As a child he like looking at himself in the mirror in his mother’s room.
“That’s you,” his mother said as she released a bird inside him. The bird
was beautiful, with clear pupils and a rose colored beak. “It will be your
friend even when I’m not here.”
As a teenager, his mother moved the mirror into his room. Each time he
looked at himself, the bird cooed and circled above his head. What was
it saying? What did it want? When he wasn’t there, her was sure the
bird suffered and felt lonely.
As an adult, maybe because he was constantly busy with work, he rarely
looked at the mirror. And the bird, maybe because he often gave it no
mind, rarely showed itself to him. For years, for tens of years, they
seemed no longer to be part of each other. But then one day, after he’d
reached middle age, he saw it again: an ugly disheveled thing, much like
the gloom that had taken hold of his life. Was that really it?
Now, as an elderly man, in front of the mirror, he bitterly longs for it.
But the bird, that bird, never actually existed.
Saat kanak-kanak, ia gemar melihat dirinya dalam cermin
di kamar Ibu. “Itulah kamu,” kata si Ibu seraya melepaskan seekor
burung ke dalamnya. Burung itu cantik, pupilnya terang, paruhnya
merah muda. “Sebagai teman, tentu, bila Ibu tak ada.”
Saat ia mulai remaja, cermin itu dipindahkan Ibu
ke kamarnya. Setiap ia berkaca, burung itu berkicau berputar
putar di atas kepala. Apakah yang dikatakannya? Adakah
yang diinginkannya? Bila dirinya tak ada, ia merasa
burung itu kesepian; dan tentu menderita.
Saat dewasa, sebab entah sibuk bekerja, ia mulai
jarang berkaca. Burung itu, entah memang karena ia lupa,
jarang pula tampak olehnya. Bertahun-tahun,
berpuluh-puluh tahun, mereka bagai bukan bagian
dari bersama. Tapi suatu ketika, dalam usia separo baya, ia
melihatnya. Burung jelek, kusam, tak ubahnya kelebat muram
dalam hidupnya. Betulkah itu dia?
Kini ia telah tua. Di depan cermin, pedih,
ia sering merindukannya. Burung itu—burung itu,
memang, sebenarnya tak pernah ada.
English translation by John H. McGlynn
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones