• Kulleh Grasi

Tuak dan ambai // Tuak and ambai, the lovers


Written in Malay and Iban, translation to English by Pauline Fan


Intimnya tanah dengan benih tidak terjadi dengan sedenting mantra. Kaulihat rintik hujan membasahi tanah ketika Enturan menurunkan kayu tugal ke bawah, sebelum ditaburnya benih. Pancaran matapanas menyilau mungkin kelihatan Nendak bercangkung pada dahan berkembar. Pada mata kasar, hanya aki Sempulang datang menjelma, walhal badan rongsok Enturan dan Kupa dipulih hidup oleh budiman Si Selempandai. Gayu tubuh badan, semarak padi adan.


Kasmaran lekapadi adalah sajak cinta, sebagai ikatan, menjadi janji, wangian asmara dan keberanian yang mencipta kenang-kenangan.


Sebelum Inik Bangan beralih ke daerah abadi, seringkali dipesannya sebahagian padi yang baik harus ditapai menjadi minuman. Bagi menjadi ai jalong, ai pengering, ai pengerindu. Apa sahaja yang boleh diingat menjadi panduan.


Mak selalu berpesan, kumpulkan tuak ini untuk santapan persandingan dikau nanti, sedangkan aku terdahulu merasa berkasmaran sebelum menempuh nikah yang belum kunjung pasti.


Pekara satu. Setelah dipilih tarikh untuk mencorak Bangkit, segala macam perasa masam dilarang untuk singgah di rumah.


Pekara dua. Semasa perjalanan membentuk rasa sang juara. Jauhkan bibir bermulut durjana. Jauh jauhkan. Silang- silangkan.


Pandemik 2021—


“Nyadi tuak dik, mang?”


“Nyadi meh ya.”


“Kati baka ati tua keran ka nemuai deh?”


“Enda ya ngelebu tua.”


“Selamat Hari Gawai.”


Hampir tiga tahun berlalu. Masih belum berganjak kejernihan tuak di bibirmu. Masih belum bergerak manis asmaramu menghirup. Masih belum berarak renjana pada segelas seloka rindu.


“Aku udah nyimpan lekajaku aku dalam nyawa nuan, baka nuan enda jelungan ngirup penatai aku”.


//

The intimacy of earth and seed doesn’t come into being in the breath of a mantra. You see raindrops soak the ground as Enturan lowers the tugal dibber stick, before he scatters the seedlings. In the day’s glare, the Nendak omen bird may appear perched on twin branches. The naked eye only beholds the presence of ‘grandpa’ Sempulang, god of the land, while Enturan and Kupa’s weary bodies are revived by blessings of Si Selempandai, ironsmith god who forges humankind. When the body is vital, hill paddy flourishes.


The rapture of lekapadi is a love poem — a bond, a promise, the scent of love-making, the courage to create memories.


Before Inik Bangan passed on to the eternal realm, she always said that a portion of good rice should be fermented into drink. To make ai jalong for warriors, ai pengering for strength, ai pengerindu for lovers. Anything that is remembered becomes a guide.


Mother always said, keep this tuak for your wedding feast one day, but I tasted rapture before the uncertain arrival of a matrimony.


First. Once a date has been chosen to brew a bouquet, all things sour are not allowed into the house.


Second. The journey is where the master’s tongue is formed. Keep away the lips of evil words. Keep them away. Cross them out.


Pandemic 2021–


“Has your tuak been made, mang?”


“It has been made, yes.”


“What about our hearts that long to return?”


“It won’t be wasted.”


“Selamat Hari Gawai.”


Almost three years have passed. The limpid tuak on your lips has not drifted. The sweet sip of your rapture has not left. A glass of longing is still stained with passion.


Aku udah nyimpan lekajaku aku dalam nyawa nuan, baka nuan enda jelungan ngirup penatai aku.


I have poured my words into your life, just as you wait to imbibe my arrival.

 

Kulleh Grasi is a multidisciplinary artist from the heart of Borneo and his book 'Tell Me Kenyalang' was listed as a nominee for the BTBA American Best Translation Book Award 2020 at (March) 2020 and National Translation Award (October)2020 by ALTA American Literary Translation Association. His work was featured in several local and internationally ,namely Poetry Society Of America ,lullabies for AAWW (Asian American Writers Workshop-The Transpacific Project 2021,PEN Malaysia 2021. As the co- founder of Nading Rhapsody, a world music avant garde band, he has been featured in various music and literary festivals since 2011. He was listed as one of the recipient for “ Man Of The Year 2020” by Augustman Malaysia for his arts and culture contribution.


Pauline Fan is a writer, literary translator and cultural researcher from Malaysia. Her translation of poems by Sarawak poet Kulleh Grasi, Tell Me, Kenyalang (Circumference Books, 2019), was shortlisted for the 2020 National Translation Award in Poetry, and longlisted for the Best Translated Book Awards 2020. Her translations from German to Malay include works by Bertolt Brecht, Immanuel Kant, Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Celan. She is Creative Director of cultural organisation PUSAKA, and Director of the George Town Literary Festival.


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