a collection of short stories by eka kurniawan

The novel Perempuan Patah Hati yang Kembali Menemukan Cinta Melalui Mimpi contains Eka Kurniawan’s collection of published short stories, ranging from the year 2007 to 2014. I adore every single short story in the novel, but the particular story of Perempuan Patah Hati yang Kembali Menemukan Cinta Melalui Mimpi itself is kind of cliche. Just like what the title says, it’s about a young heart-broken woman who finds a new lover through her dreams. I’m just gonna list my favorite ones:

  1. Jangan Kencing di Sini basically tells the story of a woman who finds pleasure (orgasm) through holding her bladder.
  2. Gerimis yang Sederhana, a simple story about a woman who’s afraid of beggars and a man who accidentally gives a beggar his wedding ring. Eka mentioned some contemporary brands in the story, such as Jack in the Box. It’s very different from his Cantik itu Luka novel.. Well, considering Cantik itu Luka takes place in the olden days of Indonesia.
  3. Gincu ini Merah, Sayang is the best one, I suppose. It’s about a man who falls in love with a prostitute, and later legally marries her. The man tries to forget his wife’s past as a prostitute, yet he’s still bothered by her red lipstick (gincu). When she was a prostitute, the wife used to wear red lipstick all the time. Eventually, the man divorces his wife as he is paranoid about her sleeping with another man. Being a divorcee, the wife comes back working as a prostitute. This time, she doesn’t wear any lipstick at all. When asked about her now-gone red lipstick, she replies, “Gincu ini merah, Sayang, dan itu hanya untuk suamiku” (Lipstick is red, darling, and I wear it only for my husband).
  4. Pelajaran Memelihara Burung Beo tells the story of an illegal Indonesian immigrant who has to marry some random white guy just for the sake of a green card. She falls in love with the white guy, and they both have children. However, the guy divorces her and brings the children with him. She’s left with birds which can say shit like, “Mama, mama“. The birds, just like her own children, are also taken away from her possession.
  5. La Cage aux Folles depicts the struggle of an Indonesian transgender seeking for a better life as an immigrant in Los Angeles. She sings and flatters men in a pub called La Cage aux Folles.
  6. Teka-teki Silang feels unfinished to me. It will be amazing if Eka Kurniawan continues this short story as a novel someday. The story itself is intriguing, but the ending is puzzling (just like what the title says). Teka-teki Silang is about a girl who loves doing riddles in the newspaper. One particular riddle from a random newspaper actually has the power of clairvoyance, which leads to weird things happening around her. Turns out that the girl is crazy, and she might be the one who does the absurd things herself, not from the urge of the riddle. Talk about ambiguity!
  7. Kapten Bebek Hijau is about a green duck travelling to the peak of the mountain to alter his fur color as yellow again. Although he knows that the color green actually helps him conquer obstacles, especially wild animals, he still craves for his initial fur color. He refuses to be green, even if he has to jeopardize his own life. The story ends up with him successfully turning yellow, with an eagle trying to kill him due to the vibrant color. I find myself genuinely similar with this dumb green duck. Though I know that I’m not perfect and I will never be.. I still thrive to abolish any flaws that I have, even if it means I have to risk my life.
  8. Pengantar Tidur Panjang is about the death of a beloved father. If my father dies (God forbids), I will die too — not physically, but mentally. I’ll certainly lose the willingness to live.

This collection of short stories is beyond words — it’s full of plot twists, animals, men who objectify women, transgenders, and heart-broken women. All in all, it is ultimately enchanting.

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