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[Short Story] The Boat Thief | Republika | Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Boat Thief

By Ilham Q. Moehiddin

Translated by Suzan ‘Sue’ Piper (Australia)



AMA, am I really the daughter of a fish?”

“Who called you something like that!” Ama Bandi was furious hearing his 15 year old daughter, Ripah’s question. His knuckles stiffened, ready to punch someone at any moment.

“The people in the market let their children make fun of me,” Ripah explained. His face paled when her father, Ama as she called him, filled with rage. Bandi jumped up from his chair, to quickly open the knife sheath and take down the Taa blade from where it hung.

“There’s no point in you paying attention to them. It doesn’t matter to me.” Commented Ripah at her father’s tantrum.

Ripah’s flat tone made Bandi cease his movements, his face surprised, his rage suddenly subdued. “Why, Ripah?” Bandi squatted, placing the Taa blade on the floor, then gazed at his daughter, “I’ll defend you if someone mocks you like that.”

“There’s no need. Your actions will only encourage them. It’ll make me even more embarrassed.” Said Ripah wiping her tears.

Bandi’s face was bowed. He drew a deep breath.

“Ripah… there’s no need for you to listen to people’s nonsense. There’s no such thing as the child of a fish. Humans give birth to humans of course.”

Ama Bandi tried nicely to invite his daughter to talk.

Ripah immediately stood up, glared at her father, then walked in to the kitchen. Bandi got up from his crouch, hung the Taa back on its hook and walked to the window sill. His eyes swept the edge of the Talaga Besar beach where the west wind blew fiercely.

It had already been a week since he had gone to sea. Just like most of the other fisherman. Many of them did not dare to go dawn to the sea during the season of the west wind. Yet, for certain reasons, occasionally some would dare to risk their life at sea. But, Bandi did not want to take such a risk. Ripah was his only child and she was not married yet either. His wife had passed away a long time ago giving birth to Ripah.


When Ripah was still a little baby, Bandi had almost lost his faith hearing all the gossip people tatled about his wife. Who knows what sort of devil had entered the heart and mind of Salamah, his wife, that she did such a reckless thing.

After giving birth, even before the baby’s placenta had emerged, Salamah had suddenly got up from her bed and jumped out of the house, running for the beach. Bandi had no idea how fast she could move. He did not catch up with his wife; it was too late for him to stop her from plunging into the sea. Her body immediately vanished swallowed by the huge waves. This also heppened excatly during the west wind season.

Bandi suspected his wife had gone crazy thingking about their family’s finances. The long west wing season had made both the husband and wife restless. Bandi needed money to pay for Salamah’s giving birth, but instead his wife had stopped him from going to sea.

Going forward was impossible, and unfeasible. They were both truly between a rock and a hard place. That is probably why Salamah did not think it through but killed her self instead in such a crazy manner.

For one full night all the men in the fishing village, including Bandi, went searching for Salamah’s body. The baby was left with the village midwife who had helped Salamah give birth. Until early morning they had not found Salamah’s body. It was not her body they found near the beach but a fish, an ikan duyung, behaving strangely.

It was swimming back and forth near the beach. Occasionally it would push half its body to the water’s surface, then make a sound. The people who were busy looking for Salamah’s body tried to drive it away, but it still would not go. Who knows where the fish had come from.

Bandi had no problem with the fish being there. What concerned him was not that, but the people’s gossip that emerged three days later. None of the male inhabitants had stopped searching for a week, but nor had the mouths of the village women stopped gossiping.

They had began to consider the presence of the ikan duyung as Salamah’s reincarnation. As time passed the gossip grew wilder and Bandi’s name also began to be linked with it. “You can see why their life was difficult. Seems like he married an ikan duyung.” So a woman gossiped.

“They bring bad luck to fisherman, right? They must be chased away if they approach the boats. What do you know Bandi merried one instead?” Snapped another women. Then, they busily occupied themselves gossiping about it.

Then they began to talk about Salamah’s baby who had not even yet been given a name. They began to forbid anyone going to see Salamah’s baby. Don’t want to get bad luck, they said. If they met Bandi nursing his baby in front of the house, they would hurriedly pass by without saying hello. In fact they did not even turn their heads.

It was this that had always worried Bandi. From the beginning, he had always suspected this time would come. Ripah would finally have to face this situation and the old-fashioned attitude of the people around them. Bandi too before had tended to believe in that sort of superstition, but since he had learned to read via the Paket-B program, slowly he had to discard many of those superstition that just did not make senses.

But, Ripah. What hope did a teenage girl of her age have facing the ridicule and gossip of the villagers. What had just happened in the market increased Bandi’s concern.


“Ripah!” Bandi called from the living room.

There was no reply from his daughter’s room. The time for magrib or dusk prayers had just passed. Bandi headed for the kitchen. His stomach needed filling. The fragrant smell of vegetables cooked in coconut milk wafting from the kitchen strongly stirred his tastebuds. But Ripah was not in the kitchen. Ah, perhaps the child was fetching water, filling the tub at the back of the house. Bandi decided to eat first. It if got cold, the coconut milk vegetables would no longer taste delicious.

He had just devoured half a plate, when something alarmed him. His blood run fast. He jumped from his chair, abandoning his food just like that. Without even touching the steps, Bandi jumped down and shouted to his younger brother who as it happened lived right beside his house.

“Bakri…come out! Come out, Bakri…!!”

Bakri appeared sticking his has out of the windows. “What’s up?! Why are you shouting like this at night?”

“Come down! Help me find your niece. Find Ripah! My oars are missing. My boat’s been stolen!” Shouted Bandi in reply.

Bakri’s face grew pale. Paying no attention to his wife, he too jumped down from his house and run after Bandi who had first run towards the beach. Who knows what difficulties his niece was now facing.

Villagers who had also heard Bandi’s shouts came out of their houses. They stopped Bakri asking, “what’s going on with you?”

“Bandi’s oars are missing!” Bakri shouted briefly, running after his older brother.

The men also grew pale. They did not waste time but joined in running after Bakri and Bandi. It was only the men in that villages who sympathised with Bandi’s family. They ignored their wive’s requests not to socialise with Bandi.

Arriving at the beach, Bandi immediately went to where the boats were moored. Bakri together eith two other men gathered dried coconut fronds, weaving them tightly together, folding the ends into two. They made torches, divided them among all the men who came to help.

After being lit, they began to comb the beach calling out Ripah’s name repeteadly. Their voices competed with the volume of the breaking waves. Bandi found Bakri. “My boat’s not at its moorings,” he said anxiously. His face was sweaty and his eyes were wild. “What’s happening?” He asked in a panic.

“Untie some boats and prepare the petromaks. We have to find Ripah this very night!” Bakri ordered. Bandi hurriedly followed his younger brother’s command. He found it difficult to think at this moment. Luckily his brother was calmer than him.

As he ate earlier, Bandi’s heart had almost stopped when he saw his oars no longer hanging from their hooks. When a fisherman does not go to sea, the oars are hung up in their spot. Especially now it was the season of the west wind. At such a season, the boats are moored rather far from the beach edge. Because if the water rises, sometimes boats that are not tethered at their moorings will be swept off to sea. Even when moored, if the water reaches them, the waves can still smash one boat against the other.

When Bandi realised hias oars were no longer in their place, there was no doubt it was Ripah who had taken them. Oars must be one with their boat. If the oars are missing from their hooks, that is a sign that the boat is missing stolen.

Ripah had pushed the boat herself to sea when the waves were at their highest. The teenager did not know what dangers awaited her.

The villagers had already gathered at the beach. They had each brought a lamp so the beach was now bright from their light. Most of the women’s faces held anxiety, seeing their husbands and adult sons side by side helping Bandi and Bakri follow Ripah out to sea.

Waves occasionally beat hard at the beach edge, almost overcoming their attempts to launch the boats. They desperately held onto the boats so they stayed afloat and did not fill with the seawater that slammed into them repeatedly.

They departed in small groups, three boats at a time. Each boat containing two people. Bandi had already preceded them and was now already far at sea. Then another group was launched. Bakri was in the third group. Then the fourth and fifth groups followed. One boat from the fourth group was almost unable to follow after being overturned and struck side-on by a wave.

Fifteen lamps now flickered at sea. The sounds of their calls competed to overcome the fierce roar of the waves. When they arrived at the meeting point, each boat spread out within a radius that slowly grew wider and wider. Their lamps now were like fireflies spreading over the water’s surface.

Bakri had said if they found Ripah’s boat to quickly signal with the lamp seen in the distance. It seemed a boat had just found  something. Hopefully not Ripah’s body or the broken remains of the boat.

On seeing the signal, all the boats slowly moved closer. Bandi whowas closest to the position of the signalling boat, had drawn closer first. The man almost broke out in tears on seeing his daughter safe. Ripah’s boat had almost filled with water and her oars were not there. The first fishermen to find Ripah had tied the girl’s boat to their boat and were scooping out the water.

“Ripah…! What’s the matter with you, Child? Why did you behave like this?!” Shouted Bandi trying to question his daughter over the wave’s roar. Ripah only glanced at her father , the her eyes went back to combing the water’s surface. As if she no longer paid attention to her surroundings.

“That big fish took Ama’s oars,” said Ripah briefly.

“What fish?! Why are you doing this?” Asked Bandi again.

“I want to find Ina. My Ina appeared here, near the boat, then she grabbed Ama’s oars and took them away.”

“What are you talking about now?” Bandi began to lose patience. He shook Ripah’s body to make her aware.

But Ripah was silent again. Her eyes continued to sharply roam trying to penetrate the dark night at sea. Now all the boats had each drawn close. Bakri jumped to the boat where Bandi and Ripah were. His hands clutched his niece.

“Ripah, what are you doing?” He asked , his face soft.

Ripah looked at her uncle’s face. Her tears suddenly fell. Weeping, Ripah still tried to look towards the ocean. “I want to look for Ina. Because the people in the market said, my Ina is an ikan duyung and I am her daughter, bringing bad luck.”

Bakri bowed. And Bandi fell to his seat holding his head. The man cried for the first time. He had never even done that when his wife went missing 15 years earlier.

“Why do you listen to that those people say. I’ve told you countless times, just listen to your Ama. Your Ama knows more about this all than those people.” Bakri tried to coax Ripah.

Ripah shook her head firmly. “No. Those people are right. Ina came to me earlier, swimming beside my boat. She pushed the boat to his place, but she grabbed the oars and took them away.”

“No, Ripah. Your Ina is not a fish. No fish can give birth to humans.”

Ripah suddenly turned away from her uncle. Her face showed she was unhappy with what her uncle had just said. Ripah then moved to the boat’s edge. As she held it her eyes now wildly kept watch over the water’s surface.

Bakri drew a heavy breath. He got up and turned his hand in the air. That was a signal for all the fishermen to return to the beach. This night had already been hard enough for them all. They could just settle Ripah’s problems on land.

The groups of boats slowly broke up and one by one they headed for the beach, Ripah now together with her father in their boat. Her father had borrowed some oars and the boat was tied to the back of Bakri’s.

About 200 metres from the beach, from who knows where it came, an ikan duyung suddenly emerged swimming to the right of Bandi’s boat. Occasionally it would dive and reappear on the other side.

Ripah who had noticed it first, unrestrained, threw herself into the ocean. As if she wanted to follow the ikan duyung.

Bandi, who had been caught off-guard, also jumped into the water. But a wave from behind the boat crashed into his body, rolling him, so that he had to quickly grab the boat’s outrigger to stay afloat. But Ripah’s body could not be seen. Bandi shouted to Bakri, “Ripah’s jumped into the seal,” he exclaimed.

Bandi dived again. Bakri followed jumping from the boat. The two of them, older and younger brother, dived over and over again looking for Ripah’s body. The two people in Bakri’s boat also jumped in trying to help Bandi dan Bakri. For several minutes they searched for Ripah trying to resist the pounding waves, until finally Bakri gave up.

Bakri pulled at Bandi’s body, trying to float on the waves that pushed them boat and the two others towards the beach. Bandi submitted. He let his body be dragged by Bakri towards the beach. On the sand, the man wept.


For the next four days, the people were still carrying out the search for Ripah, But, just like her mother before, Ripah was never found again.

Since that day, Bandi would often spend his afternoon at the water’s edge, sitting on his moored prow. His eyes continously swept the water’s surface, as if trying to find the tracks of his two sweethearts. When his younger brother, or other people asked him to come home, Bandi just replied to them expressionless.

“I’m guarding my boat so the fish don’t steal it,” he replied curtly. (*)

Molenvliet, April 2011.


Ama: father (in the language of the Moronene People)

Taa: the short machete typical of the Moronene People.

Ikan Duyung: a type of saltwater irawaddy dolphin, in some legends also believed to be a mermaid.

Petromaks: a pressurised-paraffin light.

Ina: mother (in the language of the Moronene People).

Source from Through Darkness to Light: A Bilingual Anthology of Indonesian Writing (10th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF), 11-15 October 2013)


About Suzan Piper (Sue) Piper

Suzan Piper_02


Award Winning Indonesian Translator

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

In Indonesia, I worked for 6 years in World Bank funded training projects in the public sector and 4 years as a manager in the education services and marketing sector. I have taught translating and interpreting at the University of Western Sydney and Petersham TAFE. In early 2003 I completed the Judicial Training Program, University of Melbourne, conducted by the Asian Law Group for Australian Legal Resources International, and have since interpreted for various parties of senior visiting Indonesian judges and public prosecutors. I have also convened a oneday seminar at UNSW on interpreters and legal professionals working together and have been twice asked to speak to members of the Sydney Refugee Review Tribunal on professional collaboration with interpreters. I frequently interpret at tribunals, local and district courts up to the federal court level.

I have provided translation and interpreting services for multinational agencies, Australian government, corporate and private clients. Clients include the World Bank (Conflict Resolution – see * below), Australian Federal Police, Legal Aid NSW, NSW Crime Commission, Asian Law Group, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Autore Group (pearling), George Lombard Consultancy, the ABC (Four Corners), SBS (Dateline) and commercial TV current affairs programs (including live to air translation of Suharto’s resignation speech and the sentencing of Amrozi, the ‘Bali bomber’.) For over a decade I have taught Indonesian language and cultural studies in the 5 public Sydney universities that offered Indonesian Studies, and at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW.

My translation work into both languages in the arts is informed by deep engagement in the arts in both countries. My literary/arts translations include various poems by Rendra and the prizewinning collection of short stories by Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s Eyewitness (Imprint Press, 1995, in collaboration with Jan Lingard and Bibi Langker, awarded the SBS Dinny O’Hearn Prize for Literary Translation in the 1997 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards), and ‘The Test’, Foeza ME Hutabarat, in Menagerie 5, (Lontar Press, Jakarta, 2003). Painting catalogues translated include Crossing Boundaries: A Window to Twentieth Century Indonesian Art; Crescent Moon: Islamic Art & Civilisation in Southeast Asia and Yan Suryana: Crossing the Sea of Colours. I have translated scripts, subtitles and provided voiceovers for feature and documentary films in Australia and Indonesia, including Lucky Miles, Troubled Waters, The Golden Sow and The Mirage (directed by Slamet Rahardjo).

More about Suzan Piper:




Suzan Piper kini menetap di Australia, bersama suaminya, Sawung Jabo (seniman dan musisi kondang Indonesia) dan kedua anaknya.

[Telisik Literasi] ‘Three Hermits’ sampai ‘Dodolitdodolitdodolibret’

Oleh Ilham Q. Moehiddin

Sengkarut ini bermula dari pengumuman pemenang Cerpen Terbaik Kompas, di Malam Penghargaan Cerpen Terbaik Kompas 2011, di Bentara Budaya Jakarta pada Senin, 27 Juni 2011 lalu. Kemiripan cerpen pemenang dengan karya Three Hermits karya Tolstoy segera disadari oleh Akmal Nasery Basral dan dibuatkan kritikannya dengan judul karikaturis “Dodolit Dodolstoy”. Di kajian itu Akmal NB menemukan sekurang-kurangnya 8 (delapan) kesamaan besar.

Saya menampilkan kembali kedua cerpen ini, disertai terjemahannya oleh Atta Verin, yang diketik ulang oleh Hanna Fransisca.

Dalam pembacaanku, setidaknya aku menemukan 12 persamaan mendasar, selain bahwa kedua cerpen itu memiliki ide dan gagasan yang sama persis. Dua belas (12) persamaan mendasar itu bisa di baca di bagian paling bawah catatan ini. Terlepas dari semua sengkarut yang bermula, dan tambahan catatan ini, silahkan berasumsi dan membangun penilaian masing-masing terhadap dua entitas karya ini. Demikian.


Three Hermits

By : Leo Tolstoy (Ditulis pada 1886)

Leo Tolstoy

A BISHOPwas sailing from Archangel to the Solovétsk Monastery; and on the same vessel were a number of pilgrims on their way to visit the shrines at that place. The voyage was a smooth one. The wind favourable, and the weather fair. The pilgrims lay on deck, eating, or sat in groups talking to one another. The Bishop, too, came on deck, and as he was pacing up and down, he noticed a group of men standing near the prow and listening to a fisherman who was pointing to the sea and telling them something. The Bishop stopped, and looked in the direction in which the man was pointing. He could see nothing however, but the sea glistening in the sunshine. He drew nearer to listen, but when the man saw him, he took off his cap and was silent. The rest of the people also took off their caps, and bowed.

‘Do not let me disturb you, friends,’ said the Bishop. ‘I came to hear what this good man was saying.’

‘The fisherman was telling us about the hermits,’ replied one, a tradesman, rather bolder than the rest.

‘What hermits?’ asked the Bishop, going to the side of the vessel and seating himself on a box. ‘Tell me about them. I should like to hear. What were you pointing at?’

‘Why, that little island you can just see over there,’ answered the man, pointing to a spot ahead and a little to the right. ‘That is the island where the hermits live for the salvation of their souls.’

‘Where is the island?’ asked the Bishop. ‘I see nothing.’

‘There, in the distance, if you will please look along my hand. Do you see that little cloud? Below it and a bit to the left, there is just a faint streak. That is the island.’

The Bishop looked carefully, but his unaccustomed eyes could make out nothing but the water shimmering in the sun.

‘I cannot see it,’ he said. ‘But who are the hermits that live there?’

‘They are holy men,’ answered the fisherman. ‘I had long heard tell of them, but never chanced to see them myself till the year before last.’

And the fisherman related how once, when he was out fishing, he had been stranded at night upon that island, not knowing where he was. In the morning, as he wandered about the island, he came across an earth hut, and met an old man standing near it. Presently two others came out, and after having fed him, and dried his things, they helped him mend his boat.

‘And what are they like?’ asked the Bishop.

‘One is a small man and his back is bent. He wears a priest’s cassock and is very old; he must be more than a hundred, I should say. He is so old that the white of his beard is taking a greenish tinge, but he is always smiling, and his face is as bright as an angel’s from heaven. The second is taller, but he also is very old. He wears tattered, peasant coat. His beard is broad, and of a yellowish grey colour. He is a strong man. Before I had time to help him, he turned my boat over as if it were only a pail. He too, is kindly and cheerful. The third is tall, and has a beard as white as snow and reaching to his knees. He is stern, with over-hanging eyebrows; and he wears nothing but a mat tied round his waist.’

‘And did they speak to you?’ asked the Bishop.

‘For the most part they did everything in silence and spoke but little even to one another. One of them would just give a glance, and the others would understand him. I asked the tallest whether they had lived there long. He frowned, and muttered something as if he were angry; but the oldest one took his hand and smiled, and then the tall one was quiet. The oldest one only said: “Have mercy upon us,” and smiled.’

While the fisherman was talking, the ship had drawn nearer to the island.

‘There, now you can see it plainly, if your Grace will please to look,’ said the tradesman, pointing with his hand.

The Bishop looked, and now he really saw a dark streak — which was the island. Having looked at it a while, he left the prow of the vessel, and going to the stern, asked the helmsman:

‘What island is that?’

‘That one,’ replied the man, ‘has no name. There are many such in this sea.’

‘Is it true that there are hermits who live there for the salvation of their souls?’

‘So it is said, your Grace, but I don’t know if it’s true. Fishermen say they have seen them; but of course they may only be spinning yarns.’

‘I should like to land on the island and see these men,’ said the Bishop. ‘How could I manage it?’

‘The ship cannot get close to the island,’ replied the helmsman, ‘but you might be rowed there in a boat. You had better speak to the captain.’

The captain was sent for and came.

‘I should like to see these hermits,’ said the Bishop. ‘Could I not be rowed ashore?’

The captain tried to dissuade him.

‘Of course it could be done,’ said he, ‘but we should lose much time. And if I might venture to say so to your Grace, the old men are not worth your pains. I have heard say that they are foolish old fellows, who understand nothing, and never speak a word, any more than the fish in the sea.’

‘I wish to see them,’ said the Bishop, ‘and I will pay you for your trouble and loss of time. Please let me have a boat.’

There was no help for it; so the order was given. The sailors trimmed the sails, the steersman put up the helm, and the ship’s course was set for the island. A chair was placed at the prow for the Bishop, and he sat there, looking ahead. The passengers all collected at the prow, and gazed at the island. Those who had the sharpest eyes could presently make out the rocks on it, and then a mud hut was seen. At last one man saw the hermits themselves. The captain brought a telescope and, after looking through it, handed it to the Bishop.

‘It’s right enough. There are three men standing on the shore. There, a little to the right of that big rock.’

The Bishop took the telescope, got it into position, and he saw the three men: a tall one, a shorter one, and one very small and bent, standing on the shore and holding each other by the hand.

The captain turned to the Bishop.

‘The vessel can get no nearer in than this, your Grace. If you wish to go ashore, we must ask you to go in the boat, while we anchor here.’

The cable was quickly let out, the anchor cast, and the sails furled. There was a jerk, and the vessel shook. Then a boat having been lowered, the oarsmen jumped in, and the Bishop descended the ladder and took his seat. The men pulled at their oars, and the boat moved rapidly towards the island. When they came within a stone’s throw they saw three old men: a tall one with only a mat tied round his waist: a shorter one in a tattered peasant coat, and a very old one bent with age and wearing an old cassock — all three standing hand in hand.

The oarsmen pulled in to the shore, and held on with the boathook while the Bishop got out.

The old men bowed to him, and he gave them his benediction, at which they bowed still lower. Then the Bishop began to speak to them.

‘I have heard,’ he said, ‘that you, godly men, live here saving your own souls, and praying to our Lord Christ for your fellow men. I, an unworthy servant of Christ, am called, by God’s mercy, to keep and teach His flock. I wished to see you, servants of God, and to do what I can to teach you, also.’

The old men looked at each other smiling, but remained silent.

‘Tell me,’ said the Bishop, ‘what you are doing to save your souls, and how you serve God on this island.’

The second hermit sighed, and looked at the oldest, the very ancient one. The latter smiled, and said:

‘We do not know how to serve God. We only serve and support ourselves, servant of God.’

‘But how do you pray to God?’ asked the Bishop.

‘We pray in this way,’ replied the hermit. ‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.’

And when the old man said this, all three raised their eyes to heaven, and repeated:

‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us!’

The Bishop smiled.

‘You have evidently heard something about the Holy Trinity,’ said he. ‘But you do not pray aright. You have won my affection, godly men. I see you wish to please the Lord, but you do not know how to serve Him. That is not the way to pray; but listen to me, and I will teach you. I will teach you, not a way of my own, but the way in which God in the Holy Scriptures has commanded all men to pray to Him.’

And the Bishop began explaining to the hermits how God had revealed Himself to men; telling them of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

‘God the Son came down on earth,’ said he, ‘to save men, and this is how He taught us all to pray. Listen and repeat after me: “Our Father.”‘

And the first old man repeated after him, ‘Our Father,’ and the second said, ‘Our Father,’ and the third said, ‘Our Father.’

‘Which art in heaven,’ continued the Bishop.

The first hermit repeated, ‘Which art in heaven,’ but the second blundered over the words, and the tall hermit could not say them properly. His hair had grown over his mouth so that he could not speak plainly. The very old hermit, having no teeth, also mumbled indistinctly.

The Bishop repeated the words again, and the old men repeated them after him. The Bishop sat down on a stone, and the old men stood before him, watching his mouth, and repeating the words as he uttered them. And all day long the Bishop laboured, saying a word twenty, thirty, a hundred times over, and the old men repeated it after him. They blundered, and he corrected them, and made them begin again.

The Bishop did not leave off till he had taught them the whole of the Lord’s prayer so that they could not only repeat it after him, but could say it by themselves. The middle one was the first to know it, and to repeat the whole of it alone. The Bishop made him say it again and again, and at last the others could say it too.

It was getting dark, and the moon was appearing over the water, before the Bishop rose to return to the vessel. When he took leave of the old men, they all bowed down to the ground before him. He raised them, and kissed each of them, telling them to pray as he had taught them. Then he got into the boat and returned to the ship.

And as he sat in the boat and was rowed to the ship he could hear the three voices of the hermits loudly repeating the Lord’s prayer. As the boat drew near the vessel their voices could no longer be heard, but they could still be seen in the moonlight, standing as he had left them on the shore, the shortest in the middle, the tallest on the right, the middle one on the left. As soon as the Bishop had reached the vessel and got on board, the anchor was weighed and the sails unfurled. The wind filled them, and the ship sailed away, and the Bishop took a seat in the stern and watched the island they had left. For a time he could still see the hermits, but presently they disappeared from sight, though the island was still visible. At last it too vanished, and only the sea was to be seen, rippling in the moonlight.

The pilgrims lay down to sleep, and all was quiet on deck. The Bishop did not wish to sleep, but sat alone at the stern, gazing at the sea where the island was no longer visible, and thinking of the good old men. He thought how pleased they had been to learn the Lord’s prayer; and he thanked God for having sent him to teach and help such godly men.

So the Bishop sat, thinking, and gazing at the sea where the island had disappeared. And the moonlight flickered before his eyes, sparkling, now here, now there, upon the waves. Suddenly he saw something white and shining, on the bright path which the moon cast across the sea. Was it a seagull, or the little gleaming sail of some small boat? The Bishop fixed his eyes on it, wondering.

‘It must be a boat sailing after us,’ thought he ‘but it is overtaking us very rapidly. It was far, far away a minute ago, but now it is much nearer. It cannot be a boat, for I can see no sail; but whatever it may be, it is following us, and catching us up.’

And he could not make out what it was. Not a boat, nor a bird, nor a fish! It was too large for a man, and besides a man could not be out there in the midst of the sea. The Bishop rose, and said to the helmsman:

‘Look there, what is that, my friend? What is it?’ the Bishop repeated, though he could now see plainly what it was — the three hermits running upon the water, all gleaming white, their grey beards shining, and approaching the ship as quickly as though it were not morning.

The steersman looked and let go the helm in terror.

‘Oh Lord! The hermits are running after us on the water as though it were dry land!’

The passengers hearing him, jumped up, and crowded to the stern. They saw the hermits coming along hand in hand, and the two outer ones beckoning the ship to stop. All three were gliding along upon the water without moving their feet. Before the ship could be stopped, the hermits had reached it, and raising their heads, all three as with one voice, began to say:

‘We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God. As long as we kept repeating it we remembered, but when we stopped saying it for a time, a word dropped out, and now it has all gone to pieces. We can remember nothing of it. Teach us again.’

The Bishop crossed himself, and leaning over the ship’s side, said:

‘Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.

And the Bishop bowed low before the old men; and they turned and went back across the sea. And a light shone until daybreak on the spot where they were lost to sight.***


‘And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.’ — Matt. vi. 7, 8.

Sumber: www.online-literature.com


Di bawah ini adalah terjemahan Three Hermits di atas. Diketik ulang oleh Hanna Fransisca dari buku kumpulan cerpen Di Mana Ada Cinta, di Sana Tuhan Ada karya Leo Tolstoy, diterjemahkan oleh Atta Verin. Di copy-paste dari catatan Hanna Fransisca.

Tiga Pertapa

Oleh : Leo Tolstoy (Terjemahan oleh Atta Verin)

Buku Kumpulan Cerpen Leo Tolstoy “Di Mana Ada Cinta, Di Sana Tuhan Ada” (terjemahan)

SEORANG uskup berlayar menuju sebuah biara yang jauh. Pada kapal yang sama terdapat sejumlah peziarah. Mereka juga hendak mengunjungi tempat suci. Perjalanan itu berjalan lancar. Angin begitu kencang dan cuaca cerah.

Para peziarah di geledak kapal menatap hamparan air laut atau duduk berkelompok seraya bercakap-cakap. Lalu, sang uskup pun ikut bergabung di gelagak kapal. Saat ia melihat-lihat keadaan, ia melihat sekelompok lelaki tengah berdiri di buritan kapal. Mereka sedang mendengarkan seorang nelayan yang tengah menunjuk-nunjuk ke arah laut dan menceritakan sesuatu pada mereka. Uskup itu berhenti dan mencoba melihat ke arah yang ditunjuk oleh nelayan itu. Ia tak bisa melihat apa pun, kecuali laut yang berkilauan di bawah cahaya matahari. Uskup itu mendekat dan ikut menyimak. Namun, nelayan itu melihatnya. Dilepasnya topinya dan ia berhenti bicara. Orang-orang lainnya juga melepas topi mereka dan membungkuk hormat.

“Jangan biarkan aku mengganggu kalian,” ujar uskup itu dengan ramah. “Aku ingin mendengar apa yang dikatakan oleh orang baik ini.”

“Nelayan ini sedang bercerita pada kami tentang para pertapa,” jawab salah seorang di antara para lelaki itu, seorang saudagar. Ia lebih berani bicara dibanding yang lainnya.

“Pertapa apa?” tanya sang uskup. Ia bergerak ke sisi gelagak dan duduk di atas sebuah kotak. “Ceritakan padaku tentang mereka. Aku ingin mendengarnya. Apakah yang tadi kamu tunjuk?”

“Pulau mungil itu. Anda bisa melihatnya dari sini, “sahut lelaki itu. Ia menunjuk sebuah titik di depan agak ke kanan. “Di pulau itulah para pertapa itu tinggal. Hanya mereka yang menghuni pulau itu. Mereka ingin menyelamatkan jiwa mereka.”

“Pulau manakah?” tanya uskup itu. “Aku tidak melihat apapun.”

“Di sana di kejauhan—jika Anda mengikuti arah tangan saya. Apakah Anda melihat awan mungil itu? Lihatlah tepat di bawahnya, sedikit ke kiri. Ada sebuah gugus kecil. Itulah pulau yang dimaksud.”

Uskup itu menajamkan pandangan matanya dengan saksama. Tapi matanya tak terbiasa melihat ke lautan. Yang bisa dilihatnya hanyalah air yang berkilauan diterpa cahaya matahari.

“Aku tak bisa melihatnya,” ujarnya. “Tapi siapakah para pertapa yang tinggal di sana?”

“Mereka orang-orang suci,” sahut si nelayan. “Sudah lama saya mendengar kabar tentang mereka. Tapi saya belum pernah melihatnya sendiri hingga akhir tahun kemarin.”

Lalu nelayan itu bercerita tentang saat ia terdampar pada suatu malam di pulau itu. Ia baru saja hendak pergi menangkap ikan saat badai datang. Dalam kegelapan ia terseret arus hingga ke pantai. Ia tak tahu berada di mana saat itu.

Pada pagi harinya ia berkeliling dan sampai di sebuah pondok. Ada seorang lelaki tua tengah berdiri di dekat pondok itu. Sejenak kemudian, dua orang lainnya muncul. Lalu ketiga lelaki tua itu memberinya makan, mengeringkan bajunya yang basah, dan membantunya memperbaiki perahu.

“Seperti apakah mereka?” tanya sang uskup.

“Yang satu bertubuh mungil dan punggungya bungkuk,” sahut nelayan itu. “Ia memakai jubah pendeta dan tampak sangat tua. Mungkin umurnya lebih dari seratus tahun.Begitu tuanya sehingga janggut putihnya mulai berganti warna menjadi kehijau-hijauan. Tapi, ia selalu tersenyum—dan wajahnya secerah wajah malaikat.

“Yang kedua lebih tinggi, tapi juga sudah amat tua,” lanjut nelayan itu. “Ia memakai mantel petani. Janggutnya lebat dan berwarna kuning kelabu. Ia amat kuat. Sebelum saya sempat membantunya, ia telah membalikkan perahu sendirian seolah-olah itu hanyalah sebuah ember. Ia juga amat baik dan ramah.

“Yang ketiga bertubuh tinggi. Janggutnya seputih salju dan panjangnya hingga mencapai lutut. Ia orang yang tegas dengan alis tebal seperti semak belukar. Dan ia hanya memakai semacam kain melingkari pinggangnya.”

“Apakah mereka berbicara padamu?” tanya uskup.

“Sebagian besar mereka melakukan segala sesuatu sambil berdiam diri,” sahut nelayan itu. “Mereka bahkan tidak berbicara satu sama lain. Salah seorang dari mereka mengganggukan kepala dan yang lainnya tampak mengerrti apa yang dimaksud. Saya bertanya pada yang paling tinggi berapa lama mereka telah hidup di sana. Ia malah bermuka masam dan bergumam seakan-akan ia marah. Tapi yang paling tua menggamit lengannya dan tersenyum. Entah bagaimana itu membuat yang tinggi menjadi tenang. Yang tertua itu hanya bilang, ‘Kasihilah kami,’ dan kemudian ia tersenyum.”

Ketika nelayan itu tengah berbicara, kapal mereka mendekat ke pulau yang tengah mereka percakapkan.

“Itu! Kini Anda bisa melihatnya dengan jelas,” ujar si saudagar pada uskup. Ia menunjuk dengan jarinya.

“Uskup itu melihat gugusan gelap yang merupakan sebuah pulau. Sejenak ia hanya menatapnya. Lalu ia beranjak dari bagian depan kapal dan beralih ke tepi.

“Pulau apakah itu?” tanya uskup.

“Pulau itu tidak bernama,” ujar yang ditanya. “Ada banyak pulau kecil seperti itu di laut ini.”

“Benarkah ada pertapa yang tinggal di sana?” tanya uskup itu. “Benarkah mereka tinggal di sana untuk menyelamatkan jiwa mereka?”

“Begitulah kabarnya,” sahut yang ditanya. “Tapi saya tak tahu soal kebenarannya. Banyak nelayan mengatakan bahwa mereka pernah melihat para pertapa itu. Tapi, tentu saja mereka mungkin hanya tahu dari desas-desus belaka.”

“Sebaiknya aku mendarat di sana untuk membuktikannya,” kata uskup. “Bagaimanakah caranya?”

“Kapal ini tidak bisa mendekat ke pulau itu,” sahut seseorang. “Kita bisa karam. Tapi Anda bisa naik perahu kecil ke sana. Sebaiknya Anda berbicara dengan kapten kapal.”

Kapten kapal dipanggil dan kini berdiri di hadapan sang uskup.

“Aku ingin bertemu para pertapa itu,” Kata uskup. “Bisakah aku berdayung ke tepi pantai?”

Kapten mencoba mencegah niat sang uskup. “Tentu saja itu bisa dilakukan,” ujarnya. “Tapi kita akan kehilangan banyak waktu. Dan jika saya boleh mengatakan satu hal lagi. Para orangtua itu tak cukup layak membuat Anda sedemikian bersusah payah. Kabarnya mereka hanyalah orang-orang bodoh yang tak memahami apapun. Mereka tak pernah bicara—lebih pendiam daripada ikan-ikan di lautan.”

“Aku tetap ingin menjumpai mereka,” kata uskup. “Aku akan membayar semua jerih payah dan waktumu yang hilang. Tolong beri aku sebuah perahu.”

Tak ada lagi alasan, maka permintaan itu pun diluluskan. Para awak kapal mengembangkan layar. Juru mudi membelokkan arah kapal menuju pulau itu.

Sebuah kursi diletakkan di haluan untuk tempat duduk sang uskup. Para penumpang berkumpul di sisi kapal dan memandang pulau itu.  Yang memiliki pandangan paling tajam segera bisa melihat batu karang di sekitar pulau itu. Lalu terlihat sebuah pondok yang terbuat dari lumpur. Akhirnya seseorang melihat ketiga pertapa itu. Kapten kapal mengeluarkan teleskopnya. Setelah melihat melalui teleskop, ia menyodorkan benda itu pada sang uskup.

“Memang benar,” ujar kapten itu. “Ada tiga lelaki berdiri di pantai. Di sebelah sana—sedikit di sebelah kanan batu karang besar itu.”

Uskup mengambil teleskop dan memastikan arahnya. Lalu ia melihat ketiga orangtua itu. Ada yang bertubuh tinggi, yang bertubuh lebih pendek dengan punggung bungkuk. Mereka berdiri di tepi pantai, saling berpegangan tangan.

Kapten menoleh ke arah uskup. “Kapal ini tak bisa lebih dekat lagi ke pulau itu. Jika Anda ingin menepi, Anda sebaiknya menggunakan perahu kecil. Kami akan membuang jangkar di sini dan menunggu Anda.”

Jangkar pun diturunkan dan layar digulung. Kapal itu bergoncang saat ia berhenti. Lalu sebuah perahu dayung diturunkan dan juru dayung meloncat masuk. Akhirnya uskup itu turun dengan sebuah tangga dan duduk di perahu dayung.

Para juru dayung mulai mengayuh dan perahu itu pun bergerak dengan cepat menuju pulau itu. Saat jarak mereka tinggal sepelemparan batu, mereka melihat ketiga orangtua itu dengan sangat jelas. Yang paling tinggi hanya mengenakan semacam kain melingkari pinggangnya. Di sampingnya adalah lelaki yang lebih pendek yang memakai mantel petani. Di dekatnya tampak seorang lelaki amat tua, punggungnya bungkuk oleh usia dan ia mengenakan jubah pendeta. Ketiganya berdiri mematung, saling berpegangan tangan.

Para juru dayung mengayuh ke arah pantai. Mereka menambatkan perahu, lalu sang uskup beranjak turun.

Orang-orang tua itu membungkuk padanya. Uskup memberi salam pada mereka dan mereka membungkuk lebih dalam. Lalu uskup angkat bicara.

“Aku telah mendengar kabar bahwa kalian adalah orang-orang suci. Mereka bilang kalian tinggal di sini untuk menyelamatkan jiwa kalian dan berdoa  pada Tuhan,” ujarnya. “Aku, seorang pelayan Tuhan yang hina, terpanggil oleh kasih Tuhan untuk menjaga dan mengajari domba-dombanya. Aku berharap bisa bertemu dengan kalian yang juga merupakan pelayan Tuhan sehingga aku pun bisa mengajari kalian.“

Para orangtua itu saling melempar senyum, tapi tetap berdiam diri.

“Katakan kepadaku, apakah yang kalian lakukan untuk menyelamatkan jiwa kalian?” tanya uskup. “Dan bagaimana kalian melayani Tuhan di pulau ini?”

Pertapa yang kedua menarik nafas dan menatap yang tertua—yang usianya telah amat sangat tua. Orang ini tersenyum dan berkata, “Kami tidak tahu bagaimana cara melayani Tuhan. Kami hanya melayani dan membantu diri kami, wahai pelayan Tuhan.”

“Tapi bagaimana cara kalian berdoa kepada Tuhan?” tanya uskup.

“Kami berdoa seperti ini,” pertapa tua itu menjawab. “Engkau ada tiga, kami ada tiga, maka kasihanilah kami.”

Uskup itu tersenyum.

“Tampaknya kalian pernah mendengar tentang Trinitas Suci,” ujar uskup. “Tapi cara kalian berdoa tidak benar. Kalian membuatku iba. Kulihat kalian ingin berbakti pada Tuhan. Tapi kalian tak tahu bagaimana caranya. Bukan begitu cara berdoa. Dengarkan aku dan akan kuajari kalian. Yang kuajarkan ini bukan sesuatu yang mengada-ada, melainkan menurut apa yang diajarkan Tuhan melalui Kitab Suci kepada seluruh umat manusia.”

Lalu uskup itu mulai bercerita pada para pertapa bagaimana Tuhan memberi wahyu kepada manusia. Ia bercerita kepada mereka tentang Tuhan Bapak, Tuhan Anak, dan Roh Kudus.

“Tuhan Anak turun ke bumi untuk menyelamatkan kita,” ujar uskup. “Dan seperti inilah berdoa yang diajarkan Tuhan pada kita. Dengarkan dan ikuti sesudahnya. “Bapak kami…”

Orang yang pertama lalu mengikutinya, “Bapak kami.” Yang kedua berkata, “Bapak kami.” Begitu pula yang ketiga.

“Yang ada di surga…” lanjut sang uskup.

Pertapa pertama mencoba mengulangi, “Yang ada di surga.” Tapi yang kedua tak mampu melafalkannya dengan benar. Begitu pula pertama yang bertubuh tinggi. Rambut di kepala dan wajahnya telah menutupi mulutnya sehingga ia tak bisa berbicara dengan jelas. Pertapa paling tua, yang sudah ompong, juga mengalami kesulitan dengan kata-kata itu.

Uskup mengulangi kata-kata itu lagi dan para orangtua itu mengikutinya. Lalu uskup duduk di atas sebuah batu dan para pertapa itu berdiri di hadapannya. Mereka menatap mulut uskup itu dengan saksama. Setiap kata yang diucapkan uskup itu mereka ulangi. Sepanjang hari uskup itu bekerja. Ia mengucapkan tiap-tiap kata hingga 20, 30, bahkan 100 kali. Lalu para pertapa tua itu menirunya. Saat mereka membuat kesalahan, ia membetulkannya, lalu mereka mulai lagi dari awal.

Uskup itu tidak berhenti hingga ia selesai mengajarkan seluruh doa itu. Ia mengajari mereka hingga mereka mampu mengucapkannya tanpa dibimbing lagi, bukan sekadar menirukan kata-katanya. Pertapa yang kedualah yang pertama kali berhasil mempelajarinya. Tak lama, yang lainnya berhasil pula mengucapkannya dengan baik.

Kini sudah mulai gelap. Bulan muncul di atas permukaan air. Uskup itu akhirnya bangkit untuk kembali ke kapal. Saat ia beranjak, ketiga lelaki itu bersujud di atas bumi di hadapannya. Ia membangunkan mereka dan mencium mereka satu persatu. Ia berpesan kepada mereka agar berdoa sesuai cara yang tadi telah diajarkannya. Lalu ia masuk ke perahu dayung dan kembali ke kapal.

Ketika uskup itu mendekat ke kapal, ia dapat mendengar suara ketiga pertapa itu. Mereka berdoa dengan suara nyaring. Saat perahu mencapai kapal, suara mereka tak lagi terdengar. Tapi ketiga lelaki tua itu masih bisa terlihat di bawah cahaya bulan. Mereka masih berdiri di tempat semula saat uskup meninggalkan mereka di tepi pantai.

Saat sang uskup telah masuk ke dalam kapal, jangkar dinaikkan dan layar kembali dikembangkan. Angin dengan cepat mendorong kapal layar itu dan mereka pun kembali berlayar ke laut lepas. Sang uskup duduk dan menatap ke arah pulau yang baru saja mereka tinggalkan. Sejenak ia bisa melihat para pertapa itu. Tapi segera mereka lenyap. Akhirnya, pulau itu juga hilang dari pandangan dan hanya laut belaka yang terlihat beriak di bawah sinar bulan.

Para peziarah membaringkan diri, bersiap untuk tidur. Segalanya terasa sepi di atas geladak. Tapi uskup itu tidak ingin tidur. Ia duduk sendirian memandang lautan, ke arah pulau yang tak lagi terlihat. Ia berpikir tentang para orangtua yang baik itu. Ia berpikir tentang betapa semangatnya mereka belajar berdoa. Dan ia berterima kasih pada Tuhan karena telah mengirimnya untuk mengajari dan membantu orang-orang sebaik itu.

Lalu tiba-tiba uskup itu melihat sesuatu yang putih dan bersinar-sinar. Secercah cahaya aneh bergerak di atas permukaan laut yang diterangi sinar bulan. Apakah itu seekor anjing laut? Atau hanyalah kilauan layar sebuah perahu kecil? Sang uskup berusaha menajamkan penglihatannya bertanya-tanya dalam hati.

“Pasti tu perahu yang berlayar di belakang kami,” pikirnya. “Tapi ia membututi kami begitu cepat. Beberapa saat yang lalu ia masih jauh. Kini ia makin mendekat. Tapi tampaknya itu bukan perahu—kini aku bisa melihat bahwa benda itu tak memiliki layar.”

Uskup tak tahu benda apakah itu sesungguhnya. Itu bukan perahu, juga bukan burung dan bukan pula ikan! Terlalu besar bila itu adalah orang. Lagi pula, mana mungkin orang berenang secepat itu di laut lepas?

Uskup itu bangkit dan bicara kepada juri mudi. “Lihatlah! Apakah itu?” teriaknya. “Apa itu?” ulangnya. Tapi kini ia bisa melihat benda itu dengan jelas. Ketiga pertapa itu berlari di atas air! Mereka memburu ke arah kapal seolah-olah perahu itu tidak bergerak sama sekali.”

Juri mudi melihatnya dan melepaskan kemudi dengan ketakutan. “Ya, Tuhan!” pekiknya. “Para pertapa itu berlari di atas air seolah-olah sedang berada di daratan.”

Para penumpang mendengarnya. Mereka melompat dan bergegas ke arah bagian belakang perahu. Mereka juga melihat para pertapa itu datang bersama-sama, saling berpegangan tangan. Dua lelaki tua di bagian samping melambaikan tangan, meminta agar kapal berhenti. Mereka bertiga meluncur di atas permukaan air laut tanpa menggerakkan kaki. Sebelum kapal berhenti, para pertapa itu telah lebih dulu mencapainya. Mereka menegakkan kepala dan berkata seolah-olah dengan satu suara.

“Kami lupa apa yang tadi kau ajarkan, wahai pelayan Tuhan, “kata mereka kepada sang uskup. “Saat kami terus menerus mengulanginya, kami ingat. Tapi saat kami berhenti mengatakannya suatu kali, satu kata terlupa. Kini doa itu tak bisa kami ingat lagi sedikit pun. Ajarilah kami sekali lagi.”

Uskup itu membuat tanda salib di dadanya. Lalu ia bersandar ke tepi kapal. “Doa kalian akan didengar Tuhan. Bukan aku yang harus mengajari kalian. Berdoalah untuk kami, para pendosa ini.”

Sang uskup lalu membungkuk dalam-dalam di hadapan ketiga orang tua itu. Mereka berbalik dan kembali melintasi laut. Hingga terbit fajar, secercah cahaya bersinar-sinar di titik mereka lenyap dari pandangan.


Bandingkan lagi dengan tulisan berikut, di bawah ini:

We Are Three, You Are Three

by Anthony de Mello S. J

THE SONG OF THE BIRD by Anthony de Mello S. J. (Image Books, 1982)

WHEN his ship stopped at a remote island for a day, the bishop determined to use the time as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen attending to their nets. In Pidgin English they announced to him that centuries be/ore they had been Christianized by missionaries. “We, Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.

The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked.

“What do you say, then, when you pray?”

“We lift eyes in heaven. We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.” The bishop was appalled at the primitive, the downright here-tical, nature of the prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor learners, but they gave it all they had and before the bishop sailed away next day he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the formula faultlessly.

Months later his ship happened to pass by those islands again and the bishop, as he paced the deck reciting evening prayer, recalled with pleasure the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts.

Suddenly he saw a spot of light in the east that kept approaching the ship and, as he gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the water. The captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight.

They were the bishop’s fishermen, of course. “Bishop,” they exclaimed, “We hear your boat go past and come hurry-hurry meet you.”

“What is it you want?” asked the awe-stricken bishop.

“Bishop,” they said, “We so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come… then we forget. Tell us prayer again.”

It was a chastened bishop who replied, “Go back to your homes, my friends, and each time you pray, say, “We are three, you are three, and have mercy on us!”

From THE SONG OF THE BIRD by Anthony de Mello S. J. (Image Books, 1982)

Diterjemahkan ke bahasa Indonesia “Burung Berkicau” (1984).


Pada buku Anthony, bagian prakata kita dengan mudah menemukan pengakuan frater Anthony, secara implisit, bahwa cerita-cerita yang ditemukan di bukunya hanyalah sejenis kumpulan dari berbagai kisah dari berbagai tempat dan latar belakang agama. Dan, memang, jika membaca buku ini, kita dengan mudah menemukan berbagai kecenderungan religius di dalamnya; Buddha, Kristen, Zen, Hasidic, Rusia, Cina, Hindu, Sufi, kisah-kisah kuno, dan bahkan kontemporer.

This book has been written for people of every persuasion religious and non religious, I cannot, however, hide from my readers the fact that I am a priest of the Catholic Church. I have wandered free-ly in mystical traditions that are not Christian and not religious and I have been profoundly influenced by them. It is to my Church, however, that I keep returning, for she is my spiritual home; and while I am acutely, sometimes embarrassingly, conscious of her limitations and narrowness, I also know that it is she who has formed me and made me what I am today. So it is to her that I gratefully dedicate this book.

Everyone loves stories and you will find plenty of them in this book: Stories that are Buddhist, Christian, Zen, Hasidic, Russian, Chinese, Hindu, Sufi; stories ancient and contemporary. And they all have a special quality: if read in a cer-tain kind of way, they will produce spiritual growth.

Dalam Anthony terjadi pula pengubahan karakter dan alur kisah dari yang mula dituliskan Tolstoy;

  • Jumlah paragraf sangat pendek, hanya 10 paragraf.
  • Tiga Pertapa menjadi tiga nelayan.
  • Pengubahan alur kisah, yang mana pada Tolstoy ketiga pertapa hanyalah pertapa biasa, dan tidak mengakui diri mereka sebagai kristen, namun dalam Anthony, ketiga nelayan seketika mengaku sebagai, “Kami, orang Kristen!”
  • Alur kisah juga melipir jauh. Pada Tolstoy kapal yang ditumpangi sang Uskup tidak dituliskan telah melalui area perairan di mana pulau tersebut berada sebanyak dua kali. Tapi bahwa kapal itu hanya singgah. Tidak demikian pada Anthony, kapal sang Uskup sepertinya pernah singgah di suatu waktu, dan melayari perairan itu di lain waktu.

Months later his ship happened to pass by those islands again and the bishop, as he paced the deck reciting evening prayer, recalled with pleasure the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts.

Atau, “Bishop,” they exclaimed, “We hear your boat go past and come hurry-hurry meet you.”

Apakah pengubahan drastis seperti ini akan ikut mengubah identitas dan penciri utama kisah yang dapat kita temukan dalam karakter dan alur kisah? Selain bahwa ide dan gagasannya yang sama, pengubahan drastis ini juga tidak mengubah prasangka apapun, bahwa kisah ini adalah milik Tolstoy.

Namun dua hal yang menarik, ketika kisah ini dituliskan kembali oleh Anthony; Anthony cukup jujur membangun pemahaman pada prakata bahwa kisah ini bukan kisah miliknya (yang hanya dilakukan sepintas lalu oleh SGA dalam bentuk disclaimer pada Dodolibret); dan, bahkan Anthony pun tidak menuliskan sumber kisah di mana dia terinspirasi/ambil (tak kita temukan nama Tolstoy atau Three Hermits dituliskan pada awal/akhir buku kumpulannya itu).



Oleh : Seno Gumira Ajidarma (Dimuat Kompas pada 26 September 2010)

           KIPLIK sungguh mengerti, betapapun semua itu tentunya hanya dongeng.

“Mana ada orang bisa berjalan di atas air,” pikirnya.

Namun, ia memang berpendapat bahwa jika seseorang ingin membaca doa, maka ia harus belajar membaca doa secara benar.

“Bagaimana mungkin doanya sampai jika kata-katanya salah,” pikir Kiplik, “karena jika kata-katanya salah, tentu maknanya berbeda, bahkan jangan-jangan bertentangan. Bukankah buku Cara Berdoa yang Benar memang dijual di mana-mana?”

Adapun dongeng yang didengarnya menyampaikan pesan, betapa siapa pun orangnya yang berdoa dengan benar, akan mampu berjalan di atas air.

Kiplik memang bisa membayangkan, bagaimana kebesaran jiwa yang dicapai seseorang setelah mampu membaca doa secara benar, akan membebaskan tubuh seseorang dari keterikatan duniawi, dan salah satu perwujudannya adalah bisa berjalan di atas air.

Namun, ia juga sangat sadar sesadar-sadarnya, pembayangan yang bagaimanapun, betapapun masuk akalnya, tidaklah harus berarti akan terwujudkan sebagai kenyataan, dalam pengertian dapat disaksikan dengan mata kepala sendiri.

“Dongeng itu hanyalah perlambang,” pikirnya, “untuk menegaskan kebebasan jiwa yang akan didapatkan siapa pun yang berdoa dengan benar.”

Justru karena itu, semenjak Kiplik memperdalam ilmu berdoa, kepada siapa pun yang ditemuinya, ia selalu menekankan pentingnya berdoa dengan benar. Adapun yang dimaksudnya berdoa dengan benar bukanlah sekadar kata-katanya tidak keliru, gerakannya tepat, dan waktunya terukur, selain tentu saja perhatiannya terpusat, melainkan juga dengan kepercayaan yang mendalam dan tak tergoyahkan betapa sedang melakukan sesuatu yang benar, sangat benar, bagaikan tiada lagi yang akan lebih benar.

Kebahagiaan yang telah didapatkannya membuat Kiplik merasa mendapatkan suatu kekayaan tak ternilai, dan karena itulah kemudian ia pun selalu ingin membaginya. Setiap kali ia berhasil membagikan kekayaan itu, kebahagiaannya bertambah, sehingga semakin seringlah Kiplik menemui banyak orang dan mengajarinya cara berdoa yang benar.

Ternyata tidak sedikit pula orang percaya dan merasakan kebenaran pendapat Kiplik, bahwa dengan berdoa secara benar, bukan hanya karena cara-caranya, tetapi juga karena tahap kejiwaan yang dapat dicapai dengan itu, siapa pun akan mendapatkan ketenangan dan kemantapan yang lebih memungkinkan untuk mencapai kebahagiaan.

Demikianlah akhirnya Kiplik pun dikenal sebagai Guru Kiplik. Mereka yang telah mengalami bagaimana kebahagiaan itu dapat dicapai dengan berdoa secara benar, merasa sangat berterima kasih dan banyak di antaranya ingin mengikuti ke mana pun Kiplik pergi.

“Izinkan kami mengikutimu, Guru, izinkanlah kami mengabdi kepadamu, agar kami dapat semakin mendalami dan menghayati bagaimana caranya berdoa secara benar,” kata mereka.

Namun, Guru Kiplik selalu menolaknya.

“Tidak ada lagi yang bisa daku ajarkan, selain mencapai kebahagiaan,” katanya, “dan apalah yang bisa lebih tinggi dan lebih dalam lagi selain dari mencapai kebahagiaan?”

Guru Kiplik bukan semacam manusia yang menganggap dirinya seorang nabi, yang begitu yakin bisa membawa pengikutnya masuk surga. Ia hanya seperti seseorang yang ingin membagikan kekayaan batinnya, dan akan merasa bahagia jika orang lain menjadi berbahagia karenanya.

Demikianlah Guru Kiplik semakin percaya, bahwa berdoa dengan cara yang benar adalah jalan mencapai kebahagiaan. Dari satu tempat ke tempat lain Guru Kiplik pun mengembara untuk menyampaikan pendapatnya tersebut sambil mengajarkan cara berdoa yang benar. Dari kampung ke kampung, dari kota ke kota, dari lembah ke gunung, dari sungai ke laut, sampai ke negeri-negeri yang jauh, dan di setiap tempat setiap orang bersyukur betapa Guru Kiplik pernah lewat dan memperkenalkan cara berdoa yang benar.

Sementara itu, kadang-kadang Guru Kiplik terpikir juga akan gagasan itu, bahwa mereka yang berdoa dengan benar akan bisa berjalan di atas air.

“Ah, itu hanya takhayul,” katanya kepada diri sendiri mengusir gagasan itu.

Suatu ketika dalam perjalanannya tibalah Guru Kiplik di tepi sebuah danau. Begitu luasnya danau itu sehingga di tengahnya terdapatlah sebuah pulau. Ia telah mendengar bahwa di pulau tersebut terdapat orang-orang yang belum pernah meninggalkan pulau itu sama sekali. Guru Kiplik membayangkan, orang-orang itu tentunya kemungkinan besar belum mengetahui cara berdoa yang benar, karena tentunya siapa yang mengajarkannya? Danau itu memang begitu luas, sangat luas, bagaikan tiada lagi yang bisa lebih luas, seperti lautan saja layaknya, sehingga Guru Kiplik pun hanya bisa geleng-geleng kepala.

“Danau seluas lautan,” pikirnya, “apalagi yang masih bisa kukatakan?”

Maka disewanya sebuah perahu layar bersama awaknya agar bisa mencapai pulau itu, yang konon terletak tepat di tengah danau, benar-benar tepat di tengah, sehingga jika pelayaran itu salah memperkirakan arah, pulau itu tidak akan bisa ditemukan, karena kedudukannya hanyalah bagaikan noktah di danau seluas lautan.

Tiadalah usah diceritakan betapa lama dan susah payah perjalanan yang ditempuh Guru Kiplik. Namun, akhirnya ia pun sampai juga ke pulau tersebut. Ternyatalah bahwa pulau sebesar noktah itu subur makmur begitu rupa, sehingga penghuninya tiada perlu berlayar ke mana pun jua agar dapat hidup. Bahkan, para penghuninya itu juga tidak ingin pergi ke mana pun meski sekadar hanya untuk melihat dunia. Tidak terdapat satu perahu pun di pulau itu.

“Jangan-jangan mereka pun mengira, bahwa dunia hanyalah sebatas pulau sebesar noktah di tengah danau seluas lautan ini,” pikir Guru Kiplik.

Namun, alangkah terharunya Guru Kiplik setelah diketahuinya bahwa meskipun terpencil dan terasing, sembilan orang penduduk pulau sebesar noktah itu di samping bekerja juga tidak putus-putusnya berdoa!

“Tetapi sayang,” pikir Guru Kiplik, “mereka berdoa dengan cara yang salah.”

Maka dengan penuh pengabdian dan perasaan kasih sayang tiada terkira, Guru Kiplik pun mengajarkan kepada mereka cara berdoa yang benar.

Setelah beberapa saat lamanya, Guru Kiplik menyadari betapa susahnya mengubah cara berdoa mereka yang salah itu.

Dengan segala kesalahan gerak maupun ucapan dalam cara berdoa yang salah tersebut, demikian pendapat Guru Kiplik, mereka justru seperti berdoa untuk memohon kutukan bagi diri mereka sendiri!

“Kasihan sekali jika mereka menjadi terkutuk karena cara berdoa yang salah,” pikir Guru Kiplik.

Sebenarnya cara berdoa yang diajarkan Guru Kiplik sederhana sekali, bahkan sebetulnya setiap kali mereka pun berhasil menirunya, tetapi ketika kemudian mereka berdoa tanpa tuntunan Guru Kiplik, selalu saja langsung salah lagi.

“Jangan-jangan setan sendirilah yang selalu menyesatkan mereka dengan cara berdoa yang salah itu,” pikir Guru Kiplik, lagi.

Guru Kiplik hampir-hampir saja merasa putus asa. Namun, setelah melalui masa kesabaran yang luar biasa, akhirnya sembilan orang itu berhasil juga berdoa dengan cara yang benar.

Saat itulah Guru Kiplik merasa sudah tiba waktunya untuk pamit dan melanjutkan perjalanannya. Di atas perahu layarnya Guru Kiplik merasa bersyukur telah berhasil mengajarkan cara berdoa yang benar.

“Syukurlah mereka terhindar dari kutukan yang tidak dengan sengaja mereka undang,” katanya kepada para awak perahu.

Pada saat waktu untuk berdoa tiba, Guru Kiplik pun berdoa di atas perahu dengan cara yang benar.

Baru saja selesai berdoa, salah satu dari awak perahunya berteriak.

“Guru! Lihat!”

Guru Kiplik pun menoleh ke arah yang ditunjuknya. Alangkah terkejutnya Guru Kiplik melihat sembilan orang penghuni pulau tampak datang berlari-lari di atas air!

Guru Kiplik terpana, matanya terkejap-kejap dan mulutnya menganga. Mungkinkah sembilan penghuni pulau terpencil, yang baru saja diajarinya cara berdoa yang benar itu, telah begitu benar doanya, begitu benar dan sangat benar bagaikan tiada lagi yang bisa lebih benar, sehingga mampu bukan hanya berjalan, tetapi bahkan berlari-lari di atas air?

Sembilan orang penghuni pulau terpencil itu berlari cepat sekali di atas air, mendekati perahu sambil berteriak-teriak.

“Guru! Guru! Tolonglah kembali Guru! Kami lupa lagi bagaimana cara berdoa yang benar!” (*)

Ubud, Oktober 2009 / Kampung Utan, Agustus 2010

Cerita ini hanyalah versi penulis atas berbagai cerita serupa, dengan latar belakang berbagai agama di muka bumi.

Cerpen ini memenangkan penghargaan Cerpen Terbaik Kompas, pada Malam Penghargaan Cerpen Terbaik Kompas 2011, di Bentara Budaya Jakarta, Senin, 27 Juni 2011.


Kemiripan (atau, kesamaan) sebagai berikut :

  1. Adanya karakter dalam cerita yang berjalan di atas air,
  2. Kesamaan ide cerita tentang belajar berdoa dengan benar,
  3. Pulau di tengah lautan; pulau di tengah danau yang luas laksana lautan,
  4. Tiga pertapa; sembilan penduduk,
  5. Karakter utama dalam kedua kisah ini berdoa tapi salah,
  6. Uskup mengajarkan cara berdoa; Guru Kiplik mengajarkan mereka cara berdoa,
  7. Kesamaan alur kisah: setiap kali mereka berdoa, maka setiap kali merekapun lupa,
  8. Ketiga orang berhasil berdoa secara benar; sembilan orang berhasil berdoa secara benar,
  9. Uskup di kapal; Guru Kiplik di perahu (sama-sama moda air),
  10. Nahkoda berteriak; pendayung berteriak,
  11. Tiga orang mendatangi kapal dengan berlari di atas air; sembilan orang mendatangi perahu dengan berlari di atas air,
  12. Mendatangi kapal dengan maksud yang sama: minta diajari kembali cara berdoa yang benar, sebab mereka selalu lupa setiap kata seusai mengulangi doa.

Hal-hal yang terganti (sekadar diganti tanpa mengubah citra dan fungsi karakter/alur) :

  1. Pulau di tengah laut; digubah menjadi Pulau di tengah danau yang luas laksana laut.
  2. Karakter Uskup; digubah menjadi karakter Guru Kiplik.
  3. Tiga pertapa; digubah menjadi karakter sembilan orang biasa yang rajin bekerja.
  4. Kapal; digubah menjadi perahu (ditemukan pula perahu dalam karya Tolstoy).
  5. Nahkoda kapal; digubah menjadi pendayung perahu (ditemukan juga adanya karakter pendayung perahu pada karya Tolstoy).
  6. Alur percakapan antara Uskup dan ketiga pertapa; berusaha digubah sedemikian rupa, kendati tetap tak bisa menyembunyikan kesan bahwa alur percakapannya itu sangat identik.

Kesamaan ide dan gagasan dasar:

  • Bahwa apa yang menurut Anda benar, belum tentu demikian halnya bagi orang lain.
  • Setiap orang (atau komunitas) memiliki cara sendiri-sendiri menuju Tuhannya.
  • Esensi Ketuhanan tak dapat diukur oleh girah kemanusiaan. Kemutlakan itu tidak fana.

Dengan demikian, bisa dipastikan bahwa adanya upaya mengubah sejumlah unsur dalam kisah asli. Upaya-upaya itu terlihat dari usaha mengubah karakter utama, alur percakapan, alur utuh cerita, namun semua upaya itu terlihat gagal. Upaya pengaburan alur juga terjadi; yakni dengan memotong ending kisah (percakapan) di akhir kisah karya Tolstoy, dengan tidak menampilkannya pada cerpen gubahan. Penyederhanaan alur boleh juga disebut demikian. Upaya-upaya (pengubahan, pengaburan, pemotongan) dalam kisah Tolstoy ternyata gagal dilakukan, sehingga aroma alur kisah yang khas Tolstoy dalam Three Hermits, masih sangit–dan begitu mudah dibaui–walau kedua kisah hanya cukup di dengarkan saja.

Lalu, pada cerpen gubahan, penulis seperti hendak mendesakkan pemahaman yang ditangkapnya dalam cerpen Three Hermits. Terlalu banyak penjelasan, begitu kira-kira. Jadi, seolah-olah, cerpen gubahan itu, menjadi “juru takwil” dari sulur-sulur makna yang ditabur Tolstoy dan berusaha disampaikannya dalam cerpen Three Hermits.

Sekali lagi ini penilaian subjektif yang sifatnya tinjauan umum belaka. Sekian. (*)

Diskusi tentang ini dapat dilihat pada Catatan Ilham Q. Moehiddin di Facebook.


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