Nh. Dini’s Modernity by Laksmi Pamuntjak – Asymptote, 2015

“And so we find a Dini who is full of contradictions. For every Dini who is filled with rage, we find a Dini full of consideration: she hates her husband and considers all the intimate details of that hatred fit to tell the public, yet when she must tell her lover of her pregnancy, she hesitates. ‘In Javanese there is a term, dora sembadha (a white lie),’ writes Dini. ‘I do not want to bring shame to the man to whom I am married.’ For every Dini to whom material fulfillment seems secondary to self-pride and happiness—’I must take this all in my stride, because no matter what, I do not want to burden my Captain,’ morally or materially—we find a Dini who sees no need in masking her joy at being lavished with gifts: ‘Ever since we have been together, every time we meet, he never forgets to supply me with a lot of money. As for the other presents from him, they are so numerous they are impossible to count.’ And for every Dini who puts up with her husband because she is financially dependent on him for the care of their children (and is therefore moved by her lover’s desire to move in together and adopt her unborn third child), we find a Dini who expresses gratitude while at the same time retreating in a manner most Javanese: ‘Although they are only fantasies, with no guarantee of transpiring, my heart is as if it has swollen several fold with happiness.'”

Read Laksmi Pamuntjak’s essay in its entirety.