Starry Sky on Top of Pasir Belengkong

Nisa Permatasari 16 November 2010
The ride home from Tanah Grogot. If you ride fast with your motorcycle, it takes 30 minutes from Suatang, where I live, to Tanah Grogot (Grogot), the district capital of Paser, East Borneo. God! Dont you just love how the name of these places sound. It is the sound of places beyond. And beyond anything it is. The main road stretches out from Tanah Grogot to smaller areas nearby: Rantau Panjang, Sungai Tuak, Pasir belengkong. The main road even goes longer to Lori. Lori is like the cross to another world. The world we’d like to call Paser Pesisir, the land on water. That is another story. It was 9.30pm when I finally got out from Grogot. I went to Grogot with a big group of 10 but in this story I am going to be solitary, just because the observation was mine only. I was heading for Suatang, one of villages in Pasir Belengkong. It was one of those surreal ride. The main road is no big road. It’s merely 2.5m wide. The ride was silent. Getting out from Grogot i can still see big houses, although they are commonly built from wooden board. Some of these houses are also on top of swamp; the house is raised by big wooden sticks to keep it steady. We call this style Rumah Panggung. Riding further. Houses are scarce. Now and then i found 2 to 4 houses closer together. But never more than 4. From one house to another is at least 5m. Long road with no light but the one from our motorcycle. On the sides of the road are tall bushes, guarding the trees behind. The trees. The trees are something else. They are mystifying. Dark silhouette. I started to shiver. At first I thought it was the wind. But then i realized it was just the motorcycle breaking the night air. No wind. No moving air. I can’t believe how still the trees are. Those dark shadow of the trees seem so arrogant. Maybe they are so arrogant even no wind can move them. Yes, I really think so. It is so. Wait, it wasn’t only the trees. Everything was still. It’s like the time and space freeze for them. We outsider are dynamic matter that the forest merely observe. We are passers-by. We come and go with age. But not them. They’ve been there for so long. Indeed the trees show this superiority. Riding even further. Some houses again. The light inside the houses were dim. Surprisingly the houses doesn’t look as lonely as I thought it would be, considering its location. Instead, they looked eloquently grateful. It’s funny how I describe it. The houses are not necessarily big, nothing like those in big cities. Small wooden houses with dimmed light, bright colored usually, but even the bright color can not win over the trees. However, they seem to be grateful to be able to stand under the trees. The trees seem to strangely guard them. I will have to learn it this year, to be grateful. God, give me strength to endure, give me open-mindness to serve. I passed area with no tall bushes. It was tall trees right on the sides of the road. The top branches framed the night sky. The side branches reached out the road. The dark space between trees could startle anyone looking at it. The darkness is so deep you can’t help but by keeping your eyes on it. My favorite scene is the open space. There, I saw the starry sky. And the bright half-moon. The stars and the moon were the kindest. The most welcoming. Maybe because they are also out there, outsiders. They just happened to decorate Pasir Belengkong tonight. To ease us, mortals. Almost home. Rows and rows of palm oil trees. People planted them. They’re not as old. But the darkness create the same atmosphere. Even the electricity cable, the touch of modern world that we human adore so much, can’t bother them. The trees know they are standing taller than anything, in any kind of view. And lets close the night. Let the night falls with its darkest enigma. And I, I will stand lower under you arrogant-self, O trees

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