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The Sand Dune

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The tropical morning sun was cheery and bright and the warmth was caressing both our body and thoughts. We were madly and deeply in love.  How funny that you tried so hard not to show your feeling around my family. It had been two days since we arrived in my home town and it was very hard for you not to hold my hand, not to play with my fingers and caress the edges of my long finger nails. I remembered the very first time you did it you asked me:

“Are these nails real or fake?” What a silly question……

“Of course they are real, they are my pride and joy,” I answered softly. Playfully you flicked the red amber coloured nail gently as to confirm that they were genuine.

“Be careful will you? I don’t want you to break them!” You lifted your eyes from my hands and looked at me on the face.

“What kind of punishment will you give me if I break it? I’m willing to do anything for you….” With these words you pulled me closer.

The chartered car had arrived and the driver dusted the car interior while he was waiting for both of us to get ready. When I was putting my shoes on, my mother came to see if we were ready and I couldn’t believe it when she told me that my three younger siblings would come along with us.

“Hurry up you three!” My mother called out and then she said to me: “Your brother and sisters want to see the beach. I hope you don’t mind. Just watch them… don’t let them to go in deep water.” She reminded me.

Your understanding of our language was absolutely zero, so you asked me what my mum was talking about. After I told you, you had a disbelief look in your eyes. Our chance of being alone together vanished.

“Who’s watching who?” you whispered into my ears. I laughed as I thought it was very funny.

Slowly the car was approaching a busy city market.  Along the street there was endless display of tropical fruits.

“Hey, aren’t they pineapples?” you asked, “Let’s stop and get some. You told me that pineapples here were very sweet.”

So the car stopped and both of us got out of the car. We walked to one biggest stall. I picked one of the pineapples and brought it close to my nose.

“What are you doing?” You asked me in surprise.

“I’m trying to smell it to see if it is ripe.”

“What? How strange…. Is that how you tell that they are good?” You picked one and tried to do the same. “Never smell a pineapple this sweet before, and they aren’t this colour, all of them are green.”

After I did some bargaining with the fruit vendor, I bought a dozen of those big orange prickly fruits.

The beautiful lagoon was secluded and quiet. The turquoise water was shimmering brightly against the sunlight. My three younger siblings squealed with delight to see the beach. The silence was interrupted by the murmuring whisper of the coconut leaves that were blown gently by the ocean win. Now and then we could hear the screams of the seagulls from afar. Both of us preferred not to swim in the lagoon as there was no fresh water to rinse. I hated the feeling of sticky salty water on my body. We walked hand in hand while watching my younger brother and sisters merrily playing and splashing water to each other. Now and then you tried to steal a little kiss down my cheek.

The driver who was also the owner of the rented car was well known to me as we hired him many times before when we needed another car. We chatted for awhile and to my surprise he could talk reasonable English. I was glad that you could talk to someone else other than me in the last two days. My mother did not speak English and my father’s knowledge of the language was limited. All of sudden the young driver said to me that he would watch the kids so that you and me had a private moment. I thanked him for the understanding.

With your arm around my shoulder, we walked towards a sand dune. The thick white sand made walking slow and heavy.

“Take you shoes off,” you said to me. “Let’s go around the dune out of sight.”

Just before we turned around the corner of the hilly path, I glanced back to see my brother and sisters. They hardly noticed that we were not there anymore. I could hear their happy voice.

The white sand was battered by the heat of tropical the sun and the heat started to hurt my bare feet.  Gentle ocean breeze enhanced the fresh smell of salty ocean fragrance. With our fingers entwined, we laboriously climbed the thick sand of the dune. Meanwhile, two balls of inflorescence Spinifex flowers were blown by the tender wind. They seemed to tantalizingly rolling together. Sometimes, they were apart, one rolling after the other. Other times they were playfully attached.

You broke the silence by saying that we were exactly looked like those two rolling balls of Spinifex grass. We were two people in love exploring the lonely white sand dunes of the Indian Ocean……….”

First love was the sweetest………….

Harimau Putih

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Harimau Putih/Kiyanti

 

Catatan: Cerita ini hanyalah fiksi untuk mengenang harimau Jawa yang sudah lama punah.

Terjalnya medan hutan tropis itu liar dan gelap. Pohon pohon beringin merajai tetumbuhan dan pemandangan dengan tonjolan akar akarnya yang merangkum besar. Tetumbuhan kecil dibawahnya digelamuti akar akar yang bergelantungan dari pohon yang terkenal angker itu. Sinar mentari yang hampir saja tak bisa menembus telah membuat dedaunan yang berserakan diatas tanah senantiasa basah dan lembab.

Gadis muda itu setengah sadar, namun ia tak yakin semuanya itu kenyataan atau hanya impian. Manis dan menggeloranya aroma hutan memenuhi udara yang teduh dan segar. Aneh sekali dia merasakan seakan akan  ditempat itu tak ada batas waktu. Tak yakin dia apakah waktu itu pagi, siang atukah malam hari. Desiran jutaan daun daun diatas membisikkan dan meyakinkan gadis itu bahwa dibelantara itu adalah tempat yang tak mengenal waktu.

Begitu jelasnya kenyataan tempat dan suasana baru itu membuat ingatannya tentang hidupnya yang dulu, orang tua, teman teman dan universitas seakan hanya impian yang hampir terlupakan.

Tiba tiba ia mendengar sesuatu mendekati, langkah langkah yang diam dan pasti. Ia gosok mata untuk melihat baying bayang itu lebih jelas. Apakah itu seekor harimau? Iapun membuka mata selebar lebarnya untuk meyakinkan pandangan. Seekor harimau putih, dan  instink-pun membisikkan bahwa  harimau itu adalah harimau Jawa yang indah. Iapun tak takut karena harimau putih itu seakan mengisyaratkan supaya jangan takut. Matapun berkedip seperti  berada diimpian karena dengan tiba tiba didepannya berjongkoklah seorang lelaki muda. Tubuh itu tinggi terselubung otot otot kuat. Gadis muda itu tak yakin apakah yang dilihatnya itu seorang pemuda ataukan seekor harimau putih. Keduanya kelihatan dipelupuk mata silih berganti.

“Nama saya Harimau”, kata pemuda itu sambil tersenyum. “Kau cantik sekali, Kiyanti”. Dengan lembut jari jari panjang itu membelai rambut Kiyanti yang panjang dan berkilauan. Seperti ter-hipnosi , Kiyanti membiarkan jemari itu mengelus pipi dan lehernya. Dengan pasrah Kiyanti menikamati sentuhan itu.

Disaat manusia harimau itu menciumnya, Kiyanti bisa melihat kilas bayangan pemuda tampan dan harimau putih silih berganti.  Gadis yang bernama Kiyanti itupun merasakan dirinya telah jatuh hati. Sentuhan dan ciuman itu membawanya semakin dalam kedunia abadi yang tak mengenal batas waktu. Kenyataan akal pikirannya sekarang sudah ia dambakan untuk sang kekasih, si pemuda harimau putih.

Sudah setahun lamanya termuat disurat kabar bahwa mahasiswi bernama Kiyanti itu dinyatakan hilang dan tak tertemukan kembali disaat melakukan exspedisi di tengah tengah hutan tropis yang sudah langka di Pulau Jawa.

white tiger

Keyataan Tentang Harimau Jawa (Diterjemahkan dari Tigerhomes.org)

 

Harimau Jawa, Panthera tigris sondaica, dulu pernah hidup di Pulau Jawa dan terakhir terlihat pada tahun 1972 dan sejak itu telah dinyatakan musnah selama lebih dari 30 tahun yang lalu. Tiga macam harimau telah dinyatakan musnah dalam waktu 70 tahun ini yaitu harimau Bali, Caspian tiger dan harimau Jawa.

 

Nama ilmiah: Panthera tigris sondaica

Wawasan: Pulau Jawa, Indonesia

Berat rata rata: Betina 75-115 kg. Jantan 100-141 kg.

Ukuran: Betina tak diketahui. Jantan: 2.48 m

Makanan:  Semua harimau adalah carnivore yang pada umumnya memangsa babi hutan, kijang, rusa, kerbau dan binatang mamal besar lainnya. Selain itu juga memangsa binatang mamal kecil lainnyda dan burung.

Masa kandungan: sekitar 103 hari

Saat dewasa: 18 bulan sampai 2 tahun.

Kelahiran: 2 – 3 anak harimau yang beratnya sekitar 1 – 1.5 kg dan mata masih tertutup disaat lahir.

Umur: 10 – 15 tahun

Musuh harimau: Manusia dan yang lainny tak diketahui

Kehidupan social: Sendiri (kecuali disaat perkawinan)

Luas teritori: Tak diketahui. Sekarang harimau masih hidup liar di India, Mancuria, Cina, Sumatra dan Siberia.

Status konservasi: Harimau Jawa dinyatakan punah sejak tahun 1970-an.

 

Catatan: Di Jawa dan kepulauan lainnya di Indonesia terdapat banyak dongeng tentang manusia harimau atau yang lebih dikenal dengan “Harimau Jadi-jadian” Legenda ini dan seorang teman telah memberikan inspirasi untuk menulis cerita ini.

Rani’s Hero

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Central Java 1925. 

 

Slender, light olive colour complexion, shiny dark hair. She was a girl of natural youth and beauty. The 18 years old Rani was exuberantly happy that she was able to go home earlier. She helped her parents with their business selling vegetables and fruits in the market. The hustle bustle of the market day had started to reduce.

 “Rani, you can go home now because most of the fruits and vegetables have been sold. You need more time to finish the embroidery on your wedding gown,” Rani’s mother said to her only daughter.

Quick and light little steps brought her down the familiar stony path. The wild rose bushes along the road were blooming. The white, pink and red flowers released the sweetest perfume. She stopped and picked some of the flowers, and she was going to put them in her sewing basket where she also kept her unfinished wedding gown. When she was trying to reach up for the flowers, her batik skirt lifted up and showed a shapely ankle. All the way home, her mind was thinking about Surya and about their wedding which would be held in another six months. Just like herself, Surya also helped his parents with the family business. In his early twenties, he was tall, darker skin, and his face was a reflection of strong determination. He travelled from town to town to sell batik clothes and sarongs. Rani remembered that day when he said: “After we are married, you can come with me and we will travel to many places together. I hate to go on my own. It is very comfortable to ride on my new carriage. You’ll enjoy it.”

 

While thinking about the joy of travelling with the man she loved, it couldn’t be helped that her mind was back to the nagging feeling that started to darken her thought lately. Surya took longer and longer trips in the last few weeks. Usually he was hardly away for more than three days, but lately he went for a week or more before returned home. The last time, he deeply apologized for missing their date to see the shadow puppet show. Rani thought that she should not doubt her fiancé. She had known him all her life because they had grown up together and she trusted him.

 

For more than 300 years Java, Sumatra and the rest of the Islands around them had been ruled by the Dutch Imperial Government. For many generations life for the local people had been hard. The Dutch made poor farmers do force labours. Educations were only for those in upper class especially for those who helped the Government. Most local products were sent to Europe, to their home land, especially tobacco, sugar and spices. Since the beginning of the occupation, the Dutch Government had faced many rebellions from all over the Islands. However, the struggles were never a united effort. There were too many different ethnic groups and different little kingdoms. Now since 1920, the struggle against the Colonial Government was more organised. The Young Sumatran and the Young Javanese Movements were united. They were recruiting more and more young men to join the fight in the last few years. Surya had been secretly joined this new movement. Just like many other young men, he dreamed that one day Java and the rest of the Islands would be free from the occupation. In the last secret meeting the Young Javanese Movement’s leader told them about a bad news. The Dutch Government had suspected their movements for some time and few of their members had been arrested. Now they were planning to start a guerrilla strategy and it meant that they had to live hiding in the wilderness.

 

It was not an easy decision for Surya, because he was left to choose between two commitments. It had been an agonizing life for him in the last few weeks. He felt that he had involved himself so much in politics, and it was too late for him to withdraw. He couldn’t imagine what reaction he would receive from Rani and her family. Even his parents condemned the rebels for causing troubles. They thought that it was a waste of young lives. The Dutch had ruled the Islands for too long, so most people couldn’t imagine living differently. However, Surya believed in freedom and better future for the next generations.

 

When he broke the news about his plan to his parents, her mother cried hysterically. It was a relief when his father gave him the support that he needed.

“Don’t worry about your mother, son,” Surya’s father said, “but you have to explain to Rani and her family. Tell them that your future will be uncertain. No body can tell how long you’ll be away and when it will end. There is no doubt that you can be arrested or God forbids that you may loose your life. The point is that you can’t tell her to wait for you. Either you drop your crazy plan or you tell her that she is free to marry some one else.”

After giving it the last thought, Surya did exactly like his father had told him to do.

 

 

It had been more than a month since Surya left to join the freedom movement. No one would know where he was. He had promised to send secret messages to his parents to tell where he was about. So far they heard nothing about him. He could be somewhere on the rugged terrains of Merbabu or Merapi Mountains, or he might be among the tall teak trees in Roban Forest. Rani felt that she was cheated, abandoned and unloved. “How could he be so cold after all the promises that he gave her?” she kept on asking her self the same question. Friends and families gave her supports by saying: “You have to be proud of him because he is fighting for freedom so the next generation can decide their own future, to have good education and to enjoy our land’s resources.”

 

The sharp afternoon sun blinded Rani’s tearful eyes. She felt like being drifted into uncertainty. She felt powerless. It was hard to accept that she should be proud of him and that he should be her hero. The cheerful laughter of the children who were playing and singing in the courtyard seemed to drawn her spirit deeper in desperation. It was almost the end of a long dry season, and the Mahogany trees started to shed their leaves. The gentle win blew them off the branches and lazily they drifted away taking with them her dream of happiness.

 

It was the end of August 1945. Indonesia was only a few weeks old since the Independence Day on the 17th of August. The Dutch Colonial occupation was ended in 1942 and the Japanese Empire took over. During the World War II, the situation was even worse than before. The brutality of the soldiers of the Land of the Rising Sun was unimaginable. Many people were left without food and they suffered from beriberi. When the Allied Force dropped the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and followed by the defeat of the Nazi and Japan, there was a void of government in Java and the surrounding Islands. In the middle of the chaotic time, some young freedom activists Sukarno and Hatta took the advantage of the situation and proclaimed an independent for a brand new country that was called Indonesia.

 

Rani just received exciting news from Surya’s family that he was safe and well after all this time. For more than fifteen years he had been in and out of jails, and in the last five years he had been put into exile in Surinam by the Dutch. Now after the independent, the Dutch had to release him and he would be home in a few weeks.

 

All this time, Rani had learnt to accept Surya’s decision. She vowed that she would never marry another man despite her parents’ persuasions and the embarrassment of becoming an old maid. She decided to help her people by teaching young girls useful skills like cooking, housekeeping, sewing and embroidery. She fought the oppression of the Dutch in a different way.

 

Once again, after all these years, she started to think about finishing the embroidery on her wedding gown which was still neatly folded in her large sewing basket. Her patience and faith to wait for her love one had been worthwhile. This time, she could feel the sunrays warmed her feeling and brightened her new found dream. Once again the delightful fragrance of the white jasmine and muraya flowers in her garden captivated her soul. Her heart was aching for the thought to see Surya again after the long, long wait.

The White Javan Tiger

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 Specially written for a precious wild animal.

 

The rugged terrain of the dense tropical rain forest is rough and dark. Giant banyan trees dominate the scene with their big gnarled, clawed like roots. The undergrowths are intermingled with the dangling air roots of the majestic trees.  Almost impenetrable by sunlight, the leaf debris covered ground is constantly moist.

She is half awake, but not so sure if it is a reality or a dream. The sweet and sensual earthy scent is filling the cool and pleasant air. Mysteriously, she feels it is timeless. Is it morning, day or night? The rustling of millions of leaves above whisper to her and assure her that it is a place where time refuses to exist.

So vivid is the reality of her new existence and surrounding, so that the memories of her other life, her parents, her friends, the university seem like a very distant memories.

She hears something is approaching, a quiet and calculating steps. She rubs her eyes to try to see the shadowy shape. Is it a tiger? She opens her eyes wider in order to see clearer. A big white tiger, and instinctively she knows it was a beautiful white Javan tiger. She is not afraid; the tiger is telepathically telling her not to be afraid. She blinks her eyes and as if in a dream, suddenly there kneeling in front of her is a young man. Strong lean muscles encase the obviously tall shapely body. She is not sure if he is really a man or a tiger. The two images flash one after another….

“Hello, I’m Tiger,” he said with a broad smile. “You are very beautiful, Kiyanti”

Gently he runs his long fingers on her hip length shimmering black hair.

As if hypnotized, she just lets him do that. He starts to caress her cheeks and the side of her neck. In total surrender, she feels the ecstasy of his touch. Very gently he peels away her white khaki shirt, her jeans and the rest. He pushes her slowly to the cool ground, on a bed of thick bed of jungle leaves.

 

Kiyanti feels his gentle kisses all over her face and body. In between the passion, she can see the flashback of a youthful masculine face and a white tiger face coming one after another. She feels his tongue is so smooth and moist, but deep down she also feels the roughness of a tiger tongue kisses.

 

She is drifted into the joy of love….away and away deeper into a world that is timeless. Her consciousness is devoted totally for her new lover, the white Javan tiger man.

 

It has been more than a year since the local newspaper printed a headline about Kiyanti, a university student who was reportedly missing during an expedition somewhere in the middle of rain forest in Java and never be found again.

Note: This story is purely a fiction to remember Javan Tigers that have already extinct.

 

 

Fact about Javan tiger (From Tigerhomes.org)

 

It is so tragic that the over populated island of Java has lost it’s once flourished population of tigers.

 

The Javan tiger, Panthera tigris sondaica, formerly ranged on the Indonesian island of Java and was last seen in 1972 and has become extinct in the last 30 years. Three tiger subspecies have been declared to be extinct in the past 70 years, the Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers.

 

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris sondaica
Range: Indonesian Island of Java
Average Weight:
Female: 75-115kg (165 – 253 pounds)
Male: 100-141kg (220 – 310 pounds)
Size (Length):
Female: Unknown
Male: 2480mm (8′-3″)
Diet: All tigers are carnivorous. Tiger prey consists mostly of pigs, deer, antelope, buffalo and other large mammals, although tigers have been known to hunt smaller mammals and birds.
Gestation Period: 100-100 Days (Averaging 103 Days)
Cub Maturity: 18 months – 2 Years
Cubs Per Litter: (Usually 2-3 cubs) Cubs are born blind and weigh 2-3 pounds.
Lifespan: Tigers live for 10-15 Years
Predators: Unknown, Man
Social Structure: Solitary (except during Mating Season)
Territory Size: Unknown. Today tigers occur in parts of India, Manchuria, China, Indonesia and Russia (Siberia).
Conservation Status: Extinct since the 1970’s.

Note: In Java and the surrounding island there are many legend about a tiger that can change itself into a man, or locally known as: harimau jadi-jadian. The legend and a special friend inspired me to write this short story.