Last Letter: To a good friend of mine

Rijal was asking a question on our PSP days in Westin Hotel, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

This personal letter is for our lovely friend: Khairur Rijal Usman Abra who passed away on August 9, 2020

Dear you, how have you been there? I hope you’re fine. It takes a longggg time for me to write this letter. I wrote it, then erase it and do it again and repeat. I started to write but my tears keep dropping off.
Actually I want to say a lot of things to you. I also want to say thank you. I want you to see me-how strong myself right now. I miss your cheerful voice, the happy face you always had, the silly questions you had asked, random things you always wanted to do such as doing tik tok, dancing, acting like a beauty pageants, doing a random question-answer while watching miss universe year 1970-2020, slept over at aninda’s apartment while cuddling to weny, aninda and oscar, watching Netflix series “Never have I Ever” until dawn and have a CSI meeting at 10 in the morning. We barely attended the meeting with those dizzy heads and fluffy faces. Good thing is, nobody cares how sleepy we were back then but we do enjoyed our quarantine days more than our “normal day”. I miss the way you requested me to cook a food for you. You called me in the night either I have food left or not just because you’re hungry but don’t have energy to cook. Let say you were lazy to cook. I knew you’re not good in cooking. Lol. That night you came to my apartment and ate all the foods I have. Maybe you didn’t know how grateful I am seeing you eating my food delightfully. I was not sure with my cooking skill. You said it was delicious and you ate for the second and third round. We always had an essential deep conversation while it was just the two of us. We didn’t badmouthing people or gossiping others. Oddly, we talked about our dreams, what’s next, our plans after this exchange ends, our future dream jobs, our plan to meet up in Jakarta before coming back to our hometown, talked our own crushes, favorite things we do as introverts, we also talked about worries that we had, how to cope it, what has changed to ourselves during the program, how exhausting it was when we talked too much to the stranger and laughed to ourselves that we were tired to pretend as cheerful person. I remember our first deep convo was in the bus from alexandria campus to Arbor Park. We sat in the fourth row from the back. I asked you a question which I was very curious about, since we were still in Indonesia. You cried next to me while telling all the stories and how much you love your family. That time I really wanted to hug you tightly but I couldn’t. So, I told you “I wanna hug you, but I can’t. I hope I can comfort you while sitting next to you, Ijal”. Apparently, you cried louder and people in the bus was looking at us. I was so nervous back then and asked question to myself “what’s wrong did I do to him”. Maybe people thought I did something really bad to you. Lol. I should’ve choose another place next time. Few days later, you told me that you were so grateful with my question and you can feel much more comfortable with me. That circumstance was the day where we started to get closer and became a good friend.

Our full member picture. Left to right: ade agus rijal mici aninda me weny

Another “the two of us” story is when we planned to go to Clarendon festival after doing a volunteer in Islamic Relief. After finishing all the task we were in rush to catch the first bus and metro train. Unfortunately it was saturday where the bus schedule is different rather than weekdays. We couldn’t catch the first bus so we decided to take a walk until train station. We thought it was not that far while seeing the gmaps. But these two dumb and dumber couldn’t learned google maps. Lol. We lost once and it took 30 min by walking. During that 30 minutes, we talked and talked everything. I don’t remember our topic specifically but I do remember our talks were full of laughters. It made that 30 minutes feel like 3 minutes away.
Our last conversation was in Aninda’s apartment. It was in ramadhan month and we finished preparing iftar and waiting the breakfasting time which was in 1 hour. We invited oscar as well and aninda was there too. She was sick and slept over on the couch. We sat next to the balcony in the TV room. We spent that 1 hour while talking all the things!! I don’t know why but talking to you is always super fun and I couldn’t hide my dark stories. Lol. You know how to dig information in person. We stopped our convo when the time for iftar is started and at the same time aninda woke up and oscar came too. Back then I didn’t know it was our last favorite convo. Yes, all of them are my favorite deep convos.
We also had a good time in Oldtown, that random day when you, me and weny went to oldtown because we need to take a break and Old town was our choice. It was winter and freezing and we were only walking around oldtown, bought a not so popular BoBa tea in oldtown, took a lot of pictures with your new iphone, bought a kind of sweet popcorn snack which you and weny recommended and took trolley and back to home! See, you always asked a random thing to do and we keep saying yes and go! Lol. All the circumstances we had are super fun :”

Dear you, my good friend. After knowing the news you were gone, it was a heartbreaking for me. I have a lot friends, but only few of best friends. Since the day 1, I didn’t know you’ll be one of my best friend. We started to avoid each other since the day 1 but turned out need each other.
That day, the first day you passed away, I didn’t know how to react. I wanna cry but I deny admitting the news. I don’t want to believe it but all of your friends posted your picture telling it was true, they cried for you, they posted all good things and how nice you were in person. Me, even couldn’t posted your picture in social media. I stopped to open Instagram and facebook but I keep watching your videos which I recorded in my phone. That’s crazy, bcs it was not only me. All of your friends feel the same way like me.
Dear you, you are a precious friend, a friend who always encourage people, support friend and always say positive things, you are smart but you don’t make me feel inferior, you usually corrected my grammar or my pronouncing without me feeling offended. You always can see a good thing in every person, whenever I feel sad and show my sad face, you told me to chin up and keep smiling because happy face is contagious. You always had impromptu idea. Four of us (you, weny, aninda and I) finally had group pictures, we recorded our first tik tok dance (with that dance like a stone. Lol), we had our first watching netflix series in group and the karaoke time! Who doesn’t missed it?!
In the end, I am so grateful we made umpteenth pleasant memories with you. Today is your birthday and I promised to write this letter after two months of your passing. I pray for you, you’ll be placed in a good place. You have a good heart and you are always be loved. May Allah shower your soul with His Infinite Mercy. I am sending you a lot of salawat and istighfar. For ijal’s friend and family, may Allah make your heart to be stronger, wiser and better.

A letter from Ikrim, your Baby Shark (nobody calls me the way you did again :”)

My First Talk with A. Fuadi and Self Reflection


I’ve been thinking about my worries for giving a talk to people publicly. Short story, a week after arriving at home in Pariaman city, west sumatera, Indonesia, one of my favorite book author contacted me in Instagram. He is Ahmad Fuadi whom famous with “Negeri 5 Menara”, “Ranah 3 Warna”, “Rantau Satu Muara”, and many books! It was a shock for me because I’ve been a big fan of him since I was in the Madrasah Tsanawiyah (middle school). At that time, I was extremely happy to get the invitation from him! He invited me to give a talk in Instagram Live because I left my comment in his Instagram post about studying abroad and how do I get my scholarship. After I got that DM, I told my youngest sister and she was like, “Are you sure? That fuadi who wrote the book we read since childhood?! Omaigat, you’re so lucky! I’m so prouudd of you!”. And another sister said very gently, “Oh, that’s good for you”. Aha, in my family, we’re not that so-too much-expressive in appreciate a thing, but in their heart I know they’re happy to what I did. Sometimes, I think they’re not so proud of any particular achievement I had (I knew, I was so childish that time), after thru all the ups and downs during this quarter age, I understand that not all love define by words and the exaggerated expression. lol.

Okay, back to the ~

So, yeah, he dm-ed me on saturday and due to Jetlag I had since my arrival from the USA, I said okay and asked him to postponed the talk to next week! and voila, it was a very quick chit-chat and I sent some stuffs for the poster and all are done! We started to post the announcement of our talk section in IG Live and I posted it as well.

After I post it, I started to feel afraid, uneasy and hesitant about what I am going to do. Actually I have done another IG Live with another host a day before. I wasn’t felt that so nervous back then because the audience is not so many, so in my mind everything looks so fine. Eventually, it was very smooth talk with this first host and the number of the audiences are not that many. Even though it was not so many people who join the talk, still I felt very contented. Happy and at ease.

However, this second talk with this author is different. He has a broader influence since he is an author and popular. Now you know why I felt that way. Four or five hours before I begin the talk, I shared my feeling to a friend of mine. How nervous I was, what if I said the wrong thing, what if people did not get what I mean, my shy personality which makes me speak in stuttering and murmuring way, how people will see me after that, I told her that I could not speak in front of people confidently, I have a panic attack sometimes, and how I am not good enough to represent my program. I have so many flaws.

Then, this friend of mine said: “Everybody has their flaws including me. We don’t know people’s shit and their disgrace but we have an obligation to be someone who share a good thing, who can give benefit to others. Perhaps, it is one of your way to to share goodness and kindness. You know, we don’t know people’s life. The only thing we can do is to choose our path. Which path is better and give a good impact. Just go for it! You can inspire at least one or two people and it’s alright! I support you! You will receive good reward and “amal jariyah (describes charitable acts that are both voluntary and ongoing, to benefits others for today and for the future, too), insha Allah. Keep it up, Ikrim. I know new journey has never been so easy but there will be new kindness we can do. At least to inspire people pursue their dream and reach their goals. This could be spread da’wah. Proud of you sister!”

I was so speechless with her words. Sometimes we value ourselves in the lowest level. How dare we give that lowest score? Allah created us to be the best people among us. The best Ummah. Each of us has the negative and positive. And Allah values you depend on your Taqwa (piety, fear of God).

Today I accidentally found a self reflection from sarinaarina/2019/11/18/the-unspoken-blessings-of-every-delay

I totally can relate to what was happened to myself a week ago. Here are some snippets that I think I can share (you can go to her blog and read it wholly:

Dear Sarina’s self- reflection:

1. I was so worried that I wouldn’t deliver my talk perfectly but in reality, many people appreciated the fact that I was nervous because it became more relatable. People appreciate flaws more than we think.
2. What people can learn from me is not up to me but up to what Allāh will allow others to take away from me. There are some whose hearts are more open to learning, therefore, will take away more from me than others.
3. If you are sincere; people will always benefit from you insha Allāh, therefore, be sincere in everything that you do.
4. Everything that’s taken place in my life leading up to the talk was built upon delays after delays and had I been granted what I originally wanted, I would not have been able to be of service to my community on the scale that I’m able to do now. Allāh’s Plans are GREAT; do not doubt how beautifully Allāh has curated your life.

Alhamdulillah, initially, I was super nervous but Allah made it easy for me. Talking with A. Fuadi was really fun and comfortable for me eventually. It was like talking to your old friend who have some similarities with you and even you don’t want to stop it. We have couple similarities while talking about Washington DC, our struggle to get scholarship, teaching sunday school in Madrasah, and looking for halal food and mosque around DC area.

In the end, Allāh’s Plans are GREAT; do not doubt how beautifully Allāh has curated your life. Just go for it!

Ikrim Maizana

Week 3, summer in Pariaman City, Indonesia

After 10 Months in USA

So, how’s my life during this pandemic? And even more, life in the USA?

I’ve been living in Alexandria, Virginia, United States for more than 10 months. Due to the covid-19, my scholarship program extended our staying here. However, I didn’t know how to express my feeling when I heard this news at the first time. In one side I felt so upset and frustrated because I really wanted to go back home. There is nothing I can do here and my International friends go back their home one by one. The first thing came to my mind is that I don’t want to leave alone. You can imagine my feeling when I sent them and came to their farewell party but when it turns to my departure, no body’s by my side. Okay. I think I was too sensitive. In the end, we’ll leave. Alone. Back to our real life. And reality.

Source: Pinterest

Anyway, otherwise I feel happy. The reason is I still have time to enjoy the facility I had here such as the house, people I meet, my CCIP best friends, enjoy the summer again, fast internet connection, in another word is I can relish my life here without thinking too much. For instance, after arriving at home I will receive a lot of questions such as my experience, what did I got, what’s your next plan, how about your job, did you these people or those, and when will you get married. The most common and annoying questions which I receive every year. Despite of that, I must deal to this query elegantly. Plus, I don’t want to pressure myself with those rebel questions. lol.

This past one month had been a tough month and days for us, me and my CCI fellows. We received a lot of sudden news which make our hearts ups and downs. It certainly break our hearts and sometimes make our hearts relieved and happy. You know, the bad- and good news came so quick, and changed in a day or even an hour. In addition, they told us to move to another house in one day. So, in order to make the moving out easier for us, we brought half of our suitcase and things to that new house. Bringing those big suitcases and cross the hills and stairs to the house is NOT as simple as snap your finger. And the worst thing is they told us the next day and we’re not allowed to move anymore. I was so angry that time while imagining how tired it was. At the end, again, everything had been regulated with the best scenario by God. I see more positive aspect than the negative. I knew I’m not ready yes. That’s why God let me stay longer here in order to adjust myself. Yep, I’m not ready for all the sudden adaptation inside myself. Even though I always pretend I’m okay.

In the end, we, as a human can plan and predict every particular thing that might happen in our life. Still, those can happen by His Will. It might be different or it might be similar to our planning. So, just be grateful. Bye.

June 4, 2020

In Alexandria, VA, USA

It’s Okay to be Alone

road nature trees branches

Photo by Pixabay on

Pernahkah kamu memilih untuk berjalan2 sendiri daripada menerima ajakan temanmu untuk pergi nongkrong di cafe?
Atau duduk di taman kota sambil melihat2 orang lalu lalang di depanmu?
Atau duduk di sudut bus kota sendirian sambil melihat orang2 dijalan raya dari balik kaca bus kota?
Contoh2 di atas adalah hal2 yang biasa saya lakukan saat saya butuh waktu untuk merenung. Dulu, saya biasa melakukannya saat merantau di Bandung. Saat tugas dan amanah organisasi menumpuk, saya memilih untuk “mengungsikan” diri saya dengan jalan dan duduk taman di kampus UPI bandung yang sejuk dan adem. Memandang jalan raya di balik kolam di partere. Saya juga pernah ke arboretum UPI, memanjat “mercusuar” dengan tangga yang sudah reyot dan rapuh hanya untuk melihat kota bandung dari ketinggian yang paling maksimal. Saya masih ingat betapa bahagianya saya atas “pencapaian” tersebut. Lupa akan bahaya atas tindakan saya.
Pernah juga saya mengasingkan diri dengan naik bus ledeng-leuwi panjang. Duduk di pojokan belakang dekat jendela. Saat bus sudah mulai berangkat, saya mulai merenung dan bermuhasabah diri. Setelah bus sampai leuwi panjang, saya pun pindah ke bus menuju ledeng kembali.
Setelah melakukan aktivitas tersebut, hati saya terisi kembali. Saya sudah bisa menentukan pilihan yang terbaik. Saya bisa mengontrol emosi dan menjadi lebih kuat lagi.
Alasannya adalah, karena saya menyaksikan banyak aktivitas manusia yang lalu lalang, dimana saya banyak memetik hikmah dari mereka. Bisa dari pengamen jalanan, dari pengemis, dari pekerja kantoran yang baru pulang dari kantor, para pelajar atau ibu2 yang sedang membawa barang belanjaan sekaligus menggendong bayi yang berusia 1.5 tahun.
Aktivitas tersebut sudah lama tidak saya lakukan sejak selesai kuliah. Namun, hari ini saya kembali melakukannya. Saat hendak ke wells fargo sendirian, saya kembali menemukan taman yang sangat saya sukai di spring gold. Indah dan tidak ramai. Entah kenapa kaki saya berjalan ke arah taman tersebut. Alih2 ke wells fargo dulu, saya malah duduk di kursi taman, memperhatikan orang yang lalu lalang. Merenungkan hal2 ajaib yang banyak terjadi pada diri saya di tahun ini. Saya pun memejamkan mata lalu membukanya kembali. Tidak lama, saya pun bangkit. Karena untuk beristirahat cukuplah sebentar saja.
Saya tersadar, hidup tetap lah terus berlanjut. Dan sudah cukup bagi saya untuk “quality time” dan kembali bertemu dengan “dunia nyata”.
Pada akhirnya, tidak mengapa untuk melakukan aktivitas kesukaanmu sendirian. Karna kamu pun butuh “kewarasan” dengan melakukan quality time untuk diri sendiri.
Bagaimana dengan kamu? Apa hal yang biasa kamu lakukan saat sendirian?
*Terinspirasi dari tulisan Herjunot Ali yang berjudul “It’s Okay to be alone”