boleh diemban oleh satu keluarga atau satu klan tertentu.

Bagaimana caranya mengenali seseorang itu anggota klan sungguhan atau bukan? Dulu kan belum ada retina scan? Nah, biasanya ada ciri-ciri fisik khusus. Kalo tidak mempunyai ciri-ciri fisik ini, jangan harap bisa menyusup! Kisah-kisah semacam ini banyak ditemukan pada film-film silat seri yang populer pada tahun 80-an.

Keluargaku jelas bukan klan yang menjadi agen rahasia. Soalnya kami semua dilahirkan pada abad ke-20. Dan sebagian besar dari kami bahkan belum pernah menginjak daratan Tiongkok ^^. Namun keluargaku, tepatnya dari garis keturunan mamiku, memiliki satu ciri-ciri fisik yang sama!!!

Jentik (jari kelingking) kaki kami semuanya berbentuk miring ke dalam, tidak lurus seperti jari kaki lainnya. Herannya, semua anak yang dilahirkan dari garis keturunan mamiku, memiliki jentik miring. Misalnya papiku, jentiknya normal-normal saja. Tapi ketiga anaknya berjentik miring ^^. Begitu juga semua saudara mamiku yang berjentik miring. Meskipun suami/istri mereka berjentik normal, tapi semua anak mereka (saudara sepupuku) jentiknya juga miring.

Coba lihat jentik kakimu, kalau miring, berarti…

“Selamat datang ke Klan Jentik Miring”

^^

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Kepiting

Ring-a-ding-ding

Lihatlah aku Si Kepiting

Senyumku tersungging

Jalanku miring

Kaki-kakiku ceking

Rumahku, lautan yang tak pernah kering

Di atas pasir aku berbaring

Di atas ombak terpelanting

Indahnya dunia kala fajar menyingsing

Mentari semburat kuning

Burung camar berseru melengking

Hingga suatu hari muncul jaring

Dengan cekatan menggiring

Aku tersangkut tersaring

Percuma berenang pontang-panting

Keadaan menjadi genting

Tapi aku tak bergeming

Mungkin sudah nasibku sebagai kepiting

Satwa laut tak penting

Yang dicari karena daging

Setelah digoreng garing

Aku dihidangkan di atas piring

Lantas dikoyak dengan gigi taring

Kriiiiiiiingggg…!!!

Lonceng kolesterol berbunyi nyaring

Jangan kau makan aku sering-sering

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Ngeyel

“You, the third speaker, act as the surgeon of the team. Thou art the one who hold the scalpel, and thou art going to (please tell me if the following part needs to be censored) cut your opponents into small pieces!”

It wasn’t the utterance of a psychopath. It was that of a debate coach.

Typically Javanese, I didn’t feel too good about arguing, rebutting what other people say. The urge to do so, I have long felt its existence inside me. Yet I hadn’t found the right, appropriate way to unleash it. Until the day came.

If you find yourself very much interested in arguing, rebutting, or proving that your opinion is right and others’ are wrong, there’s an appropriate way to enhance your talent. Join a debate club!!! Take part in debate competitions!!!

In a debates (and debates only) you would be trained, encouraged, stimulated to argue. No hurt feeling or whatsoever. You would even be highly praised if you can do it well.

But there’s a danger in it, though. It is addictive.

Once you experience the triumphant glory of successfully rebutting arguments, realize how the combination of your brain and tongue could produce such a mighty sword to crush your opponents with, believe me, you will be addicted to it. You would keep rebutting, arguing, and attacking other people’s opinion, even when you don’t have to. Even long after the competition is over.

If you have reached this level, then be careful. For it’s a double-edged sword. It can also cause you damages. Damages in relationship with family, relatives, friends, bosses, colleagues, just name it. I’ve been through it.

Well, it’s not that bad, actually. It’s just something you have to deal with. You have to control the urge, so that it would only come up when needed. Letting go the urge at the right time and in an appropriate manner can make you (at least) look smart. Just don’t go over the limit.

Well, many a word I wish I never have said, many a thing I wish I never have done. But I never regret having rebutting and arguing as a hobby. It’s called ngeyel (Javanese).

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house sparrow

Bang!!!

For a few seconds I can see nothing but little twinkling stars dancing around, followed by a sudden sharp pain on my head. Then, gaining my sight back, I start to wonder. It shouldn’t be so difficult. My eyes are telling me that I’m just a few steps away from the green grass, a few flaps away from the tree tops. But somehow, I just can’t get out!

I spring back, take a deep breath, get myself ready. Yes, I’m going to try again. Spread my wings, and… (fly again?)

Bang!!!

It happens again. So comes again the pain, more severe than the previous one. I check my beak, fortunately it’s fine. Standing on trembling little feet, I force myself to think. It mustn’t be a coincidence. There must be an invisible barrier that separates me from the outside world.

I examine the mysterious “barrier” closely. I see nothing. The sky is just as blue, and the leaves, as green. Yet something is missing. Where’s the sweet smell of the grass? The sound of other birds singing? The warm sunshine? The wind breeze?

I decide to take a rest and examine my surrounding more carefully. There’s no other bird in this room. I only see humans. I’m glad they’re not interested in me. Anyway, I’m just an unattractive little brown feathered bird. Not valuable enough for them to catch.

Those humans are busy with their meals.

I’m hungry. And so are my babies…

How many hours has elapsed since the last time I saw them this morning? Mommy’s going out to fetch you some food, said I. Be nice and don’t leave the nest until Mommy returns. My five adorable little babies… they hatched a week ago, and it’s my first experience to be a mother. I feed them every morning, noon, and night. They could never be satisfied. It was the happiest moment of my life! To hear the eggs cracked, and…

Stay focus! You want to leave this place and go home to your babies, right? So, stay focus and think!!!

Too tired to fly, I hop along the window panes. (Little birds do not walk. We hop.) Checking here and there, searching for a spot where “the barrier” doesn’t exist. After checking around twice (or thrice?) I still can’t find the right spot. The invincible “barrier” is covering this room. Gosh, I almost give up!

Wait, I managed to get in here, right? If there’s an entrance, there should also be an exit. All I have to do is find the entrance, then I’ll be able to exit. The idea rises my spirit back. Once again I spread my wings and fly. I need to find the entrance soon.

The flaps of my wings attract the humans’ attention. Some of them look up, and see me flying around. Watch me, I say, watch me finding my way home!

Time goes by… and here I am still, in this very room. I could hardly move my wings anymore. They’re exhausted, just like me. I stand still and look down.

A woman is watching me. Sympathy is written on her face. She’s trying to say something… but I don’t understand the human language. Ah, who cares…

Legs trembling, tears falling, oh how I miss my babies…

Looking out at the darkening sky, suddenly I gain my strength back. The last power, just adequate for one final effort!!! I stand up, straighten my legs, throw one final glance at the humans… at the woman who’s still watching.

You may look down on me, on my tiny little figure. And yes, I’m only equipped with a pair of tiny little wings. My strength won’t last the night. Neither will my life. But I’m a bird, and a bird never gives up!!!

One final effort, I say to my wings. For the sake of my hungry babies, I’ll have to try again. If I get lucky, “the barrier” might no longer be there. Who knows?

There’s only a way to find out.

I close my eyes, praying to my Creator, thinking of my babies. Mommy’s coming home.

One, two, three, go…!!!

Bang!!!

After hitting the glass window severely, the bird falls down. Its eyes, no longer open, its beak no longer chirps. A woman removes the dead bird from the floor, holding it close to her chest. Tears are falling down her cheeks. If only you understand the language of human, she whispers sadly. I know you only want to find a way out. I’ll take you out and release you in the open. I’ve offered you a help… but how would you understand my intention? We don’t even speak the same language.

*dedicated to one confused little bird trapped in the food court of Summarecon Mall Serpong, one Sunday afternoon*

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