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A peoples' poet: Wiji Thukul


    if the people leave
    while rulers deliver speeches
    we must watch out
    perhaps they have lost hope

    if the people hide away
    and whisper
    when discussing their problems
    then rulers should beware and learn to listen

    if the people don't dare complain
    then things are dangerous
    and if the rulers' talk
    may not be rejected
    truth must surely be under threat

    and if suggestions are refused without consideration
    voices silenced, criticisms banned without reason
    accused of subversion and disturbing security
    then there is only one word: resist!

    Solo, 1986

My neighbour next door

    my neighbour next door
    can make very good flutes from bamboo
    and can play many tunes

    my neighbour next door
    often borrows the guitar
    to sing with his children

    one of his ears is ruined
    struck with a rifle butt

    my neighbour next door
    lives as if behind fortress walls
    always watching
    checking for danger

    my neighbour next door
    was terrorised before

    Kalangan-solo, November 1991

Old man

    his skin brown burnt by the city sun
    his cheeks charred swept by hot winds
    his energy sucked away
    on the highway earlier

    father is snoring now
    and as tomorrow morning looms
    in my mind
    that double decker bus suddenly changes
    to become a great fish
    and the trishaws are like sardines

    Solo, June 1987

Say your words

    if you are not willing to ask
    you will be drowned in decisions

    if you withhold your words
    your mouth cannot pronounce your desires

    you will be treated like a stone
    thrown away, discarded
    or plucked out like grass

    or open mouthed
    can be filled with whatever
    taking no role in anything

    if you no longer dare ask
    you will be the victim of decisions
    do not imprison your pronouncements

    if we enslave ourselves to fear
    we will lengthen the line of slavery



    as morning breaks
    the rubbish piles up
    children scolded by mothers
    husband and wife shouting

    as morning breaks the rubbish piles up
    left and right arguments
    children crying
    husband wife fighting
    in turn with the radio
    people push and shove
    to get to the public well

    then teenage girls
    leave the kampung for the factories
    returning in the aftternoon
    eyes wrinkled with exhaustion
    living lives of no choices

    and children are born one after the other
    not knowing their house stands on the edge of drains
    playing in front a heap of rubbish
    behind walls
    in and around narrow lanes
    around and around in shadows
    looking for some open space

    Solo - Sorogenen, July 1988

Wiji Thukul, son of a trishaw driver and himself a former carpenter's assistant, is a member of the PRD central council and head of Jaker. In 1995 he was awarded the Netherlands Wertheim award for his poetry. Following the 1996 crack-down on the PRD Wiji along with three other members went missing. A reliable source within the military has now admitted privately that Wiji was killed by the military.

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