Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » General

Istri Sejati

by Sujana

"You ought to leave with me, you know."

The carver said nothing as his daughter rose from their front porch, luggage in one hand and contract in another. "The foreigners know what you're worth. They don't choose exports over art. This place—" she paused. "This country doesn't deserve you."

His hands fiddled with his knife, chipping at the slab of birch wood on his lap. He stared out from his porch, counting the stumps on his front yard. Decades ago, he was Adam, hiding his pleasures and sins in Eden. There were artists like him, crowding the forests, playing their songs and writing love onto barks. It was heresy. It was beautiful.

The sun blared into his eyes now, weighing his sins on his brow.

"I won't leave your mother," he whispered.

She stared at him. "Papa," she pleaded, "Mama is dead."

He stopped carving, realizing that he'd made a skull on the slab. He quivered to his child, smiling. “Of course she isn't,” he raised the knife in his hand, pointing at the last jati tree standing right by their shambled home. There was a woman's name carved at its base, birth, and death written in shaky dates. “She’s right there.”

His daughter left him a week later.

Without her help, he spent his days carving bedframes and tables from midgrade wood, working day and night to finish what few commissions he had. On the rare occasion when a star or two flickered at dusk, he'd go out to the front porch, carving by his jati wife. Sometimes, he'd joke about how he hasn't eaten anything in days. Most of the time, he'd water her roots with his tears, waiting for the Sun to rise.

Loggers came by occasionally, eyeing his jati wife with lustful eyes and filthy hands. "We could make you rich," they told him, brandishing their axes, "You know how rare jati is in these parts. It's good money. And we know you could use it.”

He nodded, though his smile was thin. He knew it was true. He'd watched his forest dwindle into stumps and his contemporaries leave their homes, fleeing to greener pastures across the sea. There was no beauty left in Indonesia, and there was scarce anything left for him. Greed took his land, foreigners took his daughter, time took his youth and God took his wife. All he had left was his jati and his hunger.

The next day, he woke at the crack of dawn, grabbing his axe and marching to his wife. He kissed her as she did in their youth, pretending she was still there to kiss him back. “Please understand,” he whispered to her, forehead scratched against her bark.

Then, he began to chop.

Author's Notes: Jati is Indonesian for teak wood, native to South East Asia and ludicrously expensive.

Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.

Is this a review?



User avatar
155 Reviews

Points: 11208
Reviews: 155

Sun May 05, 2019 3:33 am
View Likes
Toboldlygo wrote a review...

Hey there! Toboldlygo here for a review! I'm going to warn you that I'm on my phone, so there will probably be a ton of spelling/grammar/typing mistakes.

First of all, this is such a brilliant piece! It starts out sad and then gets even sadder. I thought the beginning, with the girl pleading with uer father to accept that his wife, her mother, had passed on to be at peace, that it was sad, but then it got even more so! It reminded me of my grandfather, who didn't allow anything about his house to be changed for over 15 years after his wife went home to the Lord (he only allowed it eventually because age forced him to move). He spent all that time convincing himself she would come at any minute and had to leave everything as she left it. This gentleman you write of sounds so similar to my grandfather. He can't allow himself to be convinced his wife is gone until the slow progression of time forces him to accept that she's gone. The final verse, where he takes the axe outside, makes me think so much of that happening to him. Even though it's vague, it still really conveys what's happening in his mind.

One thing I'm curious about is if he's already a well-known artist at the beginning? The daughter implies that the rest of the world already knows his work. Is he famous but lives in solitude? I would like to know that.

It is also a bit vague regarding if he goes to be with his daughter or not. It ends with him cutting down the tree, which is lovely, but what does he do after that? I wonder if he goes to love with hos daughter or if he simply moves on? Does he pass on?

Overall, this is such a great piece! You should be very proud of it!

Hapoy Writing!


User avatar
93 Reviews

Points: 1136
Reviews: 93

Sun May 05, 2019 3:12 am
View Likes
Tawsif wrote a review...

Amazing! Simply amazing!

Emotions apart, let's get to the review.

First, I failed to understand some of the lines in the story. Please let me know what you meant in the following lines:

They don't choose exports over art.

It was heresy.

The sun blared into his eyes now, weighing his sins on his brow.

I don't have any problems with these lines, I just didn't get the meaning. That's all.

Most of the time, he'd water her roots with his tears, waiting for the Sun to rise.

This was a brilliant line. Your readers will definitely be emotional while going through this part. Well done!

Greed took his land, foreigners took his daughter, time took his youth and God took his wife.

Another great work. You really have a good hand in portraying emotions through your sentences.

The story ended just the way it needed to. You left a great impression in my mind because of the ending. I always believe a story should leave the readers thinking when it ends. And you did that quite nicely.

Perhaps you could bring a bit more clarity here. Like, in the part 'Decades ago, he was Adam, hiding his pleasures and sins in Eden', you probably wanted to mean that the MC didn't wanted to sell his art only to gain cheap fame, but rather keep working secretly. But the message wasn't clear. Maybe you can think about this point.

Overall, a fantastic piece. I enjoyed reading it a lot.

Keep writing.

I don't care what the miserable excuse is for showing the death of books, live, on screen. Men, I could understand; but books! -
— Edwin Morgan, From the Video Box 2