Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Great Indonesian Novel - 3

Continuing the ongoing series with This Earth of Badly-Raised Twilight. Chapter 3 - March 1911

William of Orange Polder Windmill Rotterdam Pancake Li hit his little brother, Hayamwuruk Gamelan Komodo-Dragon Dream-of-Independence Batik Li, over the head with a Dutch toy train.

"I tell you b'fore, 'Ruk, native not allowed in First Class'!"

"But why, elder brother? Is the native less of a man than the arrogant European? Is his money somehow tainted by being offered in a brown-skinned hand? Do we not ourselves have the blood of native royalty running through our veins, and must needs feel ourselves at one with the benighted peasantry of our homeland? I may be only two years old, and you may be older and wiser than me from your education in a Dutch kindergarten, but this book sorely needs some rousing speeches in defence of our oppressed native folk, to give them hope that one day we may cast of the yoke of oppression."

William hit him with the train again, and went off, smirking, to find his father to have a Dutch storybook read to him. In Dutch.

Hayamwuruk shed tears of despair and frustration thick and fast now, like rice flour pouring into the bubur ayam pot - there to be soaked in the resentment of economic and political oppression, raised to boiling point by growing consciousness of his national destiny, garnished with the chicken shreds and onion flakes of dreams of independence and served up to an overweight British tourist at a breakfast buffet in a four-star hotel, only to be proclaimed "a bit bland" and left largely uneaten.

He toddled into the servants' quarters to find his beautiful but cruelly mistreated and ignored native mother, Raden Roro Royabot, who was making a meringue.

"Why are you only keeping those egg-whites, mother?"

"It's for you 'Ruk - remember how you made that speech earlier urging me to cast away the yolks of oppression?"

"That's yokes, mother."

His mother looked at the floor in dismay and confusion.

"I am sorry, son. I did not know, son. And in any case son, that gag doesn't work in Javanese, as you should know by now from your extensive reading of the works of Ronggowarsito."

She looked at his disappointed but sympathetic face and forced a smile. "But come, my darling boy - let us sit together and read endlessly impenetrable passages from the Babad Tanah Jawi together, telling of the glorious deeds of your ancestors before the Dutch ever arrived."

"Yes mother, I would like that very much."

Sometimes, she thought wistfully, her beloved younger son reminded her not of her evil, rapacious husband but of the only man who had ever moved her heart with kindness - Min, the simple village goat-carrier.


Far away in the village, Min - the simple village goat-carrier-turned-dokar-driver who nursed within him a hopeless passion for Royabot - had delivered his last passenger of the day when he heard sobbing from a satay stall at the side of the road. He left his horse eating grass at the roadside and went to investigate. The satay seller was sitting alone in tears.

"Wah - I am but a poor old man who is unable to sell any goat satay. Why will people not buy my delicious charcoal-grilled meaty skewers?"

"Pak" said Min soothingly, "I am but a poor village goat-carrier-turned-dokar-driver and know nothing about these things, but I know a little about goats and even from here I can see that you have cut the meat longitudinally along the grain of the latissimus dorsi, but then at 45 degrees downwards from the line of the spinal column along the gluteus maximus. In both cases, you have the main muscle fibres running along the length of the satay, making it difficult to chew. Were you to cut across the grain to start with - laterally away from the spine for the latissumus dorsi and then upwards at 45 degrees along the gluteus maximus - the grain of the muscle fibres would be cut into easy-to-chew mouthfuls and the satay would be more appetizing."

"Wah, Min - you are so clever. We should swap places - you can be the satay seller and I will drive the dokar. For your cleverness, you deserve this."


Scarlet-Blue said...

Is Min Jamie Oliver in disguise?

Gyppo Byard said...

I see him more as a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall type. But in any case, he won't be doing satay for long...

Scarlet-Blue said...

Is going to start weaving rugs next? Or sell pots? Or make pots? Or do something with a rustic corn dolly? Anyhow, I hope he eventually gets jiggy with Raden Roro.

inkspot said...

Since you failed to erase Uri Geller, you could give him a humiliating role in your novel, maybe a failed Mossad agent turned pimp. "Sir, sir, want your gender bent?"

Gyppo Byard said...

Scarls - all those remain distinct possibilities...

Inkspot - that's possible, but we're only up to 1911 so far.

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