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Rote Series: In the Dark of the Night

Kristia Davina Sianipar 24 Agustus 2012


“Why do I feel that the sky is bluer here?” I asked my predecessor as we rode on an old motorbike past the savannah in Rote from town to the village.

“It is,” he answered.

At night, past that same savannah on that same old motorbike, I gazed up the sky and saw stars so numerous I was in awe. And I looked behind me and saw nothing. The night was as dark as it could get. Total darkness.

“It’s so dark here! What if this old bike broke down and we’re stuck here in this darkness in the middle of the savannah?” I exclaimed in fear.

“Well, you better pray that it doesn’t happen,” he replied.

“How could you ride in this darkness on your own?” I wondered.

“You’ll get used to it. Just turn on your music player to its maximum volume.”

And we chatted the whole journey back to the village. Every time we rode home at night, we would always—always—chat, almost non-stop. It is as if to make sure that we were both still alive and this darkness did not consume us. Or to make sure that there is another living soul nearby.

I couldn’t imagine how I could ride a motorbike on my own past this dark savannah when he is gone, back to his big city, in a week’s time.

I never rode a motorbike past the savannah in the dark of the night since the departure of our predecessors from Rote. And I avoided any night travel. This darkness still scared me.

Then one night, I decided to travel on my own. It’s just a 15-minute walk from my home to a student’s house. He had been missing classes for three days in a row, and I could not catch him during the day. So I decided to visit his house at night when I am sure he’d be at home. I took my torchlight, my jacket, and walked on my own in the dark. I walked on the main road, but in some stretches of the road, there would be no houses and only forests on either side of the road. If I turned off my torchlight, I knew I’d be in complete darkness. I hummed a song to rid myself of the fear that was tickling inside of me. Finally, I reached my student’s house, talked to him and his father, and went back home.

On the way, I gazed at the stars above and marveled.  It seems, I have finally gotten used to Rote’s dark night. Rote, and everything in it, I’ll get used to it. It’ll be a part of me soon enough.


Kupang, 24 August 2012


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