The Retreat IV: Conclusion

Sep 27th, 2011, in News, by

‘The Retreat’ by J. Eijkelboom, Part IV, the Conclusion, continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


A few days later I went to pick up my monthly wages at the battalion’s administration just before noon. I met a few acquaintances in the canteen where I had dropped in to have a beer and stayed on to drink and play cards with them until about four. I bought a pair of little white shoes for Soemiati on the way back so that I only got home when it was close to half past four. I found Soemiati in the little room beside the kitchen; the notebook in which she kept her pantuns and Malay songs lay shut on her lap. I asked her to heat up some food and take it to my room. She kept her head bent while I was speaking and when she promised to be ready quickly she didn’t look at me either. I wondered what was going on now again and felt annoyed. At that moment, as if she had felt my rising anger, she smiled at me from under her eyelashes, without raising her head, but rather shyly than coquettishly. I smiled back.

I have brought something for you

I yet shouted, and walked whistling to my room. It was probably a passing fit of depression again, I thought casually. She had already been uneasy before I departed in the morning. At a certain moment she had grabbed me anxiously and asked,

You will stay here, won’t you? You won’t leave me, won’t you?

I had answered, laughingly:

Oh no, don’t worry so much.

And then she had threatened, suddenly vehemently:

Take care that you don’t break your word!

Without stopping laughing and on an impulse of a malicious desire to tease I had said:

We will see.

When she had put down my plate with her head still bent she sat herself down on the stretcher. I produced the new shoes and put them in her lap. Soemiati found them magnificent. I had thought that she would be enraptured but now she looked rather shy. I looked at her: there were tears glistening in her eyes. I knelt down near her, pulled the flip-flops she was wearing off her feet and put the shoes on them. While I was busy with that she started to stroke my hair; it was the first time that she caressed me without me having started it. She was now staring right in front of her. So when I looked up to her face I saw immediately the gaping wound in her throat.

How did that come about

I stammered –

O, it is nothing, it is nothing

she said warding off the question.

Don’t ask any further. It was a little accident. I have already forgotten it.

The wound was no longer bleeding. Neither did the skin around it show any traces of blood, she had apparently wiped these off already. There was nothing but a vertical slit in the skin, probably drawn with a razor blade. And she had done this herself and intentionally. I knew this without asking her.

Without saying anything more I took her with me to the medic who quickly put on a bandage, grumbling that he would be too late for the cinema.

Once they have got something like that in their nut you can’t stop them anyway. If it doesn’t come off at one time, it will at some other time. It is occurring fairly frequently lately; nothing else but fear

the medic explained.

So, that’s fixed. And no longer any funny business sis

And to me:

it would be a pity though if she kicked the bucket, sergeant. It sure is a fine bit of ass!

I nodded tacitly. I knew that he would find me pathetic if I didn’t retort in the same style but my dejection was too great for that.

Silently we returned. If I had acted again as if nothing had happened, perhaps it would have been left at that. But I had put it in my head that one has to confront a threatening danger instead of fleeing for it, a tactic that perhaps suited me but certainly not Soemiati. I insisted that she would tell me why she had committed that deed of desperation. The only thing she could come up with was the request, repeated again and again, to leave her alone, but I kept urging her mercilessly. Finally I even shut her up with pen and paper; what she couldn’t say she should rather write instead. When I left her in this situation she was sitting with a deeply unhappy face behind the table, like a child that has its first day at school. I felt no less miserable when I was pacing up and down in the backyard. After a quarter of an hour I returned to her. She had only written a few lines. A few confused sentences which didn’t say much more than that she was afraid.

But why then? I will really take care that nothing untoward will happen to you

I shouted impatiently. But perceiving the uselessness of any further talk I walked away fast.

A few hours later she joined me in my room. She looked somewhat excited. Not at all that helpless and miserable, I observed with satisfaction. She even started to laugh loudly when a burning cigarette butt that I had wanted to throw out of the window fell down on my kelambu. I was again reassured already. I asked her to sit with me, but she preferred to keep being busy, folding a shirt here, and smoothing down a sheet there. I started reading a paper myself.

Do I dare?

I heard her ask suddenly, and looking up I saw her standing in front of me aiming precisely at my forehead with my pistol. At first I wanted to say:

Take care, that is dangerous

but the pistol was on the safety catch anyway. Thus I said:

Go ahead babe.

If that was her idea of fun I wanted to join in the game. Only when she had pulled the trigger it came to me that she wouldn’t be able to see whether a pistol was on the safety catch or not – that she had thus tried to murder me just now … I jumped up with a scream striking the weapon from her hand. Roaring with laughter she left the room.

After a sleepless night I stretched out on my bed next day, overcome by heat. I had hardly dozed off when Soemiati hurriedly entered the room. She threw herself half over me so that I was immediately wide-awake. –

What is it?

I asked frightened, looking into her haggard eyes.

Tell me what I should do!

she called out.

You don’t have to do anything

I answered grumpily, and turned to the wall. She left the room groaning. A bit later my uneasiness got the better of me. I got up and walked to the outbuildings. Soemiati was sitting on the floor in her little bedroom, with her head against the wall. She looked at me with glassy eyes, without seeing anything. An aluminum mug was beside her, and across her chin there was a trickle of purplish-brown liquid. I picked up the mug and smelled it: there had been carbolic acid in it. I picked her up and laid her down on the baleh-baleh. I quickly walked to my room to get norit. A colleague of mine had just come home; together we administered her the dissolved norit.. When the evening was approaching, she could move normally again but the far-away look in her eyes only disappeared when she saw me; they then got a look of insane hatred.

Shortly after that she tried again to take her life, this time by jumping into the deep well behind our house. It took a while before a lamp was found but when it shone into the well it turned out that she was holding on to the supply pipe of the water pump. A ladder was fetched and one of the bystanders lowered himself into the well with a long rope that was fastened under her arms. She did not resist but she didn’t cooperate either. When she had reached the parapet of the well I took her over. After the desperation of the first few moments I had felt a great rage rising within me. My only and unreasonable thought was that she had no right to treat me in this fashion. But I could of course not punish her in the presence of five or six men who had saved her with so much effort, almost with tenderness. I could however not refrain from pulling her against me with such violence that I hurt myself. Soemiati remained silent however: she only slowly turned her face to me. Her gaze was calm and clear. She didn’t have the dreamy appearance that somebody who has almost drowned sometimes has. There was also no longer any hatred in her eyes, not even reproach. She only looked; she did not judge but saw everything. Though her look had destroyed me in one blow, I continued to carry her inside without the slightest hesitation. Her arms and legs were dangling will-lessly from my arms that I kept straight as a die. Nobody could see that this almost lifeless body had vanquished me.

But now I wanted to orient myself further entirely to the wishes of Soemiati it appeared that I could no longer reach her altogether. With the protestant distrust of myself that I originally acquired in my youth, I told myself that perhaps I was only prepared to surrender because that surrender could be accepted no longer. I tried to satisfy my need for penance with this kind of self-torture. I also drank more than usual because in my intoxication I could sometimes imagine not to be too far removed from her insanity.

Sometimes I could hear her softly complaining in her forlornness, but there was nobody who could help her any more. Though she no longer tried to take her own life she now repeatedly left the house and went on the road, not knowing herself where to go because she was again and again found in a different spot. When one asked her then where she wanted to go, she generally didn’t answer. Sometimes, however, she endlessly repeated the words

I want to go home

words that were pronounced without any intonation at first but that gradually were absorbed into an uninterrupted humming. She seemed then so much a perfectly contented child, absorbed in itself, that I could feel a pity for her that almost cured me of my despair. But this never lasted long. Her insanity showed other horrible sides that drove me back to my old train of thought. Every night the guard woke me up a few times to report that Soemiati had come out of her room again and wanted to go into the street. Feebly protesting she was then taken inside again, where I stayed with her until she slept. One time I found her at the end of the gallery, staring motionless into the dark garden. I put myself beside her and softly called her name. When she didn’t react I put my head near to hers and called her name again. Suddenly, deliberately and with a lightning speed that came the more unexpected because of the motionless attitude that had preceded it, she pushed her head with malicious force into my face. Trembling with fright, pain and a hatred that surpassed all other feelings within a second, I grabbed Soemiati. I pushed her in the direction of her room and with one shove I threw her from the door opening onto her bed. She got up right away to get through the door but I pushed her back with more force than before. Neither of us uttered a word or cry during this struggle, also when she got up for the second time and I gave her a smack in the face that made her tumble backwards. Before she could get up again I jumped on her and pushed her down violently on the baleh-baleh. At that moment, while I had to restrain with my whole body the woman who resisted furiously, I came to my senses. With a muffled voice, but without losing my grip of her narrow wrists, I asked her forgiveness. But this too no longer penetrated to her. Her apathy returned as suddenly as her frenzy had been aroused. She slept within a few minutes.

Through Indonesian friends I managed to get Soemiati admitted to an asylum in the mountains near Malang. The last time I visited her there, before my departure for Holland, is still clearly in my mind; for a long time it was a reality that has been continuously repeating itself, before it could become a memory, like it is now. I walked through a garden full of varicoloured flowers to the pavilion in which Soemiati had been put up. I encountered a few nurses; one of them had on her apron a sort of badge with the picture of the president of the republic. They pretended not to see me but when they had passed I could hear from the rhythm of their footsteps that they both looked around at me. I hadn’t been wise to show myself there but once there I wanted to complete my visit. Soemiati was sitting on the doorstep of the pavilion. She kept her head bent deeply so that the two plaits in which her hair had been fashioned fell on both sides along her neck; I felt it as a loss that others too could now see her slender neck. She sat there softly humming, rocking her upper body to and fro. I lifted her head with my fingers against her temples. She immediately covered her eyes with both hands. I could, however, now hear the words that she repeated in uninterrupted humming:

Saya minta dibunuh. I ask to be killed

Her mouth had a childish expression of satisfaction with this. When I asked whether she wanted to go inside with me she remained sitting as if she had heard nothing. When I tried, however, to raise her up she got up meekly, but without taking her hands away from her eyes. I tried to get her to talk but she didn’t react to any of my words or gestures. Finally I got the idea to offer her a cigarette. I felt almost happy when she accepted. She inhaled deeply a few times but without any pleasure. After she had had three or four whiffs I took the cigarette off her again, out of fear that she would burn her fingers and lips.

At that moment the matron entered, a Dutch woman of around forty years old. She greeted me with a disapproving nod. –

A sad case

she observed, looking at the other woman with a gaze that had to express pity, a pity that had to legitimate her silent reproach earlier.

And still so young

she sighed after this.

How old is she, seventeen?

Twenty four

I answered curtly. I had almost added

three years older than me

but I checked myself in time.

You can stay here for another quarter of an hour

the nurse concluded our conversation. She apparently found my answer too ridiculous to enter into. It did strike me now that Soemiati looked indeed younger than I had ever known her. In the room where I had brought her she had seated herself on the tiled floor. Yet the manner in which she wound and rewound her plaits around her fingers looked too mechanical to resemble the playing of a child. Shortly after I took my leave from her because she had started humming again and I feared that she would repeat her earlier words. I greeted her and disappeared hurriedly, without looking back.


55 Comments on “The Retreat IV: Conclusion”

  1. avatar agan says:

    Pak ET you are charismatic alrighty but you need to let the adventurer in you shines. Instinctively we may seek out more balanced, down-to-earth women but it’s the classic dichotomy for the male psyche that needs to be acknowledged here.
    Most men are instantly aroused by the Soemiatis of the world that well-tanned skin, legong dancer like legs and row of pearly white smile enough to knock any man’s sarongs off.
    And yes, we know deep inside we could never tame them but hey it’s the challenge of taming that lure men in or just simplylet those guna guna works for us 🙂

  2. avatar stevo says:

    Generalisation. Generalisation. Generalisation.

    When you generalise you are -generally- right. Exceptions do not make a rule. I tire of discussions about people being constantly led astray with the cry “you can’t generalise” ! Sorry folks you can generalise and we all do it. You could simply not function unless you did. It only becomes a barrier to understanding when you do not allow for the exceptions and do not keep an open mind.

  3. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Above there was some talk of guna-guna.

    This is a side track and a topic in itself: but it is interesting to find out who of the early novelists writing about the Indies believed in ‘guna-guna’ as a real magical force. Daum didn’t: for him ‘guna-guna’ was just the skilful, and mostly nefarious, use of herbs. Couperus, who spent part of his youth in the Indies, had a different approach. In ‘The Hidden Force’ (De Stille Kracht) he doesn’t decide on the matter but just describes it. The main target here is the a-moral second wife of the Dutch resident (bupati) who is having affairs with two of her stepsons. She is, in a mysterious and unexplained way, bespattered by ‘sirih’ whenever she tries to take a bath. Here is the relevant scene from an early movie of the novel (another one is on the way): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHyV1vo6Wl8

    Johan Fabricius described a case of flutes mysteriously playing by themselves.

    Hein Buitenweg (not a novelist) quotes an official report of the 1820’s that describes the repeated stoning of a resident’s residence that a triple ring of soldiers could not prevent. The stoning remained completely unexplained.

    Etc.

    Well. as I said, it is a topic in itself.

  4. avatar bonni says:

    Stevo,

    How about “when you generalise you are generally a fool”?

  5. avatar bonni says:

    Arie,

    I tried to browse that ‘guna-guna’ story but couldn’t find one in English…

  6. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Bonni,

    You can download it via this link. It is a novel and fairly long:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34725/34725-h/34725-h.htm

  7. avatar bonni says:

    Thank you, Arie 🙂

  8. avatar stevo says:

    How about “when you generalise you are generally a fool”?

    No does not work bonni. Unless you seriously want to describe 6,852,472,823 people as individuals, every time you speak ? 🙂

    Its ok, I understand that women can not understand the concept of generalisation. This is because they relate every thing to themselves and take things personally. They are natures natural narcissists. The girl in the story included.

  9. avatar deta says:

    La donna è mobile

    Had you not written the translation I would’ve thought you talked about the relationship of Indonesian women and mobile phone (again).

    Anyway, I doubt if your charisma has anything to do with it (sorry 🙂 ). It is the romantic relationship (or lack of it) that usually plays the main culprit to make the seemingly calm, cool and collected woman on the surface show her true colour inside. Because that’s when the feeling rules by far, leaving all the logic, rationale and masquerade behind.

  10. avatar bonni says:

    Its ok, I understand that women can not understand the concept of generalisation.

    I can understand the concept of generalisation, for example, our common behavior as Indonesian women based on our traditional culture. And let’s face it, you yourself don’t understand women, stevo! You yourself admitted it! 😛

    This is because they relate every thing to themselves and take things personally. They are natures natural narcissists.

    I once knew a guy who do all those things… Oh, yes, it’s his personality… 😛

    The girl in the story included.

    You bad bad guy. Don’t involve poor Soemiati in this case.

  11. avatar stevo says:

    You bad bad guy

    That sweet bonni is a -generalisation- right there ! 😉

  12. avatar bonni says:

    It was you, stevo! 😛

  13. avatar stevo says:

    You made a generalisation about me bonni. Good to see you now applying generalisations in your daily life. This skill will help you understand many things. 🙂

  14. avatar bonni says:

    This is because they relate every thing to themselves and take things personally.

    Some might say…

  15. avatar ET says:

    Most men are instantly aroused by the Soemiatis of the world that well-tanned skin, legong dancer like legs and row of pearly white smile enough to knock any man’s sarongs off.

    All the more reasons for us men to be constantly on guard, especially for that pearly white smile, which I have come to consider to be the most erotic feature of the female anatomy. A flash of those blinding gems may be even more upsetting and mind-blowing than the most wicked guna-guna. Astaghfirullah, now I do understand why burqas and niqabs were invented, to conceal these weapons of man-destruction and safeguard our peace of mind.

  16. avatar ET says:

    It is the romantic relationship (or lack of it) that usually plays the main culprit to make the seemingly calm, cool and collected woman on the surface show her true colour inside. Because that’s when the feeling rules by far, leaving all the logic, rationale and masquerade behind.

    Thank you for warning. May wisdom prevail.

  17. avatar ET says:

    Well. as I said, it is a topic in itself.

    A topic that could well be worth to be treated in IM sometimes. After all the guna-guna and its related phenomena, leyak, orang halus, maumadi, sundal bolong etc. are unmistakingly a part of the Indonesian ‘experience’. Many who have lived here and put their experiences in writing have come into contact with them one way or the other, even if only from hearsay.

    What follows is a fragment from the chapter ‘Ida Bagus Gede expels the Demons’ from the book ‘A House in Bali’ by Colin McPhee, a Canadian writer, musicologist and composer who came to Bali to study and record gamelan music and stayed here during the 30ies until the approach of WWII.

    “After nightfall the graveyard was transformed, a haunted spot that no one would dream of entering. On moonlight nights the solitary kepuh tree, sacred to Durga, goddess of death, glimmered high above the palms. Imps and demons gathered in its branches; in the shadow-play this dreadful tree was seen to be filled with evil birds, hands and legs with faces, while the branches were festooned with entrails. Cauldrons caught the dripping blood, and the roots wound in and out of bones and skulls. Here the sisya, pupils of the Widow, met at midnight, to dance and feast on the living blood of dead brought back to life…

    The graveyard, moreover, was a natural meeting-place for witches and sorcerers, for every village had its suspects, owners of books and spells that enabled the reader to change himself into leyak – a ball of fire, a giant rat, or even a riderless motor cycle that travelled backwards. In this magic state sorcerers were indeed dangerous; they could send a man out of his wits or bring him to a lingering death.

    No one was surprised, then, when all at once things began to go wrong in the house. Misfortunes occurred, one after another, and as they accumulated everyone began to have a worried, hunted look. Rantun the cook slipped on the kitchen floor and broke her arm. Pugig stepped on a thumb-tack and got an infected foot. The cat fell off the roof, actually fell, for no reason at all, and was killed, while Kesyur and Sampih declared the garage was haunted. Night after night they would wake, they said, unaccountably rigid, jaws clenched, unable to make a sound. They heard the bicycle bells of Durus and Pugig ring out in the darkness, although there was no one else in the garage. Voices called their names from outside, but they opened the doors to find no one. And late one night, as Kesyur walked up the road alone to the garage, he saw, sitting silently among the bamboos, a great bird, large as a horse.
    This however was not all.
    In the morning, as Pugig brought up the coffee, he would point to drops of blood that ran in an unbroken line all around the outside floor of the sleeping-house. A fight between two tokes, the great lizards that now hid and croaked in the thatch, I suggested; but Pugig did not agree, for he would wash the spots away, only to find them again the following morning. One night I awoke to hear the loud ticking of a clock almost in my ear. It was rapid and metallic, like an alarm clock, and seemed to come from outside the wall. As I reached for my flashlight it began to travel quickly around the four walls of the room. I ran outside but there was no trace of anything at all.
    Everyone agreed, as I related the experience in the morning, that all this was the work of leyaks. Kesyur urged me to consult a seer at once. He suggested the older brother of Cokorda Rahi, whose spells and amulets were known to be unusually powerful. But Rendah was wiser. He reminded me that although the house had been blessed by the priest when I first moved in, I had, however, never made offerings for the demons that inhabited the land itself. Disasters would increase until I had done so. I must make a mecaru, a purification ceremony, when the demons would be called to feast and then expelled from my land, and he advised me to seek the help of the great priest of Bongkasa across the valley, Ida Bagus Gede.

    This was one of the ten great priests of Bali, and his holiness and magic power were known throughout the island. He was able to summon the leyaks and dispel the demons. He knew all the entrances and exits to this world, knew the mysteries of the microcosmos and the macrocosmos. He was, in addition, famed as a dalang, but he only performed for the most solemn rites, and the only story he ever performed was that of Calonarang the witch – of how, long ago, she spread plague upon plague in the land of Java, and was finally destroyed with a gesture of the hand by the holy saint and recluse, Mpu Bharada. It was clear that Ida Bagus Gede identified himself withthis ascetic.”

  18. avatar agan says:

    All the more reasons for us men to be constantly on guard, especially for that pearly white smile, which I have come to consider to be the most erotic feature of the female anatomy. A flash of those blinding gems may be even more upsetting and mind-blowing than the most wicked guna-guna. Astaghfirullah,

    …and I was wondering why Mbak Deta’s posts to you were sprinkled with so many cute smiley face emoticons, then it hit me!
    Lord, have mercy.

  19. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Everyone agreed, as I related the experience in the morning, that all this was the work of leyaks.

    ET, that was an interesting story. McPhee had the luxury to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ though he seemed to go along tacitly with the suggestions of his leyak-fearing environment.

    A European field officer didn’t have that luxury. He was in a double bind because, on the one hand, he saw it as his duty to discourage such beliefs but, on the other, he also had to ‘discourage’ ‘witch doctors’ who believed in their own powers and created unrest if nothing else.

    Some time in 1956 I arrived, during a patrol through the district of Etnabay (subdivision Kaimana, division Fak Fak), at a kampong where I was told that the village head was on his way to the district office (then temporarily my office) to lodge a complaint about guna guna. He suspected one of the villagers of having killed his daughter by putting ‘daun mati’ under her head pillow. I gave a long talk to the villagers about the irrationality of such beliefs. After that we went collectively to the house of the supposed witch doctor, a mephistophelian looking dotard sitting all alone in his hut. I pitied him a bit because he was sitting there all ‘in his lonesome’ and had clearly been ostracised by the rest of the village. The man started to illustrate his innocence by showing me how totally empty the basket that supposedly contained his ‘daun mati’ in fact was. I said that I didn’t believe in his powers in the first place and I invited him, as a test of these, to kill me that night. Never mind his magical abilities, his answer showed that his skills in argument were not highly developed. “It wouldn’t work on you”, he said, “because you are a Belanda.”

    Well, I told him that if we got more complaints he would get into trouble not because we believed that he really killed people but because he created unrest. Actually, a district court would have been in a pickle with such a case. For such low level cases the Papuans, as was once the case in the Netherlands Indies in general, were supposed to have been left “in the enjoyment of their own administration of justice” (as the official formula was). In actual practice this amounted in Papua to the district head (then generally an Ambonese, more rarely a Papuan) formulating the supposed offence or crime and asking some village heads, who were officiating on the court, for an equivalent formula in the local language. Well, for such cases there were plenty of local formulas, but the trouble lay with the original charge in which witchcraft could not be acknowledged as really existing.

    After our session with the ‘witch doctor’ we returned to the heart of the village where just at that moment the village head returned, together with his followers. I had to tell my story all over again, now in a private session with him. He was an intelligent man and when I had finished talking he said “Tuan, I believe you. Will you now tell my wife?”. She apparently had not been under my original audience.

    This village head was still dressed in the khaki uniform he had put on to lodge his complaint at the district office. On it he wore a ‘bintang’ given to him by the government for his assistance in tracking down Indonesian infiltrators (these had landed in Etnabay, under the command of a ‘letnan muda’ Dimara – who was not caught – in October 1954). I hate to think what became of that village head after Indonesia took over the territory.

  20. avatar deta says:

    Whatever hit you, Mas Agan, let it slide…. 😉

  21. avatar ET says:

    Witchcraft, black magic or santet are still a matter of concern for a majority of Indonesians, not in the least among those whose educational background should have given a more realistic and factual outlook.

    http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1366/black-magic-spells/

    But one has to admit that supernatural phenomena have a certain advantage in explaining away inconvenient truths like the disappearance of funds instead of blaming it on vulgar corruption. Not to mention the entertainment value for the wong cilik. As long as people prefer to believe in ghosts and belorongs (invisible mice that sneak into your home and steal your money), clever thieves and conmen have less to fear.
    If my memory is correct there has even been a law proposal some years ago to outlaw black magic. I dont know if it has passed the MPR.

  22. avatar nobody says:

    “In actual practice this amounted in Papua to the district head (then generally an Ambonese, more rarely a Papuan) ”

    Oh my God.. how could an Ambonese became a district head in Papua if Papua never had any connection what so ever with Ambon (Indonesia)????
    Perhaps.. *ghasp* perhaps……. because Papua and Ambon both was once part of the Ternate Kingdom??? I am at lost.. how dare those Papuan elect an Ambonese as district head.. note that in the story the local people are actually supporting the local district head against one of their own local people..

  23. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Oh my God.. how could an Ambonese became a district head in Papua if Papua never had any connection what so ever with Ambon (Indonesia)????
    Perhaps.. *ghasp* perhaps……. because Papua and Ambon both was once part of the Ternate Kingdom??? I am at lost.. how dare those Papuan elect an Ambonese as district head.. note that in the story the local people are actually supporting the local district head against one of their own local people..

    Nobody, I bet that about Indonesia’s colonial period you have heard nothing but propaganda that often passes for history over there.

    In colonial times the lower ranks of the field service (that of ‘bestuursassistenten’) were, outside Java (which had a parallel Indonesian administration, mirroring the Dutch one), often occupied by Ambonese, Keyese, Menadonese and others. It had in Papua nothing to do with its supposed link with Ternate. Also, that type of official was not elected but appointed. This village head’s belief that he could get the district chief”s (in this case my – I had temporarily replaced him) assistance in his particular trouble was based on the aura of active benevolence that the then government possessed. Strange, huh.

  24. une histoire très triste. J’ai été touché quand j’ai lu cette histoire

  25. avatar bonni says:

    So, Arie, is there some other stories? 🙂

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