On Writing in a Foreign Language

A necklace I bought from Yogyakarta. The scorpio had already dead before the maker made it.

By writing I don’t mean solely to write, it also means writing then showing it to the world with its millions of possibilities. I love to write, I’m not quite sure how it started. Maybe when I was 7 or 8, with a pencil in my hand, I found a ruled paper quite intriguing. Filling it with words was so satisfying.

I’m ashamed of myself by not letting my mind out of its cage. Yet I think I know now how it started. As for someone whose mind always wandering, sporadically, impolitely, fuck-offly, finding the right words in the right language to share is another form of voyage. Then here is why, no matter how absurd, how not-nationalist it might sounds, I find myself at home sharing what I’m thinking, smelling, hugging, loving, necking, fucking, kissing, seeing, falling, digesting in a foreign language.

For sure, family background always has an impact. I came from a family of 9, which is a big family, yet it was where we rarely speak let alone having proper conversations. It took me long times up until my college years to find such a simple words as “Dysfunctional Family” which later I could explain it further as “Non-Communicative Family” or “Lack-of-Emotional Connection Family.”. It was a revelation for me, everything that was blurry suddenly became as clear as the blue sky. Because before I found such explanation, I couldn’t tell anyone about my family. I became a Peer Counselor at school, listening to friends’ problems which mostly were also about family yet I couldn’t find any word to convey about my own.

I remember some of our nannies told me to be not as talkative as I had been, that I needed to be as calm as my oldest brother. I remember when I was a kid, my mom responded to my endless questions about any little thing with “Shut up!”. I can write more and more reason yet I don’t want to let the past dictates my current self and the future.

The fact that I’m writing about this doesn’t mean that I hate my family, I love them for their own imperfections and I learn to forgive, mend my own wounds, then grow. Because at this quarter-century-year old body, I realized that I always have a choice. Always have a power to go back to the past, not letting my traumas unnoticed therefore unhealed. I had done the biggest mistake I did to my soul by stop writing and publishing it. And now I found tools I use to tell. Unfortunately I couldn’t write in the same language as my traumatic experiences happened.

But why in English? The fact is, I’m not in love with this most widely spoken language. I adore Italian, French and absolutely Bahasa Indonesia more than this. I prefer latin pronountiation more. Perhaps, it’s because these recent months this is the language I’ve been using to communicate through emails. I love emails, just for the reason that we can write more and doesn’t feel as nagging as chat or Direct Messages on Social Media. It doesn’t matter if I reply to email for days as long that I respond to it comprehensively. The people I communicate with mostly are not Bahasa Indonesia speaker nor understand about it, and we found using English feels more fair since this is not our mother tongues.

I’ve tried of course, in writing and explaining what I am thinking in Bahasa Indonesia. I had been trying to start serious and deep conversation with my friends. Years ago, I even had started this kind of conversation, tried to be vulnerable to friends when we were hanging out at our other friends’ cafes. It all endep up weird, if not too emotional, to dangerous, to girl-like conversation because we could only talk about funny things, weird things, trendy things, anything joke-like topics so people got interested to join in. Deep conversation, being vulnerable about ourselves are out our world. Some of my friends even said “I don’t like this kind of topic. So whiny. So attention-seeking. How about newest Marvel movies?”.

I rarely found anyone here in Indonesia that I can have a deep conversation with no judgment. My mother tongue, in my own experience which of course is subjective experience that I don’t try to convince you to think similarly as me, being made to only talk about what we consider as amusing. It gets worse right now, with religion becomes political. When God, heaven and hell became bureaucratical. When being vulnerable seen as a sin, because everybody should only ask for help to Him.

I’m tired of it all. I think life gives you the people that suits you so you can learn to reflect at yourslef then transform it. Took months for me to realize I needed to stop this, I needed changes, I needed to reinvent myself therefore reinvent the people I regard as friends, as lover, as anything. I don’t want to fall in love with someone who doesn’t even try to communicate. I don’t want to have a relationship with a fucking romantic who makes thousands of songs, of poetries, when they can easily, at least try, to talk to me, no matter how complicated it would be, about what they are thinking and feeling. I’m tired of having any kind of relationships with people who talk a lot yet have no depth. Another kind of trauma I need to learn something from, I guess?

Communication and connection are two different things.

Just a Thought

Conversely it could be because the reason that I don’t really like English which helped me to write more authentically and more in flow since I will not focusing on the details. Because if I used my basic-level French I would be more conscious trying to use more flowery words. If I wrote or speak in my own mother tongue, it will naturally messed up. My native language is like a high waterfall. It is so powerful and hard to resist the urge to follow the same pattern, wheras using English feels like first time riding a bike. It feels as I let my inner kid in play at a foreign land, carelessly happy not thinking about the mistake he gonna make.

The biggest question is, why I need to publish my writings? I have a love-hate relationship with being in a spotlight. I don’t really like when I get easily noticed. But I know, this need to change. I’ve been learning to post the picture of myself, of my own face, of my own body, on Instagram since last year! It’s weird. Because I get used to only post of my own artwork: my own drawings or street photography that I took. There’s something in me that always pulls me back to the corner of the room, to the shadow.

I remember last year the first time I learn about astrology. I hated this pop-culture thingy since being born as a Scorpio, people thought that they know lot of things about me. People who are not into astrology at least know that Scorpio is the darkest sign of all. I read that people who were born in Scorpio Sun will need to let go of so many things, so many people, so many old selfs in order to transfrom, but astrology is more than just about the Sun which also your ego. I also have some of dominant air signs in my natal chart which said that I am more wordy, more thinking, more socializing, and…more “exposed”. Also add that I was born at the edge of Scorpio near to Sagittarius or simply called “Sagittarius”. Water and fire, a Scorpittarius, let’s get steamy. So hillarious!

I don’t know. Of course the reason why I write and publish my writings is also to find the people who get same interests as me; book, movies, philosophy, psychology, et cetera. There are some friends who are also love movies or books yet they don’t seem like reading it, they more buying or collecting it. The ones who actually read or watch may not wanting to discuss. I’m not a collector, I’m a reader of many things. But it doesn’t matter anymore whether I will get same-interest friends, because here, I also realize that I need to write for myself. For my past, current, and the future self, that I am what I am, that I need to compromise with my own ego which wanting to be in the darkness, to go to new places, with being here, vulnerable and exposed.

So, those are the reasons why I write here. This blog, or web, or whatever, it’s like a force which needs another kind of salty sweats.


Turangga Sukandar Putra.

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