Cerpen ini tayang sebagai bagian dari 'Pekan Fiksi VICE: Indonesia 2038'. Redaksi meminta penulis-penulis muda potensial negara ini menjelajahi kemungkinan situasi Indonesia pada 2038. Naskah yang kami terima rata-rata bercorak fiksi ilmiah, menyajikan gaya tutur segar, serta sudut pandang menarik saat mengulas topik seperti teknologi, lingkungan, agama, hingga nasib bahasa di masa mendatang. Kami membebaskan penulis memilih bahasa untuk bertutur. Kali ini, Ziggy memilih menulis dalam Bahasa Inggris.
18 December, 2038
NN, 19 year old man of Australian-Caucasian ethnicity, is one of the early-generation clones, a perfectly identical copy of his deceased brother (also bore the same name), who died in 2018 at the age of 20 due to an incurable heart defect. Now lives in Borneo (then Indonesia) with his parents, and is in his third year in the University of Indo-Australia, New Meikarta (then Palangkaraya).
NN’s depression occurred in 2035. Symptoms include severe anxiety, trouble sleeping and energy loss, which escalated in his first suicide attempt in 2037. He has shown tendencies towards abusive behaviours. The decision to seek treatment was not his initiative, but based on family concern.
History of Present Illness:
At Christmas 2037, NN was found unconscious in his bathroom after slitting his wrist open with a razor blade. His most recent suicide attempt was in July 2038. At intake (August 2038) his symptoms were as follows:
blank facial expression emotional breakdown changing moods
The collapse of his relationship with a girlfriend drove him to his all-time low and ultimately his third (most recent) suicide attempt. He is now given Paliperidone.
When he was 6, his parents brought him to see the preserved body of his brother that is today still restored in Indo-Australia’s biggest cryogenic laboratory, Abbenay Lab in New Meikarta, and NN remembers his mother saying, ‘That’s you in your past life’ while pointing at the preserved body inside the freezing capsule. It was his first ever visit to the laboratory, which then was repeated several times in special occasions like birthdays and some other kinds of family celebrations. His last visit to the laboratory was about a month before his first suicide attempt. NN had his initial major depression when he was 15 as stated above, after he failed at the enrolment test to get into the prestigious Musical Academy of Indo-Australia. He studies violin, just like his brother who was a keen violinist. NN was then hospitalised for several weeks and was prescribed Defanyl. After being released from the hospital, he embarked on his formal, non-musical education under moderate medication.
Personal and Social History:
NN was born via surrogate mother only a year after his brother's passing, using the somatic cells of the then-dying sibling. As an early-generation clone, NN's conception was highly secretive (at that time still illegal in most parts of the world) and hence he never experiences public scrutiny. However, as he grew up, human cloning developed tremendously and more clones were conceived openly, and they were born along with the same basic ethical question: why do we clone human being? Eventually more people discovered about NN’s existence albeit in a strictly academic environment. Meanwhile whenever he read a headline about a clone in major newspapers, he would feel more and more like a 'product', a non-human. His family unsurprisingly became a main stressor. His father is distant and his mother is obsessive, still in denial phase and believes that NN is the reincarnation of his brother. That was after all why NN was conceived in the first place—as a substitute of a deceased child. NN went to the same schools as his brother did, he lives in the same bedroom his brother had lived in. Accordingly this complicated relationship with his brother became another main stressor.
As a clone, in nature NN has various health problems. He also ages faster, and he currently has a life expectancy of ten more years.
Mental Status Check:
Updated 24 December 2038 –
Christmas (he says). They would visit him again, I’m sure. Yes they would. As your information, Doctor, they have stopped forcing me to go with them. But he would still be lying there behind the glass. He would still be frozen and silent. He had been me and he was not me. The white of everything would swallow you alive, the colour of the walls and the snow that we will never have any more forever in any part of the globe. So as a stupid joke we will have the fake snow outside the lab, all white, even though Borneo is supposed to be equatorial and back then Australia never had any snow either in December. Anyway we'll also have the white frost inside his capsule. He has his own eternal little glass world. When I was six, my mother took me by the hand and she said, ‘That was you. Isn’t he beautiful? That's you in your past life.’ I didn’t know who that was and I found out that he was me, but dead, because his heart stopped dead years ago. Nobody knew my heart stopped, too. Right there in front of everyone—my parents, the cryogenic specialists, the nurses, the doctors, the other frozen bodies behind the glass, dead or alive, waiting to die or to be revived—I was dying. Yesterday I met this woman who had been my brother's lover before he died. She spotted me from a café's windowsill and dashed out to stop me from walking on. Her face was white. Her face was the white colour of everything that's swallowed me alive. 'Sorry, wrong person,' she said, and burst into tears. So I took her inside to explain. We had lunch. She told me she was still in love with my brother. I could have chosen not to care, but I cared.
'I'm not him,' I said.
I told her I knew how she felt. The third time I met my dead brother behind the glass, I fell in love with myself. Updated 27 December 2038 –
Doctor, you know I'm dying.
First there was the thyroid problem. Then another. Once I had severe lung problem that they could fix. Then another. Finally the heart. They shouldn’t be surprised, I am anyway an exact copy of my dead brother. My parents never talk about it, but my doctor said he died slowly and painfully after a series of organ failures. Right now I’m also dying, so why wouldn’t they let it happen earlier? I wish to die quickly and silently. I don’t want any fuss.
(Silent. He refused to look at me.)
Do you know the story about Salvador Dalí’s dead brother?
(I said yes.)
His name is Salvador Dalí.
(I said, yes, I know Salvador Dalí.)
No. The dead brother is also Salvador Dalí.
(I nodded. I said I understood.)
El retrato de mi hermano muerto .
(The painting? I asked.)
No. Me. ‘Portrait of my dead brother’.
Salvador, Doctor. Candlesticks. Castor and Pollux.
(He began retelling the story of Dioscuri/Polydeuces/Castor and Pollux. Spent about half an hour. Afterwards he just lied with eyes closed. A minute passed by and then he added:)
Would you let me die, Doctor?
(I said no.)
Would you have let me be born? Updated 30 December 2038 —
Patient had a mania episode. Still talked incoherently. Cursing, throwing tantrums.
H. DSM-7 Diagnoses:
B10.25 Major depressive disorder, recurrent episode, severe
Z89 01 Intermittent explosive disorder
*Dias Novita Wuri adalah penulis kelahiran Jakarta, 11 November. Dia alumnus Fakultas Ilmu Budaya (FIB) UI jurusan Sastra Rusia, beberapa cerpennya diterbitkan Koran Tempo dan terpilih sebagai Emerging Writers di Ubud WRF pada 2014. Aktif di Komunitas Salihara dan Jakartabeat.net