“After long conversations like these, I feel smarter. And smart is always a good feeling,” I said, as I placed my teh tarik kurang manis back onto the table in front of me. Everything was splashed with hues of orange and yellow spilled by bright filaments in a little musical eatery owned by Haji Noh. I was, after a long period of dullness and losing sense of life direction, able to reunite with old friends—a Scorpio songbird, an enthusiastic reader, and The Sheep Man.
The Sheep Man—so disparate from its fictional counterpart, lived in the universe created by Haruki Murakami—does not dress in sheep skin, and does not ask people to dance, dance, dance. Instead, there is a vast knowledge inside his head, and as conversations grows and flows from the topic of musical theory, to art films, to politics, to social media, to songwriting process, to neuroscience, and to Murakami himself. That was part of the reason we were sitting on the wooden benches of the little cafe-cum-art-space, a mutual interest of a certain Japanese literary author.
When my six-year-old Polo Club wristwatch displayed the midnight’s hour, I exhaled heavily. Our conversations was like a three-hour intense Bollywood movie, where you’ll continuously go through heavy things until a point where you stopped to take a breath, and realized that your brain is fuller than ever. And then I said it. “After long conversations like these, I feel smarter. And smart is always a good feeling.”
The Sheep Man furrowed his non-sheeplike eyebrows and responded, “that’s the first time I have heard a girl said that.”
I shook my head. “There are girls who think like that. Maybe they’re just lowkey clever.”
The Sheep Man went on saying, it’s hard for him to find someone to have a fruitful conversation like this, because men he knew are not as ‘in-depth’ as himself. Men he knew doesn’t take anything deeper that what is presented on the surface. They took a story as a story. A process as a process. The top layer of a lake, with no concern of what lies below. Don’t overthink lah, they all said.
The Sheep Man shrugged, folding his hands on the table. Those hands which have flipped pages of paperback Haruki Murakami novels in in the Chinese language years ago, serving the eyes and the brain who has been. “People of today, they’re not very smart. They believe on the silly headlines of politics, and they talk about it so much they got distracted away from the real issue that’s happening in our country. They don’t indulge in critical thinking. They accept things as it is. How often would you find someone who asks you ‘so how does brain retain memory?‘”
My housemate has another idea on being smart. “When you get smarter, you’ll get more sensitive. People will question you a lot.” You’re more well-versed, to see a certain information or situation from many different angles, which then will lead you to justify with or against a certain opinion. It could be constructive, or slightly offensive. It depends on the situation itself, but the fact that you’re engaging in a healthy debate is good enough to spread knowledge to and from your fellow peers.
I have friends who fart (Razin, 2017).
At the end of the night, I became more motivated to prompt conversations with critical, thought-provoking and insightful content, hoping that somehow the habit or culture of information-sharing will be something the youths will get used to.
Because it would be really cool if youths today realize that smart, is truly a good damn feeling.