April 25, 2008

A.A. Navis

The Decline of the Local Prayer House
IF, SOME YEARS AGO, you had arrived by bus in the town where I was born, you would have stopped near the marketplace. Should you have carried on, walking westward, along the main road, after about a kilometer you would have come to the road to my village. At that small turnoff, the fifth turn to the right, you would have turned into a narrow lane. And at the end of that lane you would have found an old prayer house, in front of which was a fish pond, the water for which flowed in through four different bathing places.

And outside the prayer house, on the left side, you would have found an old man sitting there whose manner was very much in keeping with both his age and piety. That was Grandpa — at least that's what people called him — and he was the garin or caretaker of the prayer house, a position he had filled for many years.

Grandpa didn't receive any salary for his caretaker's duties and lived almost entirely from the donations that were collected each Friday. But every six months he was given a quarter of the proceeds from the fishpond, and once a year people gave him tithes. Actually, he was not that well known as a garin. He was better known as a knife sharpener, a trade at which he excelled. He was so good at honing knives that people always went to him for help, though he never, ever, asked for anything in return. Women who asked him to sharpen their knives or scissors often gave him some homemade chili sauce, or sambal, in exchange for his services. From the men he'd receive cigarettes or, sometimes, money. Usually all he got was a word of thanks and a smile.

But Grandpa is no longer there. He died. And with his death the prayer house was left without a caretaker. Nowadays children use it as a place to play whatever games they like. And women who have run out of firewood are always stealing the odd plank from the walls or floor during the night.

If you were to go there now, you would find only the impression of something that had once been sacred but is now in the process of decline. And the decline grows faster by the day — as fast as the children who run around inside it, as fast as the women who steal its timbers. But the most important factor in this decline is, quite simply, people's lack of concern: People today, it seems, are not willing to look after something that is not under watch.

The cause of this decline can be found in a story, the truth of which would be difficult to refute. This is the tale, just as it happened.

ONE DAY I WENT TO GRANDPA to repay him for his help. Usually he was glad to see me, as I was one person who usually gave him money. But that day he seemed extremely dejected. He was sitting at the corner of the building, staring straight ahead, as if not seeing anything, as if something had come to disturb his thoughts. At his feet were an old condensed milk can filled with coconut oil, a fine whetstone, a long leather strop and an old razor. Never had I seen him so gloomy and never before had he ignored my greeting. I sat down beside him and picked up the razor. "Whose razor is this. Grandpa?" I asked him.
"Adjo Sidi's."
"Adjo Sidi's?"
As Grandpa said no more, I thought then of Adjo Sidi, a yarn spinner if there ever was one. I hadn't seen him around for ages and thought of the enjoyment I would find in seeing him again. I liked to listen to him talk. He could entrance people for the best part of a day with his outlandish tales. But, as he was so busy with his work, such opportunities were rare.

The man's greatest success as a tale spinner came from the fact that his tales were accepted as proverbial and their characters were held up as paradigms of ridicule. And, indeed, there were people in the village whose personalities very much resembled the characters of Adjo Sidi's stories. Just as one example, Adjo Sidi once told a story about a certain frog whose characteristics were very similar to those of a man in the village who insisted on playing the determinant role in village affairs. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that from that time on this particular pillar of the community came to be known as "the Frog."

Then I suddenly remembered Grandpa and that Adjo Sidi had come to see him. I wondered if Adjo Sidi been talking about Grandpa. Was it one of Adjo Sidi's stories that had so depressed him? I was curious to know.
"What did he talk about?" I asked Grandpa.
"Adjo Sidi."
"That rotten sod," Grandpa answered with a sigh.
"What did he do?"
"I hope he uses this razor I've sharpened for him to cut his throat."
"What, are you angry with him?"
"Angry? If I were a young man I might be, but I'm old, and so I'm not. When you're old you have to control your whims. I haven't been angry in a long time, and I don't want to be, either. I try to be true to my beliefs and don't want my faith jeopardized. Then, too, I don't want the example I've tried to set around here damaged. I've tried for such a long time to do good, to set a good example and to place my trust in God. I've given myself to God, and God shows mercy to those who are patient and trust in Him."

Now I desperately wanted to learn what story had caused Grandpa such depths of depression. "What did Adjo Sidi tell you, Grandpa?" I asked again.

Grandpa was silent, apparently reluctant to relate whatever it was. But as I continued to pester him, he finally relented.

"You know me," he started, "I've been here since you were a boy, ever since I myself was young! And you know what I do and everything that I've done. You tell me, am I going to be cursed for what I've done? Would the Almighty curse me for the work I've done?"

There was no need for me to respond. I knew that once Grandpa had spoken, once he had so much as opened his mouth, he would not be silent again. I left him to answer his own questions.

"I've been here ever since I was young. But did I ever think of taking a wife, or having children, or raising a family like other folk? No, I never thought that, or even about my own life. I never wanted to be rich, or to build a house. I have given my life, my body and soul, to God the Most Wise. I've never caused trouble for other folk, never even harmed a fly. So how come I'm the one who's going to be damned? How come I'm supposed to become fuel for the fires of hell? Do you think that God is angry for what I've done? Is He going to curse me for having devoted my life to Him? I've never thought about tomorrow, because I know that God exists and takes mercy on those who trust in Him. I get up early every morning and perform my ablutions. I'm the one who beats the great drum at the mosque to wake the other folk so that they can worship Him. I pray regularly, at the appointed times; morning, noon, afternoon and night. His name is always on my lips. I praise Him, and I read His word. And, when he rewards me, I utter the blessing, 'Alhamdulillah! Praise be to Allah!' When I'm afraid I say, 'Astagfirullah! May God forgive me!' and 'Masyallah! Good heavens!' when I am surprised. Is there anything wrong with that? So you tell me why I'm the one who's damned, damned for all eternity."
Grandpa fell silent again.
"He said that you're damned?" I ventured.

Grandpa's eyes had begun to tear. "Not in so many words," he murmured, "but that's what he implied."

Poor Grandpa, I thought, and silently reproached Adjo Sidi. Nonetheless, I wanted to know more of the story that had broken Grandpa's heart, and I persisted with my questions until Grandpa finally gave in and repeated the tale.

ONCE UPON A TIME, in the world hereafter, Adjo Sidi had begun, the Lord God was examining all those who had passed on. And the angels were standing at His side, holding in their hands lists of human merits and wrongdoings. Oh, there were so many people there, all to be examined! Of course there had been wars and all that kind of thing to take into account. And among those who were to be examined was a man who had been known on earth by the name of Haji Saleh. Haji Saleh stood in line, smiling contentedly, convinced that he would be going to heaven. He stood there with his hands behind his back while he puffed out his chest and bowed his head. As he watched those who were consigned to hell, his lips twisted into a knowing sneer. And when he saw those who were sent to Heaven, he waved to them as if to say "See you later, mate." The queue was so long and there were so many lined up, it seemed as if it would never end. For as soon as the numbers at the front decreased there were more lined up at the back. But the Almighty continued to examine each and every one in His inimitable manner.
Finally, it was Haji Saleh's turn to be questioned. He smiled proudly as he greeted the Almighty.
The Lord launched the first question. "And you?"
"I'm Saleh. But because I've been on the hajj to Mecca, they call me Haji Saleh."
"I didn't ask your name. Your name is no importance to me. Your name was only of use to you on earth."
"Yes, my Lord."
"What did you do on earth?"
"I paid homage to You always. My Lord."
"Anything else?"
"I praised You unceasingly. Lord God."
"Anything else?"
"And every day, every evening, indeed at every available moment, I whispered Your holy name."
"Anything else?"
"And all that You forbade. My Lord God, I did not do. I have never, ever, done anything wicked, even though the world is full of sins and wickedness and has been turned upside down by accursed evil."
"Anything else?"
"And, My Lord, nothing else. I performed no acts other than those of devotion, other than those of worshipping You and calling upon Your name. Moreover, in Your mercy, when I was ill, Your name was ever upon my lips. I have always prayed that Your tolerance would make Your followers aware of Your goodness."
"Anything else?"

Haji Saleh could say no more. He had already told of all that he had done. But he had begun to realize, uneasily, that the Almighty's questions were not questions asked just for the sake of questioning, and that there was, surely, something else that had been left unsaid. But as far as he could see, he had told all there was to tell. He pondered and bowed his head, not knowing what more he could say. Suddenly Haji Saleh felt heat from the fires of hell blowing against his body, and he began to cry, but every tear that trickled down his cheek was dried instantly by the hot winds of hell.
"Anything else?" the Almighty repeated.
Haji Saleh, now lusterless, tried a new approach. "Your slave has told You all, 0 Great Lord, Most Merciful and Kind, Most Just and All Knowing." He debased himself and flattered the Almighty in the hope that the Lord would deal kindly with him and not ask any further awkward questions.
But the Almighty asked him yet again: "Is there anything else?"
"Oh, well, er. My Lord... Hmmm, I've always read Your holy scriptures, haven't I?"
"And what else?"
"I have told You absolutely everything, my Lord. But, if perhaps there is anything that I have forgotten, I am thankful because You are the One Who knows all."
"Are you absolutely sure that there is nothing else you did on earth other than what you've just told me?"
"Yes, that is all. My Lord."
"Then in you go, my lad."

And promptly an angel whisked Haji Saleh straight into hell.

Haji Saleh couldn't understand why he had been sent to hell, nor what it was the Almighty had wished of him, and yet he was quite sure that He could not have made a mistake.

But Haji Saleh was to be even more astonished, because there in hell he found hoards of his erstwhile friends from the world above, roasted to a crisp, moaning and groaning in absolute agony. He was even more puzzled because all the people he saw there in hell were no less devout than he himself! There was even one chap, a sheikh, and a doctor of divinity to boot, who had been to Mecca no less than fourteen times!

Haji Saleh approached the crowd and asked them why were they were there in hell. But like he himself, none of them could discern the answer.

"I don't get it, this God of ours," Haji Saleh said at last. "Hasn't He instructed us to be obedient, devout and unassailable in our faith? And haven't we done just that, each and every day of our lives? But now look, for this we find ourselves cast into hell!"
"Yes, I agree," came a response. "I agree completely. Just look around, we're all from the same country, and not a one of us was wanting in faith or devotion."
"Surely this must be unjust."
Other people had now joined in and were repeating Haji Saleh's sentiment: "It certainly is unjust."
"We must ask for evidence of our wrongdoing. Who knows,
He might have slipped up when consigning us here."
"That's right. You're right!" All the others were now applauding, justifying Haji Saleh's position.
"But what if He won't admit to a slip-up?" cried a voice from the crowd.
"Then we'll...we'll protest, won't we?! We'll submit a resolution!" Haji Saleh affirmed.
"What kind of resolution will we submit?" asked another person, one who apparently had been a leader in a revolutionary movement on earth.
"That all depends on the situation," Haji Saleh answered. "The important thing right now is that we demonstrate our displeasure."
Yet another voice was heard: "That's the way! Oh, the things we achieved on earth through demonstrations!"
"Yes, yes, yes!" they all cheered before leaving to meet with the Almighty.
And when the crowd stood before God, He asked: "What do
you lot want?"
Haji Saleh, the crowd's spokesman and leader, stepped forward, and with a soft but trembling voice, he began his speech: "Oh Great One, our God. We, who stand before You, are Your most devout and faithful followers who forever praise Your name, forever bow before Your greatness, who spread the news of Your justice and so forth. We know by heart Your holy scriptures and never err when reciting them. But, 0 Lord, My God, Almighty, when we were called here. You threw us into hell. And so, lest something untoward happen, on behalf of all those who truly love You, we request — nay, demand — that You reconsider the judgment that was passed on us and that, in accordance with what is written in the holy scriptures, we be allowed to enter into heaven."

"And where did you lot live on earth?" the Almighty asked.
"O Lord God, we are your faithful from Indonesia."
"Oh, that country whose land is exceedingly fertile?"
"Yes! Absolutely correct. Lord God."
"A land that is fruitful and rich with metals, oil and other minerals?"
"That's right. That's absolutely right. Lord God! That is indeed our country." The crowd had begun to answer in unison as their faces grew bright with hope. They were beginning to feel positively certain that the Almighty had actually committed a flub.
"A land so fertile that plants grow even without tending?"
"Yes, that's our country!"
"That country whose people live in misery?"
"Yes, that's our country!"
"The country which was for so long enslaved by a foreign race?"
"Yes, Lord God. Those colonizers are surely damned."
"The same people who seized the fruits of your land and took them away?"
"Yes, O Lord Our God, and left us nothing. May they forever be cursed!"
"And a land of such confusion that you are forever squabbling, even as a foreign people steal the riches of your land?"
"That is true. Lord God, but we don't care about wealth. We don't concern ourselves with that sort of thing. The only thing that is important to us is that we are able to worship You, and to praise Your greatness."
"Then, you are willing to be poor?"
"O yes. Lord God, we are indeed most willing."
"And because of your own willingness to suffer, your children and their children remain poor?"
"It's true that our children and their children may be poor, but all of them are skilled at reciting Your words, and know Your songs by heart."
"And just like you lot, they too, in their hearts, do not know the meaning of what they speak?"
"But that is not so, O Lord!"

"If you practiced what you preached, then why do you suffer and allow your children and their children to be oppressed? And this you do while permitting your riches to be taken by others for their own children and their grandchildren. Is it not true that you prefer to quarrel among yourselves and to cheat and threaten one other? I have given you a country of tremendous wealth but you are bone idle. You prefer to pray, because by being devout you don't have to sweat or exert yourselves. I have instructed you not just to pray, but to practice what you preach. How, if I may ask, can you be charitable if you are poor? Do you think I like praise? Do you think all I want is to be made drunk by your adoration, by your words? No! It's deeds I want! And so it's to hell with you lot. Over here. Angel, and get this lot back down there. Throw them in the pit!"

The crowd turned deathly pale, unable to utter a single word. But they then knew what the Lord would have wished them to do on earth. Even so, Haji Saleh still wanted to ascertain if what they had done on earth was right or wrong. As he wasn't brave enough to ask the Almighty Himself, he put his question to the angel who escorted them.

"In your opinion, good sir, was it wrong that on earth I worshipped the Almighty?"
"No, not at all. Your misdeed is that you thought only of yourself. Because you were afraid of hell, you prayed obediently. But you forgot your own people's lives, the lives of your wives and children, causing them to live unsettled. That is your greatest fault: you were far too egotistical! Remember that on earth you are all one people, all brothers, but you didn't give a damn about anyone else."

THAT WAS THE STORY that Adjo Sidi had told and which had made Grandpa so melancholy. The next morning, as I was preparing to leave the house, my wife asked if I was going to pay my respects.

"Pay my respects?" I asked her. "Who died?"
"Grandpa," she said.
"Yes! They found him at the prayer house this morning. It was terrible, most horrendous. He'd cut his own throat with a razor!"
"Astaga! My heavens! And all because of Adjo Sidi...." I muttered and left my dumbfounded wife as quickly as possible.
I looked for Adjo Sidi at his house but there found only his wife.
"He's gone," she said in answer to my enquiry of Adjo Sidi's whereabouts.
"Does he know that Grandpa is dead?"
"Oh yes, he knows. And before he left he asked me to buy Grandpa a seven-layered shroud."
"And now...?" I hesitated to ask the next question. Knowing how completely irresponsible Adjo Sidi had been, the question seemed pointless. "Where has he gone?"
"To work."
"To work?" I repeated listlessly.
"Yes, he's gone to work."
Translated by E. Edwards Mc Kinnon

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April 17, 2008

Arif B. Prasetyo (1)


Cold. The last lips that touch him. Before he vanishes
from the edge, the soaring bruised altar, from where he
tumbles, perhaps plunges, to a sea of symbols.
Spirit naked. Words weigh anchor.
Trails of troubled water. Further away from the body
that is about to fade. Like sunken galleon planks.
Buried. In a bay cemetery.
It’s true he often dreams of a prairie.
Asleep in a thick tuft of grass. Running
with iron bolted feet. Horseshoes. Arrows
and a bow on the back. And taking shelter
in the Centaurus cluster. Fluttering tents
in the south of the night sky.
South: a transit. To a higher
terminal. Perhaps more eternal.
But he also witnesses souls collapse.
Pigs. Anus broken, punched by
a roasting pole. Pierced. Through the jaw.
Like them. He’s delivered to the edge. Standing dizzy
Looking at the sea. Blue death strutting. Mad. Like glee
coronating its sacrificial victims.
He doesn’t want to remember that later a typhoon will descend
swinging harpoons in the waves. And the angel
is almost bored of waiting.
Awaiting the moment of falling. A brief moment
the change of the southern constellation
created from salt and the light of words.


Stop that fever.
I know desire will crucify you
At the hour’s end.”
Then you close your eyes. Caressing a cleft
At the base. And the scent of grass diffuses
Like a magic spell spilling into an estuary.
From your gland’s shiver the rivers are drunk on carrions.
Sniffing along the valley passing through remote villages
Scattered, ruined, into the mouth of lust
At the body’s edge.
And the body’s edge, you know, is a pavilion
Protruding into another sea. Another realm, where the spirit
Bows, beheaded, enduring the sway, from the mast which screams
‘I’ll tie you, I’ll cut you’, all night
When knees seem mashed. Sky vague.
And people curse defiling filth. To smite enemies
That must perish. With pointed gaze lost
Through the nimbus.
Heaven: the rusted lock. Crimson rust stain
On decaying texture. I know. Yet desire
Won’t be vanquished.
The roots will penetrate. Smack.
Seize you in snorting
In panting
In death’s throes
That approach
Finish it off.
I know desire has crucified you
On my body.”

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Medi Loekito (2)

In the Yard

rainy season
touched the leaves’ tip
brought the rainbow
into the yard
(jun. 2001)

Di Halaman Rumah

musim hujan
datang di pucuk-pucuk daun
membawa pelangi
ke halaman rumah
(okt. 97 )

The Voyage

sailing on earth
no wave, not even storm
shattered was the boat
by dust, by stones

(jun. 2001)


berlayar atas tanah
tak berombak tak berbadai
remuk sampan
oleh debu oleh batu
(sep. 97 )

Maninjau Lake

to the blue Maninjau Lake
God's hand sowed the stars
that shine in fish eyes
(jun. 2001)

Danau Maninjau

(catatan bahagia bersama
Slamet Sukirnanto, Sutardji Calzoum Bachri, Danarto,
Abuhasan Asyari, F. Rahardi, Agus Sarjono, dan Ali)

di biru danau Maninjau
tangan Tuhan menabur bintang
yang memijar di mata ikan-ikan
(9 des. 97 )

Night on the Hill

the blade sharp serrated tiny grass
slashed the moon to desolation pouring

(2000 )

Malam di Bukit

rumput kecil bergerigi tajam bagai belati
menyayat bulan hingga mengucurkan sepi
(Jan. 98)

You and Me

I'm now old and forgot
there is a tree in the heart of mine
whose fruit has never been picked
(jun. 2001)

Kau dan Aku

kini aku tua dan t'lah lupa
di hatiku ada pohon
yang buahnya belum juga kau petik
(apr. 98)

A Prayer

hills in my heart
overgrown with prickly bushes
sprout no more
not even in bloom
dear God, let me touch your hand
(jun. 2001)


bukit-bukit di hatiku
ditumbuhi semak-semak berduri
tak lagi bertunas
tak lagi berbunga
Tuhan, ulurkan tanganMu
(jan. 97)


one step
down fall the frangipani
in bloom some day
one step
life's age
never return

(jun. 2001)


satu langkah
gugur semboja
semi kembali
satu langkah
usia hari tak kembali
(sep. 2000)

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Medi Loekito (1)

Medy Loekito

Il Silenzio

when silence came
to my heart I wondered
who quenched the wind
and incarcerated its howl

Sendiri di Sudut Petang

ketika sepi datang
kutanya hati
siapa membunuh angin
dan memenjarakan derunya
(mei 95)


spider web
charmed the dew
of morning bright
when the moon departed
wet weed

(jun. 2001)


jejaring laba
memikat embun
di bening pagi
saat pamit bulan
pada basah rumputan
(jul. 2000)

The Lighthouse
trapped the waves
blue on rocks
snared the cloud
gray on soul
(jun. 2001)

Mercu Suar

menangkap ombak
biru di batu
menjaring awan
kelabu di kalbu
(jul. 2000)

On Veranda

sitting on veranda
the wind brought fall leaves
of dusk
(Jun. 2001)

Di Beranda

duduk di beranda
angin mengantar daun gugur
senja hari
(aug. 98)


spring in the garden
butterflies pursued my little girl
whose hair is flowery
(jun. 2001)

Musim Semi

musim semi di kebun
kupu-kupu mengejar anakku
ada bunga di rambutnya
(aug. 98 )

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April 13, 2008

Laksmi Pamuntjak (1)


By Laksmi Pamuntjak

Has nothing changed?
Oil lamps and torch lights catching
ellipsis in mid-flight,
preventing it from reaching the
moon: singed, already, by birds on heat.
Baked now, in the sun.
Flayed to pith
but hiding nothing.
Certainty makes fools of us.
She doesn’t know her crime,
only that she enjoys the increments
of the four seasons,
and the folds of un swept beaches -
No one telling you whether to sink
or swim.
And now the first waves of shadow
roll across the square. The fire-folks are gone
and the moon is chalk-white.
In the morning there will be a sentence;
a full sentence at last -
as if things were any different spelt out
from what is more or less known.

from Ellipsis

The Embrace

on the pain of Egon Schiele

They are not unhappy, really,
his mouth curled into a poised arc
that defines here from everything
else, even if his body is fettered by
something inside, a lament, a vigil,
that refuses to go. She lies hot-pressed
against the curve of his chin, her hair
quite a different matter, its redness licks
like fire. Palm stone hard on his pulse.
The cream crests beneath them are the
parched soil of their love, pleated now
where it once fluttered in the heat of
passion. No, it is not that love dies,
nor is it expelled the way of language
in a city of sorrows. Nor is it frail,
the moon that outwits the sun, the
wordless serene. This is only about
knowing how to clench our thirst.
They would sleep, side by side, ingesting
the odor of each other’s fallow. They would
smile at each other, pointing at each other’s
chipped nails. They would lovingly embrace
their names. But they are the stuff of soil.
Even the crows cannot tear him from her
grip, that which cups the dry pan of his neck.
Crinkling inwards, like the tightened pelvic of
a woman on top. She is Eden, blood for
blood. His body, a drooling phallus,
turning back into an image of the earth.

from The Diary of R.S.: Musings on Art

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Ahmad Tohari

Karyamin's Smile
by Ahmad Tohari

Karyamin measured careful, deliberate steps. The weight bearing down across his shoulders was a long, supple, bamboo pole with woven rattan baskets full of rocks swinging pendulum-like from each end. The steep dirt track leading up the river bank was wet from the sweat which had dripped from Karyamin and his co-workers as they had trudged up and down the bank hauling rocks from the river to the storage bay at the top.

Long experience had taught Karyamin that he could make the climb to the top all right if he kept the centre of gravity of his body and his load either on his right or left foot, and if he was very careful shifting it from one foot to the other. He had also learned that to maintain his balance he had to concentrate on every breath and every swing of his arms.

Even so Karyamin had slipped over twice that morning; he had collapsed in a heap tumbling back down the trail followed by the rocks disgorging from his overturned baskets. Each time Karyamin's fellow rock collectors had doubled up in fits of laughter, pleased for the amusement they could extract from laughing at each other. This time Karyamin crept up the bank more cautiously. Despite his trembling knees he gripped the earth with his toes as he went, every ounce of attention focused on maintaining his balance. Tension was visible on his face and sweat covered his body and poured through his shorts. Ridged veins protruded through his neck under the strain of the heavy weight bearing down on his back and shoulders.

And maybe Karyamin would have made it to the top if it hadn't been for that blasted bird! A kingfisher dived from a branch dangling above the river, splashed into the water and emerged with a small fish in its beak. The bird then darted whisker-close in front of Karyamin's face.

"Damn!" cried Karyamin, feeling his balance begin to slip. He tottered momentarily, and then collapsed onto the ground accompanied by the clatter of his two basketfuls of disgorging rocks. Beginning to slide backwards down the slope, Karyamin pulled himself to a halt by grabbing handfuls of grass. Four or five of Karyamin's friends laughed together; the rock gatherers were happy that they could find some happiness from laughing at themselves.

"Haven't you had enough, Min. Go home," urged Sarji, quietly jealous of Karyamin's large-bodied young wife. "Your heart isn't in it; you've been daydreaming all morning.

"And it's dangerous leaving your wife by herself at home, Min. Remember those young bank workers who call into the village every day? They're not just after loan repayments from your wife! Don't trust those loan sharks. Go on home. They're probably trying to crack onto her right now.

"And it's not just those young bank workers who have their eye on your wife! Don't forget the door-to-door lottery ticket sellers. I hear he's always hanging around your place when you're away. He isn't just selling lottery tickets either; he's got to be pushing some other kind of business too!!"

The sound of laughter mixed with the clatter of rocks landing on the edge of the river and the splash of water as the rock collectors moved about through the river. A teak leaf jumped from a branch and sailed down to land on the surface of the river and impelled by the breeze began to move upstream opposing the current. Further up the river, three women were preparing to cross the river on their way home again from market. The rock collectors fell silent, entertained by the sight of the women gathering up their sarongs.

Karyamin sat on the ground stunned, staring at his empty dishevelled baskets, the gently-blowing breeze bringing goose bumps to his arms even though the sun was already starting to become hot. Then the same kingfisher again flew past just overhead. Karyamin was about to curse it when suddenly stars began to fill his eyes and a roar like the roar of swarming bees filled his eyes, and he could hear his empty stomach rumbling full of nothing but wind. Everything in front of Karyamin turned yellow, bathed in bright sparkling light.

Karyamin's friends, meanwhile, had begun guffawing about the women crossing the river. They had seen something wonderful or something which could make them forget, even if just for a moment, the pain of their fingers made sore by scratching over the rocky riverbed, forget the rock trader who had not been seen for a fortnight Ð since disappearing with a truckload of their rocks unpaid-for -, forget the woman who sold packets of peanut-flavoured pecel salad and boiled rice wrapped in banana leaves who would turn up in the afternoon asking to be paid, forget the lottery tickets which, not for want of trying, they never won.

"Min!" Sarji called out, "where's your tongue? Take a look at those big white fish. They're as big as thighs!"

They all laughed again. The rock collectors really did find some happiness in laughing at each other. But this time Karyamin didn't join in the laughter; he settled on a smile. They could all laugh and smile together. That, all accepted, was their ultimate defence, a symbol of their victory over the traders, over the low price of rocks, over the slipperiness of the steep climb up the river bank. That morning too Karyamin's smile was a sign of his victory - over his biting stomach and his blinding star-filled eyes.

Karyamin had succeeded in creating an illusory paradise of victory by laughing and smiling in the face of his fate. The strange thing this was that he felt so annoyed by the kingfisher which was flying back and forwards overhead. For a moment he wanted to grab his bamboo pole and hit the bird but suddenly he changed his mind. He realized that he would never be able to do it with all these stars swirling in front of his face.

So Karyamin just smiled and stood up, even though his head was still pounding and the sky still seemed to be spinning. He picked up his baskets and his pole and began to climb the bank again, smiling wryly as he noticed that he was stepping though the depression he had made in the earth where he had fallen over a few moments ago. At the top of the bank he stood for a moment, startled by the sight of the pile of rocks which didn't yet amount to even one quarter of a cubic meter. Even so he had to head home. Under a waru tree Saidah had laid out her food for sale, rice and pecel salad. Karyamin swallowed and felt a knot form in his stomach.

"Going home so early, Min?" asked Saidah. "Not feeling well?"

Karyamin shook his head and smiled. Saidah noticed that his lips were quite blue, that the palms of his hands were pale, and, when he got a little closer, that his stomach seemed to be making a noise.

"Have something to eat, Min."

"No. Something to drink will be fine. Just take a look at how little you have to sell, and anyway... I already owe you enough as it is."

"Yes, yes, Min. But you're hungry, aren't you?" asked Saidah.

Karyamin just smiled, and took the class of boiled water that Saidah held out. A warm comforting feeling swept over his throat and down through his stomach.

"Won't you have something to eat, Min? I can't stand to see someone hungry. I don't mind waiting for the money. I can wait till the rock trader turns up. He hasn't paid for your rocks yet, has he?"

The kingfisher once again flashed past singing. Realizing that it was probably only searching for food for its babies, tucked away in a nest somewhere, Karyamin no longer felt hatred towards the bird. He pictured the bird's chicks, huddled weakly in a nest which the bird had built in some sheltered ledge in the side of a cliff. The breeze began to blow again and teak leaves began to swirl through the air, several gliding down to land on the surface of the water. Compelled by the wind, the leaves always struggled upstream against the current.

"So you really won't have anything to eat, Min?" asked Saidah, as Karyamin stood up.

"No. If you can't stand to see me hungry, well I can't stand to watch all your stock disappear with me and the others not being able to pay," replied Karyamin.

"Yes, yes, Min. But... "

Saidah didn't go on because Karyamin was already walking away. But she did catch sight of him turn and look back at her; she noticed him smile. Saidah smiled back, and swallowed worriedly. Something had stuck in her throat and she couldn't make it go down. She watched Karyamin as he made his way along the narrow paths which wound through the shrubbery along the river basin. Karyamin's friends called out to him jovial obscenities but Karyamin only stopped the one time, turning and beaming back towards them a large smile.

Before heading up out of the river basin, Karyamin caught sight of something moving on a small branch overhanging the water. Oh, the kingfisher again, shiny blue back, clean white chest, and sago-red beak. Suddenly the bird dived down plunging into the water. Then with its victim in its beak it darted past the rock collectors, rose to avoid a clump of tall reeds and vanished behind a cluster of pandanus grass. Karyamin felt a sense of jealousy towards the bird. But as he looked at his two empty baskets he could only smile.

Karyamin did not have the first idea why he was going home; there wasn't anything there that was going to stop the gurgling noise in his stomach. There was also no point his wife worrying. Oh yes, Karyamin remembered, his wife was a good reason to go home. Last night his wife had not been able to sleep because of a boil right on the top of her backside. "So what's wrong if I go home to look after my sick wife," he thought.

Karyamin tried to walk a little faster even though sometimes he suddenly felt dizziness and a sea of stars would swim in front of his eyes. As soon as he got to the other side of the bamboo bridge, Karyamin noticed a ripe water apple. He wanted to pick it off the tree but then changed his mind when he noticed bat bite marks. He also saw salak fruit scattered on the ground under a salak tree. He picked one from the tree, took a bite, then hurled it away as far as he could; the dry-bitter sourness of an unripe salak fruit tasted like poison on his tongue. Karyamin continued. His ears rang as he went up a small slope but he didn't worry about it; this was the hill leading up to his house.

Before he reached the top of the slope he stopped suddenly. Two bicycles were parked at the front of his house. The ringing in his ears seemed to be getting louder; he seemed to be feeling dizzier. So he stopped completely still, and stared. He thought of his sick wife having to deal with the two debt collectors from the bank. Karyamin knew that she didn't have the money to make today's payments, or tomorrow's, or the next days, or whenever's - just as he had no idea when the rock trader who a month ago had taken their rocks was going to show up.

Stars still swimming before his face, Karyamin began to wonder whether coming home was a good idea. He knew that there was nothing he would be able to do, nothing he could do to help his wife handle the two debt collectors. Karyamin slowly turned around, ready to head back down the hill, but coming up behind him Karyamin saw a man wearing a long-sleeved batik-patterned shirt. The worn out reddish fez atop the man's head convinced Karyamin that the man was the village secretary.

"Now I've finally caught you, Min. I've been calling in all morning looking for you but you've been out. Then I looked at the river, but you weren't there. You're not trying to avoid me now, are you?"

"Avoid you?" replied Karyamin.

"Yes, you are being very difficult, Min. In this area you're the only one who hasn't contributed. You are the only one who hasn't put anything into the Africa Relief Fund, to help starving people in Africa. Now today is the last day. I won't put up with any more silly business."

Karyamin could hear the sound of his own breathing, quietly, and also the rhythmic throb of his own heart beat, but he couldn't see the smile that began to creep across his lips. He smiled widely, deeply aware of his own condition, and the situation which was now staring him in the face. Sadly, however, the village secretary took Karyamin's smile the wrong way and began to become angry.

"Are you laughing at me, Min?"

"No, sir, sure I'm not," answered Karyamin.

"Then what's that smirk all about? Come on, hurry up and hand over your contribution to the fund."

But this time Karyamin did not just smile - he began to laugh out loud. He laughed so hard in fact that it re-ignited the roaring bee-hive-hum in his ears and the world in front of him melted into a sea of swirling stars. His stomach began to heave, throwing him off balance. Seeing Karyamin stumble and begin to fall down the embankment back towards the valley, the village secretary tried to catch Karyamin. Unfortunately he failed.

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April 08, 2008

Raising awareness through poetry

Fikar W. Eda: Raising awareness through poetry
by Oyos Saroso H.N

"Berbilah-bilah rencong/dengan sarung dan tangkai berkilap/tak lupa kami selipkan/pertanda /martabat/dan keagungan/betapa pedih hati kami/dari Jakarta/kalian hujamkan mata rencong itu/tepat di jantung kami*" (Blades of rencong/with their shiny sheaths and handles/we do not forget to put on/as a sign/of dignity and greatness/how our hearts bleed/from Jakarta/you stab the rencong/right into our hearts.)

The poem is among Acehnese poet Fikar W. Eda's favorites and he regularly reads it at events across the country.

Aside from "Rencong", Fikar is noted for other works like "Seperti Belanda" (Like the Dutch, 1996), which dwells on the "greed" of Jakarta.

Both "Seperti Belanda" and "Rencong" point out the sadness felt by many Acehenese for what they see as the unjust and arbitrary treatment of the Indonesian government.

Aceh experienced almost three decades of bloody conflict which ended only when the government signed a peace deal with the Free Aceh Movement rebels.

Fikar, like many other Acehnese artists, always associates Jakarta with Indonesia and points out that the rencong, which looks like a kris but is a traditional Acehnese dagger with a curved handle, is not merely a weapon but also signifies dignity.

Fikar's excellent stage act captivates his audience and he usually enjoys a big applause after reading these two poems.

The 42-year-old is part of an art movement waged by the Acehnese against the arbitrariness of the perceived ruler.

With his poems, Fikar serves as the "spokesman" of the Acehenese, who for many years suffered while the province's natural wealth continued to be extracted and taken out of the region while only a small portion was enjoyed by the Acehenese.

"When people were afraid of writing about human rights violations in Aceh during the New Order times, I wrote about Soeharto's policies in my poems," he said. "I aroused the awareness of people through poetry."

"Even when Soeharto no longer exists, people's awareness must continue to be aroused so that human rights violations will never be simply forgotten," said the native of Takengon in Aceh.
Aceh can boast a long history of literature and resistance.

Between the 17th century, when Europeans began to occupy the region, dubbed as the Veranda of Mecca, up to the 19th century, the Acehnese put up resistance.

The resistance by the Acehnese against the colonial powers can be seen in Acehnese poems of the past. The most famous verse in this respect is "Hikayat Prang Sabil" (Chronicles of the Holy War) written by Teungku Chik Pantee Kulu during his voyage from Jeddah to Pinang Island after completing his haj pilgrimage. The verse was later given to Teungku Chik Di Tiro in Sigli, Aceh.

In the 14th century, when the Portuguese attacked Aceh, "Hikayat Prang Paringgi" (Tale of Paringgi War) was written. The piece is a very touching poetic work arousing the spirit to go to war; it says that dying in battle is to die as a martyr and this is the dowry to get an angel in heaven.

Now, many modern Acehnese poets write things related to political and security problems resulting from the long conflict with Jakarta, as can be seen in poetry collections like Aceh Mendesah dalam Nafasku (Aceh Murmuring in My Breath) and Kitab Mimpi (Book of Dreams).
Fikar, a father of three, is one of the most prominent modern Acehnese poets and is known for the aesthetic excellence of his work and his active role in various campaigns to defend the rights of Acehnese.

Noted poet Rendra praised Fikar as highly eloquent in selecting his poetic expressions and also as very selective in describing details.

"His skill in creating rhymes characteristically shows the Takengon oral tradition in his blood. This is a collection of poems written by a romantic poet swept by sorrow and concern when witnessing how his home village has been destroyed as a result of the politics of power without ethics," Rendra writes in the introduction to Fikar's poetry collection Rencong.

Aside from getting his works published in many national media, Fikar's poems have also been included in numerous anthologies, including Indonesian Poetry Anthology (Jakarta Arts Council, 1987), Seulawah Acehnese Literary Anthology (Nusantara Foundation - Aceh provincial administration, 1996) and Indonesian Poetry Anthology Volume 1 (Indonesian Literary Community, 1997).

Having completed his studies at the School of Agriculture at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, Fikar decided to make his career as a journalist.

Now working as a journalist for Serambi Indonesia daily, Fikar highlights the sorrows experienced by Aceh and its people.

Even long before the tsunami devastated Aceh back in 2004, Fikar was chairman of the Literary Commission of the Aceh Arts Council and also chairman of the Institute of Acehnese Writers (Lempa), before eventually moving to Jakarta.

Later he also led art campaigns in defense of the human rights of the Acehnese on various campuses and entertainment places in Jakarta. These campaigns involved many Indonesian poets.

Fikar also read his poems for a recording titled Puisi untuk Aceh (Poems for Aceh, Kasuha Publisher, 1999) along with Rendra, Taufiq Ismail, H. Danarto, Leon Agusta, Sanggar Deavies and Sanggar Matahari.

"We read poems in cafes along with some Indonesia's noted poets. The money raised was donated for the Acehnese," Fikar said.

Post-tsunami rebuilding of art and culture in Aceh, Fikar said, is not easy as many traditional and modern artists from the province lost their lives in the disaster.

"Luckily Aceh is not rich only in oil. Aceh is also rich in the young generation of artists, who continue their creative process. They are the cultural assets of Aceh. They are the future of Aceh's art and culture," said Fikar.

Fikar, also the chairman of the Forum of Indonesian Authors, said his activities as a poet and as a human rights activists had never disturbed his profession as a journalist.

"A poet who is also an activist and a journalist is actually richer than a poet whose activities are confined to the literary world only. As a journalist and an activist, I can get more information. Then I process all these experiences into poems that will later become public property."

Regarding his activities in the human rights movement for Aceh, Fikar said that as an Acehnese now living in Jakarta, he could not just sit idly by witnessing the destruction of his home.

"I continue to establish contact with my friends in Aceh and in other regions in Indonesia. The point is that we would like to see the re-awakening of Aceh," he said.

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Chairil Anwar

Chairil Anwar: Poet of a Generation

by Tinuk Yampolsky

Chairil Anwar: every Indonesian schoolchild knows his name. For this poet was one of the famed figures of the “1945 Generation,” that group of luminaries who brought heat and light to Indonesian literature in the formative years of the new nation.

Through his poetry, Chairil Anwar succeeded in infusing Indonesian verse with a new spirit and bringing a new enthusiasm to Indonesia’s cultural arena. He also provided friends and acquaintances with never-ending tales to tell of his personal eccentricities, including his hobby of stealing books from the shops, his tendency to plagiarize from foreign poets, his many lovers, his numerous ailments, and his bohemian lifestyle.

Born on July 22, 1922 in Medan, North Sumara, Chairil attended the Hollands Inlandsche School (HIS), a Dutch elementary school for “natives.” He then continued his education at the Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs, a Dutch junior high school, but he dropped out before graduating. At the age of nineteen, after the divorce of his parents, Chairil moved with his mother to Jakarta where he came in contact with the literary world. Despite his unfinished education, Chairil had an active command of English, Dutch and German, and he filled his hours by reading an international selection of authors, including Rainer M. Rilke, W.H. Auden, Archibald MacLeish, H. Marsman, J. Slaurhoff and Edgar du Perron. These writers became his references, directly influencing his own poetry and later helping him shift the gaze of Indonesian literature to fall upon Europe. This westward turn was one of the major differences between Chairil’s “1945 Generation” peers and the previous cohort of Indonesian writers, the “New Authors Generation” of the 1930s, who were more oriented toward traditional verse forms. Chairil’s poetry was not only topically fresh, it struggled with individual and existential issues, in contrast to the writers of the “New Authors Generation” who were more concerned with giving voice to nationalist enthusiasm.

Chairil began to gain recognition as a poet with the publication of “Nisan” (“Gravestone”) in 1942. At that time, he was only twenty years old. He had apparently been shocked by the death of his grandmother, which awakened him to the fact that death could at any moment tear one away from life. Most of the poems he wrote after this point referred, at least implicitly, to this awareness of death. All of his poems—the originals, the adaptations and those suspected of being plagiarisms—have been collected in three books: Deru Campur Debu (“Roar Mixed with Dust,” 1949); Kerikil Tajam Yang Terampas dan Yang Putus (“Sharp Pebbles The Seized and the Severed,” 1949); and Tiga Menguak Takdir (“Three Tear Open Fate,” 1950, a collection of poems with Asrul Sani and Rivai Apin).

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The Girl From the Coast (2)



Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Novel

Beautiful and poignant, THE GIRL FROM THE COAST is another brilliant examination of Javanese culture by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Illustrating a spectrum of Indonesian religion, traditions, gender roles, and socio-economics, the novel's style is as poetic as its story is frustrating. This delicate balance of politics, social criticism, history, and artistry is what has made Toer a likely and favored candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In THE GIRL FROM THE COAST, a powerful member of the aristocracy spots a young village girl, and she is soon married to him in a ceremony that he does not even attend. And so the girl from the coast must travel inland to the city, leaving all she knows and loves behind her, to become the latest "practice" wife for the Bendoro. This move is not only a physical one; it challenges her understanding of her culture and her very identity. Throughout the novel, the unnamed girl continues to identify herself as a poor village girl from the coast (even when surrounded by servants and riches) and longs for the familiar beaches and salty sea air. During her time with the Bendoro, the girl learns much about the inequalities present in society, the effects of colonialism, and the status of women. Her two servants (one old and wise and one young and deceitful) also teach her much and arm her with survival skills. They help her, each in their own way, to see the need to stand up for herself in the face of oppression. Forced to make a final, heart-wrenching decision, the girl eventually returns home to her fishing village but finds her marriage has altered her forever.

The Bendoro himself, an intimidating figure, remains, for the most part, in the shadowy background of the book. The women and the villagers in the story, those thought to be weak, uneducated and unenlightened by the aristocracy and Dutch colonialists, are at the fore of the story. Although she remains nameless in the novel, the girl exhibits a strength of spirit that should place her alongside the most admired fictional heroines in world literature. The naïve yet strong-willed girl makes an interesting transformation in the novel: she gains knowledge and faces devastating realities but remains constant in her values and desires. She is a perfect vehicle for Toer's politics. She is "every" person, representative of Java's traditions and pre-colonial history, and she is confronted with troubling modern situations. The girl from the coast is heroic in her ability to maintain her moral center in the face of adversity. Her two servants also represent certain Indonesian responses to socio-cultural and gender inequalities. All three women are victims yet all three rise above their victimization.

This emotional tale is deceptively simple: the rich history and landscape of Java surge against the economical use of words and the sparseness of the action. THE GIRL FROM THE COAST is masterfully crafted, which is apparent even in translation. It is often dark, often witty and always thought provoking. One reading of THE GIRL FROM THE COAST is likely to inspire many trips to the bookshelf to delve into other works by Toer and nonfiction about the island of Java.
--- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
Cited from bookreporter.com

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April 07, 2008

Titis Basino


by Titis Basino

Just like that I let him leave. I listened to the steadily fading sound of his car as he drove away. The motor grew fainter and fainter until it was finally drowned out by the children’s voices. At moments like that I felt that he accepted the freedom I had given him with too obvious relief.

For a while now he could live without demands from his fussy children and his immature wife. I knew his routine so well. As he came to the bend in the road past our house he would look back at the ten children lined up in front of the door. He would wave at them, but no one would wave back. They well knew that their father was not going to his office, but rather to another home, one where someone else would welcome him with that special warmth a wife reserves for greeting her husband.
The car disappeared into the distance and still the children continued to stare up the road. They seemed mesmerized, waiting there on the chance that he might turn back. I wished there were some way to make them forget these scenes more quickly.
Johan, my eldest son, was the first to break away from the group. He bore a strong physical resemblance to his father, but I was certain that he would never behave like him. He was terribly embarrassed whenever we had guests and they asked him where his dad was. He always got flustered and stammered as he tried to think up some excuse. It’s not easy for a child to speak frankly about a painful subject. It was more than he could bear to just come right out and say that his father was with his other wife.

Once or twice he actually lied, but gradually the secret became a farce. Indeed, among those friends who visited us most often our situation had become a main topic of conversation—especially for those who had, or thought they had, the most faithful husbands.

The other children remained by the door, their sober vigil finally broken when one of them pinched another and they scattered in all directions.

Each time he left I felt a terrible loneliness. It was almost as though I had a wound that left no scar. I tried not let my health deteriorate, however. There was no question about what would become of the children if I were to die. They would be taken to their father’s other wife. It was for this reason that I was careful to disguise my emotions and maintain the harmony in our home—a home without my husband. Whether or not the children understood this sacrifice I’ll never know; they were too young to express such thoughts. I simply went about life swallowing my pride with my rice.

I did not want my children to think that their mother was too weak to cope. I was determined to appear capable and intelligent in my own right. It was fairly easy for a woman who had yearned to be considered an ideal wife to maintain this charade. I had always been dependent on my husband and because of this I had worked very hard to keep him happy, albeit in vain.

The evening of my husband’s second marriage I tried to reason with him. His voice sounded so strange that I could hardly recognize it. It was as though he were a child again.

"So you married her?"

"Yes, why not?"

"Couldn’t you have stopped short of marriage? You already have one wife. I can deal with all your needs, can’t I?"

"Are you sure of that?"

"Aren’t I enough to make you happy? I’ve already given you children, an organized household, home-cooked meals, immaculate clothes, a warm and ready welcome for you and all your friends. All you’ve ever wanted I’ve given you before you’ve had to ask twice. Think about it." I droned on in my maternal tone while he remained silent, giving no response at all. "Aren’t you embarrassed in front of the children?"

"Of course, you’re right, but do I have to thank you for all these things? I don’t expect you to understand because you can’t look beyond the tremendous effort you’ve put into this marriage, which nevertheless has failed. I’m not satisfied with this life any longer. I’m tired of waiting for you to take an interest in something, like a club or anything outside of this family. Surely you must be aware that I’ve been encouraging you to do this for some time. I used to ask you to join me in some activity away from home, but you always laughed at my attempts. You seem to forget that when I fell in love with you, you were an involved and interesting woman."
"Is that the only reason you’ve taken another wife?"

"No, there are other reasons, but I don’t feel that I must itemize them for you. They would be much too painful for you to hear."

"Tell me. I want to hear them." I pushed him on this point even though he was already married and any argument was futile. I wasn’t sure why I was pursuing this questioning; it may have been just to annoy him.

"Enough, you must get the picture by now. I give you my promise that I’ll never forget our children, but I will go to her—although less frequently than I come here."
"Why does it have to be like that?" I pulled myself together and shut out my despair. Why infrequently? Why at all? It isn’t fair.

"Do you accept the fact that I go to her?"

"Why not, if it gives you pleasure?" I stared intently at his bowed head. "Do as you please, and I will remain an ideal wife."

"You are indeed the proverbial good woman."

After that night the word "her" took on a unique meaning in our conversations.
I continued to carry out all of his suggestions, whether for his benefit or mine. At the time he married her we had five children; over the years I gave birth to five more sons.

On the nights when my husband was with me and talked about "her," I listened to him with an odd mixture of patience and dejection. Deep down I begged that he would become tired of "her," but he never did. I began to be bored with his stories, and I frowned and became sullen each time he started talking about "her." Finally I learned to tune out his chatter and heard almost none of it. There are some things that simply try a person’s patience too far.

I had a lot of time after my husband took his second wife, so I joined a woman’s club in our city. I was soon appointed to the office of vice-chairperson. It wasn’t that I was all that active, but rather that I was the wife of a high official. My husband occupied an important position, and as his wife I received this sort of recognition. I bustled about here and there as a representative of our organization. I felt like a new woman. The longing I usually felt when my husband was with "her" became almost nonexistent. It was easier and easier to welcome him with a smile because I no longer felt so desperately lonely when he was away. At first he was surprised when I greeted him with such enthusiasm. Perhaps he wondered about the contrast to my earlier self-righteousness. But hadn’t it been my prerogative to be upset with him each time he left me to go to his younger wife?

Once he questioned my embracing him when he came in, and I answered that I was no less passionate than she was. I even displayed an open-mindedness by saying, "Ah, but isn’t it your right to have two, three, even four wives, if you take care of them?"

He became quiet. It appeared that my intimacy had unnerved him. I looked upon it as something normal, as a test. A husband has the right to practice polygamy, and this was a test of my tolerance for it. I devoutly believed that as a woman I was destined to accept and to protect. Had I not believed that, and also considered the fate of my children, I would merely have asked for a divorce and left him.
Sometimes as he lay asleep beside me I felt revolted looking at his bare chest with its sparse sprinkling of hair. It was loathsome to me to think that not only had I embraced him, but also in another bed another woman had caressed this same broad chest. However, moments like that quickly passed. They vanished when I heard the children stirring and heading for their morning baths. I always got up and met them at the kitchen door.

One morning one of the children announced that his shoes were worn out and that he needed a new pair. Another one asked for a school uniform. I smiled, promising to buy them next month if they were good children and studied hard. In my heart I added: Don’t you realize that your father has additional responsibilities now? He has new small mouths to feed and others for whom he must buy clothes and shoes. I kept these thoughts inside and tried to present a cheerful front. I didn’t want to burden the children with my problems. I just felt that they were too young to understand the situation so I just went my way trying to keep things running smoothly.

Then something happened that took the wind out of my sails. I don’t know if there was some invisible bond between "her" and me, but what happened was strictly by chance and not the design of either of us.

Our club was to have a convention, and as usual I was to represent our local organization. The site chosen for this convention was "her" city. She was active in the organization there and I was certain that she would attend. I was prepared for a face-to-face encounter with her. I realized that my friends who knew what to expect were watching me closely. I heard them praise the resolution with which I accepted what could only be an uncomfortable situation, but don’t think there weren’t those who derided and ridiculed me. Some said that I had no shame and little self-esteem to go into her territory like that. But their cruel gossip only went in one ear and out the other.

I came into the convention hall rather late, so I knew neither where she might be nor what her function was there. But I suspected she must be the leader. I was always the chairperson in these meetings whether in my city or in any other, and I saw no reason for it to be different this time.

When the meeting was called to order and Mrs. Hamid was elected chairperson, I assumed it was I being named. It had completely slipped my mind that she, too, was Mrs. Hamid. It was like a scene in a stage comedy, a scene where the audience failed to laugh. They fell silent as both of us began to walk toward the rostrum. Realizing the confusion, we looked at each other with mutually understanding smiles and went back to our seats.

That hall was a beehive of activity. The committee was blamed for not having organized things carefully enough. However, I sat quietly in my place in the front row. After a moment, when the hall was quiet, I heard the staccato clicking of high-heeled shoes approaching me.

"Please Madame, come to the rostrum." I heard a gentle voice and looked up into a lovely young face.

"Do you mean me?" I asked.

"Yes," was all she answered.

Somewhat reluctantly I made my way to the speaker’s platform to the accompaniment of applause. "Why do they applaud me?" I wondered. Possibly this rather impressive reception was a joke or possibly it was praise for her graciousness in handing over the chairpersonship of the meeting to me.

Nevertheless, the applause had a special meaning for me. It was like a rousing chorus in recognition of all the agony and sacrifice I had suffered in the name of respectability. It seemed to say that my rejection deserved to be acknowledged and now I was being vindicated by the very one who had been the cause of my misery. I appreciated her where I had once feared her. Had I met her earlier I would have been impressed with her cunning at capturing a husband; now I was impressed with the graceful manner in which she protected her rival’s feelings.

Everything had turned out for the best. I was now much more content when he went to her, because I was convinced that she was no less dedicated to making him happy than I was. She also had a right to a husband, even though fate had decreed that he also be mine.

cited from http://www.aasianst.org/EAA/her.htm

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April 03, 2008

Hamid Jabbar (2)

Golden Cow
translated by A. Rahim Jabbar

weaving roots of agricultural lands are continuously maturing sprouts that are germinating endlessly growing stems then growing branches then growing twigs then thickening the foliage then yielding fruits of interests that are continuously growing various industries from down-streams to up-streams down to phantom industries fertilizing the fertilization of capitals that are continuously growing and enlarging to feed growing monopolizing conglomerates that keep executing acquisitions to mount up heaping profits for gigantic business octopuses piling up continents within the clutch of the power of value added that keep adding values oh, oh just like the muzzles of cannons belonging to the economic commanders in chief that are bombing the army commanders that are borrowing the detained technology commanders that are caressing the commanders for information communication to silently pick the galaxies so deeply attached to the universe into boundary-less boundaries closing down this opening up that like this like that in the cultivation of the cattle of this civilization’s desires!

then as the shepherds of the civilization’s cattle they appoint themselves to become purely un-revise-able Machiavellian! do not be half-hearted doing things halfway, if you would like to take part in this theatre! all are already available within the arena with boundary-less boundaries as the masticating cows ruminate intensively adding on top of being dairy cows then squeeze out to milk capital enthusiastically then as the sacred cows worship cow-ish capital day in day out then as the sacrificed cows then sacrifice anything and everything then as the shepherds sacrifice anything and everything cows or non-cows who cares not being choosy this cow that cow since cow is cow and sacrifice is sacrifice and anybody or everybody it is just the same in the waves of trading market for meat the most important ones are the butchers above all other butchers all the laborers working on bones all weighing selling everything on big sales in the mass ranching industries that are the most devilish although having to fertilize the capital cows with cow shits in order that to grow anything and everything for pretentious development then manure the capital cows with cow bellows which will grow unequally all average equalization balances then manure capital cows with cow dealing in such ways that crisscross all the fluctuating graphs of ones’ prices of self-respect then manure capital cows with cow race so that credits and sickles reap all patents on all basic human rights under the heels of cow-ish-ness that sweep each and every stock in the capital markets that are gangga river for the true capitalists that muddy the estuary of all rivers that are flowing miserably surging the barongsai * cows on all shepherding fields for all bond-slaves that are the most golden cows being packed sparklingly masticating and ruminating this civilization!

the accumulation of this cow-ish capital
finally reaches the procession of
the permanent distribution of dividends
into magical mystical rite that is most packed
the worshipping of idol
the golden cow!

* barongsai = dancing dragon dance

Sapi (K) Emas
arus akar tanah pertanian terus memupuk kecambah merayap terus tumbuh batang terus kembang cabang terus tambah bertambah ranting terus merimbun daun pun berbuah bunga bank memupuk laba terus tumbuh kembang industri rupa-rupa hingga industri pura-pura memupuk pemupukan modal terus tumbuh kembang konglomerasi monopoli tumpuk menumpuk terus aku-isasi tumpuk laba menggunung laba-laba gurita raksa-sa memupuk tumpuk benua benua dalam genggaman kekuatan nilai tambah tambah tambah tambah bernila-i ai ai belalai meriam sang panglima ekonomi ngebom panglima tentara ngebon panglima teknologi ai mem-belai panglima komunikasi informasi memetik sunyi galaksi galaksi begitu dalam dalam ke dalam batasan batasan tanpa batasan menutup membuka ini itu begini begitu pembudidayaan sapi ternak segala kehendak peradaban ini!

maka sebagai penggembala sapi ternak peradaban ini angkat diri menjadi machiavelli murni tak kenal revisi! jangan tanggung-tanggung kalau mau ikut manggung! segalanya telah tersedia di lahan batasan batasan tanpa batasan sebagai sapi pemamah biak memamah biaklah tambah bertambah sebagai sapi perah maka perahlah modal penuh gairah sebagai sapi suci sembahlah modal sapi sepanjang hari sebagai sapi korban maka korban-kanlah apa saja segalanya maka sebagai penggembala korbankanlah apa saja segalanya sapi tak sapi tak peduli tak pilih-pilih sapi ini sapi itu tersebab sapi adalah sapi dan korban adalah korban dan siapa saja sama saja di gelombang pasar dagang daging yang penting jagal sungguh segala tukang segala tulang segala timbang juallah jual obral dalam peternakan industri massal yang maha dajjal ini mesti pupuk sapi modal dengan tahi sapi hingga tumbuh kembang segala rupa apa saja pembangunan pura-pura maka pupuk sapi modal dengan lenguh sapi hingga tumbuh timpang segala neraca pemerataan rata-rata maka pupuk sapi modal dengan dagang sapi hingga lintang pukang segala grafik fluktuasi harga diri maka pupuk sapi modal dengan karapan sapi hingga kredit-clurit memanen segala hak paten atas segala hak asasi manusia di atas hak sepatu kesapian sapu bersih semua saham di pasar modal yang sungai gangganya para pemupuk teguh keruh muara segala sungai yang arus sangsai menggelombangkan sapi barongsai di segala padang padang penggembalaan para budak belian yang paling sapi emas kemas cemerlang memamah biak peradaban ini!

akumulasi modal kesapian ini
ternyata sampai juga pada prosesi
pembagian deviden secara permanen
ke dalam ritus magis mistis paling kemas
penyembahan berhala
sapi emas!

Jakarta, 1992/1993

Good Bye, Enslaved Indonesian People

I am Indonesia, the land that you adore in your songs. I am
Indonesia that you trample upon with your deeds. I am
Indonesia that you caress lustfully. I am
Indonesia that you rape violently with damned hatred. I am
Indonesia that you hold onto so obsessively. I am
Indonesia that you sell out very cheaply. I am
Indonesia that put into hell through your bloody conflicts. I am
Indonesia that you deify through possessive unity. I am
Indonesia that is becoming more unbearable to endure. Admit,
you all wish to bid me farewell: “Good Bye Indonesia”. Go away,
if you really want to go. Hopefully, you might become really independent.
Truly independent!

Then, when you have really become truly independent human beings,
then and only after that, I will accept as truly Indonesian people!
And at that time I will bid farewell to you: “Good Bye the Enslaved Indonesian People!”

Jakarta, 28th October, 1999
translated by A. Rahim Jabbar

Selamat Tinggal Manusia Budak Indonesia

Akulah Indonesia yang kalian puja-puja dalam lagu. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian injak-injak dalam tingkah laku. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian elus-mulus dengan penuh birahi. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian perkosa dengan kesumat keparat. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian pertahankan begitu gila-gilaan. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian obral-gombal habis-habisan. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian persetankan dalam pertikaian. Akulah
Indonesia yang kalian pertuhankan dalam persatuan. Akulah
Indonesia yang semakin tak tertahankan untuk bertahan. Akuilah,
kalian ingin mengucapkan, “Selamat Tinggal Indonesia!” Pergilah,
kalau kalian mau pergi. Semoga kalian sungguh-sungguh merdeka. Merdekalah!

Maka kalau kalian sudah sungguh-sungguh menjadi manusia merdeka,
baru akan aku akuilah kalian sungguh-sungguh sudah menjadi manusia Indonesia!
Maka akan aku ucapkan kepada kalian, “Selamat Tinggal Manusia Budak Indonesia!”

Jakarta, 28 Oktober 1999

Read More......

Taufiq Ismail (3)

Coffee Spattering the Forest
translated by John H. McGlynn

Three million hectares
of newspaper pages
to be eaten by flames
This morning’s edition
four fingers long
two straight and even columns
unloaded from the back of a pick-up
Dawn at the printers
piled on the asphalt
put in order by the sellers
before the sun is risen
thrown into front yards
picked up by the servants
placed on the dining table
looked at in passing
while straightening one’s tie
with the wife, tidying her hair
and the children running around
a morning full of things to do
Marmelade on finger tips
and bread clutched in one hand
Crossing one’s arms
coffee spills on the reading matter
spattering three million hectares of newspaper
two immensely long columns
The fire dies, the forest smoulders

The damp newspaper is folded four times
placed in the woven hard-plastic basket
and thrown away
that very morning
at precisely thirty past seven.

Kopi Menyiram Hutan

Tiga juta hektar
Halaman surat kabar
Telah dirayapi api
Terbit pagi ini
Panjang empat jari
Dua kolom tegaklurus
Dibongkar dari pik-ap
Subuh dari percetakan
Ditumpuk atas jalan
Dibereskan agen koran
Sebelum matahari dimunculkan
Dilempar ke pekarangan
Dipungut oleh pelayan
Ditaruh di meja makan
Ditengok secara sambilan
Dasi tengah diluruskan
Rambut isteri penataan
Empat anak bersliweran
Pagi penuh kesibukan
Selai di tangan
Roti dalam panggangan
Ketika tangan bersilangan
Kopi tumpah di bacaan
Menyiram tiga juta hektar koran
Dua kolom kepanjangan
Api padam menutup hutan
Koran basah dilipat empat
Keranjang plastik anyaman
Tempat dia dibuangkan
Tepat pagi itu
Jam setengah delapan.

Waiting Is

translated by Harry Aveling
Waiting is loneliness
Waiting is poetry
Waiting is terror
Waiting is this:

A railway station
In a strange land
Night standing there
Your face and mine
Is it really happening like this?

Loneliness has black hair
Loneliness has white hair
Loneliness is a bench in a waiting room
And an old clock ticking above it

Loneliness never sleeps
Loneliness is a silent guest
Offering cigarettes

Loneliness wanders eternally
Is the roar of the city
Is the battlefield
Is death

A world of horror
Demands that you wait
Here are the tickets, an old suit-case
The journey seems never ending

Waiting is loneliness
Waiting is terror
Waiting is a riddle
Waiting is this.

Menunggu Itu

Menunggu itu sepi
Menunggu itu puisi
Menunggu itu nyeri
Menunggu itu begini:

Sebuah setasiun kereta api
Di negeri sunyi
Malam yang berdiri di sini
Ada wajahmu dan wajahku
Benarkah jadi begini?

Rambutnya hitam sepi itu
Rambutnya putih sepi itu
Sunyi adalah sebuah bangku kamar tunggu
Dan jam tua, berdetik di atas itu

Sunyi itu tak pernah tidur
Sunyi itu tamu yang bisu
Menawarkan rokok padamu

Sunyi itu mengembara ke mana
Sunyi kota gemuruh
Sunyi padang penembakan
Sunyi tulang-belulang

Sebuah dunia yang ngeri
Menyuruh orang menanti
Ada karcis, ada kopor yang tua
Perjalanan seperti tak habisnya

Menunggu itu sepi
Menunggu itu nyeri
Menunggu itu teka-teki
Menunggu itu ini.


Read More......

Taufiq Ismail (2)

Nine Sea Gulls of Tuan Yusuf
translated by Taufiq Ismail

Now imagine I was holding the fence
of Tuan Yusuf’s first grave
and had a close look of the earth
that once absorbed his corpse.
Then observe my exit from the mausoleum
visiting the next four graves with four parallel markers
no names engraved except 99 Adjectives of God.
Four remains lay parallel here
they might be Tuan Yusuf’s
ulama, field commanders
they might be from Makassar, Bugis or Banten

Now imagine a black cannon
pointing at Africa’s horizon.
Follow me stepping back three centuries
remembering the West Java battles
when Tuan Yusuf was chief commander

Listen to the Faure wind whining
coming from two oceans shaking hands
at the northernmost cape
or at the freezing South Pole

Look at the leaves drifting in autumn
around the reddish bay
whispering softly whenever colours come and go

Can we picture Tuan Yusuf the sufi
deep, zikr enveloping his soul
his thought flowed through bamboo split pens
in red and black ink
seeping into three languages

Fantasize bones of the brave one
in a coffin
sailing more than 10,000 kilometers through two oceans
the west wind slapping seven sails
at the Celebes shores threw anchor
and people sobbing, lowering Syeikh Yusuf solemnly
into Lakiung earth
close to the place where his mother Aminah
bleeding giving birth

It is burdensome for me
to draw the imaginary lines of your face
as photography did not belong to your century
no painter was ever assigned by the bureaucracy
to do your five colour acrilic portrait
but I just envision
the masculine face of a 65 years old,
penetrating and enlightening eyes
light beard, deep voice, slim physique
speaking fluent Makassar Bugis Arabic Dutch and Malay

Those Low Land people were scared of you
the Governor and managers
of the crooked VOC business
deep down respected you.
But they had to exile you to Batavia, Ceylon,
and further 10,000 kilometers to Africa
as they did not want to be distracted
collected gold coins
neatly catalogued in iron imperialist trunks

Syeikh Yusuf, what was the format and physiology
of your genius and fearlessness?

Now have a look at the fog turning into round clouds
slipping down the Table Mountain
facing two oceans

I feel autumn winds saying
you enjoy freedom today because three centuries ago
Syeikh Yusuf trampled barbed bristling weeds
and conquered forests of rattan thorns
for you

I hear zikr flows
dissolved into seven sea gulls flying
their wings rippling and singing.

Cape Town, 26 April, 1993.

Sembilan Burung Camar Tuan Yusuf

Sekarang bayangkanlah saya memegang terali kubur pertama
Tuan Yusuf,
dan memandang bekas tumpak bumi
yang pernah menating jenazahnya.
Kemudian lihat saya keluar bangunan itu,
pergi ke empat kuburan dengan empat nisan berjajar,
tiada bernama tapi berukir Asmaul Husna.
Di situ empat orang terbujur
mungkin ulama, mungkin komandan pasukan
Tuan Yusuf,
mungkin orang Makasar, Bugis atau Banten.

Kemudian bayangkan sebuah meriam bercat hitam
menunjuk cakrawala langit Afrika.
Ikutilah kini saya surut tiga abad mengingat-ingat
jalan pertempuran ketika Tuan Yusuf jadi komandan.

Dengar angin bertiup di Faure waktu itu
mungkin dari dua samudera yang bersalam-salaman
di tanjung paling ujung
mungkin juga suhu dingin dari Kutub Selatan.

Lihat dedaunan musim rontok pada dedahanan
mengitari teluk bermerahan
yang berbisik-bisik menyanyi ketika warna ganti berganti.

Dapatkah kita membayangkan
Tuan Yusuf
seorang sufi yang cendekia
zikir membalut tubuhnya karangan mengalir
melalui kalam terbuat dari sembilu bambu
dengan dawat berwarna merah dan hitam jadi buku
dalam tiga bahasa

Lantas fantasikan tulang-belulang seorang pemberani
tersusun dalam peti
berlayar lebih 10.000 kilometer lewat dua samudera
suara angin dari barat menampar-nampar tujuh layar
di pesisir Celebes buang jangkar
lalu orang-orang bertangisan menurunkan Tuan Yusuf penuh hormat
ke dalam bumi Lakiung dekat tempat
ibunya Aminah bertumpah darah melahirkannya.

Wahai sukarnya bagiku mereka-reka garis wajahmu
ya Syekh
karena rupa tuan tidak direkam dalam fotografi abad ini
tidak juga dibuatkan lukisan pesanan pemerintah
dalam potret cat akrilik lima warna
namun kubayangkan sajalah kira-kira
wajah seorang sangat jantan, 65, bermata tajam,
bernafas ikhlas berjanggut tipis bersuara dalam bertubuh langsing
berbahasa fasih Makasar Bugis Arab Belanda dan Melayu.

Orang-orang Tanah Rendah itu takut pada Tuan.
Dan sebenarnya di lubuk hati Gubernur
dan manajer-manajer maskapai dagang VOC
yang gemar menyalakan meriam dan mesiu itu
mereka kagum pada Tuan.
Tapi mereka mesti membuang Tuan ke Batavia, Ceylon,
lalu 10.000 kilometer ke benua ini?
karena mereka tak mau tergaduh dalam pengumpulan uang emas
disusun rapi dalam peti-peti terbuat dari kayu jati dengan bingkai besi
begitu kubaca catatan mereka.

Apa format dan fisiologi kecendekiaan dan kejantananmu ya Syekh?

Perhatikan kini kabut jadi gulung-gemulung mega,
lepas meluncur cepat dari Gunung Meja
yang memandang dua samudera.

Aku merasakan angin musim gugur bulan April berkata
kau merdeka hari ini karena tiga abad lalu
Syekh Yusuf?
telah membabat hutan rotan dan menyibakkan ilalang berduri untukmu.

Aku mendengar zikir mengalir
lewat sembilan burung camar
yang sayapnya seperti berombak menyanyi.

Cape Town, 26 April 1993.

Does the Sound of Pines
for Ati
translated by Toenggoel P. Siagian
Does the sound of pines
Whistle and roar at you
Do you hear for one fleeting moment
The rustling of leaves coming loose

The lines of blue hills
Break out into a melody
Banks and ranks of cloud
Sparkle like gold jewelry

Does the sound of pines
Whistle and roar at you
Do the wide oceans of corn
Churn those waves of sound.


Adakah Suara Cemara

buat Ati

Adakah suara cemara
Mendesing menderu padamu
Adakah melintas sepintas
Gemersik dedaunan lepas

Deretan bukit-bukit biru
Menyeru lagu itu
Gugusan mega
Ialah hiasan kencana

Adakah suara cemara
Mendesing menderu padamu
Adakah lautan ladang jagung
Mengombakkan suara itu


Read More......

Joko Pinurbo (2)

Trousers (2)

In our childhood, the teachers in our schools
Often told us to draw a nice and decent kind
Of trousers, but they never taught us to draw
The thing inside the trousers
So then we become nice kids but cowards,
Frightened of our own destiny.
Because we are cowards, we used to sneak up in
The toilets, making pornographic drawings on the wall,
Until we became adults who enjoyed violating ourselves.

After we got old and exhausted, we are able to fantasize
About the thing inside the trousers:
It is a tiny-insurgent-fierce king
It is an old-sleepy philosopher contemplating upon
the secret of the universe
It is a volcano full of magma
It is an embryo cave that sometimes visited
By preachers and sinners.

Rumors said, after sailing around the world, Columbus
Finally found a new continent inside his trousers
And Stephen Hawking meditates devoutly there.

translated by Nikmah Sarjono

Celana (2)

Ketika sekolah kami sering disuruh menggambar
Celana yang bagus dan sopan, tapi tak pernah
Diajar melukis seluk-beluk yang di dalam celana
Sehingga kami tumbuh menjadi anak-anak manis
Yang penakut dan pengecut, bahkan terhadap
Nasibnya sendiri.

Karena itu kami suka usil dan sembunyi-sembunyi
Membuat coretan dan gambar porno di tembok
Kamar mandi, sehingga kami pun terbiasa menjadi
Orang-orang yang suka cabul terhadap diri sendiri.

Setelah loyo dan jompo, kami mulai bisa berfantasi
Tentang hal-ihwal yang di dalam celana:
Ada raja kecil yang galak dan suka
Ada filsuf tua yang terkantuk-kantuk
Merenungi rahasia alam semesta
Ada gunung berapi yang menyimpan
Sejuta magma
Ada juga gua garba yang diziarahi
Para pendosa dan pendo’a.

Konon, setelah berlayar mengelilingi bumi, Columbus pun
Akhirnya menemukan sebuah benua baru di dalam celana
Dan Stephen Hawking khusyuk bertapa di sana.



When I was about to take a bath, suddenly from behind
The door, came out a beautiful lady in a white dress
She pointed a knife onto my neck,
“Choose: Love or Death?!” she threatens,

“Give me a chance to take a bath first, woman,” I cried,

“So that I can wash away my sins. After that,
I am yours to rape,”

As I finished taking a bath, that woman disappeared
I walked home suspiciously; what if she ambushed me
On my way home?

What have I done wrong? I’ve never hurt a woman
Except the day when I was born.

When I was about to go to bed, suddenly from behind
The door, came out a ball-headed lady in a white dress
She pointed a knife onto my neck,
“Choose: Rape or Kill?!” she threated me
I was panic, I answered without thinking:
“I choose OR!”

She laughed, “You smart kid,” she said.
Then she kissed my neck, “Sleep gently, my love-sorrow,
I’ll be back in your dreams”

translated by Nikmah Sarjono

Ketika saya akan masuk ke kamar mandi, dari balik pintu
tiba-tiba muncul perempuan cantik bergaun putih
menodongkan pisau ke leher saya.
"Pilih cinta atau nyawa?" ia mengancam.

"Beri saya kesempatan mandi dulu, Perempuan,"
saya menghiba, "supaya saya bersih dari dosa.
Setelah itu, perkosalah saya."

Selesai saya mandi, perempuan itu menghilang
entah ke mana. Saya pun pulang dengan perasaan waswas:
jangan-jangan ia akan menghadang saya di jalan.

Apa dosa saya? Saya tidak pernah menyakiti perempuan
kecuali saat saya dilahirkan.

Ketika saya akan masuk ke kamar tidur, dari balik pintu
tiba-tiba muncul perempuan gundul bergaun putih
menodongkan pisau ke leher saya.
"Pilih perkosa atau nyawa?" ia mengancam.
Saya panik, saya jawab sembarangan: "Saya pilih atau!"

Ia mengakak. "Kau pintar," katanya. Kemudian
ia mencium leher saya dan berkata: "Tidurlah tenang
dukacintaku. Aku akan kembali ke dalam mimpi-mimpimu."


Read More......

April 02, 2008

Telaga Warna

Talaga Warna

retold by Renny Yaniar

Long long ago there was a kingdom in West Java. The kingdom was ruled by a king. People called their king His Majesty Prabu. Prabu was a kind and wise king. No wonder if that country was prosperous. There's no hunger in this kingdom.

It was a very happy condition. But it was a pity that Prabu and his queen hadn't got any children. It made the royal couple very very sad. Some old men and women who was respected by Prabu suggested the king to adopt a child. But Prabu and the queen didn't agree. "No, thank you. But for us, our own daughter or son is better than adopted children."

The queen was very sad. She often cried. That was why Prabu decided to go. He went to the jungle. There he prayed to God. Everyday he begged for a child. His dream come true. A few months later, the queen got fregnant. All people in the kingdom felt happy. They sent many presents to the palace to express their happiness.

Nine months later a princess was born. People sent their presents again as a gift to a little princess. This baby grew as a beautiful teenager then.

Prabu and Queen loved their daughter so much. They gave what ever she wanted. It made Princess a very spoiled girl. When her wish couldn't be realized, she became very angry. She even said bad things often. A true princess wouldn't do that. Eventhough the princess behaved badly, her parents loved her, so did the people in that kingdom.

Day by day, the princess grew more beautiful. No girls couldn't compare with her. In a few days, Princess would be 17 years old. So, people of that kingdom went to palace. They brought many presents for her. Their presents gift were very beautiful. Prabu collected the presents. There were really many presents. Then Prabu stored them in a building. Some times he could take them to give to his people.

Prabu only took some gold and jewels. Then she brought them to the goldsmith. "Please make a beautiful necklace for my daughter," said Prabu. "My pleasure, Your Majesty," the goldsmith replied. The goldsmith worked with all his heart and his ability. He wanted to create the most beautiful necklace in the world because he loved his princess.

The birthday came. People gathered in the palace field. When Prabu and queen appeared, people welcomed them happily. Prabu and his wife waved to their beloved people.

Cheers were louder and louder when the princess appeared with her fabulous pretty face. Everybody admired her beauty. Prabu got up from his chair. A lady gave him a small and glamourous pillow. A wonderful necklace was on it. Prabu took that necklace. "My beloved daughter, today I give this necklace to you. This necklace is a gift from people in this country. They love you so much. They presented it for you to express their happiness, because you have growing to a woman. Please, wear this necklace," said Prabu.

Princess accepted the necklace. She looked at the necklace in a glance. "I don't want to accepted it! It's ugly!" shouted the princess. Then she threw the necklace. The beautiful necklace was broken. The gold and jewels were spread out on the floor.

Everybody couldn't say anything. They never thought that their beloved princess would did that cruel thing. Nobody spoke. In their silence people heard the queen crying. Every woman felt sad and began crying too. Then everybody was crying.

Then there was a miracle. Earth was crying. Suddenly, from the under ground, a spring emerged. It made a pool of water. The palce was getting full. Soon the place became a big lake. The lake sank all of the kingdom.

Nowadays the water on that lake is not as full as before. There is only a small lake now. People called the lake "Talaga Warna". It is mean "Lake of Colour". It's located in Puncak, West Java. On a bright day, the lake is full of colour. So beautiful and amazing. These colors come from shadows of forest, plants, flowers, and sky arround the lake. But some people said that the colours are from the princess's necklace, which spreads at the bottom of the lake.

Read More......