White collars color East Kalimantan literature_from thejakartapost.com

Nurni Sulaiman , The Jakarta Post , Balikpapan, East Kalimantan | Sun, 04/19/2009 1:58 PM | Discover

“Unlike applied sciences with its direct impact on life, literature draws its own path as a means to learning about life . Literature is an area of expression of human creativity in everyday life, occasionally translating human problems in a unique and beautiful ways.”

So writes Balikpapan mayor Imdaad Hamid in his introduction to the recently released literary anthology Balikpapan Dalam Sastra Indonesia

(Balikpapan in Indonesian Literature).

Balikpapan Dalam Sastra Indonesia was initiated by East Kalimantan’s renowned man of letters, Korrie Layun Rampan, and his peers as an anthology of short stories, poems and other works. As the first collection of East Kalimantan literary works, it was published in Balikpapan and deals almost entirely with life this region.

Two Balikpapan public figures, Imdaad Hamid and deputy mayor Rizal Effendi, also contributed to the anthology. Imdaad’s two poems, Kotaku Beriman-ku (My City of Faith) and Sahabat (Friend), relate the pride of a child born in a city boasting its beauty, cleanliness, order and faith, and the pride of a man in the meaning of friendship and of struggling for the achievement of aspirations.

Rizal Effendi has contributed two poems, Sepotong Kayu di Sungai Wain (A Piece of Wood in the Wain River) and Senyum Roy Luka Kita (Roy’s Smile Hurts Us). Sepotong Kayu tells the true story of lush vegetation in the protected forests of the Wain River Reserve which are being increasingly depleted by unscrupulous people, resulting in frequent flooding.

A piece of wood in Sungai Wain Tumbling down to reap misery City dwellers suffer misfortune God punishes with fury Do man’s umbrella leaves remain Are torrents to be savored without end

Rizal wishes to convey that the existence of this forest is very crucial and its destruction always bears consequences, and through his work delivers a message of humanity.

East Kalimantan’s younger generation of writers, including among others Arief Er Rahman, Syafiqurahman, Shantined, Annisa Rahmadanita, Fachmi Rachman and Hayati Maulana Nur, are also featured in the anthology, along with seniors such as Zulhamdani AS and Korrie Layun.

Korrie, as the anthology’s initiator and editor, shows us that literature constitutes a way of learning about culture. Some of Korrie’s novels and short stories included are Surat Dari Balikpapan (A Letter from Balikpapan), Jantur Gemuruh (A Thundering Waterfall), Riam (Rapids), Api Awan Asap (Fire Cloud Smoke) and Bunga (Flowers). His poems include Hotel Blue Sky Balikpapan 19 Desember 2007, Balikpapan, Amuntai 16 Desember 2007, Hotel Perdana Banjarmasin 17 Desember 2007, Pohon (Trees), Parang Di Pinggang dan Beliung (Daggers in the Waist and Axes), Anjing Menggonggong Tangis Malam (A Barking Dog in a Night of Grief), Letupan Bambu Tambur Upacara (The Pounding Bamboo of Ritual Drums), Burung Tiung Burung Rangkong (Mynahs and Hornbills), and his essay entitled Literature as a Medium of Learning about Culture.

Interestingly, quite a number of Korrie’s stories present settings and plots that focus on local culture, particularly the indigenous ethnic Dayak community. Korrie was born to Dayak parents and brought up in this ethnic group. His literary pieces mostly introduce the natural wealth of the region and its traditions.

Jantur Gemuruh depicts a beautiful waterfall in a remote area and an innocent yet progressive village girl. The waterfall is real and is located in Eheng village, West Kutai, East Kalimantan. With its clear water, it is promoted by locals as a tourist attraction and utilized as a source of hydropower energy. Jantur is the local word for falling water and its gemuruh or thundering sound is likened to nature’s melody – hence the name of the place.

Riam is a tale of the sincerity of a rural maiden, who so willingly devotes her life to the local community in a very isolated village that she has to give up her boyfriend. In this story, Riam has a double meaning. Korrie wishes to convey the fact that in order reach the interior parts of West Kutai (like Datah Suling and Datah Bilang) one has to go through very rough terrain with strong rapids upstream of the Mahakam River.

Some villages in West Kutai are isolated in terms of road access. Hundreds of children are essentially separated from the modern world, while their nine-year basic education is also very difficult to deliver. To get proper schooling, the children must journey through the hostile rapids, which can easily capsize boats and claim lives.

In his novel Api Awan Asap, Korrie portrays a local ethnic wedding tradition between children of Dayak dignitaries. There are typical Dayak dances performed by Belian (Dayak dancers in certain rituals) and buffalo spearing, the blood of which is smeared on the pair’s foreheads as the final blessing. This tradition, handed down through generations, is now rarely practiced.

Korrie also relates the beauty of Dayak dances in his poem Parang di Pinggang dan Beliung, by describing the characteristics of Belian performers with their earrings, tattoos, daggers and axes.

Earrings and ear-studs
Tattoos on their bodies
Belian are dancing
On hall floors
On ancestral land

Earrings are fastened
Ankle rings are worn
Daggers on the waist and axes
The ritual grows detached
Even more distant
It’s rapturous.
The forest appears to have
disappeared!

The dancers are illustrated as warriors ready for battles to defend their ancestral soil. Belian rituals serve to heal ailing Dayak community members, initiate Dayak youngsters into their adulthood, and to offer best wishes to wedding couples for their security and wellbeing.

Kuncilah Bibirmu dengan Gembok yang Besar (Lock Your Lips with a Big Padlock), a short story by young author Syafiqurahman, is also included in the anthology. Syafiq’s message is that not everyone’s promises are kept, so silence is to be preferred.

Era of change

Indonesian literature is growing in an era of change. Writers have now gone beyond the confines of literary circles to spread over corporate, administrative and other spheres. A concrete example is found in East Kalimantan, with Balikpapan’s mayor and his deputy among contributors to Balikpapan dalam Sastra Indonesia. Shantined, a marketing employee of an insurance firm in Balikpapan, also has 12 works in the collection, comprising 10 poems and two short stories; Jenis Kelamin (Gender) and Lengking Tangis Lelaki (The Cry of a Man).

Another writer, Balikpapan high school student Annisa Rahmadanita, contributes her short story Masa Ainun Berlalu (Ainun’s Time is Over). As a newcomer, Annisa has managed to penetrate different levels of society through her simple, straightforward and touching story, which serves as a good start for this junior, born in Balikpapan in 1991.

Several other contributors work for the Tribun Kaltim daily (part of the Kompas Gramedia Group) in East Kalimantan, including Arif Er Rahman, Syafiqurahman, Hayati Maulana Nur and Fachmi Rachman.

“Literature today has changed in the sense that writers are not necessarily always sitting at the literary elite’s desk, but can come from various circles like officials, artists, entrepreneurs, employees and so forth,” says Syafiqurahman.

Literature is thus an arena of learning about life and a reflection of life itself. Everyone has potential to write, but the question involves the will to develop this potential.

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