The Persistence of a Memory – Gundala The Series (Chapter 1)
“Help! Please, anyone, help me!”
“Shut up, lady. All we ask for was the bag. Give it to us, and we’ll let you walk out of here without any scratch.”
Sancaka shook his head, not wanting to take any part of it again ——— it’s been twenty years, and it lingers ; the taste of blood that stays on his tongue that drips from his lips when he fought that one older boy who assaulted a girl, the fear that he holds when he realized that he took the wrong step, and the courage that he used to have. The fear and courage have turned into ignorance. Unwilling and unbothered, is how he keeps himself alive for the past years, even though his heart says otherwise. Awang has always been his greatest teacher & memory ——— he had taught him even more than both his parents. Sancaka doesn’t believe in the world anymore.
Police sirens have always been his lullaby. It’s two in the morning, and Sancaka had finished his shift earlier and this is one of the rare chances where he was allowed to leave an hour before it actually ends. Walking back to his little apartment feels heavier than before, having heard the poor woman’s scream, calling for help from anyone who passes by. But he can’t. There’s enough trouble in his life already, and there’s no plan to add even just a little more on to it.
Sancaka’s feet drag themselves up to the stairs, counting each step to keep his own mind busy, distracting himself from what he has seen earlier. He took the key to his room from his front pocket, and unlocks it slowly. No lights were turned on, and it doesn’t matter. Three years living in the same tiny and cramped apartment made him able to navigate his own furniture, only to occasionally bump his hip on the drawer right in front of the door.
Long day, he thought.
It would’ve been nicer if he had a proper bed instead of a couch that can barely fit the entire length of his height, from head to toe. The rain poured itself on to the city yesterday, for a whole day, so he had left the barred windows and its curtains open when he left for work, in hope of a change of the air.
Sancaka walked out of the shower with a decent-fresh-smelling shirt and yesterday’s pants. After he hanged the towel he had used earlier, the man walked towards his little stove, and boils himself a cup of warm water. People had always complained about how hot Jakarta could be, but they also forgot how cold it could be at night, considering how he could feel the breeze blowing inside through his windows. He’d take the cup in both of his hands, letting the warmth spread on to his palm. He walks back towards the couch and sets the cup on the table. Sancaka then pulled a little string that was hanging from his little lamp on the table to turn it on. A sigh left his lips almost as immediately as the lights got turned on and off again. He’s way too distracted to even begin to distract himself again.
He could’ve helped ; he knows that he could’ve stopped and helped that poor lady. He could’ve stopped for ten minutes and scare them off, or he could fight. Even if it has been around twenty years, Sancaka still remembers what has Awang taught him, and it’s not just that one quote that he has been living off for years now. And it’s not like this is the first time he watched chaos happened and did nothing. The city hasn’t been nice to anyone ; robbery, burglary, manslaughter . . . everything had happened at least once. Sancaka reached out for the tv remote that was placed on the other end ( corner ) of the couch, and proceeded to turn the news channel on. To no one’s surprise, it’s still the same ; crimes in the city, poverty, and the government.
Later, he’d take the water cup back in his hands, this time with the intention of drinking it content. Once again, a sigh would leave his lips as he placed the now empty cup back to the table, turn the lamp off, and lay himself on the couch. Sancaka laid his head on the arm rest, as his right arm would be placed on his head, covering both of his eyes.
9 AM, THE NEXT DAY.
The loud chattering from outside of his room woke him up once again. Maybe that was an exaggeration, but loud noises have never been the best thing to wake up to. Slowly, he’d open his eyes, as he let a yawn escaped his lips as he does so. One would think that sleeping may ease his thought, but, no. It has gotten worse by each time that passed. Not just the woman, but the city that suffers underneath those with power and authority.
Sancaka got up from the couch, and with his now-wrinkly shirt, he made himself a cup of coffee — a little something to wake himself up. He has never been the one to have a decent meal before eleven ; when he was a kid, it was because there was nothing to eat, no left-overs yet. But now, it’s out of habit. So there he was, standing, facing his window while he’s waiting for the water to boil. Both hands were set on the sides of his stove, as his eyes were set on the bars on his window — but his mind wanders elsewhere, spending so long that he doesn’t realize that the water was hot enough, somehow ignoring the loud noise that the kettle made.
It took him ten seconds to realize what he has done, and it took him less to turn the fire off, and pour the hot water into last night’s empty water cup, that he had poured a sachet of instant coffee earlier, just before he got lost on his own train of thoughts. Hearing the sound of water flowing down to his cup managed to calm his heart rate by at least a few beats. Though, it doesn’t help that much. He brought the coffee cup in his hands, and once again, he’d settle himself down on his couch.
3 PM, LATER THAT DAY.
“Sorry,” Said a woman who was holding her son’s hand, as she bumped into Sancaka’s figure when she walked by. Instead of giving the stranger a reassurance that it was okay, Sancaka flashes her a smile —that was more like the twitch of the corner of his lips, without even the effort to let the woman sees.
He walked past the crowded traditional market, still with all the thoughts and doubts in his mind. The loud chattering may have distracted him for a little bit, but a particular voice stood out, waking himself up from his thoughts. He didn’t bother to stop by, but he knew it’s the woman that just moved in. How did he know? Similar voice to the one that he heard early in the morning two days ago before he got back to sleep, and the same figure with the woman who he saw walking inside the apartment complex when he was about to leave for work. Though, he couldn’t care less —— he threw a glance to the crowd, before walking past by. After all, all he wanted was to buy himself a meal for dinner before it turns dark.
Five minutes and two blocks later, he arrived at a small food stall, and ordered himself some food. A glance was thrown at the small tv that was installed on the corner table ; a glance on the highlight of the news, and his curiosity was soon replaced by anger and confusion. There’s always something with the people with money and power —— corruption, money laundry, and enslaving the people who live below the poverty line . He’d then take the food that he had ordered, paid, and immediately went back to his apartment.
8 PM, THAT NIGHT.
Sancaka turned his television on again once more, only to see the same news from what he had seen earlier. He’d sit there for a few quiet moments before he heard a distant gunshot noise, followed by the sound of some people screaming, that could be heard coming from the block behind his apartment, around the area where he saw the woman yesterday. This couldn’t happen anymore. He should at least check on it. As he was walking towards the drawer where he put all the ‘junk’ from the factory, he had all the inner conflicts within him.
It’s not your problem, Sancaka.
When he opened the drawer, Sancaka clenched both of his fists, rethinking his own decision. Something needed to be done, but no one is taking action. He held his breath and started to count from one, in a poor attempt to calm himself down. Thirteen, fourteen, . . . fifteen. He emitted a sigh, letting his mind to clear itself, before giving himself a nod and take a piece of black handkerchief, and two rolls of black cloth. Then he’d walk to the mirror that was hanging beside the bathroom door, and look at himself in the eyes, asking every question that he has to himself. Every disagreement was encountered with a solid ‘but’ that contradicts his previous statement. He doesn’t want to, but in all honesty, who does?
Sancaka wrapped the handkerchief on his face after folded it into two, covering his features from the nose down. The cloth would be his gloves, even though he’s still doubting his own decision. What the hell are you thinking? What are you going to do? Why can’t you just ignore it, like what you’ve been doing for nearly twenty years? After all those mental questions, Sancaka found himself walking up the back stairs that led to the rooftop, still wrapping the cloth on his fists.
It’s not even 9 p.m, but the streets weren’t as crowded as before. People are scared, but not for the right reason. Sancaka stood right at the corner of the rooftop, before he perched himself on the narrow corner. His eyes carefully watched every alleyway that was dimly lit, looking for his potential suspects. Right before his eyes reached a particular neighborhood, yet another distant gunshot noise could be heard, a deafening crack of thunder that would drive everyone who heard them away, running with fear and the hope of survival.
Sancaka stood up once again, as he tightened the cloth that was on his wrist, before pulling the handkerchief slightly higher than before.
The city needs help.
And they’re going to find salvation.
by: @goddamngodam [Tangerang]
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