“One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty one years.”
Beauty is a Wound. Cantik itu Luka. Just like Herman Melville’s opening line from Moby Dick, Beauty is a Wound has captured me as a reader right from the very start. This line has promoted a sense of mystery, and a sense of suspense, and it has propelled me on the book. Beauty is a Wound revolves around the history of Indonesia, with a touch of fantasy. Nominated for the Man Brooker awards and being a close finalist, this book is both quality and quantity.
The story follows the story of Dewi Ayu, a whore–yes, a whore–and how both her and the characters interconnected to her fell into a tragedy. Dewi Ayu is described to be a very beautiful lady at first glance, although she has a lot of wit that comes with the beauty. A whore isn’t the perfect “Mary Sue character”, and Dewi Ayu has her flaws. But she has escaped death, and survived through a war in the Dutch, the Second World war, and Indonesa’s independence. I’ve known the lengths both human and animal would go to just to survive, and Dewi Ayu becoming a whore just to be able to grab a chance in living a life of luxury to escape the concentration camp is just one story in millions of stories.
When I was small, and was on my way to do my first Communion, I was always taught that Jesus was The Savior of all of us. That He had been crucified to save humanity from the sins they had done. The Jesus that I know was born human, and when He grew up, He spread love around the world, and now the followers call themselves as The Christians. The Jesus that I know will open up His arms and welcome children, and all people would like to join His path of redemption. The Jesus that I know is also willing to forgive all of our wrongful.
Although I don’t spend lots of time reading the Bible, I know some important parts that happened in the Old Testament, from having joined in several church masses throughout the years. The Bible is alluded in many famous literary works, like Carrie by Stephen King. The Bible is said as the most known book on the planet who had given a hard impact on human-kind. My family are not exactly a very religious family, yet we still follow some of our religious obligations. Religion activities are a part of my life since I was little. However, since last year, my mother has step a bit back and given me some freedom to seek God with my own way. Thus, I become a seeker and a believer at the same time.
At 169 pages, it is a very short read and I’d think from the cover and title, this book is for kids but actually, it is aimed at adults. Scraggy was born in a litter of eight, being the strangest colored puppy in the litter with the most distinctive appearance. Unlike her mother and father, Scraggy bear a thick and curly black colored pelt which had probably came down from the dominate recessive gene rule. She wasn’t the most attractive puppy, but she was the one that could cause people to give her a second glance.
Scraggy’s owners were Grandpa and Grandma Screecher, who bred dogs for money. Scraggy–who was still a puppy then–had to watch in confusion as one by one, her remaining surviving siblings were taken away by people. From the start of her life, Scraggy had already had it hard. Her mother was described to shun her out as an outsider, and at least two of her litter-mates did not survive their puppyhood. She was also easily tormented by the cat next door. At a young age, Scraggy was forced to learn about the cycle of life. Scraggly learned that love and truth weren’t always wrapped up in the nicest of packages.
Oskar was weird, in the bad-kind-of-way, which is probably why he’s a soft target for the bullies in his school. Oskar was more of like the quiet guy who sits at the back of the class, who had no friends at all. Oskar could be described as dull, without anything sticking out of him at all. Oskar himself lived inside a broken family. His mother was probably the only person he had a connection with, his father’s status unknown. Alcoholic, he was assumed to be living in the countryside.
The harsh bullying he received and the loneliness which followed caused him to have an unnatural tendency to collect clippings of articles regarding crimes and murders. With a quick deal with his friend Tommy, Oskar had acquired a knife for himself, where he could spend his time plunging the blade into wood. He would fantasize himself plunging a knife into the gut of the ringleader of the bullies–Jonny.
Every bullied kid feels that way. Oskar is an example of someone that has been broken inside. There are many psychological things that would come with bullying and neglect. Oskar was described to be a very quiet boy, unable to stand up for himself to the point where he couldn’t even raise his own hand. He even had a piss-ball, making the torment that he goes through daily just something that should be faced without a fight, so that he could escape the problem faster. Oskar longs for somebody who could protect him, even to the point where he was ready to tail a policeman and hopes to get offered some form of shield from himself and the bullies.
After arriving in Lisbon, Solomon – he was an elephant – was immediately forgotten, living in a pen that became increasingly dirty after year by year. Fast forward a few years later, we have the king and the queen, trying to debate what to give the Archduke as a wedding gift. That was when the queen remembered Solomon and suggested to the king to give Solomon to the Archduke. The King agreed because it was a good idea after all.
Solomon was enjoying his nice peaceful life in Lisbon after a long journey from Goa, has now become a wedding present from the King of Portugal to the Archduke Maximilian. Giving an elephant to the Archduke was seen as a very symbolic move for the nation, as it’s not everyday a King would give someone an elephant as a wedding gift. Those symbolic ceremonies, where the King had to bring himself to visit the elephant in his pen and the Archduke Maximilian officially accepting the gift by changing Solomon’s name to Suleiman, (of course he’s still referred to as Solomon in the novel), Solomon needed to begin a really long journey from Lisbon to Vienna, where he had to travel on land and water.