Rice planting season
4:00 The gentle sound of the scattered drops from last night’s rain falling from the trees is suddenly drowned out by the voice of the baduk calling the uduk (Muslim morning prayers). Tasem gets up and goes to the red brick shed that serves as kitchen. She squats on the dirt floor in front of the fire and lights dry branches. The oil lamps are already lit in the neighbouring houses where two of her married daughters live. The family starts work early during rice planting season, when they are all employed by a farmer. Suparsi and Carmina leave with their husbands to work in the rice paddies. Their 15-year-old sister, Alisa, who lives at her parents’ with her husband, quickly swallows a bowl of cold rice in the kitchen before following her sisters. Tasem’s 19-year-old daughter, Ojok, is the only absentee. Now divorced for the third time, Ojok is away, training to work as a family maid in Saudi: Arabia. She is the only child Tasem and Amin are a little worried about. They say there are all kinds of stories about workers who have never been heard of again after going abroad.
Amin bin Karta comes out into the wet, muddy yard, lighting his way to the well with a torch. He draws a pail of water to shower before his morning prayers. Back in the house’ s main room, he covers half his body with a white sarong and his head with a prayer cap, and kneels beside the bed where his eight-year-old grandson, Taryono, is sleeping. Taryono is his daughter Suparsi’s son from a first marriage. When the boy’ s mother remarried four years ago and moved next door with her new husband, Taryono did not want to move. Amin bends his head down to the floor, facing Mecca, and repeats the words he has said since he learned the uduk as a child. Then he sits on his bed, rolls tobacco in a palm tree leaf, lights his cigarette and calls to his two sons, Kusnadi and Casdpin, sleeping in the bunk beds adjacent to his. Kusnadi quickly performs his ablutions at the well, returns and kneels to repeat the same words as he bends his head to the prayer carpet.