Sunday, September 30, 2007

'hantu' dipandang dari founding-father

Ternyata, salah satu dari bapak bangsa (founding father) pernah membahas mengenai hantu di mana salah satunya adalah kuntilanak (pontianak) yang sudah beberapa kali difilmkan bahkan sampai mengalami retcon (penceritaan ulang).

Tulisan ini adalah curhatnya kepada sang istri saat ia sedang dalam masa pembuangan di Banda Neira yang dikumpulkan dalam buku berjudul Indonesische Overpeinzingen -- sangat kurekomendasikan buat mereka yang ingin tahu jalan pikiran orang-orang Indonesia menjelang penjajahan Jepang. Buku asli berbahasa Belanda (maklum, sang istri adalah orang Belanda bernama Marie Duchateau) dan pernah diterbitkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia dan Bahasa Inggris. Aku sempat ragu-ragu apakah mengutip terjemahan Inggris (Charles Wolf Jr.) atau terjemahan Indonesia (H.B Jassin) atau bahkan menerjemahkan sendiri (tetapi aku terlalu malas untuk itu).

Pada akhirnya aku memutuskan mengutip terjemahan Inggris mengingat bahasa Indonesia Almarhum Jassin agak berbunga-bunga, menggunakan kata-kata yang generasi muda sekarang mungkin tak tahu artinya. Selain itu, Wolf Jr. juga mengawetkan kata 'tjoelik' -- sementara HB Jassin atau mungkin juga penerbit Dian Rakyat tahun 1990 mengadaptasikan ke bentuk EYD culik -- sehingga membuat nuansa lebih mistis dan eksotis.

Anggap aja membaca Bram Stoker's Dracula hi hi hi hi.. tapi yang ini dari Indonesia.

Inilah kisahnya:

MARCH 17, 1937
Here in Neira we are at present living in the time of the tjoelik. A tjoelik is someone-according to the custom-who hunts heads for the government. And why does the government need these heads? Simply as an offering and a spirit for a bridge that is going to be built, since each new bridge will need a head to be placed on top of a special pillar. Without such a head the bridge cannot be built, or it will be so weak that it will soon crumble.

As calm and tranquil as the people here usually are, they are nervous and fearful now. After seven o'clock in the evenng almost no one ventures out in the streets, and all the houses are tightly locked. Behind the doors and windows the people sit with anxious faces, shuddering every time they hear a noise.

Although I heard of tjoeliks when I was a boy, I have never encountered anything like this before. I always thought it was a device used by maids and servants to frighten the children and make them obey more readily.

The source of the present situation lies in the fact that the government is now rebuilding the jetty. There have, naturally, been a few accidents connected with the work and as a result the local people have been living in fear of the tjoeliks for over a week. In fact, all of Neira is suffering from the tjoelik fear at present. At first I didn't pay any attention to it, and the houseboy laughed a little when he told me about it. Gradually, however, I realized that people were talking and whispering about it everywhere, including people of all sects and beliefs, and those of whom you would never have expected such superstition.

Nervously and fearfully they gather each morning, with new gossip about where the tjoelik was seen the previous night, or where he was heard. If two women meet each other on the street in the morning, invariably the talk turns immediately to the tjoelik. In fact a few days ago our houseboy came to my room to tell me about the happenings of the night before. It seems that they chased the tjoelik until late in the night, but of course they couldn't catch him. Certainly, if they had, the whole world would now know about it! On the other hand, tjoelik is never able to catch up with any heads, so he too must be disappointed!

At first I tried to talk them out of all this nonsense. They listened, laughed a bit, but still remained frightened and convinced of the existence of the tjoelik. The whole thing is unbelievable: calm "loyal" Christians, who support the House of Orange and who are glad to follow Dutch leadership, are now fully convinced that the same government for which they have so much respect and loyalty hires people to waylay them. One fellow told me in dead earnest that at night criminals who have been imprisoned bythe Dutch are let loose on the inhabitants of Neira, and that under cover of Dutch police guards, these prisoners, together with head-hunters of Borneo who are brought here at night from a certain island, Poelau Manoek, do the tjoeliking!

I even said to a few of them that they could be sent to prison for five years if the government found out that they were spreading such gossip. They replied simply that they knew it, but they went on with their gossip anyhow. There was one old woman who pleaded with me never to go out in the street after seven o'clock. I asked her how old she was, and when she said she was over sixty, I asked her if, during her whole life, she had ever heard of or known a case where a tjoelik had actually been able to get a head. At first she looked at me with great surprise, and then admitted that she had not. I told her that the tjoelik must certainly be stupid if that is the case, and that he therefore was one to be afraid of. She nodded shyly in reply, but she remained frightened.

For that matter, the whole thing is a good example of mass psychosis and reasoning can actually do nothing about it. I then asked her why the tjoelik let me alone, and the others who dared to be on the street after seven o'clock. She answered that they would naturally not attacke me, and they let the other rich people alone because they paid such high taxes! There are certainly people who have been sent to Digoel for very much less than this, and here is this gossip among these good "loyal" Christian natives, whose ideal is to become soldiers in the Dutch army!

The whole thing was really new to me and I am trying now to find out more about it. I no longer argue with them, but simply listen to them in order to find out just exactly how they conceive of it. Every morning there are new stories, generally about footsteps or voices, or a house that was bombarded with stones, or an attack on somebody by a tjoelik with a noose, or a cowboy lasso. Naturally, the person who was attacked got away from the tjoelik in the nick of time!

In the mornings if I go walking through the kampong, there is always commotion there. The people stand or crouch in little groups on the side or in the middle of the path, speaking and acting nervously and in a away that is not at all like their normal habit.

It seems that there is a "tjoelik time" every year, and this is probably a phenomenon for the psychoethnologist, or perhaps for the psychiatrist. It is impossible to say who starts it, but the fact is that everyone contributes, and each one gossips with the deepest convinction about the activities of the tjoelik. It all remains more or less innocent gossip, since the tjoelik has never been able to catch up with anybody. This is really a remarkable characteristic of our people. They are not afraid of sharks, and they are certainly profound fatalists in almost all matters. Yet they ar so frightened by a phantom such as tjoelik that they completely lose their balance. It is easy to see here again that individuals who have a fear psychosis are simply not susceptible to reasoning. I think, in fact, that the passions and emotions of man can never be completely eliminated by the maind. On the conrtary, the mind can govern only in so far as these emotions permit it to, and whenever the emotions themselves become fully active, the mind is shut out or is subservient to them.

MARCH 20, 1937
I usually keep Satuday evening free to read a novel or some magazines. At present I have Stiefmoeder Aarde ["Stepmother Earth"] by Theun de Vries. And sometimes I read something of Nietzsche or Goethe, whose collected works I now have here.

Things have been quiet during the last few days, and we are hardly disturbed by any visitors, since everyone is afraid of the tjoelik. This morning I even heard that a certain Mrs P. a full blooded Swiss, is living in mortal fear of the tjoelik! I also heard that the doctor is now suspected of being a tjoelik, because he was seen one afternoon with two agents of the police in the woods. The thing is thus becoming still more aggravated.

It is on such elements in the human make-up that the success of the Hitlers and the Musserts depend, to a large extent, and not only their success, but the wild enthusiasm for the House of Orange in Holland, and for the marriage celebrations of Juliana as well. It is literally a sort of spiritual infection, which the average man simply cannot resist.

Besides the tjoeliks, they have ghosts on Banda. We, for example, are living in a "haunted house" and the respect in which we are held is augmented not inconsiderably by this fact. Moreover, women who die in childbirth-and particularly Christian women-are believed to come out of their graves and wander around the islands in the forms of evil spirits, or pontianaks. There is no legend of their having harmed anyone, but the people are nonetheless deathly afraid of them. And it is really a form of death fear, a fear of the living and arisen death. It is a primitive fear, but it is nevertheless there.

I think that one might be able to define and measure a people's civilization and development according to the refinement of their death fear. We, too, have that same instinctive fear, although we express it in more "refined" ways. One has only to consider Mrs. P. in order to realize that ours is, in kind , the same basic death fear as that of the primitive, and that there is even possible a spiritual meeting of minds between a Swiss and a Kaja-Kaja.

The worry and fear of these people throughout the night is absoultely undescribable. The tjoeliks and the pontianks still rule in this beautiful paradise, which European find so peaceful and happy. The materialistic West knows nothing of all this. In Europe there exists only the dread of material failure, of class struggle, and of spiritual and intellectual confusion-all signs of the rule of Mammon.

The presence here in the people's belief of these ghosts and tjoeliks - which indeed should be more at home in hell! - is the best indication that we are not in paradise, but in the world - the world that is simultaneously a paradise and a hell!

Pontianak: Istilah Kuntilanak pada bahasa Melayu.
Mammon: Berhala, dewa kekayaan
Kaja-Kaja (Kaya-kaya): Disebut juga Tugeri atau Marind-Anim, salah satu suku di Papua.