When I was a kid, I feared the sound of thunder. Although somewhat similar, fireworks have always been different. They may be shocking too, but I always associate them with something festive and made by humans.

Whenever I heard the sound of thunder, I would press my palms against my ears, trying to cover them from having to hear it. Unfortunately, Dad had never liked his kids doing that. He’d get angry and literally force my hands away from my ears every time a thunder roared outside.

I hated that. I’d hated him for doing that to me. I knew he found that a sign of shameful weakness. Still, he insisted that no kids of his should’ve grown up to be afraid of thunder.

“You have to deal with it anyway.”

I finally forced myself to hear it without my hands pressed against my ears. It was difficult at first, but slowly I’d gotten used to it. Still, I occasionally jolt at the sound of thunder, especially if it’s loud. I no longer scream or cry like I did as a child.

Just like a lot of things about Dad, I’ve learned his true intentions way too late.

First of all, he was right. We’ll always hear it, whether we like it or not. We can either cover our ears to avoid it or just ignore it. Let it not bug us so much.

It’s the same thing with other annoying noises in life.

If you’re into quietness and solitude, big cities like Jakarta are probably not for you. To some people, it’s a 24/7 party time. To others, such cities can drive them crazy. It’s the same thing too with big mouths and nasty comments.

It’s sad but true that not all adults can tell the difference between a fair criticism with a mere insult. As a not-so-diplomatic speaker, you’ll probably make some of these familiar excuses:

“I’m just being honest. Sorry if you can’t take it.” (Only God knows whether you’re really sorry or not.)

“I’d rather be cruel but honest than staying sweet to your face but then stabbing you in the back.” (Really? Does it always have to be that extreme?)

“It’s not my problem if yo’re overly sensitive.” (Unfortunately, you make it their problem that you’re being tactless or even worse, rude.)

Excuses or not, that’s still tricky. If you call people nasty names, that’s an insult. If you suggest nothing after your criticism, then why bother say anything at all? Really, it shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

Either way, there are choices. You can scream at all of them all you like until you exhaust yourself. You can avoid them all, shying away from the world and losing more. (Who knows? You might be missing what’s actually not that bad.)

You can also treat them as insignificant as possible. They don’t matter. They can be as loud as they please while you put your headphone and walk on.

I looked out the window of a coffee-shop in this city on a rainy Saturday afternoon. A thunder roared outside, bringing back all of these colourful memories. Despite the slight jolt, it wasn’t fear that I’d felt that day. It was sadness…and gratitude.

Thanks, Dad. Always missing you.


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