On Sounds

Works in Translation


Faisal Oddang, translated by Rara Rizal
Published as a part of Asian Literature Project “YOMU”, Jan 18, 2022

Originally published as Tentang Suara-Suara.


Ever since I started getting sick a few days ago, I've acquired two new habits: counting death and sleeping—or rather, controlling my dreams, which requires sleeping. The latter is especially fun, because in my dreams I can see just fine. I can also direct the scenes inside the dream however I like. I have no idea how I came to possess this power (for lack of a better word), but it doesn't matter. For now I'll let myself enjoy feeling powerful for a change. I don't know what death looks like, but I do know what it sounds like. I was six years old when I suddenly lost my vision, just several weeks before Father passed. That was also the first time I heard what death sounded like: cries, mostly. Nowadays I hear death almost every day, but it doesn't sound like it used to. For starters, the crying is now being replaced by announcements from the mosque through a loudspeaker, or sirens from passing ambulance cars. Today I counted seventeen deaths in total: four from the mosque, and the rest from the sirens. Mother said the mosque and the main road are very close to our house. The main road is the only access to a new mass grave that the city government built only a few months ago. People say the grave is almost full now.

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