Issue 31 (Sep 2011)
Malik watched his bride as she cheered at the Kuda Kepang troupe performing in honor of their wedding. Nine men astride legless horse puppets woven from nipah palm leaves danced in choreographed silat martial art movements, with his brother Hassan leading them on a black-painted stallion. A middle-aged man, the Kuda Kepang master, stood beside four seated men playing gongs and percussions and snapped his leather whip.
After six years of therapy, Melissa’s voice still calls me from the lake. My shrink’s three hundred and twelve cream-colored business cards sit on my desk. One card for each appointment that failed to stop me from hearing my lover’s whispers in the patter of rain on dead leaves, in the footsteps on a flagstone path, in terror-soaked dreams. I can’t tell what she is saying, but I know the voice is hers.
When I was still a juvenile an old man made the long climb from the village to our mountainside home. A boy walked at his side to aid him. I remember studying the elder carefully as he stood in the arched entry to our cavern casting a stocky shadow. From what I could see past my mother’s broad body, the man looked filthy and tired, leaning on the boy and his walking stick as though he had a boulder strapped to his back.