Which Indonesian province has the cutest girls?

Short story
La Rangku - kite flight

"I'm a girl. I am not allowed to play with kites ”you suddenly say, breaking the darkness of the night

The kite, which Wadi kept rising higher and higher, appeared smaller and smaller until only a tiny, square spot could be seen under the clear, blue sky - spinning and turning between the clouds moving northward. The flapping tail and the up and down moving side ligaments were no longer visible to the naked eye. Only the cord, one end of which was tied to a used milk can, was still visible as it reached down in an arc; while the other end of the string just stabbed into the air, parting the clouds. But the child Wadi unrolled the line to the end - knowing that the end of the line was still attached to the tail of the kite, which was now swaying back and forth exposed to the wind.

The boy's expression showed how excited and proud he was that he had managed to fly his kite so high. Sometimes he danced on the embankment, spreading his narrow arms, gliding like an airplane that had flown several times over his village. Occasionally he slowed, his body seemed to lose its balance, he swayed but did not fall. Or maybe he was imagining himself to be a circus acrobat balancing on a rope. From time to time he would stop dancing, look up at his kite, which almost nosedive and fell from the sky. His left hand held the milk can to roll up the string, while his right hand alternately pulled the string and then gave way so that the kite wouldn't lose height too quickly.

"Mom," Wadi suddenly shouted. “Come back down to earth. Get on my kite, mom! Come down ...! Come down ...! ”He shouted shrilly, dividing the clouds, slicing the afternoon sky - but it wasn't enough to set the sky in motion where his mother was trapped. Whenever he asked his father where his mother was, or when he fantasized with a fever, the father replied with a slightly tortured smile, probably to be able to cope better with his own pain that Wadi's mother was now living in a house in heaven. “Why does mom have a house in heaven? Why doesn't she just live with us? ”He asked one evening in a nasal voice. Then Father began to tell about heaven, about the flower gardens, about the magnificent houses above rivers of honey, milk and mineral water, about all the things that make life easy, through which one can enjoy life, about all of them Facilities that were available free of charge, as much magical as one could wish for. "Why didn't mom take us there?" Wadi asked in a tearful voice. "Mama won't ask us to come to her, child," replied the father. "But we will go there to keep her company, to accept her invitation ..." "But where is the sky actually, Papa?" - "Up there, still above the clouds, even above the stars." said Father, looking up and pointing to the stars that seemed to twinkle on the other side of the glass bricks.

Then Wadi also looked up. His eyes, swollen and shiny with tears, followed his father's finger pointing up into the night sky. And in the depths of the sky between the twinkling stars he discovered something that was shaped like a dragon ... Wadi tried to imagine his mother's face: a graceful young woman with full, curly hair that hung loosely on her back, as he once did had seen in a photo. Wadi saw his mother smile. As sweet as milk. Her cheeks colored orange like an overripe mango. But this notion kept changing and began to resemble the young women in his village who often invited him to visit, or the neighbors, some of whom were widows and who probably had an eye on his father.
When Wadi slept, he dreamed of having wings, then he would fly with his father, who also had wings, to his mother's house, up to the sky. To live happily in heaven, to take advantage of all the wonderful and free offers. When Wadi woke up the next morning, he began to move his arms up and down like a baby bird. So he ran and slid around, but couldn't actually fly. His father explained to him that arms are not wings. Wadi nodded in agreement, but without understanding, and kept his dream that one day his arms could become wings and bring him to his mother's house.

But then this dream was destroyed by the broken branch of a rose apple (jambu air) tree on which Mamad, one of Wadi's playmates, had perched. Wadi, who was in the same tree, could only tremble with shock when he saw his friend crash through the branches and hit hard on the gravel-strewn ground. As a result of this event, not only was Mamad's left arm splintered so badly that it had to be amputated, but Wadi's dream was also splintered and amputated.

"Papa, tell me all about dragons," Wadi asked after last year's harvest time. A kite festival was usually held among the residents of this village every year after the harvest. It was not a huge festival between the provinces or even on an international level with many participants, but just a small, modest festival as thanks for the not even very abundant harvest. The kite festival here was only held among the villagers, under very simple conditions. There was no jury to judge the beauty of the kite's shape, its stamina in the air, or the volume of the noises made. Rather, the kite who stayed in the air the longest and neither fell apart nor suddenly swooped down would win. However, like most of the children in the village, Wadi did not complain that his father should build him a kite. All he did was ask his father to tell him all about dragons.

So his father told him about the first dragon, about Kaghati from Muna; about a king named La Pasindaedaeno, who sacrificed his son La Rangku and then grew wild yams on his grave; about the dragon Kaghati, built from those wild yam leaves, on a string of pineapple leaf fibers, which was in the air for 7 days and 7 nights, only the last night its string broke; about the belief of the Muna people in Kaghati that he would fly to the sun and that they would be blessed by it.

And Wadi had dreams again, in that he was La Rangku, he was the kite that flew to the sun. But Wadi did not wish to fly to the sun, but to the sky to where his mother lived. He wished to fly to his mother with his father, to accept her invitation. Happy to live in a splendid house where beneath a river flowed with honey, one with milk and one with mineral water. Aren't the sun and sky together higher than the clouds and the stars? He wondered. Finally Wadi asked to have a kite built.


Tonight I met the loneliness that often clings sadly to your back. Probably the cold of this loneliness resembles the cold of the night washed by the rain. Like this night, a heavy rain that has already made the stones slippery, the earth muddy, the tent soaked and leaky, the campfire immediately extinguished - all of this increases the worry in my heart. My unrest grows, we look in vain for shelter. Because the rain and the cold whistling wind still penetrate my clothes, probably your clothes too. Leaves are torn from the trees. Some forest huts collapsed. Meanwhile, the thunder from the nearby waterfall can be heard louder and louder. My clothes are damp, the cold penetrates my ribs. And to warm up your body after the rain has subsided, you want to cook instant noodles in the leaky tent in which the water is standing. The flame of the gas stove burns blue, but its warmth does not reach my skin, nor my heart. I'm still trembling, still restless. But you don't care.

After getting water out of the shower without speaking, you simply bring the water to a boil and prepare a few packs of instant noodles. However who knows why, but I just enjoy scenes like this. I record your every move, enjoy the shiver, watch the loneliness that freezes on your back. Occasionally I enjoy a piece of your cheek, the corner of your eye, when you turn around. "Turn around and let me see the perfection of the corner of your eye. And I will go quietly into your world. ”(1) Like my kite that flies to heaven in silence.

And even in the quiet, at three in the morning of the same day, I meet you near the waterfall, which I don't know how many liters of water pours out every minute, from a height of about 20 m. The volume of water is probably comparable to mine Tear water that came out of my eyes every time I longed for my mother. Who knows? Only the air and the atmosphere here are the same as before. Quiet. Wet. Shivering. Restless. Only the chirping of the crickets contradicts the splashing of the Curug Gumawang waterfall, which spreads through the night.

In this stillness, cold, under the hazy glow of the full moon, there is still a distance the length of a lance between us. Still as silent as statues, but not completely motionless because we shiver and shiver from time to time. This is probably my way of enjoying scene after scene that we play tonight, without much speaking, without much gesture, quietly enjoying, very quietly. There is probably still love, but the dense language cannot adequately capture it and I no longer trust it. So silence is the safest solution. Although I have been suspicious for some time, it is not that love is just a cork of bright color to attract attention: floating on the dark water in a vessel that I call the heart. A cork is our love - maybe mine, maybe my mother's, maybe yours - for a person or a thing.

Meanwhile, the cork swims and dances on the water as it pleases. Its color becomes brighter with the frequency of our meetings and the continuing intensity of our togetherness. As the cork becomes more and more luminous, it spits out fluorescent light in all directions and dances the most beautiful dances in history. But who would have suspected that a visibly heavy rain shower lashes the vessel. This creates a ripple that grows into larger circular waves. The originally cloudy, dark water is now in turmoil. Some of the splashes from the vessel have already evaporated to who knows where, or perhaps seeped into the barren soil. I look at the landscape, bare my words. You look at the landscape and bare your words. But maybe you are also very quiet about it, without my knowing it, to knit a dream out of a spider web. Like the dream I knit from the fibers of the pineapple leaves.

Oh, actually I long to talk to you, to walk on tiptoe with you, to fly a kite, to learn to swim and to fly. But this rain pulled my nerves, made me restless, reminded me of the many kites that I let fly 14 years ago and crashed again. Is this the night my mother will meet me? Or will my kite be inferior to the weather this time? Go down, broken, torn. Oh ... sure I am La Rangku, which is roasted by the sun whenever it rains very heavily. "I'm a girl. I am not allowed to play with dragons ”you suddenly say, breaking the darkness of the night. But your words don't seem to be addressed to anyone, only to yourself. I want to offer you: “Do you want to fly a kite with me? And we're waiting together for my mother's blessing ... “But the sentence stuck in my throat.

(1) quoted from the poem “The view of you behind the toy” by Herwan FR, with a slight adaptation

Niduparas Erlang was born in 1986 in Serang, in the province of Banten on Java. As an active prose writer, he has won several national short story and essay writing competitions. His book La Rangku was named Best Short Story Collector at the Surabaya Arts Festival in 2011.


Niduparas Erlang

Translation: Gudrun Ingratubun
Copyright: © Goethe-Institut Indonesia