Posted in Music, Rant

Siti Nurbaya’s Had Enough

Art and life have 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-appropriate 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 lives 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 marry 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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Author:

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4 thoughts on “Siti Nurbaya’s Had Enough

  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.

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