This is an excerpt from the book Apple & Knife by Intan Paramaditha, translated by Stephen J. Epstein. The book is a collection of short stories, and this is from the first short story called “The Blind Woman Without a Toe.”
Come. Come, child. Sit by me. Are you sure you want to hear how I became blind? Oh, it’s a scary tale, child. So much blood was shed, like when an animal is sacrificed. It was an awful event involving someone very close to me. You may know of her. I was butchered. Yes, you could say that. And I even butchered myself. My eyes were pecked out by a bird. They say it was a dove from heaven, but it was actually a black crow straight out of hell. I screamed. I begged it to stop. But my shrieks were drowned out by its caws. It got to the point that you could no longer tell what was flowing, tears or blood. The crow only heeded its owner and she wasn’t satisfied until my eyes were hollow sockets.
Long ago, before I became blind, I lived with my mother and my two younger sisters. The youngest wasn’t my biological sister. She was my stepfather’s daughter. Her name was Sinderlarat. You’ve heard of her, haven’t you? She is already legendary, so maybe you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you. Sin – that’s what we called her – was so dirty, she looked like she had powdered herself with soot. And she really did live in the attic. I won’t deny it (thought I regret it, since that’s where she colluded with the thing that granted her powers). What I want to do is correct history. History has killed me off in favour of her, who people say lived happily ever after. You want to know the real truth? Sin is dead. I’m the one who survives.
Yes, we were unfair to her. We ordered her to do the heavy work. When she wanted to go to the ball, we threw rice in every corner and wouldn’t let her leave the house until she had gathered all of it in a bowl. Of course, it was wasted labour, but at that point we didn’t know she was being helped by a spirit, that accursed Fairy Godmother. That’s the story you’ve heard? Well, now I’ll tell you something different.
Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!
Apple & Knife – Summary
Here is the book summary from Goodreads:
Inspired by horror fiction, myths and fairy tales, Apple and Knife is an unsettling ride that swerves into the supernatural to explore the dangers and power of occupying a female body in today’s world.
These stories set in the Indonesian everyday – in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages – reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface. This is subversive feminist horror at its best, where men and women alike are arbiters of fear, and where revenge is sometimes sweetest when delivered from the grave.
Dark, humorous, and vividly realised, Apple and Knife brings together taboos, inversions, sex and death in a heady, intoxicating mix.
Note: It’s important to understand that some stories require a trigger warning.
Copyright © 2018 by Intan Paramaditha.
Translated by: Stephen J. Epstein
More details on Goodreads can be found here.