>> under the thousand stars <<

“sweetheart, have a look. there’s thousand stars above us,” my beloved ones showing the evening landscape in front of us. it’s a bright lovely evening sky within a national park.

(c) ukirsari, 2009

we are holding hands to each other, walking through the grassy path. companied by jaka, our slovenian friend. a neighbour at the guest house. a huge landscape, brings my memory back to loksado, in one of a kalimantan forest, where i feel the night sky was  so close upon my face and i can catch one of those stars with my fingers.

i did a night trekking with a local guide and his companions at that moment. and every single moment, he need to tell me for keep walking, or i will miss the jujuran and beruji ceremonial events.

i was too ‘busy’. to feel how can a billion stars comes out at the same time in one night. blinking in the distance and showering us with dims light. then phosphorous mushrooms on the trees and the fireflies. that’s a magical experience for me.

and now, i feel quite the same. without any additional phosphorous things. only three of us, under a grandiose sky with the thousand stars.

within walking distance, we can see the shadows of the sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatrensis). nicholas and i are falling in love with this place, since we find our baby boy here; a two months old elephant in 2006.

and we became repeat visitors ever since. especially when we find a wild baby girl afterwards –oh, doesn’t mean to forget to mention, there’s another elder baby girl in the community. but since she looks so berserk, we never befriend with her. we knew her and the opposite. after a baby boy and baby girl, they have a new tamed ‘sibling’.

a baby boy again, to whom we gave a ‘special’ name, since we don’t like his real name. sounds not so gorgeous, bearing only an event something. and just like the previous babies, we love to cuddle him and playing all day long. he’s so lovely and a giver; bring reeds to nicholas, allow us to hear his funny voice, then hiding behind the bush.

in our latest visit, two mother elephants just gave births. two wonderful baby boys. but we have to say goodbye after few days visit, as we have to back for works. and in the meantime, we want to share this happiness –being having new babies— and play with them, whilst introducing them to our neighbour; jaka.

it’s a real joyful playing under the thousand stars. especially nicholas who  ‘attacked’ by our baby boy –not the eldest since he’s stay overnight in the forest with his mom and dad.

later we think; probably since his nature as nocturnal, everything looks brighter in the dark. and another ‘theory’, he didn’t like being addressed by his real name. we can not help but smile, when he try to tackle jaka with his back feet. nicholas said, “turn around, turn around,” but our baby is faster than him.

i watch the mom who look after her baby boy with the torch on. then talk  to our baby girl, since she’s not interesting to do crazy with us but keep on busy grassing all the time.  well behave. a strange concept for a wild. but probably she just need to spend longer time to adapt with her new ‘family’ after spend such two years by her own and the keeper or mahout. so i ‘talk’ with her, whilst nicholas and jaka keep on playing with the baby boy.

then time to say goodbye had came. we whispering that we love them and we definitely will come back again. and our baby boy, again and again … coming closer and closer, just like unspoken words, “oh please don’t go. come, i want to play again,” so we have to bring him closer to his mom. several times, until we say, “come on, that’s mommy calling, come on ….”

we walk to the mahouts’ barrack and spend about an hour or so, talking with them. down-to-earth people, language barriers and things that drive me into situation; nothing wrong with the keepers and so does the travelers. only system screw up humanitarian sometimes, somehow.

we knew jaka by coincidence, when the officers find a difficulty to explain the room rate. but what choice he can get, if the option only take it or leave it?

nicholas and i get difficultness as jaka had, since long time ago. a place can be so helpful, and the rest full of mess.

and i feel sorry since we’re talking about a motherland, place where i was born. i love the country, where my ancestors shared their bloods and i get a wonderful name. the first air i had taken in breathing and i spend half of my childhood. but please, why erase those wonderful things, including nature wonders and its rare animals by something calling damages? bad behaviours, mannerless, disobey etiquettes and money talks all included. so sad.

of course i don’t want to ruins our last day in the national park with those stupidities and cynical point of views. we chill out at the night and thank jaka for his appearance as the only neighbour we have.

especially to swap the creepy atmosphere which surrounded guest house, after someone passed away about 2 months ago –and it’s not pretty far from our place.

we shared so many stories, independent travelers’ stories. and we’re surprised how can be we got 100% same-identical scams that jaka and nicholas experienced when they’re in jogja; i can not stop laugh since their visit separatedly  almost 10 years in difference but both got the same sweet lips saying, “it must be your lucky day, we will make a batik exhibition in the usa and this is the last day you can buy their art work.”

we got dinner with cakes [nicholas and i. we like to say thank for our old food seller who always provided these cake for us] and fried rice, tomato and cucumber [for jaka].

and top notch for this ‘gala dinner’ was sharing our last baileys with jaka. poor that we don’t bring any glasses with us during this trip, so we use mineral water bottle that cut into a half. it’s nice, a serene environment with nocturnal voices from the distance. wild boars, barking deers and buffalos pay a visit to our guest house.

it’s a nice discussion about what should jaka does in his last days before leaving indonesia, and again we laugh for his “smart book” a real mini book content of national anthem, heroes, chemistry, learning language, natural sciences, seven wonders and all kind abstraction about knowledge that indonesian students take in their school.

“so you should keep extra money to buy unpredictable souvenir like my book or quite similar like this during your trip with interstate bus,” he added.

also we compared our rooms; nicholas and i, we’d have ‘presidential suite’. huge, twin beds, one extra bed, hanger, a table and two chairs without electricity. and jaka got ‘superior room’. smaller, twin beds, only one chair but showering with light. we can not help but laugh; you get what you pay for!

then top of the ‘drama’ being addressing our own rooms with presidential and superior was, a frog just jumping in to jaka’s water tank. so he used ours that looks bigger, which locked by nicholas’ padlock whilst we’re away –to prevent the unknown ‘guests’.

three of us keep do chit-chatting until two hours remains from the departure. nicholas and i already packed all our luggage, so we’re easily wake up and preparing ourselves before leaving the guest house in early morning.

we liked our latest experiences in the national park. i see there’s still thousand stars remain when we climb up the main gate –thank you for locking all entrance gates when we told you we’ll leaving very early, officer!


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