Category Archives: Gender

Poem of a Young Woman and Her Boss

Poem of a Young Woman and Her Boss

By W. S. Rendra

Do not just grab me any way you feel like it.
It’s pretty clear to me where this is going.
I am no seer,
but I can obviously already see
what this hug means…

Fuck the education I got.
I was taught maths, typing, foreign language, deportment, and administration,
But they forgot to teach me:
If I’m grabbed from behind by the boss,
how should I react then!

Do not grab me any way you feel like it.
Not even my boyfriend dares to be as bold as that.
I can pretty clearly see what your goal is, mister.
When you elbow my tits,
I know what that means……

They taught me to hate sin
but they forgot to teach me
how to find work.
They taught me a lifestyle
whose products do not come from nature.
Taught me to need things that are produced by the bosses,
and controlled by the bosses.
Make-up accessories, air conditioners, synthetic vitamins, tonics, every kind of soda, and school certificates.
Education tided me to their markets, and to their capital.

And now, now that I’m an adult,
where else am I going to run to,
if not to the world of the bosses?

Do not grab me, mister, any way you feel like it.
I’m no academic
but I pretty much know
that all the work on my desk
is going to head in that direction.
Don’t, mister, don’t!
Do not grab me any way you feel like it.
Ah. Oh no.
The money you’re sliding inside my bra, mister,
is my education certificate.
Ah. Yes.
That’s how it is.
You grab me so confidently, mister.
Your fat belly
is pressing against my stomach.
Your fowl mouth
is kissing my mouth.
You do all of this
like it’s all normal, mister.
Every person in the community is helping you.
They grab both my legs.
And they force my thighs open
as you climb on top of my body, mister.

Yogya, 10 July 1975


Poem of a Young Woman and Her Boss (Sajak Gadis dan Majikan), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 30.

 

Short Story: Mrs Geni in December

Mrs Geni in December

By Arswendo Atmowiloto

For Mrs Geni, every month is December. Last month, this month, or next month, they all mean December. So if you have to deal with Mrs Geni, it’s better not to rely on dates but rather on the day. If you want to book her, you have to say, “Two Fridays from this Friday.” If you say the seventeenth, you could be in trouble because the seventeenth won’t necessarily be a Friday. If you book her for the seventeenth, she just might not show up on the day.

The problem is a great many people deal with Mrs Geni. For anyone wanting to arrange the wedding of a child, there is only one choice. Mrs Geni. Bridal makeup artist. There are many other bridal makeup artists, but none that can match Mrs Geni. Even after considering the many other beauty salons, people stay with the choice of Mrs Geni.

According to past clients, Mrs Geni is no ordinary makeup artist. She can transform a would-be bride and make her so beautiful she is truly stunning. Unrecognizable. One of her specialties is infusing cigarette smoke onto the face of a would-be bride. According to tradition, she explains, this is bronzing. The application of a bronze, not golden, hue to the skin. Almost every bridal makeup artist uses the technique, but none can match her skill. At one wedding, the host fainted because she thought the daughter she was marrying off had disappeared. The mother of the bride-to-be fainted, the father was embarrassed, and all the relatives started to search for the bride at friends’ houses. Even after she was found, the mother of the bride-to-be couldn’t accept it. “That is not my child. That is not my child,” she exclaimed.

“Well, if she isn’t your child, that makes her my child. Let’s go home.”

Only later the mother of the bride-to-be realized, and said, “How is it possible that my child could be as beautiful as this?”

Despite this, Mrs Geni does not always please everyone. Her voice is loud, and the people who have to listen to her do become annoyed. “This child is already pregnant. Why are you hiding it? Why are you embarrassed? To have children, to be able to become pregnant, is a gift. This is not something to be covered up, to be squeezed down with clothes. After all it’s your own child.”

If I am not mistaken, the incident happened at the house of a district head. As a result the news spread and continued to reverberate long after the incident was over. Another wedding ceremony was almost cancelled simply because Mrs Geni could see an unhappy face on the bride-to-be. Usually two or three days before a ceremony, Mrs Geni needs to meet with the bride-to-be in person. Why not with the bridegroom-to-be? “Well, his fate rests right here, doesn’t it.”

When she met the soon-to-be bride who she felt was wearing a sad face, Mrs Geni said, “Can’t be like this. You have to start off happy.” No matter that the invitations had already been sent out, the reception hall paid for in advance, and, more importantly, the food already prepared. If it had ended in cancellation, the story would have been unremarkable. What was unusual was that two days later, a bus crashed over a cliff into a gorge. It turned out that if the wedding had actually gone ahead and had not been cancelled, the bridegroom-to-be would probably have gone into the gorge, because he had in fact planned to travel on that very bus at that very time. Mrs Geni’s story continues next with the time she was asked to prepare the makeup of the daughter of a government minister – possibly a senior coordinating minister – but she replied, “Just tell the daughter to come to my house. A lot of people here are going to be inconvenienced if I leave them.”

Last seventeenth of August, the residents of her neighborhood waited to see whether Mrs Geni would put up the national red and white flag at her house, because according to Mrs Geni that is the essence of the seventeenth of August. As it turned out, Mrs Geni did have a flag put up. “What’s wrong with flying the flag on the seventeenth of December?” she asked.

The officials in the village were happy too, because if Mrs Geni hadn’t displayed the flag on the anniversary of independence, there could have been trouble. On the following thirty-first of December, Mrs Geni didn’t object to having a party at her house. But to her, the following day wasn’t New Year’s Day but rather the first of December again.

Many people say that Mrs Geni’s magic is to always appear young. And Mrs Geni does indeed seem to have always looked the same, whether it was doing the makeup for a neighbor, or doing it for her own child. Her face and presentation have been the same. Photos taken at the time can prove this along with photos taken over the succeeding twenty years. And maybe the twenty years before that.

“Marriage is the most illogical of ceremonies. It causes a lot of trouble. You all stress about working out an auspicious date, what sort of matching clothes to wear. And none of it has any connection with the marriage itself. Just look at the people who make the speeches at weddings, the people delivering advice to the newlyweds. That is the most boring part, the part listened to the least. But it’s always included. That’s weddings for you.” It is rather strange for these words to come from Mrs Geni, because she in fact makes her living from weddings. “Yes, it is strange. Isn’t marriage a strange thing. Because something strange is thought of as normal, the people who do not marry, who are widows or widowers, are even thought of as strange.”

On a different occasion Mrs Geni said, “The strange expression ‘soul mate’ hides the fear or questions that we don’t have the courage to answer. ‘Oh, such and such is my soul mate.’ We commonly speak like that. Or if it fails, ‘Oh, such and such was not my soul mate.’” Mrs Geni then laughs at length. “So, is my soul mate actually Mr Geni? Because I married Mr Geni, he becomes my soul mate. Not, because Mr Geni was my soul mate therefore I married him. It would have been different if before that I hadn’t married Mr Geni. Then he wouldn’t have been my soul mate.”

Why marry Mr Geni at the time?

“Well, because it was time to get married, like everybody else.”

Does that then mean it wasn’t out of love that I married Mr Geni?

“As with soul mates, as soon as you marry, well, that has to be accepted as love. That is more important. Because if you rely on love beforehand, it might not last. What you have, that is what you love, whether there is love there before or not.”

The question arises because there is word that Mr Geni is to marry again. “Yeah, don’t worry about that. And I will do the makeup for the bride,” she says easily in a flat, almost emotionless tone. “To try to forbid it would be hard and it would be useless anyway. Just let him do it.”

Maybe that is the reason Mrs Geni is still happy to do the makeup of the soon-to-be brides who are to become second or third wives. “Let people experience joy once in their lives.” For Mrs Geni marriage is joy, happiness. “If someone does not even experience joy when they marry, they aren’t going to find any other joy.”

According to Mrs Geni, no marriage really fails because marriage itself is not a success. “All you need is a little courage and a lot of foolishness. That is what is needed for a marriage. In order to divorce, on the other hand, you need to have a lot of courage and a small amount of foolishness.”

Has Mrs Geni ever thought about divorcing Mr Geni?

“I’ve never thought about getting divorced. Have I thought about killing him? Often.”

And so, Mrs Geni, bridal makeup artist, has done the makeup for all the women in her village. You could say for everyone who has been married, as well as for those who have not. The latter Mrs Geni makes up as bodies when women pass away having never married. Before burial, Mrs Geni makes them up completely. Many people do not approve. For many people it is regrettable. Still others fear being made up. “Frightened it will come to pass during the marriage. Frightened of being too happy, too free, too enjoyable. So that is why we commit ourselves to a marriage that regulates responsibilities so much, regulates obligations, including the provision of a living and the raising of children. Only it’s strange, but basically we’re afraid of our own happiness and limit it through the existence of the power of God.”

Even though she says humanity’s most limiting and frightening discovery is marriage, Mrs Geni continues to prepare people’s makeup, still uses the infusing of cigarette smoke. For someone who is able to make time for herself – even though it is still tied to December – Mrs Geni is able to do the makeup for people, bodies, bridal statues and trees, as well as buffaloes. Mrs Geni also chants the bridal mantra, breathes the three breaths onto the crown of the bride’s head, with the same seriousness she uses to fast before making someone up. “Let the buffaloes experience happiness, just as we have believed all this time that marriage is happiness.”

Fortunately all of this only happens in December.


Mrs Geni in December (Bu Geni di Bulan Desember) by Arswendo Atmowiloto was first published in the national daily newspaper Harian Kompas on 20 May 2012. Retrieved from https://cerpenkompas.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/bu-geni-di-bulan-desember/

Featured image credit: “Tribute to Arswendo Atmowiloto” by Karikatoer (Khoirul Anwar), https://www.instagram.com/karikatoer/

Malam Transfigurasi, Karya Richard Dehmel

Malam Transfigurasi

Oleh Richard Dehmel

Dua orang melalui hutan kering yang dingin;
bulan berlari bersama mereka, mereka memandangnya.
Bulan berlari di atas pohon-pohon ek yang tinggi;
tidak ada awan yang mengaburkan cahaya dari langit,
di mana dahan kering hitam merentang.
Suara seorang wanita berbicara:

Aku mengandung anak, dan bukan milikmu,
aku berjalan dalam dosa di sampingmu.
Aku telah sangat berdosa pada diriku sendiri.
Aku tak lagi percaya pada kebahagiaan
namun penuh kerinduan
akan kehidupan yang bermakna, akan bahagianya menjadi ibu
akan tugas; kurelakan
dengan gemetar, kutinggalkan kaumku
dalam dekapan pria tak dikenal,
dan karenanya aku diberkati.
Sekarang hidup sendiri telah membalas dendam:
sekarang pun aku telah bertemu denganmu, ya kamu.

Dia berjalan dengan langkah canggung.
Dia mendongak; bulan sedang berlari.
Tatapan gelapnya tenggelam dalam cahaya.
Suara seorang pria berbicara:

Biarkan anak yang kaukandung
membuat jiwamu tanpa beban.
Ya, lihat betapa jernihnya alam semesta berkilau!
Ia bersinar untuk segalanya;
Kau terapung denganku di atas laut yang dingin,
tapi ada kehangatan pribadi berkedip
dari kau di dalamku, aku di dalammu.
Ini akan metransfigurasi anak yang asing itu,
Kau akan lahirkan anak itu bagai anakku sendiri;
kau bawa cahaya padaku,
kau buatkan aku seorang anak.

Dia rangkul tubuh yang penuh.
Napas mereka berciuman di udara.
Dua orang melalui malam yang tinggi dan cerah.


—Richard Dehmel, Verklärte Nacht, pertama kali diterbitkan di Weib und Welt (1896)

Rujukan

Featured image credit: www.dehmelhaus.de/aktuell.html

Short Story: Funny Story About Gun Shots

Funny Story About Gun Shots

By Surya Gemilang

Pajenong was applying deodorant in front of the mirror. He was listening to the newsreader on television describe the mounting number of rape cases across the city over the past year. Suddenly Sarimin’s gun pumped a bullet into the back of Pajenong’s head. He collapsed instantly.

Having sneaked into the apartment and quietly watched the owner from under the bed, Sarimin crawled out and examined Pajenong’s cellphone. The cellphone screensaver displayed Date with Vianna at nine o’clock at Cafe X, written in white Times New Roman font against a black background.

To open the phone desktop, Sarimin would have to enter the correct PIN. If Sarimin succeeded in entering the correct PIN, he was definitely going to send a message to Vianna saying, “Sorry, honey, I can’t make our date today. All of a sudden I want to break up with you. By the way, I think Sarimin is the most suitable man for you.” Then Sarimin tried entering a number of PINs at random. When Pajenong’s cellphone locked, Sarimin threw it through the open window. He couldn’t have cared less about the head of anyone who might be hit by the cellphone as it plunged freely from a height of ten stories.

In the end Sarimin didn’t know what else to do. At first he had intended to come into Pajenong’s apartment armed with a gun, but with absolutely no plan to kill him. He planned only to suddenly appear from under the bed, scare Pajenong, force him to cancel his date with Vianna, and force him to break up with her. But the sudden anger eating away inside his head had made Sarimin reach out uncontrollably from under the bed and shoot Pajenong in the back of the head, without time to think about how to secure his victim’s body, or how to save himself if the police chased him.

What Sarimin did then, after staring at the clock on the wall showing seven o’clock in the evening was to move quickly to Pajenong’s body and kick him violently. As a result he hurt his foot. Sarimin thought of the kicks as revenge for the rape Pajenong had committed against Vianna. Then Sarimin fired the remaining six bullets in his gun until Pajenong’s head was completely destroyed. He thought of the shots as an outlet for his frustration because he just could not understand why Vianna had wanted to date the man who had raped her.

There was a sudden knock at the door of Pajenong’s apartment. The sound of gunfire must have caught the attention of someone who happened to be near the door. A terrible jolt instantly struck Sarimin’s heart because he was completely unprepared to go to prison. He broke into a cold sweat that started to roll down his body like his skin was leaking.

Then a moment later there was another knock at the door, louder this time. Sarimin snapped crisply to close the bedroom door, turn off the television, and roll Pajenong’s body under the bed. He returned Pajenong’s deodorant to its original place after cleaning off the blood with a few tissues. Then he cleaned away the traces of the death from the floor with a towel he grabbed from the wardrobe and hurled it under the bed too.

Sarimin thought about stepping quietly to the door and peeking at the person knocking. But hearing the next much louder knock, he changed his mind about approaching the door because he thought the knocking sounded threatening, like the knock of a debt collector on the door of a house of debtor who hadn’t made a payment on a debt for a very long time.

Sarimin regretted he’d used all his bullets. The regret was just as heavy as when he expressed his love to Vianna two weeks ago, resulting in the complete breakdown of the friendship they’d been hiding for years out of shame. “Oh, if only that night I had decided to stay quiet, Vianna would not have become angry. She would not have run out of the house, would not have met Pajenong in the middle of the road. She would not have been raped in the car. And it would not have led to the murder I’ve committed here today,” Sarimin thought.

This time the door didn’t sound like someone knocking, rather it sounded like someone bashing hard. But it hadn’t come off its hinges yet. Sarimin’s heart almost flew out the open window. If he used the window to escape now it would definitely mean he was committing suicide. Sarimin also glanced around, looking for anything he could use to save himself, baseball bat, golf club, lamp stand.

Being hit with one of those objects should be quite painful. But it immediately crosses his mind that none of them might necessarily save him if it turned out there were more than one person waiting on the other side of the door. He wondered if maybe he should carefully explain to the person banging on the door, that Pajenong deserved to be killed, because he had even raped Vianna then arrogantly called him to boast about the rape?

But killing was just as bad Sarimin continued thinking to himself. Finally Sarimin’s gaze fell on a large wardrobe. Just as he could hear the sound of the front door being smashed down, Sarimin without another thought climbed into the wardrobe. The sweet scent of Pajenong’s clothes filled the inside of the closet, reminding him of the fragrant smell of flowers sprinkled onto a coffin.

Then he started to hear the sound of footsteps outside. Very light footsteps, as if the owner of the feet were trying to step through the air before ambushing an opponent from above. Even though Sarimin was very scared, he was still able to focus on what he was hearing, and he concluded it was the sound of just one person’s steps. There could not be more than that. And because there was only one person, Sarimin should be able to climb out of the cupboard right then and fight the person, or simply point a gun at him as he stepped away from the apartment. But neither of these possibilities would be easy. The person outside had to be strong and brave because of the way he’d been brave enough to break into the apartment.

A few moments later, the sound of footsteps suddenly disappeared. There was no way the person had left the apartment. If he had gone, what Sarimin would have heard was the sound of footsteps growing softer and softer, then disappearing, rather than disappearing all at once. The person must be able to fly! Then there was the sound of the wardrobe door being locked from the outside.

***

Vianna had been going to shoot Pajenong when they met at Cafe X at nine o’clock later that evening, without caring what the people around her would do. But Vianna had been in a hurry and couldn’t wait to slay Pajenong because she was so angry. So she had decided to take a taxi and go armed with a gun straight to the apartment of her ex-boyfriend, where the radio was broadcasting the news of the continuing increase in the number of rape cases in the city over the past year. She arrived at her destination at seven o’clock in the evening.

Because no one would open the door, Vianna pounded on the door to Pajenong’s apartment until it broke. She surprised herself that she could be that strong. Instead of finding a surprised Pajenong, Vianna discovered there was no one there. Maybe Pajenong had sensed she was going to come and kill him, so he was now in hiding. The woman then stepped inside very slowly, as if she was stepping through the air before ambushing Pajenong from above.

Pajenong’s apartment was not very big so it didn’t take Vianna long to finish searching every corner. She found no one. Not even under the bed. As she sat on the edge of the bed Vianna wondered whether Pajenong had been so eager for their date he had left already for Cafe X?

Suddenly something somehow made her lock her gaze onto the wardrobe. Her body shivered suddenly. With a silent step, Vianna approached the cupboard and locked the door. The she stepped back several paces, and drew a deep breath. She pumped out the seven bullets in her gun.

Blood dripped from the crack under the cupboard door.

Vianna smiled coldly, dropped her gun on the floor, then left the apartment feeling peaceful.

***

Vianna still went to Cafe X at nine that evening. She celebrated her glorious victory by ordering expensive food. While waiting for the food she had ordered, she took out her cellphone, looked up a trusted news site, and read the news about the continuing increase in rape cases in the city over the past year.

She suddenly missed Sarimin and imagined the man was sitting across from her. She thought, “Ah, I shouldn’t have been angry at the time. There’s nothing wrong with him falling in love…”

Just as the food arrived, Vianna noticed a well-dressed man enter the cafe. The man waved at her as he approached. Vianna’s breath suddenly froze. And she almost passed out as Pajenong sat down in front of her, face covered in freshly dried scars.


Surya Gemilang, Funny Story About Gun Shots (Humor Tentang Tembakan-Tembakan) was published in Kompas daily newspaper on 8 March 2020. [Retrieved from https://lakonhidup.com/2019/10/13/menembak-mati-tujuh-orang]

Surya Gemilang was born in Denpasar, Bali, on March 21, 1998. His books include: Chasing Shooting Stars (Mengejar Bintang Jatuh) (a collection of short stories, 2015), How to Love Monsters (Cara Mencintai Monster) (a collection of poems, 2017), A Taste of Death (Mencicipi Kematian) (a collection of poems, 2018), and Looking for a Head for Mother (Mencari Kepala untuk Ibu) (a collection of short stories, 2019). His other writings can be found in more than 10 mixed anthologies and numerous media publications.

For other stories by Surya Gemilang click here.

Featured image credit: Cafe Batavia by Prayitno

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 your life becomes

I’m having a good time, enjoying my life
Why are you the one who ends 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 throw everything away

You claim 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