Letter of Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin to Afonso de Albuquerque, 1516

Love and affection from Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin, ruler carrying out the commands of Almighty God, to the Governor-General at the fortress of the King of Portugal who binds all countries in his kingdom,

Be it known,

When we saw the letter from you which Giovanni brought we were filled with joy and happiness at the depth of the good relations between us. And when the Portuguese envoy arrived from Kollam or Malacca we welcomed him warmly and provided him with everything available in our country. Be assured our love for you has not wavered from the beginning until now.

After this, there arrived here one Manuel Falcão, a most immoral character.

First, when a ship arrived at Samudera from Pariaman with many people from Samudera on board, he took thirty gold dirhams. And he sold the crew and the rest were murdered.

Second, on the arrival of a ship from Bengal he took two hundred and twenty dirhams and one servant woman. Also, a cargo ship from Bengal which should have come to Samudera he commandeered to Malacca along with a great deal of cargo belonging to people from Samudera which was on board the ship.

Third, he took cargo from another ship and more people were murdered.

Fourth, he demanded from us one hundred and twenty dirhams by force and twenty items of cargo.

Fifth, he kidnapped fifty male and female servants from among the servants of the people of Samudera and shipped them to Malacca.

Sixth, he demanded from us fifty bails of pepper by force.

After this, Gaspar Machado also arrived here. He too is a very evil person.

The first thing he did was, on the arrival of a cargo ship at Samudera from Diu, he took from them two hundred dirhams by force.

Second, when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Cambay which was owned by the King of Cambay captained by ‘Ali Khan he took from them one hundred dirhams.

Third, when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Pulicut which is Nati carrying cargo owned by people from Samudera, he took one hundred dirhams from them by force and violence.

Fourth, when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Nawur that is Nati he took one hundred and twenty dirhams,

Fifth, when a ship arrived at Samudera from Barus containing a cargo belonging to the Sultan of Bengal he took one hundred quintals of tin and 4000 incenses and he sold the whole crew on this ship.

Sixth, many are the people of Samudera whose wealth he has taken by force and violence, and many are the judges and officials who have been enraged by him because of this behavior.

For these reasons, we lay before you our situation as we sincerely believe that this has not been ordered by the King of Portugal or by you. The King does not even know about the behavior of Manuel Falcão and Gaspar Machado because we are firmly convinced that the King and yourself as Governor-General do not want to damage your own port because our port is your port, and so we seek your protection.


This is an imaginative translation based on the translations of A.C.S. Peacock (2016): “Three Arabic letters from North Sumatra of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”, Indonesia and the Malay World, DOI: 10.1080/13639811.2016.1153219 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639811.2016.1153219 and Taqiyuddin Muhammad, “Naskah Surat Sultan Zainal ‘Abidin (Wafat 923 H/1518 M)” http://misykah.com/naskah-surat-sultan-zainal-abidin-wafat-923-h1518-m-2/.

Peacock (2016) writes on the various manuscripts:

“The letter from Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin IV of Samudera-Pasai, 1516–17. Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo, Lisbon. Colecção de cartas, Núcleo Antigo 891, mç. 1, n.° 59. Previous publications: Arabic text and Portuguese translation with significant differences from that presented here in dos Santos (1790: 127–30); translation only reprinted with additional notes in Alves (1999:228–30); Arabic text with a number of differences from that presented here and Indonesian translation in Muhammad (2013). Taqiyuddin Muhammad’s text is based on a poor quality image of the letter which accounts for most of the variations between his text and mine. It has not therefore usually been thought useful to record his variant readings. Help has also been provided by the Portuguese translation probably made in Malacca in 1516–17, presented in full in Appendix 1c. Although the translation is often imprecise, omitting crucial elements of the Arabic and sometimes supplementing it with additional information, it has the advantage that the translator was himself aware of the events referred to; it can therefore help clarify the frequently obscure Arabic text.”

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Accept

By Sheila on 7

What is wrong with this song?
Why do I remember you again?
It’s as if I can feel
The beat of your heart and the step of your feet
Where is this going to carry me?

You have to be able, able to accept
You have to be able, able to take the positive
Because nothing, nothing’s the same any more
Although you know, he feels it too
Aaaa aa…

On this quiet narrow road
It’s as if I can hear you sing
You know, you know
My feeling was your feeling too
You have to be able, able to accept
You have to be able, able to take the positive
Because nothing, nothing’s the same any more
Although you know, he feels it too
Where is this going to carry me?
I won’t ever know

You have to be able, able to accept
You have to be able, able to take the positive
Because nothing, nothing’s the same any more
Although you know, he feels it too
Na na na na na na…

Sending sun beams for you

Haters

Haters

By Kotak

Hey, my hater, don’t hate me
You’ll just hurt yourself
Hey, my hater, don’t spy on me
You’ll just be disappointed

I’m having a good time, enjoying my life
Why are you the one who ends up
Hurting, disturbed
Because of me?

You claim to be happy
But in reality you’ve got problems
Problems seeing, seeing
That I’m happy.. that’s your tough luck.

Hey, my hater, don’t hate me
You’re just wasting your energy
Hey, my hater, the more you hate me
The sadder you’re life becomes

I’m having a good time, enjoying my life
Why are you the one who winds up
Suffering, disturbed
Because of me?

You claim to be happy
But the reality is, you’ve got problems
Problems seeing, seeing
That I’m happy.. that’s your tough luck.

What’s wrong, see, you want your life to be difficult
Always finding fault, so you can criticize
I’m over it, wow, friends even, what’s the point?
What there is, is you’re disappointed, when I’m having fun
Criticize here, criticize there, you don’t like anything
You don’t even provide, but you’re the one who gets mad
Me, well, I don’t have a problem, but you get stressed
Always wrong, better if I just party
You hate, but I get motivated
For me it’s better, you though, are getting angrier
We’ve stopped being friends, we’re, true, not enemies?
Pull your life together, don’t you throw everything away

Claiming to be happy
But the reality is you’ve got problems
Problems seeing, seeing
That I’m happy, ohhh..

Claiming to be happy
But the reality is you’ve got problems
problems seeing, seeing
That I’m happy, that’s your tough luck

Short Story: Karyamin’s Smile

leftphotoBy 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 river rocks swinging pendulum-like from each end. The steep dirt track leading up the river bank was wet from the sweat that had dripped from Karyamin and the other workers as they 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 center of gravity for his body and the load either on the right, or on the left foot, and if he shifted it very carefully from one foot to the other. He had also learned that to maintain his balance he had to concentrate on each breath and every movement of his arms.

        Even so, Karyamin had slipped over twice that morning, collapsing in a heap and tumbling back down the trail followed by the rocks disgorging from his disheveled baskets. Every time Karyamin’s fellow rock collectors had doubled up in fits of laughter, pleased for the amusement that could be extracted from laughing at one another. 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. The tension was visible on his face, sweat covered his body and poured through his shorts. Ridged veins bulged from his neck under the strain of the 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 damn 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 across the front of Karyamin’s face.

        “Damn!” cried Karyamin, feeling his balance begin to slip. He tottered momentarily, and then, collapsed, onto the ground surrounded by the clatter of his two baskets of disgorging rocks. Beginning to slide backward down the slope, Karyamin pulled himself to a halt by grasping handfuls of grass. Four or five of Karyamin’s friends laughed together; the rock collectors pleased they could find some happiness in laughing at themselves.

        “Haven’t you had enough, Min? Go home,” urged Sarji, quietly jealous of Karyamin’s fulsome young wife.  “Your heart isn’t in it, you’ve been daydreaming all morning.

        “And it’s dangerous leaving that wife of yours 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, go home. They’re probably trying to chat her up right now.

        “And it’s not just those young bank workers who have their eyes on your wife! Don’t forget the door-to-door lottery ticket hawker. 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 intermingled with the clatter of rocks landing on the edge of the river and the splash of water as the rock collectors moved around through the river. One large teak tree leaf lept from a branch and sailed down to land on the surface of the river. Impelled by the breeze, it began to move upstream in opposition to the current. Further up the river, three women were preparing to cross on their way back home from the 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 disheveled baskets, the gentle breeze bringing goosebumps to his arms even though the sun was already starting to become hot. Then the same kingfisher again flew past just above his head. Karyamin was about to curse it but stars suddenly began to fill his eyes and a roar like the roar of swarming bees filled his ears, and he could hear his empty stomach rumbling full of nothing but wind. Everything in front of Karyamin turned yellow, bathed in bright dazzling light.

        Karyamin’s friends meanwhile had started guffawing about the women crossing the river. They had seen something wonderful, or something with the power to induce them to forget, even if just for a moment, the pain in their fingers made sore by scratching over the rocky riverbed; forget the rock trader who they had not seen for a fortnight after vanishing with a truckload of their rock, unpaid for; forget the woman selling packets of peanut-flavored pecel salad and boiled rice wrapped in banana leaves who were going to arrive 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!”

        Everyone laughed again. The rock collectors really did find some joy 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 defense, a symbol of their victory over the traders, over the low price of rock, over the slipperiness of the steep climb up the river bank. That morning too, Karyamin’s smile was a sign of his victory; victory over his gnawing 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 was, he felt so annoyed by the kingfisher flying back and forth over his head. 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 that with all these stars swirling in front of his face.

        So Karyamin just smiled and got to his feet even though his head was still pounding, and the sky still seemed to be spinning. He picked up his baskets, then his pole, and then set to climb the bank again smiling wryly as he noticed he was stepping through the depression he had made in the earth where he had fallen a few moments earlier. At the top of the bank, he stood for a moment, startled by the sight of the pile of rocks that didn’t yet amount to even a quarter of a cubic meter. Even so, he had to head for home. Under a waru hibiscus, Saidah had laid out her food for sale, rice, and packets of 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, then smiled. Saidah noticed his lips were quite blue, that the palms of his hands were pale, and, as he drew slightly closer that his stomach seemed to be making a noise.

        “Have something to eat, Min.”

        “No. A drink will be fine. Just 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, then took the glass of boiled water Saidah was holding 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 shows up. He hasn’t paid for your rock 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 for the bird. He pictured the bird’s chicks huddled weakly in a nest that the bird had built in some sheltered ledge in the side of a cliff. The breeze began to blow again and teak tree leaves started to swirl through the air. Several glided 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,” he replied.

        “Yes, yes, Min. But… “

        Saidah didn’t finish because Karyamin was already walking away. But she did catch sight of him turn around and glance back at her. She noticed him smile. Saidah smiled back and swallowed anxiously. Something had stuck in her throat and she couldn’t make it go away. She watched Karyamin as he made his way along the narrow path winding through the undergrowth along the river basin. Karyamin’s friends called out friendly obscenities but he only stopped once, turning and beaming back to them a large smile.

        Before climbing up out of the river basin, Karyamin caught sight of something moving on a small branch overhanging the water. Oh, it was the Kingfisher again. Bright blue back, clean white chest, and sago-red beak. Suddenly the bird dived down plunging into the water. Then with a victim in its beak, it shot past the rock collectors, rose to avoid a clump of tall reeds and vanished behind a clump 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 any idea why he was going home. There wasn’t anything there that was going to stop the gurgling 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 hadn’t 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, although from time to time he suddenly felt dizzy and a sea of stars would swim before his eyes. As soon as he reached the other side of the bamboo bridge, he noticed a crisp, ripe water guava. He was about to pick it from the tree but changed his mind when he noticed bat bite marks. He also saw snakeskin fruit scattered on the ground below a snakeskin fruit tree. He picked one from the tree, took a bite, then threw it as far as he could. The dry-bitter sourness of the unripe snakeskin fruit tasted like poison on his tongue. Karyamin continued. His ears rang as he ascended a small slope but he didn’t worry; this was the hill leading up to his house.

        Before he reached the crest of the slope he suddenly came to a stop. Two bicycles were parked at the front of his house. The ringing in his ears seemed to be growing 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. He knew she didn’t have the money to make today’s payments, or tomorrow’s, or the next day’s, or whenever’s; just as he had no idea when the rock trader who a month ago had taken their rock would show up again.

        Stars still swam in front of his face. Karyamin started to wonder whether coming home was such a good idea. He knew there was nothing he would be able to do, nothing he could do to help his wife deal with the two debt collectors. He turned around slowly, ready to head back down the hill, but Karyamin noticed a man coming up behind him wearing a long-sleeved batik shirt. The worn out reddish fez on the man’s head convinced Karyamin that this 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?”

        “Yes, you are being very difficult, Min. In this area, you’re the only person who hasn’t made a contribution yet. You’re the only one who hasn’t put anything into the African Relief Fund to help starving people in Africa. Now, today is the last day and 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 heartbeat, but he couldn’t see the smile that began to spread over his lips. He smiled widely, deeply aware of his own condition and the situation that was now staring him in the face. Sadly, however, the Village secretary took Karyamin’s smile the wrong way and started to grow angry.

        “Are you laughing at me, Min?”

        “No, sir. Definitely not.”

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

        But this time Karyamin didn’t just smile; he began to laugh out loud. He laughed so hard in fact that it reignited the beehive hum roaring in his ears and the world slowly dissolved into a sea of swirling stars in front of him and his stomach began to heave throwing him off balance.

        Seeing Karyamin stumble and start to tumble down the embankment back towards the valley, the Village secretary tried to catch Karyamin. Unfortunately, he failed.


Karyamin’s Smile (Senyum Karyamin) was published in Kompas Daily in July 1987.

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