Remembering to Forget

Author: Jacqui Baker | Australian National University

Abstract:

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I guess, I lived in a ramshackle house perched perilously on a bank of the Malang River. By day, I trekked to the city's outskirts to interview members of Laskar Jihad, the earliest and most notorious of the Islamic militias that burgeoned like wildflowers after the fall of Suharto. The young men wore white robes and cultivated patchy beards and waved their machetes to shrieks of "jihad." Malang nights, by contrast, were quiet, and I would slip out to the local internet café, which stayed open as long as there were glassy-eyed customers to patronize it. So I often found myself in the wee hours of the morning, tracing a potted path home along the accordion shutters of the city's Chinese shop-fronts. I would pick my way over the sleeping sex workers and rickshaw [becak] drivers and street children, whose tender bodies curled in slumber like the green tips of budding ferns. Then it would be a short dash across a bridge swallowed in darkness before I found my ragged purple door and darted in.



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