Cerpen: Floccinaucinihilipilificatius

DWIBAHASA – BILINGUAL

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Bahasa Indonesia

Floccinaucinihilipilificatius

Labodalih Sembiring | Jakarta-Yogyakarta, Maret 2006 | dimuat di majalah sastra Horison edisi Desember 2006

 

Tangan lelaki tua itu tidak lagi gemetar ketika dia menghantamkan palu pada rahang kanannya, dagunya, rahang kirinya, dan terakhir berlari amuk menghantamkan kepalanya ke dinding, meninggalkan darah bertempelan kicir-kicir kulit dan kranium. Sudah dua minggu seluruh gigi dan gusinya nyeri seperti ditusuki jarum. Sakit yang hebat membuat kepalanya berdebam-debam.

Berbaring ia telentang, nungging, telungkup, duduk memegangi pipi serta terus mengeleng-gelengkan kepala menahan sakit yang melandanya tanpa ampun. “Sakittttt… anjiiiiing! Anjiiiiing. Ahhhhh… anjiiiiing,” begitu ia menganjing-anjingkan denyut-denyut di mulutnya. Kadang berteriak, kadang ia redam hingga kedengaran seperti cicit-cicit tikus.

Setelah berhari-hari—hari kelima belas sejak siksaan itu muncul pertama kali cuma sebagai denyut sepele—ia memutuskan untuk mengakhiri penderitaannya. Tangannya gemetaran saat memungut palu itu dari ruang belakang. Tapi dengan penuh kelegaan, dia menghembuskan nafas terakhir. Empat hari kemudian, tetangganya, seorang bocah yang suka dengan dongeng-dongeng cabul kemerahan si lelaki tua, menemukannya telentang dengan kening berlumur belatung.

Sekelompok warga melemparkan mayatnya ke jurang di balik bukit. Bisik-bisik terdengar dan ketakutan menyebar. Orang-orang takut ia jadi hantu. Dulu seorang lelaki bunuh diri dan menjelma jadi jembalang curut raksasa. Namun seorang ibu tidak takut masuk ke rumah itu, untuk beres-beres, termasuk membereskan gigi-gigi yang tanggal serta kolam-kolam kecil merah yang mengental. Ia kumpulkan semuanya ke dalam plastik hitam lalu ia masukkan ke dalam bak sampah. Tidak ada yang tahu, kecuali seekor kucing putih borokan dengan titik hitam di dahinya, bahwa tepat tengah malam, gigi-gigi, kranium dan darah yang terkumpul dalam plastik hitam itu berubah menjadi makhluk yang belum pernah ada sebelumnya. Si kucing kelaparan mengais-ngais kantong plastik tersebut sampai robek. Isinya berceceran, menyatu dengan sebuah kondom bekas, akar-akar kangkung, tanah hitam, empat puntung rokok, dan satu batang wortel.

Sebatang wortel berada di situ saat kemarin subuh tercecer dari langit yang retak oleh oranye. Pangkalnya busuk, sehingga tidak jadi dipakai melengkapi semangkok sup ceker bayi yang dimasak para kuntilanak di sebuah loteng yang telantar. Empat puntung rokok berasal dari empat bibir yang berbeda. Seorang pegawai rendahan, seorang wanita pelacur yang tengah hamil, seorang idiot yang dipaksa merokok oleh sekelompok berandalan sebelum disuruh ngocok pakai afitson, dan seorang gadis cantik bergigi hitam. Akar-akar kangkung dibuang oleh seorang wanita tua yang tinggal lima belas blok jauhnya dari sini; wanita pembantu yang disuruh memasak cah kangkung bertabur arsenik secukupnya sebagai makan siang anak tiri seorang nyonya muda. Dan terakhir, kondom kekuningan berisi cairan kental yang teronggok di sudut bak sampah itu setengah jam yang lalu dibuang oleh seorang tukang ojek sehabis memuaskan denyut kelaminnya di dalam pantat seorang waria pada keremangan gang yang sempit dan becek.

*

Bulan bulat melirik jorok pada kota yang lembab dan amis ketika malam mendesah-desah diam. Cahayanya bias mati pada taman genteng bebercak daki hitam. Irama teror angin menggesek-gesek dinding dan daun pintu. Tiap orang terbolak-balik dalam tidur gelisah. Tak ada mimpi indah, tak ada mimpi basah. Yang ada ialah mimpi tentang makhluk buruk yang merayap dalam gelap. Langkahnya terombang-ambing selagi ia menaiki anak-anak tangga dalam sebuah rumah yang gulita. Suaranya gugu, tangis bisu yang timbul tenggelam dalam tenggorokan; sayup, tetapi cukup untuk membangunkan seorang nenek buta dari tidurnya yang terang, hingga ia terduduk di ranjangnya yang dingin dan berkeriut.

“Siapa itu?” tanya si wanita tua buta bernama Osirrah. Ia merasa seseorang tengah berada di kerkah pintunya, namun jawaban yang diterimanya cuma sedu yang mengambang di kegelapan. Makhluk itu ingin mengatakan sesuatu, tapi ia tidak memiliki mulut untuk berbicara andai pun ia mampu berbahasa, meski ia punya mata di ujung dua puntung rokok yang menjadi tangannya. Ia maju dan kedua puntung rokok yang menjadi kakinya terantuk sesuatu; sakit, menurut pikirannya yang sederhana.

“Awas, ada paku di situ,” kata nenek.

Ah, makhluk itu pun mendapatkan ide—yang sederhana, tentunya. Ia menghunjamkan bagian teratas tubuh wortelnya hingga menancap ke kepala paku yang sedikit mencuat dari permukaan lantai kayu. Ia angkat badannya, lalu dari bolongan yang terbentuk di situ, keluarlah deras tangisnya memekik membahana. Si wanita tua buru-buru—meski pelan, mengingat usianya—turun dari tempat tidurnya mendekati sumber teriakan. Matanya yang tak memandang telah menjadikan telinganya sedemikian peka, sehingga ia tahu tepat di mana makhluk tersebut berada. Mula-mula ia mengira siapapun itu yang sedang menangis pastilah tengah duduk atau jongkok atau telungkup atau telentang. Sebab tubuh makhluk ini pendek, sependek wortel rata-rata. Setelah ia memegang rambut akar kangkung, punggung bergerigi gigi-gigi serta baju kondomnya yang berlendir, si wanita tua pun sadar bahwa ia tengah berhadapan dengan sesuatu yang berasal dari mimpinya baru saja.

Ya, dia bisa bermimpi, karena ia tidak buta sejak lahir. Ia masih menyimpan-ingat citra-citra dari benda-benda yang sempat ia lihat sebelum ia berumur lima belas tahun, ketika kakinya terpeleset di atas lantai licin dan sepasang matanya tersayat tepian kaca. Citra-citra purba saling berbaur dalam khayal atau bunga tidurnya, mempertontonkan cerita-cerita yang biasanya dimulai dengan dinding-dinding yang meleleh dan diakhiri dengan leleran busa putih. Kini salah satu makhluk dari mimpinya telah mewujud ke dunia-raba. Ia angkat makhluk itu dalam tangkupan kedua tangannya, menggoyang-goyangkannya, lalu ia berkata, ”Ssh, ssh, jangan menangis, sayang. Aku di sini; ibumu ada dekat di sini. Tidak pernah aku sangka mimpiku akan jadi nyata untukku. Kau anak yang lahir dari dunia-sepi, maka kuberi kau nama Floccinaucinihilipilificatius, dan akan aku panggil kau Flocci.”

*

Nenek buta Osirrah mempunyai seorang anak gadis berusia tiga puluh tahun bernama September. Orang-orang yakin September terserang penyakit mental karena ia selalu tertawa-tawa; bahkan ketika tidur ia masih akan mengekek-ngekek riuh rendah. Baginya, dunia adalah tempat yang lucu dan membahagiakan sehingga ia tidak hendak menunjukkan ekspresi apa pun dari mulut, mata dan gerak-geriknya selain senyum, kikik dan gelak. Meskipun semestinya ia tidak menyukai anak-anak yang senantiasa menyoraki serta melemparinya ketika ia berada di jalanan atau berada di warung berbelanja, ia gembira saja ketika satu kerikil tajam merobek pipinya, sementara anak-anak itu bersorak-sorai, “Ember gila, Ember gila!”

September tertawa terbahak-bahak sampai air matanya mengalir ketika ia pertama kali melihat Flocci. Osirrah dan Flocci akhirnya turut pula tertawa-tawa. Osirrah lalu berkata, “Ini Flocci, September. Ia akan tinggal bersama-sama dengan kita. Aku akan mendidiknya, sedangkan kau harus memperlakukannya dengan lembut sebagaimana aku tak pernah membentakmu, memarahi ataupun menyakitimu secuil kulit pun. Selama ini kau teramat kesepian tanpa saudara dan teman, maka anggap dia sebagai adik kandungmu sendiri. Rukun-rukunlah kalian, bahkan setelah aku tiada.”

Mata September berbinar-binar. Diambilnya Flocci dari samping ibunya dan dibawanya ke basin tempat mencuci piring. Keran ia putar, dan penuh dengan keceriaan September memandikan Flocci yang menjerit-jerit manja dan ikut tertawa-tawa dengannya. Rambut akar kangkung dicukur rapi dan gigi-gigi di punggungnya dibersihkan dengan odol dan sikat. Hari itu serta hari-hari berikutnya berlalu begitu tentram dan nyaman bagi Flocci di bawah lindungan dan kasih sayang kedua perempuan anak-berbunda itu. Sampai suatu hari, sakit yang sangat hebat melanda punggung Osirrah.

Nyeri di bagian belakang tubuh Osirrah membuncah sebagai sepasang tulang sebesar ibu jari yang mencuat dari bawah pundaknya. Jeritannya melengking-lengking siang-malam dan pagi. Ia tak dapat tidur. September dan Flocci menunggui di kanan-kiri ranjangnya tanpa tahu harus berbuat apa. September tertawa-tawa sepanjang waktu selagi Flocci meraung-raung mencucurkan air mata darah. Jerit, tawa dan tangis menggaung di dalam rumah besar mirip puri itu, di pinggir kota yang langu oleh ramai. Di kota ini, suara macam apa pun tidaklah perlu dipertanyakan atau dibesar-besarkan. Sehingga tak ada yang memerhatikan selain kedua anaknya, bahwa Osirrah berangsur-angsur kehilangan suara untuk berteriak. Tetapi kedua tulang di punggungnya terus mencuat; mencuat sepanjang jengkal, lalu sepanjang lengan, dan bulu-bulu putih tumbuh di sana. Flocci dan September sadar, tak lama lagi ibu mereka akan pergi.

Karena Osirrah pernah bercerita:

Aku bukan manusia; aku adalah malaikat yang menjalani ujian di dunia-bawah sebagai anak Ilya, pelacur dari Athena. Aku adalah ruh suci yang ditiupkan ke dalam rahim cadas yang telah dibuahi satu sperma hina. Ketika aku lahir, orang-orang takjub melihat tubuhku yang bersinar. Mereka bilang, anak ini pasti titisan dewa matahari, dan ketika aku berumur lima tahun, sebuah suara bernyanyi bergemerincing di kepalaku: Putih dan hitam tak patut berpadu, jangan kau tanya kebenarannya pada lembar-lembar yang palsu. Sudah waktunya mentari dan bulan mengalahkan awan, fajar mengalahkan kelam dan kolam cahaya membasuh segala najis kotoran. Panggillah mereka ke jalan terangmu, perempuan pilihan.

Aku terpilih sebagai seorang pembaharu, anak-anakku, dan nyanyian itu terus-menerus mendatangiku. Akan tetapi, begitu umurku membilang belasan dan darah kecoklatan untuk pertama kalinya mengalir deras dari liang selangkang, sinarku meredup cepat dalam hitungan hari. Aku pun menyadari bahwa mulai saat itu, hatiku akan dicoreng hitam tiap kali aku menyaksikan pemandangan-pemandangan laknat di kawasan perlontean itu. Ibuku dan teman-temannya mulai mengajariku merias diri dan menggoyangkan pinggul menggoda lelaki. Ketika kutolak dan kuberitahu tentang jalan cahaya, mereka tertawa terpingkal-pingkal dan mencemoohku. Kulitku menggelap, sang nyanyian berhenti berfirman. Dalam ketakutanku aku pergi, melarikan diri, berhari-hari, berbulan-bulan, bertahun-tahun, lintasi daratan dan laut, berlari mengejar garis batas antara malam dan pagi, hingga akhirnya aku kelelahan dan tertidur di depan pintu rumah kita sekarang ini.

Betul, rumah ini. Seorang lelaki tampan membukakan pintu untukku. Jelas ia terpikat oleh kecantikanku, oleh sebab itu ia mengajakku masuk. Dan ketika aku berumur lima belas tahun, aku menikah dengannya. Hanya saja pada malam pengantinku, saat mengalir darah perawanku, aku pingsan, dan satu sayup-sayup bisikan terdengar di kuping: Sekuncup kandil tak semestinya melesat tinggalkan sumbunya, tapi bila terjadi, terjadilah. Sebagai gantinya, biarkan penglihatanmu tinggalkan sarangnya, dan relakan kepompong sayapmu tinggalkan dahannya; boleh kau dapatkan kembali ketika jasadmu dekati mati.

*

“Flocci,” panggil Osirrah parau, matanya mengerjap-ngerjap. “September,” katanya lagi. Perih mengiris bola matanya saat nampak olehnya kedua anaknya tersedu dan tertawa-tawa. Sayapnya telah terentang tinggi-tinggi menyentuh langit-langit. Dan seperti digerakkan oleh satu kekuatan dahsyat, sepasang sayap itu lalu mengibas. Semua yang ada di dalam kamar terhempas oleh angin yang tercipta, termasuk Flocci dan September yang kini duduk melongo di lantai bersandar pada dinding. Tubuh Osirrah menyala, terbakar seperti ranting tersulut api. Segenggam cahaya mengambang di udara ketika api tadi menguap habis. Atap rumah mendadak meledak, menyerpih, sebab dengan kecepatan yang tak terhingga, cahaya itu terbang ke langit yang hitam oleh awan musim hujan. Flocci berteriak memanggil ibunya, ditingkahi lengking suara September yang berniat menyusul cahaya itu dengan berlari menghantam kaca jendela. Tubuhnya terlempar menghempas tanah dan lebur seperti agar-agar. Seketika itu juga tumbuh tunas-tunas hijau di tempat September terjatuh.

Kelak di tiap bulan September, suatu jenis tumbuhan akan berbunga berwarna merah. Kembangnya seperti sepasang bibir yang menganga, mengingatkan siapapun yang melihatnya akan mulut yang lebar tertawa. Flocci tidak sempat melihat tunas itu berbunga. Ia keluar rumah menuju kota. Ujung tangannya terus memandang ke atas, mencari-cari Osirrah, namun jarum-jarum gerimis membuat sepasang mata itu mendesis. Ia melalui gang-gang dan bertemu dengan manusia-manusia yang menjerit melihatnya. “Ibu?” ratapnya saat menemukan seorang wanita tua. “Apa itu?” balas wanita itu, memanggil orang-orang di dekatnya.

“Makhluk apa itu? Dia bisa bicara.”

“Tangkap, tangkap!”

“Injak, injak!”

“Bunuh, bunuh!”

Beramai-ramai orang menangkapnya.

“Apa yang mesti kita lakukan dengan wortel aneh ini?”

“Potong-potong saja. Itu pasti makhluk terkutuk.”

“Siram dengan air keras, lalu kita taruh di museum.”

“Jangan ngaco, kita tidak punya museum.”

“Kita buat nanti.”

Mereka setuju untuk menaruh Flocci di suatu museum. Selama sebulan penuh mereka bekerja keras membangun sebuah museum kecil di tengah tanah lapang tempat tubuh mati Flocci bakal dipajang. Tapi, selama sebulan itu para warga ternyata bisa mengembangkan pikiran untuk berbisnis. Bukankah lebih menarik kalau makhluk ini tidak dibunuh, melainkan ditaruh saja di dalam suatu kotak kaca? Beri bolongan kecil di atasnya, siapa tahu dia perlu bernafas. Yang ingin melihat harus membayar. Mungkin makhluk ini bisa diajari menari atau menyanyi, supaya yang datang lebih senang. Buat pemberitahuan ke kota sebelah, ke pulau seberang, ke negeri tetangga, ke benua terjauh sekalian. Uang akan mengalir masuk dan warga kota dapat mengelolanya demi kemakmuran bersama, dengan para petinggi mendapatkan bagian yang lebih besar tentunya.

Maka begitulah Flocci dikurung dalam kungkungan kotak kaca segi empat. Mereka memberinya air buat diminum dan sup kacang untuk dimakan. Di tahun berikutnya pengelola museum membuatkan kotak kaca yang lebih besar, sebesar lemari, sudut-sudutnya disepuh emas. Kini mereka menyediakan untuknya susu dan daging uap. Tiap tahun sangkarnya diperluas, dan makin enak pula makan dan minum yang diberikan kepadanya. Seluruh dunia tampaknya ingin melihat si jenglot wortel yang bisa bicara, meskipun ia sendiri ingin lepas untuk naik ke langit. Ia sudah mengutarakan hal ini berkali-kali, lewat suaranya yang kecil dan kata-katanya yang terbatas. Namun siapa kiranya yang sudi untuk mengabulkan?

“Sudah kamu diam saja,” kata Walikota. “Kamu seharusnya bersyukur bisa hidup enak macam ini. Apa belum cukup kami memeliharamu dengan perlakuan yang mewah sebagai tanda terima kasih karena sudah membuat kami semua kaya raya?”

“Pertemukan aku dengan ibuku,” pinta Flocci, untuk kesekian kali.

“Ibu macam apa yang dapat melahirkan keganjilan seperti kamu?”

Mau bagaimana lagi? Flocci mesti pasrah menerima nasibnya sebagai bahan tontonan. Akan tetapi, di penghujung tahun kelima terkurungnya ia di dalam kaca, suatu kehebohan terjadi. Selembar hantu melayang-layang rendah menuju museum. Orang-orang menyingkir ketakutan, terlebih-lebih karena hantu itu memegang sebilah martil di tangan kanannya. Hantu itu terus terbang mendekati tempat Flocci berada. Sesampainya di sana, ia angkat martil itu tinggi-tinggi dan ia pecahkan kotak kaca besar di hadapannya hingga berkeping-keping. Kemudian ia tarik tangan Flocci, membawanya menuju puncak bukit di utara.

“Hanya setinggi ini aku bisa membawamu,” tutur hantu itu selagi mendarat.

“Harus lebih tinggi lagi,” pinta Flocci. “Ibuku ada di atas sana.”

“Jangan khawatir, Nak, udara akan membantumu,” dan puf, ia lenyap.

Flocci merasakan hembusan angin berputar-putar di atas kepalanya. Ia lihat, debu-debu yang diterbangkan ringan oleh udara menyatu membentuk tali yang menjulur ke langit. Flocci melompat kecil menangkap tali itu, memanjat dan merambat, hari demi hari. Begitu ia mengira sudah amat dekat dengan ujung teratas, bersusunan pulalah lagi debu-debu itu memperpanjang perjalanannya. Bersama kenangan akan ibunya, Flocci gigih membolongi perisai atmosfer. Ia tidak lagi menghitung berapa kali sudah sinar matahari mendatangi dan meninggalkannya, karena toh ia sudah teramat jauh dari bumi. Ia lewati bulan, ia songsong planet-planet, bertamasya ke negeri tak bertuan dan tanpa suara.

Pun demikian, di antara dua degup yang serasa abadi, Flocci macam disadarkan bahwa ia tak paham siapa dirinya, apa yang sedang ia lakukan, atau mengapa ia merasa panas sekaligus membeku. Darah dalam tubuhnya susut dan ia lemas. Panjatannya melambat, terus makin perlahan, hingga akhirnya ia berhenti. Pegangannya mengendur, lepas, dan jalinan debu-debu memencar-pecah meninggalkannya. Lengang tak bertepi. Flocci melayang-layang dalam vakum angkasa untuk waktu yang tak bertara. Nirkala. Nyaris selamanya.

*

Floccinaucinihilipilificatius menghidupkan bara terakhir yang masih bertahan di matanya. Ia mendengar sesuatu. Ia tangkap sebuah dengung seolah air bah yang mendesau menggulung menuju dirinya yang telah kering. Oh, ia melihat cahaya terang. Bukan, tak hanya terang; menyilaukan. Sebuah bola pijar menderu ke arahnya. Membesar dan makin membesar sampai dia paham bahwa bulatan raksasa yang menyilaukan itu adalah sebuah bintang berekor. Seketika pandangannya buta sewaktu cahaya itu merengkuhnya ke dalam panas yang lembut. Ia mengenalinya sebagai cita bernama kasih. Ia berujar pada dirinya sendiri, ia tidak tengah bermimpi, ini adalah pertemuan yang sudah ia nanti-nantikan begitu lama; ia berada dalam pelukan ibunya, segenggam cahaya yang telah malih menjadi komet Osirrah dengan ekor berjarak ratusan tahun cahaya. Leburlah, leburlah, anakku, ke dalam kasih ibumu yang melesat tiada henti dalam pencarian.

Ia membiarkan dirinya terbakar, menyisakan setitik cahaya yang tak perlu lagi mencari. Ia melesak menjadi inti bagi ibunya, bersama-sama melintasi surga tujuh puluh lapis. Para bidadari melemparkan bunga-bunga merah delima ke arah mereka, merestui pertemuan yang begitu mengharukan bagi langit dan bumi, hingga selama beberapa saat dunia-atas membentangkan jalan bagi dunia-bawah dan sekelompok malaikat mengizinkan semua yang bercahaya membakar dirinya untuk dapat terbang membuntuti komet terbesar di semesta raya.

Sejak saat itu, Flocci dan Osirrah bersama-sama bercahaya bahagia untuk selama-lamanya.

* * *

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English

Floccinaucinihilipilificatius

Labodalih Sembiring | translation by Avram Mauritz, edited by Tracie Barrett

 

The old man’s hands were no longer shaking as he bashed the hammer into the right of his jaw, his chin, and the left of his jaw before he ran amok and smashed his head into the wall, leaving blood full of bits of skin and cranium. For the past two weeks his teeth and gums had hurt as if they were pierced with needles. Great pain sent thuds to his head.

He tried to sleep face up, face down, butt up or sitting down, nursing his cheeks and shaking his head, bearing the surges of unforgiving pain. “It huuuuurts… fuuuuuck! Fuuuuuck. Ahhhhh… fuuuuuck,” he cursed the pain in his mouth. Sometimes in yelps, sometimes in hushed squeaks like those of a mouse.

After several days—the fifteenth since the torture first appeared as a simple throb—he decided to put an end to his suffering. His hands were shaking as he took the hammer from the back room. But with a sigh of relief he breathed his last. Four days later one of his neighbours, a little boy who loved the old man’s lewd, vermilion fairytales, found him sprawled on the floor with maggots crawling over his forehead.

A group of villagers ditched his body in a ravine behind the hills. Whispers were heard and fear began to spread. People worried that he might turn into a ghoul. A long time ago, a man had killed himself and then turned into a giant rat gnome. One woman, however, was brave enough to enter the house to do some cleaning, including getting rid of the fallen teeth and small red pools of congealed blood. She put them in a black plastic bag and tossed them in the garbage bin. Except for a mangy white cat with a black spot on its forehead, no one knew that in the middle of the night all those bits of teeth and skull and blood in the black plastic bag would turn into a creature that had never existed before. The starving cat scraped the plastic bag and tore it apart. The insides spread out and merged with a used condom, kale roots, dark soil, four cigarette butts and a piece of carrot.

The carrot was there because yesterday it had fallen from the shattered, scarlet skies. The base was rotten so it could not be used to complement a bowl of baby soup that was cooked by the witches on an abandoned attic. The four cigarette butts came from four different lips: a lowly clerk; a pregnant prostitute; a retard who was forced by a gang of thugs to smoke and later masturbate with the aid of Afitson; and a beautiful girl with rotten teeth. The kale roots were thrown by an old woman who lived fifteen blocks away—a housekeeper who was told to cook a vegetable dish sprinkled with just enough arsenic for the lunch of a young lady’s stepson. And lastly, the yellowish, used condom filled with thick liquid was stacked at the corner of the garbage bin. It was tossed just a half hour ago by a motorcycle taxi driver who had just satisfied his throbbing penis inside a transvestite’s arsehole in the dimness of a narrow and muddy alley.

*

The round moon shone its foul light on the damp and putrid-smelling town as the night silently sighed. Its gleam fell dead on the garden of rooftops black with grime. The wind blew rhythmically and ominously, shaking walls and doors. People turned over and over in their sleep. There were neither sweet dreams nor wet dreams. All they had was a dream of a hideous creature creeping away in the dark. Its steps were unsteady as it climbed the stairs inside a dim house. Its voice stuttered, a silent cry that constantly floated and sank in its throat, faint, but just enough to wake a blind old woman from her bright sleep, until she sat on her cold, creaking bed.

“Who’s there?” asked the woman, whose name was Osirrah. She felt someone was at the threshold of her door, yet the only answer she got was merely a sob in the shadows. The creature wanted to say something, but it didn’t have a mouth to speak even if it wanted to, although it had an eye at each end of the two cigarette butts that were its hands. It walked forward and the two cigarette butts that were its legs tripped on something; it hurts, said its simple mind.

“Oh do be careful, there’s a nail over there,” said the old woman.

Ah, the creature got an idea—a simple one, of course. It thrust the upper part of its carrot body until it was embedded on the head of the nail that jut out from the wooden floor. It lifted its body, and from the gaping hole that was formed, out came a loud cry. The woman hurriedly—albeit slowly, considering her age—got out of her bed and approached the source of the scream. Her unused eyes had made her ears so sensitive she could hear where the creature was. At first she thought whoever that crying person was, they must’ve been sitting down or squatting or lying facedown or lying on his back. The creature’s body was short, you see, as short as an average carrot. After holding the vegetable roots that were its hair, the teeth that were its jagged back, and its mucous condom shirt, the old lady realized that she was facing something from her recent dream.

Yes, she could see in her dreams, because she wasn’t born blind. She still kept the images of things she had seen before she turned fifteen, when she tripped on a slippery floor and her eyes were sliced by shards of glass. Ancient images often blended with her imaginations, showcasing stories that usually began with melting walls and ended with drips of white foam. Now one of the creatures from her dreams had materialized in this tangible world. She took the creature in her hands, shook it, and said, “Ssh, ssh, don’t cry, dear. I’m here, your mother is near. I never knew my dream would come true for me. You’re a boy born from the quiet-world, so I shall name you Floccinaucinihilipilificatius, or Flocci for short.”

*

Blind granny Osirrah had a thirty-year-old daughter called September. People were convinced September had a mental illness because she always laughed. Even when she was asleep, she would still guffaw, loudly or softly. To her, the world was a cheerful and happy place so her mouth, eyes, and body language wouldn’t show any other expressions but for different kinds of smile, giggle or laughter. Although she was not supposed to like the children who were always jeering and throwing things at her while she was on the streets or shopping, she would still be happy when pebbles tore her cheeks while the children were shouting, “Crazy Ember, Crazy Ember!”

September laughed uproariously until tears streamed down her face when she first saw Flocci. Osirrah and Flocci eventually joined in. Osirrah then said, “This is Flocci, September. He is staying with us. I will educate him and you have to treat him with care just as I have never raised my voice at you, been angry at you or hurt you for the tiniest bit. All these times you’ve been lonely without any siblings and friends, so consider him like your own brother. Live together in harmony, even after I’m gone.”

September’s eyes shone brightly. She took Flocci from her mother’s side and brought it to the dishwasher’s basin. She turned on the tap, and cheerfully she bathed Flocci who shrieked lovingly and laughed with her. The vegetable roots that were its hair were trimmed tidily and the teeth on its back were washed with a toothbrush and toothpaste. That day and the following days passed peacefully and comfortably for Flocci under the care and love of both women, mother and daughter. Until one day Osirrah suffered a terrible back pain.

Osirrah was agonized by a terrible pain on her back as a pair of bones the size of a thumb started to protrude from under her shoulderblades. Her shrieks were heard all day—mornings, afternoons, and evenings. She couldn’t sleep. September and Flocci waited on her bedside without knowing what to do. September laughed all the time while Flocci wailed and shed tears of blood. Screams, laughters, and cries echoed in the castle-like manor, in the outskirt of the rotten, crowded town. In this town, any kind of noise needed not be questioned or exaggerated. So no one noticed, except for her two children, that Osirrah was slowly losing her voice to scream. But the two bones on her back kept on growing—growing to the size of a hand span, then to the size of an arm, and white feathers began to grow there. Flocci and September realized that their mother would soon leave.

Because Osirrah once told the following story:

I am not a human; I am an angel who endured trials in the earthly realms as the daughter of Ilya, the Athenian prostitute. I am a holy spirit sent into a rocky womb fertilized by a contemptuous sperm. When I was born, the people were amazed by my shining body. They said this child must be the incarnation of the sun god, and when I was five, a song rang in my ears: Light and darkness should not mingle, seek not for truth in the sham leaves. The time has come for the sun and the moon to defeat the clouds, for dawn to defeat dark, and for the pool of light to wash away all the filth. Call them into your shining path, o chosen one.

I was chosen as a reformer, my children, and that song kept on coming for me. However, as I approached my teenage years and brownish blood flowed swiftly for the first time from my crotch, my light quickly dimmed in a matter of days. I also realized that since that time, my heart would be tarnished everytime I witnessed something despicable in that prostitution den. My mother and her friends began to teach me how to beautify myself and to shake my hips to tease the men. When I refused and told them about the way of light, they laughed and insulted me. My skin darkened, the song stopped singing. In my fears I left, I escaped for days and months and years, across lands and seas, chasing the border line that separated evening and morn, until I became too exhausted that I fell asleep before the door of our present house.

That’s right, this house. A handsome man opened the door for me. Obviously he was attracted to my beauty, therefore he asked me to come in. And when I turned fifteen, I married him. It’s just that on my wedding night, as my virginal blood flowed, I passed out and I faintly heard a whisper on my ears: The light should not dash away and leave its wick, but if it should happen, so be it. In exchange for that, let your sight be taken away from its nest and let the cocoon of your wings leave its branch; you may get them back as your body approaches death.

*

“Flocci,” called Osirrah with a hoarse voice, her eyes blinking. “September,” she called out again. A terrible pain cut across her eyeballs as she witnessed both her children sobbing and laughing. Her wings had stretched tall enough to reach the ceillings. And as if they had been moved by a mighty power, the pair of wings flapped. Everything inside the room was tossed by the sudden gust of wind, including Flocci and September who were now sitting on the floor, leaning on the wall, totally bewildered. Osirrah’s body flared up, consumed like a branch on fire. A ray of light hung in the air as the fire dwindled away. The roof of the house exploded, leaving debris all over, as the ray of light flew into the dark, cloudy night with unlimited speed. Flocci shouted, calling its mother’s name. September shrieked, intent on following the ray of light. She ran and smashed the window. Her body crushed into the ground and scattered like jelly. Suddenly, green buds sprouted in the place where she fell.

Soon enough every September, a certain plant would blossom and produce red flowers. The flower looks like gaping lips, reminding everyone who looks at it of large, open-mouthed laughter. Flocci never got to see the flower. It left the house and headed to town. Its hands were lifted skyward, searching for Osirrah, but the piercing light drizzle caused the pair of eyes to hiss. It went through alleys and met people who screamed when they saw it. “Mother?” it wailed when it found an old woman. “What’s that?” replied the woman, who then called others nearby.

“What is that thing? It can talk.”

“Catch it, catch it!”

“Step on it, step on it!”

“Kill it, kill it!”

Together the mob caught it.

“What should we do with this bizarre carrot?”

“Slice it into pieces. It must be a damned creature.”

“Douse it with acid, and put it in a museum.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, we don’t have a museum.”

“We can make one.”

They agreed to keep Flocci in a museum. For a whole month they worked hard to build a small museum in the middle of a field where they would keep Flocci’s dead body. But during that whole month the people also began to think of ways to exploit Flocci for financial gain. Wouldn’t it be better if they don’t kill this little creature, but just store it in a glass box instead? Put a hole on top of it, in case it needs to breathe. Anyone who wants to take a look will have to pay. Maybe this little creature can be taught how to sing or dance, so as to entertain the spectators. Send out an announcement to neighboring towns, neighboring islands, neighboring countries, might as well notify the furthest continent. Money would flow in and could be managed for the sake of common prosperity, with local goverment officials getting the biggest cut of course.

And thus Flocci was imprisoned in a square-shaped glass box. They provided it with water to drink and bean soup to eat. In the following year the museum’s caretaker made a larger glass box, as large as a cupboard, its edges gilded with gold. Now they provided it with milk and smoked meat. Each year its cage was enlarged, and better food and drink were provided for it. Seemed like the whole world were intent on seing the talking carrot monster, although Flocci itself wanted to be free and soar up into the heavens. It had expressed this many times, with its tiny voice and limited words. But who could grant such a wish?

“Oh shut it,” said the Mayor. “You should be grateful that you could live a life this comfortable. Is it not enough that we treat you royally as our sign of gratitude for making all of us rich?”

“I want to be united with my mother,” begged Flocci, for the umpteenth times.

“What kind of mother would give birth to such an abomination like you?”

What else could be done about it? Focci was resigned to its fate as an exhibition piece. However, at the end of its fifth year of imprisonment, a great furor occured. A ghost hovered low above the museum. People ran away in fear, especially because the ghost was holding a hammer in its right hand. The ghost continued to fly toward where Flocci was being held. Upon its arrival, the gost lifted the hammer up high and smashed the glass box, leaving shards of broken glass. Then the ghost took Flocci by the hand and carried it to the top of the hill in the north.

“I can only carry you this far,” said the ghost as it landed.

“You must carry me higher,” begged Flocci. “My mother is up there.”

“Don’t worry, son, the air shall help you,” and poof!—the ghost dissapeared.

Flocci felt the wind blowing above its head. It looked up and saw small particles of dust flown by the air. They intertwined and formed a rope that went up to the sky. Flocci made a small leap and caught it. Up it climbed and creeped, day by day. As soon as it thought it was close enough to reach the furthest end, the dust particles would lengthen the rope and the journey went on. With the memory of its mother seared on its mind, Flocci perseveringly pierced a hole through the shield of the atmosphere. It no longer counted how many times the sun had come and passed it by, because after all it was already too far away from the earth. Past the moon it went, greeting planets, reaching a cosmos of the deserted and the voiceless.

Nevertheless, in a seemingly eternal moment between two heartbeats, Flocci slowly began to grasp that it didn’t understand what it really was, what it was doing, or why it felt both hot and frozen at the same time. The blood in its body thinned and it grew weaker. Its ascent got slower and slower until it finally halted. Its grip loosened and the braid of dust particles disintegrated and disappeared. A never-ending silence ensued. Flocci drifted in the vacuum of space for an uncountable period of time. In a great emptiness. Almost forever.

*

Floccinaucinihilipilificatius set ablaze the last ember that still remained in its eyes. It heard something. It caught that buzz, as if a waterfall came crashing down into its parched self. Oh, it saw a bright light. No, it was not only bright; it was dazzling. A fireball came thundering toward it. It grew larger and larger until it realized that the glaring giant ball was a comet. It was immediately blinded as the light took it into its gently burning embrace. It recognized this as a feeling called love. Flocci muttered to itself, this wasn’t a dream. This was the meeting it had been expecting for a long while. It was tucked in its mother’s embrace, a ray of light that had been transformed into Comet Osirrah with its tail of a hundred light years. Melt, melt, my son, melt into your mother’s love. A love that flies eternally in its quest.

It let itself be consumed by the fire, leaving a speck of light that no longer had to search for anything. It dissolved and became a core for its mother. Together they moved across the seventy arcs of heaven. The angels threw red flower petals toward them, blessing them on such a momentous encounter between the heavens and the earth. And for a brief moment the heavenly realms paved a way to the earthly realms and a group of angels allowed everyone with a light in their soul to set themselves ablaze so that they could fly and tail the largest comet in the universe.

Since that very moment, Flocci and Osirrah have been shining happily ever after.

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