two dutch officers on top of a makeshift watchtower
barefooted common soldiers kicking imaginary tumbleweeds
sweaty accountants in counting houses, bamboo fans, greasy watch chains
a javanese general shooting seven hundred of his own soldiers in the head
(he took off his blangkon before he shot the first one)
the dutch officers looking on with a mixture of disgust and awe
the mardijkers looking on with a mixture of disgust and awe
at petty thieves getting their bodies chariot-broken at the old town square
the javanese looking on
true laissez-faire artistes!
*lookout for the indonesian translation of Susan Blackburn’s (née Abeyasekere) Jakarta: A History, forthcoming sometime next year from Komunitas Bambu, publisher of insanely unsaleable but truly invaluable historical tomes on this incomprehensibly lovable city.