Five poems celebrating Kartini and her contribution to Indonesia's feminist movement.
Translations by Harry Aveling, October 2016. Read in Indonesian here.
1. Patih Goah by Siwi Dwi Saputro
2. Writing by Wikan Satriati
3. Farewell, Fierda by Ian Campbell
4. Your Fate, Village Girl by Ariany Isnamurti
5. A Thousand Temples for You by Siwi W. Hadiprajitno
Siwi Dwi Saputro
I am Patih Goah
the mother of all men and women
moving with time across eternity
thousands of light years have passed
my feet have walked
from heavenly nirvana to the thorn covered earth
and I do not care
the seasons change
my tears scatter across the flat plains
flow through life’s veins
giving soft gentle moments
I can be anyone I want to be
Persephone experiencing her fate, living in the underworld
jealous Hera or Medusa with snakes in her hair
I can be Amba whose curse provoked the Baratayuda war
and led Drupadi to be offered at the dice table
I can be Dewi Pohaci, the beautiful woman born from the earth
created from dewa Anta’s tears
Even Sita, longing for the Golden Deer
Dying in the fire because my purity made me nervous
Of course I can be Anjani whose ambition turned her into a monkey
Or Savitri, who staggered to find her man although she was beautiful and clever
Perhaps I could be Calon Arang, the powerful woman victim of patriarchy
Or maybe Bahu Laweyan, with a beauty spot on my shoulder,
Whose body makes me the target of domestic murder
I can be anyone at all. Madonna, Lady Gaga or Mother Theresa
Because I am Patih Goah
Woman, mother of all men and women
16 March 2016
at the age of 12
she was locked away
imprisoned behind the regency walls
no longer allowed to go to school
which she truly loved
because she was a woman
it was time to marry
even though that was
not what she wanted to do
because she was a woman
Her life ended
in noble sacrifice
she gave birth to a son
because she was a woman
despite all her limitations
she fulfilled her ambitions
Multatuli, Louis Coperus,
Van Eerden, Augusta de Witt
Goekoop de Jong, Berta von Suttner
she wrote to remember
she wrote to unravel her aching heart
she wrote letters
history remembers them
they have made her famous
because she was a woman?
her thoughts have survived time
and are talked about
by the women’s movement
to this very day
because she is a writer?
the name of a woman
will be remembered
on this day.
The midday sun tried to pierce the red tin roof
over the broad verandah, I was almost asleep, sprawled
untidily in the old wooden cane chair, half dreaming...
from the corner of one eye, an eagle appeared and began to fly
over the swamps, near Mount Boongan
like a woman’s breast against the sky
The bird rose circling in the wind
flapping its wings at the sky, higher, higher,
always circling in the wind around the swamps, near Mount
Boongan. Suddenly the eagle, no more than a black dot, vanished,
vanished in the endless blue sky
that was the moment, I can see it. I was drawn to the spot
Sumedang – mist and wind and death. Disaster was approaching.
A terrible tragedy.
“Merpati flight CN-285 disappeared around Sumedang
the pilot, captain Fierda Panggabean (29), was born in Tapanuli,
she was the first woman pilot to qualify to fly planes of that type,
MNA CN-285 smashed into Mount Puntang
The iron bird was destroyed.”
Habibie said the plane was in good condition, strong,
Habibie said it was possible that the pilot Fierda was confused.
‘Trangadi’= A TRAGEDY
According to an SAR offical, the deceased was still in the cockpit, her hands still held the controls... the rain, wind and the mist seemed to have conspired with death...
and later Fierda’s body was covered with our nation’s flag and escorted by her colleagues, her fellow pilots,
covered by a flag,
was escorted by her colleagues, fellow pilots,
far, far away
friend of Irian Jaya
called by God
who proved to the local people
of inland Irian Jaya
that a woman can fly a plane,
providing a secure link
to the outside world...
periphery and centre
status and death
freedom to follow the currents
sovereignty and fear disintegrated
inland and metropolis,
the sky and doves,
One is lost two remain.
woman striving, eagle daring.
The eagle vanished from the swamps near Mount Boongan
A woman’s breast appeared. I heard the sad voice of a flute
weeping over the eucalyptus and casuarina trees
as they slowly waved in the wind
blowing towards eternity in the blue sky
Your Fate, Village Girl
my nation... despite our current globalisation
I still find the disturbing reality
that your village girls
are the victims of early marriage
it concerns me
that they are married before the age of sixteen
when they should be at school or joking with their friends
the are forced to maintain families
to serve their husbands and children, do the housework,
even to fight life and death as they give birth
must we allow this situation to continue?
this nation does not yet offer peace
to its village girls
A Thousand Temples for You
Siwi W. Hadiprajitno
I have built a thousand temples for you, Jonggrang.
Then why are you reluctant to strike the mortars and pestle so that the roosters can crow and call the sun to rise?
Why are you reluctant to blow on the lamps so that the sun will rush to provide its early morning light earlier than usual?
Why are you reluctant to put the pots on the fire so that the sound of boiling water will encourage folks to find warmth in the middle of the kitchen?
Why are you reluctant to sweep the floor with a broom so that the dust will swirl and fly out the door and invite the wind to dance its morning greetings to the sparrows in their nests hidden in the leaves of the mango trees?
I am no Bandung Bondowoso, who could only complete 999 temples of the thousand you demanded.
You are too extreme, Jonggrang.
The fishermen’s net are still floating in the waves of the bracken waters which are rolling towards the coast of the Java sea
This time I will not curse your body to become a statue.
There is no need for that.
Now I curse your heart:
May you never know love