Putu Fajar Arcana: Childhood lullabies
Paper Edition | Page: 7
Bali-born journalist and writer Putu Fajar Arcana recently published a novel titled Gandamayu, which was based on the traditional Javanese script Kidung Sudamala (Chants of Sudamala) and the traditional Balinese script Tutur Kunti Sraya.
Some weeks ago, his novel was adapted by Yogyakarta-based Teater Garasi into a contemporary theater performance. He said his father had played an important role in nurturing his love for literature during childhood.
Pan Balang Tamak
I grew up with children folklores. The most influential to me was about Pan Balang Tamak, a man whose name literarily means a person who is very greedy. This man was a local genius who had his own, uncommon way of solving things.
One of the memorable stories about him was when people in his village agreed to build a fence between their houses to mark out territory. Whoever breached the fence would be fined. Instead of building a fence, he grew a certain plant, the seeds of which could get attached to clothes. That way, he got evidence that showed him which people entered his territory.
Nobody knows who created this tale. My grandmother told me the story of Pan Balang Tamak when I was a kid. Later, I read the story in a book when I sat in elementary school in 1970s.
This text (usually sung as melodious chants) has had a great influence on my life as I began to realize that we needed to purify ourselves. We have to renew our spiritualism and daily deeds through various things, such as religion, meditation or relaxation.
I learned this text from my father. As a traditional singer, he would bring me to other villages to fulfill the invitation to sing. One day, he was invited to sing the Kidung Sudamala text at a ruwatan (cleansing ritual) event.
Along the way to reach the village, he sang and translated the old script for me while riding the bicycle in the dark. Later in the village, I would fall asleep in his lap while he was singing the text.
Poems of Chairil Anwar
I feel close to Chairil Anwar, although I do not know him personally. I first knew his poems when I was an elementary school student. Growing up, I knew I would become a poet. Chairil’s works have influenced the way I write poems, such as how I treat some metaphors. You can see it by reading the poets that I write about on my Twitter account.
— Indah Setiawati
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