a blog for the globe
Saturday April 29th 2017

Note on ‘Coconut Leaves’

Literature | Thursday, 30 June 2011 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawé Setiawan

Page of Ena's short story (reproduced from Mangle)

One of the short stories issued in this week edition of Manglé magazine is written by Ena Rs, a contemporary Sundanese fiction writer. Entitled Daun Kalapa ‘Coconut Leaves’ (Manglé No. 2329, pp. 22-23), this story tells about the death of a coconut picker.

What makes me interested in the story is my intellectual concern to the matter of landscape representation in literary and other imaginative works. I am deeply interested in how writers and artists depict landscapes, mainly natural landscapes, in their works. That’s why, as a reader of this weekly magazine, over the past few months I have been making bookmarks on every short story that has something to do with the representation of natural landscape.

Ena’s story represents a village setting where paddy fields spread and coconut trees grow. Illustrating what the main character, Karta, was thinking about the author writes:

‘Karta just smiled at him. Well, what’s the big deal with these paddy fields? He didn’t know, yet they looked so enchanting to him. Yellow paddy fields, dews, piit birds, jambé trees, all seemed to form a new and different atmosphere at that morning. Karta didn’t know why…’

And this, in my opinion, is the logic of the story: the passionate concern toward the beautiful and enchanting scenes of natural landscape is a sign of the nearing death of the viewer. The man, who is very attracted by the natural scenes, as if they just come into his senses for the first time, is actually realizing that his time is coming to an end. In other words, the man unconsciously sees his coming death through a sudden attraction of the natural scenes he actually knows well. He is like a falling leaf. ***

Leave a Reply