Friday, May 18, 2007


* This short story was translated by the author from Bahasa Indonesia. The original version appears in Kompas, July 17, 2004 and short story collection Sihir Perempuan (2005). Please do not copy or distribute without the author's permission. Email her at

Read her backwards and you will find me.
We come from the same place, narrow, dark, wet, red. But she doesn’t want me because she thought I suckled from a wolf mother.


I never wanted to be a secretary. When people asked me what I wanted to be as a child, I used to say I wanted to be a doctor, just like thousands of other kids would. But as I grew up my mother noticed that I was diligent and well-organized. I liked making schedules, allowance budget, and shopping list. I was crazy about categorization. In my room there were special boxes for cassettes with different kinds of music. I even knew what I wanted to wear on Friday in the next two weeks. My mother said, “You’d be better off being a secretary rather than a doctor.”

So after graduating from High School I went to a school for secretary. Partly because I wanted to make the most of my potential, and partly because to be a doctor you need to like biology. The only topic I liked about it was the classification of plants and animals. In the end I realized that my choice of study was not wrong because I graduated with excellent grades.

I live in night’s murky caves, blanketed by gray fog, not acquainted with morning and dew. I have no courage to face the light because I’m not like all of you. I’m obsessed by red. The river-flooding red that smells like fresh fish.
I hunger
for Blood.
I am the black buterfly with velvet wings, flying into tunnels, sucked up into the night’s vortex. She doesn’t know my pain, my moan, my desire. She closes all windows to shun me, who creeps in thirst.

Now I’m working in a consulting agency. I aways iron my blazer and skirt until they look tidy and match with the cool mahogany floor and light brown walls of my office. Brown is a classic that looks elegant. Want to look more professional? Wear brown or black. Funny, I thought dark colors stood for evil as bright colors for goodness.

Sometimes I search for rats or dogs or anything. I’m to weak to open my eyes. I can’t endure, I’m too thirsty. Oh, if only I could trade my soul with

I work as a secretary for a marketing manager. My table is neatly arranged right outside my boss’s room. His name is Irwan. He’s young, good-looking, rich, smart. Of course he has one weakness: a wife. For him this is a weakness because he has to conceal his affairs with some women (that’s what I heard on my first day here). For me this is also a weakness because I have to keep my distance. My interaction with him is too intense, and that’s dangerous. I’ve heard about sexual behavior in the office, but I don’t have any appetite to transgress ethics and norms.

Irwan was born from a wealthy family, so I understand why he loves playing with power. He assigns me jobs beyond my responsibilities, such as writing proposals for projects outside work. I once had to leave to the office only to pay for his credit card bill. I know I have the right to protest, but at this point I choose to remain silent and see how unprofessional he can be.


“Do you have anything to do after work?”

I raise my head. Today Irwan is wearing a red tie underneath his conservative black suit. There’s something really wrong about the tie. Perhaps the color is too bright, not suitable with the atmosphere of an office dominated by cold colors.

Red discharges heat. Red sometimes clots thickly and gets stuck like gums. Red demands confession, it doesn’t suspend, it doesn’t flow through the drainage.


I shake my head.

“Then come with me for a coffee.”

If we work for somebody, we are accustomed to imperatives.

I try to decipher another meaning of having coffee. He must be thinking about being in an air-conditioned room while enjoying a cup of coffee – without grounds at the bottom -- and not a glass of tubruk coffee in warung. He is thinking about a certain class, with a certain aim, perhaps building relations or networking. It’s interesting for my career, but let me reaffirm that I’m not attracted to have an affair with a married man.


Is there a logical consequence if I resist?

She wants him but doesn’t want to be the first to blame.

“Our director wants a special report due tomorrow,” he says. “This is an extra work for me, so I hope you can help.”

Irwan seems to read my doubts and tries to emphasize that his intention is rational and professional, not sensual or sexual. I ponder, then I decide to go with him.

Oh! Oh! I am the sister with whom you share warmth in that narrow red space. I knew that in high school you read a cheap porn book about a secretary who came to her boss’s room without underwear. You
crimson woman.
Rage! Aren’t you longing for all the bestial inside your civilized skirt?

Then off we go to a cafĂ© playing jazz music from the 50s. Under a dim light, we are sitting in a red velvet sofa, so huge that it drowns me. If there’s no coffee I might feel drowsy. Why did he choose this place to talk about work?

A brothel –
A butterfly like me likes haze, shadows, hallucination. A merry house in the forest of all wolf. You won’t know anything before you get in.

We talk for two hours, switching from cappuccino to espresso. For half an hour he discusses his special report. Ella Fitzgerald lures with her siren voice, but I listen and take notes as any professional secretary would. Then I hear him posing this question,

“Do you still live with your parents?”

I remain quiet for a while, then I tell him that I live alone. My parents are in another town. I’m an only child. He says he is too.

Then the dangerous ritual begins: a cliché about an unhappy marriage. That his wife is busy chasing her ambition and that no children bind the two.

I have to end all this. He’s looking for prey.

So am I. Anyone willing to sacrifice their soul?

“I have to go back,” I decide.

The night’s still young, but Irwan wants to take me home. I tell him he doesn’t need to, but he insists.

Okay, ‘till outside the fence.

The man knows you live alone.
You and I are lonely creatures. I am the eater and the sucker of life, dying because red is almost finished, terminated, consummated, a full stop.


He asks me if he could use the toilet. So I let him in.

Welcome, welcome inside the fence, you thieves. Let’s jump, don’t sneak. Look what you can taste in the fruit garden. I’ll follow you because I am too, a thief, the thief of life and death, and I will make you

A specter.

Then he sits on my conventional rattan chair, drinking a glass of water. He unbuttons his collar and loosens his tie – the extremely wrong tie.

See the man’s neck. Do you like vanilla ice cream? Nibble its iciness with your tongue and it will melt in your mouth.
I hear him calling my name. He seems to murmur, but I can catch his last words,

“We all know what’s going on.”

I shiver. Suddenly I realize my biggest fear has come true. I’ve imagined it before, but since I am very professional I know I have to push him back, ask him to leave my house when necessary.

But I feel his body closer to mine. I can smell his perfume fused with cigarette aroma on his neatly trimmed hair. I feel like ---

Being sucked up?
On top of the ice cream is a round shiny cherry. Tempting fruit, attracting danger. Will I ever fall? But I want it so bad. I am the eater and the sucker of life.
His neck is so beautiful. And I hunger
For Blood.


6:30 in the morning. The phone rings.

“Hello, Saras?” a woman’s voice. “Don’t forget to remind your boss about the 11 o’clock meeting with the client. We need to have the presentation materials ready. He asked you to prepare them, didn’t he?”

“He’s not going for work today.”

Read her backwards and you will find me.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Teror itu Bernama Perempuan
Oleh Donny Gahral Adian*

Apa yang tak terjelaskan selalu menciptakan teror. Teror datang saat kita memandang ke sumur tanpa dasar. Atau ke sudut gelap sebuah rumah tua. Teror adalah anak kecil yang takut melongok ke kolong tempat tidurnya karena tak tahu apa yang mengeram di sana. Tuhan adalah teror. Alam adalah teror. Kejahatan adalah teror. Penderitaan adalah teror. Namun yang pasti, perempuan sendiri adalah yang tak terjelaskan hingga menebar magisme teror luar biasa. Sosoknya senantiasa berselimut tanda tanya. Siapakah dia yang konon membuat kita semua terdampar di jagad tak berbunyi ini?

Adalah Intan Paramaditha, a dark and solitary writer from UI, yang mencoba menangkap yang tak terjelaskan dari perempuan. Cerpen-cerpennya berbicara tentang perempuan, misteri dan ketakutan. Ditopang cara bertutur yang meremangkan bulu kuduk, Intan melesakkan pesan feminisme dengan cara tak biasa, a gothic kind of feminism. Isu perempuan tidak diangkat secara gegap gempita melainkan lewat kesunyian gelap yang mencemaskan.

Kecemasan dan kegelapan. Cerpen “Pemintal kegelapan” berkisah tentang cerita hantu perempuan penghuni loteng yang gelap. Gelap selalu mengundang rasa ingin tahu. Dari situlah narasi beranjak perlahan mengupas latar si hantu perempuan yang memilukan. Kisah kemudian bergeser pada sosok ibu yang mengisahkan si pemintal kegelapan. Ibu yang sendirian membesarkan anak setelah bercerai dari suaminya. Ya. Membesarkan anak di tengah gunjingan tetangga soal ia dan pacar-pacarnya. Itu yang mereka tahu. Namun di balik itu tersembunyi ruang gelap. Sesuatu yang maha pribadi yang diungkap di akhir kisah.

Si Ibu yang bertutur soal hantu perempuan sesungguhnya adalah sumber kegelapan itu sendiri. Ia adalah yang “rambutnya terurai, wajahnya penuh guratan pedih, matanya nyalang seperti bola api yang menari-nari melumatkan siapapun yang menatap. Hantu perempuan yang memendam cinta, rindu, sakit, nafsu, amarah—memintal gairah pekat tanpa henti, tanpa selesai” (hal. 18)

Cerpen “vampir” juga masih berkisah soal perempuan dan gelap. Sosok vampir dan aku silih berganti mengisi ruang narasi. Kadang malah sulit dipisahkan satu sama lain. Tidak heran. Vampir itu sesungguhnya adalah ruang gelap di sisi kesadaran si aku. Saat aku menimbang-nimbang untuk mengiyakan ajakan si bos minum kopi, si vampir menggeram, “Ah! Ah! Aku saudara yang berbagi hangat denganmu di tempat merah sempit itu. Aku tahu di sekolah menengah kau membaca buku porno murahan tentang sekretaris yang masuk ruangan bosnya tanpa celana dalam. Kau perempuan murah rekah merah. Ayo marah! Tidakkah kau impikan semua kebinatangan di balik rokmu yang beradab? (hal 23)
Ruang gelap kesadaran si aku mendesak segala keadaban untuk dibongkar. Perempuan yang menginginkan seks dengan bosnya bukan pelacur yang layak dilaknati. Itu wajar saja selaku manusia yang dikaruniai hasrat bercinta. Dosa spiritual atau sosial itu urusan lain. Tidak bisakah perempuan merayakan hasratnya tanpa perlu menengok segala rambu sosial buatan tangan laki-laki? Siapa yang sesungguhnya tertaklukkan pun masih bisa dipersoalkan. Si vampir dengan agresif kembali menggertak, “lihatlah leher laki-laki itu. Sukakah kau pada es krim vanilla? Kecap kebekuannya dengan lidahmu dan ia akan lumer dalam mulutmu” (hal. 25). Si aku sempat ragu. Namun, sebait narasi membuat orgasme yang tertunda itu tuntas sudah: “di pucuk es krim ada ceri buah mengilat. Buah menggoda, menantang bahaya. Akankah aku jatuh? Tapi aku begitu menginginkannya. Aku si penghisap penyedot kehidupan. Lehernya begitu indah. Dan aku begitu haus. Darah” (hal. 26)

Dua cerpen lain yang menarik perhatian saya adalah “mobil jenasah” dan “pintu merah” Cerpen “mobil jenasah” mengingatkan saya pada film The Other yang dibintangi Nicole Kidman. Sosok Karin yang menjadi sentral cerita dikisahkan sesungguhnya sudah mati. Kisah kematian itu ia dengar dari percakapan Tasha, anak perempuannya, dengan sang pacar. Apa yang selama ini dipandangnya sebagai nyata ternyata ilusi. Ia sudah tidak hidup bersama orang-orang bernyawa lagi. Seperti juga hidup fananya yang tak ubahnya seperti kematian. Bram, sang suami, menantu ideal di mata orang tuanya, ternyata mendua. Dan Karin pun siap memainkan peran apa pun di atas panggung hidupnya yang hambar.

Kematian eksistensi. Paling tidak itu yang dialami Karin sebelum kematian sesungguhnya. Seperti juga yang dialami jutaan perempuan lainnya. Mereka yang memaksakan kenyataan pada hidup yang sesungguhnya kolam ilusi. Itulah kutukan patriarki. Ia menyihir perempuan untuk bersikap layaknya istri, menantu, staf, ibu yang baik di saat segala kepura-puraan mengepung hidup dari tujuh penjuru mata angin. Kepungan yang membuat yang ilusi itupun dibatinkan dan menjadi jati diri. Karin pun berujar, “Aku perempuan berstrategi. Sebutkan saja tokoh apa yang harus kuperankan, dan aku akan membuat diriku percaya sepenuhnya bahwa aku memang dia. Acting is Believing, demikian tertera pada sampul depan sebuah buku.” (hal. 43)

Perempuan, kedalaman dan ketakutan. Tema itu kembali muncul dalam cerpen “Pintu Merah”. Adalah sosok hantu perempuan penghuni sumur pun yang mengentayangi narasi Intan di cerpen itu. Hantu itu menunggui sebuah sumur di dekat pintu merah, pintu yang membawa Dahlia, sang tokoh utama, ke dunia lain. Hantu itu adalah pantulan diri Dahlia sendiri. Imajinasi gelap yang membawanya keluar dari dunia keseharian yang disarati tuntutan.

Di sini Intan kembali memperlihatkan kebolehannya, Imajinasinya bergerak liar menyeberang dunia kerumunan. Imajinasi yang bertengger di balik pintu merah adalah hidup yang sarat dengan bahaya, keliaran dan keanehan. Ada serigala, laki-laki dan perempuan cantik berdansa, dunia peri, mimpi dan kematian. Dan sumur itu adalah akhir dari petualangan dunia lain Dahlia. Dunia anggur merah, lautan darah dan asal mula hidup mati (hal. 59). Kedalaman. Ya itulah perempuan. Intan mengingatkan kita akan perempuan dengan mata sedalam sumur. Tak ada yang bisa mengukur kedalamannya, tak ada yang memahami apa yang tengah beriak-riak di sana.

Di tengah segala horor, teror dan sihir, soal kelamin pun menyeruak ke tengah. Tak ada yang mengerti soal kelamin selain si empunya. Perempuan khususnya. Dalam cerpen “Darah” Intan ingin menggugat pemahaman masyarakat soal menstruasi. Menstruasi adalah darah, dan itu kotor. Kelamin perempuan adalah kotor baik biologis maupun sosial. Ia adalah si penggoda birahi laki-laki. Sekaligus membuat jijik saat menstruasi hingga perlu dibalut sedemikian rupa. Darah, kelamin perempuan dan hantu. Intan pun menyelipkan suaranya secara sangat halus namun menohok. “Darah adalah ketakutan. Kegilaan. Perempuan yang sedang menstruasi bisa menebar teror. Tapi tak ada yang bisa menjadi waras jika tergantung pada obat-obatan penahan rasa sakit. Dan sebagian dari kami adalah pecandu akut.” (hal. 121)

Cerpen-cerpen Intan bergandengan tangan menggugat kebudayaan yang selalu mendamba terang. Gelap harus enyah. Perempuan adalah gelap yang mesti diletakkan di bawah terang lampu kebudayaan. Persoalannya, budaya patriarki bermatakan laki-laki. Sisi gelap perempuan takkan pernah berpindah ke sisi terang. Dari jati diri sampai kelamin. Semuanya erat digenggam patriarki. Lewat sastra, Intan mencoba meneror pembaca perlahan-lahan hingga sadar akan sisi tak terjamah dari perempuan. Ia tidak menggurui. Ia hanya membuka tabir yang selama ini dipandang dari kejauhan. Ketakutan mesti disembuhkan oleh ketakutan. Itulah cara Intan meloloskan feminisme ke publik pembacanya

Singkat cerita, Intan pun berbisik dari kedalaman hatinya: “Hai laki-laki cobalah pandang kami perempuan dari sudut yang berbeda, sudut kami sendiri. Dari situ kau akan menemukan semesta yang selama ini tertutupi tabir keakuanmu. Semesta yang membuatmu senantiasa cemas sehingga kau coba tutup-tutupi. Tapi inilah kami, suka atau tidak. Mari sambut jemari kami. Akan kami ajak kau menelusuri setiap jengkal tubuh kami yang belum kau jamah”


*paper untuk diskusi buku Reader's Digest di Aksara Bookstore, 5 Agustus 2005.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Jumat, 5 Agustus 2005, 19.00
Aksara Bookstore, Jl. Kemang Raya 8b, Jakarta 12730

Diskusi Klub Buku Reader's Digest Indonesia

Horor, Misteri dan Perempuan

Sihir Perempuan
Kumpulan Cerpen Intan Paramaditha

Pembicara: Donny Gahral Adian

tempat terbatas
30 penelepon pertama mendapat goodie bag menarik

Ghina: (021) 526 6666 ext. 4150
Setiap hari kerja, pukul 09.00 WIB - 16.00 WIB

(Tiket dapat diambil mulai tanggal 1 Agustus 2005 di Redaksi Reader's Digest, Gedung Femina Lt. 5, Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said, Kav. B32-33, Jakarta 12910)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

From "Vampir"

Aku hidup di gua-gua pekat malam, terselimuti kabut abu-abu, tak kenal pagi dan embun. Aku tak berani menantang cahaya karena aku tak seperti kalian semua. Aku terobsesi merah. Merah yang tergenang menganaksungai beraroma ikan segar.

Aku haus

Aku kupu-kupu hitam bersayap beludru, terbang ke dalam lorong-lorong dan terseret dengan pusaran malam. Ia tak tahu penderitaanku, eranganku, gairahku. Ia menutup semua jendela untuk mengusirku yang terseok kehausan.

From "Darah"

Aku tak mampu melihat apa yang ada di antara kaki-kaki itu. Merah. Biru. Cat air yang kental menggumpal, membaur tak terpisahkan. Darah beragam rupa, mirip teh pekat, sirup, stroberi, jeli. Ibu berteriak. Suaranya sepedih serigala kesepian.
Seorang anak kecil berdiri di pinggir pintu. Ia berseragam sekolah, berambut pendek, membawa ransel kecil di punggungnya.
(aku di sini bu di sini DI SINI)
Anak perempuan itu tengah berteriak dalam ruang hampa.
"Siapa kamu?" tanyaku bodoh.
Ah, tak perlu. Tak perlu.
Anak itu terpaku melihat darah di antara kedua kaki ibunya. Darah yang mengalir tanpa muara, terlalu kuat, terlampau hebat, membunuh Ibu. Apakah adiknya keluar dari kelopak mawar yang membuka itu?
Adiknya yang tak menangis. Adiknya yang tiada.
(beruntungnya dirimu, adikku beku, tak terpisahkan dengan ibu sementara aku menggelandang rumahku hilang)

From "Sang Ratu"

.... Tak terkira banyaknya jumlah korban yang terseret gelombang: mereka yang nekad berenang maupun yang hanya duduk-duduk dan bercanda dengan butir-butir pasir. Sebelum mati mungkin mereka mendengar nyanyian merdu merayu, menghasut. Siren. Kemudian, seperti berjalan dalam mimpi, mereka mengikuti panggilan air. Jasad mereka terkadang tak pernah ditemukan.

From "Pintu Merah"

Dari pintu merah itu dimulailah dunianya yang baru. Tak jauh dari sana berdiri sebuah sumur tua yang telah berlumut. Saat melongok ke dalamnya, ia seperti tersengat listrik setelah tidur panjang seabad. Air sumur itu bening dan tenang, namun tiba-tiba muncul bayangan seseorang di sana. Sesosok wajah. Bukan. Ia bergidik. Itu bukan wajah karena tidak ada apapun di sana kecuali kepala dan sepasang mata tanpa bola, bolong menuju kedalaman tergelap. Muka itu tidak bercacat karena hanya ada kosong--- dan dua lubang yang entah berakhir di mana.

From "Perempuan Buta Tanpa Ibu Jari"

Ibuku menyodori pisau, “Potong jari kakimu. Kelak jika kau jadi ratu, kau tak akan terlalu banyak berjalan. Jadi kau tak membutuhkannya.” Maka kuambil pisau itu dan kugigit bibirku saat aku berusaha memutuskan ibu jari kakiku. Kubuang bagian kecil tubuhku itu ke tempat sampah untuk menjadi santapan anjing. Kini kusadari, Nak, dunia ini memang penuh dengan sepatu kekecilan yang hanya menerima orang-orang termutilasi.

From "Pemintal Kegelapan"

Ia, rahasia terbesar loteng rumahku, adalah hantu perempuan berambut panjang terurai yang selalu duduk di depan alat pemintal. Wajahnya penuh guratan merah kecokelatan, seperti luka yang mengering setelah dicakar habis-habisan oleh macan. Bola matanya berwarna merah seperti kobaran api. Bila ia membuka mulutnya, kau akan melihat taring-taring yang panjang. Ia begitu khusyuk di depan pemintal itu karena ia tengah membuat selimut untuk kekasihnya. Ia telah jatuh cinta pada seorang laki-laki, manusia biasa yang suka berburu di tengah hutan.
Hantu itu mampu berubah wujud di siang hari, saat ia ingin berbaur dengan manusia. Ia bisa menjadi apa saja dari perempuan, laki-laki, anak kecil, sampai seorang tua renta. Tatkala melihat si pemburu, hantu perempuan itu mengubah wujudnya menjadi seorang gadis jelita. Lelaki itu terpesona. Mereka lantas bertemu di padang ilalang keemasan demi sekadar berbagi cerita. Lelaki itu tak tahu bahwa setiap kali si perempuan hadir, burung-burung beterbangan tak tentu arah; siput dan binatang-binatang kecil mulai gelisah. Dibandingkan manusia, indera binatang memang lebih terasah.

The Stories

Pemintal Kegelapan
Perempuan Buta Tanpa Ibu Jari
Mobil Jenazah
Pintu Merah
Mak Ipah dan Bunga-Bunga
Misteri Polaroid
Jeritan dalam Botol
Sejak Porselen Berpipi Merah itu Pecah
Sang Ratu


I didn’t write an acknowledgement in my book for some personal reasons, but God knows there were people who made this possible.

I would like to thank wonderful poet & publisher Sitok Srengenge and his kind, attentive wife. Thanks for waiting patiently for me to finish my short stories and for the interesting discussions over glasses of wine. Without Mas Sitok’s support (plus a hint of pressure…), I couldn’t have thought of publishing early.

People say don’t judge its book by its cover, but spending five years working in the media has changed my perspective. I’ve become a very visual person, and my great friends have made my gothic imagination come true. Thanks to Muhammad Taufiq (Emte), the chameleon artist, who has surprised me with his unconventional interpretation of ghosts... *Your artistic sense is so adorable but could you please stop showing disturbing pictures in Friendster?!?!! Thanks to Dissy Ekapramudita, for the dark picture of me on the back cover and for helping me with my research about polaroid. Also thanks to Hartadi who assisted the photo session.

Thanks to my two lifetime gurus: Melani Budianta and Manneke Budiman. They are the first people who introduced me to literary criticism and, even better, ‘drowned’ me to “the real world of literature” (quoting Mas Manneke).

Thanks to people who have allocated (hopefully not wasted) their time to read my book and willingly given their comments: my dearest Ibu Melani, inspiring author Linda Christanty, my ex teenage idol (ha ha…) Alex Komang, and the admirable critic Nirwan Dewanto. Thanks, Mas Nirwan, for your criticism (which can tear any hearts in two...) and for publishing my very first short story, “Sejak Porselen Berpipi Merah itu Pecah”.

I value some people’s suggestions and their willingness to be the early, encouraging readers. I therefore would like to thank “Mami” Widyawati Adisantoso for her pair of sharp designer’s eyes, Eka Kurniawan with his experiences as a prolific writer, Nukila Amal for some input about the book’s title and mainly for being an inspiration, and friends who accidentally heard my idea of publishing and had to bear the burden of listening to the “backstage” stories: Ully Damari Putri, Oriana Titisari, and S.M. Gietty.

Special thanks
to my bestfriend & alter ego for a decade, Nadya Sofyan, who collected all my works and claimed that she would be my first number one fan even when she read my puisi picisan years ago. She’s my long-distant patron, supplying me with great books (giving me the privilege to read anything not yet published/ sold in Indonesia), encouraging me to write despite occasional writer’s block, and watching the ups and downs of my life.
To my family--- but mostly to my mom, Etty Indra, my greatest inspiration, who has shaped me to be a feminist without even mentioning the word. Most of this book is about you.
To the writing goddesses I worship: Mary Shelley, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Joyce Carole Oates, Anne Sexton.
To the cryptic songs and poems of The Doors and Jim Morrison.
To the songs of Keane (especially “Bend and Break”), Radiohead (especially “Exit Music”), and Cake.
To uncountable cups of coffee and… other stimulants.
And finally, to my two most beloved people, Iqbal Abdillah and Ilana Priyanka Avanindra, who have taught me about love instead of hate and anger, who remind me that there’s more in this world than my constant struggle to bite off more than I can chew.

May 2005

Fast Facts

Book title : Sihir Perempuan
Author : Intan Paramaditha
Genre : Horror/mystery
No. of pages : 150
Publisher : KataKita (May 2005)
Editor : Eko Endarmoko
Cover designer: Muhammad Taufiq
Photographer : Dissy Ekapramudita
Layout designer: Cyprianus Napiun

How I Came Into Writing

During an interview in 2004, someone asked me this difficult question, “You’ve been a writer, lecturer, flautist, and actress. So which one are you?”

I pondered for a while. I’ve always wanted to seize all the parts, like Bottom the Weaver who wanted to play the lover, the lady, and the lion in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’ve even tried painting, believe me. I was my high school’s artist, making posters and working on the year book's design, and a few friends really thought I studied Graphic Design after we graduated. I didn’t pass the FSRD ITB entrance test, so I quit painting, rather broken-hearted. Similarly, after four years fighting with my father for always coming home at midnight after my theatre rehearsals, there was no sign that my acting could be extraordinary. So I gave up doing that one, too. Finally, I decided to give up playing music after 6 years of study, realizing that I didn’t make any significant progress people had been expecting since my classical duet performance in Graha Bhakti Budaya, 1996.

What I’m still doing now is teaching and writing. I love sharing ideas with my students, but the actual reason why I decided to teach at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia in 2001 was research. I had always been dreaming of publishing my research papers in academic journals and presenting them in conferences (duh... sad but true, I’m a nerd). So writing is the root (of all evil? Hmm... Forgive me, students. I love you but sometimes grading too many papers could rob my sanity).

I’ve always been doing it. Writing. I published my first short story in Bobo magazine when I was eleven years old. My mom was hysterical when she knew I chose to write detective stories (with irrelevant plots, of course) instead of studying for EBTA/EBTANAS. I always said to my elementary school friends that I wanted to be a writer (well, after considering some respectable professions like astronaut, chemist, and... fashion designer?). As I grew up, my writing took different forms too. In Junior High I wrote some sweetie-pie-teenage love stories (stealing some ideas from Lupus, I admit). In Senior High I was crazy about Chairil Anwar and his Byronic tendencies, so I wrote Indonesian poems. In the university, I started writing poems in English because I was brainwashed each day to read English literature. Since I didn’t read many Indonesian books at that time, I felt alienated by the language. Thank God, working at Female Magazine--- yes, the glossy capitalist icon; been there, done that --- has brought back my connection with Bahasa Indonesia after the four-year amnesia.

Now, either for money or for self-satisfaction (or both), I do write. I write articles for magazines, booklets, and coffee-table books. I write essays for journals, book launching/ discussions, and conferences. I write short stories for the newspapers. I write poems for myself. I write extremely long e-mails for my bestfriend, Nadya. I write testimonials on Friendster. What’s worse, I was assigned to teach at least five Academic Writing classes each semester!

Writing is my first love, and it has stood through the test of time.

So here’s my answer. Among the many things I do and the various roles I (have tried to) play, I consider myself a writer.

May, 2005