A Broken Hearted Woman Who Found Love Through Dream (Perempuan Patah Hati yang Kembali Menemukan Cinta Melalui Mimpi) is basically a short story collection under the Indonesian Writer Eka Kurniawan. This is a really stand-out Indonesian short story collection that I read recently. He was born in Tasikmalaya, West Java, November 28, 1975. He studied philosophy at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta and currently works as a writer. Kurniawan is known for some novels and short stories, which are translated to many languages. Everyone welcome to visit his blog, mostly talking about literature, which sometimes I visit during school holiday: www.ekakurniawan.com.
This collection is full of different short stories that share lots of things with common. One thing sticking out most of all is irony, reminding me of O. Henry’s short stories. The story would move up high to its events, the climax, the falling action, and then the conclusion, where it suddenly drops in an ironical ending. An ending which ruins the entire plot in the first place as if Kurniawan makes a sharp return, an unexpected curve. The main character would do something for a reason–strive for a goal, and in the end, it was all for nothing. The story would normally end in a punch line–or final paragraph telling us the irony.
There are many stories in this book that ends with this kind of punch line; like Kapten Bebek Hijau or Captain Green Duckling. A story about a duckling who turned green because he had eaten something he shouldn’t have, and he didn’t really like being green. After all, why was a duck green? Ducks were not green, period. All his brothers and sisters were yellow, and because of the horrible plant, he became green. After getting some answers from his mother, he decided to discover a herb that would make him yellow again, but the journey was going to be long, hard, and tiring.
The little duckling faced lots of challenges along the way. He was almost eaten by beasts and killed, but because he hid in green areas–bushes, bamboos — he managed to evade the predators because of his color. Story ended here, when the duckling finally found the herb. He ate the herb, turned back yellow, was no longer camouflaged. I could see the punch line at this one, slapping my face from one side. Kurniawan possesses an uncanny ability to hook the readers attention from the very first paragraph. Reflecting at Captain Green Duckling, personally, I’d rather be green and different, instead of yellow and becoming an easy promise of death.
This short story collection is also full of misunderstanding. Normally, it is happening between couples who are in commited relationship. I find it very humorous and funny, on how a girl would do anything she could for the boy and sacrifices a lot, only to find out the boy had done the same thing. This story also relates to O Henry’s short story The Gift of Magi, a short but funny story about Christmas, Presents, and some buying and selling.
Gincu in Merah Sayang (This Lipstick Is Red, Dear) talks about a young woman who was accused to be a slut by the police because they found her in the bar, wearing thick red burning lipstick with many other slutty girls. They were taken to the police station. The next day after that, the husband of that woman divorced her. He sadly said that he had actually knew she was going to betray him sooner or later because of her past. The poor girl was heartbroken because the reason why she wore the lipstick in the first place was because of that man. She had stopped being slutty once they were married, and became a normal housewife when she started to notice that her husband strayed further and longer away. She was worried at the thought of the man meeting another woman who worn redder lipstick on the face. There starts the story of how she sat in the bar, hoping to meet her husband there and bringing him back to her with her red lips. Only if her husband ever wanted and would listen to her explanation.
I haven’t read all Kurniawan’s stories but after reading this short story collection, I would call him as a master of irony. It’s hard to imagine any literary treat that can be enjoyed in small doses more pleasurable than this. Though it’s ironic, the ending arrives naturally. I don’t feel manipulated; everything falls as it is, normally and logically. I love tasting his delightful and remarkable choice of wordplay. So heart warming yet very cruel. Each story tickles my fancy. Some stories were even very sad in the end, just because of one event that sparks the entire story. I would suggest people who are stubborn as rock read these short stories because Kurniawan would dazzle you that life is not always what it seems. It’s a really good collection in my opinion, and I really look forward to read more stories by Eka Kurniawan.