Wiji Thukul

Translated by Eliza Vitri Handayani

 

A BLEAK NOTE

a black cat sneaks out
and jumps off the roof
in the dark three men hide
holding metal bars

a black cat tiptoes
followed by shadows
at the end of the alley
three men grunt and strike

a moon swaddled in clouds
watches a festival of poverty
as the cat's meat
fills the men's belly

 

THIS CITY IS YOURS

you're free to live
behind the tall buildings
you're free to sleep
and wake up when you please

when it rains
when it gets cold
you can seek warmth
by the restaurant's stove
as it cooks chicken and pork
as forks clang and shoes shine
and imported cars dash by

you're free to bathe
the river is yours
you can wash your body
with wastes from the factory

are the lights in the park
not pretty and bright?
is it not nice enough
to sleep beneath the sky?

my friends
this city is yours
except those tall buildings
behind those iron walls
keep out!

 

I AM STILL WHOLE AND THE WORDS HAVE NOT YET PERISHED

I am not a celebrity who makes headlines
But I am always bad news
For those in power

My poems aren't poetry
They're dark words
They sweat, they push one another to get out
You can't kill them, although you strike my eye
You can't kill them, although you tear me from home
Although you stab me with loneliness, you just can't kill them
I've paid the price
With my time, my strength, my wounds

The words ask for their dues
They always say to me, you're still alive

Yes, I am still whole
And the words have not yet perished

 

THE FUGITIVE

a different shirt
a different pair of pants
a different haircut
a different book to read
a different topic to talk about
a different name
a different identity
a different expression
being
yourself
is
a
subversive
act
in this country
so
always beware
of the police
the army
the law
prison awaits
anyone
who refuses
to be someone else
 

A GIFT FOR THE NEWLYWEDS

hello newlyweds
I've come with a gift
a poet
a fugitive

forgive me
for interrupting your wedding night
may I please have a room
to lie down and sleep

hello newlyweds
here comes your guest again
here is a poet
hunted by the army

there is no happiness
in a land without freedom
and there will never be freedom
if when you dissent you're a ghost

hello newlyweds
I've come with a gift
here is a poet
hunted by the army

 

UNTITLED (INDEPENDENCE DAY)

independence day is coming
everyone is flying flags
but I am only watching
from a house across the road
peeking from the keyhole
as I am wanted by the rulers

for months I haven't seen the sky
only listening to the sounds of life
pulsing, dashing, laughing
but I can see nobody, no faces

I'm imprisoned but not in prison
I'm jailed but not in jail

because everyday life
is the true prison for the people of this nation

 

"Bunga dan Tembok", Andreas Iswinarto

"Bunga dan Tembok", Andreas Iswinarto

FLOWERS AND WALLS

If we were flowers
We'd be the flowers that you don't wish to grow
You would rather steal our lands and build houses there

If we were flowers
We'd be the flowers that you don't wish to see
You would rather strip our lands and build roads and fences

If we were flowers
We'd be the flowers that were cut from our own lands

If we are flowers
Then you are walls
But on those walls we have spread our seed
One day we will grow, united in our faith

And now we have grown, united in our faith
Anywhere, everywhere
Tyranny must fall

 

A SONG FOR LOVEMAKING

If I were a number, I'd be a fraction
:
one that becomes whole without breaking
let me be a fraction of Your wholeness
since You are not whole without me
and You are not perfect without us

If I were a number, I'd be a fraction
:
I complete Your eyes with light
As You perfect the fire's light
You are red I am hot You are hot I am red
burning and burned for as long as we shall live

If I were a number, I'd be a fraction
:
I am completing You
we become one in the air
isn't it so, my God?

 

A MAN ROAMS IN THE SPIRIT WORLD

a man roams in the spirit world
so familiar with the darkness
it leads to the center of the light
only to it will he surrender

a man roams in the spirit world
he asks again what his name is
which wind may lead him home
only to it will he surrender

a man roams in the spirit world
he reaches for the gate between existence and nonexistence
he gapes and parts the veil of destiny
he peers into the universe within men
independent and free

 

NOTE '97

The rain pours heavy tonight
Cold creeps from my feet to my joints
In silence my heart splits
Remembering
The time I took my leave of you
I only held you
And kissed
Your cheeks
I had no time to kiss the children
I was worried
I might wake them up, they looked so peaceful
I wonder if they ask
Why I'm not there
A week from now, a month from now
And if I have to stay away longer than hoped
My emotions are pummeling my chest
At that time
I only whispered a few words
By the door
You let me go
But your eyes didn't
As time was running out
I had to fly
It's now been six months since I left
I can still feel
How my heart beat
How my feet raced
Because of the fascists
The greedy tyrants
I will come home
Perhaps at midnight
Perhaps at dawn
I will come home
Perhaps
But don't
Wait for me
I will come home and I will leave again
Because our rights
Have been mauled
In universities
In the factories
In the courts
And at home
They've forced themselves in
And stomped on our faces
If one day the children ask why
I rarely come home
Tell them
Your father never wished to be a hero
But he was forced to be a criminal
By the rulers
The cruel tyrants
If they ask
What was he searching for?
Tell them
He left to steal back our rights
That were taken and robbed from us


SAJAK SURAM

kucing hitam jalan pelan
meloncat turun dari atap
tiga orang muncul dalam gelap
sembunyi menggenggam besi

kucing hitam jalan pelan-pelan
diikuti bayang-bayang
ketika sampai di mulut gang
tiga orang menggeram
melepaskan pukulan

bulan disaput awan meremang
saksikan perayaan kemiskinan
daging kucing pindah
ke perut orang!
 

KOTA INI MILIK KALIAN

di belakang gedung-gedung tinggi
kalian boleh tinggal
kalian bebas tidur di mana-mana kapan saja
kalian bebas bangun sewaktu kalian mau
jika kedinginan karena gerimis atau hujan
kalian bisa mencari hangat
di sana ada restoran
kalian bisa tidur dekat kompor penggorengan
bakmi ayam dan babi
denting garpu dan sepatu mengilap
di samping sedan-sedan dan mobil-mobil bikinan asli Jepang

kalian bisa mandi kapan saja
sungai itu milik kalian
kalian bisa cuci badan dengan limbah-limbah industri

apa belum cukup terang benderang itu
lampu merkuri taman
apa belum cukup nyaman tidur di bawah langit kawan
kota ini milik kalian
kecuali gedung-gedung tembok pagar besi itu: jangan!

 

AKU MASIH UTUH DAN KATA-KATA BELUM BINASA

Aku bukan artis pembuat berita
Tapi aku memang selalu kabar buruk buat penguasa

Puisiku bukan puisi
Tapi kata-kata gelap
Yang berkeringat dan berdesakan mencari jalan
Ia tak mati-mati, meski bola mataku diganti
Ia tak mati-mati, meski bercerai dengan rumah
Ditusuk-tusuk sepi, ia tak mati-mati
telah kubayar yang dia minta
umur-tenaga-luka

Kata-kata itu selalu menagih
Padaku ia selalu berkata, kau masih hidup

Aku memang masih utuh
dan kata-kata belum binasa
 

BURON

baju lain
celana lain
potongan rambut lain
buku yang dibaca lain
bahan percakapan lain
nama lain
identitas lain
ekspresi lain
menjadi
diri
sendiri
adalah tindakan
subversi
di negeri ini
maka
selalu siaga
polisi
tentara
hukum dan penjara
bagi siapa saja
yang menolak
menjadi orang lain

 

KADO UNTUK PENGANTIN BARU

pengantin baru
ini ada kado untukmu
seorang penyair
yang diburu-buru

maaf aku mengganggu
malam bulan madumu
aku minta kamar satu
untuk membaringkan badanku

pengantin baru
ini datang lagi tamu
seorang penyair
yang dikejar-kejar serdadu

memang tak ada kenikmatan
di negri tanpa kemerdekaan
selamanya tak akan ada kemerdekaan
jika berbeda pendapat menjadi hantu

pengantin baru
ini ada kado untukmu
seorang penyair yang dikejar-kejar
serdadu

 

TANPA JUDUL (BULAN AGUSTUS SUDAH TIBA)

bulan agustus sudah tiba
penduduk ramai-ramai pasang bendera
tapi aku hanya lihat yang di seberang rumah saja
kuintip dari lubang kunci
sebab aku dikejar-kejar penguasa

sudah puluhan hari aku tak melihat angkasa
kehidupan di sekelilingku kusimak
dari detak, deru, dan tawanya

aku tak bisa lihat wujud dan
wajahnya

aku ditahan bukan dipenjara
aku disel bukan dibui

sebab kehidupan sehari-hari
adalah penjara nyata
rakyat negeri ini

 

BUNGA DAN TEMBOK

Seumpama bunga
Kami adalah bunga yang tak
Kauhendaki tumbuh
Engkau lebih suka membangun rumah dan merampas tanah

Seumpama bunga
Kami adalah bunga yang tak
Kaukehendaki adanya
Engkau lebih suka membangun jalan raya dan pagar besi

Seumpama bunga
Kami adalah bunga yang dirontokkan di bumi kami sendiri

Jika kami bunga
Engkau adalah tembok
Tapi di tubuh tembok itu telah kami sebar biji-biji
Suatu saat kami akan tumbuh bersama dengan keyakinan: engkau harus hancur!
Dalam keyakinan kami
Di mana pun, tirani harus tumbang!

 

LAGU PERSETUBUHAN


kalau angka aku pun angka tak genap
:
tapi satu mana lengkap tanpa yang pecah
maka aku pun rela jadi sepersekian dari keutuhan-Mu
sebab tak lengkap engkau tanpa aku
sebab tak sempurna engkau tanpa manusia

kalau angka aku pun angka tak genap
:
maka kulengkapi mata-Mu dengan cahaya
kausempurnakan cahaya dalam api
kau merah aku panas kau panas aku merah
terbakar membakar sepanjang adanya manusia

kalau angka aku pun angka tak genap
:
melengkapi-Mu
demikian, kita bersetubuh dalam udara
bukankah begitu Tuhan?

 

SEORANG LELAKI KELANA DI DUNIA BATIN

seorang lelaki kelana di dunia batin
sudah akrab dengan gelap
yang menuntun ke pusat cahaya
hanya kepadanya ia akan menyerah

seorang lelaki kelana di dunia batin
kembali tanya siapa nama dirinya
mata angin mana membimbing pulang
hanya kepadanya ia akan menyerah

seorang lelaki kelana di dunia batin
merambah gapura hakikat ada dan tiada
menganga menguak tabir nasib
melihat isi alam raya dalam manusia
bebas dan merdeka

 

CATATAN '97

gerimis menderas tengah malam ini
dingin dari telapak kaki hingga ke sendi-dendi
dalam sunyi hati menggigit lagi
ingat
saat pergi
dan pipi kananmu
kucium
tak sempat mencium anak-anak
khawatir
membangunkan tidurnya (terlalu nyenyak)
bertanya apa mereka saat terjaga
akau tak ada (seminggu sesudah itu
sebulan sesudah itu
dan ternyata lebih panjang daripada yang kalian harapkan)
dada mengepal perasaan
waktu itu
cuma terbisik beberapa patah kata
di depan pintu
kaulepas aku
meski matamu tak terima
karena waktu sempit
aku harus gesit

genap setengah tahun aku pergi
aku masih bisa merasakan
bergegasnya pukulan jantung
dan langkahku
karena penguasa fasis
yang gelap mata

aku pasti pulang
mungkin tengah malam ini
mungkin subuh hari
pasti
dan mungkin
tapi jangan
kautunggu

aku pasti pulang dan pasti pergi lagi
karena hak telah dikoyak-koyak
tidak di kampus
tidak di pabrik
tidak di pengadilan
bahkan rumah pun mereka masuki
muka kita sudah diinjak

kalau kelak anak-anak bertanya mengapa
aku jarang pulang
katakan ayahmu tak ingin jadi pahlawan
tapi dipaksa menjadi penjahat
oleh penguasa
yang sewenang-wenang
kalau mereka bertanya
“apa yang kau cari?”
jawab dan katakan
dia pergi untuk merampok
haknya yang dirampas dan dicuri


Dewi Candraningrum

Dewi Candraningrum

Wiji Thukul—born Widji Widodo in Solo, Central Java, 26 August 1963—is modern Indonesia’s foremost people’s poet. With humble words but extraordinary courage, his poems recount the everyday struggle of the poor and downtrodden: lack of opportunities, unfair wages, the police criminalizing them for organizing and trying to make a living, corporations stealing their lands. By turning his experiences into poetry, he created space for people like him, so often ignored by the literary establishment, and made them realize they have the power to resist and rise against the injustices they suffer.

In an era where defying the authorities could land you in jail or worse, Thukul wrote: Come join us / let’s be a nightmare for the president. His most famous line—only one word remains: fight!—is a popular cry among activists and demonstrators. The power of his poems, which he read at workers and farmers rallies, attracted authorities’ attention. In 1996 he joined the People’s Democratic Party, Indonesia’s first opposition party in the authoritarian New Order regime. That cemented his status as a wanted man. He fled to Borneo, moving from town to town. His family and friends last heard from him in February 1998. Many suspect he was disappeared by New Order’s special forces. Thukul is now an icon for people’s power in Indonesia.

His poems have been compiled in two collections: Aku Ingin Jadi Peluru and Nyanyian Akar Rumput. In 1991 Thukul received the Wertheim Encourage Award, in 2002 a Yap Thiam Hien human rights award, and in 2014 he was selected as an ASEAN literary figure. Recently a movie was made based on his life: Solo, Solitude, which has been well received in international film festivals.

InterSastra is proud to present several of Wiji Thukul’s poems in English translation, accompanied by paintings by Andreas Iswinarto, who is touring an exhibition of artworks based on Thukul's poems. His exhibitions have been attacked and disbanded by hardline and paramilitary organizations in different cities, but he won't back down. The poems are translated and published with the permission of Thukul’s daughter, poet Fitri Nganthi Wani. The publication of these poems mark the relaunch of InterSastra's Defiant Voices series, which we are now calling Unrepressed.

 

#unrepressed

#DEFIANT_VOICES