Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don't call us "ghosts": a review of "Gerbang Dialog Danur"

Yesterday I bought a book entitled "Gerbang Dialog Danur" written by Risa Saraswati (click on the name to visit her blog). I finished reading it in a day because it's quite thin for a novel and the writing style is pretty light. Despite it's horror-themed (I'm actually a coward when it comes to ghost stuff), for me it's not actually very much horror. There are life lessons that you can learn from this book that made it not so scary.

Hasil pencarian dari Google Images. It's eerie, I know.

My curiosity about this book and its author started 5 days ago when I hung out with my friends from college and my friend Citra started this conversation about an allegedly indigo lady named Risa Saraswati. Risa Saraswati is somewhat famous for her ability to see "what other people can't see". She makes songs and books about her friendships with "them".

A bit later I realized that that wasn't the first time I heard about Risa Saraswati. I found out about her band, Sarasvati, around 2011-2012 and saw their music video, called "Perjalanan". The song was too creepy for my taste but the video itself was interesting; it was made using stop-motion technique. I'm a sucker for Indonesian indie bands and I think that's how I found out about Sarasvati. But that was it, that was all I know. I never had any idea that their songs are based from real "ghost stories".

So I read "Gerbang Dialog Danur" yesterday, expecting it to be scary and was prepared if I couldn't finish it. But my expectation wasn't met.

The book made me cry. I friggin' cried reading a book that supposed to be scary.

Most of the chapters were very sad... and the ending was so sweet it melted me into tears.

Basically, it tells the stories of Risa Saraswati's friendships with her 5 "ghost" friends when she was still a little girl. Those "ghosts" were all Dutch boys that lived in Bandung during the time the Netherlands invaded Indonesia. It is said that they were all murdered by Japanese armies when the Japanese were trying to take over Indonesia. Her childhood friendships with them were considerably happy although it kinda messed up her social life with the living people. The book also contains some stories about her friendships and meetings with "ghosts" other than those 5 boys.

I'm not gonna lie, some chapters about her meetings with other "ghosts" are friggin' scary because of their depicted appearances, not to mention that some of them just came out of nowhere to "tease" Risa. I mean,WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, RANDOM "GHOSTS"!? Have you gotten so bored that you decided to just pop out and distress people? Ugh.

But the stories about her sincere friendships and about how the boys lived, the way they thought (I'm sure all of those things were told by them but Risa wrote it in a more... literature-y way), I mean, they were all just boys when they died. The oldest one, Peter, was only 13 years old. The way they thought and acted were only things their parents taught them, they only just learned how to act or think in certain ways that were deemed acceptable at the time. They didn't understand why they were taught to hate the indigenous Indonesians. They didn't understand why they were killed by people they had never seen before.

Okay so here's what I learned from "Gerbang Dialog Danur":

  • People weren't born racist. Racism is taught and learned and it is nothing but bullsh-t. Those boys were taught racism but one of the things that made them "survived" as "ghosts" was their friendships with someone they were taught to hate.
  • I see the stories about those boys more like an anti-war message than horror stories. Almost like when watching "Grave of the Fireflies". War is the most selfish thing that can happen, so selfish that it sacrifices innocent people who don't really understand what's going on.

Lastly, apparently "Gerbang Dialog Danur" is gonna be released as a movie. The trailer is up on YouTube.

1 comment:

  1. im very happy to find you here :D I revisited my old blogger friends and there you are, still blogging. im sad to know that a lot stop already. anyways. im happy you're doing well :D

    love from Myxilog

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