Tag: The Story of Saidjah
The Story of Saidjah – Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli) (1820—1887)
Dekker was for many years an Assistant Resident official of the Dutch government in Java. Out of his bitter experiences he wrote his famous novel Max Havelaar, which exposes the cruelty and corruption of the Dutch in regard to the native population of Java. Dekker was also a dramatist, though his fame rests chiefly on his novel.
The Story of Saidjah is a complete entity, introduced into Max Havelaar as an example of the sufferings undergone by the native Javanese under Dutch rule.
The present version is based upon the translation of Max Havelaar by Alphonse Nahuys, Edinburgh, 1868. It was made by the editors, who have omitted a number of long verse passages and here and there condensed a long and verbose passage.
The Story of Saidjah
(From Max Havelaar)
Caidjah’s father had a buffalo, which he used for plowing his O field. When this buffalo was taken away from him by the district chief at Parang-Koodjang he was very dejected, and spoke no Word for many a day. For plowing time was come, and he feared that if the rice- field was not worked in time, the opportunity to sow would be lost, and lastly, that there would be no paddy to cut, and none to keep in the store-room of the house.
I have here to tell readers who know Java, but not Bantam, that in that Residency there is personal landed prop-erty, which is not the case elsewhere. Saidjah’s father, then, was very uneasy. He feared that his wife would have no rice, nor Saidjah himself, who was Still a child, nor his little brothers and sisters.
And the district chief, too, would denounce him to the Assistant Resident if he was behindhand in the payment of his taxes, for this is punished by the law. Saidjah’s father then took a poniard, which he had inherited from his father. It was not very handsome, but there were silver bands round the sheath, and at the end a silver plate. He sold it to a Chinaman in the capital, and came home with twenty-four guilders, with which he bought another buffalo.
An old woman led him to her cottage. She would take care of the piteous fool. His laugh gradually became less horrible, but he still spoke no word. During the night the inmates of the hut were frightened by the sound of his voice. He sang out monotonously: “I don`t know where I shall die!”
Some of the natives collected a little money in order to offer a sacrifice to the crocodile of the Tji-Udjiung, in order to cure Saidjah, whom they thought insane. But he was not insane, for on a certain night when the moon was extraordinarily clear, he rose from his couch and quietly left the hut, and sought out the place where Adinda`s house had stood. It was not easy to find it, for many houses had fallen down. But he recognized the spot by looking at the rays of moonlight that filtered down through the trees, as sailors measure their positions by lighthouses and mountain-tops.
That was the spot. There had Adinda lived!
Stumbling over half-decayed bamboos a
He would wait. …
But what if she were ill—dead?
Like a wounded stag he flew along the pathway toward the village. He saw nothing and heard nothing. Normally he would have heard, fiir there were men standing in the road at the entrance to the village, Who cried out, “Saidjah, Saidjah!”
Was it his eagerness, or what, that prevented his finding Adinda`s house? He had already run to the end of the village, and as if mad, he turned back, beating his head in despair to think that he had passed her house. But he soon found himself back at the entrance of the village, and—was it a dream! Again he had missed the house. Once more he flew back and suddenly stood still, and took his head in both hands to press out the madness that stunned him.
“Drunk, drunk!” he exclaimed. “I am drunk!”
The women of Badoer came out of their houses and saw with sorrow poor Saidjah standing there, for they knew that he had been looking for
Saidjah had never learned to pray, and it would have been a pity to teach him: a more devout prayer and a more fervent expression of gratitude than his would have been impossible. He would not to go Badoer: actually to see her again was not so wonderful as to await her coming. He sat down at the foot of the Ketapan, and his eyes wandered over the landscape. Nature smiled at him, and seemed to welcome him like a mother.
Saidjah was overjoyed at seeing again so many spots that reminded him of his earlier life. Though his eyes and thoughts wandered, his longing always reverted to the path which leads from Badoer to the Ketapan tree. His senses were wholly alive to Adinda.
He saw the abyss to the left, where the earth was yellow, the spot where once a young buffalo had sunk down to the depths: they had all descended there with strong rattan cords, and Adinda`s father had been the bravest of the rescue party.
More fragile than Adinda
Who would now be living in her father`s house? Then he thought of his childhood, and his mother, and how the buffalo had saved him from the tiger, of what would have become of Adinda if the buffalo had not been so faithful. He watched the sinking of the stars, and as each disappeared, he calculated how much nearer he was to Adinda. For she would certainly come at the first beam—at daybreak she would be there. Why had she not come the day before?
He was hurt that she had not anticipated the supreme moment that had lighted his soul for three years with indescribable brightness; unjust as he was in his selfishness, it seemed to him that Adinda ought to have been waiting for him. He complained unjustly, for the sun had not yet risen. But the stars were growing pale, and strange colors floated over the mountain tops, which appeared darker as they contrasted sharply with places elsewhere illuminated.
Here and there something glowed in the east—arrows of gold and
No, he had sublime visions in his mind`s eye. He looked for the Ketapan tree in the clouds when he was still far from Badoer. He caught at the air as if to embrace the form that was to meet him under the tree.
He pictured to himself the face of Adinda, her head, her shoulders, saw the heavy chignon, black and glossy, confined in a net, hanging down her back; her large eyes glistening in dark reflection, the nostrils raised so proudly as a child (was it possible?), when he had vexed her; and the corner of her lips, when she smiled; and finally, her breasts, now doubtless swelling under her shawl.
He could imagine her saying to him, “Welcome, Saidjah! I have thought of you as I was spinning and weaving and ‘ stamping the rice on the floor which shows three times twelve lines cut by my hand. And I am under the Ketapan the first day of the new moon. Welcome, Saidjah! I will be your wife.”
That was the music that resounded in his ears and preve
He arrived at Batavia, and asked a certain gentleman to take him into his service, which the gentleman did, because Saidjah spoke no Malay—an advantage there, for servants who do not understand that language are not so corrupt as the others, who have been longer in touch with the Europeans. But Saidjah soon learned Malay, though he behaved well, for he always remembered the two buffaloes he was going to buy. He grew tall and strong, because he ate every day—not always the case at Badoer.
In the stable he was liked, and would certainly not have been rejected if he had asked the hand of the coachman`s daughter. His master liked him so much that he soon promoted him to be a house servant, increased his wages, and continually made him presents, to show how pleased he was.
Saidjah`s mistress had read Sue`s novel, so popular for a short while, and always thought of Prince Djalma when she saw Saidjah, and the young girls, too, understood better than before w
Neither on the first nor the second day had he realized how lonely he was, because he was captivated by the grand idea of earning money enough to buy two buffaloes, whereas his lather had never had more than one, and was too excited over the prospect of seeing Adinda again to grieve over his departure. He had left her in anxious hope. The prospect of seeing her again so occupied his heart that on leaving Badoer and passing the tree, he felt something akin to joy, as if the thirty-six moons were already past.
It had seemed that he had only to turn round to see Adinda waiting for him. But the further he went, the more did he realize the length of the period before him. There was something in his soul, that made him walk more slowly—he felt an affliction in his knees, and though it was not dejection that overcame him it was a mournful sadness. He thought of returning, but what would Adinda think of his want of courage?
Recapture that calmness
“I will gladly marry you, Saidjah, when you come back. I will spin and weave sarongs and slendangs, and be very diligent all the while.” “Oh, I believe you, Adinda, but—if I find you already married?” “Saidjah, you know very well I will marry nobody but you. My father promised me to your father.”
“And you yourself—?”
“I shall marry you, you may be sure of that.”
“When I come back, I will call from afar off.”
“Who will hear it, if we are stamping rice in the village?”
“That is true, but Adinda—oh, yes, this is better: wait for me in the wood, under the Ketapan, where you gave me the Melatti flowers.” “But, Saidjah, how am I to know when I am to go to the Ketapan?” Saidjah considered a moment and said: “Count the moons. I shall stay away three times twelve moons, not counting this moon. See, Adinda, at every new moon cut a notch in your rice block on the floor. When you have cut three times t
Afterwards she hoped that the buffalo understood her, for he must have known why she wept when he was taken away, and that it was not Saidjah`s mother who caused him to be slaughtered. Some days afterward, Saidjah`s father fled out of the country, for he was afraid of being punished for not paying his taxes, and he had no other heirlooms to sell with which to buy another buffalo.
His parents had left him but few things. However, he went on for some years after the loss of his last buffalo by working with hired animals: but that is a very unre- munerative labor, and moreover sad for one who has had buffaloes of his own.
Saidjah`s mother died of grief, and his father, irt a moment of dejection, left Bantam to find work in the Buitenzorg district. But he was punished with stripes because he had left Lebak without a passport, and brought back by the police to Badoer. There he was put in prison, because he was supposed to be mad, which I can well believe, and i
Once when they were in the field, Saidjah called in vain to his buffalo to make haste. The animal did not move. Saidjah grew angry at this unusual refractoriness, and could not refrain from scolding. He called him as. Anyone who has been in India will understand me, and he who has not is the gainer if I spare him the explanation.
Saidjah did not mean anything bad. He only used the word because he had often heard it used by others when they were dissatisfied with their buffaloes. But it was useless: his buffalo did not move. He shook his head as if to throw off the yoke, he blew and trembled, there was anguish in his blue eye, and the upper lip was curled, baring the gums.
“Fly,fly!” Adinda`s brothers cried, “Fly, Saidjah, there`s a tiger!” And they all unyoked their buffaloes, and throwing themselves on their broad backs, galloped away through sawahs, irrigation, trenches, mud, brushwood, forest and jungle, along fields and roads, but when they tore p