Purba Wirastama, Jakarta – Two decades have passed but the whereabouts of poet-activists Wiji Thukul is still unknown after he disappeared mysteriously in 1998.
His two children, Fitri Nganthi Wani and Fajar Merah have tried to present anew the memory of the figure Wiji Thukul through their latest works.
Fajar has released a music video of the song Flowers and Walls (Bunga dan Tembok). The video, which was made by film director Eden Junjung in cooperation with KawanKawan Media and Partisipasi Film, presents various symbolic illustrations of flowers, forest fires, land grabs, the New Order regime of former president Suharto and the military, the 1998 student occupation of the House of Representatives (DPR) and people without faces.
Flowers and Walls is a song whose lyrics were taken from a poem by Wiji of the same name. The song was released as part of a mini-album by the Red Tales (Merah Bercerita), a music group originating from the Central Java city of Surakarta formed by Fajar. Flowers and Walls was also the closing song for the 2016 film about Wiji titled Let the Words Rest (Istirahatlah Kata-kata) directed by Yosep Anggi Noen.
Wani meanwhile has released a collection of poems titled You Succeeded in Become a Bullet (Kau Berhasil Jadi Peluru). According to information received by Metro TV, the book contains 52 poems written by Fitri between 2010 and 2018.
The majority of poem tell the story of yearning, anger, questions and love for her father Wiji Thukul and mother Sipon.
Wani and Fajar also collaborated on a poetic song of the same title, You Succeeded in Become a Bullet. The song was presented for the first time during the launch of the book and music video at the Jakarta South Room on September 25.
For Wani, the poems and music are a form of personal therapy for herself and younger sister Fajar. “The poems and music we made brought us to forgiveness without forgetting”, said Wani.
According to KawanKawan Media producer Yulia Evina Bhara, the book of poems and music video are a follow up collaboration after the film Let the Words Rest. She referred to the works as a result of reflection by Fajar and Wani of the struggles that their family wrestled with.
“The struggle to keep trying to find their father. And at the same time, their works are a reflection of their struggle and determination, struggling to live without a father and every day seeing the suffering of their mother after their father disappeared”, said Yulia.
In addition to presenting Fajar and Wani, the launch was also enlivened by poetry readings by Mian Tiara, Melanie Subono, Dhyta Caturani, Rachel Amanda, Putri Ayudya, Eduwart Manalu and Jati “Westjam Nation”.
Radical street performer and poet, People’s Democratic Party (PRD) member Wiji Thukul disappeared in February 1998. It is suspected he was a victim of the military abductions along with other activists which disappeared in Solo (Central Java). The bodies of Thukul and three other PRD activists have never been found and they are presumed dead.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Anak-anak Wiji Thukul Rilis Video Musik dan Buku Puisi.]