Thailand becomes 5th member of MASTERA

Rabiatul Kamit

THAILAND was admitted as the fifth member of the Southeast Asia Literary Council (MASTERA) during the opening of council’s 20th conference in Brunei yesterday.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah said Thailand’s entry to MASTERA will strengthen the position of the council and lead to the implementation of greater agendas, particularly in “raising the glory of the Malay language” through literary activities.

“MASTERA will be more advanced and potentially crossing geographical Nusantara boundaries in an effort to bring Malay literature to the international literary world,” he said.

In his speech, the minister also advised the five-member council to lift and revive the glory of ancient Malay literature, literary figures and oral literature containing the culture and traditions that are associated with the assimilation of the community.

He explained that it would help MASTERA gain popularity by reaching out to its target groups and further penetrate the local literary world.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair congratulates MASTERA's Thai representative Ustaz Dr Hamidin Sanawi (L). BT/Rabiatul Kamit

YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair congratulates MASTERA’s Thai representative Ustaz Dr Hamidin Sanawi (L). BT/Rabiatul Kamit

Although MASTERA has conducted a variety of activities and programmes in the form of research, publication and marketing, YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair pointed out there were groups of people who remain unaware of MASTERA’s existence and activities.

“This traditional heritage needs to be preserved and strengthened especially through the new media,” said the minister.

He also urged the council to keep abreast of and utilise the digital world in popularising literature and culture as well as elevating the literary works across the geographic boundaries. He warned that literary works could be wiped out and left behind if not preserved and documented.

“New media is very important in life today, especially for authors to market their work more easily and also for commercial publishers via e-publication (e-Pub),” he said, noting that new media is an important aspect of life for Generation X and Y as well as for literature in schools.

During the conference, the minister presented the MASTERA Literary Award of $10,000 in cash prize, a certificate, a piece of traditional Jong Sarat cloth as well as translation and publication of literary work.

This year’s recipients were Pg Setia Pg Negara Pg (Dr) Hj Mohd Yusof Pg Hj Abd Rahim (Yura Halim) from Brunei, Bapak Professor Dr Sapardi Djoko Damono from Indonesia, Sasterawan Negara (SN) Professor Emeritus Dr Muhammad Hj Salleh from Malaysia and Suratman Markasan from Singapore.

Pg Setia Pg Negara Pg (Dr) Hj Mohd Yusof Pg Hj Abd Rahim (Yura Halim)

Pg Setia Pg Negara Pg (Dr) Hj Mohd Yusof Pg Hj Abd Rahim (Yura Halim)

Professor Dr Sapardi Djoko Damono

Professor Dr Sapardi Djoko Damono

Professor Emeritus Dr Muhammad Hj Salleh

Professor Emeritus Dr Muhammad Hj Salleh

Suratman Markasan

Suratman Markasan

YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair also launched MASTERA’s latest publications titled “Lima Tahun MASTERA (2000-2004)” and “Penterjemahan Karya Sastera Terpilih: Puisi”.

The three-day conference is held at the Rizqun International Hotel, Gadong.

The Brunei Times
Friday, September 19, 2014

Israk Mikraj influences Western literature

israk2Darul Aqsha

MUSLIMS throughout the globe on 27th Rejab of the Islamic calendar of the Hijrah commemorate Israk Mikraj. The event depicts the one-night journey of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), from Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Mekah to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsha to Baitul Maqdis (Jerusalem), and then to the heavens.

Israk means the Prophet’s journey from Mekah to Jerusalem, while Mikraj means his ascension to the heavens. The Al-Quran recorded the journey in surah Al-Isra (17) verse 1. Israk Mikraj is also reported in a hadith by Abbas Ibn Malik from Malik Ibn Sha’sha’ah and narrated by al-Baihaqi.

The miraculous Israk Mikraj happened in the year 621 AD. It was the twelfth year of the Prophet (PBUH)’s mission to call people to worship the only one God (tawhid). The year was especially hard as Mekah’s Quraish pagan community had intensified their fierce opposition against the Prophet, especially after his main supporters, Khadijah and Abu Thalib, the beloved wife and uncle, passed away.

Allah (SWT) then comforted him by conducting the night journey. The Prophet (PBUH) rode a Buraq — a creature smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey — as a transportation medium which brought him to Heaven. He set forth on this journey with the Archangel Gibrail (Jibril).

During the Mikraj journey, the Prophet penetrated the seven heavens. He witnessed the sights of the hereafter such as Hell and Paradise and their inhabitants, the original face of Gibrail (Jibril), the Light of Allah (SWT), and encountered all of the past prophets.

After that he was brought to Sidrat al-Muntaha (the Lote Tree of the Furthest Boundary) and Al-Bait al-Ma’mur (the Sacred House) where he received Allah (SWT)’s order to observe five prayers (Solat) a day.

Prof Asin Palacios

Prof Asin Palacios

Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri

Besides its religious aspects, the story of Israk Mikraj, in addition, had spiced up the world of literature. In 1919, Professor Miquel Asin Palacios, a Spanish scholar and Catholic priest, came up with his earth-shaking thesis that Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy was influenced by the story of Israk Mikraj. Dante Alighieri or Durante degli Alighieri (1265-1321) wrote La Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy), an epic poem written between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is divided into three parts, the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The poem describes Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven; but at a deeper level it represents allegorically the soul’s journey towards God.

Abu'l A'la al-Ma'arri

Abu’l A’la al-Ma’arri

Earlier, in the tenth century, the Israk Mikraj inspired a renown blind Muslim poet Abu’l A’la al-Ma’arri (973-1057) of Syria to write Risalat al-Ghufran (Epistle of Forgiveness). The epistle describes the journey of the poet in the realms of the afterlife and includes dialogue with people in Heaven and Hell.

Another author Al-Nisaburi or Abu’l-Qasim ‘Abdalkarim ibn Hawazin bin ‘Abdalmalik ibn Talhah ibn Muhammad al-Qushairi al-Nisaburi wrote Kitab al-Mi’raj (Book of the Ascension).

His book concerned with Prophet Muhammad’s ascension into the Heavens, following his miraculous one-night journey from Mekah to Baitul Maqdis (Jerusalem).

In the second half of the thirteenth century, Al-Nisaburi’s Kitab al-Mi’raj was translated into Latin as Liber Scale Machometi (The Book of Muhammad’s Ladder), and has some slight similarities to the Paradiso, such as a sevenfold division of Paradise in Dante’s Divine. It was also translated into Spanish, and then into Old French (1264).

Frederick Copleston

Frederick Copleston

In 1950, British Jesuit priest and philosopher Frederick Copleston argued that Dante’s respectful treatment of Averroes (Ibn Rusyd), Avicenna (Ibn Sina), and French philosopher Siger of Brabant indicates his acknowledgement of a “considerable debt” to Islamic philosophy.

Francesco Gabrieli

Francesco Gabrieli

Although expressing skepticism regarding the claimed similarities, Italian orientalist Francesco Gabrieli recognised that it was “at least possible, if not probable, that Dante may have known the Liber scalae and have taken from it certain images and concepts of Muslim eschatology”.

Maria Corti

Maria Corti

Meanwhile, Italian philologist Maria Corti pointed out that during his stay at the court of Alfonso X, Dante’s mentor, philosopher Brunetto Latini, met Bonaventura de Siena, a Tuscan who had translated the Kitab al Miraj from Arabic into Latin. According to Corti, Brunetto may have provided a copy of that work to Dante.

Dante’s The Divine Comedy itself became a masterpiece for centuries, inspiring 20th-century Western literary men such as TS Elliot, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce, among others.

Today, Muslim scholars and teachers who give lectures at Israk Mikraj functions usually talks on the metaphysical voyage from various dimensions, not only from religious and literary point of views but also technology, especially space technology.

A theme which could motivate Muslims, particularly the younger generation, is to look back at the miraculous event and to look ahead by studying and mastering the sciences.

The Brunei Times
Sat, 10 July 2010



Nurjanah, a primadonna of dangdut (Short Story)

cerpen nurBy Jujur Prananto

IT seems like everybody had lost control. Long whistles shrieked endlessly. The spotlight had changed to red. The sound of the drum beating was thunderous. As soon as the sound of the flute became audible, dozens of spectators screamed ferociously.

With a light stamping, Nurjanah jumped onto the stage. Once her feet landed on the stage, her body, clad in a tight sparkling red dress, span once and then stopped, facing the audience in a deep bow. A long, roaring applause filled the field. Nurjanah
pulled the microphone out of its stand and shouted loudly.
“Shall we dance till dawn?”
“Till dawn…!!!”
“Swaying till dawn?”
“Till dawn…!!!”

Soon afterwards the spectators, as if following a signal, swayed their bodies. One swing. One beat. One rustle. One breath. The moment one of Nurjanah’s feet went up high, when she swung her thigh eight times to the right and eight times to the left, everybody went hot. Hysterical. Lustful.
“Look at the moon, beaming white. Let’s forget a month-long misery tonight. We dance-dance-dance…don’t stop! We sway-sway- sway till dawn!”

The smell of the dancers’ perspiration spread potently, mingling with the smell of wet, perfumed tissues and various cheap perfumes. On the fringes of the field, many people sat around the stalls, gulping glasses of beer, drinking cheap liquor and black rice wine, while their eyes never stopped stripping Nurjanah’s body, imagining what it was like wrestling on a bed with such a pleasant woman. Everybody was dazed. Stunned. Drunk.

But it didn’t last till dawn, because after the third song Nurjanah called an end to the performance by saying, “I’ve got a headache.”

It was just 15 minutes to 12. Back stage, Nurjanah immediately took off her costume and shoes. She stripped off the only red stockings she owned carefully, but still a long ladder appeared on the left thigh.

The leader of the dangdut orchestra was furious that the performance had been stopped. He ordered his men to continue playing music while he hurried to see Nurjanah and confronted her with, “You said you would sing eight songs”.
“I’ve really got a headache. Why doesn’t Mas Udin take over?”
“I sing half a song and all the spectators would disappear.”
“What about Mbak Zahro?”
“Her voice is hoarse.”
“Mus has just sung two songs.”
“She is nervous. Someone asked for Putus Tali Asmara, but she does not remember the lyrics.”
“Come on, there’s no need to sing a whole song. The important thing is the swaying.” Nurjanah immediately gathered her clothes and shoes.
“May I go home?”
“Going home or having a date with Pak Camat …?”
“Bullshit! Come on, give me my money. Just Rp 20,000 for the car rent.”
“Where are you going?”
“This late at night? Aren’t you scared of being raped?”
“Who cares! Too old to worry.”


Nurjanah felt something suddenly creeping stealthily into her senses. A hint that she needed to be on guard. It was almost akin to something she had felt when she was on stage in front of the Padaruksa market half a year ago. Suddenly, the thunderous sound of the music became faint in her ears. A high pitched ringing sound flooded her ears. She felt queasy. Her body was hot but there was no perspiration.

At the time she could sense the one who was sending the hostile signal. The person’s face was clearly visible in her mind. Her name was Leha, the prima donna of the Kemilau Mutiara dangdut orchestra. She was taken in by rumors that she would be replaced by Nurjanah who was sexier and — rumors had it — “was ready to do anything for the sake of popularity.” Leha was very disturbed because Kemilau Mutiara had signed a three-year contract with a cigarette factory, Teh Poci, meaning that if she left the orchestra she would lose her financial security and popularity for the coming three years.

“The important thing is I sing as a hobby, so there’s no need for you to be jealous,” Nurjanah then had told Leha in a private conversation. “Nobody will stop you from becoming a famous singer, but don’t use tricks to destroy me on the stage. I’m not boasting, but almost all the shamans in Banten are my teachers, so don’t try to use black magic on me.”

And when the village head across the river hired her for the celebration of his son’s circumcision, Nurjanah had only sung two songs when she felt “disturbed”. It was easy for her to guess who caused it. It was the village head’s wife herself, whose heart went cold and then hot and then cold again knowing that her husband had fallen head over heels for Nurjanah.


But now? Nurjanah felt the similar symptoms, but she could not picture any face in her mind, not even a flash. Could it be Bu Marsan? It seemed impossible. She was a very kind wife. From her face it was hard to imagine she could be suspicious of her husband, let alone engage in black magic. She was very religious. Nurjanah knew her well because she was often invited to her house for any event, including religious lectures. It was Pak Marsan himself who introduced her to Bu Marsan after she sang for the Independence Day celebration in the district.

Bu Marsan’s kindness was torture to Nurjanah’s conscience. Sometime ago when Pak Marsan took her along to Semarang, she asked him while they were in the hotel room,

“Does Bu Marsan really not know I often accompany you?”
“Why do you ask a question like that?” he responded.
“I feel really uneasy if I am with ibu. It’s like I’m facing an angel. Her face is so innocent that in front of her I feel like I’m being tried.”

At the time, Pak Marsan fell silent for a long time. His hands, which normally never stopped touching Nurjanah, remained motionless like those of a statue. Nurjanah herself did not dare move until the calls for the dawn prayers were heard again and again.

Since that night Pak Marsan never asked her to go with him. The latest rumors had it that he would resign as district head because he reportedly had to account for the failure of five rural cooperatives in his area. It meant that his misfortune had nothing to do with the public discovery of his love affair with Nurjanah. In other words, Bu Marsan was not — or had not had — any reason to resent her.
“Have a cigarette. When you’ve finished, put on your costume,” the leader of the dangdut orchestra persisted.
“No, Mas, I really have a headache.”

After the music, Zahroh was forced to go on stage with her hoarse voice. One by one the spectators left.

Nurjanah then took a pedicab to her boarding house. The streets were deserted. A man with a crewcut riding a motorbike caught up with her and rode alongside her pedicab.

“There is a message from bapak, you are expected at the swike stall at three tomorrow.”
“Tell him I have my period.”

Nurjanah lay awake until four in the morning. She couldn’t sleep. Her mind was still full of questions. It was not until she heard the cock crow that she realized the cause of her restlessness. She immediately washed her face and packed several items of clothing into her bag. If a while ago she had said she wanted to go to her village without really meaning it, this time she was convinced she was being guided to go there.

She took the Rp 20,000 from the orchestra leader out of her pants pocket. She took three more Rp 10,000 notes from under a pile of clothes in the vinyl makeshift cupboard. She put it all in her wallet which already contained three Rp 1,000 notes and some coins. For a moment she looked at the pile of dirty clothes in a corner of the room which had been there for three days. Initially she had intended to wash it today, but her intention was overruled by an impulse to leave the house immediately.

The sun had not yet risen when she arrived at the bus terminal. A scalper with tattoos all over his body half shouted at her, “Janah! Ping was looking for you last night. He wanted to ask you for a drink.”
“I do not need a drink. I need money,” she replied.

The scalper laughed endlessly, then, pulling Nurjanah’s hand, went over to a driver of a bus to Purwokerto. “Take care of my girlfriend. She is going to Dongkal,” he told him.

At the Randudongkal market she bought a pygmy rooster, choosing the most handsome one, and bought a lot of fresh traditional cakes. From the market she walked several dozen meters and rode an ojek to the west for about an hour.


It was unusual for the front door of her home to be left open. A motorcycle was parked in the yard and her father was sitting, holding a long wooden stick, on a bamboo platform beside the door. Nurjanah reached for her father’s hand and kissed it.

“Who is it?” he asked.
“It’s me, Nurjanah, Dad.”
“Janah, your daughter.”
“Ooo…where is your brother Warso?”
“I don’t know, Dad. I have just arrived.”
“I haven’t met him.”
“I’ll find her, Dad. What would you like her to do?”
“Has she paid her school fee?”
“I’ve sent the money, Dad. I’ll ask if she has paid the school fee.”
“Where’s my tobacco, Pah?”
“I’m not Ipah, Dad. I’m Nurjanah, Ipah’s older sister.”

Nurjanah left her father and hurried inside, just as her mother was coming out to welcome her.
“Ipin…” she said slowly.

Nurjanah was quick to detect the bad omen. She immediately headed for her son’s room. Her four younger sisters were sitting on the bedside, accompanying a mantri (medical aide) who was examining Ipin. The eyes of the five-year-old boy were half closed, his lips were moving, uttering unclear words. Nurjanah picked up her son and kissed and embraced him tightly. His body was very hot. In the meantime the mantri packed his equipment. “Keep the wet cloth on his head,” he said slowly before taking his leave.

Less than half hour in Nurjanah’s embrace, Ipin’s temperature lowered. His murmurs became clear.
“Pygmy chicken, Mom…”
“Yes, I bought it. I never forget what Ipin asks for.”
“Is it gorgeous, Mom?”
“Yes, like Ipin.”
“Ipin is sick, not gorgeous.”
“When you recover, you will be gorgeous.”
“Then Mom will go again?”
“If I don’t go, who will find the money to buy the pygmy chicken?”
“You haven’t found father, Mom, have you?”
Nurjanah fell silent. She could only answer with a restrained sob.

Translated by Darul Aqsha

Jujur Prananto

Jujur Prananto

Born on June 30, 1960 in Salatiga, Central Java, Jujur Prananto is a graduate of the Jakarta Arts Institute. From 1985 to 1990 he was involved in the production of over ten films, including Opera Jakarta, Tjoet Nya’ Dhien and Saur Sepuh. In between films, he wrote short stories which were published in various Indonesian publications. In 1990 he decided to quit the film world and concentrate on writing. His short story Nurjanah appears in Kado Istimewa: Cerpen Pilihan Kompas 1992, and is printed here by courtesy of Kompas daily.

The Jakarta Post
Sun, Oct 01, 1995

Hamka’s novel “Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah’ will be performed in Malaysia

Hamka lindungan kabahAntara

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID – Hamka’s masterpiece novel Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah (Under the Protection of the Ka’bah) will be adapted in the stage theater performance from 9 to May 18 at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The theater producer, Siti Rohayah Attan said this is the first novel by renowned Indonesian Muslim cleric was adapted for the theater .

Young Hamka.

Young Hamka.

“We are proud that the heir of Hamka or the real name Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah gives credence to the Malaysian production to perform the work of the great man of the archipelago,” she said .

“This novel, the oldest works of Hamka, tells about young Minang couple’s life struggles from different social backgrounds . ”

Mohd Tahir Rosminah, the theater director, said that it will display well-known performers such as Adi Putra, Nasha Aziz, Omar Fizo, Dafi, Zahid, and other artists .

The stage theater is produced by CTRA Production and Palace of Culture in collaboration with Yayasan Amanah Malaysia Prime, and sponsored by Felda Global Ventures and Fareeda .

Tickets for theater performances are sold at prices between 35 and 255 Malaysian Ringgit (Rp123.000 – Rp900.000 ).

Republika OL
Wed, 23 April 2014

The Charmed Stall (Short Story)

By Ahmad Tohari

The dry, sharp sound came each time the tip of the Kartawi’s hoe cut into the parched rice field. Each time dust rose from the limestone earth. Each time Kartawi felt a powerful jerk in the muscles in his hands and back. Still the young farmer continued to swing his hoe. The dry, sharp sound, the spattering of dust and the jerking on the muscles continued in succession under the scorching sun of the dry season. Sweat had soaked Kartawi’s singlet. Both his legs were covered with dust up to the knees. And under the shadow of his bamboo caping, Kartawi’s face looked old and weary.

When he arrived at the end of his land, Kartawi stopped swinging the hoe. The farmer stood straight and silent. He wanted to recover his power by pumping air from his lungs into his tired muscles. A gentle breeze might help cool his hot body, but Kartawi’s hope died with the dead wind and blistering air.

Kartawi was rooted to this spot, straight as a pole. His eyes narrowed and stared far ahead of him. Before him, as far as the eye could see, was the face of drought spreading on the limestone plain. The clumps of grass had lost their greenness. The trees were bare and hundreds of hectares of rice fields were parched. Far in the north, the slope of the limestone hill was a gray- colored wall with white blotches; silent and barren. The air above the land surface seemed to shimmer at a distance. Birds flew silently in the cloudless sky.

Kartawi continued to stare. Suddenly, Kartawi saw the image of Jum, his wife, emerging from the shimmering earth. Kartawi felt a pang sear his chest and a wad of coconut fiber choke his throat. He felt as if all his energy was being drained from his muscles. His fingers relaxed on the handle of his hoe. His head bowed. Kartawi heaved a sigh, then, numbed, left his tilled land to shelter under the johar tree. All of a sudden the young farmer had lost his heart for work, all because Jum had entered his mind.

Kartawi stood in the shade of the johar tree, which was struggling to defend what remained of its leaves. Jum’s image was still clearly visible in his head. His memories brought him back to the time Jum was in her stall, serving neighbors who wanted to buy chilies, spice or salted fish. Or the various kinds of kitchen goods the neighbors needed. Jum always looked fresh and hard-working in her stall. Jum with her big dream of having a stone house, a television set and a Honda bebek motorcycle. Jum felt there was no other way than to work hard. She was prepared to do anything to make her warung a success.


Kartawi knew everything about Jum since she was still a toddler. When Jum was a child, there was nothing she liked to play more than warung-warungan. Jum always acted as the warung’s owner and she asked all her friends to be customers. Jum could stand all day long for the game played under the jackfruit tree behind her house.

After Jum married Kartawi, she asked only that he build her a real warung. Kartawi loved Jum dearly so he sold two goats and felled several trees to build her the stall. One of the trees was a bacang tree. The bacang tree was Jum’s idea. Jum said there must be a fruit tree in the structure of a warung.

“Kang, the old people said the wood from the fruit trees could lure customers,” Jum had told her husband. Kartawi only smiled, but two days later a small warung was standing in the front of the young couple’s house.

Jum’s warung sprang to life straightaway. Diligent Jum seemed happy with her warung. Jum probably believed she was destined to run a warung. With her warung Jum proved she could develop her household economy. By the third year, with two children already, Jum made one of her wishes come true, which was to have a stone house. By the following year she had a 14-inch, black-and-white television set. The next thing Jum wanted was the Honda bebek motorcycle. Kartawi fully supported his wife’s desire for the simple reason that to have a wife who sold goods on a motorcycle was an achievement which was hard for fellow villagers to match. Kartawi felt lucky to have a wife like Jum.

Why he had heard his neighbors gossip about Jum these past few days was beyond Kartawi. Nobody knew who had started the rumor that last week Jum visited Pak Koyor, the sorcerer from a neighboring village. And without her husband’s knowledge. People said Jum went there to get a charm for her warung. As for the charm, Kartawi knew about it, even approved of it. Yes. Kartawi believed that to reach one’s goals hard work alone was not enough. There must be more than real effort, but the rumors had gotten out of control. Neighbors said Jum had paid Pak Koyor an offering. Kartawi knew that sorcerer required something to guarantee the success of the magic, sometimes money, sometimes a cemani chicken, or sometimes the client’s body. The neighbors said Jum had given the latter to the sorcerer.


Once again Kartawi felt the pang in his chest. Kartawi hoped the neighbors’ talk was unfounded. They were probably jealous of Jum’s success and intentionally inflated the story, thought Kartawi. What if the rumors were true? The pain returned to Kartawi’s chest, even harder. Kartawi felt torn with uncertainty. It tortured him.

Aware that only Jum could an answer him, Kartawi decided to go home immediately. Accompanied only by his shadow, Kartawi followed the footpath which split the dry rice fields, his hoe slung on his shoulder and a drinking pot in his hand. He turned east at a small junction. Dry leaves crunched under the young farmer’s every step.

When he arrived home, Kartawi saw Jum was serving several customers. Kartawi was to impatient to wait, but, with his annoyance ready to burst, he restrained himself to wait. Jum must serve her customers. Even after the warung was closed, there were certain to be customers knocking on the door.

Kartawi was only able to ask about the rumors when night had far advanced. The children had fallen asleep long ago, and Jum, who was enjoying a TV show, did not seem interested in responding to her husband’s questions. Overcome by anger, Kartawi got up from his seat and switched off the television, sat down and repeated his question.

“Yes, Kang, last week I went to Pak Koyor,” Jum said lightly. “Setiyar, Kang, to keep our warung selling well. You know Kang, now we have many rivals.”

Kartawi swallowed. He felt a tidal wave had hit his veins. Under the light of a 10-watt bulb his face looked stout and sour.

“And you gave him the offering? Didn’t you?” Kartawi asked. His voice sounded deeper and heavier. His gaze stabbed his wife’s eyes. Jum held her head up, only to bend it the next second. She smiled lightly and calm returned to her face.

Kang, what’s the matter with you? To give an offering is usual. So…”

“So it’s true that you …”

Kartawi’s hand reached for an empty glass on the table. It looked as if he was going to crush it with his hands. The muscles in his jaw tightened. His eyes glared. Jum hid her face because she thought Kartawi was going to throw the glass at her. No. Kartawi managed to restrain himself although his entire body was trembling with anger.

Kang,” Jum said when the tension had loosened. “Listen, I want to tell you something.” Jum stopped, finding it hard to swallow. “What I gave to Pak Koyor was not the real thing. I was only acting, it was all a trick. Not with my heart. Kang, I am still sane. The real thing is only for you. It’s true, Kang.”

Kartawi kept silent. His eyes remained glaring. His jaw was still contorted. Kartawi was a lighted firecracker ready to explode. His heart burned with anger. Kartawi saw that the private areas where his dignity and male pride rested had been violated. Shattered. Damn. Jum had invited the obscene sorcerer to invade and mar the very private area.

Once again Kartawi’s fingers strained to squeeze the glass in his grip.

Jum even tried to smile to break the tension. Jum was shocked when Kartawi suddenly shouted.

“So what is the difference between acting the thing and the real one?” he bellowed.

Jum swallowed again. Only her ability to regain her composure forced Kartawi to restrain himself.

“Ow, Kang, it has a lot of differences. Men are stupid. Men cannot tell the difference between the real thing and a playful act. No wonder a lot of men resort to rape because it makes no difference to them; raping or asking for the real thing, the most important thing for them is the bar!

“So, listen to me Kang. Because it was only an act, I did not do the thing with my heart. My goal was only to make the payment so that our warung would sell well. That’s all there is to it. You did not lose anything, Kang. Everything is intact. Kang, if our warung sells better, we are the ones who will enjoy it, aren’t we?”

Kartawi immediately stood up and the glass shattered on the floor. Kartawi slammed the door as he left. Jum cried.


Kartawi was away for three days. The neighbors said that Kartawi was distressed, shamed and humiliated after listening to Jum’s confession. There were even rumors that Kartawi had returned to his parent’s home and had decided to divorce Jum. Others said Kartawi went to cheer himself up with a prostitute. Kartawi hoped to revenge Jum: infidelity for infidelity. Kartawi felt heavier after indulging in a prostitute. He felt a part of his identity had been lost.

On the fourth day Kartawi returned home. His longing for his home, his children, and for Jum was irresistible. No matter what, Jum and his children were part of him. His profound fury failed to evict Jum from the center of his life. But when he arrived home Kartawi was confused. He looked at Jum’s warung which was selling well and had reaped huge profits.

“With this warung my household could improve,” Kartawi thought. “My family could live with a full stomach, cheerful, intact.”

But Kartawi felt his chest deflate when he remembered the offering Jum had paid. The financial improvement had cost an extraordinary sacrifice. Kartawi was doubtful; he stammered limply into his own home.

Translated by Darul Aqsha

Ahmad Tohari

Ahmad Tohari

Ahmad Tohari was born on June 13, 1948. He is best known for his novels, which include Kubah (Dome), Di Kaki Bukit Cibalak (At the Foot of Mount Cibalak) and Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk (The Dancer from Dukuh Paruk). In 1990 Ahmad joined the International Writing Program in Iowa, U.S.A. He now lives in his home villge of Tinggarjaya, Banyumas in Central Java and writes for Amanah family magazine. The short story Warung Penajem (The charmed stall) was first published in Kompas daily in November 1994 and is one of the stories which appear in Laki-laki Yang Kawin Dengan Peri: Cerpen Pilihan Kompas 1995 (The Man Who Married A Fairy: An Anthology of Kompas Short Stories 1995). It is reprinted here by courtesy of the Kompas daily.

warung: small stall
caping: traditional bamboo hat
johar: shade tree (cassiva siamea)
bacang: horse mango (mangifera foetida)
kang: a Javanese address for older men or respected males
pak: short of bapak, meaning sir or father
setiyar: making an effort
bar: climax

The Jakarta Post
Sun, Apr 14 1996

IBN SINA (980-1037/370-428H): ‘Father of Modern Medicine’

Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

Ibn Sina (Avicenna)

Name : Abū ‘Ali al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sīna (Avicenna)
Title : Sharaf al-Mulk, Hujjat al-Haq, Sheikh al-Rayees, Polymath
Birth : Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 980/ 370H
Death : Hamedan, Iran, 1037/428H
Ethnicity : Persian
Region : Central Asia and Persia
School tradition : Avicennism
Works : 450 treatises on various subjects (240 have survived), including his masterpieces Qanun fi’l-Tib (The Canon of Medicine) and The Book of Healing.
Expertises : Medicine, alchemy and chemistry, early Islamic philosophy, Islamic studies, logics, geography, astronomy, mathematics, psychological thought, physics, Arabic and Persian poetries, Islamic theology (kalam).
Notable ideas : Father of modern medicine, clinical pharmacology, clinical trials, and the concept of momentum, founder of Avicennism and Avicennian logic, forerunner of psychoanalysis, pioneer of aromatherapy and neuropsychiatry, and important contributor to geology.

Source: Wikipedia

An effort to introduce Malay culture, customs and traditions in Brunei

Book_budayaBudaya dan Adat Istiadat dalam Kesusasteraan Melayu Brunei
(Culture and Customs and Traditions in Brunei Malay Literary). Author: Pengiran Dr Hidop bin Pengiran Haji Samsuddin. Publisher: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Brunei Darussalam, 2009, 328 pages. Medium: Malay.

THE book originally from a dissertation of the author at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam in 2006. It studies cultural and customs and traditional aspects in the Brunei Malay literary works in order to see how far issues related to culture and tradition has got attention from Bruneian men of letters to be revealed in their works.

It’s important for educating readers or public to recognize and love their culture and subsequently to realize life based on cultural and religious ethics.

Organised in six chapter commenced by preface, second chapter talks about Malay people and their cultures, third chapter discusses about wedding traditions in literary works, fourth chapter on the coronation ceremony in literary works, fifth chapter touches on Brunei Malay ethics and the last chapter is epilog.

In general, the book describes culture and customs and traditions which are performed by Malay people, especially in Brunei Darussalam. It should be seen as a continuation and wholeness of state, nation, religion and community which has values that must be perpetuated. The book is an effort to introduce Malay culture and customs and traditions in the sultanate to the new generation. — Darul Aqsha