THE STORY OF SAIDJAH AND ADINDA

( From "Max Havelaar": translated by Baron Nahuys )

By EDUARD DOUWES DEKKER ( 1820 - 1887 )

( A Dutch novelist, who held a responsible government position in a province of Java, which he resigned because of his disapproval of the Dutch administration in that country. In 1860 he published his experiences among the coffee traders of the Far East. "Max Havelaar," written under the pen name Multatuli, created a sensation, from its exposition of the shocking wrongs committed by the European trader. )



SAIDJAH'S father had a buffalo, with which he plowed his field. When this buffalo was taken away from him by the district chief at Parang-Koodjang, he was very dejected, and did not speak a word for many a day. For the time for plowing was come, and he had to fear that if the sawah (rice field) was not worked in time, the opportunity to sow would be lost, and lastly, that there would be no paddy to cut, none to keep in the lombong (storeroom) of the house. I have here to tell readers who know Java, but not Bantam, that in that Residency there is personal landed property, 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 accuse him to the Assistant Resident if he was behind hand in the payment of his land taxes, for this is punished by the law. Saidjah's father then took a kris (poniard) which was poosaka (inheritance) from his father. The kris was not very handsome, but there were silver bands round the sheath, and at the end there was a silver plate. He sold this kris to a China man who dwelt in the capital, and came home with twenty-four guilders, for which money he bought another buffalo.

Saidjah, who was then about seven years old, soon made friends with the new buffalo. It was not without meaning that I say "made friends," for it is indeed touching to see how the karbo (buffalo) is attached to the little boy who watches over and feeds him. Of this attachment I shall very soon give an example. The large, strong animal bends its heavy head to the right, to the left, or downwards, just as the pressure of the child's finger, which be knows and understands, directs.

Such a friendship little Saidjah had soon been able to make with the newcomer, and it seemed as if the encouraging voice of the child gave still more strength to the heavy shoulders of the strong. animal, when it tore open the stiff clay and traced its way in deep, sharp furrows.

The buffalo turned willingly, on reaching the end of the field, and did not lose an inch of ground when plowing backwards the new furrow, which was ever near the old, as if the sawah was a garden ground raked by a giant. Quite near were the sawahs of the father of Adinda (the father of the child that was to marry Saidjah); and when the little brothers of Adinda came to the limit of their fields just at the same time that the father of Saidjah was there with his plow, then the children called out merrily to each other, and each praised the strength and the docility of his buffalo. But I believe that the buffalo of Saidjah was the best of all; perhaps because its master knew better than anyone else how to speak to the animal, and buffaloes are very sensible to kind words. Saidjah was nine and Adinda six, when this buffalo was taken from the father of Saidjah by the chief of the district of Parang-Koodjang. Saidjah's father, who was very poor, thereupon sold to a Chinaman two silver klamboo (curtain) hooks -- poosaka from the parents of his wife -- for eighteen guilders, and for that money bought a new buffalo. But Saidjah was very dejected. For he knew from Adinda's little brothers that the other buffalo had been driven to the capital, and he had asked his father if he had not seen the animal when he was there to sell the hooks of the klamboo. To this question Saidjah's father refused to give an answer. Therefore he feared that his buffalo had been slaughtered, as the other buffaloes which the district chief had taken from the people. And Saidjah wept much when he thought of this poor buffalo, which he had known for such a long time, and he could not eat for many days, for his throat was too narrow when he swallowed. It must be taken into consideration that Saidjah was a child.

The new buffalo soon got acquainted with Saidjah, and very soon obtained in the heart of Saidjah the same place as his predecessor, -- alas! too soon; for the wax impressions of the heart are very soon smoothed to make room for other writing. However this may be, the new buffalo was not so strong as the former: true, the old yoke was too large for his neck, but the poor animal was willing, like his predecessor, which had been slaughtered; but though Saidjah could boast no more of the strength of his buffalo when he met Adinda's brothers at the boundaries, yet he maintained that no other surpassed his in willingness; and if the furrow was not so straight as before, or if lumps of earth had been turned, but not cut, he willingly made this right as much as he could with his patjol (spade). Moreover, no buffalo had an oeser-oeseran (peculiar whirl in the hair) like his. The penghooloo (village priest) himself had said that there was ontong (good luck) in the course of the hair whirls on its shoulders. 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 said "a---s---" Everyone who has been in India will understand me, and he who does not understand me gains by it if I spare him the explanation of a coarse expression.

Yet Saidjah did not mean anything bad. He only said it because he had often heard it said by others when they were dissatisfied with their buffaloes. But it was useless; his buffalo did not move an inch. He shook his head, as if to throw off the yoke; the breath appeared out of his nostrils; he blew, trembled; there was anguish in his blue eye, and the upper lip was curled upwards, so that the gums were bare.

"Fly! Fly'" Adinda's brothers cried. "Fly, Saidjah! there is a tiger! "

And they all unyoked the buffaloes, and throwing themselves on their broad backs, galloped away through sawahs, galangans (trenches), mud, brushwood, forest, and allang-allang (jungle), along fields and roads, and when they tore panting and dripping with perspiration into the village of Badoer, Saidjah was not with them.

For when he had freed his buffalo from the yoke, and had mounted him as the others had done to fly, an unexpected jump made him lose his seat and fall to the earth. The tiger was very near -- Saidjah's buffalo, driven on by his own speed, jumped a few paces past the spot where his little master awaited death. But through his speed alone, and not of his own will, the animal had gone further than Saidjah, for scarcely had it conquered the momentum which rules all matter even after the cause had ceased, when it returned, and placing its big body, supported by its big feet, like a roof over the child, turned its horned head towards the tiger, which bounded forward-- but for the last time. The buffalo caught him on his horns, and only lost some flesh, which the tiger took out of his neck. The tiger lay there with his belly torn open, and Saidjah was saved. Certainly there had been ontong in the oeser-oeseran of the buffalo.

When this buffalo had also been taken away from Saidjah's father and slaughtered-- I tell you, reader, that my story is monotonous.

When this buffalo was slaughtered, Saidjah was just twelve, and Adinda was wearing sarongs and making figures on them. She had already learned to express thoughts in melancholy drawings on her tissue, for she had seen Saidjah very sad. And Saidjah's father was also sad, but his mother still more so; for she had cured the wound in the neck of the faithful animal which had brought her child home unhurt, after having thought, by the news of Adinda's brothers, that it had been taken away by the tiger. As soon as she saw this wound, she thought how far the claws of the tiger, which had entered so deeply into the coarse flesh of the buffalo, would have penetrated into the tender body of her child; and every time she put fresh dressings on the wound she caressed the buffalo, and spoke kindly to him, that the good faithful animal might know how grateful a mother is.

Afterwards she hoped that the buffalo understood her, for then he must have understood why she wept when he was taken away to be slaughtered, and he would have known that it was not the mother of Saidjah who caused him to be slaughtered. Some days afterwards Saidjah's father fled out of the country; for he was much afraid of being punished for not paying his land taxes, and he had not another heirloom to sell, that he might buy a new buffalo, because his parents had always lived in Parang-Koodjang, and had therefore left him but few things. The parents of his wife, too, lived in the same district. However, he went on for some years after the loss of his last buffalo, by working with hired animals for plowing; but that is a very ungrateful labor, and, moreover, sad for a person who has had buffaloes of his own.

Saidjah's mother died of grief, and then it was that his father, in a moment of dejection, fled from Bantam, in order to endeavor to get labor in the Buitenzorg districts.

But he was punished with stripes, because he had left Lebak without a passport, and was brought back by the police of Badoer. There he was put in prison, because he was supposed to be mad, which I can readily believe, and because it was feared that he would run amuck (killing everybody he meets) in a moment of mata-glap (frenzy). But he was not long in prison, for he died soon afterwards. What became of the brothers and sisters of Saidjah I do not know. The house in which they lived at Badoer was empty for some time, and soon fell down; for it was only built of bamboo, and covered with atap (cane). A little dust and dirt covered the place where there had been much suffering. There are many such places in Lebak. Saidjah was already fifteen years of age when his father set out for Buitenzorg; and he did not accompany him thither, because he had other plans in view. He had been told that there were at Batavia many gentlemen who drove in bendies (sort of carriages), and that it would be easy for him to get a post as bendy boy, for which generally a young person is chosen, so as not to disturb the equilibrium of the two-wheeled carriage by too much weight behind. He would, they told him, gain much in that way if he behaved well, -- perhaps he would be able to spare in three years money enough to buy two buffaloes. This was a smiling prospect for him. With the proud step of one who has conceived a grand idea, he, after his father's flight, entered Adinda's house, and communicated to her his plan.

"Think of it," said he, "when I come back we shall be old enough to marry, and shall possess two buffaloes! "

" Very well, Saidjah, I will gladly marry you when you return. I will spin and weave sarongs and slendangs (petticoats and linens), and be very diligent all the time."
"Oh, I believe you, Adinda, but--if I find you marrled?"
"Saidjah, you know very well that I shall 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 shall hear it, if we are stamping rice in the village?"
"That is true; but, Adinda -- oh, yes, this is better, wait for me under the djati (Indian oak) wood, under the ketapan (Indian tree) where you gave me the melatti (flower)." "But, Saidjah, how can I know when I am to go to the ketapan? "
Saidjah considered and said:--
"Count the moons; I shall stay away three times twelve moons, . . . this moon not included. . .. See, Adinda, at every new moon cut a notch in your rice block. When you have cut three times twelve lines, I will be under the ketapan the next day; do you promise to be there? "
" Yes, Saidjah, I will be there under the ketapan, near the djati wood, when you come back."

Hereupon Saidjah tore a piece off his blue turban, which was very much worn, and gave the piece of linen to Adinda to keep it as a pledge; and then he left her and Badoer. He walked many days. He passed Rankas-Betong, which was not then the capital of Lebak, and Warong-Goonoong, where was the house of the Assistant Resident, and the following day saw Pamarangang, which lies as in a garden. The next day he arrived at Serang, and was astonished at the magnificence and size of the place, and the number of stone houses covered with red tiles. Saidjah had never before seen such a thing. He remained there a day, because he was tired; but, during the night, in the coolness, he went further, and the following day, before the shadow had descended to his lips, though he wore the long toodoong (broad-brimmed straw hat) which his father had left him, he arrived at Tangetang.

The first day, and the second day likewise, he had not felt so much how lonely he was, because his soul was quite captivated by the grand idea of gaining money enough to buy two buffaloes, and his father had never possessed more than one; and his thoughts were too much concentrated in the hope of seeing Adinda again, to make room for much grief at his leavetaking. . . .

Saidjah arrived at Batavia. He begged a gentleman to take him into his service, which this gentleman did, because he did not understand Saidjah's language (Sundanese); for they like to have servants at Batavia who do not speak Malay, and are, therefore, not so corrupted as others, who have been longer in connection with Europeans. Saidjah soon learned Malay, but behaved well; for he always thought of the two buffaloes which he should buy, and of Adinda. He became tall and strong, because he ate every day, -- which could not always be done at Badoer. He was liked in the stable, and would certainly not have been rejected if he had asked the hand of the coachman's daughter. His master even liked Saidjah so much that he soon promoted him to be an indoor servant, increased his wages, and continually made him presents, to show that he was well pleased with his services. Saidjah's mistress had read Sue's novel, "The Wandering Jew," which for a short time was so popular; she always thought of Prince Djalma when she saw Saidjah, and the young girls, too, understood better than before how the Javanese painter, Radeen Saleh, had met with such great success at Paris.

But they thought Saidjah ungrateful, when he, after almost three years of service, asked for his dismissal, and a certificate that he had always behaved well. This could not be refused, and Saidjah went on his journey with a joyful heart.

He passed Pisang, where Havelaar once lived many years ago. But Saidjah did not know this; and even if he had known it, he had something else in his soul which occupied him. He counted the treasures which he was carrying home. In a roll of bamboo he had his passport and a certificate of good conduct. In a case, which was fastened to a leathern girdle, something heavy seemed to sling continually against his shoulder, but he liked to feel that. And no wonder! this contained thirty piasters, enough to buy three buffaloes! What would Adinda say? And this was not all. On his back could be seen the silver-covered sheath of the kris (poniard), which he wore in the girdle. The hilt was certainly very fine, for he had wound it round with a silk wrapper. And he had still more treasures! In the folds of the kahin (linen) round his loins, he kept a belt of silver links, with gold ikat-pendieng (clasp). It is true that the belt was short, but she was so slender -- Adinda!

And suspended by a cord round his neck, under his haadjoe (clothes), he wore a small silk bag, in which were some withered leaves of the melatti.

Was it a wonder that he stopped no longer at Sangerang than was necessary to visit the acquaintances of his father who made such fine straw hats? Was it a wonder that he said little to the girls on his road, who asked him where he came from, and where he was going -- the common salutation in those regions? . . .

No; he heard little of what was told him. He heard quite different tones; he heard how Adinda would say "Welcome, Saidjah! I have thought of you in spinning and weaving, and stamping the rice on the floor, which bears three times twelve lines made by my hand. Here I am under the ketapan the first day of the new moon. Welcome, Saidjah, I will be your wife." That was the music which resounded in his ears, and prevented him from listening to all the news that was told him on the road.

At last he saw the ketapan, or rather he saw a large dark spot which many stars covered, before his eye. That must be the wood of djati, near the tree where he should see again Adinda, next morning after sunrise. He sought in the dark, and felt many trunks -- soon found the well-known roughness on the south side of a tree, and thrust his finger into a hole which Si-Panteh had cut with the parang (grass cutter) to exorcise the pontianak (Evil Spirit) who was the cause of his mother's toothache, a short time before the birth of Panteh's little brother. This was the ketapan he looked for.

Yes, this was indeed the spot where he had looked upon Adinda for the first time with quite a different eye from his other companions in play, because she had for the first time refused to take part in a game which she had played with other children -- boys and girls -- only a short time before. There she had given him the melatti. He sat down at the foot of the tree, and looked at the stars; and when he saw a shooting star he accepted it as a welcome of his return to Badoer, and he thought whether Adinda would now be asleep, and whether she had rightly cut the moons on her rice floor. It would be such a grief to him if she had omitted a moon, as if thirty-six were not enough! And he wondered whether she had made nice sarongs and slendangs. And he asked himself, too, who would now be dwelling in her father's house? And he thought of his youth, and of his mother; and how that buffalo had saved him from the tiger, and he thought of what would have become of Adinda if that buffalo had been less faithful! He paid much attention to the sinking of the stars in the west, and as each star disappeared in the horizon, he calculated how much nearer the sun was to his rising in the east, and how much nearer he himself was to seeing Adinda. For she would certainly come at the first beam -- yes, at daybreak she would be there. Ah! Why had she not already come the day before? It pained him that she had not anticipated the supreme moment which had lighted up his soul for three years with inexpressible brightness; and, unjust as he was in the selfishness of his love, it appeared to him that Adinda ought to have been there waiting for him, who complained before the time appointed, that he had to wait for her. . .

Saidjah had not learnt to pray, and it would have been a pity to teach him; for a more holy prayer, more fervent thanksgiving, than was in the mute rapture of his soul, could not be conceived in human language. He would not go to Badoer --to see Adinda in reality seeming to him less pleasurable than the expectation of seeing her again. He sat down at the foot of the ketapan and his eyes wandered over the scenery. Nature smiled at him, and seemed to welcome him as a mother welcoming the return of her child, and as she pictures her joy by voluntary remembrance of past grief, when showing what she has preserved as a keepsake during his absence. So Saidjah was delighted to see again so many spots that were witnesses of his short life. But his eyes or his thoughts might wander as they pleased, yet his looks and longings always reverted to the path which leads from Badoer to the ketapan tree. All that his senses could observe was called Adinda. He saw the abyss to the left, where the earth is so yellow, where once a young buffalo sank down into the depth, -- they had descended with strong rattan cords, and Adinda's father had been the bravest. Oh, how she clapped her hands, Adinda! And there, further on, on the other side, where the wood of cocoa trees waved over the cottages of the village, there somewhere, Si-Oenah had fallen out of a tree and died. How his mother cried, "because Si-Oenah was still such It little one," she lamented, -- as if she would have been less grieved if Si-Oenah had been taller. But he was small, that is true, for he was smaller and more fragile than Adinda. Nobody walked upon the little road which leads from Badoer to the tree. By and by she would come: it was yet very early.

And still there was nobody on the path leading from Badoer to the ketapan.

Oh! she must have fallen asleep towards morning, tired of watching during the night, of watching for many nights: -- she had not slept for weeks: so it was!

Should he rise and go to Badoer! -- No, that would be doubting her arrival. Should he call that man who was driving his buffalo to the field? That man was too far off, and, moreover, Saidjah would speak to no one about Adinda, would ask no one after Adinda. He would see her again, he would see her alone, he would see her first. Oh, surely, surely she would soon come!

He would wait, wait--
But if she were ill, or - dead?

Like a wounded stag Saidjah flew along the path leading from the ketapan to the village where Adinda lived. He saw nothing and heard nothing; and yet he could have heard something, for there were men standing in the road at the entrance of the village, who cried, "Saidjah, Saidjah!"

But -- was it his hurry, his eagerness, that prevented him from finding Adinda's house? He had already rushed to the end of the road, through the village, and like one mad he returned and beat his head, because he must have passed her house without seeing it. But again he was at the entrance of the village, and -- 0 God, was it a dream?

Again he had not found the house of Adinda. Again he flew back and suddenly stood still, seized his head with both his hands to press away the madness that overcame him, and cried aloud: --
"Drunk, drunk; I am drunk! "

And the women of Badoer came out of their houses, and saw with sorrow poor Saidjah standing there, for they knew him, and understood that he was looking for the house of Adinda, and they knew that there was no house of Adinda in the village of Badoer.

For, when the district chief of Parang-Koodjang had taken away Adinda's father's buffaloes--
I told you, reader! that my narrative was monotonous.
--Adinda's mother died of grief, and her baby sister died because she had no mother, and had no one to suckle her. And Adinda's father, who feared to be punished for not paying his land taxes--
I know, I know that my tale is monotonous.
--had fled out of the country; he had taken Adinda and her brothers with him. But he had heard how the father of Saidjah had bean punished at Buitenzorg with stripes for leaving Badoer without a passport. And therefore Adinda's father had not gone to Buitenzorg nor to the Preangan, nor to Bantam. He had gone to Tjilangkahan, the quarter of Lebak bordering on the sea. There he had concealed himself in the woods, and waited for the arrival of Pa Ento, Pa Lontah, Si-Oenah, Pa Ansive, Abdoel lsma, and some others that had been robbed of their buffaloes by the district chief of Parang-Koodjang, and all of whom feared punishment for not paying their land taxes.

There they had at night taken possession of a fishing boat, and had gone to sea. They had steered towards the west, and kept the country to the right of them as far as Java Head: then they had steered northwards till they came in sight of Prince's Island, and sailed round the east coast of that island, and from there to the Lampoons.

Such at least was the way that people told each other in whispers in Lebak, when there was a question of buffalo robbery and unpaid land taxes.

But Saidjah did not well understand what they said to him; he did not even quite understand the news of his father's death. There was a buzzing in his ears, as if a gong had been sounded in his head: he felt the blood throbbing convulsively through the veins of his temples, that threatened to yield under the pressure of such severe distention. He spoke not, and looked about as one stupefied, without seeing what was around and about him; and at last he began to laugh horribly.

An old woman led him to her cottage, and took care of the poor fool. Soon he laughed less horribly, but still did not speak. But during the night the inhabitants of the hut were frightened at his voice, when he sang monotonously: "I do not know where I shall die," and some inhabitants of Badoer put money together to bring a sacrifice to the bojajas (crocodiles) of the Tji-Udjung for the cure of Saidjah, whom they thought insane. But he was not insane.

For upon a certain night when the moon was very clear, he rose from the baleh-baleh (couch), softly left the house, and sought the place where Adinda had lived. This was not easy, because so many houses had fallen down; but he seemed to recognize the place by the width of the angle which some rays of light formed through the trees, at their meeting in his eye, as the sailor measures by lighthouses and the tops of mountains.

Yes, there it ought to be: there Adinda had lived!

Stumbling over half-rotten bamboo and pieces of the fallen roof, he made his way to the sanctuary which he sought. And, indeed, he found something of the still standing pagger (inclosure), near to which the baleh-baleh of Adinda had stood, and even the pin of bamboo was still with its point in that pagger, the pin on which she hung her dress when she went to bed.

But the baleh-baleh had fallen down like the house, and was almost turned to dust. He took a handful of it, and pressed it to his opened lips, and breathed very hard.

The following day he asked the old woman who had taken care of him where the rice floor was which stood in the grounds of Adinda's house. The woman rejoiced to hear him speak, and ran through the village to seek the floor. When she could point out the new proprietor to Saidjah, he followed her silently, and being brought to the rice floor, he counted thereupon thirty-two lines.

Then he gave the woman as many piasters as were required to buy a buffalo, and left Badoer. At Tjilangkahan, he bought a fishing boat, and, after having sailed two days, arrived in the Lampoons, where the insurgents were in insurrection agamst the Dutch rule. He joined a troop of Badoer men, not so much to fight as to seek Adinda; for he had a tender heart, and was more disposed to sorrow than to bitterness.

One day that the insurgents had been beaten, he wandered through a village that had just been taken by the Dutch army, and was therefore in flames. Saidjah knew that the troop that had been destroyed there consisted for the most part of Badoer men. He wandered like a ghost among the houses, which were not yet burned down, and found the corpse of Adinda's father with a bayonet wound in the breast. Near him Saidjah saw the three murdered brothers or Adinda, still boys-- children--and a little further lay the corpse of Adinda, naked, and horribly mutilated.

A small piece of blue linen had penetrated into the gaping wound in the breast, which seemed to have made an end to a long struggle.

Then Saidjah went to meet some soldiers who were driving, at the point of the bayonet, the surviving insurgents into the fire of the burning houses; he embraced the broad bayonets, pressed forward with all his might, and still repulsed the soldiers, with a last exertion, until their weapons were buried to the sockets in his breast.

A little time afterwards there was much rejoicing at Batavia for the new victory, which so added to the laurels of the Dutch-Indian army. And the Governor wrote that tranquillity had been restored in the Lampoons; the king of Holland, enlightened by his statesmen, again rewarded so much heroism with many orders of knighthood.

And probably thanksgivings mounted to heaven from the hearts of the saints in churches and tabernacles, at the news that "the Lord of hosts" had again fought under the banner of Holland.






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