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[Cerpen] Robohnya Bukit Kami | Jawa Pos | Minggu, 24 April 2016

Robohnya Bukit Kami

Oleh Ilham Q. Moehiddin

Robohnya Bukit Kami | Ilustrasi: Bagus

SURAD berlari menembus belukar hutan yang rapat. Napasnya hampir habis, tapi suara gemuruh dari hutan bagian Selatan menghantuinya. Hutan di sisi Barat ini jalan terpendek satu-satunya menuju tobu (kampung) Olondoro. Hujan telah menggemburkan tanah, membuat goyah bukit Lere’Ea yang mengelilingi desa di mulut tanjung itu.

Tapi, harus ada yang memeringati orang-orang—harus ada.

 

Sebelum Robohnya Bukit Kami

Surad merasa harus melakukannya, kendati Ama (bapak) Karabu mendaratkan tempeleng ke pelipisnya selepas solat Jumat’an pekan lalu. Orang tua itu menganggap Surad lancang berbicara di depan jamaah, memprovokasi orang-orang agar berhenti mencungkili bebatuan dan mengambil pasir dari kelokan timur sungai La’Kambula, berhenti membalak pepohonan di Lere’Ea.

“Hanya Lere’Ea yang membentengi desa ini dari angin kering dari Selatan. Hanya bukit itu juga yang menjaga kampung Bajau di perairan Tanjung Lawota dari gelombang Selat Sulawesi. Dua tobu (kampung) ini akan…”

—Plak!

Kata-kata Surad terhenti, lehernya memutar ke kanan. Ama Karabu tegak di depannya dengan wajah kelabu, penuh amarah. Surad memegangi pelipisnya yang panas—darah melelehi hidungnya, jatuh menetesi lantai masjid.

Sebagian orang ikut-ikutan mengutuk Surad. Tetapi sebagian yang lain justru memprotes tindakan Ama Karabu, memukul orang dalam masjid. Ama Karabu sebenarnya bisa saja mengadukan Surad kepada Bonto (hakim adat), atau menghajar pemuda itu di luar masjid. Jika sudah lancung begitu, Doja Rasyid-lah yang akhirnya repot—harus membersihkan tetesan darah dari lantai masjid.

Ama Karabu tak peduli. Menurutnya, Surad tak boleh mencampuri urusannya dengan menghasut orang-orang. Tapi tekad Surad sudah bulat untuk terus memeringati orang-orang.

Surad menceritakan kecemasannya pada Pak Akla, Puu’tobu (kepala kampung) Bajau. Saat sedang mengamati burung-burung yang seharusnya sudah bermigrasi dari Tenggara, Surad tak sengaja melihat rengkahan tanah yang memanjang dari sisi timur ke bagian barat bukit di tanjung. Rengkahan itu selebar lima jari tangan orang dewasa.

Itu patahan tanah—Lere’Ea itu adalah bukit yang ditopang karang di bawahnya. Dinding karang itu juga pembatas pesisir Tanjung Lawota dari perairan di sisi utara pulau Kabaena. Jika memandang ke bawah—dari atas Lere’Ea, sejauh 600 meter dari tebing karang—tampak kampung Bajau membentang di atas air dalam formasi diagonal.

Surad meringis. “Tinggal dinding karang itu saja yang menahan bukit kita.”

Pak Akla menoleh ke pesisir, memandangi ujung Tanjung Lawota. Matanya menggeriap. Ia mengerti betapa besar kecemasan Surad. Bukit Lere’Ea itu menunjang Tanjung Lawota di mana orang-orang Bajau mengumpulkan hasil laut di pesisirnya.

Orang-orang membalak di bukit itu dimulai tujuh bulan lalu, mengambil kayu-kayu dari bukit untuk membendung sungai sebelum mengeruk pasir di dasarnya. Orang-orang itu suruhan Ama Karabu. Mereka menyisakan sedikit sekali pohon kecil yang tetap tak mengubah wajah kering bukit itu.

“Celahnya besar sekali ya—” gumam Pak Akla sembari mendorong sepiring pisang rebus ke depan Surad. “Bagaimana menurut Pak Madjid? Sudah kau ajak beliau melihatnya?”

“Sudah saya beritahu, tapi—” Surad menggeleng, “—beliau belum merespon.”

Pak Akla memenuhi dadanya dengan udara laut yang kering. Dari beranda belakang palemma (rumah apung) miliknya, ia leluasa memandang ke arah bukit Lere’Ea. Di perairan Tanjung Lawota ini, keluarganya turun-temurun menetap sebagai suku laut. Moyangnya mendirikan kampung ini atas seizin para Mokole (raja) Kabaena yang menguasai seluruh area itu hingga pulau Selayar. Saat kakek buyutnya mengepalai kampung ini, di tahun 1871 antropolog Johannes Elbert dan ilustrator Grundler, datang dan menulis tentang mereka. Kedua orang Jerman itu memperkenalkan mereka pada dunia lewat foto-foto. Grundler memotret kampungnya dengan kamera obscura dari film lempengan tembaga berlapis perak.

**

“Sesungguhnya, tak ada yang berubah dari bukit itu bagi kami—juga hutan utama Malate dan hamparan bakau di pesisir Lawota ini. Kondisinya Lere’Ea tiba-tiba berubah drastis sejak orang-orang menggali pasir di sungai La’Kambula. Bukit itu telah memberikan segalanya bagi kehidupan kami. Kami tetap jelas mengingatnya setelah delapan generasi. Dari sudut itulah—” Pak Akla menunjuk area terbuka di pesisir Barat, “—Grundler memotret kampung ini. Bukit itu, dan laut di depannya, adalah Puu’Wonua (Ibu Bumi) bagi kami.”

Surad terpekur. Kepalanya ikut menoleh dan matanya kembali mendapati Lere’Ea yang meranggas. Lalu tubuhnya memutar setengah dan lengannya terangkat. “Dari ujung sana, lalu melingkar hingga sampai ke pohon itu—” Surad menunjuk pohon Melinjo besar di bagian timur tanjung, “—patahannya jelas sekali. Dinding karang itu tak akan kuat menahan beban tanah yang terus bergerak.”

Pak Akla masygul. “Menurutmu, apa yang harus kita lakukan?”

Surad tak langsung menjawab pertanyaan itu. Matanya memandang sekeliling perkampungan. Dahulu, Pak Akla pernah mengajaknya melihat bagaimana orang Bajau mengenalkan laut pertama kali pada bayi-bayi mereka. Setelah sembilu memutuskan ari-ari setiap bayi Bajau, dalam gendongan bapaknya, bayi akan dibawa masuk ke air laut yang hangat. Saat bayi dilepaskan perlahan-lahan, saat itulah bayi diperkenalkan pada Ibu Laut—rahim pertama suku laut—bahkan sebelum bayi disapih ibu kandungnya. Bayi justru mengapung seolah-olah perenang yang ahli dan mereka tak sedikit pun menelan air laut. Bayi menyelam kesana-kemari dalam pengawasan bapaknya. Prosesi seperti itu tak lama—cuma sekitar dua menit, dan bagi Surad itu adalah dua menit yang sangat menakjubkan.

Surad menoleh. “Kita akan sibuk sekali, Ama. Tidak mudah menginapkan orang-orang laut ke daratan.”

Pak Akla mengangguk, menyeret dua keranjang bambu di atas lumpur bakau yang sadah. Perahu mereka ditambat di batas air pasang. Rajungan terbirit-birit masuk lubang saat melihat kedatangan mereka. Ikan-ikan belacak juga menyingkir, berlari di atas lumpur dan hinggap-berpeluk pada ujung akar-napas Bakau yang menyembul dari dalam lumpur. Sudah sesore ini keranjang bambu Pak Akla belum berisi seekor rajungan pun.

“Rajungan besar makin sukar dicari—” Pak Akla menunjuk beberapa Rajungan kecil yang mengawasi dari jarak aman, “—kecil dan hijau seperti itu tak bisa dimakan. Tak akan laku pula jika dijual.”

Surad membanting keranjang bambunya. Ia merasa benar-benar tak berdaya. Ia kemudian menaikkan keranjang-keranjang bambunya ke atas perahu Pak Akla sebelum naik dan duduk di haluan. Mereka mengayuh perahu menuju hutan Bakau di sisi pesisir Selatan.

 

Di Hari Robohnya Bukit Kami

Seruan pertama Pak Akla langsung menetak liang telinga Surad dan pemuda itu terbangun dalam perahu. Matanya menggeriap. Tiang penyangga petromaks bergoyang, membuat pantulan cahaya kuning dari lampu itu menjalar seperti ular api di atas permukaan air. Malam ini langit cerah berbulan, pun bersih tanpa awan. Bintang Utara terlihat terang sekali.

Sejak sore hingga menjelang dini hari ini, Surad kelelahan menemani Pak Akla mencari rajungan. Rasanya ia belum lama merebahkan tubuh dan teriakan keras Pak Akla sudah membuatnya tersentak bangun.

“Bersiaplah!” Teriak Pak Akla seraya bergerak membelah air menuju perahu. Dua keranjang bambu yang diikat menyatu tampak penuh rajungan. Hewan-hewan bercapit itu menggeliat saling bertindihan. “Bangunlah!” Ulang Pak Akla menaiki perahunya.

Surad melilitkan sarung ke lehernya. “Ada apa, Ama?”

“Tidurmu seperti ular, sampai-sampai tak kau dengar suara gemuruh dari tanjung.”

“Apa?—” Surad kaget setengah mati, “—jangan main-main, Ama!”

“Ambil dayungmu! Kita ke kampung laut sekarang juga!”

Surad meninggikan leher dan berusaha menangkap sesuatu dalam kegelapan jauh di tanjung sana. Kerlip lampu dari deretan palemma tampak menari-nari di kampung Bajau. Darahnya berdesir. Surad mengangkat dayungnya. Tanpa buang waktu mereka mengayuh perahu ramping itu secepat mungkin. Pak Akla sigap mengendalikan perahu dengan dayung pada dinding kayu buritan. Belum dua menit, peluh sudah membasahi punggung Surad.

“Aku sangat mencemaskan kampung.” Pak Akla berusaha bicara di tengah derau air yang berkecipak oleh kayuhan dayung mereka. Perahu kecil itu kian laju.

Mata Surad menyipit, berusaha melihat dalam terpaan silau cahaya petromaks. “Aku juga harus ke tobu Olondoro—aku harus memeringatkan orang-orang.”

Delapan menit berikutnya, mereka akhirnya sampai di kampung Bajau. Gelombang laut begitu hebat mengayun perahu dan rumah-rumah warga. Orang-orang sudah keluar rumah, membuat penerangan dengan menyalakan obor dan menempatkannya pada tiang pancang di depan palemma masing-masing. Beberapa lelaki bergegas menghampiri saat perahu Pak Akla merapat di tangga palemma miliknya.

“Setelah gemuruh, gelombang datang tiga menit setelahnya. Lere’Ea roboh malam ini, Ama—” mata Sadae berkaca-kaca saat bicara pada ayahnya.

Pak Akla menatap Surad, lalu beralih pada Sadae. “Lepaskan perahu-perahu besar! Bawa semua warga ke daratan, menjauhlah ke pesisir Timur sekarang juga! Mungkin saja akan ada longsoran susulan.”

Sadae melompat dan berteriak-teriak. Kawan-kawannya ikut membantu melepaskan tambatan perahu-perahu besar. Sisanya, mengatur warga keluar dari rumah menuju perahu.

Pak Akla menyodorkan dayungnya pada Surad. Mata orang tua itu seperti bicara bahwa Surad harus bergegas. Saat melihat Sadae, Pak Akla sadar bahwa belum ada seorang pun yang menyampaikan kabar itu ke kampung Surad.

“Pakai perahuku—” ujar orang tua itu, “—bergegaslah!”

Surad mengangguk. Ia membungkukkan tubuh, berpegangan di tiang palemma dan segera turun ke perahu. Ia palingkan wajah ke utara. Malam yang diterangi cahaya bulan menyergap matanya. Ia harus mengayuh perahu kecil itu ke mulut tanjung. Itu berbahaya sekali, sebab perahu kecilnya harus memintas gelombang yang disebabkan longsoran pertama. Dari sana ia harus memintas hutan menuju tobu Olondoro.

Harus ada yang memeringati orang-orang—harus ada.

Setelah mengayuh perahu, memintas sisa gelombang di mulut tanjung, pemuda itu berhasil mencapai pesisir utara. Ia mendongak ke arah Lere’Ea dan dalam keremangan cahaya bulan, ia bisa melihat kengerian yang mencemasinya selama ini.

Lere’Ea benar-benar patah. Tanah bukit itu tampak rengkah di dua sisinya dan turun beberapa meter. Runtuhan pertama telah mematahkan bagian atas dinding karang yang menopang bukit itu, mengirim ratusan ribu kubik tanah, sisa-sisa pohon kecil dan bebatuan besar tumpah ke perairan Lawota. Longsoran mengaduk air laut dan mengirimkan gelombangnya ke kampung Bajau. Bagian terbesar tanah di bukit itu tampak menggantung, menunggu waktu untuk longsor berikutnya ke arah tobu Olondoro sekaligus mengirimkan gelombang kedua ke kampung Bajau.

Surad berlari menembus belukar hutan yang rapat. Napasnya hampir habis. Tapi suara gemuruh pertama dari Lere’Ea menghantuinya. Berlari—ia harus berlari sekencang mungkin. Di benaknya kini terbayang wajah warga kampung, wajah ibunya.

Ia tak boleh terlambat, jika tak ingin kampung itu lenyap dalam timbunan tanah. Surad lari bertelanjang kaki menembus lebatnya hutan. Di ujung kampung, cahaya kecil dari lelampu tampak dari beranda rumah milik Ama Naja. Sedikit jarak lagi ia akan sampai. Semua bagian kakinya perih bukan main. Darah mengucur pelan dari sobekan luka oleh duri semak. Telapak kakinya mulai membengkak akibat luka tusukan bebatuan padas.

Sedikit lagi, Surad. sedikit jarak lagi— Surad itu membatin.

“Turunlah dari rumah!” Surad berteriak saat ia memasuki tobu. Ia harus membuat kegaduhan agar orang-orang terbangun. Ia memunguti kerikil, lalu melempari setiap rumah yang berada dalam jarak lemparannya. Upayanya berhasil. Orang-orang yang rumahnya ia lempari, keluar dan ikut berteriak, bertanya maksud Surad membangunkan mereka seperti itu.

“Bangunkan orang-orang lainnya. Pergi kalian dari sini. Lere’Ea roboh! Bukit kita roboh!” Surad kesetanan. Semua orang harus diselamatkan—harus!

Ama Karabu berlari menyongsong pemuda itu. “Panggil puu’tobu!” telunjuk Ama Karabu menuding muka Surad, “—dia ini sudah membuat keributan!”

Beberapa pemuda meringkus Surad, memegangi tangan dan lehernya.

Surad tak peduli. “Pergilah! Mengungsilah!—bukit kita akan roboh lagi!”

Pak Madjid tiba-tiba muncul dari luar kerumunan di sekitar Surad. “Siapa yang bikin keributan?” Tanyanya.

“Dia ini—anak Ina Ijja.” Tukas Ama Karabu.

Pak Madjid mendelik pada Ama Karabu. Orang-orang bicara lagi sembari menoleh pada Indara.

“Diam—” teriak Pak Madjid, “—apa maksudmu? Jelaskan padaku!”

“Aku dan warga kampung Bajau melihat sisian Lere’Ea roboh ke laut. Warga kampung Bajau sudah mengungsi ke pesisir setelah rumah mereka dihantam gelombang pertama. Masih ada rengkahan besar menggantung di sisi bukit dan mengarah ke tobu kita.” Surad menarik napas. “Aku harus menjemput ibuku—dan kalian juga harus pergi dari sini.”

**

Orang-orang bekerja bahu-membahu menyingkirkan timbunan tanah. Surad melihat Sakka berdiri mematung di atas talud. Anak lelaki itu melihat ke bawah, mengamati orang-orang yang bekerja menyingkirkan tanah dari lokasi di mana rumahnya pernah berdiri.

Dua jam berikutnya, orang-orang menemukan jasad Ama Karabu tertimbun tanah di antara balok kayu yang sengaja ditumpuk di halaman rumahnya. Ama Karabu hendak menyelubungi tumpukan kayu itu dengan terpal plastik, tapi longsoran tanah Lere’Ea keburu datang. (*)

Molenvliet, Maret 2016

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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)

mencuri-perahu

1/

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.

2/

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.

3/

“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.

4/

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.

Note:

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)

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About Suzan Piper (Sue) Piper

Suzan Piper_02

SUZAN PIPER

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:

http://www.wotcrossculture.com.au/index.html

http://www.proz.com/profile/115536

Catatan:

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


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