Melankolonial (English)

This article is a translated version of an article with the same title by Umi Maisaroh. To read the original Bahasa Indonesia (recommended), click here.

Melankolonial, the night looks at me dimly, its voice groans, Aryati comes to me and whisphers:

Civilized Savagery

Once upon a time, in the past, Europe was plagued by a disease. Previously they had been ravaged by hunger. Others were defeated by war. Coutnless people fell. But one or two of them miraculously gained power. With the remaining energy and mind, they sailed in the sea of prayer. Hope and surrender were the winds. And one by one they found a fulcrum, which would change their faces, but also plague them with plague. An epidemic for which until now has not found a cure.

After being tossed around in the sea for countless days, I thought we had landed in heaven. We could hardly believe that we were still on earth and breathing air. It’s more than just summer, it’s a garden like no other. We were also surprised by a group of people whose shapes were so different. Their hair was jet black. Skin pigments gave them their color. Red, blue, green, gray. At first glance they looked so fierce, but also so innocent and friendly at the same time. Walking barefoot, bare-chested, others are so radiant with gold and pearl shimmer. My heart suddenly pumped blood so fast. The feeling of wanting to approach him, but fear held us back.

Day turned into night, and the night into day. I don’t know how long we have been living in this beautiful garden. To our colleagues in Europe, we told them that we need their help. One by one, we started getting sick. Symptoms in each person were not the same, but there were some that are definitely the same. First we were always dizzy and nauseous. Memories of hometown always swirled in our heads. Sometimes there were convulsions because of it. But there were also those who only complained of fever. Second, we often shivered. Especially when it came to talking to the residents of this garden. We were always uncomfortable hearing their language. Were they talking bad things about us? Did they want to attack us? We suddenly became restless, and agreed, to forbid them to speak their language. Ah, and this was the worst. We started to get angry easily. Sometimes we lose consciousness, and did things that not only hurt ourselves, but also them. Our heads were hot to the top. We started beating, torturing and even killing them. But somehow in our hearts there was no fear. A buzzing in our ears whispered, this was a mission, a civilisation mission.

Pantang Malang

This season the planthoppers had eaten some of our rice. But the fruit of kedondong1 and ganyol2 was still enough to fill the stomach that day. And we still had time to make offerings. Embed a prayer that has become a mantra. His Majesty was still on the throne. Evening covers the light, the dawn chases the evening. Teledeks3 walked the streets. Until at a time that we forgot the date, our peninsula was visited by ships that we had never seen before. From it emerged tall creatures. They had eyes, hair, and were shaped like humans. But their skin was lighter than ours, their hair like burlap thread. Were they angels sent by Syang Hyang from our offerings? Oh, His Majesty declared that they had come from faraway lands. And like those who were strangers, were guests to us. And as guests, we should entertain them. His Majesty received them on his throne. Bananas, rice and coconut wer served in such a way. Also dance and drums. Our eyes were scrambling to see them. What did they say? What did they bring?

The sun was born and drown a thousand times. During that time also the guests were in our land. The guests who were no longer guests. The guests offered us to plant this and that, but by force and torture. The guest erected the walls and the walking machines, but with our blood and tears spilled. The guests taught us this and that, but by robbing us of our heirlooms. They had changed the face of our land. We loved to get angry, but it was never been this easy. We did like to fight, but never feel like we owned. One by one we got sick. His Majesty also did not escape the plague. Our muscles were so tense, our heads were cramping, we lost weight, had diarrhea, some had nosebleeds and vomited blood. Some of us staggered until we were paralyzed. We were no longer able to chew our own food. We could only surrender and could no longer think. With one shout, we could muzzle our own brother. His Majesty was even worse. He became blind and deaf. He did not hear our voices, he did not see our suffering. Their bellies swelled with hellish hot stones. The heat burned to the core of the heart. His Majesty had gone mad, mad for wealth, mad for respect, mad for power.

Now the guests have left. But somehow, we feel lost instead. Not losing the guest, but losing self-respect. We seem of hate them, but we also admire them. We curse them, but we also don’t want to let them go. Is there something wrong with our health?

After an indescribable storm, we have to leave this beautiful garden. We do miss Europe, but somehow we don’t want to let them go, we just want their food. Ah…. this disease makes us start to hallucinate: we have helped them, we educate them, and it is we who have elevated them.

1 Spondias dulcis.
2 Canna discolor.
3 Javanese traditional dancer

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Not an artist, nor a musician, Azhari orbits around the amazing people in Berlin. Translating his admiration towards them into words.