Daughters of Papua

Book Description

In Tanah Tabu Leksi and her two pets tell the story of grandmother Mabel, a woman from the Dani tribe, born and raised in Papua’s interior. The de Wissels, Dutch missionaries, take the bright 8 year old along to the city under the pretense of adopting her.

Mabel quickly adapts to being domestic help and is eager to learn, but her request to attend school is denied; “You know enough and learning too much will only harm you.” Mabel realizes the falsehood of the missionaries’ claim to better Papuans’ life when Christmas shopping proves more important than tending to a suicidal Papua woman, a victim of domestic abuse.

At the end of de Wissels’ term, Mabel returns to her village where, along with the Papua people, she suffers the consequence of the government leasing Papua’s land to Freeport Mc. Moran, a foreign mining company. Hoping to prevent her granddaughter Leksi from having to suffer the same lot, Mabel speaks out against the blatant injustice Papua is subjected to. She dies opposing the rape of the Papua land and its people.

 

Product Detail

  • Price: $17.95
  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Dalang Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0-9836273-9-5
  • Product dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping weight: 1 lb

Kei

Book Description

Religious conflict between Christians and Muslims erupts during the last days of Suharto’s regime. Namira and her parents live on Kei Kecil Island when fighting breaks out. The Kei people live in harmony regardless of religion. Namira, a Muslim, loses both her parents and must flee.

Sala, a young Protestant, leaves home after his mother is murdered. He meets Namira at a refugee camp and the two fall in love before being separated by the continuing violence.

The unexplainable violence threatens the islanders’ survival. Namira travels by boat to Makassar, and taken in by a mother and daughter, while Sala goes to Jakarta and is ensnared by Boss Yo’s gang of debt collectors. He commits murder for hire after Namira’s life is threatened.

The violence on Kei is settled through the power of Kei tradition that prohibits fighting except for defending a woman’s honor and one’s property.

Namira returns home and reunites with her best friend, a Christian. Sala flees from the police and dies from a wound onboard a ship sailing toward home.

 

Product Detail

  • Price: $17.95
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Dalang Publishing (October 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0-9836273-6-4
  • Product dimensions: 5.2 x 8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping weight: 9.3 ounces

Saturday, November 8, 2014, Selamatan for Kei by Erni Aladjai, Daughters of Papua by Anindita S. Thayf and Aimuna and Sobori by Hanna Rambe

Adhering to Indonesian tradition, we asked for blessings and celebrated our new titles with a selamatan. We were graced with the presence of the Consul General of Indonesia for San Francisco, Bapak Ardi Hermawan and his family as well as Ibu Karina Adisty Iqwan, Vice Consul of Economic Affairs and Pak F.Bernard Loesi, Consul for Information and Socio-Cultural Affairs.

Kei: Kutemukan Cinta di Tengah Perang

Book Description

Kei: Kutemukan Cinta di Tengah Perang by Erni Aladjai is the original of Kei.

 
Mari kuceritakan kisah sedih tentang kehilangan. Rasa sakit yang merupa serta perih yang menjejakkan duka. Namun, jangan terlalu bersedih, karena aku akan menceritakan pula tentang harapan. Tentang cinta yang tetap menyetia meski takdir hampir kehilangan pegangan.

Mari kuceritakan tentang orang-orang yang bertemu di bawah langit sewarna biru. Orang-orang yang memilih marah, lalu saling menorehkan luka. Juga kisah orang-orang yang memilih berjalan bersisian, dengan tangan tetap saling memegang.

Mari, mari kuceritakan tentang marah, tentang sedih, tentang langit dan senja yang tak searah, juga tentang cinta yang selalu ada dalam tiap cerita.

 

Product Detail

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Language: Indonesian
  • ISBN: 9797806499

Mariantje dan Pasangan Tua

Born in Lipulalongo, a small village of clove growers in Central Sulawesi, Erni Aladjai earned her degree in French literature from the Hasannudin University in Makassar, Sulawesi. She has worked as a journalist in Makassar, was also a news editor. Erni is currently a full time writer and a freelance fiction editor. Local as well as national media have published several of her poems, essays, and short stories. Her novel, Kei, took first place in the 2011 Jakarta Arts Council novel competition. Other award-winning works include “Sampo Soie Soe, Si Juru Masak” at the 2012 Jakarta International Literary Festival. Her two novellas, Rumah Perahu and Sebelum Hujan di Seasea, took second and third place in the 2011 Sayembara Cerber Femina. Erni is also the author of the novels Pesan Cinta dari Hujan (Insist Press, 2010) and Ning di Bawah Gerhana (Bumen Pustaka Emas, 2013).

“Mariantje dan Pasangan Tua” (“Mariantje and the old Couple”) first appeared in Media Indonesia newspaper on April 21, 2013 copyright © Erni Aladjai. Revised version copyright © 2014 by Erni Aladjai. Published with permission from the author. Translation copyright © 2014 by Nurhayat Indriyatno Mohamed.

 
 

***

Mariantje dan Pasangan Tua

Pada Rabu pagi yang bercahaya, mereka terbangun dalam satu selimut. Pagi ini, Laura dan Don masih bersama. Tak ada yang pergi lebih dahulu. Tuhan masih ingin melihat mereka melewati hari-hari baru. Tiap malam, saat jelang kelopak mata mengatup, Laura akan memasukkan jemarinya ke sela-sela jemari Don. Itu kebiasaan rahasia dia, yang hanya diketahui Mariantje.

Perlahan-lahan Laura bangkit dari ranjang, mengamati rambutnya yang setiap helainya telah berwarna kelabu. Mengamati pipi dan dagunya yang merosot. Tiga tahun lalu, dia masih sering duduk di depan meja rias ini, menyemir rambutnya sembari bersenandung lagu jaz kuno. Dia dan Don penyuka jaz. Mereka menikmati musik itu sejak pertama kali masuk Batavia.

Dia masih ingat baik, suatu malam, Batavia begitu ramai, beberapa musisi Filipina datang ke Batavia mencari kerja. Di ruang masuk hotel dan jalan-jalan, mereka mengenalkan alat musik angin. Trompet. Saksofon. Bolero. Rumba. Ah kenangan itu selalu bagai embusan angin sore yang menenangkan. Ingatan dia pada irama jaz pertama kali di kota ini selalu abadi di kepalanya, sebab pada hari itu juga, sesuatu yang membuatnya bahagia telah terjadi.

Mula-mula Don—yang sekarang terus “lelap” di belakangnya itu—membeli dua buah karcis untuk menonton pertunjukan jaz di Hotel Des Indes. Waktu itu, umur Don tujuhbelas tahun. Masih muda dan senang memakai topi bowler―serupa topi yang sering dikenakan Charlie Chaplin, celana pantalon dan jas.

Sementara Laura berumur enambelas tahun. Mengenakan gaun sifon bertabur bunga lotus, dia naik trem bersama Don. Mereka naik trem listrik pertama. Dia mendengar keterangan itu dari pembicaraan dua orang meneer dalam satu gerbong. Dan pada saat irama saksofon soleano dari si musisi Filipina itu terdengar di langit-langit hotel Des Indes, bersamaan itu juga Don memasangkan sebuah cincin perloop, verlooft di jari manisnya.

***

Laura menyukai pagi. Dia tak pernah mau melewatkan saat matahari keluar. Dan pagi ini, dia tak lagi menyemir rambut. Laura Tua seolah telah berjanji pada setiap helai rambutnya, bahwa mulai hari ini hingga di kemudian hari, rambutnya tak akan lagi “sesak napas” oleh baluran pewarna rambut yang kaku. Tak ada lagi sarung tangan. Tak ada lagi bubuk semir Tancho di atas meja riasnya.

Wanita tua itu kemudian melangkah ke ambang jendela kamar. Jendela itu selalu dia umpamakan layar bioskop. Di sana, di balik kacanya, ada dua pohon kersen dengan batang saling silang. Sangkar burung nuri peliharaan Don tergantung di salah satu tunggulnya. Setiap pagi, si nuri akan menyapa ketika Laura membuka tirai.

“Selamat pagi, sayangku!” itulah yang dikatakan si nuri. Don yang mengajari burung nuri itu menyapa Laura saban pagi. Seolah ketika itu, Don sudah tahu kalau suatu hari dia hanya bisa berbaring dengan selang di hidung. Penyakit telah mematikan sebelah tubuhnya. Laura tua mengangguk, menertawai burung nuri yang mengoyang-goyangkan pantatnya.

Lalu ucapan yang sama juga selalu dia dengar dari mulut Mariantje. “Selamat pagi, hari ini Nyonya tampak sehat dan bercahaya.” Laura tertawa.

Mariantje perempuan tinggi-besar, berkulit kelam, dan rambut diikat saputangan itu riang memasuki kamar Laura sambil membawa tongkat pel. Mariantje baru saja selesai merebus kentang untuk sarapan pagi Laura. Mariantje membantu segala hal di rumah Laura. Dia memasak. Mencuci pakaian. Menyetrika. Menyapu pekarangan dan belanja. Sudah lima tahun perempuan asal Sanger, Manado itu bekerja pada Laura.

Setiap Sabtu pagi, ada tambahan belanja yang ditugaskan Laura padanya. Laura memintanya pergi ke Senen, membeli novel terbaru yang akan Laura bacakan untuk Don menggunakan kaca pembesar. Laura menyukai cara Mariantje bekerja.

Mariantje menyukai rumah Laura. Wangi jeruk, sederhana, dan senantiasa terdengar alunan jaz. Setiap pagi, Mariantje akan mengengkol gramofon kuno milik Laura, memasang piringan hitam lagu jaz yang dipesannya.

“Pagi ini Natalie Cole, Mariantje!”

Bagi Mariantje, ada banyak keharuan di rumah Laura. Seperti dua malam lalu, saat dia datang memeriksa keadaan Laura. Dia lihat perempuan tua itu duduk di sisi Don, membacakan Don sebuah buku bersampul merah. Laura percaya, meski Don tak bisa bergerak lagi, tapi Don masih bisa mendengar. Seperti biasa, suara Laura terdengar gemetar.

“Don sayang, aku akan membaca sebuah penggalan sajak Heine yang dikutip dalam Max Havelaar. Aku pikir kau mungkin menyukainya,” kata Laura. Setelah berdeham, ia mulai membaca. “’Nun di sana menderau air sungai yang suci, di sana kita menyelam di bawah naungan palma… mimpikan impian yang serba bahagia.’ Jadi bahagialah, Sayang!”

Diam-diam, di bingkai pintu kamar Laura, Mariantje melihat pemandangan itu dengan haru. Laura memang seorang pembaca novel yang baik. Yang sedang dibaca Laura adalah Max Havelaar terbitan tahun 1977, yang Mariantje beli di Jalan Kwitang. Dulu, si pedagang buku membujuk Mariantje agar membelinya. “Ini buku bagus, Pram dan Kartini membacanya, kau harus punya!” katanya.

***

Setelah membaca novel seperti biasa, Laura menemui Mariantje. Mereka bercakap di dapur. Ini kali Laura melakukan pembicaraan sungguh-sungguh dengannya. “Mariantje, saya minta maaf tak bisa membayar gajimu beberapa bulan ini. Saya sedih, namun kau tak pernah mengeluhkan itu.”

“Nyonya jangan minta maaf. Membolehkan saya tinggal di sini, itu sudah lebih dari cukup.” Mariantje menggenggam tangan Laura.

“Jika, suatu hari saya tiba-tiba pergi, maka kunci rumah saya selamanya milikmu. Itulah yang mampu saya wariskan padamu. Tolong rawat burung nuri Don. Kelak jika ada museum jaz di kota ini, sumbangkanlah piringan hitam kami.”

“Terima kasih telah mengurus saya dan Don,” tambah Laura setengah berbisik.

“Tak perlu mengulang-ulang terima kasih, Nyonya. Sayalah yang berterima kasih.”

Sudah empat bulan memang, Mariantje tak lagi dibayar oleh Laura. Uang pensiun Don dan Laura bahkan hanya cukup untuk biaya perawatan Don, makan seadanya, dan membeli buku terbaru setiap pekan.

Mariantje tak mengeluh. Baginya mengenal Laura adalah kebahagiaan. Mariantje ingat wajahnya lebam, bibirnya pecah pertama kali dia bertemu Laura.

Mereka bertemu di toko. Laura datang membeli mayones dan susu manis kental. Mariantje datang membeli sebungkus biskuit untuk mengganjal perutnya. Tak ada yang peduli dengan wajah lebam dan bibirnya yang pecah. Semua orang hanya memperhatikan rak belanja. Satu-satunya orang yang menanyakan keadaannya hanyalah Laura.

“Kenapa wajahmu? Kau jatuh?” tanya Laura mendekat. Tanpa menunggu jawaban, Laura menggandeng tangan Mariantje ke rumahnya. Di sana, Laura mengompres dahi, pipi dan bibir Mariantje dengan es batu.

“Kenapa Nyonya mau membawa saya masuk?”

“Kau terluka.” Itu saja jawaban Laura. Ia memberi Mariantje pakaian, sebuah daster bergambar kembang sepatu. Memberinya selimut, dan mengantar Mariantje ke kamar tamu.

Bertemu Laura, membuat Mariantje yakin untuk berpisah dari Tigor. Dia tak tahan dengan segala hal yang ada pada Tigor. Bau bir. Membanting telepon. Menyembunyikan uang. Menggebrak meja. Merontokkan kaca jendela. Mariantje lari pada tengah malam ke rumah Laura. Semua ini terjadi sekitar lima tahun yang lalu.

***

Minggu pagi, Mariantje berangkat ke gereja. Mariantje ingin berdoa agar Don dan Laura tetap sehat. Ia sangat takut jika Tuhan memanggil kedua orang itu. Jika boleh memilih, Mariantje berharap dia yang mati lebih dulu. Dia tak punya siapa-siapa di Pulau Jawa selain Laura. Mariantje menghitung, besok tepat 170 hari Don terbaring di tempat tidur. Sungguh waktu yang sabar bagi Laura.

Dalam perjalanan pulang dari gereja, Mariantje singgah membeli bunga. Dia membeli setangkai mawar merah dan setangkai mawar putih.

Mariantje melangkah pelan-pelan ke kamar Laura dengan bunga mawar di dadanya. Kamar begitu sunyi. Di sana, di atas ranjang berseprai putih, Laura berbaring miring, tangan kanannya melingkari tubuh Don yang terlentang dengan mulut terbuka.

Mariantje menghampiri Laura. Perlahan-lahan jari telunjuknya menyentuh lubang hidung Laura. Tak ada embusan. Mariantje meraba tangan Laura. Begitu dingin. Air mata Mariantje mulai mengalir, membasahi pipi. Perutnya bergolak.

Tiga jari kanannya kemudian menyentuh pergelangan tangan Don, dia tak merasakan ada denyut di sana. Don sudah bebas.

“Mungkin memang sudah saatnya mereka pergi,” batin Mariantje. Dia terisak. Teringat pembicaraan dia dan Laura tempo hari, “Mariantje, sudah lama saya ingin pergi bersama Don. Pergi selama-lamanya. Konon di dunia sana, kami akan kembali muda. Bukankah itu indah, Mariantje?”

***

Mariantje and the old Couple

Nurhayat Indriyatno Mohamed is the managing editor of the Jakarta Globe, an English-language newspaper in Jakarta. He was born and raised in Tanzania, and has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Natal, Durban, in South Africa. At age 24 Hayat decided to move to Indonesia, the land of his father’s birth, and was immediately smitten by the novelty of it all.
A chance encounter led to a newspaper job, and another presented him with the opportunity to translate into English a book by the award-winning author Okky Madasari. Hayat is the translator of Erni Aladjai’s award winning novel Kei.

***

Mariantje and the old Couple

It was a bright Wednesday morning and they woke up under the same blanket. Laura and Don were still together. Neither had gone first. God wanted to give them a new day. Every night, just before she closed her eyes, Laura laced her fingers with Don’s. It was her secret habit, only Mariantje knew about.

Laura got up slowly from the bed and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She studied her hair, every last strand was gray, her cheeks and chin sagged. Just three years earlier, she often sat before the mirror dyeing her hair while humming along to an old jazz number. She and Don loved jazz. They enjoyed it since the first time they came to Batavia.

She still remembered it well, that crowded night when groups of Filipino musicians came to town looking for work. From the entrances of hotels and in the streets, they introduced their instruments and their music: trumpet, saxophone, bolero, rumba. Ah, the memory was like a soothing afternoon breeze. Her memory of the first time she heard jazz in the city was one that would remain with her forever, because on that day something happened that made her happy.

Don, who was right now lying there behind her, had bought two tickets to a jazz show at the Hotel des Indes. He was seventeen at the time and he loved wearing bowler hats, the kind Charlie Chaplin often wore, with pantaloons and a jacket.
Laura was sixteen. She wore a chiffon dress with a lotus motif and took the tram with Don. It was the first electric tram, she overheard two Dutchmen saying inside the car. When the sounds of the saxophone played by Soleano, the Filipino musician, rose to the ceiling of the Hotel des Indes, Don slipped an engagement ring onto her finger.

***

Laura loved the morning. She never wanted to miss a single sunrise. And this morning, she didn’t dye her hair. It was as though Old Laura had made a deal with her hair, from today onward, she would no longer choke her hair in a thick coating of dye. There would be no more gloves, no more of the Tancho powdered dye on her dressing table.

She moved to the windowsill. She always saw the window as a movie screen. There, behind the glass, stood two kersen trees, their trunks intertwined. The birdcage where Don kept his parrot hung from one of the branches. The bird greeted Laura every morning when she opened the curtains.

“Good morning, my love!” the parrot would say. Don had taught the bird to greet Laura in the morning. It was almost as though he knew that one day he would be confined to the bed with a tube in his nose. The illness had paralyzed half of his body. Laura nodded and laughed as the parrot shook its tail.

Mariantje also greeted her every day. “Good morning! You look healthy and radiant today.”

Laura laughed.

Mariantje was a tall, large woman, with dark skin. She wore her hair tied up with a bandana. She came into Laura’s room holding a mop. She just finished boiling potatoes for Laura’s breakfast. She did all the chores around the house: she cooked, did the laundry, ironed, swept the yard and shopped. She came from Sanger in Manado and had worked for Laura for five years. Laura liked the way Mariantje worked.

Every Saturday Laura added a little something to Mariantje’s shopping list. She would ask her to go to Senen and buy the latest novel. Later, Laura would read the book to Don with a magnifying glass.

Mariantje liked Laura’s house. It was simple, it smelled of oranges, and always filled with jazz music. Every morning Mariantje wound up Laura’s old gramophone and put on the jazz record Laura wanted to listen to.

“Natalie Cole this morning, Mariantje!”

Mariantje experienced many touching moments in Laura’s house. Two nights ago, she came in to check on Laura and found the old woman sitting next to Don and reading to him from a book with a red cover. Laura believed that even though Don could no longer move, he could still hear. Her voice quivered like it usually did.

“Don, my love, this is a passage from Max Havelaar in which he quotes the poet Heine. I thought you’d enjoy it.” She cleared her throat and began to read. “‘And in the distance roars ever/ The holy river’s loud flood./ And there, while joyously sinking/ Beneath the palm by the stream,/ And love and repose while drinking,/ Of blissful visions we’ll dream.’ So be happy, my love!”

Mariantje quietly watched the scene from the doorway. She was touched. Laura read well. The book was Max Havelaar by Eduard Douwes Dekker, published in the 1977 edition. She had bought it on Jalan Kwitang. The seller had persuaded her to buy it. “It’s a good book. Pram and Kartini read it, you have to have it!” he said.

***

After reading to Don, Laura, as usual, looked for Mariantje. They talked in the kitchen. This time Laura talked about something serious. “Mariantje, I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to pay you these past few months. It saddens me, and you never complain about it.”

“There’s no need to be sorry. Letting me stay here is more than enough.” Mariantje clasped Laura’s hand.

“If one day I’m suddenly gone, the keys to my house are yours for good. That’s all I can pass on to you. Please take care of Don’s parrot. And when one day there’s a jazz museum in this city, give them the old records,” Laura said. “Thank you for taking care of Don and me,” she added in a half-whisper.

“There’s no need to keep thanking me, ma’am. I’m the one who should be thanking you.”

It had in fact been four months since Laura had last paid Mariantje. Don and Laura’s pension was only enough for Don’s medical care, simple meals, and a new book once a week.

Mariantje didn’t complain. To know Laura was a source of joy. She remembered her face was bruised and her lip split the first time she met Laura.

It was at a store. Laura had come in to buy mayonnaise and condensed milk. Mariantje was there to buy a pack of cookies to tide herself over. No one cared about her bruised face and her bleeding lip. People just looked at the shelves. Laura was the only person who asked whether she was alright.

“What happened to your face? Did you fall?” Laura asked as she came closer. Without bothering to wait for an answer, she took Mariantje by the hand and led her home. Laura made a compress of ice cubes and placed it on Mariantje’s chin, cheeks and lips.

“How come you brought me into your house?”

“You’re hurt.” That had been Laura’s answer. She gave Mariantje a house dress with a hibiscus motif. She also gave her a blanket and showed her to the guest room.

Meeting Laura had make Mariantje determined to leave Tigor. She couldn’t stand anything about him. He reeked of beer. He threw the phone at her and hid money. He slammed the table and broke the glass in the windows. Mariantje ran away in the middle of the night to Laura’s house. That was some five years ago.

***

On Sunday morning, Mariantje went to church. She prayed for Don and Laura to stay healthy. She was terrified that God might call both of them. If she could choose, Mariantje hoped that she would be the first to die. She had no one in Java except for Laura. Mariantje made a mental count: tomorrow would be 170 days since Don was bedridden. It was truly a trying time for Laura.

On her way home from church, Mariantje took a detour to buy some flowers. She bought a single red rose and a single white one.

She walked softly to Laura’s room with the roses pressed to her chest. The room was exceptionally quiet. Laura lay on her side on top of the white sheets, her right arm embraced Don, who lay on his back with his mouth open.

Mariantje went up to Laura. She gently placed her finger against Laura’s nostril. There was no movement of air. She grabbed Laura’s arm. It was cold. Mariantje began to cry. Her stomach hurt.

She placed her fingers on Don’s wrist. There was no a pulse. Don was free.

Perhaps it was their time to go. Mariantje cried. She remembered her talk with Laura the day before. “Mariantje, I’ve wanted for so long to go away with Don. To go away forever. It’s said that in that other world, we’ll be young again. Isn’t that beautiful, Mariantje?”

***