Despair? Tiredness? Anxiety? Loneliness?
Everything together, I would say. But there was probably also some compassion. Because this look was turned towards me...
When we met, I was lost since the previous day in the forest and I had to sleep alone in the jungle. I had found a "rumah kebun", a very basic hut made of some sticks and covered with palm leaves, used by forest workers and peasants. I had no more food, no water, and not so much energy any more. As to perfect this brilliant situation, my period had just started in the early morning, so, added to the tiredness, there was the pain.
I had spent a bad night, not in the fear of an eventual insomniac babiroussa ( a kind of wild pig, with two long and curved teeths, found in tropical forests in Indonesia and Papua. Its name is composed with two words: "babi", what means "pig" and "rusa", what means "hart") but disturbed by the really festive and hungry mosquitoes.
It was not so bad, in fact. Would it have been easy to find my way back or further?! ; it would have been with a great pleasure that I would have extend my stay in this simple accomodation. I had stopped with the decline of the light and counted on the awakenning to help me to find my path again. But damned, there was no clear way in the vegetation... I have tried several different paths, came back to the hut, and so on, till I could admit that I was lost. I knew there was a village nearby. In the last village, they had told me it would be two hours of walk only. The twilight surprised me before I could reach the destination but it should not be that far now! But no visible way! I finally decided to follow my intuition, and walked around, without following any path, seeking for a similar rumah kebun, in the hope there would be someone inside. That's where I found this woman. In fact,they were three.
I saw only two of them at the beginning. I had to be very careful to approach them. I was conscious it could be a strong surprise or even provoke fear, specially in an area where superstitions and animist beliefs are so much widespread. I could be considered as unreal, as a ghost, as a malicious spirit. A woman of white skin, walking alone, and appearing suddenly in the middle of the rainforest, would be likely consired with, at least, suspicion. As I had guessed, it took me some time to convince them that I was true, and not a demonic outbreak. Just a human, a woman exausted and thirsty, and pretty lost.
We discussed in bahasa indonesia. One of the two women explained to me that the village I wanted to go to, was impossible to reach by walk from here. At flying distance, it would have been nothing, but on the ground, it was impracticable. They were too old to walk, so they couldn't accompanied me through the jungle till this village, could not even show me the way. The woman that I supposed to be the eldest (who's on this picture) was walking very slowly and carefully, and so much tilted than I wondered how they could manage to live here?! They had almost nothing and they were too weak to work a lot at a garden. So, came to my mind the glaucous thinking that they had come here just to die!!!
So, if my thinking was true, this could be something more in her eyes: the heavy insurance of an impending death.
When they understood where I intended to go, they did their best to dissuade me to go further. The other woman, who was sitting next to me, began to cry, and took my arm in her hands. A this moment, I began to think that it was probably much more difficult that I had imagined and expected. That it was maybe worse than difficult: critical. The other woman told me there was a way on the back of the hut, which I could follow until Mataraben. Matarab...! But it was very far from my destination! She insisted on that point: there was no other solution. As I heard it, it sounded like my last option.
A third woman appeared, with a blind eye... First, I had been so happy to meet someone in the jungle after hours of walk completely lonely, but this meeting was a bit depressing.Before I left, the other woman cried again, kept long my hand in hers, and finally approached her face from mine, until our foreheads could be in contact. A kind of goodbye-good luck...! A second, I have thought I maybe should better try to stay here and survive with them. But I didn't want to consider that as an option and decided to try my luck!...
"Kesasar di hutan rimba" means: "lost in the jungle"...
Critiques | Translate
Miks (1717) 2007-02-12 20:42
Thanks for the story. Glad that you made it out eventually. The story also explains the worried expression on her face. The portrait has a lot of qualities. I like how the brown tones of her skin are echoed by the hut roof - only separated by her white hair.
There are also a couple of problems. The main one being lack of sharpness. A minor distraction - at least to my eye - is the the outdoor light which 'cuts accross' her face. But those are technicalities. The pic conveys the tense atmosphere, which you describe, very well and that is what is important.