2

Lightyears

*BLEEP* *BLEEP* *BLEEP*

The blast of sound jolted me from my slumber. I groaned as I covered my face with a pillow; arm outstretched and searching for the switch. Failing to do so, I grabbed the alarm and proceeded to throw it out of the room. With a smash it bleeped its last bleep, before I heard the others storming downstairs calling out my name. This is why I hate Mondays.

It was dawn. Our Sun rose up lazily from beyond the hills, painting the sky a familiar pale blue. I longed to see a sunrise ever since I left. The place was cold due to the morning atmosphere, and I shivered as I got dressed for work.

We set off early that morning, to the south this time. The wheels rumbled down the rocky roads and muddy paths leading toward the beach. A pang of nostalgia hit me the moment I saw the clouds above the sea. I thought I could hear the squawk of seagulls, but I dismissed that thought; we had to get to work.

The day went by as usual, in a blur of sameness. Our Sun made its way across the sky, eventually reaching the Eastern horizon. As night drew closer and civil twilight delved into nautical twilight, I returned home. My family greeted me with smiles and hugs, and the kids clambered upon me, asking me about my day. We chattered about and ate dinner for the next few hours.

Rachel asked me to bring her outside tonight. I initially told her I was busy (this was half true, I indeed had a lot of things to do, though none were really urgent.), but after she pleaded for the next 10 minutes, I heavily obliged. Maybe I could use a break tonight, I thought. Just as Rachel packed up her colouring book and camera, her siblings crashed down the stairs, asking to follow. I sighed.

We headed towards the beach. Rachel kept staring out the window, snapping pictures with her camera. Leo and Adam kept quarrelling in the back, and Lyra was fast asleep. Soon enough, they were all quietly dozing off. When we reached the pier, I woke them up and brought them to the little boat tied to the docks.

We sailed out to sea, though never straying too far from the bay. Rachel was enthralled by the stars, and Lyra too had a big smile on her face, though as usual she never said anything. Oh, when that little girl grows up, she’ll have a lot of things to say. I was stunned to see that Leo and Adam were observing the sky intently, instead of finding ways to push each other off the boat. We sailed towards the little island, affectionately named after Lyra. She always loved going there, we could tell by her warm smile and giggles every time we went there.

We trudged silently up the rocks towards the observatory. One by one, I led them up the ladder to the telescope. They all ran towards the telescope, each wanting to be the first to see the stars. After loads of pushing and squabbling, I decided to let Rachel go first. While observing the stars, she smiled sweetly and asked me a question.

“Dad, which one’s Earth?”

Once again, that pang of  homesickness hit me. “There, see the third brightest star? Out in the edge of the Milky Way, yep, there. That’s what I used to call home.”

Home. How I longed to be there again, though I knew I could never return. I knew that it’s been thousands of years since we left, and it would take thousands to go back.

For now, home would always be here.

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0

Astronaut

Here’s an english version of my previous post because I didn’t feel very satisfied about it. Writing in Bahasa Melayu feels awkward and clunky for me…


I stared out the window. Darkness. Silence. Emptiness. Nothing but the stars to light up the backdrop of the void. All my crew-mates were busy doing experiments or research, it was my free time. I sighed while thinking about how lucky I was to be able to experience life above the sky. Countless generations have always looked up to the stars with wonder, dreaming of what it is like to be there. Well, I’m living that dream.

I looked down at the planet below. It was completely dark, save for a few bright light from large cities that dotted the Eurasian continent. Not long now, the Sun would rise above the Mediterranean. Ah, the day-night cycle, a regular mundane phenomenon for us all but for me, it is the most beautiful thing on the planet. The sun rays that illuminate the valleys and hills, the sky that changes from black to yellow and blue, the light that gives warmth to the chilling landscape, the clouds that cast shadows across the backdrop as they dance along the sky.

I thought for a moment about all the people living down there. Every individual scuttling around their tiny homes that look like toys from this height. Tiny. Everything, it seemed to me, didn’t matter. Every war, fight, love, happiness; it all doesn’t matter. We don’t leave any mark to the universe. That’s what we are, tiny. From my cramped module, I saw no mark. No wars, no violence, no hatred. Just silence. Silence stretching for miles and miles across this living planet. If you think about it, we are unbelievably insignificant to the universe. Each lifetime lasting only a blink in the cosmic eye of the 13 billion year-old universe. We. Make. No. Difference.

And yet we are special. Our home is the only known planet to harbour life (as far as we know at least). We are living, thinking, intelligent lifeforms. We have the chance; the potential to change the world around us because every man, woman and child here has something ingrained into our feeble minds. A natural desire to explore, learn, venture, teach, create, help, discover. We can at least try to leave a beautiful stain on this tiny, pale blue dot.

The space station continued its orbit around Earth. The dazzling Sun that I just saw rise above the Mediterranean began to complete its perpetual journey from east to west as it sank behind the opposite face of the planet.

Silence.

0

Angkasawan

Aku memandang ke luar tingkap. Hitam. Sunyi. Kosong. Gelap. Hanya bintang berkelip yang mengisi latar belakang. Seluruh kru sedang sibuk membuat kajian dan kerja masing-masing; sekarang merupakan waktu rehat bagiku. Aku menarik nafas panjang sambil memikirkan betapa bernasibnya aku kerana dapat mengalami kehidupan di langit. Tentulah generasi-generasi lepas akan berasa dengki padaku, mereka hanya boleh berangan tentang eksplorasi ke angkasa lepas.

Aku terpandang ke planet di bawahku yang gelap gelita kecuali beberapa lampu dari bandar. Tak lama lagi, matahari akan terbit di negara-negara Mediterranean. Ah, pertukaran siang malam, satu fenomena terbiasa bagi kita semua tapi bagiku, tiada pemandangan yang lebih indah di dunia ini. Pancaran matahari yang menerangi laut & bukit, langit yang bertukar dari hitam ke kuning ke putih & biru, cahaya yang memberi  selepas malam yang sejuk dan awan yang menari melintasi langit. Allahuakbar, memang indah ciptaanNya.

Aku terfikir sejenak tentang orang yang hidup di bawah sana. Setiap kesusahan, kemiskinan, peperangan, kekayaan, pergaduhan, cinta, kegembiraan dan kemenangan sebenarnya tidak penting. Ia semua tidak memberi kesan kepada alam semesta yang begitu luas ini. Dari tingkap modulku, dunia seolah-olah aman. Tiada perang. Tiada pergaduhan. Hanya keamanan dan kesunyian sejauh beribu kilometer. Cuba fikir, setiap individu yang berjalan di muka bumi ini hanya setitik di dunia yang luas. Dari perspektif alam semesta yang sudah tua berbillion tahun, kehidupan kita adalah sangat pendek, sekelip mata dalam usianya Aku berasa amat kecil berbanding planet yang kita semua mendiami.

Tapi, pada waktu yang sama, setiap orang adalah sangat penting sebab kita mempunyai sesuatu yang tertanam di dalam minda kecil kita. Sebuah biji benih yang terus bercambah dan subur. Sebuah keinginan untuk belajar, mengajar, mengembara, mereka, mencipta, menolong. Kita ada potensi untuk menjadikan dunia lebih bahagia. Untuk meninggalkan kesan yang cantik di titik biru ini.

Stesen angkasa terus mengorbit bumi. Matahari yang baru kulihat terbit pun sudah menghabiskan pusingannya dari timur ke barat bagi hari ini lalu tenggelam ke belakang bumi.

Kesunyian.