Eve Shi

Painting by Dewi Candraningrum

Painting by Dewi Candraningrum

Somewhat ironically, considering what happened later, I first met Rika outside the school chapel. By virtue of being assigned to different homerooms each year as per the rules of our private school, I'd known almost everyone else in the sixth grade. Rika's face was unfamiliar, but the tag on her right sleeve proclaimed her to be in the same grade as well.

She stood on the small flight of steps, eyes scanning the grassy schoolyard, where students chattered and wandered about. The chapel was always open during school hours. Maybe she was about to pray and was waiting for a certain someone to join her. Catching sight of me, she checked the tag on my sleeve.

"Hi, which homeroom are you in?" she called out.


"My cousin Nindy is also in 6A. Have you seen her? I'm supposed to meet her but she hasn't shown up."

This was the mid-eighties, a time when only landlines existed. Palm-sized communication devices that were available to everyone were a concept belonging to another planet. Thus, I sympathized with her, for being unable to contact a person who hadn’t showed up.

I told Rika that when I last saw Nindy, she was bringing her classmates' homework to the teachers' office. Handing over homework shouldn't take long, but some teachers liked to talk to class reps during recess. I knew this because I used to be a class rep in the fifth grade. This year, I declined the candidacy and passed on the job to someone more equipped for the hassle.

"You could wait for Nindy outside the teachers' office," I suggested.

Rika glanced at the chapel doors behind her. Or you could pray alone, I wanted to add, and refrained from doing so. My mom had taught me that other people's acts of worship were their private business and none of ours. Besides, Rika might have chosen this spot randomly, with no intention of going into the chapel.

The bell rang, signaling the end of recess. Amid a surge of kids in their white and checkered uniforms, Rika and I walked back to the sixth grade homerooms. The midday sun beat down on us—one more class and we would all head home. The sweet anticipation kept my gait light and stoked my curiosity.

"I'm Lana. What's your name?" After Rika replied, I asked her, "New here?"

"Yes. Homeroom 6B, starting from this week. Nindy's dad is my mom's younger brother."

Being a new student, Rika must have repeated this information a dozen times already. And yet she delivered it with the eagerness of a first time. She even kept smiling up until the moment we entered our respective classrooms. Her friendliness encouraged me to consider her a possible new best friend; the previous one had moved away from Java. At that age, having a best friend—someone with whom I could share my hopes and feelings—was of paramount importance to me.

The end-of-school bell rang at one o'clock. My classmates and I stored our books inside our bags, while the class rep intoned, "Let us pray in accordance with our beliefs." After the brief prayers, Nindy, who sat at the front row, left the classroom first. Pretending to be a spy, I followed her to see if she was going to meet Rika.

When I saw the two girls, they were talking on the corridor leading to the building's exit. Rika stared down at the floor while Nindy's forehead creased with disapproval. She said something that made Rika's head hang even lower. Then, without sparing her cousin a glance, Nindy marched away.

From my mom, I’d learned that people who were sad sometimes didn't want others around them. Case in point: whenever Mom had an argument with Dad, she'd spend the next half hour playing with our cat. However, Rika looked so heartbroken and alone, standing to one side of the blue-tiled corridor, that I decided to keep her company for the moment.

Kids streamed past her as she adjusted the straps of her penguin-print backpack. When I walked over, she looked up. "Walk to the gate with me?" I offered.

"Why not?" she murmured. "Which shuttle do you take?"

I mentioned the route, and she said that she would be going home by becak. We strolled across the parking lot, past cars and drab brown schoolbuses, and exchanged info about ourselves. Rika, like me, was an only child, and we both adored all shades of pink. Her family was originally from Surabaya. Then her father was transferred to the office's main branch in Jakarta. Never fond of big cities, her parents chose to live here in Bogor instead, and her father commuted to work every day.  

The other reason for their choice was that they had relatives here: Nindy and her family. Rika's parents sent her to the same school as Nindy, in the hopes that Rika would find new friends more easily through her cousin.

"But I made her angry yesterday," Rika confessed with a sigh. "I called her up this morning, saying I'd wait at the chapel to apologize."

Her frown and the scene in the corridor indicated that the apology hadn't been well-received. "What did you do?" I asked.

"I told her I'm not comfortable being in the school chapel or the cathedral, since I'm not a Catholic. Whenever I can, I'll skip the services."

My immediate reaction was to guess what her faith was. This being a Catholic school, the majority of the students were Catholics. The rest were Protestants, plus a few Buddhists, Muslims, and Confucians. In short, Rika's faith could be anything.

She sighed again. "Nindy is still upset. She said, my parents worked hard to get me accepted into this school. Not obeying school rules means I don't appreciate their effort."

"If you're not a Catholic, why do your parents want you to go here?" I asked. "Is it only because Nindy goes here, too?"

"Before we left Surabaya, my parents did research on private schools in Bogor, and they were told this is the best one. My father prefers private schools, I think, since he's never enrolled me in a public one. The Catholicism doesn't bother him. But I'm still not comfortable with attending the services here..."

As far as I knew, my non-Catholic friends attended the school's compulsory religious services with few qualms. A few of them had even taken to memorizing the Madah Bakti songs. Rika was the first person I heard who objected to the rule.

"I'm not a Catholic either," I said, "but I'm okay with the services. It's not that they change my beliefs or anything. Just go through the motions, Rika—no one can tell the difference."

If she got curious about my faith then, she didn't bring it up. Neither did she respond to my solution. We parted at the gates, and she went to look for a becak.

Our conversation that day had put a seal on our friendship. Afterward, we went to the same Catholic middle and high schools, simply because our other friends did and we'd grown used to the environment. We sang in the choir; every semester it competed against other schools and often won first or second place. During the holidays, we exchanged letters and visited each other's homes.

Meanwhile, Rika had seemingly made peace with the compulsory services. She sat quietly in the pews, looked sleepy when everyone was praying, and at the end shuffled out with a blank face. This encouraged me to admit to her something that I'd never told anyone before: at first, I wasn't all that comfortable with sitting through the services, either.

"Then, over the years, I simply got used to them," I said. "My parents are like yours—they want me here because this is considered the best private school in Bogor. Our family has been Buddhist for generations, and they didn’t think I'd ever become interested in Catholicism."

"Well, have you?" Rika asked. "Ever thought of converting, I mean?"

"Once. But nothing serious. I've never had any issues with my own faith anyway."

Gradually I discovered that Rika, her parents, and their parents before them were Protestants. Nindy's mother had been born in a Catholic family who refused to have non-Catholic in-laws, so Nindy's father converted in order to marry her. His own father had been against it until his mother declared, "It's his own choice. He'll be the one responsible for it—and for living with the risks." Nindy's grandfather, slightly swayed by this perspective, finally gave his blessing.

This was probably part of the reason Nindy had reacted strongly to Rika's discomfort. Nindy's father loved her mother so much that he'd converted for her. Rika, on the other hand, was unwilling to make the minor sacrifice of enduring another religion's services. Rika said that it made Nindy think her cousin was a spoiled brat. It hadn't occured to both girls, and me, that those were two different cases. Rika had never chosen to attend the school in the first place: her parents had made the decision for her.

As high school rolled along, some of my schoolmates converted to Catholicism. I noticed this from what was called a memory album in those days—a book where your friends wrote down their profiles: their names, addresses, religion, phone numbers, hobbies, and favorite things. Often they added drawings, stickers, and personal messages. The idea was that, later in life, the book would help you remember them. At least three friends who had been followers of other faiths now wrote down Roman Catholicism. One of them told me her parents didn't convert—just allowed her to do so. Another said his parents were doubtful at first, before believing that their son would be a good person regardless of the way he prayed.

"Wonder what drew them to it," I mused aloud to Rika. School had been over for an hour. The basketball team was practicing, even though the P.E. teacher wasn’t there to coach them. Rika and I sat at one side of the court, watching the boys dribble, pass, and dunk. A ball's failure to drop through the ring would be punctuated with profanities and victorious laughter.

"What drew them toward changing the way they serve God, you mean?" Rika sipped at her lemon-flavored soda. "Most of them have been attending Catholic services since first grade. The services click with them, so they decide they need to officially join the faith. Ah, but I don't know, I’m just guessing."

"But we've been attending the services too, and yet here we are."

She tapped on the soda can with her fingertip. "You're still not interested in becoming a Catholic?"

"Nah. There's nothing to be gained from changing my religion. It's the way I practice my beliefs that matters. How about you? Ever been tempted?"

An explosion of curses from the court drowned out some of Rika's words, so she repeated them. "No. You're right, it's not what our faith is called, it's the way we adhere to it."

High school came to an end. Rika and I went to college in different provinces. We crossed the hundreds of kilometers between us through letters and rare phone calls. As we hurtled through our final semester, our schedules grew hectic and irrelevant to one another. Both letters and calls grew sporadic. By graduation month, the letters had stopped completely.

A matter of course, I told myself. Rika and I had evolved. In our current lives, friends from teenage years held little significance. If we missed each other, we could always plan to meet or wait for reunions.

As if born out of that dismissive thought, an invitation to a high school reunion arrived at my parents' mailbox. It was for students who had graduated in the same year as me. Reading the invitation card, I hesitated. Besides Rika, whom did I sincerely miss from those days? Could I put up with two or three hours of polite smiles and the obligatory catching up?

In the end, I went to the reunion. The afternoon was cloudy when I arrived at the high school building, now painted a cheery green. Two of my ex-classmates were stationed at the reception desk. They greeted me with exclamations, we air-kissed each other on the cheek, and I walked into the hall. Inside, the girls were enthusiastic, and the boys casual toward me and rowdy with each other.

Rika was sitting on a chair in the corner. She looked exactly the same as she did in our last encounter five years ago, when we took a trip to Puncak to celebrate getting into college. After we hugged, I plopped down next to her.

"How has life been to you?" she asked.

"Not too shabby. I work for this agency—they assist people who want to study abroad. Got a steady boyfriend. We're thinking of buying this new thing called the cell phone, to see what it'll do to our relationship. How has your life been?"

She looked down at her fingers, spread out on her knees. "Fine. It's fine. Administration staff at a furniture company. Single by choice. And my ID card still says Protestant, but..."

I waited, and she shrugged.

"What do you call it, non-practicing? Yes. I haven't converted to another faith or stopped believing in God. It's just that, lately  when I do acts of worship, it feels hollow. Like deceit. My heart’s not in it. So why lie to myself and put on a charade before God? Better to stop altogether."


"I haven't told anyone yet about this, only you. Because you're, well, you."

"Thanks for the trust."

She surprised me with a light chuckle. "Can you imagine what our nice, religious friends would say? They'd probably offer me spiritual guidance."

"Nice they are, but all that religious? Nope. And your family...?"

"My parents and relatives still haven't found out yet. I'm not sure they need to, unless it becomes absolutely necessary." The twinkle in her eyes died. "Which I hope is never. I'm intimidated, to be honest. Some people don't look kindly on those who don't observe a certain organized faith. I'm the only person I know who does that."

I patted her on the shoulder. "Staying true to your convictions, like you've always done. Thumbs up for the consistency."

"How about you, if I may ask?"

I shrugged. "Still barely any issues with my own faith. I can see now that it means I have it easy by not having to struggle with what faith means to me. Compared to you, I'm too complacent."

Rika shook her head, looking bemused. "All this time I thought I was just making trouble for myself."

"No, you're just figuring out your way in life. Anytime you need moral support, I'm here."

Rika stuck out her arms, and this time our hug was tighter and more heartfelt. Although she didn't seem relieved, her smile was broader. "I wish... ah, I wish I could talk to people like me."

"There's this other new thing called the internet. You can use it at internet cafes. Look up sites through search engines, and maybe you'll get lucky and find those people."

"Already did that! But I couldn't talk much, since many of them aren’t Indonesians, and my English sucks. I'll work on that."

"Just call me whenever you need a quick English lesson."

"I will, yes." She stifled a yawn. "Oh, wow! I'm so sleepy and the reunion hasn't even begun! I’d better grab a lemper or croquette to help prop my eyes open."

© Eve Shi


Eve Shi

Painting by Dewi Candraningrum

Painting by Dewi Candraningrum

Agak ironis, terutama bila mengingat yang terjadi sesudahnya, bahwa aku bertemu Rika kali pertama di luar kapel sekolah. Kala itu kami sama-sama murid di sebuah SD swasta. Setiap tahun, sesuai peraturan sekolah, murid-murid satu angkatan ditempatkan di kelas-kelas yang berbeda. Karenanya, aku sudah mengenal semua murid kelas enam. Wajah Rika asing bagiku, tapi label di lengan kanan seragamnya menerakan angka VI, persis seperti label di seragamku.

Rika berdiri di undakan menuju kapel, tatapannya memindai halaman tengah yang berumput tebal—tempat anak-anak mengobrol dan berkeliaran. Kapel selalu buka selama jam sekolah, dia mungkin sedang menunggu seseorang untuk berdoa bersamanya. Saat melihatku, dia mengecek label di lengan bajuku.

"Hai, kamu kelas berapa?" panggilnya.


"Sepupuku, Nindy, juga di kelas 6A. Kamu lihat dia, nggak? Aku janji ketemu dia di sini, tapi dia belum datang."

Waktu itu pertengahan tahun delapan puluhan, saat baru ada jaringan tetap untuk telepon. Alat komunikasi seukuran telapak tangan yang bisa dibeli semua orang ibarat gagasan dari planet lain. Karenanya, aku bersimpati dengan anak ini, yang tidak bisa menghubungi temannya yang tidak muncul.

Aku memberi tahu Rika bahwa, kali terakhir aku melihat Nindy, dia sedang membawa PR teman-teman sekelas ke kantor guru. Menyerahkan PR biasanya hanya makan waktu sebentar, tapi ada guru yang senang mengobrol dengan ketua kelas selama jam istirahat. Aku tahu ini sebab, saat kelas lima, aku sendiri adalah ketua kelas. Tahun ini aku menolak dicalonkan, dan mengoper tugas kepada anak lain yang lebih cakap menangani ribetnya jabatan itu.

"Tunggu saja Nindy di luar kantor guru," saranku.

Rika melirik pintu kapel di belakangnya. Aku ingin menambahkan Atau kamu bisa berdoa sendirian, tapi batal. Ibuku mengajariku bahwa ibadah adalah urusan pribadi masing-masing, bukan urusan orang lain. Lagi pula, Rika mungkin asal saja memilih lokasi ini tanpa berniat masuk ke kapel.

Bel berbunyi, menandakan akhir jam istirahat. Di tengah arus anak-anak berbaju seragam putih dan kotak-kotak, Rika dan aku berjalan ke ruang-ruang kelas kami. Sinar matahari tengah hari yang terik menimpa kami—satu jam pelajaran lagi, dan kami akan pulang. Manisnya antisipasi ini meringankan langkahku dan mengusik rasa penasaranku.

"Namaku Lana. Nama kamu siapa?"

Rika menyebutkan namanya, dan aku bertanya lagi, "Anak baru, ya?"

"Iya. Kelas 6B, baru masuk minggu ini. Papanya Nindy itu adiknya mamaku."

Sebagai anak baru, Rika tentu sudah mengulangi informasi ini selusin kali. Namun, dia mengucapkannya dengan semangat seperti saat kali pertama mengatakannya. Dia bahkan tersenyum sampai kami masuk ke kelas masing-masing. Berkat sikapnya yang ramah, aku mempertimbangkan dia sebagai calon teman karibku yang baru. Aku pernah punya teman karib, lalu dia pindah ke luar Jawa. Pada usia itu, punya teman karib—tempat aku berbagi harapan dan emosi—adalah hal paling penting.

Bel pulang berbunyi pada pukul satu. Aku dan teman-teman sekelas menyimpan buku di dalam tas, sementara ketua kelas kami berkata datar, "Berdoa menurut kepercayaan masing-masing." Setelah kami berdoa singkat, Nindy, yang duduk di deretan terdepan, meninggalkan kelas terlebih dulu. Sambil berpura-pura jadi mata-mata, aku membuntutinya sebab ingin tahu apakah dia menemui Rika.

Saat aku melihat kedua anak itu, mereka sedang berbicara di koridor menuju pintu keluar bangunan. Tatapan Rika terarah ke lantai selagi kening Nindy berkerut oleh ekspresi tidak setuju. Dia mengatakan sesuatu yang membuat Rika menunduk makin rendah. Tanpa bahkan melirik sepupunya, Nindy pergi dengan langkah-langkah cepat.

Dari ibuku, aku belajar bahwa orang yang sedang bersedih kadang tidak ingin dekat-dekat orang lain. Contohnya, tiap kali bertengkar dengan Ayah, selama setengah jam berikutnya Ibu bermain dengan kucing kami. Namun, Rika tampak begitu patah hati dan terkucil di sisi koridor yang berubin biru, maka aku memutuskan untuk menemaninya sebentar.

Anak-anak melewati Rika selagi dia membetulkan tali ranselnya yang bergambar penguin. Ketika aku menghampirinya, Rika menengadah.

"Mau jalan ke gerbang sekolah bareng aku?" Aku menawarkan.

"Ayo, deh," gumamnya. "Kamu naik angkot jurusan mana?"

Aku menyebutkan rute yang kutempuh, dan dia berkata akan pulang naik becak. Kami berjalan santai melintasi pelataran parkir, melewati mobil-mobil dan bus-bus sekolah cokelat kusam, sambil saling bercerita tentang diri sendiri. Seperti aku, Rika anak tunggal, dan kami sama-sama penggemar warna merah muda. Keluarga Rika berasal dari Surabaya. Ayahnya dipindahtugaskan ke kantor pusat di Jakarta. Karena kurang menyukai kota besar, orangtuanya memilih tinggal di Bogor, dan ayahnya pergi-pulang kerja naik kereta api setiap hari.

Alasan lain mereka memilih tinggal di Bogor adalah karena mereka punya kerabat di sini: Nindy dan keluarganya. Orangtua Rika memasukkan dia ke sekolah yang sama dengan Nindy, dengan harapan Rika lebih mudah mencari teman lewat sepupunya.

"Tapi kemarin aku bikin dia marah." Rika mengaku sambil menghela napas. "Pagi tadi aku telepon dia. Kubilang, nanti aku tunggu dia di kapel untuk minta maaf."

Dari kernyitan dahinya dan adegan di koridor, aku menebak Nindy kurang menerima permintaan maaf Rika. "Memangnya kamu ngapain?"

"Aku bilang nggak nyaman masuk ke kapel sekolah atau katedral, karena agamaku bukan Katolik. Kapan pun bisa, aku bolos misa."

Reaksi pertamaku adalah mencoba menerka agama Rika. Ini sekolah Katolik, maka itulah agama mayoritas murid. Sisanya beragama Protestan, dan segelintir lainnya penganut agama Buddha, Islam, dan Konghucu. Singkatnya, agama Rika bisa apa saja.

Dia kembali menghela napas. "Nindy masih kesal. Katanya, orangtuaku mati-matian berusaha supaya aku diterima di sekolah ini. Nggak menuruti aturan sekolah artinya aku nggak menghargai usaha mereka."

"Kamu bukan orang Katolik, kenapa orangtuamu ingin kamu sekolah di sini?" tanyaku. "Cuma karena di sini ada Nindy?"

"Sebelum kami pindah dari Surabaya, orangtuaku mencari info tentang sekolah swasta di Bogor. Yang mereka dengar, ini sekolah swasta nomor satu. Sepertinya papaku lebih percaya sekolah swasta, soalnya aku nggak pernah didaftarkan ke sekolah negeri. Bagi Papa, nggak apa-apa ini sekolah Katolik. Tapi aku sendiri merasa nggak enak, harus ikut ibadah di sini..."

Sejauh yang kutahu, teman-temanku yang bukan Katolik mengikuti ibadah wajib di sekolah tanpa banyak pusing. Beberapa di antara mereka bahkan menghafalkan lagu-lagu Madah Bakti. Rika adalah orang pertama yang kudengar menyatakan keberatan dengan peraturan ibadah wajib.

"Aku juga bukan orang Katolik," ujarku. "Tapi aku nggak ada masalah dengan misa di sini. Soalnya nggak mengubah kepercayaanku juga. Kamu tinggal ikuti gerakan-gerakan ibadahnya saja, Rika—nggak bakal ada yang tahu."

Jika saat itu Rika ingin tahu apa kepercayaanku, dia tidak bertanya. Dia pun tidak memberi tanggapan tentang solusi yang kutawarkan. Kami berpisah di gerbang sekolah, dan dia mencari becak.

Percakapan kami hari itu mengikat tali persahabatan kami. Setelahnya, kami bersekolah di SMP dan SMA Katolik yang sama. Alasannya satu: teman-teman kami bersekolah di sana dan kami sudah terbiasa dengan lingkungannya. Kami menjadi anggota paduan suara sekolah. Tiap semester, kami bertanding dengan paduan suara sekolah lain, dan sering menjadi juara satu atau dua. Selama liburan, kami saling berkirim surat dan mengunjungi rumah masing-masing.

Sementara itu, Rika tampaknya telah berdamai dengan ibadah wajib. Dia duduk tanpa suara di bangku gereja, tampak mengantuk saat orang lain berdoa, dan setelahnya berjalan keluar tanpa tergesa dan tanpa ekspresi. Karena itu, aku terdorong untuk mengakui sesuatu yang tak pernah kuungkapkan sebelumnya. Awalnya, aku pun kurang nyaman mengikuti ibadah wajib.

"Lalu, sesudah bertahun-tahun, aku jadi terbiasa," ujarku. "Orangtuaku sama dengan orangtuamu—mereka ingin aku bersekolah di sekolah swasta terbaik di Bogor. Keluarga kami memeluk agama Buddha selama beberapa generasi, dan menurut mereka, mustahil aku tertarik pada agama Katolik."

"Apa iya?" tanya Rika. "Kamu nggak pernah terpikir ingin pindah agama?"

"Pernah satu kali. Tapi nggak serius. Lagi pula, aku nggak pernah bermasalah dengan kepercayaanku."

Lambat laun aku mengetahui bahwa Rika, orangtuanya, dan kakek-neneknya beragama Protestan. Ibu Nindy terlahir di keluarga Katolik. Karena mereka menolak punya ipar beragama lain, ayah Nindy berpindah agama agar bisa menikahi ibunya. Kakek Nindy, ayah dari ayahnya, mulanya menentang keputusan itu, sampai neneknya berkata, "Itu pilihan dia sendiri. Dia yang bertanggung jawab dan menanggung risikonya." Sudut pandang ini sedikit mengubah pikiran kakek Nindy, yang akhirnya memberikan restu.

Barangkali itu sebagian alasan Nindy bereaksi keras atas ketidaknyamanan Rika—Ayah Nindy begitu mencintai ibunya sampai berpindah agama demi dia. Sementara, Rika tidak bersedia berkorban sedikit saja, yaitu menenggang ibadah agama lain. Kata Rika, gara-gara ini Nindy menganggap sepupunya itu anak manja. Tak terpikir oleh mereka berdua, juga aku, bahwa kedua situasi itu berbeda. Rika bersekolah di sini bukan atas pilihan sendiri, melainkan pilihan orangtuanya.

Selama masa SMA, beberapa teman sekolahku masuk ke agama Katolik. Aku menyadarinya ketika menilik buku yang pada masa itu disebut album kenangan. Di buku ini, teman-teman menulis profil mereka: nama, alamat, agama, nomor telepon, hobi, dan hal-hal yang disukai. Kadang mereka menambahkan gambar, stiker, dan pesan pribadi. Fungsi buku ini adalah kelak membantu kita mengingat teman-teman. Setidaknya tiga teman yang tadinya memeluk agama lain kini menulis Katolik Roma. Salah satu dari mereka memberi tahuku bahwa orangtuanya tidak ikut berpindah agama, hanya memberi dia izin. Teman lain berkata bahwa awalnya orangtuanya sangsi, lalu percaya bahwa putra mereka pasti tetap jadi orang baik apa pun caranya berdoa.

Aku mengungkapkan isi pikiranku kepada Rika. "Kira-kira kenapa mereka sampai tertarik?" Sekolah sudah usai satu jam lalu. Tim basket putra sedang berlatih walau tanpa guru olahraga. Rika dan aku duduk di pinggir lapangan, menonton anak-anak mendribel, mengoper, dan menembakkan bola ke keranjang. Bola yang gagal masuk akan disambut caci maki dan tawa kemenangan.

"Tertarik untuk mengubah cara mengabdi Tuhan, maksud kamu?" Rika menyesap minuman soda rasa jeruk. "Kebanyakan dari mereka mengikuti ibadah Katolik sejak kelas satu SD. Ibadahnya cocok dengan mereka, jadi mereka memutuskan masuk agamanya secara resmi. Tapi kurang tahu, ya, aku cuma menebak."

"Tapi kita mengikuti ibadahnya juga, dan kita tetap begini."

Rika mengetukkan ujung jarinya pada kaleng soda. "Kamu masih nggak tertarik masuk agama Katolik?"

"Nggak. Ganti agama nggak ada untungnya bagiku. Yang penting caraku menjalani kepercayaanku. Kamu sendiri? Pernah tergoda?"

Sumpah serapah meledak dari arah lapangan, lebih lantang daripada sebagian ucapan Rika, maka dia mengulanginya. "Nggak. Kamu benar, yang penting bukan nama kepercayaan kita, tapi cara mengamalkannya."

Kemudian kami pun lulus SMA. Rika dan aku berkuliah di dua universitas yang berbeda provinsi. Kami menyeberangi jarak ratusan kilometer dengan surat dan sesekali mengobrol lewat telepon. Selagi kami buru-buru menyelesaikan semester akhir, jadwal kami makin padat dan saling tidak relevan bagi satu sama lain. Surat dan obrolan telepon semakin jarang. Pada saat aku diwisuda, kami sudah sama sekali berhenti saling menyurati.

Wajar saja, kataku pada diri sendiri. Rika dan aku telah berubah. Dalam hidup kami kini, teman-teman semasa remaja dulu nyaris tidak signifikan lagi. Andai pun kami saling rindu, kami bisa membuat janji untuk bertemu atau menunggu reuni sekolah.

Seakan lahir dari pikiran sambil lalu itu, sepucuk undangan reuni SMA tiba di alamat orangtuaku. Reuni ini khusus untuk orang-orang yang dulu seangkatan denganku. Aku membaca kartu undangan dengan ragu. Selain Rika, siapa yang benar-benar kukangeni dari masa itu? Akankah aku tahan tersenyum sopan dan menjalani kewajiban bertukar kabar selama dua atau tiga jam?

Akhirnya aku datang ke reuni itu. Pada sore yang berawan, aku tiba di gedung SMA yang kini berwarna hijau ceria. Dua mantan teman sekelasku bertugas di meja penerima tamu. Mereka berseru senang saat melihatku, kami saling mencium pipi masing-masing, dan aku masuk ke aula. Di dalam, teman-teman perempuan mengobrol dengan antusias. Yang laki-laki bersikap acuh tak acuh kepadaku dan mengobrol berisik dengan sesamanya.

Rika duduk di salah satu kursi di pojok. Penampilannya sama persis dengan saat kami terakhir berjumpa lima tahun lalu, pada tamasya ke Puncak untuk merayakan diterima masuk universitas. Setelah kami berpelukan singkat, aku mengenyakkan badan ke kursi di sebelahnya.

"Kabar kamu bagaimana?" tanya Rika.

"Nggak jelek-jelek amat. Aku bekerja di agensi yang menyediakan jasa bantuan belajar ke luar negeri. Punya pacar tetap. Kami sedang berencana membeli alat baru yang namanya ponsel itu—ingin tahu saja, apa pengaruhnya pada hubungan kami. Kamu sendiri?"

Dia menunduk pada jemarinya yang direnggangkan di atas lutut. "Baik. Kabarku baik. Staf administrasi di sebuah perusahaan mebel. Single karena ingin. Di KTP masih tertulis Protestan, tapi..."

Aku menunggu, dan dia mengangkat bahu.

"Ini namanya agama status atau apalah. Ya, aku tidak pindah agama, dan masih percaya Tuhan. Hanya saja, belakangan ini, bila aku beribadah, rasanya hampa. Aku tidak menghayati atau menyukainya. Jadi, kenapa berdusta kepada diri sendiri dan Tuhan? Sekalian saja aku berhenti."


"Aku belum memberi tahu siapa-siapa, baru kamu. Karena kamu, yah, kamu."

"Terima kasih sudah memercayaiku."

Aku terkejut saat Rika terkekeh pelan. "Kebayang nggak, apa kata teman-teman kita yang baik-baik dan taat beragama itu kalau mereka tahu? Mungkin mereka bakal menawari aku bimbingan rohani."

"Mereka baik-baik, tapi beragama sampai setaat itu? Nggak juga. Dan keluargamu...?"

"Orangtua dan kerabatku belum tahu. Aku nggak yakin mereka perlu tahu, kecuali kalau nanti keadaan benar-benar mengharuskan." Mata Rika tak lagi berbinar. "Kuharap mereka tak pernah tahu. Jujur, aku gamang. Sebagian orang punya anggapan jelek tentang orang yang tidak mengikuti agama tertentu. Aku saja cuma kenal satu orang yang melakukannya: aku sendiri."

Aku menepuk bahunya. "Seperti biasa, kamu memegang teguh keyakinan pribadimu. Aku salut pada konsistensi kamu."

"Kalau boleh tanya, kamu bagaimana?"

Aku mengedikkan pundak. "Masih nyaris nggak punya masalah dengan kepercayaanku. Kini aku paham, situasiku terlalu nyaman—aku nggak harus bergelut dengan definisi arti kepercayaan bagiku. Dibandingkan denganmu, aku terlalu puas diri."

Rika menggeleng dengan bimbang. "Selama ini kupikir aku cuma membikin-bikin masalah sendiri."

"Bukan, kamu hanya mencoba menentukan jalan hidupmu. Kapan saja kamu butuh dukungan moral, aku siap."

Kali ini kami berpelukan dengan lebih erat dan hangat. Walaupun dia tak memancarkan perasaan lega, senyumnya lebih lebar. "Andai saja... ah, andai saja aku bisa bicara dengan orang-orang sepertiku."

"Ada cara komunikasi baru lho, namanya internet. Bisa digunakan di kafe internet. Cari situs yang sesuai lewat mesin pencari. Siapa tahu kamu mujur dan ketemu orang-orang yang cocok."

"Sudah, kok! Tapi aku cuma bisa bicara sedikit. Soalnya, umumnya mereka bukan orang Indonesia, dan bahasa Inggrisku payah. Nanti akan coba kutingkatkan."

"Telepon aku saja kalau kamu butuh belajar kilat bahasa Inggris."

"Pasti!" Dia menahan kuap. "Waduh, aku ngantuk sekali, padahal reuninya mulai saja belum! Yuk kita makan lemper atau kroket supaya tetap melek."

© Eve Shi


EVE SHI is a writer with novels published by Gagas Media, Noura, Elex Media, Twigora, and the indie publisher Nawalapatra. Her short stories have been published in English, among others in Flesh: A Southeast Asian Urban Anthology, Asian Monsters, and Words Without Borders. She wrote the above story in English and translated it herself into Bahasa Indonesia.

dewi candraningrum.png

DEWI CANDRANINGRUM is the founder of Jejer Wadon and a lecturer of gender, literature, and ecology. She graduated from Monash University and Universitaet Muenster. In her spare time she paints with her autistic son Ivan Ufuq Isfahan.