A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on one the the blogs I admire, Novroz' Favorite Things indicating that Novroz was going to do a series of special posts on her blog honoring Indonesia's day of independence from colonial domination, celebrated on August 17. I then somehow decided to Google "independence day world wide" and found a whole list of days and countries. I noticed also that the independence day of Malaysia will be observed at the end of August. I wanted to honor these two South East Asia countries-both just a few hours from my home in Manila by posting on some short stories by Indonesia writers and then Malaysian. I think I will do a total of five posts on Indonesian short stories. I have decided to do separate posts on each writer so as to give a bit more change to spotlight the writers and also to allow a Google search on some of these not yet well know writers to find at least my post.
This is the third in a series of five posts I plan to do in honor of Indonesian Independence Day. So far I have posted on "Road to Heaven" by Abidah El Khaliegy a very moving story about the love between a mother and daughter that is also a poignant account of long term martial abuse. I also read and was very impressed by "Her" by Titus Basino about a shameful martial betrayal that cuts deeper that mere adultery ever good. Both of these stories are from the 21th century and are very worth reading.
"Century Carver" by Oka Rusmini is a very new story that feels like it could have been written 1000 years ago. Rusmini (1967) is from Bali. She is a well known poet, short story writer and novelist. She is a frequent speaker at literary festivals in Indonesia as well as abroad. Her most famous novel, Earth Dance has already been translated into German and an English translation is in the works.
Bali is famous, other than for its overwhelming natural beauty of course, for the beauty of the wood carvings by artists working in this medium. The central character in this story is a blind from birth wood carver with an international following. As the story begins I am not sure if this is to be taken as the recreation of an ancient myth or if some of the narrative remarks are to be seen as the emotional response of the characters. In the interesting and intriguing opening remarks of the story we get a good feel for the tone of "Century Carver":