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Authors: Leila S. Chudori

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LEILA S. CHUDORI
spent six years researching this groundbreaking novel, interviewing exiles and their families in Paris and Jakarta, basing her characters on these real individuals, trapped in the tides of history. The novel's central character, Dimas Suryo, abroad in 1965 and unable to return to Indonesia after Suharto's rise to power, winds up in Paris, where he helps found a restaurant, based on the real Restaurant Indonesia, a place to join and celebrate their longed-for home culture through food, dance, and song, while suffering a lifetime of homelessness away from Indonesia. In another narrative strand of the novel, Lintang Utara, Suryo's daughter with a Frenchwoman, arrives in Jakarta in 1998 for her thesis in film studies just as the student protests that bring down Suharto get underway. Father and daughter each become central characters in the history of Indonesia's tragic 20th century, marking the rise and fall of a brutal dictatorship.

Deep Vellum Publishing

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Deep Vellum Publishing is a 501c3

nonprofit literary arts organization founded in 2013.

First published in Indonesian in 2012 under the title
Pulang
by Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia (KPG) of Jakarta.

Indonesian language copyright © 2012 Leila S. Chudori

English language copyright © 2015 John H. McGlynn.

First North American edition, 2015.

First English-language edition published in 2015 as part of the Modern Library of Indonesia by the Lontar Foundation, founded in 1987 to promote Indonesian literature and culture through the translation of Indonesian literary works.

The Lontar Foundation ·
www.lontar.org

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-941920-11-4 (ebook)

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CONTROL NUMBER: 2015946454

Publication of this book was made possible, in part, with the generous assistance of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia

Cover design & typesetting by Anna Zylicz ·
annazylicz.com

Text set in Bembo, a typeface modeled on typefaces cut by Francesco Griffo for Aldo Manuzio's printing of
De Aetna
in 1495 in Venice.

Distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution.

Contents

PROLOGUE:

      
ON JALAN SABANG, JAKARTA, APRIL
1968

I
     
DIMAS SURYO

      
PARIS, MAY
1968

      
HANANTO PRAWIRO

      
SURTI ANANDARI

      
TERRE D'ASILE

      
THE FOUR PILLARS

II
    
LINTANG UTARA

      
PARIS, APRIL
1998

      
NARAYANA LAFEBVRE

      
L'IRRÉPARABLE

      
EKALAYA

      
VIVIENNE DEVERAUX

      
BLOOD-FILLED LETTERS

      
FLÂNEURS

III
  
SEGARA ALAM

      
A DIORAMA

      
BIMO NUGROHO

      
THE AJI SURYO FAMILY

      
FADED PICTURES

      
MAY
1998

EPILOGUE

JAKARTA, JUNE
10, 1998

END NOTES

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

To my parents, Willy and Mohammad Chudori, and my daughter, Rain Chudori-Soerjoatmodjo

PROLOGUE

ON JALAN SABANG, JAKARTA, APRIL
1968

NIGHT HAD FALLEN, WITHOUT COMPLAINT, WITHOUT PRETEXT
. Like a black net enclosing the city, ink from a monster squid spreading across Jakarta's entire landscape—the color of my uncertain future.

Inside the darkroom, I know not the sun, the moon, or even my wristwatch. But the darkness that envelopes this room is imbrued with the scent of chemicals and anxiety.

Three years ago, the Nusantara News Agency where I worked was cleansed of lice and germs like myself. The army was the disinfectant and we, the lice and the germs, were eradicated from the face of the earth, with no trace left. Yet, somehow, this particular louse had survived and was now eking out a living at Tjahaja Photo Studio on the corner of Jalan Sabang in central Jakarta.

I switched on the red light to inspect the strips of negatives hanging on the drying-line overhead. It must have been around 6 p.m. because I could hear the muzzled sound of the muezzin drifting in to the darkroom through the grate in the door, summoning the faithful for evening prayer. I imagined the scene on Jalan Sabang outside: the quarrelsome cackling of motorized pedicabs; the huffing and puffing of slow-moving opelets searching for passengers; the creaking of human-driven pedicabs in need of an oil job; the cring-cring sound of hand bells on bicycles as their riders wove
their way through the busy intersection; and the cries of the bread seller on his three-wheel contraption with its large box and clear glass windows. I could even see the early evening wind bearing the smoke and smell rising from skewers of goat satay being grilled on the brazier at Pak Heri's itinerant but immensely popular food stall located smack dab at the intersection of Sabang and Asem Lama. I could see him using his well-worn pestle to grind fried peanuts and thinly sliced shallots on an oversized mortar, then drizzling sweet soy sauce over the mix. And then I imagined my good friend, Dimas Suryo, studiously observing Pak Heri and discussing with him his choice of peanuts with the same kind of intensity that he might employ when dissecting a poem by Rivai Apin.

Almost every evening, like clockwork, all other sounds from the outside were drowned out by the long shrill whistle from the steamer on Soehardi's food cart as our regular vendor of steamed
putu—
a favorite treat of mine, those steamed rice-flour balls with their grated coconut on the outside and melted cane sugar inside—pulled up outside the photo studio. But other than the smell of Pak Heri's goat satay, that sound was about the only thing—that shrieking sound—that was able to make its way into the darkroom. The deadly darkness of the developing room seemed to smother almost every sound. But the screak of the
putu
steamer and the smell of the cakes always served as a rap on the doors and windows of the photo studio. It was a sign the time had come for me to leave this room that knew no such a thing as time.

Today, I don't know why, I felt reluctant to go outside. Maybe because I could picture the world outside the room and how depressing it seemed to me: neon lights casting their harsh glow on the studio's white tiled floor and glass display cases; Suhardjo and Liang tending to customers who were there waiting to pick
up prints from rolls of film they had left at the store a week before or to have their pictures taken for the formal photographs they now needed for identification purposes. For the past two years, income from the latter had been the largest source of revenue for the studio. Every day, at least ten to fifteen people came to have passport-size photographs taken to attach to government-issued letters of certification that they were not a communist, had never participated in any activity sponsored by the Indonesian Communist Party, and had not been involved in the so-called attempt to overthrow the Indonesian government now known as Gestapu, the September 30 Movement.

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