You might have heard about Eka Kurniawan. He is a male Indonesian author who is known for his distinct literary style and fluid prose.
This is his collection of short stories written more than 20 years ago. That was the tumultuous era when the republic of Indonesia was undergoing a major reform in every aspect.
Eka ushered us to Indonesia during the late 1990s and the early 2000, when I was also in my teenagehood. He was 8 years my senior so I could a little bit relate to his stories.
But what is strange to me was the world of university and campus activism at the time.
I was never a political activist back in my university years. A friend tried to lure me into joining KAMMI (you know what that is, the right-wing student activism group), but I digressed. I retreated after being trapped in a recruitment and brainwashing session disguised as movie screening event.
Such a fool.
I went home before the event ended and never regretted that decision. It was not my thing. Never was and never will.
As I dove into the book, I saw a lot of people like these, except that they were not religion-affiliated activists. They were campus activists who despised capitalism and status quo as much as they hate heartbreak and self-inflicted poverty.
I must say this is a good read if you enjoy a light read during this Christmas and new year holiday.
And the timing to read this book is also never more appropriate than now because every day we Indonesians are faced with the new face of Jokowi regime which turns out so much like Cendana Clan’s New Order. Gibran, his first-born son who used to be an entrepreneur, plunged into the politic arena and recently won the race in Solo, his hometown. And Bobby, his brother in-law, also was elected in South Sumatra. All is possible thanks to the political sponsor, the red bull party.
Reform is in fact slowly murdered. Corruption runs rampant as always. A number of most vocal and critical 98 activists are now appointed as public officials and they become the monster they used to hate.
Welcome to the land of irony and parody.😅
So my verdict is: Go read this short story collection. Through Eka’s stories, you’ll know how painful it feels to see the rotting democracy in Indonesia. What we aspired to achieve is now left and abandoned. Because power is too addictive to let go. (*/)