Laura Harsoyo was born in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and grew up in Palembang (South Sumatra) and Surabaya (East Java), where she graduated in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Airlangga University. She loves to read literary works and is interested in writing fiction. During her 21-year career in the hospitality industry, she wrote articles for Chef! – a culinary magazine in Jakarta, as well as translated some articles in organizational publications. She currently works as a freelance translator in fiction and nonfiction writing. Laura translates from Indonesian into English.
Laura can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The man had watched her since she was a bud and as she blossomed. He was intoxicated by her fresh fragrance. Every morning, he peeked at her out of the window while smoking his kretek cigarette. The smoke spiraled out of the sides of his mouth as he chanted his mantra. His eyes were wild and filled with an eagerness to pick her when the time came.
That night, he had not been able to fall asleep. Neither his warm pillow nor his soft cotton sarong had been able to soothe him. The chickens kept clucking until daylight broke through the eastern sky and dew rolled off the leaves to the ground.
The man had no patience to wait for the sun to rise. He wrapped his sarong around his neck and hurried to the well. He drew a bucket of water and washed his face to drive away his drowsiness.
Carrying a bamboo basket in one hand and a ladder in the other, he went to check on his coffee tree. Clusters of ripening red berries dotted the branches of the tree, lush with dark green foliage and some yellowing leaves.
He quickly poked his ladder into the tree’s canopy, leaned the ladder against the trunk, and then carefully climbed the rungs. With each step, he inhaled the fresh morning air, scented with the aroma of coffee leaves and berries.
When he reached a big branch, he suddenly stopped.
A pair of dark brown eyes glared at him. The large, marble-size eyes were filled with anger and fear. Threatened, the animal bared a row of sharp, pointed teeth.
The man gasped; blood rushed to his head. He clenched his teeth, restraining his anger.
Their eyes met.
The man’s jealousy made his heart beat so violently that he almost shook the branches of the coffee tree. He seemed to have lost his sensibilities. Fury propelled his hand and he almost struck the head of the wild animal that had beaten him to picking the coffee berries.
But his sense of humanity and love of nature prevailed, and he restrained the movement of his hand.
“I’m human and you’re an animal,” he whispered to the luwak stealing his coffee.
The civet held its ground. It continued to stare at the man with bared teeth. Hissing, the luwak seemed ready to pounce. The cornered luwak would do anything to keep enjoying the red, ripe coffee berries.
“I’m blessed with a heart and the ability to love, while all you have is desire,” the man said softly to the luwak.
The luwak still didn’t move. It glared at the man with a menacing grimace.
“You don’t understand, my friend. You’re just tempted by the beauty of the red, ripe flesh of the coffee berries. You don’t know the essence of coffee.”
The man spoke gently. He did not want to disturb the angry luwak, nor did he want to put himself in danger.
“If the red, ripe, sweet, and juicy berries are all you want, then take them, my friend. Please, help yourself. Eat as many as you want, I don’t need them.” The man smiled at the angry animal.
“I’m willing to wait for you to discard them from your gut. You only chew her flesh, then leave it to break down in your intestinal tract. But that is where the heart is forged. After you have enjoyed the flesh of her body and you discard her, all that remains is her heart. A heart that is as precious as a black pearl.”
The man slowly descended from the ladder. He left the coffee berries for the luwak to feast on.
“If you understood my language,” the man said before leaving, “I’d tell you that the essence of the coffee is in her heart.”
The man rolled a single dark coffee bean in the palm of his hand. “And the heart of a coffee berry, the bean, should be willing to be crushed and brewed in order to release the aroma and taste that captivate the human heart.”