Almost Disaster (English)
“What I mean was—why don’t we go home after dinner.”
Yoshua Dwi Putra
sixty minutes later
That was the tenth time she came and approached for letting me putting my finger over and pressed to the shutter button for the tenth time. She held the camera on her hand and continuously babbled about aperture settings and lighting tricks, also, for the tenth time. I would rather choose that she told me bluntly that I am not a good photographer.
“Are you tired, Yos?” she asked. I wanted to say both, yes and no, so I shut to silence. I was actually studying the flat expression on her face and tried to understand any irritation that she hid behind. If she did not hide anything, then she must be the most patient person that had ever bare with my awkwardness towards camera. If she did hide something, then I must be fool enough to make her feel irritated.
I shook my head.
“Are you sure?”
“You look tired,” I know she meant something else when she said the word. She was referring to the frown on my face. If I could give any excuse, I do not even have to try to make such face like that—I was born the way I am. Now, I sensed that it was the other way around. I was afraid that she was the only one who worried that she might be the irritating one, because she asked me so many times to take pictures up on this place. Up on the ruins of St. Paul Church.
Surrounding us was a spacious field of green in the middle the ex-colonial building complex, all in vintage red. Few meters not too far, there was a far more modern recreational park. I could peek the packed road with cars and busses ahead, which made a contrast view from flowery and gleeful-decorated pedicabs that wandered around the small alley to the front of the church. As if the beauty would have not been completed, the Malacca Strait—which existence I have been only known from an elementary school History book—came unrolled before my eyes.
I felt like absorbing all of the beauty that we had, but there was him on her hand.
“Have you ever wondered why people always bring camera on their vacation?” I realized, that was such an underrated question to be addressed to an experience freelance photographer.
“To materialize a memory of course,” she simply answered.
“Why would it be necessary? Why can’t capture memory with our eyes. You see, what was the name of the tower we just rode? Menara—“
“—Taming Sari. Menara Taming Sari.”
“—yeah, that. All the tourist were given an exact seven minutes to enjoy the view from up and above. But, all I could hear were shutter sound. They did not realize that they had been missing what they were about to remember and experience. So, what a single ticket worth? What was the point of climbing up here when at the end, people were busy being ignorant behind their lenses. What they are after is the hedonistic feeling when they post something good about their travel and boast about it on their social media pages. That is not an gratitude expression of life.”
She stared at me quietly, before she managed to answer. “If you said all of those things because of your amateur ability and hatred towards photography. You’d better hold that.” She winked at me before glanced at the small screen of her DSLR which lens was almost as big as a canon. Her tone was flat but it was intimidating enough.
“Okay, I admit I will not be able to take great pictures since I have been a mortal enemy to camera like forever. I have never been looked good in front of camera—“
Just before I finished my sentence, I heard the sound of camera snap. “Got that!” she smirked and added. “—nah, you look pretty good here.” She handed me the camera and I saw a tall and slightly broad 23 year old young man who always looks 10 years older than his actual age captured candid whilst talking with his mouth opened large like a goldfish. I crinkled my forehead but I decided not to delete the picture, because I did not give a damn about every single thing no more.
“Why people choose camera that cost millions of Rupiah and manufactured by human beings, over eyes, which are naturally created by God—“
“Wow, I remember you for not believing in anything and yet you were talking religiously.”
“Please do not refer to anything spiritual, but, think about it. Many people were born in unfortunate condition. Literally, they would really love to see the world and camera is the biggest insult because it makes other people distracted and get carried away by then.”
She stowed back the camera into her bag. I did not know whether it was because the things that I said or not. She asked in blank fashion, “insult?” she reached me by my elbow and dragged me to downstairs and walked. “The market is about to open less than an hour. Until then, we can buy snack before we get meal to eat. I hope that will lessen your crankiness.”
Cranky—the most hated word from the entire English vocabulary that people always characterize me. My jaws were clenched shut but I saw her hooking her arms to mine and we were still walking down. She started to hum a melody that we both were familiar with.
Nananana Nananana Nana Nana… and I imagine as if it was coming from a grand piano inside a church on a wedding day.
“I hate when people accused me to be cranky all the time. In fact, I am not. I am just thinking. I always think. I have always idea of stories surfacing inside my head—like it or not. Sometimes, I feel guilty because I often wreck situation because of my silent and awkward presence. When we were at the top of the tower, when we had our lunch and during the climb up here, I constantly thought about stories. I just could not help it. I always feel haunted.”
That is why I hate camera. I do not feel like being controlled—being told which angle sets the best lighting or the best pose. I have enough of it. That is why there is something I would like to say to you—“ for a second and then, our gaze locked into each others’. “—I do not want to burden anyone or myself with my condition and I do not want to wreck anymore. I do not want to be attached if it is going to slow down anyone or myself.”
We were still hiking down to the last step. My heart was on my quivering feet and my eyes met hers. I could see the innocence of hers behind the quizzical look that would make me such a jerk when I said, “Manda, I think, after this it would best for us to go separ—“
Suddenly, I stepped onto nothingness but air, the next minutes my body was bouncing free, two and three steps further down. I was landed with a big thud as I hit the wider platform of the stair that was sufficient enough to fit my body.
I was looking for Manda with my blurry sight. But, instead I found other visitors were gleaming fun at me. Damn it. Suddenly, I heard a childish laugh that called near.
The girl with shoulder-length hair was hiding her surprised laugh from me.
I joined her. I reached for her hand that was extended before me and supported my body on my aching legs and feet. I stared once more at her gleeful face. I began to laugh to celebrate my success and pity for avoiding things that almost went disastrous.
That was close!