Putra Hidayatullah

Translated by Linda Lingard, edited by Marjie Suanda

 Idrus bin Harun

Idrus bin Harun

We were still walking and kicking the gravel when shadows rose from the ground. Dek Gam was gripping a piece of dried bamboo as big as his thumb. His shorts slipped down, so that the crack in his butt could be seen. His eyes were barely blinking.

"Don't kick anymore, Banta. You'll frighten them. They're here." Dek Gam squatted and moved a stone as big as a baby's head. A black centipede scuttled away towards the stony side path.

Pieces of dried wood were scattered about on the banks of the Arakundo River. Dek Gam took one of them and began digging. Each time he pounded the wood into the ground, snot oozed out of his pug nose. Dek Gam had dropped out of school. He was three years older than me, who was in the fourth grade at the time, but my mother said we looked the same age. He was the friend who always invited me to play in the fields or here.

The river still seemed to be overflowing. The big rock where people used to sit while fishing was no longer visible. Two branches drifted by and were caught where the river curved. I saw a buffalo trying to cross to the other side.

I wanted to go home to tell Macut that her buffalo might be carried away by the current. But Dek Gam said we were almost there. Dek Gam said the catfish there were huge. If we were to go back, we would not be allowed to come out again once the sun had set. The Colonel had announced a night curfew. In addition, said Dek Gam, even if it were tossed about, the buffalo would not drown. Buffalos can swim.

In the past, my friends and I loved to swim too. I learned how to swim from Dek Gam. In my village, if you did not know how to swim you would be called a sissy. Dek Gam also taught me how to dive. Sometimes we competed to see who could hold his breath longest underwater. But we did that secretly.

Once, my mother figured out what we’d been doing when she saw me come home with red eyes. Then she told me a wicked genie lived in the river; its name was Baluembidi. The genie had been sucking human blood almost every year. Ten years ago, a boy had drowned. Five days later, his pale and bloated corpse floated like a banana tree.

"Do you know about Baluembidi, Dek Gam?"

Dek Gam shook his head and continued digging. His fingernails were blackened.

"My mother said, there are many Baluembidi under that bridge there." I squinted and pointed to an old steel bridge. "Sometimes, it resembles a mat. When you stroke it, it will roll up and bury you under water. After it has completely sucked your blood, only then will it release your body. "

Dek Gam narrowed his eyes, "But I often go there. There are no Baluembidi." He wiped off his snot. Drops of sweat appeared on the nape of his neck.

From a distance, Lhee Reutoh Hill could be seen undulating like a woman's breasts. My mother said, ghosts breed in that hill. They perch on large old trees. The ghosts control every inch of the flowing river. They hide under the calm water. Their hands stretch out like a giant's scarf.


It rained heavily last night. With my arms as my pillow, I was lying in my room observing the drops of rain falling through the hole in the roof. I had placed an empty paint can under it and listened to the raindrops falling, sounding like the ticking of a clock.

When the cold began to pierce my bones, I pulled up the blanket. And I began to dream again of the Colonel. In my dream, the Colonel was not wearing striped clothes. His hair seemed white. He stood at the door of my mother's room. The Colonel was coaxing my mother and pulled her into his arms. "Come on..." His hairy hands stretched out to unbutton my mother's clothes. I stood with my knees shaking. I covered my eyes with my hands. Sobbing, I heard my mother screaming.

The scream came at the same time as the clap of thunder that woke me up. I could not see anything. Everything was as black as ink. I could still hear the sound of rain beginning to subside.

In between, my ears caught a strange sound again. I heard someone shouting for a long time. Gradually the shout faded and disappeared and suddenly reappeared again.

I had also heard it a few nights before. I heard the sounds of someone crying, like a female voice. At other times, it moaned like the sounds of children my age who were being crushed by stones.

I could not bear to hear it; I shut my ears tightly and curled up like the number five. When I shut my ears, I heard another voice. My father once said, if you shut your ears tightly, you would hear the sounds of coals burning in hell. I was so frightened. But I shut my ears. A mouse sneaked under my blanket and hid there.

I was motionless, not knowing what had happened to my ears. The sounds were suffocating my chest. Behind my pillow, I sobbed.

When morning came, I saw mother in the kitchen; squinting while blowing the stove, she said to me, "There were no voices, Banta. I didn’t hear any voices. You are being disturbed by Baluembidi. Baluembidi will sneak in and disturb naughty children."

Mother did not hear the voices. Nobody heard the voices except me. I felt as if I was living alone. I left mother so as not to be reminded of the voices again. Without her knowledge, I did not go to school. I ran towards Dek Gam's house.


The sun has yet to set. "Look!" Dek Gam placed a worm as large as my little finger on the palm of his hand. The worm wriggled like the tail of a cat. Dek Gam rose and took a taro leaf, added a handful of soil and placed some worms in it.

"Hold this." Dek Gam wiped his sweat with his left arm. It seemed he didn’t hear what I had said about Baluembidi. He took a worm and cut it with his black nails. Dek Gam spat several times on the fishhook. Cottony clouds moved slowly up above. An eagle flew in circles and screeched.

"The fish there are huge. The other day I got a fish as large as my father's thigh."

I followed Dek Gam. He left slim footprints behind him. Dek Gam never wore shoes.

"If the Baluembidi exist, why don't they eat the fish?" Dek Gam blew out the snot that was flowing from his nose.

"Maybe those are magical fish, Dek Gam."

"No. I have eaten them. Nothing happened. The fish are big because nobody goes fishing there anymore, Banta."

We stopped when we neared the old steel bridge. Near the river was a wall, the remains of an old bridge. Dek Gam asked me to hold the hook. He climbed the concrete. I followed behind.

We sat side by side. The wind blew into our hair and faces. The water here seemed calm. Dek Gam whistled and threw his hook. Far across the river a few cranes were drinking.

"The Colonel almost died near that stone."

"Dragged by the Baluembidi?"


"That stupid man could not swim," chuckled Dek Gam.


"What a pity he didn't die."

Since the arrival of the Colonel, my father, Dek Gam's father and almost all the men no longer went to work in the fields. They ran and hid in the jungle.

I did not understand why the Colonel must hunt my father the way our fathers hunted the rats in the fields. Mother said, the Colonel's men have recorded the names of all the men here. He said the men in the village were not obedient. Mother said, if I were disobedient, they would record my name too.

When they first came here, the Colonel and his men walked around on foot. Whenever they saw a rooster or a parrot in the homes of the villagers, they would take them to their headquarters. They gave the birds new names, the names of our fathers.

One afternoon, when Dek Gam had gone to this river alone, he bumped into the Colonel. He told me the Colonel asked, while joking with his men, "You have a sister, don't you? Is she beautiful?" On another day, I heard young people whispering among themselves before they disappeared from the village. They said, "The Colonel and his men don’t just look for birds. They also look for pretty chicks in the village." I did not understand what he meant.

I saw red clouds on the horizon. The sun was setting, almost parallel to the hill. The image of the Baluembidi still had not gone from my head. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw a Baluembidi in my mind. It had a large, green body and a long tail. Its teeth were sharp like the teeth of a shark, and its huge, red eyes bulged out.

"If you were to compare him to a fish, the Colonel was like a salted fish, he couldn't swim," chuckled Dek Gam. "I saw it with my own eyes. When he almost reached the center of the river, he shouted, help... help..." Dek Gam mimicked the Colonel's strange accent.

"Ssst. Not so loud. They're up there," I said. They have extremely sharp ears that make us frightened even of the walls in our own homes. Up there, not far from the bridge, they had built their headquarters. They asked the villagers to arrange gunny sacks filled with sand. They said, the sand could withstand attacks and could not be penetrated by bullets. Above the sacks, they placed rifles in inverted V rows; the muzzles pointing to the road.

"There are no Baluembidi here, Banta. The Colonel who could not swim was not taken by the Baluembidi. Why should it take us? You don’t believe me?"

Before I had a chance to reply, Dek Gam's hook was pulled by something. The string on the hook drew nearer. I felt my heart quicken. Dek Gam tried to pull it but failed. My breath caught in my throat when a catfish as big as an adult’s thigh hung in the air.


I released it from the fishhook. We caught one fish after another. I placed them inside the rattan basket.

Before the sun had set, the basket was filled with fish. The last catfish we caught was still flapping about with the desire to return to the water. The smell of fish rose. It had been a long time since I had seen fish this big. While I was still counting, Dek Gam climbed down slowly from the concrete and went to the riverbank. He removed his clothes and went into the water.

"Look, Banta!"

"No, Dek Gam!"

Dek Gam laughed and ran down the rocks. He removed his shorts and dove into the river. Then he raised his head from the water and said breathlessly, "There aren't any Baluembidi, Banta. Come on..."

Dek Gam dove and floated. He flapped the water with both his legs. It had been so long since I swam in a river. Dek Gam had been swimming for almost half an hour and nothing had happened. I could no longer resist the urge to swim. In a few minutes I found myself in the water. The cold finally spread throughout my body.

Dek Gam splashed water in my face. I splashed water back into his. We chuckled.

"The Colonel almost drowned here."

My mother's story flashed through my mind, of how the Baluembidi dragged your legs first and then drowned your body before releasing it after two or three days.

But I did not feel anything. Nothing pulled my legs. There were no Baluembidi. Mother had intentionally frightened me so that I would not play in the river. Dek Gam invited me to do what we had not done for a long time: see who could hold his breath longest in the water. Dek Gam looked on while I dived, counting the seconds. Deep in the water, I saw something wrapped up at the bottom of the river.

"There's something there!"


Dek Gam swam towards me and began to dive. I saw air bubbles appearing on the surface of the water. Dek Gam was dragging something heavy with all his strength and pushing it urgently to the edge.

A gunny sack with an unfamiliar name written on it. Dek Gam's knees were shaking while opening it. His lips paled for a moment. I saw the form of a naked man with his hands and legs tied up with strings. I saw that the corpse had already become bloated with a hole in the forehead.

"There are many other gunny sacks down there!" Dek Gam's voice was hoarse.

Dek Gam looked up into the sky. He had subsequently found his father's corpse in one of the gunny sacks. His face was flushed. His voice choked. He fought back tears. But then he sobbed while hitting the sand repeatedly. And his cries changed, becoming like the long moans that I heard every midnight after that afternoon.

My throat hurt. My chest felt heavy. I could not hold back my tears. I thought of my mother. It was clear Baluembidi existed. Baluembidi with weapons. Baluembidi who had shot our fathers, placed them in the gunny sacks, weighing them down with stones, and who had drowned our fathers at the bottom of this river.



Baluembidi: a mythical evil genie that lives in the water and sucks human blood

Dek Gam: a nickname for boys in Aceh

Macut: aunt (mother's sister)


© Putra Hidayatullah. Translation © Linda Tan Lingard.


Putra Hidayatullah

 Leopold Adi Surya Indrawan

Leopold Adi Surya Indrawan

KETIKA BAYANGAN MENINGGI di tanah, kami masih berjalan sambil menendang-nendang kerikil. Dek Gam merangkul sepotong bambu kering sebesar ibu jari. Celana pendeknya melorot ke bawah, membuat belahan pantatnya kelihatan. Matanya nyaris tak berkedip.

“Jangan tendang lagi, Banta. Kau membuat mereka ketakutan. Mereka ada di sini.” Dek Gam berjongkok dan menggeser sebuah batu sebesar kepala bayi. Seekor lipan hitam melarikan diri ke sela-sela bebatuan.

Ada banyak potongan kayu kering berserakan di tepi Sungai Arakundo. Dek Gam mengambil salah satunya dan mulai menggali. Setiap ia menghantamkan kayu ke tanah, ingus kental mengalir dari hidungnya yang pesek. Dek Gam putus sekolah, tidak tamat SD. Ia tiga tahun lebih tua dariku yang kelas empat SD. Tetapi kata ibuku, kami terlihat sebaya. Ia teman yang selalu mengajakku bermain ke sawah atau ke sini.  

Sungai masih terlihat meluap. Batu besar tempat orang biasanya duduk memancing sudah tidak kelihatan. Dua batang pohon hanyut dan tersangkut pada bengkolan sungai. Aku melihat seekor kerbau mencoba menyeberang ke tepi.

Aku ingin pulang memberi tahu Macut bahwa kerbaunya hendak dibawa arus. Tapi kata Dek Gam kami sudah dekat. Dek Gam bilang ikan gabus di sana besar-besar. Kalau kami pulang hanya untuk itu, nanti waktu kembali matahari sudah terbenam dan kami tidak bisa keluar lagi. Kolonel telah mengumumkan jam malam. Pun kata Dek Gam, walau terseret-seret, kerbau tidak akan tenggelam. Kerbau bisa berenang.

Dulu aku dan teman-teman juga senang berenang. Aku belajar berenang dari Dek Gam. Di kampungku, kalau kau tidak bisa berenang, kau akan dikatai bencong. Dek Gam juga mengajariku cara menyelam. Sesekali kami bertanding siapa yang paling lama bisa menahan napas dalam air. Tapi itu kami lakukan diam-diam.

Suatu hari ibuku tahu gara-gara ia melihat aku pulang dengan mata memerah. Ibu lalu bercerita padaku, di sungai itu ada jin jahat, Baluembidi namanya. Hampir tiap tahun jin itu mengisap darah manusia. Sepuluh tahun yang lalu, ada anak laki-laki tenggelam. Lima hari kemudian, mayatnya yang pucat dan kembung mengapung seperti batang pisang.

“Kau tahu Baluembidi, Dek Gam?”

Dek Gam menggeleng dan terus menggali. Kuku jemarinya menghitam.

“Kata ibuku, di bawah jembatan sana banyak Baluembidi.” Aku memicing mata dan menunjuk sebuah jembatan besi tua. “Kadang-kadang ia menyerupai tikar. Ketika manusia merabanya, ia akan menggulung dan membenamkan tubuh kita ke dalam air. Waktu darah kita sudah habis dihisapnya, baru tubuh kita dilepas.”

Dek Gam memicing mata, “Tapi aku sering ke sana. Tidak ada Baluembidi.” Ia mengelap ingusnya. Bulir-bulir keringat keluar di tengkuknya.

Dari kejauhan tampak Bukit Lhee Reutôh berundak-undak seperti buah dada perempuan. Ibu bilang, di bukit itu hantu-hantu beranak-pinak. Mereka hinggap di pohon-pohon tua yang besar. Hantu itu kemudian menguasai setiap jengkal sungai yang mengalir. Ia bersembunyi di balik air yang tenang. Tangan-tangannya menjulur panjang seperti selendang raksasa.

SEMALAM HUJAN TURUN deras sekali. Berbantalkan lengan, aku berbaring di kamar sambil memperhatikan tetes air hujan jatuh melalui atap yang bocor. Aku telah menaruh kaleng cat bekas dan mendengar bunyi air jatuh seperti suara detak jarum jam.

Ketika dingin mulai mencucuk tulang, aku menarik selimut. Dan aku mulai bermimpi lagi tentang Kolonel. Dalam mimpiku, Kolonel tidak memakai baju loreng. Rambutnya kelihatan putih. Ia berdiri di pintu kamar ibuku. Kolonel merayu ibuku dan menarik Ibu ke dalam pelukannya. “Ayolah…” Tangannya yang berbulu menjalar membuka kancing baju Ibu. Aku berdiri dengan kedua lutut bergetar. Aku menutup mata dengan kedua tangan. Sambil terisak, aku mendengar Ibu menjerit.

Jeritan itu datang bersamaan dengan gelegar halilintar yang membuatku terjaga. Aku tidak dapat melihat apa-apa. Semuanya gelap seperti tinta. Aku masih mendengar suara hujan yang mulai sedikit reda.

Lalu di sela-sela itu telingaku menangkap suara aneh lagi. Aku mendengar suara orang-orang berteriak panjang. Lambat laun teriakan itu halus dan memudar, menghilang, dan tiba-tiba muncul lagi.

Beberapa malam sebelumnya aku juga mendengar itu. Aku mendengar suara orang menangis, mirip suara perempuan. Di lain waktu ia merintih seperti suara anak-anak seusiaku yang sedang ditindih batu.

Aku tak sanggup mendengar, aku menutup telinga rapat-rapat dan meringkuk seperti angka lima. Dan ketika aku menutup telinga, aku mendengar suara lain lagi. Ayah pernah bilang, kalau kaututup telinga rapat-rapat, kau akan mendengar suara bara api neraka. Aku takut sekali. Tapi aku menutup telinga. Seekor tikus menyelinap masuk ke dalam selimutku dan bersembunyi di sana.

Aku bergeming, tidak tahu apa yang terjadi dengan telingaku. Suara-suara itu membuat dadaku sesak sekali. Di balik bantal aku mulai sesenggukan.

Ketika pagi tiba, aku menemui Ibu di dapur. sambil memicing mata saat meniup tungku, Ibu berkata padaku, “Tidak ada suara apa-apa, Banta. Ibu tidak mendengar suara apa-apa. Kau diganggu Baluembidi itu. Baluembidi akan menyelinap dan mengganggu anak-anak yang nakal.”

Ibu tak mendengar suara itu. Tak ada yang mendengar suara itu kecuali aku sendiri. Tiba-tiba aku merasa seperti sedang hidup sendirian. Lalu agar tidak teringat pada suara-suara itu lagi, aku meninggalkan Ibu. Di luar pengetahuannya aku tidak pergi ke sekolah. Aku berlari keluar menuju rumah Dek Gam.


MAGRIB BELUM MENJELANG. “Lihat!” Dek Gam menaruh seekor cacing sebesar kelingking di atas telapak tangannya. Cacing itu menggeliat seperti ekor kucing. Dek Gam bangkit mengambil sehelai daun keladi, menaruh segenggam tanah, dan meletakkan cacing-cacing itu ke dalamnya.

“Pegang ini.” Dek Gam menyeka keringat dengan lengan kirinya. Ia seperti tak mendengar apa yang kukatakan tentang Baluembidi. Ia mengambil seekor cacing dan memotongnya dengan kukunya yang hitam. Dek Gam meludah beberapa kali pada mata kail. Tampak awan seperti kapas bergerak pelan. Seekor elang berputar-putar dan melengking.

“Ikan di sana besar-besar. Kemarin aku dapat seekor ikan sebesar paha ayahku.”

Aku mengikuti Dek Gam. Ia meninggalkan jejak kakinya yang kurus di belakang. Dek Gam tidak pernah memakai sandal.

“Kalau Baluembidi ada, kenapa ia tak memakan ikan-ikan itu?” Dek Gam membuang ingus yang meleleh pada hidungnya.

“Mungkin ikan itu ikan jelmaan, Dek Gam.”

“Tidak. Aku sudah memakannya. Tidak ada apa-apa. Ikan itu besar-besar karena tak ada lagi orang yang pergi memancing, Banta.”

Ketika hampir sampai dekat jembatan besi tua itu, kami berhenti. Dekat sungai ada sebuah tembok bekas jembatan lama. Dek Gam menyuruhku memegang kail. Ia memanjat beton itu. Aku menyusul di belakangnya.

Kami duduk berdampingan. Angin berhembus menerpa rambut dan wajah kami. Air di sini tampak tenang. Dek Gam bersiul dan melempar kailnya. Jauh di seberang sungai tampak beberapa ekor bangau sedang minum.

“Dekat batu itu Kolonel hampir mati.”

“Ditarik Baluembidi?”


“Laki-laki bodoh itu tak bisa berenang.” Dek Gam cekikikan.

“Oh ya?”

“Sayang sekali ia tak jadi mati.”

Sejak Kolonel datang dua tahun silam, ayahku, ayah Dek Gam, dan hampir semua laki-laki tidak lagi pergi mengurus sawah. Mereka lari dan bersembunyi di hutan-hutan.

Aku tidak mengerti kenapa Kolonel harus memburu ayah-ayah kami seperti ayah-ayah kami memburu tikus-tikus di sawah. Ibu bilang, anak buah Kolonel telah mencatat hampir semua nama laki-laki di sini. Katanya laki-laki di kampung ini tidak patuh. Ibu bilang, kalau aku tidak patuh, mereka juga akan mencatat namaku.

Ketika pertama mendarat di sini, Kolonel dan anak buahnya berkeliling berjalan kaki. Kalau ada ayam jago atau burung beo di rumah-rumah orang kampung, mereka mengambil dan membawanya ke markas. Mereka lalu memberi nama baru untuk burung-burung itu dengan nama ayah-ayah kami.

Suatu sore, waktu Dek Gam pergi sendiri ke sungai ini, ia berpapasan dengan Kolonel. Sambil berkelakar dengan anak buahnya Kolonel bertanya, “Kau punya kakak, tidak? Cantik, tidak?” Begitu Dek Gam bercerita padaku. Di hari yang lain, kudengar bisik-bisik beberapa anak muda sebelum mereka menghilang dari kampung. Kata mereka, “Kolonel dan anak buahnya tak cuma mencari burung. Tapi ‘burung-burung’ mereka juga mencari gadis-gadis kampung.” Aku tidak mengerti apa maksud mereka.  

Aku melihat mega merah di ufuk. Matahari mulai condong dan hampir sejajar dengan   bukit. Bayangan Baluembidi masih belum pergi dari kepalaku. Tiap aku memejamkan mata kulihat Baluembidi dalam benakku sendiri. Ia bertubuh besar, berekor panjang, dan berwarna hijau. Gigi-giginya runcing seperti gigi ikan hiu, dan matanya yang merah dan besar menjorok keluar.

“Kalau ibarat ikan, Kolonel itu seperti ikan asin, tidak bisa berenang.” Dek Gam terkikik. “Aku melihat dengan mata kepalaku sendiri. Ketika hampir ke tengah sungai, ia berteriak, tolong… tolong….” Dek Gam meniru logat Kolonel yang aneh.

“Ssst. Jangan besar-besar suara. Mereka ada di pucuk sana,” kataku. Telinga mereka peka sekali dan membuat kami takut bahkan pada dinding rumah sendiri. Di atas sana, tak jauh dari jembatan, mereka membuat markas. Mereka menyuruh orang kampung meyusun goni berisi pasir. Kata mereka, pasir kebal serangan dan tidak tembus peluru. Dan di atasnya mereka menaruh senjata laras panjang dengan penopang mirip huruf V terbalik. Moncongnya mengarah ke jalan.

“Tak ada Baluembidi di sini, Banta. Kolonel yang tidak bisa berenang saja tak diambil oleh Baluembidi. Apalagi kita. Kau tak percaya?”

Belum sempat aku menjawab, kail Dek Gam ditarik oleh sesuatu. Benang kail semakin dekat. Aku merasa jantungku berdegup lebih cepat. Dek Gam mencoba menariknya, tetapi gagal. Napasku tertahan di tenggorokan sampai kemudian seekor ikan gabus sebesar betis orang dewasa menggantung di udara.


Aku melepasnya dari mata kail. Satu per satu ikan-ikan terperangkap. Aku memasukkannya ke dalam keranjang rotan.

Sebelum matahari terbenam, ikan-ikan sudah memenuhi keranjang. Ikan gabus terakhir yang kami dapat masih terkelepar-kelepar ingin kembali ke air. Bau amis menguar. Sudah lama aku tidak melihat ikan-ikan sebesar ini. Ketika aku sedang menghitung, Dek Gam turun perlahan dari atas beton dan menuju tepian sungai. Ia membuka baju dan turun ke air.

“Banta, lihat!”

“Jangan, Dek Gam!”

Dek Gam tertawa dan berlari menuruni bebatuan. Ia membuka celana dan terjun ke sungai. Kemudian ia mengangkat kepala dari dalam air dan berkata dengan terengah-engah, “Tidak ada Baluembidi, Banta. Ayolah….”

Dek Gam menyelam dan mengapung. Ia mengepak-ngepakkan air dengan kedua kakinya. Sudah lama aku tidak mandi di sungai. Hampir setengah jam Dek Gam berenang dan tidak terjadi apa-apa. Aku tak kuasa menahan dorongan untuk mandi. Dingin akhirnya merambat ke seluruh tubuhku. Dalam beberapa menit aku mendapati diriku sudah ada dalam air.

Dek Gam memercikkan air ke wajahku. Aku membalas memercik ke wajahnya. Kami tertawa cekikikan.

“Di sini Kolonel hampir tenggelam.”

Sekilas dalam pikiranku berkelibat cerita Ibu bahwa Baluembidi menarik kaki terlebih dulu kemudian membenamkan tubuh manusia dan baru melepasnya setelah dua atau tiga hari.

Tapi aku tidak merasakan apa-apa. Tidak ada yang menarik kakiku. Tidak ada Baluembidi. Ibu sengaja menakuti agar aku tidak main di sungai. Dek Gam mengajak melakukan hal yang sudah lama tidak kami lakukan: siapa yang paling lama bisa menahan napas dalam air. Sementara aku menyelam, Dek Gam memperhatikan sambil berhitung dalam hitungan detik. Di kedalaman, aku melihat sesuatu terbungkus.

“Ada sesuatu di bawah sini!”

“Ada apa?”

Dek Gam berenang ke arahku dan mulai menyelam. Aku melihat gelembung-gelembung udara bermunculan di atas permukaan air. Sekuat tenaga Dek Gam menarik sesuatu yang berat dan tergopoh-gopoh mendorongnya ke tepi.

Sebuah goni bertuliskan nama seseorang yang aku tidak tahu. Ketika membukanya, lutut Dek Gam tergetar. Bibirnya pucat seketika. Aku melihat sewujud lelaki telanjang dengan tangan dan kaki terikat tali. Aku melihat jasad itu sudah mengembung dengan dahi berlubang.

“Ada banyak goni lain di bawah sana!” Suara Dek Gam terdengar parau.

Dek Gam menengadah ke langit. Ia juga mendapati jasad ayahnya ada dalam salah satu goni-goni itu kemudian. Wajahnya memerah. Suaranya tersedak. Ia berusaha menahan air mata. Tapi kemudian ia tersedu-sedu sambil memukul-mukul pasir. Suara tangisannya itu berubah menjadi seperti rintihan panjang yang kudengar tiap tengah malam setelah sore itu.

Kerongkonganku seperti tercekik. Dadaku sesak sekali. Air mata tak sanggup kutahan. Aku teringat Ibu. Baluembidi ada ternyata. Baluembidi punya senjata. Baluembidi yang telah menembak ayah-ayah kami, memasukkan  mereka ke dalam goni, memberinya batu pemberat, dan menenggelamkan ayah-ayah kami ke dasar sungai ini.



Baluembidi: menurut mitos di Aceh, jin jahat yang tinggal di air dan menghisap darah manusia

Dek Gam: panggilan untuk anak laki-laki di Aceh

Macut: bibi (adik ibu)


© Putra Hidayatullah.

PUTRA HIDAYATULLAH was born in Pidie, Aceh, 1988. He is active in Tikar Pandan Literary Community. He is one of the young curators of Jakarta Biennale 2015. His writings and curatorial works are focused on issues of political violence, he is particularly interested in human rights violation in Aceh from 1976 to 2005. In 2014 he held an exhibition, titled Puing Perang (Debris of War) in TIM arts complex, in collaboration with RuangRupa and Jakarta Arts Council. Since 2013 he has served as a curator for Cang Pilem film festival in Episentrum Ulee Kareeng.

LINDA TAN LINGARD is managing partner of the YGL (Yusof Gajah Lingard) Literary Agency. Prior to that she worked in the PR and publishing industry in various roles. This included one-year in Jakarta as a translator of economics papers. In 2013, she attended the literary translation workshop organised by InterSastra, and now she hopes to do more translation from Indonesian to English.