Celebrating Our Tenth Anniversary

From Sabang to Merauke

As a part of our 10-year anniversary celebration and the launch of our bilingual compilation of short stories, Footprints / Tapak Tilas, Dalang Publishing held a series of events, From Sabang to Merauke / Dari Sabang ke Merauke, between January 18 and June 10, 2023.

During this time, Dalang and a participating university hosted a “literary conversation” in each of Indonesia’s six regions. Our goal was to use modern technology to visit each area with a story of their locality chosen from Footprints /Tapak Tilas, as a conversation starting point. We then engaged in a discussion among the author, translator, and area-specific audiences.

Our intent was to inspire local writers to submit their unpublished work. The six teleconferences are recorded on YouTube, and we invite you to join us by clicking on the links below: https://sites.google.com/view/bincangsastra-eng/beranda



We’d like to thank all participants for their contributions to the event – in particular the representatives of the universities, Dalang’s authors and translators, and Martin Nuh Hanan for editing our videos.

Only A Girl – Chapter 9

The aftermath of World War II and the turmoil of the Indonesian Independence changed Lian Gouw’s way of life. After living in a foreign country and speaking a foreign language for nearly four decades, she finally had the opportunity to pursue an old dream: to become a writer. Unfortunately, she also realized that she had lost the ability to write in Dutch. Gouw then decided to study creative writing and returned to college. After completing four edits over seven years, in June 2009, Only a Girl was published by Publish America. In April 2010, the Indonesian translation and publishing rights for Only a Girl were purchased by PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama. 

When Gouw founded Dalang Publishing in 2012, she bought back the publishing rights for Only a Girl from Publish America. Since then, the novel has been published by Dalang Publishing and distributed by Ingram. It is available on amazon.com and some independent bookstores. 

Widjati Hartiningtyas, who translated Only a Girl for P.T Kanisius in Yogyakarta, deserves special kudos for her hard work in finding the right words which resulted in Mengadang Pusaran. (PT Kanisus 2020). 

Lian Gouw can be reached at: dalangpublishing@gmail.com  





Nanna covered the tender buds on the rosebushes with empty eggshells to protect them from insects and wished there were a way she could shield her family from harm just as easily. She knew the ancestors and gods would not be able to keep them safe until the war was over. Nanna had always considered war to be a man’s affair, but this war not only involved Carolien, it had also found its way to Jenny.  

The voices of Chip, Ting, and Mundi came from the kitchen area, interspersed with hammering and sawing. Chip had decided that he would use the kitchen cupboard as his hiding place should the Japanese come looking for him, and the dogs would serve as protection. Nanna had not asked for details. She was fully aware of the tension that hung in the air. It made the women nervous and irritable and the men more silent than usual. Nanna spent a lot of time on the front porch bench, looking down the street. When Jenny joined her she silently rubbed the girl’s hand, her heart filled with a mother’s fear for the safety of her children. 

Almost a week went by before a Japanese jeep stopped in front of the house one afternoon. Four Japanese soldiers jumped out and walked up the driveway with their rifles slung loosely across their shoulders. Nanna grabbed Jenny’s arm and drew her close. 

The Japanese halted for a moment in the driveway before the sergeant walked with confident strides up the porch steps. He bowed to Nanna and flashed a big smile to Jenny. He then took a letter out of his shirt pocket and handed Nanna the document. 

She shook her head. “I can’t read.” 

“Who else is home?” The Japanese spoke in heavy accented Malay.  

“My daughters and granddaughters.”  

One of the soldiers offered Jenny a piece of melted chocolate. When she shook her head and scooted closer to Nanna, he shrugged his shoulders.  

“Do you know Ong Chip Hong?” the sergeant asked.  

“Yes, he’s my son.” 

“Where’s he now?” 

“Not home.” 

“When will he be home?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Who’s the head of the household?” 

“I’m a widow. He’s the oldest son living with me, so he is.” Nanna held the Japanese in a steadfast gaze. “Who’s the letter for?” 

“The head of the household.” The soldier replied, puzzled. 

“Then I guess you have to come back when he is home.”  

The soldier who had offered Jenny the chocolate held his arms out for her. “Come.” His broad smile showed a gold tooth. “At home I have a little girl, just like her.” The soldier patted Jenny on the head, then abruptly turned around and joined the others walking down the driveway. 

Nanna waited for the sound of the jeep to disappear into the empty street before taking Jenny inside the house. She knew it was only a matter of time before the Japanese would be back. Her children’s Dutch involvement drew them, and it would not be possible to hold them off forever. 

Two days later, Nanna and Jenny were dusting the altar tables while Carolien worked on a sewing pattern at the dining room table, when the dogs barged into the room barking furiously. Someone was at the gate.  

Nanna put her dust rag down. “Lock up the dogs,” she said, “and tell Chip and Ting the Japs are here.” Nanna threw a quick glance at her late husband’s portrait on the altar wall.  

The same four Japanese soldiers who had come two days before stood on the porch. The one closest to the door asked, “Is Ong Chip Hong home?” 

“No.” Nanna put an arm around Jenny. 

“We need to search the house,” the soldier said. 

Nanna pulled her shoulders back and looked at each soldier with a steady gaze. “I won’t let you in,” she said firmly. 

Some of the soldiers shifted the guns slung across their shoulders.  

The dogs’ barking became faint. Nanna knew they would be locked up in the kitchen by now. She took a few deep breaths. 

Ting opened the front door and spoke into her back. “Mother, please, let me help these gentlemen.” 

Nanna did not move. She had always given Ting the same preferential treatment reserved for Chip, even though he was only a second son, but now he was asking her to take direction from him. Was this the day that her vision would come true? 

Nanna put a hand on Jenny’s shoulder. She steered the girl past the soldiers. “Jenny, come,” she said, “sit by me.” 

Jenny obeyed quietly. 

The men entered the house as Nanna and Jenny took their seats on the porch. The dogs barked ferociously at the intruders, until a rapid rattling of gunshots rang out, followed by screams from Sue, Emma, and Els, mixed with agitated Japanese voices. Nanna felt her chest expand. She clamped one hand around the edge of her seat and grabbed Jenny’s arm with the other. The dogs were quiet now. Nanna took a deep breath. Something hard and large dislodged itself inside her as she tried to breathe and stay calm. Had the time of mourning come already? 

Els came running through the front door. “Nanna! Nanna! They shot the dogs! The Japs are going to kill us all!”  

Jenny jumped up. “Is Claus dead? Did the Japs kill Claus?” 

“Jenny, stay here!” Nanna pulled Jenny back into her seat. Making room for Els on the bench, Nanna reached for the sobbing girl. 

Voices came closer. The Japanese soldiers came through the front door. Nanna spotted Chip in their midst. She saw Ting, Eddie, Sue, Carolien, and Emma following them and she breathed easier. It seemed the dogs had been the only victims of the gunshots. 

Nanna stiffened when the men walked by. She closed a hand around Els’ shoulder. Pulling Jenny closer, she cast a glance at Chip. He looked away but she caught a glimpse of his battered face and noticed the bright red spots on the handkerchief he held pressed against his mouth. 

Nanna watched Chip climb into the Japanese jeep. He moved slowly, burdened by Dutch secrets. Nanna knew her son would not talk. His blood would be thick and silent. 


Carolien sat on the floor of Ting’s room with Claus’ head in her lap. Ting, sitting next to her, wrapped one of the dog’s front paws in a towel. Claus whimpered and she stroked the dog between his ears.  

One of his pads is cut wide open.” Ting looked up, his face ashen. “He might have stepped on broken glass.”  

“What are you going to do?” Carolien was irritated. She had never understood Ting’s devotion for his dogs. She wanted to tell him to be happy the Japs had only shot the dogs, it could have been any of them, but she knew better. 

“I’ve got to find the shard and take it out. Here, hold the towel against the wound. Try to stem the blood flow.” Ting rose. “I’ve got to get a few things.”  

Once alone in the room, Carolien straightened. Her back hurt from sitting bent over for so long. A heap of bloody towels reminded her of the afternoon. The Japs storming into the house, waving their guns, screaming, “Ong Chip Hong! Come out!” The dogs barking and jumping against the closed kitchen door, the sudden gunfire, the dogs dropping to the floor, her standing there with shaking knees, afraid the bullets would hit the cupboard, penetrate the wood, and hit Chip. What would the Japs do to Chip? Although she was aloof with her brothers, she looked up at Chip and admired him greatly. 

Ting returned, followed by Eddie and Jenny. 

“Claus!” Jenny cried, dropping next to the dog. He lifted his head, whimpering. 

“Here, if you hold his head in your lap, I can help Youngest Uncle check his leg.” Carolien shifted the dog’s head carefully into Jenny’s lap. 

“Oh, Claus. You’ll be okay.” Jenny scratched the dog’s ears. Stroking his muzzle, she repeated, “You’ll be okay. You’ll see.” Claus sighed and slapped the floor with his tail. 

Jenny watched as Ting washed the dog’s paw in a solution of water and iodine before pulling out the shard with a pair of tweezers. “I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up,” she said. 

Ting laughed and Eddie said, “I think you’ll be a good one.” 

Carolien frowned. Jenny was picking up too much of Nanna’s and Ting’s ways. With all the decent occupations to choose from, why did she want to become a veterinarian? 

Eddie helped Ting and Carolien pick up the room before taking a seat on the edge of Ting’s bed. 

“Where are all the other dogs?” Jenny stroked Claus between his ears. 

“Dead.” Eddie clenched his jaws. 

“Caesar too?”  

“No. He almost killed one of the Japs. You should’ve seen how that dog attacked.” Eddie rose. “Fortunately, the Japs didn’t shoot him, they only clubbed him. Youngest Uncle was able to get him away in the midst of the commotion and put him with Emma in the servant’s bathroom. He might have gotten away with a broken shoulder.” 

“Why did the Japs take Oldest Uncle with them and why did they kill all the dogs?” Jenny asked, keeping her eyes on Claus. 

“Before the war, Oldest Uncle worked for the Dutch government. As a matter of fact, he still does.” Eddie stopped abruptly when Carolien glared at him. 


“The Japs wanted Oldest Uncle to tell them about his office. He hid in the big kitchen cupboard, we thought he would be safe there. No one expected the Japs to gun down the dogs.”  

“Are the Japs going to kill Oldest Uncle?”  

“Let’s hope not,” Carolien said. “The Dutch will be back soon and I’m sure they’ll set Oldest Uncle free.” She tried to sound convincing, but she knew that no one, including herself, believed her.  


Chip’s capture by the Japanese moved slowly into the background of everyday life. Across the country families bound together to get through the war. With the Dutch government shut down and no salary coming in, Ting and Carolien began trading on the black market. The tobacco store that Chip and Ting had set up as a front for their undercover work now also carried clothing and foodstuffs. Carolien took in sewing. Along with Eddie and Ting, she was active in the Dutch Underground.  

With the Dutch schools shut down Els took responsibility for Jenny’s schooling, tutoring her every day so she wouldn’t fall behind. Els had received her teaching credential just before the war broke out but had not worked in a school yet. The family disapproved of her teaching at a school for natives and there had been no openings yet at any of the Dutch schools. 

By September, the mango blossoms had turned into plump, deep-yellow fruit but the war showed no signs of ending soon. Jenny was in the backyard, helping Nanna and Mundi prop up the laden mango branches, when a car stopped by the front gate and the bell rang. She ran to see who it was, but Nanna called her back and sent Mundi instead.  

Jenny shot Nanna a sideways glance. The dogs lay near her, their ears perked, noses pointed toward the gate. An eerie stillness filled the moments before Mundi returned with a letter in his hand. He fell to his knees and bowed deeply before handing Nanna the brown envelope. 

Nanna straightened herself. “Thank you,” she said. Her voice was steady but her hand trembled as she took the item. “You and Non Jenny finish up while I take this inside.” 

Mundi remained on his knees as Nanna walked away. “It’s all because of the Dutch, Nonnie.” Mundi sighed, rising when Nanna was out of sight. 

“Why do you say that?” Jenny frowned. She wasn’t used to servants talking without being spoken to first. 

 Mundi reached for the bamboo pole Nanna had left leaning against the tree trunk. “It’s time for the Dutch to go back to their country, Young Miss,” Mundi said and walked away. 

Jenny watched Mundi disappear into the garden. Was Mundi against the Dutch? Did he side with the Japs? Maybe Mundi was traitor…. 

After dinner that night Nanna took a letter from the altar table and handed it to Ting. “The Japs delivered this earlier,” she said. 

Ting used his fruit knife to open the envelope. Jenny saw him blinking hard as he glanced at the page. He cleared his throat before reading aloud to the gathered family. “The Japanese Emperor and government regret that prisoner Ong Chip Hong’s uncooperative attitude necessitated the use of more forceful methods than are customary. We further regret to have to inform you that during the course of interrogation, the above mentioned prisoner died on September 27, 1944. The Japanese authorities have disposed of his body.” Ting’s voice faltered. 

Sue burst into tears. Els got up and walked to Nanna. Eddie pulled Jenny on his lap so Els could sit in the chair next to their grandmother. Carolien and Emma cried into their napkins. 

Nanna walked to the altar. She lit a bundle of incense sticks and raised them high in prayer. “The Dutch are asking too much,” she said without turning around. 

Jenny stared at her grandmother’s rigid back and chewed her knuckles. She noticed a new urn on the altar table. When did Nanna place it there? Was Nanna now asking the spirits why Oldest Uncle had to die? What would their answer be? 















Mengadang Pusaran – Bab 9

Widjati Hartiningtyas has a strong interest in languages. The first foreign language she mastered was English. Her love for books and languages led her to choose a language major at high school and an English Literature discipline at the Semarang State University (UNNES). After graduating from UNNES in 2004 with a BA of Letters degree, Tyas worked as a teacher.

Besides working as a freelance translator, she started writing stories for children. Some of her published works are activity books. Ready to go to Elementary School with Piko (PT Tiga Serangkai, 2018) and Rori’s Exciting Adventures series (PT Kanisius, 2017).

Widjati Hartiningtyas can be reached at: widjati@gmail.com




Bab 9  


Nanna menutupi kuncup-kuncup lembut bunga mawar dengan cangkang telur kosong untuk melindunginya dari serangga. Dia berharap semudah itulah cara melindungi keluarganya dari bahaya. Dalam hati kecilnya dia tahu bahwa para dewa dan leluhurnya tidak akan bisa melindungi mereka hingga perang berakhir. Nanna selalu berpikir bahwa perang adalah urusan lelaki. Namun, perang ini tidak hanya melibatkan Chip dan Ting. Perang ini juga telah melibatkan Jenny.  

Suara Chip, Ting, dan Mundi di dapur ditingkahi bunyi orang memalu dan memotong kayu. Chip telah memutuskan untuk bersembunyi di lemari dapur jika orang Jepang mencarinya. Anjing-anjing peliharaan mereka akan bertugas untuk melindunginya.  

Nanna tidak meminta penjelasan secara terperinci. Dia bisa merasakan ketegangan yang ada saat ini. Para perempuan menjadi gugup dan mudah jengkel, sementara para laki-laki menjadi lebih pendiam dari biasanya. Nanna banyak menghabiskan waktu duduk-duduk di beranda depan dan mengawasi jalanan. Ketika Jenny mendatanginya dan dengan manja menggelendotinya, Nanna hanya mengelus-elus tangan gadis itu tanpa mengatakan apa-apa. Hatinya dipenuhi kekhawatiran seorang ibu akan keselamatan anak dan cucunya.  

Suatu siang, hampir seminggu kemudian, sebuah jip Jepang berhenti di depan rumah Nanna. Empat serdadu Jepang turun dari mobil lalu menyusuri jalan masuk dengan senapan melintang di bahu. Nanna meraih lengan Jenny dan menariknya mendekat.  

Serdadu Jepang itu berhenti sesaat di jalan masuk sebelum sang sersan menapaki tangga beranda dengan langkah tegap. Dia membungkukkan badan di depan Nanna lalu menyunggingkan senyum lebar kepada Jenny. Sersan itu mengambil selembar surat dari saku kemejanya kemudian memberikannya kepada Nanna.  

Nanna menggelengkan kepala. “Saya tidak bisa membaca.”  

“Siapa lagi yang ada di rumah?” Sersan itu berbicara dengan bahasa Maleis berlogat asing.  

“Anak perempuan dan cucu perempuan saya.”  

Salah satu dari serdadu itu menawarkan Jenny sekeping cokelat yang telah leleh. Ketika Jenny menggelengkan kepala dan beringsut mendekati Nanna, serdadu itu mengangkat bahunya.  

“Apakah Nyonya kenal Ong Chip Hong?” tanya sersan itu.  

“Ya. Dia anak laki-laki saya.”  

“Di mana dia sekarang?”  

“Dia sedang tidak berada di rumah.”  

“Kapan dia akan pulang?”  

“Saya tidak tahu.”  

“Siapa kepala keluarga di rumah ini?”

“Saya seorang janda. Chip anak laki-laki tertua yang tinggal bersama saya. Jadi dialah kepala keluarga kami.” Nanna menatap tajam serdadu itu. “Kepada siapa surat itu ditujukan?’  

“Kepada kepala keluarga.” Jawab serdadu yang kini terlihat bingung itu.  

“Jika begitu, saya rasa sebaiknya Tuan kembali lagi kalau dia sudah pulang.”  

Serdadu yang tadi menawarkan cokelat, mengulurkan tangannya kepada Jenny.

“Kemarilah.” Senyum lebarnya memamerkan sebiji gigi emas. “Di rumah aku punya seorang anak perempuan persis sepertinya.” Serdadu itu menepuk kepala Jenny, kemudian cepat membalikkan badan untuk menyusul serdadu lain menyusuri jalan masuk.  

Nanna menunggu hingga suara jip menghilang di jalanan yang sepi sebelum mengajak Jenny masuk ke rumah. Dia tahu tidak lama lagi mereka akan kembali. Kedatangan mereka disebabkan oleh kedekatan anak-anaknya dengan para petinggi Belanda. Mustahil untuk selamanya mencegah serdadu Jepang itu menemukan Chip.  

Dua hari kemudian, ketika Nanna dan Jenny sedang mengelap meja sembahyang sementara Carolien mengerjakan pola jahitan di meja makan, anjing-anjing menyerbu masuk rumah sambil menyalak garang. Ada orang di gerbang masuk.  

Nanna meletakkan lapnya. “Bawa ke dapur anjing-anjing itu,” katanya, “lalu bilang pada Chip dan Ting kalau orang Jepang ada di sini.” Nanna memandang sekilas potret mendiang suaminya di dinding dekat meja sembahyang.  

Empat serdadu Jepang yang datang dua hari lalu telah berada di beranda. Serdadu yang berdiri paling dekat dengan pintu bertanya, “Apakah Ong Chip Hong ada di rumah?”  

“Tidak.” Nanna merangkul Jenny.

“Kami harus menggeledah rumah,” kata serdadu itu.  

Nanna menegakkan tubuhnya sambil menatap tajam para serdadu itu satu per satu. “Saya tidak akan mengizinkan kalian masuk,” ucapnya tegas.  

Beberapa serdadu menggeser senapan di bahu mereka.  

Suara salakan anjing terdengar makin samar. Nanna tahu mereka sudah dikunci di dapur saat ini. Dia menarik napas panjang beberapa kali.  

Pintu depan terbuka dan Ting melangkah mendekati Nanna. Sambil masih berdiri di belakang Nanna, Ting berkata, “Ma, biar owe yang membantu tuan-tuan ini.”  

Nanna tidak bergerak. Dia selalu memperlakukan Ting dengan istimewa, meskipun dia putra kedua. Namun kali ini dia meminta Nanna untuk menuruti arahannya. Apakah hari ini penglihatannya akan menjadi kenyataan?  

Nanna meletakkan tangannya di bahu Jenny. Dia menuntun gadis itu melewati para serdadu. “Ayo, Jenny,” ucapnya, “duduk dekat Oma.”  

Jenny mematuhi neneknya tanpa suara.  

Para serdadu diantar Ting masuk ke dalam rumah, sementara Nanna dan Jenny duduk di bangku beranda.  

Anjing-anjing terus menyalaki para serdadu dengan buas, hingga terdengar rentetan tembakan.  

Teriakan Carolien, Sue, Emma, dan Els bercampur dengan suara gelisah serdadu-serdadu Jepang itu.  

Nanna merasakan dadanya sesak. Dia memegang erat pinggiran bangku dan mencengkeram lengan Jenny dengan tangan satunya.  

Anjing-anjing itu diam sekarang.  

Nanna menarik napas dalam-dalam. Sesuatu yang berat dan besar seolah lepas dari dalam dirinya tiap kali dia mencoba untuk bernapas dan tetap tenang. Apakah masa berkabung sudah dimulai?  

Els berlari melewati pintu depan. “Oma! Oma! Mereka menembaki anjing-anjing. Orang Jepang itu akan membunuh kita semua!”  

Jenny melonjak berdiri. “Apakah Claus mati? Apakah orang Jepang itu membunuh Claus?”  

“Jenny, diam di sini!” Nanna menarik Jenny kembali ke bangku. Nanna bergeser untuk memberi tempat bagi Els. Dia meraih gadis yang terisak itu.  

Suara-suara terdengar lebih jelas. Para serdadu Jepang berjalan keluar rumah. Nanna melihat Chip berada di tengah-tengah mereka. Ketika melihat Ting, Eddie, Sue, Carolien, dan Emma berjalan mengikuti rombongan itu, Nanna mulai bernapas lega. Sepertinya hanya anjing-anjing yang jadi korban.  

Nanna menegang ketika rombongan itu berjalan melewatinya. Dia merangkul bahu Els. Sambil menarik Jenny mendekat, Nanna melirik Chip. Anak laki-lakinya memalingkan wajah. Namun Nanna sempat melihat sekilas wajah Chip yang lebam dan bercak merah segar di sapu tangan yang dia tekan di mulutnya.  

Nanna mengawasi Chip naik ke jip serdadu Jepang. Dia bergerak dengan lamban, dibebani oleh rahasia-rahasia petinggi Belanda. Nanna tahu anak laki-lakinya tidak akan membocorkan apa pun. Darahnya akan mengalir kental dalam kebisuan yang sunyi.

Carolien duduk di lantai kamar Ting sambil memangku kepala Claus.  

Ting, yang duduk di sisinya, sedang membalut telapak kaki anjing itu dengan sepotong handuk. Claus menegang kesakitan dan Carolien mengelus telinga anjing itu.  

Salah satu telapak kaki Claus sobek. Ting menengadah dengan wajah murung. “Mungkin dia menginjak pecahan beling.”  

“Apa yang akan kamu lakukan?” Carolien merasa jengkel. Dia tidak pernah bisa memahami Ting yang begitu sayang pada anjing-anjingnya. Dia ingin bilang kepada Ting untuk bersyukur karena serdadu Jepang hanya menembaki anjing-anjing. Para serdadu bisa saja menembak seseorang dari antara mereka. Namun, Carolien tahu, lebih baik dia diam.  

“Aku harus menemukan pecahan beling itu dan mencabutnya. Tekan terus handuk ini ke lukanya. Cobalah untuk menghentikan pendarahannya.” Ting berdiri. “Aku harus mengambil sesuatu untuk mengobatinya.”  

Begitu sendirian di dalam kamar, Carolien meluruskan tubuhnya. Punggungnya terasa pegal karena lama duduk membungkuk. Tumpukan handuk berdarah mengingatkannya pada kejadian sore tadi. Serdadu-serdadu Jepang itu menyerbu masuk ke rumah. Mereka mengacungkan senjata sambil berteriak, “Ong Chip Hong! Keluar!” Anjing-anjing menyalak dan melompat di balik pintu dapur yang tertutup. Penembakan terjadi dan anjing-anjing tergeletak di lantai.  

Carolien berdiri dengan lutut gemetar, khawatir salah satu peluru mengenai lemari dapur, menembus kayu dan melukai Chip. Apa yang akan mereka lakukan kepada Chip? Meskipun tidak akrab dengan Chip, Carolien menghormati abangnya.  

Ting kembali ke kamar diikuti Eddie dan Jenny.

“Claus!” teriak Jenny sambil menjatuhkan diri dekat anjing itu. Claus mengangkat kepalanya dan merintih.  

“Ini, pangku kepala Claus supaya Mama bisa membantu Om Lik memeriksa kakinya.” Carolien memindahkan kepala anjing itu dengan perlahan ke pangkuan Jenny.  

“Oh, Claus. Kamu akan baik-baik,” Jenny menggaruk lembut telinga anjing itu. Sambil mengelus moncong Claus, dia mengulang lagi, “Kamu akan sembuh. Lihat saja nanti.”  

Claus menghela napas dan ia mengibaskan ekornya ke lantai.  

Jenny memperhatikan Ting membasuh kaki Claus dengan campuran air dan obat merah sebelum mencabuti beling dengan pinset. “Aku mau jadi dokter hewan kalau sudah besar nanti,” katanya.  

Ting tertawa dan Eddie berkata, “Kurasa kamu akan jadi dokter yang baik.”  

Carolien mengerutkan dahinya. Jenny terlalu banyak meniru Nanna dan Ting. Mengapa dia ingin menjadi seorang dokter hewan? Bukankah banyak pekerjaan lain yang lebih layak?  

Eddie membantu Ting dan Carolien membereskan kamar sebelum duduk di tepi ranjang.  

“Di mana anjing-anjing yang lain?” Jenny mengelus telinga Claus.  

“Mati.” Rahang Eddie menegang.  

“Caesar juga mati?”  

“Tidak. Dia hampir membunuh salah seorang serdadu. Seharusnya kamu lihat cara Caesar menyerangnya.” Eddie bangkit berdiri. “Syukurlah serdadu Jepang itu hanya mementungnya. Di tengah kekacauan itu, Om Lik berhasil menyingkirkannya lalu menaruhnya di kamar mandi pembantu. Emma sedang menemaninya. Bahu patahnya akan segera pulih.”

“Mengapa serdadu Jepang itu membawa Om De dan membunuh anjing-anjing kita?” tanya Jenny tanpa mengalihkan pandangannya dari Claus.  

“Sebelum perang, Om De bekerja untuk pemerintah Belanda. Bahkan sebenarnya sampai sekarang pun masih ….” Penjelasan Eddie terhenti ketika Carolien melotot ke arahnya.  


“Serdadu Jepang minta Om De memberitahu mereka tentang kantornya. Om De bersembunyi di lemari dapur. Kami pikir dia akan aman di sana. Kami tidak mengira orang-orang Jepang itu akan menembaki anjing-anjing kita.”  

“Apakah mereka akan menembak Om De?”  

“Semoga tidak,” kata Carolien. “Orang-orang Belanda akan segera kembali dan Mama yakin mereka akan membebaskan Om De.” Carolien berusaha meyakinkan Jenny. Namun dia tahu tidak seorang pun, termasuk dirinya sendiri, memercayai itu.  

Peristiwa penangkapan Chip telah berlalu. Anggota keluarga Nanna sudah tidak membicarakannya lagi. Di seantero negeri, orang-orang berusaha tetap mempertahankan hidup anggota keluarga mereka. Pertalian darah menjadi penting. Keluarga-keluarga bersatu padu melewati perang. Karena pemerintahan Belanda ditutup dan tidak ada lagi gaji bagi pegawainya, Ting dan Carolien mulai berdagang di pasar gelap. Toko tembakau Chip dan Ting, yang dijadikan kedok pekerjaan rahasia mereka sejak Jepang berkuasa, kini juga menjual pakaian dan bahan makanan. Carolien mulai menerima jahitan. Bersama dengan Eddie dan Ting, dia giat dalam gerakan bawah tanah Belanda.  

Karena sekolah-sekolah Belanda ditutup, Els mengambil alih tanggung jawab guru-guru Jenny. Dengan memanfaatkan buku-buku pelajaran yang ada, dia mengajar Jenny setiap hari agar anak itu tidak tertinggal. Els menerima surat ijazah mengajar dari sekolah Belanda tepat sebelum perang pecah. Dia belum sempat mengajar di mana pun. Keluarganya tidak menyetujui keputusan Els untuk mengajar di sekolah pribumi, padahal belum ada lowongan mengajar di sekolah Belanda saat itu.  

Pada bulan September, kembang mangga telah berubah menjadi buah yang besar dan ranum. Namun, belum ada tanda-tanda perang akan segera berakhir. Jenny sedang membantu Nanna dan Mundi memasang penyangga pohon mangga di halaman belakang, ketika sebuah mobil berhenti di depan gerbang dan bel berbunyi. Jenny berlari untuk melihat siapa yang datang, tetapi Nanna memanggilnya kembali dan menyuruh Mundi untuk membukakan pintu.  

Jenny melirik Nanna.  

Claus dan Caesar berbaring di dekatnya. Kedua telinga anjing-anjing itu tegak dan hidung mereka mengarah pada gerbang. Keheningan mencekam mengisi detik-detik sebelum Mundi kembali sambil membawa surat. Dia berlutut dan menunduk dalam-dalam sebelum menyodorkan amplop cokelat kepada Nanna.  

Nanna menegakkan tubuhnya. “Terima kasih,” ucapnya. Suaranya terdengar tenang, tetapi tangannya gemetar ketika memegang amplop itu. “Kamu dan Non Jenny teruslah bekerja.” Nanna mulai melangkah menuju rumah.  

Mundi tetap berlutut ketika Nanna berjalan menjauh. “Ini semua karena orang Belanda, Nonnie,” Mundi mendesah. Dia berdiri ketika Nanna sudah tidak terlihat lagi.  

“Mengapa kamu bilang begitu?” Jenny mengernyit. Dia tidak terbiasa menghadapi pelayan yang memulai pembicaraan terlebih dahulu.

Mundi meraih bambu yang disandarkan Nanna di batang pohon. “Sudah waktunya orang Belanda kembali ke negara mereka, Non,” kata Mundi sebelum berjalan menjauh.  

Jenny mengawasi Mundi yang menghilang ke dalam taman. Apakah Mundi memberontak kepada Belanda? Apakah dia berpihak kepada Jepang? Mungkinkah Mundi seorang pengkhianat?  

Setelah makan malam Nanna mengambil surat dari meja sembahyang lalu menyodorkannya kepada Ting. “Serdadu Jepang mengantarkan ini tadi siang,” katanya.  

Ting menggunakan pisau buahnya untuk membuka amplop.  

Jenny memperhatikan pamannya yang nyaris tidak berkedip ketika menatap lembaran tersebut.  

Ting berdeham sebelum membacakan surat itu dengan suara keras. “Kaisar dan pemerintahan Jepang menyayangkan sikap tahanan Ong Chip Hong yang menolak bekerja sama sehingga memaksa kami menggunakan cara yang lebih keras dari biasanya. Dengan menyesal kami sampaikan bahwa tahanan tersebut di atas meninggal pada tanggal 27 September 1944 pada saat berlangsungnya tanya jawab. Pemerintahan Jepang telah membuang jenazahnya.” Suara Ting terdengar parau dan pelan.  

Tangis Sue pecah.  

Els bangkit berdiri lalu mendatangi Nanna.  

Eddie menarik Jenny ke pangkuannya supaya Els bisa duduk di samping nenek mereka.  

Carolien dan Emma menangis membungkuki serbet mereka.  

Nanna berjalan ke meja sembahyang. Dia menyalakan segenggam batang hio dan mengangkatnya tinggi-tinggi ketika berdoa. “Terlalu banyak yang diharapkan oleh Belanda dari kita,” ucapnya khidmat.  

Jenny menatap punggung neneknya yang tegak menegang sambil menggigiti buku-buku jarinya. Dia memperhatikan sebuah guci baru di meja sembahyang. Kapan Oma meletakkannya di sana? Apakah Oma sedang bertanya kepada para arwah mengapa Om De harus meninggal? Apa jawaban mereka nanti?