Shishir 2022 Stories - Damhuri Muhammad


Jungle Kids
By Damhuri Muhammad


That valley is the most secret place. It always gives asylum when they are convicted in the congregation by their parents, for stealing sugar cane belonging to Katib Leman. Until the anger subsided, they disappeared, penetrating the layers of thickets. From there they also blow small stones from the handles of wooden Ketapel when a group of Murai Batu hunters came with various forms of traps they would set. Before they could get to the trapping point, a bullet from a wooden Ketapel had landed on the base of their ear.

The closer they got to the path to the Cempaya jungle entrance, the more their foreheads and chins were stained with blood. It is not certain where the stones came from because when they looked around the valley from below, all they could see was a tangled thicket. The longer they tracked down the source of the flying stones, the better their chances of going home with flaky scalps.


"Perhaps this is the stone that fell from the claws of the Ababil bird's feet. Only the prophets can see the form of the bird sent by God," said the head of the Murai Batu hunter group.

"The Murai Batu here is guarded by stone-throwing ghosts. Before they rain stones, we better find a friendly jungle!" replied one of his men.

"Agreed! Better to go back without the Murai Batu than to block the flying stones sent by the ghosts!"


This suffering is also borne by gangs of illegal logging thugs who mistake the Cempaya jungle as a no-man's-land area. Unlike the way to thwart the hunt for Murai Batu, specifically for the thugs financed by the wealthy bosses in the provincial city, the wooden Ketapel wrapped around Injang, Injing, and Injun's necks will not work.


Logging gangs were even allowed to enter the heart of the Cempaya jungle, and they were even given time to finish building a rest hut, which was also a place to store tools. But the moment they let their guard down, the chainsaw disappeared. Fuel in jerry cans was spilled all around the hut. One cigarette butt was enough to light a fire, and then the hut turned to ashes in one breath.


Like the Murai Batu hunters, none of the members of the illegal logging group can identify the perpetrators of the ruthless theft of chainsaws and burning of huts. The more they tracked down the culprit; the wild boar trap between the trees would throw their big bodies away. Because look up to the valley full of thickets, their feet can accidentally step on the trigger for wild boar trap. The logger's body will be thrown away. Even if luckily it didn't hit the waist of a big tree, the body would hang from the rope in the position of the legs up and the head down. So, before being battered like wild boars torn apart by a herd of hungry dogs, it's better to get away from the Cempaya jungle as soon as possible.

"You say the Cempaya jungle is safe, but we are like facing a special force," complained a member of the illegal loggers.

"Calm down, Bos. Who knows this is just a test to measure our resilience," replied the members.

"Resilience? When the tool is gone, it's paralyzed, Monkey!"

Once upon a time, Injang, Injing, and Injun met a tough opponent. It's not just a gang of Murai Batu hunters or thugs for illegal logging. In an area that was quite difficult to reach from the secret valley, a helicopter flew low and circled the same point. People in uniform were busy working in the helicopter. Lowering the hooked rope, then sack after sack heaved up.

About 7 to 10 people prepare the sacks downstairs. Once the hooked rope was reached, they lifted the sacks one by one and then entered the hull of the helicopter. Outside the Cempaya jungle, people know that their activities are part of a survey of the location of a group of researchers delegated by a mining company. It is said that the Cempaya jungle contains uranium. Of course, residents around the Cempaya jungle had heard many rumours that uranium could be brought to the surface.

However, what Injang, Injing, and Injun saw was not survey work at all by the looks of scholars, but the swiftness of lifting sacks of dried marijuana ready for distribution on helicopters, and all of this was done by people in full uniforms.

"A small stone bullet from a wooden Ketapel can't possibly puncture a helicopter's fuel tank," Injing muttered.

"You know where the helicopter tank is, Njing?" Injun teased.

"They can't completely hide the marijuana field. Strike your Ketapel, aim at those uniformed men!" said Injang, excited.

Not long after one or two small stones lodged in the shells on the back of the heads of the uniformed men, the three boys ran wildly into the secret valley. The sound of gunshots aimed at the sky made them tremble and pale, as if the bullet had pierced their chest. Some people had tried to chase the children's tracks with a gun in their hands. Luckily the thick thickets made them lazy to continue the pursuit.

"It's the first time I've heard the sound of a gun," Injun whispered.

"That's just a warning shot. What if the bullet adds to your ass hole? Aha..." Injing said, trying to cover up her hesitation.

"The way to get acquainted with firearms is to become a policeman or soldier," whispered Injang.


That's how the secret valley saved them. Not only from parental nagging for small mistakes but also because their hands often cocked wooden catapults for the survival of all the inhabitants of the Cempaya jungle. No one knows the hiding place, and forever will be kept secret by Injang, Injing, and Injun.

"If anyone betrays our secrets, they will be expelled from the alliance!" Injang said.

"The heaviest punishment will be given to this asseveration reader!" replied Injing, looking at Injang with sharp eyes.

"If you break your asseveration yourself, this valley becomes your hell!" continued Injun.

After passing through their teenage years, to prove their curiosity about the hot bullet that comes out of the muzzle of the rifle, Injang realizes his intention to become an officer. From the land of Java, news came that the son of the late bee honey seeker in the Cempaya jungle was announced as the best graduate of the police academy. In a different city, Injun, who since stepping into the capital spent his student years as a pro-democracy activist, has been sitting on a par with the elites of a major political party.

"It's useless to be a reliable politician if you can't build your birthplace," said his senior once.

After occupying the legislative seat once or twice, the time will come when Injun returns to his hometown and is solemn to prosper the people in his native land.
So, all that was left in the secret valley was Injing.

"We'd better go first, Njing. Seek knowledge, and gather strength. In the future, our enemies in the Cempaya jungle will be more cunning," Injun persuaded before he left for the Capital.

"If we continue to survive as stupid people, it will be easy for them to deceive us," added Injang.

"No, my friend! I will survive in the Cempaya jungle until I die!" replied Injing. Fast.

"If you all go, there's no one to guard the secret valley. I'll take the job. Go! I'll be fine here."


Even though he insists on surviving as a child of the jungle, don't think that Injing will fall as a fool. Throughout the developing world, this is the first time the small hamlet in the jungle waist of Cempaya has prospered. This gift and luck cannot be separated from the cold hands of a benefactor, the owner of a marijuana field in the Cempaya jungle. No more uniformed people who used to load sacks of dried marijuana on helicopters. All points of marijuana fields in the vast Cempaya jungle have fallen under the control of Injing. The only remaining member of the secret valley alliance.

From the proceeds from the sale of marijuana, Injing built a hamlet called Payahtumbuh.

"No one should drop out of school! Make sure their scholarships reach magister and doctoral degrees! If someone is really strong-willed, send them to Europe!" Injing said to his confidant.

Forty percent of his illegal business profits are used by Injing to build the Payahtumuh hamlet. Both physical, especially human resource development.
"If they build a mosque or small prayer room, don't beg on the roadside with infaq boxes! Ask the committee for a budget, and pay for everything! Understand?"


The road from and to the hamlet of Payahtumbuh is shiny. The mosque stands majestically in every corner. Farmers receive fertilizer subsidies, cultivators receive low-interest capital loans, and their children receive full scholarships. If nothing goes wrong, in the next one or two years, the hamlet of Payahtumbuh will give birth to three candidates who are currently completing doctoral dissertations at well-known European universities.

Perhaps, in the next ten years, one of the seats in the government's cabinet will be filled by a son born in the hamlet of Payahtumbuh. It all, once again, would never have happened, without the intervention of a mysterious man named Injing. No one can find it, except for those who want to choose the Cempaya jungle as a tomb. If anyone dares to arrest the big merchant and tries to sneak on the path leading to the depths of the Cempaya jungle, they will certainly not return. Both as a human, and as a spirit.


It takes a special talent to catch that important target. Junaidi Syarkawi, the Regent who has full authority over the area, has received a letter from the top leadership of the Narcotics and Addictive Substances Agency. He was asked to contribute measurably to launch an arrest operation, under the control of a high-ranking police officer, Januar Fadil, an envoy from the Capital.

"We will take over this operation. The local authorities will not be able to. The top-notch marijuana mafia has a three-company barracks with automatic weapons!"
That was the conversation the head of the Narcotics and Addictive Substances Agency had with the local Police Chief.

But unexpectedly, without deploying many members, without even releasing a single bullet, high-ranking police officer Januar Fadil had led a target named Injing from the mouth of the Cempaya jungle, handcuffed.

"You went all the way to the other side, just to learn how to be polite to betray a comrade!" whispered Injing to the high-ranking police officer he called by name; Injang.

"Where's the Regent? You are high in school, but low in demeanour. Worse than the snares of Murai Batu and illegal loggers in the Cempaya jungle," Injun grumbled, which to the high-ranking police officer Injang felt like a stab to the heart.


The regent received the report. The marijuana fields have been burnt to the ground. Including multi-layered thickets, and the entrance to the secret valley. The Regent, whose little name was Injun, felt that his childhood home had been destroyed in the fire. On the way back to the Capital, the high-ranking police officer Injang was engulfed in immeasurable thirst. Throughout the flight, he kept swallowing his own saliva...


Damhuri Muhamma from Indonesia writes fiction, literary criticism, and Op-Ed in Indonesia’s and Southeast Asia's leading media outlets. He is working as a lecturer in philosophy at Darma Persada University, Jakarta.


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