Audris’s story is one written in palpable anger as they explore the idea of queer ecology within Sundanese indigeneity. As gender is forced into a binary and nature is being relentlessly exploited, it is unbridled cosmic wrath that will come together to bite us back.

The earth under my bare feet quakes. She shakes and trembles and cries as excavators claw at her flesh. My flesh. She screams and bleeds as the harvesters rip off her hair and tear down the trees; our children, now dead for the sake of those who throw away their food.

I rush to the peak, the wails of the birds and the boars and the deer rupture my ears. All confused, all afraid. My siblings—they’ll be slaughtered too if anyone catches them.

The caldera gapes empty. I fall to my knees, not caring how my lungs squeeze tight and how my legs burn. My body is hers, and hers alone.

When my parents forced me into an arranged marriage, the mountain opened her arms to me. When the villagers threw rocks at me for lighting incense and ushering stray spirits, the wild rabbits nuzzled at my feet.

The final straw was when they branded me a kafir, and the local ustad dragged me to his room to exorcise me. 

Afterward, Dewi Sri Herself led me to the spring water. She cleansed me off the forced, artificial womanhood, and dipped me into the river to be born anew. No longer a woman, yet will never need to be a man.

Now it’s my turn to protect her.

I inhale the clear air; I take it all with me. My voice comes out heavy and dark—no longer my own, but hers.

“Budak bageur, budak bageur, hayu hudang sarerea.”

The earth quakes once more. The rumbles spread across the land, deeper, rougher. Even the core of the planet itself shudders at my words—our spell.

Black ash and smoke climb out of the crater and fill my lungs. I hack and cough as tiny explosions burst inside me. My tongue twists and knots and fights to push out the words again.

“Budak bageur, budak bageur, hayu hudang sarerea.”

If the poachers caught them, the older tigers would be stripped off their hide and the cubs would be taken for display. The monkeys would be hauled to black markets—or worse, enslaved as topeng monyet attractions. At least this way I can offer them a dignified death.

More ashes spill out like tears. I cry with her as her grief evolves into wrath. She had given them air to breathe and land to till, but people always ask for more. They won’t be satisfied unless they tear at her organs and gnaw at her bones.

The ground fissures and cracks, ready to blow. It shakes and shakes and shakes until she cannot contain herself anymore, and everything turns red.

I won’t be here to witness it, but I know one thing.

This way, the trees will return greener than before. This way, they’ll know better than to incur Ibu Pertiwi’s wrath.

Let us wipe the slate clean so we can start anew.

Let us remember that she is not ours to control.

We are hers, and hers alone.

Read other stories in this season:

Audris Candra is a Chinese-Indonesian writer, shaman, and editor/sensitivity reader. As a gremlin of a human, they enjoy making new nemeses (read: friends but make it spicy) and eating good food.

Jes and Cin Wibowo are twin Indonesian writers and artists for comics. They're currently working on a queer Indonesian middle grade graphic novel, Lunar Boy, to be published in the US.

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