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PROPERTY OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF NUSANTARA ARCHIVES – HIGHLY CLASSIFIED

The Last Will and Testament of [redacted], Last Elder of the Karoba

Discovered 28/8, 51 Years Post-Flood

Typed and annotated by Kolonel Jatnegar

Hasian:[1]

If you’re reading this, then I have finally passed. This will not be a surprise to you. It has been a long time coming, and I will have said all I wanted to say to you all. 

Fifty one years ago, I thought I lost everything. It turns out, I lost everything but that which is the most important. You. I would not have lived this long had I come out of the Flood alone. Do not forget what you have in each other. Family is the only one who will help you in your time of need.[2]

I would ask you not to grieve, but I could not deprive myself of one last indulgence. I want to be sent off to the next life the old way. I understand you do not remember the old funeral traditions. I will guide you through them.

First, cover my body with the ulos[3] I got married in so that I may find my haholongan again. Take the others and keep them safe. Wrap your babies in them and give them to the newlyweds. I don’t have much to give any of you, I’m afraid, but this I can give.

Second. Do you remember the songs I used to teach you all? It has been a while, I know, but I hope you do. Jika tidak, sia-sia hidupku[4] Your harmonies will keep me from getting lost on the way.

Third, now this—this is the hard part. The old way—the truly old way—would have been to bury me in the land of my ancestors, put up a stone with my family tree carved on it. But (obviously) that is no longer possible. They have taken that from us just as they have taken everything else.[5] So I ask you now to build a canoe—nothing showy, just something big enough for me—and send me to the waters. Pray that my ancestors will find me.

You will have to find a place that’s beyond prying eyes.[6] If this proves impossible, burn me. Chop me up and throw me in the sea. Do whatever you can to keep my body out of their hands.

I know this will be difficult to do. They will try to stop you. They might punish you for not turning me in. I am sorry for the danger this will put you in, but I cannot deny my heart its desire for home any longer. So I hope you try anyway, because you cannot live in fear. Remember, hasian, they can take our people, they can kill us one by one, but they cannot—must not—take our history, our spirit.[7] That is the only way we make this life worthwhile.

See you in the next life, horas,

[redacted]

[1] By my own recollection, hasian appears to mean “beloved” in one of the old Sumatera languages, before the Karo and Toba clans united. There is no written reference of the word that has survived the Flood.

[2] Their insistence on family loyalty runs deep, and can be exploited. Turn one, you get the others.

[3]  Ulos is a woven cloth given at important Karoba ceremonies. The confiscated cloth has been tested and deemed to be harmless. They are currently in Storage Room C201.

[4] A phrase used during the Small Rebellion as a rallying cry for the rebels, roughly translated into “my life is futile, if not [for this]…” May be used here as a code signaling other underground rebels. Further intelligence is needed.

[5] Evidence of radical ideology. Unclear how this ideology has survived for so long considering the glaring lack of logic in it. How could we have engineered a global Flood? This level of delusion is reflective of the mental state of the rebels. Surveillance of the tribe and the extent of its radicalisation is warranted.

[6] Body has not been found to this day. It is unclear how they disposed of it.

[7] You cannot reason with these people. They are headstrong and influential, and they have the potential to radicalise other indigenous communities. In fact, I suspect my grandfather was already communicating with other tribe leaders before his death. I understand your concerns around my loyalty considering my familial ties with the Karoba, Jenderal. But I am pledged to my country, and I assure you, I am determined to serve it well. I have tried to reason with my family. It is hopeless. The only way to stop them is to take them down. I can help you with that.


‘The Last Will and Testament of the Last Elder’ is part of a series of micro-fiction pieces around the theme Speculative Futures in the Climate Crisis. Enjoyed this story and want to read more? Let us know!


Chiara Situmorang

Chiara Situmorang is a writer, editor, and kerupuk lover. Her work has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Crow & Cross Keys, and Perspektif, among others. She lives in Jakarta with her three little poodles. You can find her talking to herself on Twitter @chiarastmrng.

Row Yow

Row is a Malaysian animator, illustrator and all around "artist friend" that your friend probably knows. They are most interested in telling stories of people's lives and hopes to add value to the world through art and education. More of their work can be found at rowyart.squarespace.com, Twitter (@rowyow) and artstation.com/rowyow.