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Jakarta Post

‘The Silent Song of Genjer Flowers’: Against despair through storytelling

  • Prodita Sabarini

    Contributor

Jakarta   /   Mon, August 22 2016   /  08:27 am

Dinner talk: Suhartinah (second left) has lunch with her friends from Plantungan Prison in the play Nyanyi Sunyi Kembang-Kembang Genjer (The Silent Song of Genjer Flowers). In her play “Nyanyi Sunyi Kembang-Kembang Genjer” (The Silent Song of Genjer Flowers), feminist playwright Faiza Mardzoeki captures how, for female survivors of the communist purge, the simple act of telling their stories is an act against despair.

What is it like to keep the secret of the most painful experience you’ve ever had from your own flesh and blood? What is it like to be emotionally alienated from your loved ones, separated by lies systematically spread and kept alive for decades?

In modern-day Indonesia, these questions are not hypothetical. For a long time, survivors of the 1965-1966 communist purge kept their traumatic experiences of torture, sexual violence and imprisonment from thei...