Minggu, 18 Juli 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle (God's Lamps)

To light up the dark, God switches on his lights....

I love the way Ayu Utami describes light emitting things in the sky in her third novel, Bilangan Fu. She calls them “lampu-lampu Tuhan” or God’s lamps. The stars and the moon.

After being overshadowed by dark clouds all the way to Pulau Biawak* I was glad to see the clear sky, full of stars to gaze at. Although I ain’t a romantic person, it’s fun to guess what constellation is appearing. In the near complete darkness it is beautiful to see some things lit up the sky. Although it lasted only an hour, I was satisfied to find the Scorpion before the dark cloud painted the sky.

And there under the lone mangrove tree by the pier, I saw planktons lit the water by blinking. It looked like someone was igniting match in the water. If the rig lamps were unlit, the planktons would set the beach twinkling in the midnight!

On the way home, the sky was dark blue. I was knocked down by seasickness. I fell asleep, rocked by the strong waves. Then I woke up to the smell of rotting fish. I knew the boat was entering the estuary.

Up above my head, I saw dark clouds fading. The moon started appearing, like a silver coin. Slowly, I could see it forming. Half moon. But to my surprise, it sent a strong light, forming the biggest halo I’ve ever seen. The river was lit by the moon. It was the only ‘lamp’ (the boatman hadn’t even fix the battery-torch) yet strong enough to see the forms on terra firma.

I sat up and saw, at left and right I saw lines of trees and thickets of bush. Fireflies lit them up, almost like fairy lamps light up christmas trees. I’ve never seen fireflies that numerous! When I was small, I used to see fireflies in the garden, on passionfruit vines, and caught some. It’d been long since the last time I saw a firefly!

I was relieved to see lamps, meaning the port was near. But there I stood on the boat, admiring the moon and every single twinkle of fireflies. God’s lamps.

* Indramayu, West Java,

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