Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Story of Darpan

I first met Darpan in Bandung when he was a correspondent of a Jakarta-based newspaper by the end of 1990s. Since then we've met many times, mostly in young writers gatherings.

It is common for village residents to have such a short name. Hence, when he used the name Darpan Ariawinangun in his early works it seemed that he was trying to be a new person. However, an old critic made a joke: "That name is strange," he said. In his opinion, Darpan is a peasant name, whereas Ariawinangun is a noble man name. How could two different worlds become one? (That was a strange opinion, I think). Perhaps, that was why Darpan changed his name with the original one.

Darpan was born in Sungaiula, a coastal kampong of Jayamulya Village in the District of Cibuaya, near Karawang, on 4 May 1970. His village is quite different from the mountainous land of Priangan. It is very close to the sound of wave in northern coast of the Land of Sunda. His father, Ano Wangsa, and his mother, Carnisem, are farmers. Some residents of Sungaiula work in paddy fields, while others work as fishermen. Those who sell goods are not many.

Darpan’s village is a kind of mosaic. Different cultures live together in harmony. To meet Sundanese people one can go to Sungaiula and Cimereta. To meet Javanese people one can go to Pulo Satu, Camara and Cibuntu. In Camara and Sungaibuntu there are ‘Chinese’ people too who speak in Javanese, whereas in Patikus and Anjatan both Sundanese and Javanese people can speak in Sundanese and also in Javanese. If one go to Sidariwan one can meet people whose ancestors are from Batawi. That's what I have noticed based on our conversation in Jakarta in 1998. Darpan himself has colourful family background: his grand parents on his father’s side are Javanese. His grandfather on his mother’s side is Sundanese, and his grand mother on his mother’s side is Javanese.

He had his elementary school at Wargamekar Elementary School in the late 1970s. In 1983 - 1986 he studied at PGRI Junior High School in Pedes, then he studied at SPG (Teacher Training School) in Karawang in 1986-1989. He left for Bandung to join IKIP (Institute of Teaching and Paedagogy---now Bandung University of Education). He studied at the university in 1989-1993. It was in his college years that he started writing stories and poems. He had also won writing competition twice at his college. He wrote poems and short stories both in Sundanese and Indonesian.

Darpan publishes his short stories in some Sundanese periodicals, e.g. Manglé, Galura and Cupumanik. His first book, a children storybook entitled Goong Siluman (the Ghostly Cymbal), was published in 1993. In 1998 he published his first anthology of short stories entitled Nu Harayang Dihargaan (Those who Want to be Respected). For several times (in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000) Darpan have won Literary Prize from the LBSS (Centre for Sundanese Language and Literature). He has also won the D.K. Ardiwinata Literary Award four times (1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996). In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious Rancagé Literary Award for the anthology of short stories. Among his generation Darpan is the first one who win the award.

In the year 2000, along with some other Sundanese writers, Darpan was invited by the Jakarta Art Council to read one of his short stories at Taman Ismail Marzuki. He was also invited by a local branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) to read his short story in Lampung in the year 2001. In that time Darpan was still working with the Centre for Press and Development Studies (LSPP), a Jakarta-based non-government organization. Darpan also joined Dangiang Community, a Bandung-based group of young writers who are interested in studying Sundanese culture and literature.

In the present day Darpan lives in Garut, West Java, with his wife and two children. He is a schoolteacher, teaching Sundanese to students at a Senior High School. With his colleague Budi Suhardiman, he published a small encyclopedia entitled Seputar Garut (Around Garut) in the year 2007. He also writes columns regularly in Garut Post, a local newspaper.

Hawe Setiawan

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