Category Archives: Religion

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 like from ear to ear on ‘earin’ young Jali, who ‘as taken the oppa’tuni’y to rest his motorcycle taxi at the food stall, rather ‘an the endless daily roar of pickin’ up food an’ deliverin’ 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, takin’ off ‘is baseball cap, as if it were outta 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 that they is still OTG, 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 do not wants no people who is still ‘ealthy dyin’ o’ ‘unger, right…”

Jali grabs the packet like and climbs straight onto his mo’orcycle like a cowboy climbin’ up onto his ‘orse.

The stall was quiet again then, though the motorcycle taxis is still queuin’. Waitin’ for Yati’s food packets. With all this constant comin’ and goin’, Sukab gets to thin’in’. With bein’ down at the bottom, sure is lucky we is still makin’ a little somethin’.

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

“If there is a collapse, like, you is gonna collapse too…,” says Yati, who ‘as joined all manner of online groups. WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, an’ Twi’er, they was all confusin’ people, an’ makin’ ’em panic, even if they was not wrong.

“The ambulance drivers is 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 joint in the emergency tents. Then there’s the health workers, helpin’ theirselves to the vaccines… What else is it if it ain’t a coh’lapse… a brea’ down, a crash…,” says Sukab, as if he is in a kinda thea’re play.

It’s true everything that was happenin’. At the food stall you ‘ears every neighborhood announcement from the speakers at them mosques, the ones close by as well as the ones way off. There’s no end to the speakers wailing Inna Lillahi, etcetera, and endin’ in the news that some body or other is gonna get taken straight from the ‘ospital to the graveyard. Bodies is bein’ lost, bodies is bein’ swapped, their souls flyin’ up an’ not bein’ able to say nothin’ to their relies ‘ho is prayin’ in front of the wrong body’s grave.

Yati shakes ‘er head an’ jus’ stares at ‘er cellphone.

“It sure is like that. The people who ain’t passed says they was almost goin’ crazy jus’ because they ain’t been to the mall…”

“Pass?”

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

Sukab picks up ‘is mask an’ takes a mouthful of ‘is corn coffee.

“What it’s called is runnin’ outta energy, from bein’ 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 jus’ pray!” Then Sukab points to his forehead.

“Your ‘uman brain has gotta really work real good, like!”

He stands, grabs his ‘oe and dus’pan.

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

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

***

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

 

Decolonization, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950: KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Decolonization, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950

KITLV / Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies Project

Decolonisation, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950 is a large-scale, joint inquiry carried out by KITLV, the Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH) and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The project has been made financially possible by the Dutch government, due to its decision on 2 December 2016 to lend its support to a broad inquiry into the events of this period.

f1b13645-a88e-4794-8d7d-d947be1dd222The programme comprises nine subprojects and aims to answer questions regarding the nature, extent and causes of structural transborder violence in Indonesia, considered in a broader political, social and international context. In this context, detailed attention will be paid to the chaotic period spanning from August 1945 to early 1945 – often referred to as the Bersiap – and the political and social aftermath in the Netherlands, Indonesia and elsewhere.

It is expected that KITLV will be responsible for the synthesis and will carry out the subprojects Regional Studies and Bersiap. For these projects the group, together with Indonesian colleagues, will carry out research in several Indonesian regions. These subprojects will be the continuation of the KITLV-project Dutch military operations in Indonesia 1945-1950 that has run since 2012.

The programme has a strong international character. There will be cooperation with researchers from Indonesia and other countries involved and sources originating from Indonesia, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States (United Nations) will be used more than previously was the case. Furthermore, the programme explicitly includes the opportunity for witness accounts from the Netherlands and Indonesia to be presented. Witnesses can come forward themselves or will be traced by researchers, in order to allow them to document their personal accounts for future generations.

The three institutes stress the importance of broad national and international support for the programme. In order to achieve this, the institutes have appointed an international scientific advisory board and a Netherlands societal focus group (Maatschappelijk Klankbordgroep Nederland).

For more information see: https://www.ind45-50.org/en

Witnesses

For the purpose of this inquiry, it is important that those involved are seen and heard. If you have material or more information about Indonesia in the 1945-1950 time period and are willing to contribute to our research, please contact: getuigen@ind45-50.nl

Short Story: Bitter Covid

Bitter Covid

By Seno Gumira Ajidarma

“Which one taste 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

Indonesia and the Malay World – Journal Article: Vernacular Muslim Material Culture in 15th-C Northern Sumatra

Islamisation and the formation of vernacular Muslim material culture in 15th-century northern Sumatra: Indonesia and the Malay World Journal Article

By R. Michael Feener, Patrick Daly, E. Edwards McKinnon, Luca Lum En-Ci, Ardiansyah, Nizamuddin, Nazli Ismail, Tai Yew Seng, Jessica Rahardjo & Kerry Sieh

Abstract Extract..

“This study presents a distinctive type of Muslim gravestone found on the northern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, that dates to the 15th century. These grave markers, locally known as plang-pleng, provide evidence for the formation and disappearance of an early form of vernacular Muslim material culture in Southeast Asia. We documented over 200 of these gravestones during a large-scale archaeological landscape survey. In this article, we present a typology of these gravestones based upon..”

Full article: https://doi.org/10.1080/13639811.2021.1873564

A Shred From the Diary of Indonesia: A Collection of Poetry

A Shred From The Diary of Indonesia: A Collection of Poetry

By Emha Ainun Nadjib

Foreword

In the 1970s I learned how to carry a burden. In the 1980s I carried the burden bravely and proudly. In the 1990s I started to be overwhelmed by carrying the burden. In the 2000s I almost gave up because of the burden. By the 2010s I questioned why I should carry the burden, and who the actual official responsible for carrying the burden was.

What you are reading is my expression of and impression about, in, from and towards Indonesia, from the 1980s to the 1990s. Anyone reading it is free to decide what the emphasis is, the poetry, the Indonesia, the me, or the shred.

If the reader focuses their reading on the poems in the book, I am going to be very embarrassed. Because if the book were to be entered into a competition for poetry books, and I was one of the judges, there is no way I would select it as a possible winner.

I really want to write poetry. And in my old age I have been very busy writing poetry. However, there is almost not even one that would I acknowledge as poetry. My work doesn’t get past “intending to write poetry,” “there are elements that are intended to be poetry,” or “officially this is poetry, but whether it deserves the name of and passes as poetry, would require a long discussion and complex considerations.”

Katak

The fact is poetry has come to a halt in the present era. It is no longer a part of the mainstream values that operate in the civilization of contemporary Indonesian people. It is not even remembered by the leaders of the age and the values they espouse. Poetry has been driven into a cave, and those who deal with poetry have become cave-dwelling creatures with shadowy outlines, invisible to the community.

Indonesia, the national ideology Pancasila, the Youth Pledge, the 1945 Constitution, development, progress, government, parliamentarians, government regulations, the president and ministry, all the way down to village regulations, none of them understand poetry. They do not look for poetry. They do not find poetry. They do not remember poetry. There might be a trace of the word “poem” in the far recesses of their brain, but what they understand is not really poetry. Possibly poetry is hidden away somewhere under a pile of garbage, buried under a muddy patch of earth soaked by torrential rain, or hidden in the gloom and weakly crying out the sound of silence in midst of darkness.

Is poetry really this hopeless in the midst of today’s civilization of hyper-materialism? Is it really so pessimistic for poetry in the middle of the stream of robots and  bodies that think of themselves as humans? Has hope completely vanished for poetry in the midst of the life of the human family and the Indonesian nation who desperately pursue the world and material things, but who complain incessantly about the world and material things? In the midst of the arrogance of such breath-taking progress and as they kill themselves to make it into the emergency response unit of the age in pursuit of wealth, position, opportunity, access, assets, and squabble day in and day out about not achieving their worldly desires?

No. Absolutely not. Poetry is not marginal, not marginalized. It is not sidelined or disappeared. Poetry is indeed not food on the plate, a vehicle that is gassed and braked, a house with decor or shopping malls designed by architects to be like paradise. Poetry is not something achieved, but something journeyed towards. Poetry is not something that is held, but a journey to be traveled. Poetry is not something to be grasped or stored in a wallet, but rather something to be cherished and longed for.

Poetry – like the horizon in nature, the sky in the world, justice within sight of the soul, trueness in the recesses of the heart, eternity at the edge of time’s mystery, and God himself who seems to hide behind a secret without ever meeting – is the tenderest point far beyond the spirit, traveled with yearning to return, which encompasses within one speck of the dust of that tenderness the whole of nature and thousands and thousands of universes.

I myself earlier, when that current of energy and magnetism passed right through me whose outpouring is a flow of writings or poems, was captured by the instinct to foster and allow poetry to be a mystery, one which must not lose its essence today. So every day I concentrate on the Indonesia side of it. I am concerned about it, am anxious for it, take care of it. Maybe ever since God inscribed in the Preserved Tablet for me to love, maybe for that reason too I called the book A Shred From the Diary of Indonesia.

Even right up to now, as it is published again, I turn its pages, and my heart and mind is still fixed on Indonesia. But if you go into the “shred” deeply, it feels too broken. Indonesia today is no longer a shred: it’s like an old book lying forgotten in the cupboard, gnawed by rats every night, pages torn to pieces, ripped up, shredded, almost not a single page left intact. It is half-soaked and reeking because it is mixed with the urine of those rats. 

A Shred From The Diary of Indonesia holds out a mirror before my own face. I stare back into my own eyes. I behold growth in decay, a baby in poverty, a young man in old age, a future for all those benighted. The wrinkles of an old face in the mirror, unimaginable weakness and helplessness, but there is a refreshing breeze that springs from the depths of the soul: I will take Indonesia into the future.

If you find any letters and words in the book, flow with them into tomorrow. At the same time, invite the letters and words to flow over you, without any limit in time. One day you will be surprised by death, but that is only a bridge crossing…

Emha Ainun Nadjib
11 November 2016


www.caknun.com