The cold Australian wind breezed between lontar tree trunks outside El Tari Airport, Kupang. It has passed Timor. It has passed Rote. It probably has passed Sumba. It might also has passed Flores, Alor, and Lembata. They gently stopped in front of me, and nodded. Tears dripped. I cried.
This is not the time. Not yet. Everything is still so fresh, lingering around me.
I can still hear the musical group yelled ryhtmically in the truck full of buffaloes and horses, guarding the Pasunga groom from Anakalang, Central Sumba, to meet his bride.
I can still hear mama Brigitta’s chant in Mudakaputu, Larantuka while she was pushing and pulling her peminang*, filling her beautlfully-dyed pakan** with her handspun lungsi*** to create an ikat scarf.
I can still hear burung Koang sang proudly like a king in Mbeliling forest, guiding us on the way to the lost kampung of Wae Rebo in Manggarai.
I can still hear the lady farmers happily singing tebe**** in Ai Toun village, Belu while planting their rice in their cloud-hugged lush ricefields.
I can still hear bapak Jeremiah Pah in Oebelo, Kupang told me his deep longing of his homeland, the beautiful island of Rote, and paid it with his emotial performance of Bolelebo with his sasandu gong***** and I couldnt help my self running in tears.
I can still hear those songs, chants and voices. I do not want yet to leave those all behind. They’re just too beautiful.
Now this gentle wind came to me. Not to say good bye. But to make sure, before I left this beautiful part of the country, I have a special room in my life for these songs, chants and voices.
I do. And to the tens or hundreds of new families I met during my trip in East Nusa Tenggara, I have all the rooms to keep our time together: the joy and sorrow, laughter and tears and all the bittersweet memories that we shared this three months.
Thank you for your patience listening to me. Your keenness to share with me. Your eagerness to work with me. Your willingness to answer all my stupid questions. Your experience and wisdoms that inspired me. And your time in the world to let me being part of your family.
I am most grateful to my hosts during my trip for their shelter, meals, trips, knowledge and mostly the typical East Nusa Tenggara warmth which I will always cherish:
1. Bapak Tens and Ibu Adel in Larantuka
2. Ibu Alfonsa in Nita, Sikka
3. Ibu Vani in Ende, Nggela and Wolowaru
4. Bapak Leo and wife in Langa, Bajawa
5. Bapak Philippus in Bena, Bajawa
6. Bapak John in Ruteng, Manggarai
7. Bapak Blasius and Bapak Frans in Denge and Wae Rebo, Manggarai
8. Umbu Mema Djukatana and Rambu Imel and Rambu Bertha in Wanukaka, West Sumba
9. Umbu Dominggus Kabunggul in Ratenggaro village, Kodi, North West Sumba
10. Rambu Naomi Njamur and Umbu Yus in Pau-Watuhadang, Umalulu, East Sumba
11. Rambu May and Umbu Ahmad Tunggu in Kaliuda, Mangili, East Sumba
12. Umbu Bela Wawu and Rambu Ina Dangu in Tarung village, Waikabubak, West Sumba
13. Ir. Umbu Obet Madieta in Pasunga village, Anakalang, Katikutana, Central Sumba
14. Umbu Kristian K Daka in Waigalli village, Wanukaka, West Sumba
15. Rambu Anisa Umar Bamualim at Tourism and Culture office, West Sumba
16. Bapak Alex Fiah at SD INPRES Anda Iko, Nemberala, Rote
17. Bapak Edi Lutu and Ibu Rita Lutu in Nemberala, Rote
18. Bapak Don Bosco in Ai Toun, Raihat, Belu
19. Bapak Ernestus Cyrillus Kolli and family in Dirun, Lamaknen, Belu
20. Bapak Piet Naikofi and wife in Letmafo, Insana Tengah, TTU
21. Ibu Yovita Meta in Kefamenanu, TTU
22. Usif Nama Benu and wife and Pah Sae in Boti, TTS
23. Bapak Robert Koroh and Ibu Mira Koroh in Baun, Amarasi
24. Ibu Desy in Kalabahi, Alor
25. Bapak Martinus and wife in Takpala village, Alor Tengah Utara
26. Bapak Muhammad and family in Bampalola village, Alor Kecil
27. Bapak Achmad and wife in Baranusa, Pantar
28. Bapak Yos Keraf and Ibu and Andre Keraf in Lamalera, Lembata
29. Bapak Niko Adoe and Ibu Boi Adoe in Kupang
You are all the best. You rock!
* peminang: woodframe used to arrange dyed pakan before continuing to weave
** pakan: the vertical thread, the one being ikat-ed and dyed
*** lungsi: the horizontal thread, filler thread
**** tebe: a lyrical and ryhtmical sing-song of Timor people sang together in any occassions, either joy or sorrow. Sometimes it’s sang when people perform the communal dance, with the same name.
**** sasandu (or sasando by Timorese people) gong: the origina version of the musical instrument, using only eleven strings and bambu shaft to hold them. The more modern one, sasandu biola, is similar to gitar with more strings and need to be connected to sound system to produce opera-like sounds. The gong sounds less tantalizing, producing mind-provoking sounds, like thr sitar in Java.