Eyewitness (Saksi Mata)


By Seno Gumira Ajidarma

Jakarta, 4 March 1992

Source of the original text: https://duniasukab.com/2007/04/25/saksi-mata/

Translated by Steve Andrianto


That eyewitness comes without eyes. He staggered into the center of the court with his hands fumbling in the air. From the sockets where his eyes were flows blood so red like there is no other red redder than the red of the blood which flows slowly and continuously from those eye sockets.

The blood soaks his cheeks, soaks his shirt, soaks his trousers, soaks his shoes and flows slowly on the court floor which has actually been mopped cleanly with carbolic acid whose aroma can even still be smelled by the guests, who are now panicking and shouting with their welling-up emotions while the reporters, who always respond enthusiastically to tumultuous situations, are taking pictures of the Eyewitness from every angle, even by bending their bodies over1, causing the flashing lights to exacerbate the situation.




Mr. Honorable Judge, who just sobers, knocks his gavel several times. With the authority left in him, he tries to calm the situation.

“Please be quiet, ladies and gentlemen! Be quiet! Whoever interferes with the flow of the trial will be sent out of the room!”

Thankfully the audiences calm down. They also eager to know what has happened actually.

“Mr. Eyewitness.”

“I am, Sir.”

“Where are your eyes?”

“Taken by someone, Sir.”


“I am, Sir.”

“You mean taken in a surgery?”

“No, Sir, taken with a spoon.”

“Eh? With a spoon? Why?”

“I don’t know why, Sir, but they said it’s to make tengkleng.” (tengkleng is a traditional food from Surakarta—a soup made with goat bones.)

“To make tengkleng? Outrageous! Who said so?”

“The ones who took my eyes, Sir.”

“Of course, idiot! I mean who took your eyes with a spoon?”

“They didn’t mention their names, Sir.”

“Idiot. You didn’t ask?”

“No, Sir.”

“Listen carefully, idiot, I mean, what do they look like? Before your eyes were taken with a spoon to make tengkleng or maybe a goat soup mix as they said, your eyes were still in their place, weren’t they?”

“I am, Sir.”

“So you saw what they look like, didn’t you?”

“I am, Sir.”

“Please tell us what was seen by your eyes that have been eaten by those tengkleng lovers now.”

That Eyewitness is silent for a moment. All audiences in the court hold their breath.

“There were several people, Sir.”

“How many?”

“Five, Sir.”

“What do they look like?”

“I didn’t get the chance to examine, Sir, because they took my eyes first.”

“Still remember their cloths probably?”

“They clearly wore a uniform, Sir.”

The court turns noisy again like the buzzing sound of a thousand bees.


The Judge is knocking his gavel again. The buzz disappears.

“You mean a soldier uniform?”

“No, Sir.”

“Police uniform?”

“No, Sir.”

“Civil defense uniform probably?”

“It’s black from top to bottom, Sir, like the one in movies.”

“They covered their faces?”

“Yes, Sir. Only their eyes were visible.”

“Ahhh, I know! Ninja, right?”

“Ha, that’s it, Ninja! They were the ones who took my eyes with a spoon!”

Again, the audiences start making a noise and gossiping to each other like in a café. Again, Mr. Honorable Judge has to knock his gavel several times to make those people calm down.

Blood still drips slowly but continuously from the black sockets where the eyes of the Eyewitness who stands like a statue in the court were. The blood flows on the court floor which has been mopped with carbolic acid. The blood fills the court room overflowing through the down the stairs to the yard.

But people can’t see it.

“Mr. Eyewitness.”

“I am, Sir.”

“By the way, why didn’t you do anything when they took your eyes with a spoon?”

“There are five of them, Sir.”

“You could have shouted or thrown anything close to you or done anything so that your neighbor could hear and help you. You live in a slum alley, you can even hear people whispering next to your house, but why didn’t you do anything?”

“Because it happened in a dream, Sir.”

People laugh. The Judge knocks his gavel furiously.

“Please be quite! This is a court, not Srimulat!” (Srimulat is an Indonesian comedian group show.)


The court room feels suffocating. People are sweating, but they don’t want to move. The blood in the yard runs to the parking lot. The Judge continues his questions.

“Mr. Eyewitness, you said earlier it happened in a dream. Do you mean it happened so fast that you felt like dreaming?”

“No, Sir, not like dreaming, but it indeed happened in a dream. That’s why I didn’t do anything when they tried to spoon my eyes.”

“You are being serious? Don’t play around, or you’ll have to say it under oath.”

“I’m deadly serious, Sir, I didn’t do anything because I thought it was just a dream. I even laughed when they said they wanted to make tengkleng.”

“So, according to Mr. Eyewitness, that eye scooping incident only happened in a dream?”

“Not only according to me, Sir. It really happened in a dream.”

“Maybe you’re insane.”

“Oh, I can prove it, Sir, there’re many eyewitnesses who know that I was just sleeping all night long, Sir, and while I was sleeping, no one came to disturb me Sir.”

“So, it must have happened in a dream?”

“I am, Sir.”

“But when you woke up, your eyes were gone?”

“Exactly, Sir. That’s what I’m confused of. It happened in a dream, but when I woke up, eh, how come it turned out to be real?”

The Judge shakes his head out of incomprehension.

“Absurd,” he mumbles.

The flowing blood has reached the street.


Can the Eyewitness who no longer has eyes still testify? Of course he can, Mr. Honorable Judge thinks, his memory was not taken with his eyes, wasn’t it?

“Mr. Eyewitness.”

“I am, Sir.”

“Can you still testify?”

“I’m ready, Sir, that’s why I came to this court first before going to an ophthalmologist, Sir.”

“Mr. Eyewitness, you still remember that incident even though you don’t have eyes anymore?”

“I am, Sir.”

“You still remember how the slaughtering happened?”

“I am, Sir.”

“You still remember how blood flowed, people wailed and those who were still half-dead were stabbed with a knife to death?”

“I am, Sir.”

“Remember all of it clearly, because even though there are many eyewitnesses, no one is willing to testify in the court but you.”

“I am, Sir.”

“Once again, are you still willing to testify?”

“I am, Sir.”


“For the sake of justice and righteousness, Sir.”

The court room turns thunderous. Everyone gives their applause, even the Prosecutor and the Defense Lawyer. Many were cheering. Some were shouting jargon.

Mr. Honorable Judge instantly knocks his magical gavel.

“Hushhhh! Don’t make a campaign here!” He said firmly.

“Today’s trial is postponed, we start again tomorrow to listen to the testimony from Mr. Eyewitness who no longer has eyes!”

With the spirit left in him, again, he knocks his gavel, but the gavel breaks. People laugh. The reporters, who have no choice but to write small news because it’s not possible to write big news, quickly take pictures of it. Click-click-click-click-click! Mr. Honorable Judge is captured while holding a broken gavel.


In his way home, Mr. Honorable Judge says to his driver, “Imagine how a man has to lose both of his eyes for the sake of justice and righteousness. Shouldn’t I as the servant of the law make bigger sacrifices?”

The driver wants to answer it with something that relieves his guilt, sort of a sentence, “Justice is not blind.” But Mr. Honorable Judge is already fast asleep in the middle of vexing traffic congestion.

The blood still runs slowly but continuously along the street until that city is flooded with blood. The blood drenches every corner of the city and even crawls up storied buildings until there is no place left that is not red by blood. Nevertheless, miraculously, no one sees it. When night comes, the Eyewitness who no longer has eyes prays before going to sleep. He prays that this mortal life be fine as it is, so that everything works smoothly and everyone is happy.

In his sleep, he dreams again, five people in a Ninja uniform remove his tongue—this time with pliers.

Jakarta, 4 March 1992


1.) I would like to thank my friend, Anderson Hidarto, for suggesting this word.


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