Posted by: callighan | 10 August 2009

Siti Nurbaya’s Had Enough

Art and life has always held a close relationship short of full intercourse. However, there’s an undeniable imitative relationship between the two which often result in confounding outcomes.

Simply put, when life imitates art, it can result in irony.

Marah Rusli once penned a feudal tale of forced marriage where one Siti Nurbaya was to unwillingly marry a rich old fart named Datuk Maringgih. The plot behind the marriage was a simple case of a fathers debt which can only be abolished through his loving daughter’s marriage. The rock in the road comes in the form of Siti’s love for a dashing and age-apropriate man. Not being in a society that allows a ménage à trois, what entailed was a tragic drama of heartbreak and harsh lives.

Siti Nurbaya novel by Marah Rusli

This tale from Minangkabau went on to inspire a philosophically stirring song in the 1990s. The group that created it was called a god, and the song title takes its name from the female protagonist who inspired it.

The group was Dewa 19 and the song is Cukup Sudah Siti Nurbaya.

Loose lyrical translation by me:

    Oh,
    Still exist, shackles in the corridors of love
    Absorbing now, into the walls of time
    Trying, trying to corrode the human instinct
    Cheap agitation reappearing
    Please nullify, and look away

    Oh,
    How true the world blurs one logic
    As if our lifes are valued into currency
    Listen to men sharpened by philosophy
    When they proclaim; ’tis no dogma

    Say to dear mama
    That love is neither treasure nor throne
    And please ensure them all
    That only love could calm the world

    No
    not that, Mama

    No
    not that, Papa

    Oh,
    ’tis enough that Siti Nurbaya tasted this sour world
    For my life, yours, and everyone’s
    Are not as strings that predestine our paths
    Listen to men sharpened by philosophy
    When they proclaim; ’tis no dogma

    No,
    Not that, Mama
    Not that, Papa

Sounds profound, doesn’t it?

The video tells the tale of a vagrant daughter contemplating life and society after being forcibly betrothed to a snobby, fat, and presumably rich socialite. In a bout of innocent rage, the daughter decries this decision and decides to pack up her things and make a life of her own, only to see the appalling ills of the world which shatters her resolve, driving her to return into the loving arms of her mother. Seeing the errors of their way, the parents decided to break the betrothal (modernly known as an engagement).

What’s highly peculiar is the tale of the heroine of the music video; Bianca Adinegoro.
Photobucket

After one fallout of a marriage, Bianca went on to mary a rich bureaucrat and became a socialite herself. Perhaps in an ironic twist in comparison with the life that befell Siti Nurbaya.

Socialites: Bianca Luthfie (née Adinegoro), Cynthia Risjad, Gaby Bakrie

Recently, I revisited my bookshelf and picked up my dusty copy of Marah Rusli’s most acclaimed tome.  After careful re-reading, what I found amused me.

In truth, Siti Nurbaya’s father, Baginda Sulaiman, was the one who refused Datuk Maringgih’s marriage proposal to Siti. It was Siti herself who wanted to marry him in order to abolish her father’s odious debts. Maringgih himself has promised to erase all debts in the event of his marriage to Siti.

Although more preculiarly, it was Datuk Maringgih’s plan from the start to burn all of Sulaiman’s boats, trapping him into mounting debt. A debt which could only be repaid by his daughter’s marriage.

Moral of the story?

Look behind the lines!

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Responses

  1. Oh…. confused
    “In truth, Siti Nurbaya’s father, Baginda Sulaiman, was the one who refused Datuk Maringgih’s marriage proposal to Siti. It was Siti herself who wanted to marry him in order to abolish her father’s odious debts.”
    I never read this novel completely. Is it true that engagement was initiated by Siti Nurbaya in “Dato Maringgih design”?

  2. Perhaps I worded it wrong. She did not propose, but rather, she sort of accepted or considered Datuk’s proposal.

  3. Cool post, I didn’t thought reading it would be so cool when I looked at the title with link!!

  4. Thanks for reading this SpeecySheasia!
    Especially because you think it’s cool. 🙂


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