Selasa, 27 Oktober 2015

the first string/the overture


As Jasmine lays her head down, the woman next door is screaming to her husband. Her screech is in a form of a perfect octave with a two-second interval between each one of them. Each word is uttered with a concise, comprehensible pronunciation; enhanced by her hysteric, melodramatic tone. Such clarity and ambiguity, Jasmine thought, only can be expressed through a firm understanding on how the power-relation works in a certain institutional region. The woman would make a great prime minister if she is ambitious enough to be one.

As amusing as it can be, the screech irritates Jasmine. She had had a bad day. During other times, she would keenly listen to the woman's lambastes and tries to make several defense arguments for the husband whom she had always sees as her imaginary client. She would pictures the husband standing in the accused cage with the pitiful look he always gives whenever he walks behind his wife. And the woman: Jasmine sees her as a prosecutor, standing in front of the accused with her chest puffed out, spurting callous remarks toward him. The defense lawyer would occasionally makes objections, but there is no judge present to accept them. In marriage, the one that holds the largest share of power owns the right to speak, to be heard of, to give command. Marriage is a constant state of oppression mutually consented by woman and man; for it provides security and stability for both. As far as the history concerns, the institution is protected by sacred commandments, always already embedded in post-communal society--that is the condition where the concept of property is gracefully acknowledged and religiously exercised in its most naturalness.

When she was above her legal age, Jasmine had always thought of marriage as one of many problematic clauses that ought to be repealed. She took pity of her father. Everyday, she would sat with her father at the table for breakfast. The man would had two slices of bread with butter and jam, along with a glass of orange juice. Everyday, for the past thirty years of marriage, her father would eat the slices with passion blazing on his face and drank the juice in one long sip. It's not just because her mother was incapable of preparing any other meals rather than two slices of bread and a glass of orange juice; but it's also because of her father's insistence on security and stability which he led it as his way of life. Such regularity, too, was imposed upon her and her mother. Thus, every morning, for the past thirty years of their marriage, and twenty years of Jasmine (she was only been compelled to follow the routine as soon as her mother stop breastfed her), two slices of bread and a glass of orange juice would be served on the table.

It is clear to us that in Jasmine's early phase, the largest chunk of share was belong to her father. Although he was a loving husband and father, there existed a clear conjugal demand of obedience that Jasmine and her mother had to oblige. They were emasculated, not only by the domestic regulations imposed, but also by the conscience of the presence of authority. You see, authority need not to be present at all times. What is more important is the feelings that the authority is there: monitoring you, waiting for the moment you would break its rules, to question your behavior, to exercise its wrath upon you. This feeling, that strips you defenseless, exist through repetitive  act of reminding, whether of law or obligation, whether through punishments or insistence. For Jasmine and her mother, the man were always by their side, insisting on security and stability of the house. Even when her father was away for a week, her mother would religiously prepared two slices of bread and a glass of orange juice, and Jasmine would finished them with the same passion that burned his father's face.

In the last instance, we can say that marriage, in its crudest form nowadays is: one, a vulgar conduct of imposition where power is recognized by the imposed, not merely assumed by the imposer; and two, a negation of human, ripped from its whole being and become fragmented, through the addiction of having.

As for the first instance, we can trace the source for the established domestic conduct from normative traits belong to her mother and father. Her mother and father was raised in an environment where women were to assume the secondary role in the family under the superiority of men. Of course, when I used the word 'normative' and 'environment', it will quickly appears in our mind that the phenomenon is not one of an anomaly. In a traditional post-communal society, there is a belief that God first created man out of reason. Then God created woman out of compassion, for man cannot live without the recognition from the other. As literal as it gets, the meaning of man and woman were rigorously pursued along the pronunciation of these precise words that were born with them. In its most perfect state, according to the belief, the role of man is to demand while woman is to give; man decides, man chooses, man determines, and woman obeys. Over time, the distinction of quality and role set up by the belief evolves into a more concrete form, that is the traits. While Jasmine's father was so very dominant and firm, her mother posed as an opposite: timid, selfless, obedient. What can we derive from Jasmine's elaborated family is: power is not merely attached to a certain institutional or individual, but it is exercised through repetitive occurrences, or discourses, underlie by a predominant principle that, in the last instance, determines their nature of conduct.

It took Jasmine a whole twenty years to understand it. At first, she thought of it as a practical occasion, a reasonable allocation of role in order to maintain the stability of, not only her family, but also the security of society at large. Then one day, when Jasmine was strolling down the street with her mother in their weekly groceries day-out, she stumbled upon an incident that later on, was jotted as biblical in her diary. Across the street, she saw a young couple going down the opposite from them: a pretty woman in black glasses, probably in her early thirties, casually dressed with short jeans that revealed her skinny thigh and alluring top, was walking past the passersby without a glance of hesitation to look back and assist, what Jasmine assumed as her husband, who was clutching a baby in his right hand, and a bunch of paper bags with lavish brands on them in the other. The man was struggling to keep up with the lady's pace and eventually managed to walk beside her, only to be given a glare, a mix brushed of arrogance and disgust, that made the man slightly bowed his head and slowly slid behind her like a faithful servant. The scene was so blasphemous that it made Jasmine, without her realizing it, came to a halt in the middle of the pavement, and which, too, caught her mother into it.

"Modern's blasphemy. You do not learn from them," her mother's face was stroked with disgust, and her words dragged Jasmine into a sleepless night afterward.

The next day at the table, her father stopped reading the sports section at the back of the newspaper and her mother dropped the plate she was holding; followed by a shattering sound, which Jasmine took it as her heart.

Jasmine had asked for a glass of fresh milk.

"Wh--what did you say?" her mother was struggling to put words into her mouth.

"Mother, I would like to have a glass of milk. I don't feel like sipping this today," Jasmine carefully push the glass filled with orange juice aside.

Realized her mother refused to entertain her wants, she turned to his father which sat there like a statue, immovable.

"Father," Jasmine's voice spread through, but never reached him.

"Father," the statue was silent. Not that he couldn't muster a word like the lady, but he was gathering his anger, carefully, one pile after another.


"Enough of this madness!" the statue spoke. He rose to his feet and left the kitchen.

"Y--y--you insolent child. Had you no shame to ask for a glass of milk when it's not yet dark outside?" he mother was shaking. She had to clutch herself to prevent her from falling apart.

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