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Dasamuka (Chapter 9)

Maya Denisa Saputra has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the UK-based University of Bradford in Singapore. While holding a position in the accounting department of a family business, she pursues her interests in writing, literary translation, and photography.

Maya’s writings and translation work have appeared in the Buddhist Fellowship Singapore’s newsletter, “Connection,” an online platform that gathers writings about physical and mental wellness, as well as in “B.Philosophy,” and “LitSync,” online communities of aspiring fiction writers, and “Intersastra,” a literary translation initiative.

She can be reached at:



Chapter 9

Rara Ireng was becoming accustomed to her new life as a fugitive. She was already dressed in her best clothes and wearing the bracelet and necklace Danar had given her. For Rara Ireng, the journey to Salatiga meant she would meet her husband’s family for the first time. Her dazzling beauty was a stark contrast to the situation around her.

Passing the bloody scene in the front yard, Rara Ireng shivered. Shaking, she climbed into the carriage driven by Kang Bewok, and they quickly left their hideout.

Danar and Den Wahyana, seated in the back, carried loaded rifles and kept their eyes on the road behind them.

That afternoon, white, spear-shaped clouds floated across a blue sky. After the carriage had traveled about ten miles, Danar and Den Wahyana felt they could relax their vigilance for a moment. They shifted their sight to other directions, instead of constantly watching the road behind them, until two dots appeared in the distance.

Den Wahyana tightened the grip on his rifle.

As the two black dots drew closer, they turned into the figures of two horsemen, their galloping mounts creating a yellowish dust cloud. Soon, other horse riders followed the first two, and it looked like there was an entire battalion of cavalry soldiers approaching.

Den Wahyana tapped Danar on the shoulder. “We will soon begin today’s game. It could very well be the most exciting one.”

“Yes, Den. I’m ready.” Danar turned to his wife. “Diajeng, please kneel down. Spread the jarits on the carriage floor so the road bumps won’t hurt your knees. We have some business to take care of.”

The lead rider moved closer to the carriage, but Kang Bewok, under instruction of Den Wahyana, did not increase speed. Den Wahyana knew it would be useless to race the powerful horses of the Keraton Cavalry.

“Don’t shoot unless they start,” Den Wahyana warned.

“It looks like they’re ready to shoot us anytime.”

“Once they open fire, we’ll shoot back. I’ll take the ones coming from the left; the right ones are yours.”

Soon, the lead rider fired his first shot. The explosion made the carriage horses lose the rhythm of their gait. However, a well-aimed shot from Den Wahyana toppled the attacker, who had not expected his target to react that quickly. The second rider immediately slowed his horse, not wanting to share his friend’s fate, and ordered the approaching riders to disperse.

Danar tried counting the fierce horses facing them. There were twenty men — five of them approaching from his left and five others coming from his right. The rest maintained their distance.

Den Wahyana and Danar looked at each other. They had agreed to kill rather than be killed. They targeted the riders, who now closed in on the carriage. Four of them soon fell from their horses. One man grabbed on to the top of the carriage, and Danar beat him with the butt of his rifle until the man vomited blood. Before the man crashed to the ground, Danar saw the necklace he was wearing, which identified him as a member of the special forces of the Keraton. The other five riders slowed down their horses. Slowly retracting, they still flanked the carriage on the left and the right.

The remaining fifteen riders now took aim at the carriage, and bullets whistled around them. It seemed the attackers wanted to capture the fugitives, and it no longer mattered if they were alive or dead when they were taken.

Den Wahyana unloaded his rifle, firing a spray of bullets at his hunters. Three more riders fell from their horses, and their bodies rolled in the dust.

Twelve men continued to pursue the carriage and kept firing.

Den Wahyana and Danar began to run out of ammunition. When Danar reloaded his rifle, he heard a painful moan.

Rara Ireng, kneeling down in the carriage with her head lowered, let out a quiet groan.

Danar quickly climbed down to the floor of the carriage and embraced her shaking body. When he noticed blood on his hand, he carefully laid her on the carriage seats and yelled for Kang Bewok.

There was no answer from the coachman, and Danar watched as Kang Bewok’s body fell sideways, blood gushing from a shot wound in his ribcage, one of his hands still holding the reins.

By the time Den Wahyana managed to shoot down three more of their pursuers, Kang Bewok’s body had rolled down to the carriage floor.

Now, nine riders chased them like a pack of wild animals, and Danar climbed up to the coachman’s seat, trying to grab the horses’ reins.

With no time to reload his gun, Den Wahyana pulled out a set of small spears.

Danar, who was now driving the carriage, understood Den Wahyana’s strategy immediately. He slowed down and shouted a watchword to Den Wahyana before he pulled to the left side of the road. When all nine of his hunters were forced to the right side of his carriage, Danar made a sudden sharp turn and crossed over to the yellowing rice field on his right.

A violent crash between carriage and pursuers was unavoidable. The horsemen were thrown out of their saddles. The carriage ran over two of them and the wheels pushed the bodies into the soggy soil of the rice field. The creaking carriage came to a jolting halt when one of its wheels fell off.

Den Wahyana, who had anticipated Danar’s move, immediately jumped out of the carriage and stabbed the two men nearest to him with the small spears he had prepared. They dropped, groaning, to the ground, blood seeping from their abdomens. Three men managed to get up and attempted to run for their lives, while two others struggled to pull themselves out of the mud from the wet rice field.

Danar jumped out of the carriage. He emptied his gun on two of the men who tried running away. While he chased the other one, Danar heard shots behind him and knew Den Wahyana had taken care of the two men he had left struggling. The man he was chasing used his remaining strength to run as fast as he could. Armed with a spear, Danar kept after him. The man soon collapsed with his face to the ground.

“Who sent you here?” Danar shouted.

When there was no answer, Danar, using his foot, turned the body over.

“Uncle Mangli! Uncle! Is that you?” Danar stared at the man whose body was almost completely covered in mud and blood.

“Kill me, Danar,” Mangli groaned and extended his two hands toward Danar.

“Who sent you here to kill me, Uncle?” Danar ignored his uncle’s plea.

“Kill me, Danar,” Mangli’s voice was no louder than the rustle of rice stalks blowing in the wind.

“If you refuse to tell me who sent you, I will kill you for sure.

Who is paying you? Answer me!”

“Kill … kill me.”

The spear in Danar’s hand penetrated deep into Den Mas Mangli’s heart. Fresh blood splattered Danar’s forehead.

A short gurgle escaped from Mangli’s throat, and then he was dead.

“Danar! Come help your wife!” Den Wahyana’s voice pulled Danar out of his storm of emotions. He had just killed his mother’s brother, the uncle who had often taken him riding when he was young. Danar quickly left his uncle’s body and climbed back into the tilted carriage.

The jolt that brought one side of the carriage down when the wheel fell off had caused Rara Ireng to roll off the carriage seat where Danar had left her. Now, her limp body leaned against the sloping wall. The seat, and the fabric of the jarit truntum she wore, were soaked in her blood.

Danar was stunned.

All he could do was kiss his wife’s pale forehead. Tears, rolling down his cheeks, fell onto Rara Ireng’s face.

“Kakang Danar,” Rara Ireng whispered weakly.

Danar was unable to answer her.

“Are you going to remarry when I die?” Rara Ireng was barely
audible. Her eyelids fluttered.

Danar still could not utter a word; he could only shake his head.

“Thank you, kakang .…” Rara Ireng whispered as her body went limp and she, who had been able to defend her honor as a wife, let go of life.

Danar, a man used to the hard life in the streets and the dirty mud of gutters, burst into uncontrolled sobs. With trembling fingers, he pulled the jarits from under Rara Ireng’s limp body. He refolded the crumpled, bloodied cloths, one by one, and lay them on the carriage seat. He then gently picked up Rara Ireng’s body and laid her down on her beloved jarits. She looked as beautiful as the nymph Nawangwulan sleeping peacefully in her chamber.

Outside, Den Wahyana slowly walked away from the carriage. He wanted to give Danar privacy to express his grief. He walked toward a bird-watch shelter and watched the heartbreaking scene.

Danar stepped out of the carriage carrying Rara Ireng’s wrapped body in his arms. He staggered across the rice field and headed for a tall magnolia tree nearby.

In the shade of the tree’s lofty canopy, Danar lay down his wife’s body. For a moment, he remained kneeling next to it. Then, he slowly rose and started to walk around Rara Ireng’s body.

Den Wahyana startled when Danar lifted his face and, screaming, punched at the air above him with clenched fists.

Den Wahyana was unable to make words out of Danar’s screams, the wild howling sounded like the angry cry of a wounded animal.

Meanwhile, scattered, spear-shaped clouds slowly grew into massive, gray bulges.

Rain started to fall. The light drizzle soon turned into a heavy downpour. Thunder rolled, and lightning struck.

Den Wahyana braced himself to cross the rice field in the pouring rain and approach Danar, who now stood statue-like under the magnolia tree with the body of his wife at his feet.

Den Wahyana halted about three feet away from Danar and softly called out to him. The former war commander shivered when their eyes met.

The agony in Danar’s eyes was terrifying.



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