My April readings are:
4 April A Forest Encounter
11 April Bunga’s Family
18 April An Invitation
25 April The Honey Harvest
Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, 07:30 PM
UK 9.30 am
Central European Time 11.30am
Meeting ID: 728 804 5094
These readings are chapters from a novella. In these tales Nusen is the principal character, the protagonist.
April’s stories are drawn from the first chapters in the book. They set the scene, but Nusen’s story begins before the times described in this book and continues to the present.
Nusen was born deep in a peaceful part of the forest in a place seldom disturbed.
The first four stories offer readers a glimpse of forest life, undisturbed by the world outside.
While sometimes there are risks, ancient knowledge and practices keep Nusen and his people safe, but as the story moves on outsiders come placing this peaceful forest life gravely at risk.
Nusen survives fire and kidnapping to become an advocate for his people, teaming up with a Siamang (gibbon), the mysterious Emilia, and her companion orangutan. Their journey, through both dreams and reality, highlights problems of deforestation, habitat loss, threats to Indigenous land rights, and challenging global forces. They struggle to confront these threats to their way of life, and adapt to change, while seeking just and positive outcomes for their people in this dynamic world.
A Forest Encounter
In this story we are introduced to Nusen’s family. In a somewhat dramatic way, we gain a glimpse of both forest life and an ancient problem.
Nusen lives in a matriarchal cultural tradition. It is expected that he will eventually marry Bunga. So in this story we meet her family.
Young men must prove themselves worthy of marriage and satisfy the families of their prospective life partners that they are capable of providing for their daughters.
Forest families are matrilineally related and help one another when there are major tasks, like clearing land for cropping. They are swidden cultivators so the land they clear is secondary forest used for cropping in the past. It still requires considerable effort to prepare it for a new season’s planting.
These periods of communal labour are opportunities for family connections to be affirmed and maintained.
The honey harvest
Harvesting honey is a difficult yet a most important activity. Harvesting is done at night, when the bees are quiet, and involves men climbing high into the branches of sialang trees where the bees build their hives. While this is dangerous work, it gives Nusen an opportunity to demonstrate his worthiness.
Some Images of Sumatra’s Forest people
The novella is not about anyone group from Sumatra, there are many. As in Australia the distinctions between them is blurred by use of general terms line Orang Rimba – forest people, or Orang Sakai – people from the sakai regions. There are even racist terms employed like Orang Kubu – primitive people.
Join me for next month’s readings.