In My Body

Indah Darmastuti

Translated by Zoë McLaughlin


Hana Madness for Indah Darmastuti.jpg

There are many animals in my body.

I felt them for the first time when I was nine years old. I was used to sleeping in my room by myself and I wasn’t afraid of the dark. I woke up and opened my window wide. The night was stiflingly hot. The round moon had caught in the top branches of the angsana tree next to the house. It shouldn’t have been so hot when a full moon was out. I narrowed my eyes at the sight of the man standing beside the gate to our house, across from my room’s window. He seemed to be with Mom. Even though the moon was bright, I couldn’t see his face clearly, just the shadow he cast, lengthening in my direction. I heard Mom trying quite loudly to drive him off, but he seized her shoulder.

Something stirred in me, as if there were an object as large as a fist pushing out from my stomach and up toward my chest, then rising into my throat until I barked, barked as strongly as I could, like a dog. The man let go of Mom, then looked left and right, searching for the sound’s source. I almost leapt out the window, but it was too late: the man had already left in his car, heading north. Mom stood there, staring after him as he disappeared. I closed the window quickly and returned to lying down, feeling whatever had been pressing against the inside of my chest slowly calming once again.

Two months later, I again realized that there were animals in my body. One afternoon, Mom slapped me very hard with a sandal because I had stolen all the beef that she was going to use to cook rendang. The raw beef turned out to be tasty and my teeth were strong enough to chew it until it was tender. Since that morning, Mom had been busy on the phone for her work and had abandoned me, so I was starving.

“Malika! Are you a human or a tiger?” cried Mom, hitting my thigh with the sandal again. I just chewed more quickly and swallowed the beef. Mom grabbed my jaw, but I covered my mouth with the palm of my hand.

“Spit it out!”

I roared, startling Mom, who backed up two steps, then ran, frightened.

Since then, Mom often watched me with a strange expression, even though I felt fine.

Three weeks after that incident, I discovered another animal inside me. One afternoon, I came home from playing in the field and lifted the covering from the food on the dining table. Earlier there had been a pandan cake and I wanted to eat some, but now it was gone. Disappointed, I asked Mom where it was. Mom said I had already eaten too much cake. She said it wasn’t good for my teeth. I wanted to argue, but she had already returned to her phone.

That night I woke up because I needed to pee. When I left the bathroom, I smelled the aroma of pandan cake. I sniffed here and there, squeaking like a mouse, until I found the cake stored above the tool cabinet. Joyfully I dragged a bench over so I could reach the plate, then grabbed a slice. I tiptoed away and sat in a corner of the room, nibbling at it.

When it was all gone, I looked up and my eyes met those of the tiger in the painting on the living room wall. I shook, scared it would pounce on me. I shifted immediately, hiding further in the corner, taking cover beside the sofa. Sweat dampened my neck and forehead. I took a moment to calm myself, then tiptoed back to my room, without taking another slice.

When I was in fifth grade, a bear rose up in my body. First, I felt blood throbbing in the crown of my head and my two hands shook with rage. I groaned and attacked Dad who had dared to slap Mom. I lifted his body and slammed it into the kitchen table.

Mom cried, wiping her cheeks, which were red from Dad’s blows. I reached for a tissue and held it out to her. She hugged me. Dad stood up and threatened to beat both of us.

“You two women bring bad luck to this house!” he said, massaging his side, which had hit the edge of the table.

Mom sobbed and my heart broke. No one was allowed to hurt her, including Dad.

“You worthless little thing! You uncontrollable woman!” Dad cried. I only grinned, baring my teeth. My saliva flowed because of the scent of blood. I lunged at him and he fell to the floor. I licked spots of blood from his forehead, savoring the taste on my tongue. His eyes were wide, shocked to see a bear in front of him. That was the last time I ever saw Dad.

Mom wasn’t sad that he never returned home.

One night five months after Dad’s departure, a bull arose in my body when I saw a visitor dare to kiss Mom on the lips. Mom looked away in an attempt to resist, but the man drove his face into Mom’s neck. This wasn’t allowed to happen; I wouldn’t let it. A pair of sturdy horns sprouted from my brow, and I rammed into Mom’s visitor, overturning him. He bolted away, leaving behind his jacket.

Sitting next to me, Mom sobbed. She said, “I didn’t like what he was doing, but you shouldn’t act like this.” She looked worried. The bull shrunk and a cat appeared instead, inching forward and meowing, seeing Mom’s heavy tears flow down her cheeks.

I didn’t know what she was thinking. I loved her, but why did it seem like she didn’t understand? I wanted to protect and defend her from the man who’d wanted to swallow her up completely. No one was allowed to be disrespectful to Mom. I’d already made sure Dad, who had slapped her cheek, would never dare return home, to say nothing of her friend.

Mom kept sobbing and I was devastated.

One afternoon, when I was in my first year of junior high, I was watering the plants in front of the house when a man got out of a car. He greeted me, nodding amiably. His build was average, his steps were light, and he wore a grey collared shirt. When he saw Mom come out to greet him, the light in his eyes was warm. She laughed and invited him in.

Something gentle crept into my heart and melted my insides. I was softened. Mom called to me—“Malika, come here. Come greet my friend”—and I was happy. Delighted, I jumped to my feet; there was a rabbit in my body. I hopped up and down then sat close, as if stuck to Mom, especially when the man’s hand stroked my head. That was a beautiful moment, one I’ll never forget. The sweet, docile rabbit was sleepy, and I sensed Mom herself had transformed into a gentle woman. In the living room, they talked a lot, reminiscing about their school days. It seemed her visitor was a classmate from high school. I guessed maybe he’d been her boyfriend when she was young. The man invited Mom to his forty-seventh birthday party. She promised to go and asked me along as well.

When I became a teenager, I no longer felt animals roaming inside me. It was as if they were all fast asleep. I didn’t have many problems with my schoolmates or the kids in the neighborhood. I played happily, but in reality spent more time daydreaming, and what often filled my daydreams was Batara. We were in the same junior high; he was my senior. He was tall and thin, reserved but generous with smiles. He lived a block from my house.

I don’t know why, but I felt like he was different from our friends, both his and mine. When we waited together at the bus stop, we talked, and I felt comfortable near him. If I ran into him on the street, he smiled at me. My heart thumped and inside I felt calm. After he graduated, we never met at the bus stop again. I made sketches of his face on the back covers of almost all my notebooks.

I wasn’t interested in most of the subjects at school and I wasn’t interested in marching. I wondered why everyone’s steps had to be regulated like that: beginning with the left foot, then the right, left, right—and it had to be in unison. Why not let everyone just walk? But what did I care? I was only interested in art and gym, because gym made my body strong and healthy.

Despite all that, I was never left back. Of course, I was also never the top student. Being at the top wasn’t important to me if it was only going to be used as a weapon against others.

Like what Renaldo did, for instance. He was always top of the class. Not just top of the class, he also frequently won inter-school and provincial-level competitions. He mastered all subjects with ease. All the teachers loved him. All his friends respected him; in fact, many of the girls flirted with him and scrambled to be close to him.

I had never liked him and definitely didn’t flirt with him. I preferred being alone when our classmates fussed over how great Renaldo was—Renaldo who had won the province’s English debate competition and would soon go overseas. In my opinion, that achievement made his arrogance even greater. Every time he ran into me, it was as if his gaze forced me to obey him, to respect him. But I wouldn’t do it!

Maybe it was my rejection that made him stop me in the second-floor hallway, near the library, the place where I usually stole away—to daydream of Batara, not to read.

“Hello, Malika.” Renaldo greeted me with a teasing smile. His hair was neatly combed; his clothing was ironed smooth, and usually it would stay that way until it was time to leave school.

“Hi.” I tried to quickly pass him because I needed to pee and also because his smile made me want to throw up.

He pulled me toward him. His right hand clutched my arm, his left hand reached for my waist, and he put his lips close to mine. I was horrified, and struggled to pull away from him.

Something in my body stretched. In my stomach it was as if there were an object, as hard as a stone, as big as a fist, pressing against my chest. My fingernails lengthened, gripping his arm. My feet sprouted nails too, hardening, scraping the floor, just as pointed fangs shot out from my mouth. Strength flowed through every inch of my body. My feet stomped. I tilted my head and bit his arm. His skin tore, blood soaking his white uniform. He ran away, screaming, accusing me of trying to kill him.

Of course, everyone believed him. The smartest person in school would never lie. And every eye looked at me with horror.

The next day, Mom was called to school. She had to sign many forms, her face expressionless. She then led me out of the principal’s office and brought me to every teacher to take my leave. I was expelled from school that day.

“What did I do wrong, Mom?” I asked when we arrived home.

“You’re still asking what you’ve done wrong?”

“He’s the bad one! He wanted to kiss my mouth and I didn’t want him to.”

“I believe you, but they won’t.”

“They didn’t ask me why Renaldo’s arm was injured. He was a jerk! I just defended myself.”

“Malika, when you were little, I wasn’t sure about you, but I got over it. I’m still trying to love you. It’s just that…”

“Just what?”

“I’m worried your father’s animal ways will come alive in you, be passed down to you.”

“I’m not an animal, Mom.”

“But where did you get strength like that? You shouldn’t be able to rip up your schoolmate’s arm like that, no matter how hard you bit him.”

“No, Mom, I’m your child!” I howled loudly—very loudly. But she just stared at me, frightened. She trembled, her back flat against the wall, and screamed until the villagers came. They were shocked to see me growling and scratching the wall. There was an angry bear inside me.

All of them tried to capture me that afternoon. I cried when a man struck my back with a long rod. I seized the rod and swung it until the people backed away. But they called others. I became more enraged; I lunged at the mob. I lifted a chubby man and flung him down near Mom. She fainted and someone carried her to the sofa.

I growled and roared again, but the villagers’ determination to capture me became even fiercer. More came bringing clubs and ropes. I struggled and fought against them, but ropes as big as my thumb ensnared me and sweat flowed from my body. I was running out of energy just when I saw Batara among them. He was trying to undo the ropes wrapped around my body, but someone kicked his hand.

The villagers separated me from Batara. They carried me out, crying, “Cage her, cage her now!”

I was marched along, my body bound, through the streets of the village. Many scared eyes looked at me, some regarding me with pity. I was taken to a hut built of planks, with broken shutters. I was blind with rage at seeing the dilapidated room, the door opened for me. They flung me inside. I struggled, roared, but there were too many of them for me to fight. My body was still tied up, but someone held my legs and then my feet were stuck into a long block of wood.

And that’s why I’m here, in this cramped room with barely any light. Caged with my legs in stocks.

Until one evening, after a night and a day, I become hungry. Again I feel something in my body stretch. The muscles of my legs and arms strengthen and harden. I break the long block of wood shackling my legs. I fling the wood at the door—just as Batara appears there. In my eyes, his face is a dove. He enters and hugs me.

“Malika,” he says, “I’m sorry I’ve only just come. The villagers threatened me if I dared to come see you here. I pretended I didn’t care about you until they let down their guard. This is the moment. Our time is short. This isn’t our place, Malika. We have to leave.”

“Batara…” My voice stops when I hear many footsteps approaching. We go outside and see the villagers brandishing sticks and rods.

“It’s them!” the crowd yells. “Batara is there as well! We’ll catch them both!”

“Malika, don’t pay attention to them!” says Batara. “We have to go.”

“Batara, I want to find my mom. I have to see her.”

“Not now. Your mom is fine, believe me,” he says, clasping my wrist. I see, growing on his back, a pair of white wings, ready to take flight, even as I feel a pair of wings on my back as well, splitting apart, strengthening, stretching.

We fly toward the sky, the sun sinking behind the hills. 

© Indah Darmastuti

English translation © Zoë McLaughlin

Dalam Tubuhku

Indah Darmastuti



Ada banyak hewan dalam tubuhku.

Pertama kali kurasakan saat usiaku sembilan tahun. Aku sudah terbiasa tidur sendiri di kamar dan aku tidak takut gelap. Aku terbangun dan membuka lebar jendela kamar. Malam itu gerah. Bulan bulat tersangkut di pucuk pohon angsana samping rumah. Tak semestinya gerah ketika purnama tiba. Mataku menajam, melihat seorang lelaki berdiri di sisi gerbang rumah sejajar dengan dinding kamarku. Rupanya ia bersama Ibu. Meski bulan bulat, aku tak bisa melihat jelas wajahnya. Hanya bayangannya rebah memanjang ke arahku. Kudengar cukup keras Ibu mengusir orang itu, tetapi lelaki itu malah mencengkeram bahu Ibu.

Sesuatu bergerak dalam tubuhku, seperti ada benda sebesar kepal tangan mendesak dari perut, menuju dada, lalu naik ke tenggorokan hingga aku menyalak, menyalak sekuatnya seperti anjing. Lelaki itu melepaskan Ibu, lalu menoleh kanan-kiri mencari sumber suara. Aku hendak melompat ke luar jendela, tapi terlambat, lelaki itu sudah pergi dengan mobilnya ke utara. Aku melihat Ibu berdiri menatap lenyapnya. Segera kututup jendela, aku kembali berbaring dan merasakan sesuatu yang tadi mendesak dada pelan-pelan menjadi tenang kembali.

Dua bulan berikutnya, aku mengenali lagi ada hewan dalam tubuhku. Suatu siang, Ibu memukulku dengan sandal sangat keras karena aku menyabet sampai habis daging sapi yang akan diolah menjadi rendang. Ternyata daging sapi mentah itu enak dan gigiku kuat mengunyahnya hingga lembut. Aku sudah terlalu lapar karena sedari pagi tadi Ibu sibuk di telepon untuk urusan pekerjaannya dan menelantarkanku.

“Malikaaaa! Kamu ini manusia apa macan?” teriak Ibu sambil sekali lagi mendaratkan sandal di pahaku. Aku malah semakin cepat mengunyah dan menelan daging sapi itu. Ibu mencengkeram rahangku, tetapi aku tutup mulutku dengan telapak tangan.


Aku mengaum, Ibu terkejut, mundur dua langkah ke belakang, lalu berlari ketakutan.

Sejak saat itu, Ibu sering mengamatiku dengan tatapan aneh, padahal aku merasa baik-baik saja. 

Tiga minggu setelah peristiwa itu, aku mengenali ada hewan lain dalam tubuhku. Pada sore hari, aku pulang dari bermain di lapangan dan membuka tudung saji di atas meja makan. Aku ingin makan kue pandan yang tadi masih ada beberapa potong, tapi sekarang sudah tak ada. Aku kecewa. Aku tanyakan kepada Ibu, di mana kue pandan yang tadi. Ibu berkata, aku sudah terlalu banyak makan kue, itu tak bagus untuk gigiku. Aku ingin membantah, tapi Ibu sudah kembali sibuk dengan ponselnya.

Malamnya aku terbangun dari tidur karena ingin pipis. Saat keluar dari kamar kecil aku mencium bau kue pandan. Aku mengendus ke sana-sini sambil mencericit seperti tikus, lalu menemukan kue itu di atas lemari perkakas. Girang, aku menggeser bangku untuk menjangkau piring, lalu mencomot sepotong. Aku berjingkat lalu duduk di pojok ruang dan menggerogoti kue itu.

Setelah habis, aku mendongak dan berpapas mata dengan lukisan macan di ruang tengah. Aku gemetar, takut diterkam. Segera aku beringsut, bersembunyi makin ke sudut, dan berlindung di sisi sofa. Keringat mengucur membasahi leher dan dahiku. Sejenak aku menenangkan diri lalu berjingkat kembali ke kamar, urung mengambil kue pandan sekali lagi.

Saat aku kelas lima SD, ada beruang bangkit dalam tubuhku. Mula-mula aku rasakan darahku menyirap hingga ubun-ubun, lalu kedua tanganku gemetar karena amarah—aku mengerang lalu menyerang Ayah yang berani menampar Ibu. Aku angkat tubuh Ayah dan hempaskan ke meja dapur.

Ibu menangis, mengusap pipinya yang merah karena tamparan Ayah. Aku mengambil tisu dan mengulurkannya kepada Ibu. Ibu memelukku. Ayah bangkit dan mengancam akan menghajar kami berdua.

“Kalian dua perempuan pembawa sial di rumah ini!” katanya sambil mengurut pinggangnya yang terbentur ujung meja tadi.

Ibu tersedu. Hatiku iba. Tak boleh seorang pun menyakitinya. Tidak juga Ayah.

“Kamu brengsek cilik! Perempuan tak bisa diatur!” Ayah terus berteriak.

Aku hanya nyengir menampakkan gigi-gigiku. Yang aku rasakan ketika itu, air liurku mengucur karena aku mencium bau darah. Aku menerjang Ayah hingga jatuh ke lantai, lalu menjilat bercak-bercak darah dari dahinya. Kurasai ada nikmat di lidahku. Mata Ayah terbelalak, kaget melihat ada beruang di hadapannya. Itu terakhir kali aku melihat Ayah.

Ibu tak sedih Ayah tak pernah pulang lagi.

Suatu malam setelah lima bulan kepergian Ayah, ada banteng bangkit dalam tubuhku ketika melihat tamu Ibu lancang mencium bibirnya. Ibu melengos berusaha menolak, tapi laki-laki itu membenamkan wajahnya di leher Ibu. Tak boleh, itu tak boleh terjadi. Di keningku tumbuh sepasang tanduk kuat, dan aku menyeruduk hingga tamu Ibu terjungkal, lalu kabur, meninggalkan jaketnya.

Ibu terisak duduk di sampingku. Ia berkata: Ibu memang tak suka, tetapi tak seharusnya aku berlaku demikian. Ibu terlihat merana. Banteng dalam tubuhku mengerut. Lalu muncul kucing dalam tubuhku, beringsut dan mengeong melihat airmata Ibu deras membasahi pipinya.

Aku tak tahu apa yang dipikirkan Ibu. Aku menyayanginya, tetapi mengapa Ibu tak mengerti? Apa salahku? Aku ingin melindungi dan membela Ibu dari laki-laki yang ingin menelan habis dirinya. Tak boleh ada yang kurang ajar kepada Ibu. Jangankan kawan Ibu, Ayah yang menampar pipi Ibu sudah kubuat tak berani pulang.

Ibu malah menangis tersedu. Hatiku pilu.

Suatu sore, ketika aku duduk di kelas satu SMP, aku menyiram tanaman di depan rumah dan seorang laki-laki turun dari mobil. Ia memberi salam, mengangguk ramah. Perawakannya sedang, langkahnya ringan, ia mengenakan kaos abu-abu berkerah. Sinar matanya hangat kala melihat Ibu keluar rumah untuk menyambutnya. Ibu tertawa dan menyilakan lelaki itu masuk.

Sesuatu yang lembut menyusup jantungku dan merambah benakku. Aku luruh. Gembira aku ketika mendengar panggilan Ibu: “Malika, ke sini, beri salam pada kawan Ibu.”

Aku melonjak girang, ada kelinci dalam tubuhku. Aku melompat-lompat lalu duduk manja menempel pada Ibu, terlebih ketika tangan lelaki itu mengusap-usap kepalaku. Momen itu sangat indah, aku tak bisa melupakannya. Kelinci lucu dan penurut itu terlena, aku rasakan Ibu juga berubah menjadi perempuan lembut. Di ruang tamu itu, mereka berbincang-bincang banyak, mengenang semasa mereka sekolah. Rupanya tamu Ibu itu kawan SMA dulu. Aku menduga, ia mungkin pacar Ibu semasa remaja. Lelaki itu mengundang Ibu pada acara ucap syukur di hari ulang tahunnya yang keempat puluh tujuh. Ibu berjanji datang dan mengajakku.

Sejak menginjak remaja, aku tak lagi merasakan binatang-binatang berkeliaran dalam tubuhku. Semua seperti tertidur pulas. Aku tak banyak menemui masalah dengan kawan-kawan sekolah atau kawan-kawan kampung. Aku bermain dengan gembira, tetapi sesungguhnya lebih banyak waktu kuhabiskan dengan melamun. Dan yang sering mengisi lamunanku adalah Batara. Kami satu sekolah dulu, ia kakak kelasku semasa SMP. Ia jangkung, pendiam tapi tidak pelit senyum. Ia tinggal berjarak satu blok dari rumahku.

Entahlah, aku merasa ia berbeda dengan teman-temannya, juga teman-temanku. Ketika kami sama-sama menunggu bus di halte, kami mengobrol dan aku merasa nyaman berada di dekatnya. Bila aku berpapas dengannya di jalan, ia tersenyum kepadaku. Jantungku berdebar dan hatiku terasa tentram. Setelah ia lulus, kami tak pernah bertemu di halte lagi. Aku membuat sketsa wajahnya di sampul-sampul belakang hampir semua buku tulisku.

Aku tak berminat pada kebanyakan mata pelajaran. Tak berminat pada baris-berbaris. Aku heran mengapa berjalan perlu diatur sedemikian rupa: melangkah dimulai dengan kaki kiri, lalu kanan, kiri, kanan, dan harus bersamaan. Mengapa tidak dibiarkan semaunya saja berjalan? Tetapi, apa peduliku. Aku hanya berminat pada pelajaran menggambar dan olah raga, karena olah raga membuat tubuhku kuat dan sehat.

Walaupun begitu, aku tak pernah tertinggal kelas. Tentu saja aku juga tak pernah juara kelas. Bagiku menjadi juara itu tak penting kalau hanya dijadikan senjata untuk meremehkan orang lain.

Seperti yang dilakukan Renaldo. Dia selalu juara. Bukan hanya juara kelas, ia juga sering memenangkan lomba antarsekolah dan tingkat provinsi. Mata pelajaran apa pun ia kuasai dengan baik. Semua guru sayang kepadanya. Semua teman hormat kepadanya, bahkan banyak kawan perempuan yang menggodanya dan berebut ingin dekat dengannya.

Aku sendiri tak pernah suka kepadanya, apalagi menggodanya. Aku lebih suka menyendiri ketika teman-teman meributkan betapa hebatnya Renaldo yang menjadi juara lomba debat menggunakan bahasa Inggris di tingkat provinsi dan sebentar lagi akan dikirim ke luar negeri. Di mataku, jumawa dia naik lagi kadarnya. Setiap berpapas denganku, tatapan matanya seperti memaksa aku tunduk kepadanya, hormat kepadanya. Tidak akan!

Barangkali penolakanku itulah yang membuat dia mencegatku di koridor lantai dua, di dekat ruang perpustakaan tempat biasa aku menyepi—melamunkan Batara, bukan membaca.

“Halo, Malika,” sapa Renaldo dengan senyum menggoda. Rambutnya disisir rapi, bajunya licin disetrika, dan biasanya akan tetap selicin itu sampai nanti jam pulang sekolah.

“Hai,” balasku seadanya, kemudian lekas berlalu karena aku kebelet pipis, dan kurasa juga akan muntah gara-gara senyumnya.

Dengan tangan kanannya Renaldo mencengkeram lenganku, tangan kirinya meraih pinggangku lalu mendekatkan bibirnya ke bibirku. Aku kaget bukan main, dan berjuang menghindar dari kurang ajarnya.

Sesuatu dalam tubuhku menggeliat. Dalam perutku seperti ada benda seberat batu sebesar kepal tangan mendesak ke dada, kuku-kuku jari tanganku memanjang mencengkeram lengannya. Kuku kakiku juga tumbuh menguat menjejak lantai, dari mulutku keluar taring runcing. Kekuatan mengaliri setiap inci tubuhku. Kakiku mengentak. Kumiringkan kepala dan kugigit lengannya. Kulitnya sobek, darah membasahi baju seragam putihnya. Dia berlari kencang sambil berteriak-teriak menuduhku akan membunuhnya.

Tentu saja, semua percaya kepadanya. Orang terpandai di sekolah tak mungkin berbohong. Dan semua mata menatapku ngeri.

Esoknya, Ibu dipanggil ke sekolah. Banyak berkas yang harus ia tanda tangani. Wajahnya datar-datar saja. Kemudian, ia menuntunku keluar dari ruang kepala sekolah dan mengajakku berpamitan kepada semua guru. Aku dikeluarkan dari sekolah, hari itu.

“Apa salahku, Bu?” tanyaku sesampai di rumah.

“Kamu masih bertanya apa salahmu?”

“Dia berbuat jahat kepadaku. Dia mau mencium bibirku dan aku tak suka itu.”

“Ibu percaya padamu, tetapi mereka tidak akan.”

“Mereka tak menanyai aku apa sebab lengan Renaldo terluka. Dia telah bertindak kurang ajar kepadaku. Aku hanya membela diri.”

“Malika, sejak kecil Ibu sudah curiga kepadamu. Tetapi Ibu menolak itu. Ibu tetap berusaha menyayangimu. Hanya saja…”

“Hanya apa, Ibu?”

“Ibu curiga watak binatang yang dimiliki ayahmu mewujud nyata dalam dirimu, menitis kepadamu.”

“Aku bukan binatang, Ibu.”

“Lalu dari mana kamu punya kekuatan seperti itu? Tak akan lengan kawanmu sobek selebar itu betapa pun kuat kamu menggigitnya.”

“Tidak, Ibu, aku anak Ibu!” Aku meraung keras, amat keras. Namun, Ibu malah menatapku ketakutan. Tubuhnya gemetar menempel di dinding dan ia menjerit-jerit hingga orang-orang sekampung berdatangan. Mereka terkejut melihat aku menggeram dan mencakar-cakar dinding. Ada beruang sedang marah dalam diriku.

Mereka berramai-ramai berusaha meringkusku sore itu. Aku menangkis ketika seorang bapak menghantamkan tongkat panjang ke punggungku, aku menangkap tongkat itu dan mengayun-ayunkannya sehingga orang-orang itu menyingkir. Mereka malah memanggil lebih banyak lagi orang. Aku semakin berang, aku terjang kerumunan itu, aku angkat tubuh seorang lelaki tambun dan aku hempas ke dekat Ibu. Ibu pingsan dan seseorang mengangkatnya ke sofa.

Aku menggeram dan meraung lagi. Tetapi orang-orang kampung makin beringas meringkusku. Semakin banyak yang datang, membawa pentung dan tambang. Aku memberontak, aku melawan. Tetapi tali-tali sebesar ibu jari menjeratku, keringatku bercucuran. Aku mulai kehabisan tenaga persis ketika aku melihat Batara di antara mereka. Ia lekas berusaha melepas tambang yang melilit tubuhku, tetapi seseorang menendang tangannya.

Orang-orang kampung itu memisahkanku dari Batara, mereka menggotongku sambil terus berteriak-teriak, “Kerangkeng saja dia, kerangkeng sekarang juga!”

Aku diarak dengan tubuh terikat melewati jalanan kampung. Banyak mata takut melihatku, beberapa mata lainnya melihatku iba. Aku terus digiring menuju ke sebuah rumah gubuk terbuat dari papan, daun jendelanya sudah rusak. Mataku nanar melihat ruang buruk itu dibuka pintunya untukku. Mereka mengempasku ke dalamnya, aku memberontak, meraung, tetapi mereka terlalu banyak untuk kulawan. Tubuhku masih terikat, dua kakiku dicengkeram, lalu sebuah balok panjang dipasangkan pada kakiku.

Itulah mengapa aku ada di sini, di ruang sempit sedikit matahari. Dikurung dengan kaki terpasung.

Sampai suatu sore, setelah aku lalui sepasang siang dan malam, aku mulai kelaparan. Kembali kurasakan sesuatu dalam tubuhku menggeliat. Otot-otot kaki dan tanganku menguat dan mengeras. Aku patahkan kayu panjang yang memasung kakiku, kuhempas potongan kayu itu ke pintu—persis saat Batara muncul. Di mataku wajahnya seperti burung merpati. Ia masuk dan memelukku.

“Malika,” katanya, “maafkan aku baru datang. Orang-orang kampung terus mengancamku kalau aku berani mendatangimu ke sini. Aku pura-pura tak peduli padamu hingga orang-orang kampung lengah. Inilah saatnya. Waktu kita sempit. Di sini bukan tempat kita, Malika. Kita harus pergi dari sini.”

“Batara…” Suaraku terhenti ketika kudengar banyak langkah kaki mendekat. Kami berdua keluar dan melihat orang-orang kampung mengacung-ngacungkan kayu dan tongkat.

“Itu mereka!” teriak orang-orang itu. “Batara juga ada di sana! Kita ringkus mereka berdua!”

“Malika, jangan ladeni!” kata Batara. “Kita harus pergi.”

“Batara, aku ingin bertemu Ibu. Aku harus melihatnya.”

“Jangan sekarang. Ibumu baik-baik saja, percaya padaku,” katanya sambil menggenggam pergelangan tanganku. Kulihat di punggungnya tumbuh sepasang sayap putih siap mengepak, persis kurasakan pada punggungku sepasang sayap pun mengembang, menguat, lalu merentang.

Kami terbang menuju langit ketika matahari hampir tenggelam di balik bukit.

© Indah Darmastuti


INDAH DARMASTUTI was born and raised in Solo, Central Java. She taught herself to write. Currently she works at a batik company in Solo and writes prose, children’s stories, and performing arts reviews at She has published two novels, Cocoon (2006) and Cundamanik (2012), and a collection of short stories, Dinner with Dewi Gandari (2015). As the founder of Difalitera, she produces Indonesian literary audiobooks, which can be accessed for free at She participated in the emerging writers program at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2012 and in the first Peretas program (2018), which convened 50 women in the arts across Indonesia. Say hi to Indah on Instagram @indah.darmastuti.


ZOË MCLAUGHLIN is a writer, translator, and the South and Southeast Asia librarian at Michigan State University. She was a Shansi Fellow in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and a Darmasiswa scholar studying traditional Javanese dance in Solo, Indonesia. Her research interests include current trends in traditional Javanese performance, the portrayal of Chinese-Indonesians in contemporary literature, and decolonial practices within area studies librarianship. She was an American Literary Translators Association mentee. Her creative writing has been published in Wilder Voice, Nowhere, and Prairie Scooner’s blog.


HANA MADNESS (born Hana Alfikih) is a Jakarta-based visual artist and mental health activist. In 2012 she talked in national media about her mental health struggles. Her art is her ultimate weapon to be seen, heard, and appreciated by her community. Most of her artworks are her interpretations her mental conditions and turmoils. “They show every beautiful conflict within me that I turn into something beautiful and colorful,” Hana said. She has participated and exhibited her works in numerous festivals and exhibitions. She has also spoken in many seminars about mental health. In 2017 she was honored by as one of the “Top 10 most promising young Indonesian artists” and in 2018 by as one of the “90 young Indonesians with inspiring works and thoughts”.

Eliza HandayaniComment