Negeri Senja

Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Negeri Senja, Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, 2003.

ISBN: 979-9023-96-3

Translation in Progress by Andy Fuller

Negeri Senja, or The Land of the Endless Sunset

Prologue: The Land Where the Sun Never Sets

My life is full of sadness – and thus, I’m always roaming. I’m always leaving; always going somewhere; I’m always on a journey; going to one place who knows where. But, my sadness has never left me. It turns out, sadness is not something that can be left behind. Sadness is something within ourselves. I always thought that if I were to make a long journey, it would be left far behind – but that has never happened. There is a wound in my heart which propelled me to go far from my home town and until now I have never returned.

Even if my sadness disappears one day, maybe I will still never go back. I already feel like I have never had a home, and no longer feel like I have to go back somewhere. And, I’m enjoying this. Maybe though my sadness will never disappear. But that’s enough already: I don’t want to indulge my feelings. I’ve adapted to living with sadness – after all, what is the problem with it? What’s the problem with sorrow? What is wrong with feeling hurt? After roaming and wandering for years I’ve learned to live with sadness, loneliness and isolation. It hasn’t been easy, but what can I do, as someone who is on a journey? I’m a wanderer, just a journeyman without any friends or family going from one place to the next without any direction, trying in vain to get rid of his loneliness.

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Then, after years of making my journey, I finally found some kind of direction – at least it was a kind of reason which kept me moving, except for making stops to rest and regather my strength. I was always going, always moving, because I wanted to get to know something else, something which I didn’t yet understand: there were so much wonder in this wide world. I have travelled from one country to the next. From city to city, from village to village. I’ve been through forests, traversing great expanses and gaining experience. I always make my journeys alone; and as such I’ve always got time to reflect. While looking at a new view, I think about life. I think about the world prior to its occupation by mankind and what the meaning of culture is. While passing through frozen fields of ice and snow, grassy prairies and coastlines, I think of mankind and nature.

I’ve crossed the seven seas, climbed twenty mountains, traversed three deserts and visited isolated villages, but I have never felt capable of staying anywhere. The most comfortable, prosperous and beautiful places always make me feel restless. There is always a new horizon that I have to reach out to, from one end of the earth to the other. Maybe my home is the journey itself. I like sleeping beneath a tree in an open field, using straw as blanket in a cart, falling asleep while riding a donkey, or lying down, face up and staring at the moon as I drift in a sampan down a river, taken by the current. My home is in my journeying.