Excerpt from “Pulang”

Bimo Nugroho

dioramaMy childhood home. A house filled with tension and disappointment. I never wanted to go back there again. But that is where my mother was, still silently serving the man she calls her husband. A home in the Tebet area of Jakarta where the man took her with the risk that she would chose to take me there as well.

When Mother married Bapak Prakosa—whom I will never call “father”—I knew that my life would change. Even though my father, my real bapak, Nugroho Dewantoro, had disappeared from our lives long before, this didn’t mean that I had to accept this man in my life. In our lives.

Bapak Prakosa was not an evil man, though his career in the military was not a profession that one would automatically find pleasing. But he also wasn’t a person who gladly accepted the burden that the woman he married brought with her. Bapak Prakosa viewed raising me as a unwanted duty but something he had to do for the beautiful woman he had taken from my father. It was a risk he had to take. (more…)

Feb 21 – 23rd 2014

Perth Writers Festival


Excerpt from “Pulang, a Novel”


9999--ekalaya (1)There was something about my father and Indonesia I had always wanted to understand. Not just a matter of the country’s blood-filled history and the problems that affected the lives of Indonesian political exiles who had to roam the world in search of a country willing to receive them. There was something that made my father extra sensitive to rejection. I became aware of this, bit by bit, because of his obsession with the story of Ekalaya, which he often told to me.

Up until when I was ten years old, there had always been a ritual my parents and I went through in early summer. Each year, we would fall in love again with the Parisian sky which, at that time. seemed close enough for us to touch. The sun in late May is a friendly creature, not the angry monster it becomes at the height of summer in June.

Ayah and Maman would take me to Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, the large park on the outskirts of Paris. For our personal comfort as we waited to watch the films being shown there—cinéma en plein air—we’d bring with us knapsacks filled with blankets and books and a hamper of food and canned beverages. As Ayah and Maman had begun this tradition when I was just a baby, these outings became something I expectantly awaited each year. It was some years before I realized that this custom had evolved not simply because of the pleasure we found in watching film retrospectives in the open air, but because the it cost my parents nothing at all.