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[Buku Baru] 4 Musim Cinta | Novel | Pringadi Abdi Surya

4 Musim Cinta

4 Musim Cinta

(sebuah novel)

Terbit 13 Maret 2015 !


Apa kau percaya jika satu hati hanya diciptakan untuk satu cinta? Barangkali beruntung orang-orang yang bisa jatuh cinta beberapa kali dalam hidupnya. Tetapi aku yakin, lebih beruntung mereka yang sanggup menghabiskan hidupnya dengan satu orang yang dicintai dan mencintainya.

4 Musim Cinta adalah sebuah novel yang bertutur tentang lika-liku kehidupan cinta empat birokrat muda: satu wanita, tiga pria. Gayatri, wanita Bali yang merasa berbeda dengan wanita-wanita pada umumnya. Gafur, pria Makassar yang menjalin kasih dengan seorang barista asal Sunda yang enggan menikah. Pring, pria Palembang yang nikah muda tetapi harus terpisah jauh dari istrinya karena tugas negara. Arga, pria Jawa yang selalu gagal menjalin hubungan dengan wanita. Mereka bertemu dan saling berbagi rahasia. Tak disangka, setiap rahasia kemudian menjadi benih-benih rindu yang terlarang. Persahabatan, cinta, dan kesetiaan pun dipertaruhkan.


4 Musim Cinta (sebuah novel)

Penulis: Mandewi Gafur Puguh Pringadi (a.k.a Pringadi Abdi Surya)

Penerbit: Exchange

ISBN: 978-602-72024-2-9

Spek Buku: 333 hlm. | 14 x 21 cm | SC | Bookpaper

Harga: Rp 59.500,-

Email: fiksiexchange@gmail.com

Website: http://www.kaurama.com


“Inspiratif! Menggetarkan! Menghanyutkan! Tak kusangka bisa lahir sebuah karya hebat dari tangan para abdi negara.”

—Ahmad Fuadi, pengarang Trilogi Negeri 5 Menara.

“Ada banyak hikmah dalam novel ini. Tak hanya melulu soal cinta. Selain menyajikan suka-duka kehidupan para pegawai negara, buku ini pun bisa menjadi sebuah kritik tentang bagaimana mengatur negara seharusnya.”

—Marwanto Harjowiryono, Dirjen Perbendaharaan Kemenkeu RI.

“Novel ini menggambarkan kesenyawaan ragam cerita, pengalaman dan harapan yang berjejal dan lalu-lalang di layar kehidupan para pegawai negara. Sebuah upaya yang ambisius!”

—Ahmad Nurholis, inisiator penulisan 4 Musim Cinta.

“Sensasi membaca novel ini mirip ketika aku mendengarkan deep house music. Di setiap keluk dan tikungan kisahnya menyajikan kejutan atau ungkapan yang tidak bikin bosan.”

—Victor Delvy Tutupary, kandidat doktor filsafat.

[Short Story] Fireflies Party | Jawa Pos | Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fireflies Party

by Ilham Q Moehiddin

translated by Jonas Chapman (Canada)

Ilust_Pesta Kunang-Kunang_Jawa Pos 


NO was tomb here. Only a cavity in a giant Willow tree, trunk upright in the middle of the village. Cavities are caused by lightning blow and often filled with fireflies were partying after the bodies placed, makes it look like a party on New Year’s Eve lanterns.

When the old Willow was found in the northern woods, Ama (father) Huga amazed with its size. Then he set up house 500 meters from the tree. In the first three years, the people come together, then took up a house there. The houses are now surrounded the giant old Willow. Ama Huga astonished at the old Willow was never lost even before his death. He wanted a cavity in the old Willow into his grave and the grave of every person who later died in the village that he calls this Lere’Ea. People obeyed. Because trees absorb Willow stench around him, the tree was also sucking the stench of death from the bodies of the dead.

Funeral tree is an effective solution that does not run out village land for the grave. Cemeteries aren’t cumbersome and inefficient.Willow trees alive and growing giant, as the final home for the dead.


Intina worried about the attitude of some men aren’t attention to the special things that he keeps on Mori. They fascinated to him. Liked she heave black hair,thick eyebrows on the oval face, or solid body. Mori married Intina in 12 years ago, and he still Mori wife until one day the man she loved was home.

“Stop waiting for Mori,” one of them tried to convince Intina. But he answered them with a slamming door. How he needed to do to destroy the hopes of every man in this village.

Intina may fool for still maintaining missed. Mori went when Waipode have eight months old. On the last morning she looked at her husband, was dawn when Mori kissed her daughter forehead, then Mori shut the door from the outside. Intina waiting in each of the next morning, hoping Mori reveals the door and smiled at them both. Small Waipode never smell his father’s body is now a teenager.

Waipode didn’t ask his father. Of course to difficult misses something he had never meet. Mori is a problem of his mother and it was not for Waipode. Mori is not the first time he saw when his eyes began to open.


One night, before he was 13 years, Waipode suddenly get fever. Four days later,the fever rises and nobody Lere’Ea shaman can suppress. They give up so easily, such as shaman beginners learn stirring potions. On the sixth day, Waipode had opened her eyes, before seizures and silent.

Mysterious diseased and sudden death was a shock every person in Lere’Ea. Intina cleaning her daughter body and wrapped it in a clean cloth. Such manners here, it’s Waipode dead body will go into cavity the giant Willow.

From wooden chair on the porch of his house, Intina not move until the night comes. She eyes show cavity that had filled the fireflies. He fainted due to fatigue and woke in his bed on the third night, when the rowdy village.

Fireflies party at the Willow cavity, casting a silvery glow as the emergence of two hands flailing. People are horrified when two hands were gripping the grass, crawling, like trying to drag him-self out of the cavity. Body covered in soil plain girl who surrounded fireflies. People are increasingly rowdy. For the first time they saw the dead rise from the cavity Willow.

Standing on confusion, the girl asked. “Where’s my mother? Where Intina, my mother?”

Yes. The girl’s name and acknowledge Intina as his mother.

“I’m Waipode, his daughter.”

People choked. She was admitted as Waipode, Intina daughter, who died three days ago. Intina removing the sheath and hurried over to —whoever he is— as he sheathed body began to be plain that the eyes of every man’s attention in the crowd.

All the men presented there, except Kalai. The doll maker at living the end of the Lere’Ea village, suddenly ill and fell asleep under the influence of drugs. He did not know the noise that just happened here.


In Lere’Ea no one can make as good a wooden doll. Kalai poured all his feelings when making the dolls. Sculpt female dolls as high as one meter of living. The female doll only. On weekends, his old wagon it creaky to road up the rocky village to the town, to the store where he usually left the doll for sale.

There’s always a doll that is not salable. On some models, for some reason do not want to buy. Maybe they don’t like in shape. The dolls are not sold that he brought back and lined up on a shelf in the living room of his house, as a marker to no longer make such a model. Raw material stuffed it increasingly difficult to get. Willow tree in the middle of the village is difficult to be climbed to a branch of the straight.

Yes. Wicker Willow is a secret advantage Kalai sculptured dolls. Willow wood is heated first before he chisels into head, body,arms and legs for her dolls. Soft wood Texture to make the blade Kalai agile dancing all over the wood.

Willow as it grows to Kalai. Willow’s death smoked aroma of corpsesin their sockets, have to fertilize and cultivate new tree limbs.

But Kalai not make a doll when the girl out of the cavity Willow. He also did not exist among many men who feel lucky to catch the girl’s body. Because sick make Kalai must meet Lere’Ea shaman to buy potions. The effects of the potion made him feel tired and sleepy. He slept all day and did not know anything had happened in the village after dusk.

The shamans in Lere’Ea confirmed that girls who out of the Willow cavity that is Waipode, Intina daughter. The odd thing is they are difficult to explain. The willows have turned Waipode in three days after his death. Waipode out in such a big girl, 10 years older than the teenage girl Intina inserted into the tree cavity.

Intina not want to go about it. The girl came back to life in any form, if he does Waipode, then Intina will admit it. It feels weird, but their can lives as before. As before the death of her daughter went and returned.


Waipode like Kalai made dolls. Dolls and handsome young man, are two things that can always create a story for a mature girl. “I like your dolls,”said Waipode.

Kalai smile. “I heard, you make noise the whole village. What happens on the other side there? So the gods let you go home?” Kalai kidding.

Waipode laugh. “On the other side is more quiet. There was no one to fight for theland. There was no such incident experienced by Adenar families banned prayer and expelled from Laibatara (house of worship). Sheol is more tolerant than the world of the living.”

Kalai was stunned to hear the words Waipode.

“This for you,” Kalai offered Waipode a newly doll he made finished. Waipode nodded happily. The doll has not been colored.

It was just a little conversation. But Waipode is always there if the young man working moment. Intimacy they make other youths jealous. Waipode have chosen, and Kalai it’s a lucky young man.


Kalai realize that strange things often happen at his house late at night. His workshop is a mess when he left, always neatly next morning. Utensils arranged on the same spot. Sharpener timber garbage disappear without trace. All over the house clean. As there is a mysterious hand that has helped clean up the mess.

When Kalai asleep, the homemade doll moves. Yes. Wooden dolls that live on and off the display rack in the middle of the house. They explore each room, acting like a young girl who was busy tidying the house. They return all the objects into place, cooking porridge and coffee heats for Kalai before they go back into place before dawn.

However, the dolls start talk about Waipode. The presence of the girl is a serious problem for them.

Giant Willow in the middle of the village store incongruity since it began to be used as a tomb tree. Trees not only absorb thescent of death, but also save the souls of the dead girl in the adult sap vessels. The spirits that dwell there and wait for the new body. They accidentally life by the love that poured out when he Kalai sculpting dolls.

They hate have often the young man admired Waipode. It only took a little reason for a death plan.


It’s no coincidence when a small collision Kalai get the wheels off and overthrow the old wagon with passengers. Waipode already dead when Kalai issuing his body from the crush of the wagon.

Intina feeling devastated over Waipode back to the death for the second time. He is waiting for a miracle that never came in the thirdday after the body of Waipode he put in Willow cavity. Her daughter is not alive anymore. There was no light silvery, except fireflies crowd still partying.

However, Kalai has a way of overcoming grief. On the third day, when Intina hope Waipode out of the cavity of Willow, Kalai has completed one wooden doll.

One doll that closely resembles Waipode. The dolls are made Kalai crazy. Dolls who live at the end of the night and silence come back before dawn. The dolls are often celebrate passion of Fireflies, ask Kalai enter the ten other doll into the fire, and made the young man swears no longer sculpt doll. (*)

Ubud, October 2013

Twitter: @IlhamQM


*) The idea of this short story from tree-holebaby burial tradition in Tana Toraja and the tree-burial traditions in Trunyan, Bali.

**) In the Indonesian version, these stories was publication for first time in the Jawa Pos newspaper, issue on Sunday, April 27th, 2014.

[Cerpen] Pesta Kunang-Kunang | Jawa Pos | Minggu, 27 April 2014

Pesta Kunang-Kunang

Oleh: Ilham Q. Moehiddin

Ilust_Pesta Kunang-Kunang_Jawa Pos


TIDAK ada makam di sini. Hanya rongga di batang pohon Dedalu raksasa yang tegak di tengah desa. Rongga yang disebabkan hantaman petir, dan kerap dipenuhi kunang-kunang yang berpesta selepas jasad diletakkan di dalamnya, membuatnya tampak seperti pesta lampion di malam tahun baru.

Saat Dedalu tua itu ditemukan di hutan utara, Ama (bapak) Huga takjub pada ukurannya. Ia kemudian mendirikan rumah 500 meter dari pohon itu. Pada tiga tahun pertama, orang-orang berduyun datang lalu ikut mendirikan rumah di situ. Rumah-rumah yang kini mengepung Dedalu tua raksasa. Ketakjuban Ama Huga pada Dedalu tua itu tak pernah hilang bahkan menjelang kematiannya. Ia ingin agar rongga di Dedalu tua itu menjadi makamnya dan makam setiap orang yang kelak mati di kampung yang ia namakan Lere’Ea ini. Orang-orang menurutinya. Karena pohon Dedalu menyerap aroma busuk di sekelilingnya, maka pohon itu juga menghisap bau kematian dari jasad-jasad orang mati.

Pemakaman pohon adalah solusi efektif agar lahan kampung tak habis untuk makam. Pemakaman yang tak merepotkan dan efisien. Pohon Dedalu tetap hidup dan tumbuh gergasi, sebagai rumah terakhir bagi orang-orang mati.


Intina mencemaskan sikap beberapa lelaki yang tak hirau pada hal-hal istimewa yang ia simpan tentang Mori. Para lelaki menyukai Intina. Menyukai rambut hitam berombaknya, alis tebal di wajahnya yang oval, atau tubuhnya yang padat. Intina dinikahi Mori 12 tahun silam, dan ia masih istri Mori sampai kelak lelaki yang ia cintai itu pulang.

“Berhentilah menunggu Mori,” seorang di antara mereka coba meyakinkan Intina. Tetapi ia menjawab mereka dengan bantingan pintu. Cara yang perlu ia lakukan untuk menghancurkan harapan setiap lelaki di kampung ini.

Intina mungkin bebal karena masih memelihara rindu. Mori pergi saat Waipode berusia delapan bulan. Di subuh terakhir ia menatap suaminya, adalah subuh saat Mori mengecup kening putrinya, lalu Mori menutup pintu rumah dari luar. Intina menanti di setiap subuh berikutnya, berharap Mori menguak pintu dan tersenyum pada mereka berdua. Waipode kecil yang tak pernah membaui tubuh ayahnya itu kini beranjak remaja.

Waipode tak menanyakan ayahnya. Tentu sukar merindukan sesuatu yang tak pernah ia temui. Bagi Waipode, Mori adalah masalah ibunya dan itu bukan urusannya. Mori bukan orang yang ia lihat pertama kali saat matanya mulai terbuka.


Suatu malam, sebelum usianya genap 13 tahun, Waipode mendadak demam. Empat hari berikutnya, demamnya meninggi dan tak ada dukun Lere’Ea yang bisa meredakannya. Mereka menyerah begitu saja, serupa dukun pemula yang baru belajar mengaduk ramuan obat. Di hari ke enam, Waipode sempat membuka mata, sebelum kejang dan diam.

Sakit misterius dan kematian yang mendadak itu mengejutkan setiap orang di Lere’Ea. Intina membersihkan tubuh putrinya dan membungkusnya dengan kain bersih. Seperti adab di sini, maka jasad Waipode akan masuk ke rongga Dedalu raksasa.

Dari kursi kayu di beranda rumahnya, Intina tak beranjak hingga malam datang. Ia tatapi rongga yang telah dipenuhi kunang-kunang itu. Ia pingsan karena lelah dan tersadar di pembaringan pada malam ketiga, saat orang-orang kampung gaduh.

Pesta Kunang-kunang di rongga Dedalu itu, memendarkan cahaya keperakan seiring munculnya dua tangan yang menggapai-gapai. Orang-orang ngeri saat dua tangan itu mencengkeram rerumputan, merangkak, seperti berusaha menyeret tubuhnya keluar dari rongga. Tubuh polos berlumur tanah seorang gadis yang dirubung kunang-kunang. Orang-orang kian gaduh. Baru kali ini mereka melihat bangkitnya orang mati dari dalam rongga Dedalu.

Berdiri kebingungan, gadis itu bertanya. “Mana ibuku? Mana Intina, ibuku?”

Ya. Gadis itu menyebut nama dan mengakui Intina sebagai ibunya.

“Aku Waipode, putrinya.”

Orang-orang tercekat. Gadis itu mengaku sebagai Waipode putri Intina yang mati tiga hari lalu. Intina melepas sarungnya dan gegas menghampiri —siapapun ia— seraya ia selubungi tubuh polos yang mulai jadi perhatian mata tiap lelaki dalam kerumunan itu.

Semua lelaki, kecuali Kalai. Si pembuat boneka di ujung kampung Lere’Ea itu mendadak sakit dan tertidur akibat pengaruh obat. Ia tak tahu kegaduhan yang baru saja terjadi di sini.


Di Lere’Ea tak ada yang bisa membuat boneka kayu sebaik Kalai. Ia curahkan segenap perasaannya saat membuat boneka-bonekanya. Memahat boneka-boneka perempuan setinggi satu meter yang seolah hidup. Hanya boneka perempuan. Di akhir pekan, kereta tuanya berderit-derit menapaki jalan kampung berbatu menuju kota, ke toko tempat ia biasa menitipkan boneka untuk dijual.

Selalu saja ada boneka yang tak laku. Beberapa model tertentu entah kenapa tak mau dibeli orang. Mungkin mereka tak suka pada bentuknya. Boneka-boneka yang tak laku itu ia bawa pulang dan dijejerkan di sebuah rak khusus di ruang tengah rumahnya, sebagai penanda untuk tak lagi membuat model seperti itu. Bahan baku boneka kian sukar ia dapatkan. Pohon Dedalu di tengah kampung sukar dipanjati untuk sebatang dahan yang lurus.

Ya. Dahan Dedalu adalah rahasia keunggulan boneka pahatan Kalai. Kayu Dedalu dipanasi lebih dulu sebelum ia pahat menjadi kepala, tubuh, tangan dan kaki bagi boneka-bonekanya. Tekstur kayu yang lunak membuat pisau Kalai lincah menari-nari di sekujur kayu.

Dedalu seperti tumbuh untuk Kalai. Aroma kematian yang dihisap Dedalu dari jejasad di rongganya, telah menyuburkan dan menumbuhkan dedahan baru.

Tetapi Kalai tak membuat boneka pada hari seorang gadis keluar dari rongga Dedalu. Ia juga tak ada di antara banyak lelaki yang merasa beruntung karena memergoki tubuh gadis itu. Sakit membuat Kalai harus menemui dukun Lere’Ea untuk membeli ramuan obat. Efek ramuan itu membuatnya lelah dan merasa mengantuk. Ia tidur seharian dan tak tahu sesuatu telah terjadi di kampung itu selepas petang.

Para dukun di Lere’Ea membenarkan, bahwa gadis dewasa yang keluar dari rongga Dedalu itu adalah Waipode, putri Intina. Hal aneh yang sukar mereka jelaskan. Dedalu itu telah menghidupkan Waipode pada tiga hari setelah kematiannya. Waipode keluar dalam rupa gadis dewasa, 10 tahun lebih tua dari umur gadis remaja yang dimasukkan Intina ke rongga pohon itu.

Intina tak mau mempersoalkannya. Gadis itu hidup kembali dalam bentuk apapun, jika ia memang Waipode, maka Intina akan mengakuinya. Akan terasa aneh, mereka menjalani hidup seperti semula. Seperti sebelum kematian mendatangi putrinya lalu mengembalikannya.


Bagi Waipode, dari si pemahat boneka itu. Waipode menyukai boneka-boneka buatan Kalai. Boneka dan pemuda tampan, adalah dua hal yang selalu bisa menciptakan cerita bagi seorang gadis dewasa. “Aku suka bonekamu,” ujar Waipode.

Kalai tersenyum. “Kudengar, kau membuat gaduh seisi kampung. Apa yang terjadi di sebrang sana? Sehingga para dewa mengizinkanmu pulang?” Kalai bercanda.

Waipode tertawa. “Di sebrang sana lebih tenang. Tak ada orang berkelahi karena tanah. Tak ada kejadian seperti yang dialami keluarga Adenar yang dilarang sembahyang dan terusir dari Laibatara (rumah ibadat). Dunia orang mati lebih toleran daripada dunia orang-orang hidup.”

Kalai tertegun mendengar kata-kata Waipode.

“Ini buatmu,” Kalai menawari Waipode sebuah boneka yang baru selesai ia buat. Waipode mengangguk gembira. Kendati boneka itu belum diwarnai.

Itu hanya perbincangan kecil. Tetapi Waipode selalu ada saat pemuda itu bekerja. Keintiman mereka membuat pemuda lainnya cemburu. Waipode telah memilih, dan pemuda beruntung itu adalah Kalai.


Kalai menyadari bahwa hal aneh kerap terjadi di rumahnya saat larut malam. Bengkel kerjanya yang berantakan saat ia tinggalkan, selalu rapi esok paginya. Perkakas tersusun di tempat semula. Sampah rautan kayu hilang tak berbekas. Seluruh penjuru rumah bersih. Seperti ada tangan misterius yang telah membantu membereskan kekacauan itu.

Saat Kalai pulas, para boneka buatannya bergerak. Ya. Boneka-boneka kayu itu hidup dan turun dari rak pajang di tengah rumah. Mereka jelajahi tiap ruangan, bertingkah layaknya gadis muda yang sibuk merapikan rumah. Mereka kembalikan semua benda ke tempatnya, menanak bubur dan memanaskan kopi buat Kalai sebelum mereka kembali ke tempat semula sebelum fajar menyingsing.

Tetapi, boneka-boneka itu mulai kerap membicarakan Waipode. Kehadiran gadis itu jadi masalah yang serius bagi mereka.

Dedalu raksasa di tengah kampung menyimpan keganjilan sejak pohon itu mulai dijadikan makam. Pohon itu tak saja menyerap aroma kematian, tetapi juga menyimpan arwah para gadis dewasa yang mati dalam pembuluh getahnya. Arwah-arwah itu berdiam di sana dan menunggu untuk tubuh baru. Mereka tak sengaja hidup oleh cinta yang dicurahkan Kalai saat ia memahat boneka-bonekanya.

Mereka benci mendapati pemuda itu kerap mengagumi Waipode. Hanya butuh sedikit alasan untuk sebuah rencana kematian.


Bukan kebetulan saat sebuah benturan kecil membuat roda kereta Kalai lepas dan menggulingkan kereta tua itu bersama penumpangnya. Waipode sudah mati saat Kalai mengeluarkan tubuhnya dari himpitan kereta.

Perasaan Intina kembali hancur atas kematian Waipode untuk kedua kalinya itu. Ia menunggu keajaiban yang tak datang di hari ketiga setelah jasad Waipode ia masukkan ke rongga Dedalu. Putrinya tak hidup lagi. Tak ada cahaya keperakan, kecuali kerumunan kunang-kunang yang tetap berpesta.

Tetapi, Kalai punya cara mengatasi dukanya. Pada hari ketiga, di saat Intina berharap Waipode keluar dari rongga Dedalu, Kalai telah menyelesaikan sebuah boneka kayu.

Boneka yang sangat menyerupai Waipode. Boneka yang membuat Kalai tergila-gila. Boneka yang hidup di pengujung malam dan diam kembali sebelum fajar datang. Boneka yang kerap memestakan gairah Kunang-kunang, meminta Kalai memasukkan sepuluh boneka lainnya ke api tungku, dan membuat pemuda itu bersumpah tak lagi memahat boneka. (*)

Ubud, Oktober 2013

Twitter: @IlhamQM



*) cerpen ini meminjam tradisi penguburan bayi pada liang pohon di Tana Toraja dan tradisi penguburan pohon di Trunyan, Bali.

[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).

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

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