Mas Sujono always thought that I dominated him. Once in a while he said I was asking too much from him, demanding more than what he could give. But was I wrong to ask him for some money to feed our child?
Mas Sujono always said Joko was not his biological son. He repeatedly taunted me because I was in early stage of pregnancy when he married me. He did not believe that the child I was carrying was his. He said Joko was Mas Wandi’s child.
I knew Mas Wandi before I met Mas Sujono. Mas Wandi is a pedicab driver whose base was Tanjung Perak port. He’s 42. Although he was nearly as old as my father, he still looked sturdy. He was muscular on the chest, back and arms. The muscles lustered as the sunshine fell on his sweaty skin. The smell of his sweat was mixed with that of the sunburned skin and the self-rolled clove cigarette. I like to secretly smell his odor whenever he sat next to me.
Only a few pedicabs waited for customers at Tanjung Perak port. Apart from trams and bicycles, pedicabs were the widely used means of transportation. People would flock to get a pedicab whenever a ship weighs anchor on the pier. Pedicab passengers are mostly the Chinese who come to Surabaya for the first time. I didn’t know for sure why there had been a flow of slanted-eyed and yellow-skinned people coming to the city these days. Some said that these people were the Chinese who left their homeland, which was devastated by the Japanese and the communist ruling system.
I had no idea about it.
But from my observation, tiredness hung over the faces of the Chinese who arrived in Surabaya. They might have been exhausted being in the ship for months. Or perplexed as their country was being torn apart by the war.
The same case with Indonesia. Everywhere I turn to, all I see was mourning faces.
Tanjung Perak port was where I often roamed to sell jamu, herbal drinks. I had a lot of customers there, one of whom was Mas Wandi, my most generous customer. I pointed this out because he always paid more for one botok (coconut shell) of the jamu he ordered. He never asked for the change. He even often embedded some money quietly into my brassiere, and then squeezed my breast.
Of course I was stunned. First, because of the money he put. Second, he squeezed my breast. And third, I realized that his squeezing made me shiver. He was the first man who touches me. I was frozen, not knowing what to do. I became nervous, but the strange sensation spread on. I just let it be as I enjoyed it.
These kinds of things are common among the jamu gendong (carryback) sellers like me. You can even just take a woman or two to a rented chamber in the brothel. Brothels were mushrooming along Kalimas Barat and Kalimas Timur streets since Tanjung Perak grew into a trade port.
I started by merely offering jamu gendong—where the bottles, small glasses and everything else put in a basket that I carry on my back with a cloth sling—to the women sitting in the dim-lighted chambers. The women who roar at night and sleep in the day. The jamu drinks I carried in the basket were those made of lempuyangan chilies, rice and galingale, betel leaves, and galian singset and sinom mixtures. All were jamu variants for women.
Gradually my customers were not only those women, but also the men who stopped over their chambers. These men were mostly kerani (port coolies) who usually sat around in the stalls along Kalimas Barat and Kalimas Timur streets, as they rested from work. They drank legen (unfermented toddy) and smoked rolled klobor cigarettes (clove cigarette rolled in corn leaf) that emitted strong clove smell. Their shoulders and backs were powdered with dusts of jute sacks they carried.
As the dusk falls and darkness seeped in, the women stood in front of their chambers, exposing their protruding bosom. They recited pantun, or rhymed poem, in tempting tone.
“Tanjung Perak, Mas… kapale kosong…
Monggo pinarak, Mas… kamare kosong…”
(Tanjung Perak, Mas, the ship is empty…
Come drop in, Mas, the room is empty…)
One poem was replied by another, in giggles. Then palm wine was spoiled all over. The night heated up. The protruding bosoms rubbed against the solid backs that sweated from heavy duty. The bosoms that lured money to be slipped in the brasserie, and men to enter the chamber. The reflections from the dim lights danced as the wind blew.
Moaning, bellowing, wet, sweat.
I met Mas Wandi in one of those stalls. Being a virgin who had never been touched by a man, I was shy, nervous and awkward in the beginning. The skin of his hand felt hot as it touched the skin of my breast. Some sensation crept in me and made me shiver. Gradually I longed for his squeeze. I no longer bashfully sat still and waited. I was bold enough to fixed myself close to him when I yearned for his squeezes.
And Mas Wandi always got my signals.
“You’re so desirous that I want to pinch you, Nduk (small girl)…” he used to say while squeezing my breast secretly.
As time passed, his brief pinch and squeeze every now and then were not sufficient for me. I was a virgin budding into a grown woman. I felt torrential passion inside my body, wanting more… and more… and more, something like what those men and women did in the chambers. I wanted his hands to explore my entire bosom longer. So then I had the courage to hold his hand rested there.
“Really, Nduk. You make me excited. Especially these…” he said staring at me while still squeezing my breasts.
Passion possessed me when I sensed his breath on my ear and nape.
“You’re serious? Yu (elder sister) Ning is prettier. Yu Sih even more,” I replied intuitively, flirting.
“But they’re not as desirous as you,” he whispered to my earlobe, full of passion.
Was I flirting, tempting, seducing, or luring him?
I don’t know.
But I liked to be so.
Besides that Mas Wandi often gave me tips so that I was able to buy face powder and lipsticks, I also liked his squeezes. I heard from Yu Ning and Yu Sih—fellow jamu gendong sellers—that men’s accompaniment make you quiver.
Yu Ning and Yu Sih were three or four years older than me. Yu Ning has a pair of dreary melancholic eyes. I heard men talked about her, that in spite of her dreary melancholic eyes, she was hot in bed… on the mat, in this case. Meanwhile, Yu Sih has a beautiful face that is very njawani (Javanese characteristics), and fair skin. Men desired to see the smoothness of her body.
I myself am not too pretty. I am fully aware of this. My skin is sunburnt sawo matang (literally ripe sapodilla) like typical Indonesians, or dark brown. My hands are hefty and my palms rough. My heels crack. My face is not egg-round or njawani like Yu Sih, but squarish with sharp jaws. My eyes are not dreary or melancholic like Yu Ning, but big and glaring. I sometimes cursed my ugly face, that I was not able to gain a lot of customers like Yu Ning and Yu Sih.
“Ning and Sih are nothing compared to you, Nduk. Just take a look at your body. Whoever is not passionate seeing it, is surely not a man,” said Mas Wandi.
Although I was barely sixteen, I was stout, with full, rounded, sizeable breasts, hip and buttocks. If I touched my breasts, the nipples were swollen, firm and lifted.
I came to know that when I wore kebaya (traditional Javanese clothing for female), the bosom part was tight and my breasts were protruding. And the curves of my hip would be apparent underneath the cloth wrapped around me to the calves. When I walked, the bulging top part of my bosom and the sway of my buttocks would seem very tempting.
That was why two women’s pretty face is not a rival for me, since more and more people became my jamu customers. I was no longer bothered with my not-so-attractive face and dull skin whenever men whistled naughtily as I walked before them. I confidently threw a smile at them and offered my jamu.
Then those men turned like bees buzzing the flower. They strived to sit next to or in front of me. As close as they could. Sipping the jamu, they tried to touch my arm, peep into my cleavage, and pat my thigh. Slowly I understood that those were signs that they desired me.
Yu Ning and Yu Sih often told, giggling, about the customers that often caressed them. I heard that the two even exchanged knowledge of how to balance the men’s maneuver. They also exchanged the jamu recipes for men’s stamina. According to them, the recipes were bonus for their customers so that they were able to earn extra money from selling jamu.
But, to me, Mas Wandi was an ordinary customer. He was different. I was not sure, whether it’s because he was the first man that touched me–stroked and squeezed my breast, or I was in fact attracted to him. His every touch streamed to the marrow. Even every night I slept recklessly if I imagined his solid muscles and smelling his odor again.
“What’s in me that you desire, Mas?” I asked curiously, giving all of myself to him.
“Kabeh (everything), Nduk…”
“Really?” I seduced him more.
“I’ll take you home later, okay?” it was obvious that he desired me.
Mas Wandi gave me a ride home by his pedicab. The man paddled the pedicab and we passed Jalan Kembang Jepun. It was getting dark and less bustling. We rode on passing grand houses owned by rich Chinese people on Jalan Kapasan. Near the railway on Jalan Kendjeran, we stopped. It was dark and quiet. The place was full of trees and bushes. There was not lighting at all.
Mas Wandi parked his pedicab by the roadside. Then he sat in the passenger seat, next to me. His body was so close to mine. I felt his shoulders rubbed against mine, he threw his arm around my shoulder. I sat still, yielding to whatever pleasure that I was about to experience.
Darkness blanketed us, his breath crept on my nape and ear. Then his hand slipped underneath my kebaya. The touch was not light as usual, but
People knew me as Tjoa Kim Hwa, the Golden Flower.
I was a prima donna there, so my rate was high. I was very picky about the guest to host. For ordinary guests, I only accompanied them drinking sake, singing and by playing shamisen. But for the important ones, especially those Shosho Kobayashi ushered, I had to provide extra service. Surely I pocketed extra fees, too!
You have to entertain men, give them the perfect pleasure and satisfaction, that was Yuriko’s order that had been fixated in my mind.
As long as I had been a geisha, I have practiced all the lessons and instructions Gion and Yuriko gave me on entertaining men. As such, my savings were piling. But there was one thing I had never done, lip kissing!
Yuriko told me once, “The task of a geisha is only to entertain. Giving men pleasure in perfection. Don’t involve your emotion. Only kiss the lips of someone you love, because it involves you emotionally.”
After accompanying the guests drinking sake, chatting or singing, I usually offered them taking a bath in ofuro. My guest would be in the bathtub that was filled with hot water, then I would scrub his back and chest with wet napkin, or, to be precise, scrubbing-cum-patting. After that, I put a fresh kimono on him and followed him to the chamber. Once we’re inside, I took off his kimono as well as mine, piece by piece as gracefully as a dancer. Then I started massaging him gently. Or, to be precise, massaging-cum-stroking.
I started massaging from the back, to the neck, chest, through the entire body to the feet. While massaging and stroking, set my bare naked body against his. Slowly but sure, his skin would be warm, his breath heavy like the train’s locomotive, and I would remain controlling the game until he reaches the full satisfaction!
Yes, I pleased men…
I give full satisfaction!
I always followed Yuriko’s advice.
Followed? I cried silently. My hand which were writing so many words that took so many pages then stopped as the heavy guilt hung over me.
Did I really follow Yuriko’s advice? My eyes were burning and my heart aching.
No! Ever since I knew Sujono, I had never done what Yuriko told me. Sujono had made a lot of changes to my life, the bitter and the sweet ones. The man had turned my wheel of life 180 degrees, now that I was at the peak of my career and became the most popular geisha ever.
I did not know how it started, how I liked to have a conversation with him. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have any friend to talk to in Hanada-san’s nightclub. All the male guests came for my service. They did not need to have a chat with me. Meanwhile, all the girls here were only concerned with rivalry and jealousy toward each other. Especially as they knew Shosho Kobayashi and Hanada-san treated me differently. The girls suspected I was a Japanese, but they couldn’t prove it. In the club we were all required to speak Japanese and wear kimonos.
“I am actually Japanese. My real name is Matsumi. Tjoa Kim Hwa is only a fake name I used when I was smuggled here. A Japanese girl becoming a hostess in another country is considered shameful. The Japanese would not degrade their own women in other countries…”
It just happened… I started to trust Sujono. I also learned Indonesian language from him. I revealed to everybody the identity that I had kept secret.
I needed someone who I could have a chat with without any prejudice and fear. I had wanted this long but I kept it to myself. It’s true that as long as Shosho Kobayashi was there, everything was easy and safe for me. But some restlessness still lingered, captivating me.
Restless by myself. Being afraid by myself. Who could bear that?
“Do you like this job?” Sujono asked me once in an afternoon when he was delivering fabrics, but Hanada-san was out.
“I have been a geisha since I was fourteen.”
“That’s not what I asked!” he shouted. “Do you like this job?” he repeated.
“Why?” I asked him back. “Is it wrong to be a geisha?”
“Do you have an idea of what you do now?”
“I’m an artistan.”
He burst into laugh.
“In Japan it’s not easy to become a geisha. We are trained in schools. We have to be able to sing, dance, play the shamisen, make poems and accompany the guest during the tea ceremony,” I said, trying to explain, as his laugh sounded belittling to my ears.
“Also accompanying them in bed,” he went on.
I furrowed my brows, displeased with his tone.
“Here, that kind of job is the most disgraceful!” he said blatantly.
“Why so?” I could not accept it. I worked hard for years become a geisha. And now, as easy as that, this profession was considered so low in Indonesia.
“Do you know of the women in kurubu?” he asked again.
“Have you heard the stories of what happened to them?”
Again I nodded.
“So what’s the difference between you and them?”
This time I did not nod, but I could not dispute it either.
“The difference is they are used as sex slaves for the Japanese soldiers, while you, high-ranked officials. And one more, they are not paid, while you are highly paid!” he concluded, answering his own question.
How dare he talked that way to me, without a single bit of courtesy. Am I so low from the perspective of a grudge? I felt insulted.
“The difference is the Japanese restrain themselves from degrading their women so much that even you were told to disguise yourself as a Chinese. But do they care about the other nation’s women’s honor? About the Chinese and Korean women who were brought by force to Japan, to Indonesia, to any country where the Japanese soldiers are as sex slaves. Now Indonesian women are enslaved, too. Don’t you know that the Japanese are very cruel?” his bitter tone persisted.
I felt like raging. But how could I? My conscience was restless and I was reluctant to disagree with him. My feminine heart cried whenever I heard a story of the jugun ianfus at kurabu. Regardless that they were Javanese, Chinese and Korean, they were also women. Like me. Plus they carried out the duty because they had no choice, they were threatened. Being proud to be a prima donna at the most exclusive nightclub on Jalan Kembang Jepun was actually shameful and improper.
“How much I have to pay to get such service that you give to your guests?” he asked.
I was stunned. Speechless. How could I possibly say that with his pay as a coolie he won’t be able to afford even the cheapest service of the Hanada-san’s club girls. Let alone my service…
But since then he had been bothering me. From his glances to his odor mixed with clove cigarette smell, everything about him kept popping in my head. One day Hanada-san said an ‘unusual’ guest asked me to entertain him. And that person is… Sujono!
In this article I would like to illustrate the rasas in a contemporary Indonesian play Pelacur dan Sang Presiden (“The Prostitute and the President”). The play, written by Ratna Sarumpet, is about a woman who is victimized by the patriarchal society and resists this unequivocally in her own way. The protagonist of the play is Jamila, a prostitute who is sentenced to death for murdering a high-ranking official. Jamila is an obstinate character and her words are colored by tones of anger and protest. Therefore I will focus on Raudra Rasa (furious sentiment) in analyzing the play.
As regards rasa, Bharata Muni said that the mental states are called feelings because they make us feel the goal of poetry. Aesthetic experience is the process of tasting the Rasa. Abhinavagupta concluded that ‘rasa is simply the aim of poetry’ (Gnoli 52). Based on Abhinavagupta’s interpretation of Natyasastra, rasa is juice or flavour. It is a typical Indian concept especially with regard to aesthetics.
Rasa is to be experienced by the reader or spectator of performance. According to Bharata, rasa derives from the merge between the play and the actors’ act (Determinants). Out of this occur Consequents and Transitory Mental States (Gnoli 86). In Natyasastra, eight fundamental bhavas (mental states) are delight (rati), laughter (hasa), sorrow (soka), anger (krodha), heroism (utsaha), fear (bhaya), disgust (jugupsa) and wonder (vismaya). There are 36 occasional, transitory, impermanent states. There are 8 fundamental mental states or Rasa, namely the erotic (srngara), comic (hasya), pathetic (karuna), furious (raudra), heroic (vira), terrible (bhayanaka), odious (bibhatsa), marvelous (adbhuta).
Aesthetical experience is resulted from squeezing out of the poetical word. In drama, words of the actors come with actions. The spectator senses the performance through sight and hearing. As rasa is not revealed, but rather suggested or manifested, it does not lie on the actor. He is only the means, the ‘vessel’ of tasting. The play creates a distance between the spectator and the actor. Then the spectator identifies himself with the actor.
“The Prostitute and the President”
The drama starts from Jamila’s confession of killing a cabinet minister named Nurdin. The 26-year-old woman gives herself up and is imprisoned. From her diary, read by warden Ria, we have a glimpse of her childhood. Her father gives her away in trafficking. She is sold and raped, escapes and helps her younger sister to flee a brothel. She also becomes a prostitute, then Nurdin’s mistress. Currently she is pregnant. She is sentenced with death penalty and granted a final wish. She wishes to see the president and a prominent Islamic cleric of the country, which enraged the country.
The plot of the play is not linear. One time we see Jamila in prison and the other is a flashback of Jamila before she is arrested. As there are two time settings in the play, there are two Jamilas. JAMILA 1 refers to Jamila in the past, while JAMILA 2 the present.
Ratna Sarumpaet is the founder of One Red Stage (Satu Merah Panggung) theater troupe. She started her career as a television show director in 1991 for the state-owned television channel, TVRI. The themes of trafficking and sex industry not something that she is unfamiliar with as she is also a political activist. She was awarded the Female Human Rights Special Award by the Asia Foundation for Human Rights in 1998. The play is made into a movie, “Jamila and the President”, directed by Sarumpaet herself. It was nominated as a foreign language film for Oscar in 2009.
Raudra, Bibhatsa and Karuna Rasas in the Play
In Natyasastra, raudra rasa is explained as the following:
Now (the rasa) called raudra has anger for its permanent emotion. Demons, monsters and violent men are its characters. It is caused by battles. It arises from (sic) such vibhavas as anger, provocative actions (adharsana), insult (adhiksepa), lies, assaults (upaghata), harsh words, oppression (abhiroha, or according to Abhinava, “murderous intent”) and envy.
Aesthetic Rapture, Vol. I, p. 53
Patnaik shows how raudra can coexist with other rasas, namely vira and karuna in Natyasastra. He also evidenced that anger, one of the determinants of raudra, can cause sorrow and incomprehension. In the case of the latter, anger has the potential to arouse bibhatsa rasa or odious.
The evocation of raudra and vira can be seen in Act 5b. Jamila is shocked and furious when she finds out that her sister Dinda is brutally murdered. She has been missing for two weeks and the police do not take any action. The perpetrators are in fact the police officers. JAMILA 2 tells the officers that she knows why Dinda is murdered. Dinda always refuses ‘the present’ of drugs that is given so that the girls can work all night, ‘serving ten men in one night’.
JAMILA 1 You police officers are losers!!
Only losers can take a way an innocent person’s like
Now, whether you want to prosecute me –
Or kill me, the way you
butchered Dinda, it doesn’t matter to me …..
(Act 5b, 47)
Absence of sadness becomes the vibhava of vira rasa. Jamila releases her grief of losing her sister and she is ready to be killed by the police officers who want to keep their reputation. The anubhavas are firmness and heroism. The vira from correct perception also leads to santa as the vibhava of santa is knowledge of Truth (Patnaik 232). Jamila at that point of time realizes that her fate lies on a greater power.
Basically raudra is categorized as a negative rasa, or dukhatmaka according to Abhinavagupta, as it inflicts pain. However, as far as anger and vira rasa are concerned, raudra cannot be easily called negative. The relation between raudra and vira is that, in heroic actions sometimes the elements of fury are apparent (Patnaik 145). Utsaha or dynamic energy (the main sthayibhava of vira) is related to krodha or anger (one of the sthayibhava of raudra). In addition to energy, raudra and vira rasas contain action and correct perception. Anger can actually lead to a state of blindness, where one can do wrong actions or act unreasonably (which is negative). However, the energy in vira is transformed into good deeds, thus vira is a positive rasa.
Raudra rasa can also coexist with bhayanaka and bibhatsa, terrible and odious sentiments. The reason lies on the anubhavas of raudra: ‘beating, breaking, crushing, mutilating, fighting, drawing of blood… red eyes, knitting of eyebrows, defiance, biting of lips, movement of cheeks, pressing one hand with the other, etc’ (Ghosh). Beating, crushing, mutilating and drawing of blood can cause terrible feeling and furthermore disgust or bibhatsa rasa.
Bhibatsa can be evoked from the scene where MRS WARDIMAN regrets the current condition of Jamila. Jamila’s mother puts Jamila under the care of Wardiman family because she thinks it is a respectable family. However, Jamila is abused by MRS WARDIMAN’s husband and son and becomes pregnant. In the beginning of the play, MRS WARDIMAN tells Jamila to name the father of the baby. She says she does not like to see Jamila’s wearing a jilbab or veil. She feels as if she is conspiring with the devil in insulting Jamila’s mother (Opening). She views that the veil is unsuitable for her moral and then she condemns her:
MRS WARDIMAN Your father – sold you to a pimp
when you’re still green
Dying, your mother kidnapped you
from that pimp and took you here
so that you’re safe.
In a house of a respectable family like this
she hoped you grow up well
And what eventually you become?
You are like destined to be a prostitute.
Then Jamila stands up and becomes stiff. MRS WARDIMAN’s insults are the vibhava of Jamila’s anger. After some more tensions, Jamila cannot take it anymore. She exits and it is implied that she has committed the murder.
After JAMILA 1 murders Nurdin and his son, she wipes the blood in the dagger onto her veil. She looks at the dagger as if seeing ‘a terrible sin’. She is haunted by what she has done. She remembers that her mother regards her birth as ‘light’, a blessing. Her mother talks about ‘purity and self esteem’. Then she asks what purity and self-esteem really are. There is a terrible sentiment at this moment.
The stage focus shifts. When JAMILA 2 is having a conversation with PRISON GUARD, she advices him to look after his daughters because, she says, “The world is full of greed and hypocrisy, and can pollute and trap them.” (Act I). After saying this, she bends her knees and holds her legs tight, looks straight to the front. In this scene the vibhavas of raudra rasa are anger and insult. Jamila realizes that she is talking about herself, that she is part of the greedy world, and that she is “dirty”. According to Ghosh, the vyabhicaribhavas of raudra rasa are presence of mind, determination, energy, indignation, restlessness, fury, perspiration, trembling, horripilation, choking voice, etc’. In this scene, the vyabhicaribhavas are determination, fierce look and harsh voice. Jamila goes on saying:
JAMILA 2 I am one of them, Officer.
I kill people since I was a child.
Since I could not differ the right from the wrong.
And that is terrifying.
(Act 1, p.14)
Her anger is addressed to herself and in her confession she justifies herself. The battle that causes raudra rasa is within herself.
The society considers Jamila as enemy of the country. She signifies the fall of morality and human values. PRISON GUARD reads out the newspaper to Jamila and tells her that an Islamic organization, Nation’s Faith Defender Forum (FPIB), will go for a demonstration at the court with participants of thousands of people. The organization demands that the trial sentences her to death. However, she calls the organization as “hypocrite moralist militants.” The fictitious FPIB actually refers to Islam’s Defenders Front (FPI), an organization which acts against ‘immorality’ on behalf of Islam. With uncivilized behaviour, FPI members raid on bars and nightclubs also destroy alcohol and pornography material especially during Ramadan month. They take the law into their hands and abuses religion. Jamila claims that those people do not understand morals. She instead proposes that they declare her a dignitary of the organization.
Seeing JAMILA 2 being intimate with PRISON GUARD, MRS RIA scolds him and says that his job is to guard the inmate, not to befriend her. Here the vibhava for MRS RIA is jealousy. She does not want Jamila to become a martyr.
However, MRS RIA also sympathizes with JAMILA. She tells her to stop bragging herself because “it may increase [her] punishment” (Act 1). When anger is transformed into violence and destruction, karuna rasa (pathetic sentiment) is evoked. Raudra and karuna have some common anubhavas , for example red eyes and movement of cheeks. In the scene when MRS RIA says that she cares about Jamila, MRS RIA’s face is stiff and her voice is firm—the anubhavas. In the mean time, the vibhava is Jamila’s captivity misfortune, which MRS RIA can feel as she is also a woman. The manifestation of destruction is resulted from her sorrow. This is the intersection between raudra and karuna. In karuna, the effect of sorrow is more important than the cause, while in anger, it is the opposite.
Besides MRS RIA, other people may also pity her. Malik, the LAWYER, tells JAMILA 2 that actually millions of people care about her. They do not want her charge to be interfered with political interests. However, JAMILA 2 is furious with this.
JAMILA 2 Enough! Enough!! Enough !!!!
I told you I don’t need legal defense.
The reason for her refusal of legal aid from the lawyer is she believes she did the right thing. She killed Nurdin the official with her own hands and she does not regret this. She believes that there is no border between the personal and the public affairs. JAMILA 2 says, “Prostitution is politics… I’m no different from politicians” (Act 1). According to her men boast themselves when they talk about morality. Yet, they are very weak when faced with women’s sexuality. The moral value is not upheld anymore, regardless their social status. She says she hates the society for putting politicians at a high level as if they are heroic and holy.
JAMILA – 2 Mrs Ria, do you know what those clerics
think of people like me?
Ha ha ha …. (I, 21)
The scene implies that the clerics are disgusted with Jamila. The clerics are moral upholders while Jamila is exactly the opposite. People like Jamila will go to hell. However, we can also read this the other way around, that Jamila finds the clerics disgustful. There is haasya rasa (comic sentiment) caused by the absurdity of the clerics. Discussing John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger and Allen Ginsberg’s poetry Howl, Patnaik explains that fury is the result of alienation. Jimmy and the ‘I’ feel “the sense of disgust at those who have made these people outcasts” (154). Jugupsa sthayibhava (durable psychological state of disgust) is there and thus bibhatsa rasa (odious sentiment) is also aroused by this scene.
Jamila connects the personal world to the public world. She wants to strategically use her sexuality to disrupt the society. The highest (male) position in the country is at the president. Then she makes her death wish, to sleep with the president, rather than an amnesty from him. This enrages Mrs. Ria. She slaps her and orders her men to take Jamila to isolation room. Yet, when dragged, Jamia laments:
JAMILA 2 Not a single child on earth
Wants to be a prostitute, Mrs Ria.
Not a single child …….. (Act 1, 22)
Her distrust of the world is the reason why she had abortion several times when she is working as a prostitute. She reveals this when MRS DARNO, her ex-pimp, pays her a visit at the prison. Jamila says she does not want her future daughters to meet people like MRS DARNO and be raped legally. Neither does she want them to be sex objects nor accused as the destroyer of the nation’s morals. Revenge, past insults, threats and sexual assaults are the vibhavas of raudra rasa here.
Some women are displeased by Jamila, for example the wives of officials. Two of them come to the prison representing the community of officials’ wives. They ask Jamila’s motive of request to see the president. They feel Jamila is being arrogant. Their manner is the anubhava of raudra. WIVE 2 pulls Jamila’s hair and spits at her.
Jamila’s hatred of her life and the world is also expressed when a Muslim cleric comes to her cell. He wants to guide her to ask for God’s forgiveness. However, Jamila says that she does not need a cleric to do that because he cannot understand her suffering. She asks sharply why he comes now, why was not he be with her when her father gives her away. With the anubhava of her arms stretched she says:
JAMILA 2 Look, Pak Cleric, look!!
Look how dirty and sinful I am.
And don’t say that you are not also
responsible for all this.
(Act 7, 65)
As we can see, the main vibhavas or raudra rasa in “The Prostitute and the President” are injustice and oppression. These reasons of Jamila’s anger drive her toward her disbelieve of the world. The murder of Nurdin can be seen as the greatest manifestation of her fury, the anubhava of drawing blood. However, she cannot be categorized as the ‘bad girl’. With feminist approach, Jamila is the hero. She blames her condition on the society that commodifies women’s body. This play is a critique against the state, the law, trafficking, prostitution and religion.
Ghosh, Manmohan (trans.) Natyasastra by Bharata Muni, 1967. Calcutta: Calcutta Oriental Press.
Gnoli, Raniero The Aesthetic Experience According to Abhinavagupta. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, 1985.
Patnaik, Priyadarshi Rasa in Aesthetics: An Application of Rasa Theory to Modern Western Literature. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld, 1997.
Sarumpaet, Ratna Pelacur dan Sang Presiden (The Prostitute and the President). “Naskah Drama Indonesia” page http://banknaskah-fs.blogspot.com/ downloaded on April 28, 2010.
To translate is to transfer a text into another language, to put it simply. But this carries a lot of problems with it. For example, in relation to literary translation, which books to translate and why? How to value the quality of translation?
How far a translator is recognized? What is the position of the translator in connection with the author’s text, and copyrights? And what about censorship, the relation among the translators, editors, publishers as well as agents?
These were some of the questions that the “Towards an Indonesian Literary Translation Center” seminar was trying to answer. Held in Erasmus Taalcentrum Jakarta from October 8 – 12, 2012, the seminar was part of the effort to found an Indonesian literary translation body, as initiated by Eliza Vitri Handayani. The seminar ran simultaneously with translation workshop and was organized in cooperation with British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT).
The workshop was a kind of sequel of a summer school of group translation conducted by Writer’s Center Norwich last July. In Jakarta, three classes were offered, Dutch – Indonesian, Dutch – English – Indonesian and Norway – English – Indonesian. The works to translate were Old People’s Home by Norwegian author Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold and the novel Dover (2008) by Dutch author Gustaaf Peek, which were already translated by groups in Norwich. The English translator group leaders were brought to Jakarta, Kari Dickson and David Colmer, both are award-winning translators.
The workshop was an experiment, to quote BCLT’s International Program Director Kate Griffin. The class translation leaders for each class were Widjajanto Dharmowijono, Anton Kurnia and Arif Bagus Prasetyo. The names of the last two are quite famous among the literary translator circle. At the closing night, the groups performed the consented translation.
The workshop was aimed to grow appreciation of literary translation, which takes a great deal of process and thus is an art in itself. Regarding its complexity,
Melani Budianta, an English literature professor at the University of Indonesia wrote in Kalam journal, that to translate is an ‘intertextual strategy’ to process the source text into a text of its own. The translation text may be different from the original as it carries the cultural ideology and the age developing within the translator. Translation is never neutral.
Translation also demands skills. In the past the Indonesian translators themselves were authors. Sophocles’ Oedipus was translated by dramatist WS Rendra, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea by poet (and lecturer) Sapardi Djoko Damono, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men by Pramoedya Ananta Toer and Tortilla Flat by Djoko Lelono. We actually had our golden moments, consuming works translated into Indonesian, which were published long ago by now a losing state-owned Balai Pustaka, and Pustaka Jaya.
As regards translation of Indonesian literature, John McGlynn, co-founder of Lontar Foundation which has published the English translation of select most important modern Indonesian writers’ works, said Lontar aspired to introduced Indonesian literature to the international world. Yet, I was a bit surprised to hear that Indonesian works can be translated into another language bypassing English. For example, Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) was directly translated from Bahasa Indonesia to Filipino by Thelma Kintanar. This is despite, Lily Rose Tope, who teaches Southeast Asian studies at University of the Philippines, argues that Southeast Asia hardly read each other’s literature. Her paper focused on colonial history that influenced the country linguistically and culturally. Her colleague, Corazon D. Villareal, shared her method of teaching translation and examples of how her students approach translation, as part of creative writing or literary and cultural studies. This is where literary translation by practitioners goes hand in hand with research and academic insights on translation.
In order to enliven literary translation, the working conditions must be far improved. Handayani highlighted the condition in Indonesia, including the short time for translation (even a book is divided into sections for several translators for speed, yet at the cost of quality and consistency) and low fee. In addition, the translator’s name is hardly acknowledged in the publication. She envisioned an award or prize for literary translators, perhaps an Indonesian version of UK’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, of which Griffin was one of the judges. The prize, £10,000 annually, is divided equally between writer and translator.
One way to improve the working condition surrounding translation is by providing professional assistance. PEN Translation Committee’s guide can be reference for translators in a contract negotiation, wrote Olivia Sears from Center of the Art of Translation, in her paper. Nicholas Jose, who teaches creative writing in University of Adelaide, informed that Australian literary translators have AALITRA, Australian Association for Literary Translation. In Norwegia, freelance translators were even able to go on strike for better pay and a better agreement with the publishers. Cecilie Winger, chairperson of the Norwegian Association of Literary Translators (NO), showed how the translators managed to reach an agreement with the publishers’ association for increasing the basic fee per page, something that translators can benefit from a union.
Cooperation across translators’ organization becomes favorable. Eddie R. Notowidigdo from the Association of Indonesian Translators (HPI) said one of the benefits of this is that the future literary translation center can have access to HPI’s member database. But do we see Indonesian government fund on the horizon? Jose told about Australia-India Literatures International Forum in Sydney which was organized by, among others, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australia-India Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. There is a subsidy program to fund the translation and publication of Australian literary titles into other languages. Journals are indeed effective to nourish translation practice and discipline.
Overall, it was a great week of engaging in Indonesian literature and cultural exchange. We must be reminded that Indonesia is bound to be the guest of honour in the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015, so it is hoped that a possibility to body established to facilitate these can be realized soon.
A translation practitioner, earned MA in English Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, and currently teaches Creative Writing at Unisma Bekasi English department.
i don’t seem to be able to sleep. it seems that this day cant just be over without my recalling of the things that make my day, make me happy, make an important turn in my life.
first is a good bye. but it’s not a sad one as i now have three amazingly smart and kind Fillipinos whose interest is the same as mine, literature, Cora, Lily and Isabela, who are all lecturers at the University of the Philippines, who were totally strangers to me two days back. We met yesterday, the first day of a workshop/seminar on founding a literary translation body. They wanted to get some batik and souvenirs, but Thamrin City is usually closed at the same time as the offices. So I took them to a mall, playing a role of an LO, which I missed so much, but this time voluntarily. Then they treated me for dinner, and even for es teler dessert, though only at their hotel.
and they are leaving tomorrow, plane would take off around 1.30, so they won’t attend tomorrow’s seminar even the morning session. but at least i know whom to contact when i get to Manila hehehe. and after seeing Filippinio’s interest in studying Indonesia, especially the literature, I was thinking of sending Lily some Acehnese writer’s short stories that I have done for the Translation course in JNU… hmm,,
second is the hope that my translation work, of JM Coetzee’s novel, would be able to reach the hands of the author. This is made probable by Prof. Nicholas, who is one of the speakers in the seminar. He teaches creative writing (so fun!!) and… guess what… in addition to Writing and Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, he’s also in the, I better quote here, « J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide »!!!
When I was still in India, I really wished I could give a copy to my professors, especially the ones teaching Translation Studies and Postcolonial Literature. But since I only have a copy, which I luckily found in a major bookstore after I got back from India (it was published in 2005), I can only give it to one person, without shipping cost preferably. So we’ll see what happens. I know Coetzee mustn’t speak Indonesian, but I’m somewhat embarrassed. It was my first attempt of (published) translation, right after I graduated from Unpad.
third… maybe chronologically, rather than by degree… I got a reply from a publisher that my poem is accepted for their journal!!! Oh my God, I hardly write, let alone poems. And I got rejected a few times before. I only sent my three to five English poems to international journals, both print and online. And… my shortest poem is the one accepted.
They first told me that they only have 35 pages for the poems of the 24th edition, and mine would be placed on page 36 if there were such page hahaha… So the editor decided he would include it in the next edition, the 25th. I will receive a hard copy of it, since I won’t be able to travel to attend the launching. FYI, one copy costs 10 pounds….
So that’s it. I’m about to crash. See you.
Recognizing the desert, without meet, without landing
— the only possible non-stop flight
Do you feel safe?
Or feel there’s no way out?
In the hometown
everything neat is indeed still stretched
like it used to:
The road’s bends that he has known closely
the alleys that fail to scare him
the faces that do not sow threats
indeed, sometimes, hesitation flashes
when the earth, faces, homes
as if luring:
“Please stay, Sir.
Don’t you want tranquility?”
Yet he already adventured
and the worry he brought from the next harbor
had dispersed, hot
he wanted to keep going
as the worsening hot smallpox
has made him understand:
“This village is not the way back
I’ve traded my dreams
thrown everything that is neat
and flew – perhaps alone – stopping by a land by land
for something I myself don’t understand.”
Let’s do it, it’s time
to reshape everything,
also our faces.
to flap our wings,
high, and higher
here, high in the air
the labyrinth is just an old story
with these wings
the sky is revealed
with these wings
the tempest doesn’t terrify us
with these wings
even the azure will shut
No, no need to ask
In the sky
with these twin wings
the wings of dream and hope
I’m not a kite
there won’t be a thread anymore
that drags us
to the left, to the right
with these twin wings
the horizon is no more frightening
with these twin wings
even Olympia is conquered
No, Father, you don’t need to come back
in the old labyrinth
here, up above the sky
there will be a palace
we will build a palace
than Olympia’s ridge
now, let me fly swiftly
although I know
are not as strong as the sun
now, let me be
although I know
will be ablaze
by the sun
I found you in every face of a shudra
affectionate, your eyes didn’t say a word
warm, still same
–in my body a tomb lies.
wildly black. flashy frangipanis, scattered.
an unknown tomb. twin headstones.
pleasures radiates. the pleasures of bushes. eternal—
(she lost the east
for after the dawn
you kept on meditating)
I touched you in every hug of a kshatriya
your nipples, your breasts, your body hair, your sighs, your twists,
your navel, your embrace, your lips, your bites,
your testicles, your moan, your sweats, your odor
and thus I love you
–in my body there is a hermit temple. a garden lies.
The scent of grass spreading around.
And there, you can tame your wild thoughts—
(you left her
groping the south
when in the peak of the day,
you still meditate, ignoring the streets)
I saw you in every lick of a vaisya
your eyes, eclipses
burned the wild lusts
your voices, earthquakes
muffled the passions of Eva
–in my body stands a hut of exile.
encircles, the rural breeze. scent radiates
from two splitting rivers—
the light tells of dusk
yet she has not found the north)
I felt you in every kiss of a Brahmin
your praising chant pumps my bloodstream
but your silence shrivels my nipples
–in my body there is a purgatory. burns the pious’ sins.
the original sins—
(she felt the west
when everything came close
to the dusk
the robe’s color of the being)
Between the ripe orange and drunken people’s faces
Ling, there are something we manage to seize:
the colors, the tastes, the forms that feel fresh in the lids,
that make us refuse to lose
although outside, the storm enrages.
Ling, through shellac and brush
together we soar and voyage, fly or float
catching vapors in the face of a stall guest in anguish
painting dusk and hills
dragonflies, flowers, or flock of birds
let’s go, Ling, let’s wade
while your age, body, and mind are still buds
before the sunrise turns sunset and sunset shuts
while birds and dragonflies are still hanging
and darkness comes whispering death
let’s profuse and kiss life
as now, Ling, we finally understand
among the colors of noon, the cherries, and the face of the jealous Emperor
something is in fact eternal
like the bright sun, the parrot’s cheer and the lily’s splendor
in the painting we manage to enter
No, no, this isn’t hell,
Ling, just an interval
a moment when the canvas and the sketch, the brush and Chinese ink
must fight against King’s eyes
to dissolve or immortalize, to eliminate or exalt the colors
dusk and women, flowers or ocean’s waves.
And we know, Ling, thus, the King is furious:
“The world only pile of stain!
Thrown into vacuum room
by a mad painter.”
So, Ling, before everything is gone
before the King’s fury burns all the colors
let’s go, we both spread the ark
gone swallowed by colors, sketches and forms
in the canvas that is now perfect
Translated by Indah Lestari
Go to foreign land ….
Knowledgeable and civilized people will not stay quiet in their hometown
Leave your land and go away to stranger’s land
Go, you’ll find a replacement from relatives and friends
Make efforts, the fruits of life taste sweet after a weary struggle.
I saw the water spoiled for being still
If it flows it becomes clear, otherwise, it is muddy and puddling
A lion, if it does not leave his nest, will not be able to prey
Arrows, if does not leave the arc, will not hit the target
If the sun stays in its orbit and does not move
Surely men will be tired of it and reluctantly look at it
Gold ores are like ordinary soil before being excavated from the mine
Aloes wood is like ordinary wood, when it is in the woods.
That is my translation of Al-Shafi’i’s poem, the Indonesian version is below…
Orang berilmu dan beradab tidak akan diam di kampung halaman
Tinggalkan negerimu dan merantaulah ke negeri orang
Merantaulah, kau akan dapatkan pengganti dari kerabat dan kawan
Berlelah-lelahlah, manisnya hidup terasa setelah lelah berjuang.
Aku melihat air menjadi rusak karena diam tertahan
Jika mengalir menjadi jernih, jika tidak, kan keruh menggenang
Singa jika tak tinggalkan sarang tak akan dapat mangsa
Anak panah jika tidak tinggalkan busur tak akan kena sasaran
Jika matahari di orbitnya tidak bergerak dan terus diam
Tentu manusia bosan padanya dan enggan memandang
Bijih emas bagaikan tanah biasa sebelum digali dari tambang
Kayu gaharu tak ubahnya seperti kayu biasa jika di dalam hutan.
But then I found a free translation from Google:
There is no peace of mind for the one with intellect and sophistication in remaining stationary – so leave homelands and and go to foreign fields,
You will find a replacement for what you have left.
Crash out! The sweetness of life is in crashing out,
I have seen that standing water stagnates, if it flows it nourishes,
and if it doesn’t run, it doesn’t nourish,
If the lion doesn’t leave his den he can’t hunt,
and if the arrow doesn’t leave the bow it won’t strike,
If the sun stood still in its course then people,
people would become bored,
Gold dust is as the earth thrown in its places,
and oud is a type of firewood in its ground