Excerpt from “Max Havelaar”

I admit, I have not been here long. But I trust that the question asked one day will be what I did, and whether I did it well, not whether I did it in too short a time. To me, any time is too long when it is marked by extortion and oppression, and on me every second would weigh heavy which, owing to my negligence, my dereliction of duty, my ‘spirit of compromise,’ had been spent in misery by others.

Multatuli, Max Havelaar, or the Coffee
Auctions of a Dutch Trading Company

Reading Indonesia in Ireland

Hi there. It’s been about a month since my last blog post; I’ve been doing a bit of traveling and also busy applying for a job that I really want, so the blog has taken a bit of a backseat. I’m still reading though! I’m currently spending a month in Ireland, attending three different weddings and giving the baby a chance to spend some with her grandparents and aunt over here. Before I left I tried frantically to read all the East Timor books I’d taken out from the library (with limited success–I got through The Crossing but Beloved Land and Funu proved too much for me). I returned them all with a sigh of relief last weekend, and headed off to Ireland with a bunch of the lovely Indonesian books that my in-laws bought me for Christmas. As much as I love the library, and as great as it’s been being able to source some truly obscure books that would have cost me a fortune to buy, it’s a relief to know that my current batch of novels don’t have an expiration date! I’m currently reading Desawarnana (which I did take out from the library and failed to finish before departure, but I photocopied the last few pages so I could finish them at my leisure), Blossoms of Longing (which is only available to read online via the Lontar foundation, so reading that on my computer when I have an internet connection), Max Havelaar (an actual book! that I own and can make notes in! yay!) and Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized (on kindle)–and enjoying them very much.

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Excerpt from “Beloved Land”

Although the Portuguese claimed the eastern half of the island, along with Oecusse, and divided it into separate kingdoms, this declaration reflected their aspirations on a map rather than the facts on the ground. Even in the latter half of the nineteenth century, fewer than one hundred colonists lived beyond the city, and large parts of the island were uncharted. For centuries, no one seemed particularly certain even of where the island ended.

From Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles, and Secrets from Timor-Leste
by Gordon Peake

Excerpt from “Blossoms of Longing”

0500213From the Arjunawiwaha of Mpu Kanwa

If you in the next life are a hawk
I will be dark rainclouds,
that cling to the mountains they pass over,

I will contemplate your tears
as you seek my mist,
watching intently from your perch
high on bare and leafless trees,

When you are about to swoop down on me
I will take shelter
behind a waterfall,

You will taste only my soft, moist spray;
so with the setting sun
I will take revenge for the hardness of your heart.

– from Blossoms of Longing: Ancient Verses of Love and Lament
translated from Old Javanese by Thomas M. Hunter