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[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.

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