Category Archives: Cerpen

Short Story: Bitter Covid By Seno Gumira Ajidarma

Bitter Covid

By Seno Gumira Ajidarma

“Which one tastes bett’a, Kab, bitt’a coffee or bitt’a cofi’?”

Sukab grins from ear to ear on hearning young Jali, who has taken the opportunity to rest his motorcycle taxi at the food stall rather than continue the endless daily roar of collecting food and delivering it.

“Ain’t you workin’ because of the lockdown, Li?”

“See ‘ere, this lockdown ‘as made online fried tofu and fish dumplin’s sell like ‘ot cakes, Kab.”

“So, how comes you is still ‘angin’ aroun’ ‘ere, then?”

“One by one them regular customers is dyin’,” says Jali, taking off his baseball cap as if out of respect. “Left an’ right, front an’ back, in every ‘ouse, there is someone depar’in'”

“Depar”in’?”

“Depar”in’ this world, Cor!”

“Oh gees, yeah, sorry. So..?”

“What people who is still at home is still bein’ infected like, lookin’ for oxygen cylinders, which is real ‘ard, see. An’ if they looks ‘ealthy, like, it turns around they is still OTG anyway, infech’ted but without no symp’oms.

“‘at is the gravest of dangers, i’n’t it.”

“That is when they is the most infetchious!”

“Is that why you don’t wanna go out? Ain’t motorcycle taxis right popular jus’ now?”

“Fact is, there ain’t no orders, Kab. Ain’t jus’ the people who’s buyin’ food what’s ‘eadin’ to the gates…”

“The gates?”

“Oh, Sukab! Headin’ to them pearly gates, ‘ken ‘ell!”

“Ah! Snuffin’ it! Look yous keep changin’, see!

“Yeah, not jus’ the buyers even. Plen’y of sellers it is ‘ho ‘as also shuff’led off…”

“Shuffled off? You mean croaked it again, right?”

“Yaapp! Now you knows, ok, why I been sittin’ ‘ere playin’ chess, rather ‘an run aroun’ all confused like, ‘n all not knowin’ what I outta be doin’?”

Yati shouts as she holds out a packed of fried catfish and peanut sauce. “What the hell! Deliver this. And fast. Then get straight back ‘ere, ok? It all ain’t no use neither that people sellin’ food is shippin’ out…”

“Shippin’ out? Dyin’ too?”

“Hey, stup’id, the importan’ thing is I don’t wants no one who is still ‘ealthy dyin’ o’ ‘unger, right…”

Jali grabs the packet and climbs straight onto his motorcycle like a cowboy climbing up onto his horse.

The stall was quiet again then, though the motorcycle taxis are still queuing. Waiting for Yati’s food packets. With all the constant coming and going, Sukab gets to thinking. “With being right at the bottom sure is lucky we is still making a little somethin’.”

“It may be goin’ all right,” he thinks, “but the worst thing is, Christ, the lives…”

“If there is a collapse, like, you’re gonna collapse too…,” says Yati, who has joined every type of online groups. WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Twi’er. They are all confusing people and making them panic, even if they aren’t wrong.

“The ambulance drivers are all exhausted. The grave diggers feels likes they ain’t got no hands left. The preachers is all praying 24 hours a day. The  doctors is havin’ to pick from dozens of dyin’ patients layin’ all around the place in the emergency tents. Then there’s the health workers, helpin’ theirselves to the vaccines… What else is it if it ain’t a collapse… a break down, a crash…,” says Sukab, as if he is in a sort of theater drama.

It’s true everything that was happening. At the food stall you hear every neighborhood announcement from the speakers at the mosques, the ones close by as well as the ones way off. There’s no end to the speakers wailing Inna Lillahi, etcetera and ending in the news that some body or other is going to be taken directly from the hospital to the graveyard. Bodies are being lost, bodies are being swapped, their souls flying up and not being able to say nothing to their relatives who are praying in front of the wrong body’s grave.

Yati shakes her head and just stares at her cellphone.

“It sure is like that. The people who ain’t passed are saying they’re almost goin’ crazy just because they ain’t been to the mall…”

“Pass?”

“Like, it’s everything from before: croaks, goes up to that big house, goes to them pearly gates, shuffles off, departs this world… does I really have to say dies? All right, so, passes on…”

Sukab picks up his mask and takes a mouthful of his corn coffee.

“What it’s called is running outta energy, from being a volunteer, all the worry by itself is.., just real hard…”

“But, you ain’t gonna run out, right, Kab?”

“Of what?”

“Of what you says. Of energy.”

“Gees! It ain’t not enough to just pray!” Then Sukab points to his forehead.

“Your human brain has gotta really work good, like!”

He stands, grabs his hoe and dustpan.

“Where is you goin’, Kab? Ain’t there a lockdown?”

“‘ell, who is gonna bury all them people ‘ho croaks?”

***

Pondok Ranji, Thursday 15 July 2021


 

Bitter Covid (Kopid Pait) was published in Panajournal, 15 July 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.panajournal.com/2021/07/kopid-pait)

Seno Gumira Ajidarma, born in Boston, United States, June 19, 1958. Now serves as Chancellor of the Jakarta Institute of the Arts (IKJ). Seno became better known after writing his trilogy of works on East Timor, namely Saksi Mata (collection of short stories), Jazz, Purfum, dan Insiden? (novel), and Ketika Jurnalisme Dibungkam, Sastra Harus Bicara (collection of essays). In 2014, he launched a blog called PanaJournal (www.panajournal.com) about human interest stories with a number of journalists and professionals in the field of communication. For other work by Seno Gumira Adjidarma click here.

Kopid Pait

The author’s blog is available at The World of Sukab.

Short Story: The Story of a Pair of Shorts By Idrus

The Story of a Pair of Shorts

By Idrus

Right on the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Kusno’s father bought him a pair of shorts. 1001 twill pants, Made in Italy.

Kusno’s father was politically illiterate. He didn’t know how important the attack was. He only knew that his son no longer had proper pants to wear. Everyone around the world who more or less knew about politics frowned, out of revenge, out of worry, out of anger. But Kusno’s father smiled happily that day. He had succeeded in doing something that at first he thought he wouldn’t be able to do. Buy Kusno a pair of shorts.

At the time Kusno was 14 years old. He had just finished elementary school. Now he wanted to apply for a job. And with the new pants it seemed to him that any job was open. He would prove to his father that he was a child who knew how to repay a kindness. In short the Kusno family that day rejoiced as never before. And the news of Pearl Harbor did not resonate in the slightest in the hearts of these simple people.

That’s telling the truth as it was only the big people who wanted war, the simple people only wanted peace!

But Kusno did not find a job as quickly as he thought he would. The offices knew what the attack on Pearl Harbor meant. They were not taking on any new workers either. Black clouds were gathering over the offices and through the gaps in the clouds peered the face of the angle of death.

Kusno was forced to lower his selling price, from clerk to porter, and from porter to postman. And after going up to ten offices he finally succeeded in obtaining a job, as a postman, with a salary of ten rupiahs per month.

Kusno’s father was worried. He himself was a postman. Did his son have to become a postman too? And were Kusno’s children to become postmen also? From generation to generation becoming postmen? He had never aspired to this, his family becoming a family of postmen. But like other villagers in difficult circumstances Kusno’s father remembered God: people strive but it is God who determines the outcome!

Kusno worked diligently but his 1001 twill pants were becoming faded because they were being washed so often. Every month he hoped he would be able to buy a new pair of pants, but his ten rupiahs was not even enough for food. So naturally the 1001 twill shorts had to be washed all the more often and every time they were washed, they looked all the more distressing.

All of Kusno’s thoughts were on those pants. What would happen to him if he couldn’t wear the pants anymore? Every day he prayed that God would not make it rain. And when it rained Kusno looked down at his pants as a mother looks at a child about to be sent onto the battlefield.

1001 twill. 1 multiplied by 1 is equal to 1. And what is 1 minus 1?

This is what went through Kusno’s mind as he thought about the 1001 pants. Especially as there was no money to buy soap. Even though the pants were dirty.

No, the simple people did not want war. They just wanted to live a simple life and live free from the fear that tomorrow they would not have any pants.

But the high and mighty people wanted war. One side wanted war for democracy and the other wanted it for the common prosperity of Greater East Asia.

Kusno did not know the meaning of democracy, and the expression prosperity was very interesting to him. He in fact remembered his pants. Prosperity for him was pants. And because of that he welcomed the Japanese soldiers with hugs, kisses and handshakes.

And as most of the Indonesian nation lived in the hope of independence, Kusno lived in the hope of new pants, hoped continually for three and a half years.

But like independence the pants too were unthinkable. And when Kusno gave up his hope, the 1001 pants were not like pants anymore. In places they were threadbare and what had once been white was now a blackish yellow. Because of that they were no longer fit to be worn by a postman. When Kusno summoned the courage to ask for a pair from the head of his office, he was yelled at so severely that he lost heart at once.

He arrived at the office a few days later but in the end the shame overcame the salary of ten rupiahs and he asked to resign.

Although the following days were dark for Kusno, he was now free of the shame that was etched on his face. He knew that a dark and dreadful day would befall him. But God was merciful and gracious. That was Kusno’s belief.

One day Kusno had a headache. He knew that the headache would soon go away if he could fill his stomach. For two days and two nights he ate nothing but tree leaves. It crossed his mind to sell the 1001 pants, to buy just food that was fit for humans to eat. But he quickly rejected the thought. If he sold the pants his stomach would be full for a few seconds, but after that what would he cover his nakedness with? Once also he thought about stealing someone else’s property but God said stay away from stealing. And Kusno’s family had for generations feared God, even though he had never seen him.

So that is how Kusno came to not sell the pants, to not steal, to often suffer from headaches, and to live from tree leaves. But he lived on, miserable indeed, but he lived with pride.

About the 1001 twill pants there is nothing more to say. At some point they must have disappeared from the face of the earth. And could they have disappeared from the face of this earth together with Kusno?

But be that as it may Kusno would not lose hope. He was born in misery, lived with misery. And even if his 1001 pants disappeared and became rags, Kusno would continue to fight against suffering even if only to obtain another pair of 1001 twill pants.

The only thing Kusno was not yet able to understand was why there were still always wars. Kusno felt like someone who had been sacrificed.

 


The Story of a Pair of Shorts (Kisah Sebuah Celana Pendek) was originally published in the current affairs magazine Gema Suasana, Number 1 & 2, 1 January 1948 [Retrieved from (Gema Suasana, 1948) Cerpen Idrus: Kisah Sebuah Celana Pendek https://kumpulanfiksi.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/gema-suasana-1948-cerpen-idrus-kisah-sebuah-celana-pendek/ 2 January 2022]. Reprinted in Indrus, Dari Ave Maria Ke Jalan Lain Ke Roma: [ed. Malaya, Chet. 1]. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Melayu Baru, 1963. Print.

Indonesian Translation Service - The Story of a Pair of Shorts By Idrus 1948
Indonesian Translation Service – The Story of a Pair of Shorts By Idrus 1948

Featured image credit: From Historia.id, Celana Pendek Pendiri BangsaMenteri Penerangan Amir Sjarifuddin, memakai jas kedodoran, celana pendek, sambil merokok, berpose bersama presiden Sukarno, wakil presiden Mohammad Hatta, dan para menteri kabinet pertama Republik Indonesia di halaman rumah Sukarno, di Jalan Pegangsaan Timur No. 56 Jakarta, pada 4 Oktober 1945. 

For some interesting background see: Celana Pendek dan Cerita Pendek By Deddy Arsya Jan 2018; and Shorts and Starvation by Thea Yantra Hutanamon

Short Story: Bitter Covid

Bitter Covid

By Seno Gumira Ajidarma

“Which one tastes better, Kab, bitter coffee or bitter covid?”

Sukab grinned from ear to ear hearing young Jali who had taken the opportunity to park his motorbike taxi at the food stall, instead of the usual daily roar of collecting and delivering food.

“You not working because of the lockdown, Li?”

“Look, the lockdown makes online fried tofu and fish dumplings sell real well, Kab.”

“So, why are you still hanging around here?”

“One by one the regular customers are croaking,” said Jali, taking off his baseball cap as if out of respect. “Left and right, front and back, in every house there’s someone who’s departing…”

“Departing?”

“Departing this world, gees!”

“Oh yeah, sorry. So?”

“The people who are still at home are still getting infected, searching for oxygen cylinders which is real hard, and if they look healthy, well, it turns out they’re O.T.G., infected with no symptoms.

“That’s the most dangerous, right.”

“That’s when they are most infectious!”

“That what’s making you feel like not going out? Aren’t motorbike taxis real popular right now?”

“The fact is, there ain’t any orders, Kab. It ain’t just the people buying food who’re heading to the gates…”

“The gates?”

“Oh, Sukab! Heading to the pearly gates, hell!”

“Ah! Passed away! Look you keep changing!

“Yeah, not just the buyers. Heaps of sellers have also shuffled off…”

“Shuffled off? You mean died again, right?”

“Yesss! You know now, ok, why I’m sitting here playing chess rather than running around confused not knowing what I should be doing?”

Yati shouted out as she held out a package of fried catfish and peanut sauce. “What the hell! Deliver this, and fast. Then get right back here, ok? It ain’t good neither that people selling food are shipping out…”

“Shipping out? Dying too?”

“Hey, stupid, the important thing is I do not want people who are still healthy dying of hunger…”

Jali grabbed the package and climbed straight up onto his motorbike like a cowboy climbing onto his horse.

The stall was quiet again, though the motorbike taxis were still queuing, waiting for Yati’s food packets. With all this constant coming and going, Sukab got to thinking. Being down at the bottom, it’s lucky we’re still making a little.

“It may be going all right,” he thought, “but the worst thing is, gees, the lives…”

“If there’s a collapse, well, you’re gonna collapse too…,” said Yati, who had joined all sorts of online groups, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. They were all confusing people and making them panic, even if they weren’t wrong.

“The ambulance drivers are exhausted. The grave diggers feel like they’ve got no hands left. The preachers are prayers 24 hours a day. The  doctors have to choose from dozens of dying patients scattered all around the place in the emergency tents. Then there are the health workers, helping themselves to vaccines… What else is it, if it isn’t a collapse… a break down, a crash…,” said Sukab, as if he were in some drama.

It was true everything that was happening. At the food stall, you heard every Neighborhood announcement from the speakers at the mosques, the ones close by as well as the ones a long way off. There was no end to the speakers blaring Inna Lillahi etcetera and ending in the announcement that some body was gonna be taken straight from the hospital to the graveyard. Bodies were being lost, bodies were being swapped, their souls flying up not able to say anything to the relatives who were praying in front of the wrong person’s grave.

Yati shook her head as she stared at her cellphone.

“It sure is like that. The people who haven’t passed say they’re almost going crazy just because they haven’t been to the mall…”

“Pass?”

“Well, it’s everything from before: croak, gone to the big house, gone to the pearly gates, shuffled off, departed this world… do I really have to say died? Ok, so, passed on…”

Sukab picked up his mask and took a drink of his corn coffee.

“What it’s called is running out of energy, from being a volunteer, all the worry by itself is, really very hard…”

“But, you can’t run out, right, Kab?”

“Of what?”

“Of what you said, of energy.”

“Yeah! It’s not enough to just pray!” Then Sukab pointed to his forehead.

“Your human brain has got to really work!”

He stood up, grabbed his hoe and dustpan.

“Where are you going, Kab? Isn’t there a lockdown?”

“Well, who’s going to bury the people who pass?”

***

Pondok Ranji, Thursday 15 July 2021


Bitter Covid (Kopid Pait) was published in Panajournal, 15 July 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.panajournal.com/2021/07/kopid-pait)

Seno Gumira Ajidarma, born in Boston, United States, June 19, 1958. Now serves as Chancellor of the Jakarta Institute of the Arts (IKJ). Seno became better known after writing his trilogy of works on East Timor, namely Saksi Mata (collection of short stories), Jazz, Purfum, dan Insiden? (novel), and Ketika Jurnalisme Dibungkam, Sastra Harus Bicara (collection of essays). In 2014, he launched a blog called PanaJournal (www.panajournal.com) about human interest stories with a number of journalists and professionals in the field of communication. For other work by Seno Gumira Adjidarma click here.

Kopid Pait

The author’s blog is available at The World of Sukab.

Short Story: The Laughter of the Girl from the Garbage Dump By Ahmad Tohari

The Laughter of the Girl from the Garbage Dump

By Ahmad Tohari

Korep, Carmi, and Driver Dalim are three of the many people who often visit the garbage dump on the outskirts of town. Dalim is definitely an adult, the driver of one of the yellow garbage trucks with a crew of two. He is a civil servant, and he likes to take his thick-framed glasses off, and then put back on again. Carmi is really still too young to be called a young lady. Korep is a boy with a scar from a past injury above his eye. The two of them are the youngest of the garbage scavengers among the residents of the garbage dump.

Driver Dalim is actually a garbage scavenger too. He manages his two assistants so they scavenge the best second-hand goods when the garbage is still on the truck. The instruction is given especially when his truck is transporting the garbage from the mansions on What’s It Called Street. The leather belt that Driver Dalim is wearing is also scavenged. He says it was made in France and was thrown away by its owner just because it has a small scratch. He also says most of the people living in those mansions only want to use the best things without the smallest mark whatever.

When Korep and Carmi arrive at the garbage dump the stench is not so noticeable yet. The sun’s rays are still being blocked by the trees on the eastern side so the garbage dump isn’t sizzling yet. Later just before midday the garbage dump will be boiling as the stench rises and fills the air. Driver Dalim often reminds Carmi and Korep not to hang around in the middle of the dump. “A lot of scavengers have died from sickness. Their lungs become diseased,” he says. Who knows why, but Driver Dalim feels the need to remind Carmi and Korep. He himself doesn’t know why he feels close to the two children. Maybe it’s because Korep and Carmi are the two youngest scavengers at the garbage dump.

Dozens of scavengers are already standing gathered on the south side. They are waiting for the garbage truck to arrive. A female scavenger puts a cigarette butt between her lips, then moves in and out of the others asking for a light. A hand stretches out towards her mouth. A match lights and smoke starts to unfurl. But the woman then screams. Apparently the hand of the man holding out the match has then tweaked her cheek. She chases the man and pinched his back. They wrestle. All of a sudden there appears a happy spectacle. Korep and Carmi join in the shouting. There are bursts of laughter and rowdy shouting. It becomes so noisy the sparrows foraging for food on the ground suddenly all fly away together into the air. A dog that feels disturbed disappears quickly behind a garbage excavator long since broken down, now also garbage.

Driver Dalim wheels in his truck. And in an instant the atmosphere changes. The crowd of garbage scavengers scatters. They run behind until the truck stops. The moment the rubbish is tipped out there erupts a chaotic noisy scene. Dozens of scavengers including Korep and Carmi transform into something akin to a pen of hungry chickens tossed feed, struggle, jostle each other, shove and push past each other. They scramble to scavenge through the garbage for anything at all, anything except for diapers, pads or dead rats.

Korep finds two half-rotten mangoes. Carmi has a different story. Carmi’s eyes are struck when an object falls from the back of the truck onto her head. It’s the right-hand shoe of an expensive pair of shoes of a reasonable size. Carmi picks up the shoe straight away. Oh, she often dreams of wearing shoes like this. In her dream, Carmi sees her calves are clean and large, and more beautiful because of the shoes. Carmi is really excited. Ever more excitedly she picks through the pile of garbage with her hands looking for the left shoe. Sweat runs down her forehead and cheeks but Carmi fails. So she straightens her back and looks around. Maybe the other shoe is over there. Or maybe it’s been found by one of the other scavenger. She fails again. So Carmi stops and leaves the rubbish heap. She even throws back the three plastic glasses made from used bottled-water containers she has found.

At the edge of the garbage dump she tries the shoe on her right foot. Her heart flutters again because the shoe feels so comfortable on her foot. She takes it off again, and cleans it with crumpled up newspaper. When it is a little cleaner, she puts it back on again. Carmi stands up, turns, and lifts her right foot so she can inspect carefully how the shoe looks on her foot. She really hopes that tomorrow or whenever the left shoe arrives at this garbage dump. Who knows. Yes, who knows. Can’t anything at all turn up here?

Korep comes over and straight away laughs at what his friend is doing. Carmi disapproves. She is offended, but does not want to respond to Korep’s behavior. Or Carmi’s eyes are attracted more to the two mangoes in Korep’s hands. Carmi is relieved that Korep responds. What’s more Korep does not continue talking about the shoe on her right foot.

“Let’s just eat mangoes. Come on,” Carmi suggests as she places the single lone shoe into a yellow plastic bag. Korep grins but he too is interested in Carmi’s idea. So Korep and Carmi move to the eastern side where there is a shady tropical almond tree. Korep takes out a small knife he was given by Driver Dalim. He has one mango in the left hand. In one smooth action the mango is cut open right up to the part that is rotten. Carmi stares at the freshly-cut, bright yellow surface. Carmi salivates, but then shudders as two maggots emerge from the open surface. Korep laughs, then makes another incision, deeper. This time the rotten part of the mango is completely gone. “Who says half-rotten mangoes aren’t delicious to eat, right?” says Korep offering a slice of the mango flesh that is not rotten to Carmi. “Yeah, right?” Carmi just laughs. Korep stares at Carmi’s straight teeth that are really nice to look at.

***

Every day Carmi carries a yellow plastic sack containing the right shoe. Eventually everyone finds out that the little girl is still waiting for the left shoe. They feel sorry for her. It’s almost impossible. But all the garbage scavengers promise Carmi they will help her. Driver Dalim even has a wonderful idea. He is going to instruct his truck crew of two to go to every house in What’s It Called Street. He is going to tell both of them to ask the maids, the drivers, and the gardeners there whether they know where the left-hand shoe is that Carmi is waiting for.

But Driver Dalim’s brilliant idea does not need to be put into action. A few days after Carmi discovers the right shoe, Driver Dalim is tricked by his two assistants. At the time he is driving the truck along the highway. Suddenly in front of his eyes outside the cabin window there is a left-hand shoe bobbing up and down. Obviously the shoe is tied to a long rope with the end being held by his assistants on the back of the truck. Driver Dalim immediately presses the brake. The tires screech on the surface of the asphalt road. On the back of the truck his two helpers sway and tumble forward.

Driver Dalim jumps down, taking off his glasses straight away. The truck’s crew of two also climb down. One of them handed the left shoe to Driver Dalim who then smiles broadly. Holding the handle of his glasses, he gives praise to God as many as three times.

“Where did you find it?”

“Well, in the garbage bin in front of the houses on What’s It Called Street. Forget what number it is.”

“That’s enough. Where you found the left shoe isn’t important.”

Driver Dalim stops talking because he wants to remove his glasses and put them back one again. Now he rubs his forehead, apparently thinking hard. Driver Dalim’s behavior makes his two helpers wonder. What else is he thinking about? Isn’t there only one thing left, to deliver the left shoe to Carmi?

“Later you be the one to give the shoe to Carmi.” This is Driver Dalim’s instruction to the helper wearing short pants. The person appointed glances up because he’s a little surprised.

“It would be better for you to do it, Mr. Dalim.”

“Yes right. It would be better if it were you, Mr. Dalim,” says the helper wearing trousers, supporting his friend. Driver Dalim sighs then removes his glasses. Before replacing them once more he speaks in a hushed tone.

“Look, you don’t know. The problem is, I didn’t have the heart to see Carmi the moment she receives the shoe. Carmi might jump up and down, laugh and laugh, or even scream because she is so happy. Her eyes might sparkle, or on the other hand, she might become teary. Well, just over a second-hand shoe taken from a trash can Carmi’s heart will be over joyed. I don’t have the heart to watch. It would be so hard. Do you have the heart?”

Without waiting for an answer Driver Dalim changes his mind. The left shoe will be placed beneath the tropical almond tree on the east side of the garbage dump. Carmi and Korep often rest there in the middle of the day. Everyone agrees, so Driver Dalim jumps up into the cabin with the left shoe in his hand. The two helpers climb up onto the back and the truck pulls out headed for the garbage dump.

When the sun is right over the garbage dump all the scavengers move to the four sides to arrange the results of their scavenging, placing it into sacks or tying it up with nylon rope. Carmi also moves to the side. She has found dozens of plastic glasses made from used drinking-water containers, arranging them neatly so they are easy to carry. In her left hand there is still a yellow plastic sack containing the right-hand shoe. Along with Korep who is carrying a bunch of half-rotten mangoes, Carmi heads for the eastern side towards the shade of the tropical almond tree.

When the air at the garbage dump is extremely hot, without any wind, a foul odor spreading out everywhere and the sparrows flocking in along with dogs, who then hears Carmi laughing loudly then crying hooray over and over again? Does the loud laughing sound like the outpouring of overwhelming joy that is heart warming?

The people who hear Carmi’s laughing are the dozens of garbage scavengers in the garbage dump. And it is only they who can really understand and fully appreciate the laughter of the young scavenger girl. So look, the scavengers stand up and smile when they watch Carmi and Korep leave the garbage dump. Carmi laughs, of course because there is a pair of shoes on her feet. But where could the two garbage scavengers be going? Everyone at the garbage dump knows that Carmi and Korep don’t have a home to go to. (*)


The Laughter of the Girl from the Garbage Dump (Tawa Gadis Padang Sampah) by Ahmad Tohari was published in the daily newspaper Harian Kompas on 21 August 2016. [Retrieved from https://lakonhidup.com/2016/08/21/tawa-gadis-padang-sampah/.]

Ahmad Tohari was born in Banyumas on 13 June 1948. He now lives in the village of Tinggarjaya, Jatilawang, Purwokerto in Central Java province. His most popular work is the novel trilogy “The Ronggeng Dancer of Paruk Hamlet” (Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk). His collections of short stories include “Karyamin’s Smile” (Senyum Karyamin), “Night Song” (Nyanyian Malam), and “Eyes Lovely to Behold” (Mata yang Enak Dipandang). Other works include the novels Kubah (1982), Di Kaki Bakit Cibalak (1977), Bekisar Merah (1993), Lingkar Tanah Lingkar Air (1995), Belantik (2001), and Orang-orang Proyek (2002). The short story “They Spelt The Begging Ban” (Mereka Mengeja Larangan Mengemis) was also published in Kompas daily newspaper on 15 September 2019.

Featured image credit: Life Must Go On! by Ubay Amri Nur.

Short Story: The Clown with the One-Legged Man By Ratna Indraswari Ibrahim

The Clown with the One-Legged Man

By Ratna Indraswari Ibrahim

Tom, you do still remember, don’t you, when Mr Clown’s mother passed away (the clown we’ve loved since we were children), how throngs of people arrived to pay their respects. We were just ten years old at the time.

I came across Mr Clown in a corner of the house anxiously wiping away his tears. Truly those tears were like fragrant jasmine blossoms falling one by one!

I was transfixed!

After that event (which has always been an obsession of mine), many years later I bumped into Mr Clown again quite by accident on the journey coming home to Malang from Jakarta by train. We sat next to each other. Straight away he knew who I was.

Mr Clown smiled at me. (…continue reading here.)

 


The Clown with the One-Legged Man by Ratna Indraswari Ibrahim was retrieved from Klown dengan Lelaki Berkaki Satu.

Featured image credit: Ludruk Karya Budaya, Mojokerto, by Ulet Ifansasti https://www.instagram.com/p/BtLgEDTBlux/ and  https://www.uletifansasti.com/transgendersoperaludruk