Paul Edmundus – My Life is My Adventure

I am known as Paul Edmundus. My complete name is Paulus Edmundus TALO KAWE. It is a long name. Paulus and Edmundus are my baptist name. Paulus was given when I was  about 3 years old by A Catholic priest, Father Markus Moa, SVD who came to our farm about 5 kms from our village, where a community belongs to Seso tribe of Boloji traditional village, in Ngada Regency on Flores Island, worked and lived  where they slashed and burned the trees for their life. While Edmundus is my given name when I was at the Elementary school, received a “Chrisma Sacrament”
lead by a Bishop picked up from the name of a man who was the witness of the Sacrament ceremony. TALO is another
given name, which is my real name since that name was given and agreed by my self.  This is the story. When my mother expected to deliver a baby, and that was me,  as well as all pregnant ladies in my area Regency, a group of ONLY ladies, the mother of my mother (Grand Mother) and her sisters, and the mother of my father and her sisters and or the extended family, together with a mid wife were in the traditional house’s room to accompany my mother. This not in the hospital or special clinic. This is a traditional house. The door was closed. All men sit out side of the room. They can hear, but no peep. Then my mother delivered me, I cried, every body can hear included my father and all men who were out side of the room.
”Is that you or us?” My uncle shouted. “You” means the ladies who are in side, to confirm if the new baby born is a girl,
while “us” means men out side of the room, if the new baby born is a boy. “Ohhh, that is you…..” A lady’s voice shouted from the room. All men knew that the baby was a boy. Then, after cleaned me, cut my umbilicord, they started to give me a name.  A name should take from the names of a man from my father or my mother’s family, whether that is my father’s father, or his uncles, or his brothers or any names from my father’s long geneaticaly or from my mother side. One of the lady was appointed to mention those names. When the lady mentioned my grand father’s name, the name of my father’s father,…….TALO….. I sneezed. Sneeze is a confirmation, sneeze is the sign that I accepted that name to be my name. I agreed myself when that name was mentioned. This name is used in my whole life time. This is my own name.

My Father is the head of Seso tribe. The name of our traditional village is Bo Lodji was picked up from his grand grand father’s name who moved and built that village.  Bo means rice storage, a stilt house only to store rice and any kind of uncooked food. While Lodji KEO together with his best friend Resa NgoE, is the important persons who had the power to lead all other people  of 100 – 200 head of families as the member of the tribe to build a village on their own land which was located on a hill, surrounded by bamboo forest, fenced by bamboo and a huge banyon tree in front of the village to signify this traditional village.

In early 1970 the Government asked the village people to move down to the more flat area to enable cars to enter the village, it is only 600-700 meters away.

A traditional village is a four sided, like a foot ball or soccer field, where all houses
are built on the sides of the field, while in the middle are traditional monuments consist of Ngad’u a well carved and decorated “special” wooden pole in conical thatched roof, a symbol of a male who was the first time reached Flores Island and its pair the B’aga a house which is symbol of female. There are also Peo, a megalith stone which half of it is planted  near by Ngad’u and Ture a stone seats used as a meeting place as well as the place where traditional music gong and tambur are played when  traditional feast is held. In that period all houses were made of thatched roof, wood and bamboo.

There were no zink, no cement and no nails. A traditional house consist of:  a flat stone or more to use as the place to stand, clean people’s foot before steping into the house, which called “dewi pala wai”, then an open terrace, called “teda moa”. This terrace is function as a guest room, family room to welcome  guests. Then “Teda One”, a living room used to welcome in side  guest which call our family or extended family, used for dining and meeting room as well. The next is “pena and kaba pere” the small beautiful carved wooden from one log of wood that used to step into the main house.The main house is a room where is a kitchen and living room, bed room and dining room.  A house is the place for living people, the place of the ancestors and the place for their God.

When we celebrate a traditional feast or have a certain plan, we will  kill chicken/rooster or pig in the house. Part of the blood of pig or rooster/ chicken will be rubed at the “mata raga” – altar, the statues of ancestors, the stairs and the door. Also at  the big knife and spear which placed at the altar. After burning the pig or rooster, a man will take the duodenal loop of the chicken or the liver of the pig to “read” the fortune of the family…good or bad…Then man will cook its pork or chicken with local spices (onion, garlic, orange leafs, lemongrass etc).

Nua Boloji, my traditional village

Whenever the pork was cooked as well as rice, and before meals, the head of the family will ask to provide rice, meet (especially the liver) in a special plate (local made) to offer to our ancestors by calling all their names one by one.  We  invite our ancestors and our God to witness the offering and eat before the member of family have our meal.  The most sacred place called “mata raga”, the place where we put rice, meet and drink. We also have statues (which formed of piece of woods, roughly carved) symbolized to our ancestors. We can recognized them in pair (husband and wife) since we learn by heart when we invite them to eat. Yes, they are all  invited to eat with pray to protect the family healthy, success, good harvest, and healthy pets.

When all the names are mentioned, to invite them to eat and drink, then the whole family is ready for our meal.

Yes, I was born and grown in this traditional life. My parents told me everything about our family, extended family, land, house, our village, the tradition, the meaning of monument, the  belief, ethics etc since I was 3 years old. Every day we   had to listen the same story and others too included tales before went to bad and have to wake up about 4.00am as soon as the rooster called, also to listen the same story or jokes or traditional songs. I love it, I love my father, my mother and my two brothers. No days without teaching new thing or repeat whatever I have listened before.

When I was about 5 years I asked my parents to go school. It was about 2 kms away from my village. We had to walk on foot, without sandal or shoes, without uniform and …without under wear. Since I was very little, my uncle’s son Josep Peba Doi who was much bigger than me have to carry me on his shoulder. I was only 2 weeks at that school, my teacher fired me because, He said I was too small to be in the class. I cried, cried and cried………..I wanted to be in the class.

I went home with tears. My brother Petrus Doi guessed that I was fired from school. He was right. He said, ” don’t be cry, next year you will go to school. I promised”. Yes, in August 1955,  my father sent me to school, only 30 minutes from my home. The building was for public election, the first Indonesia public election. There was the Head of District Mr. Thomas Siu who appealed to Father Markus Moa, SVD a Catholic Priest in order to establish a Catholic Elementary School in this area.  The name of school was Sekolah Rakyat Katolik Wolowio. There was no teacher.  Mr  Nikolaus Sua was the Father’s helper appointed as our teacher. He was graduated from Elementary School as well. Certainly He was not capable enough. Some of my school mate were much bigger than him, I thought He was also afraid to them. Only in two months He was replaced by Mr. Jan Ruma, a real teacher who taught us only in 8 months. He was moved. I was sent to the second grade.

The new teacher came. He came on the horse back. His name was Mr. Andreas Da’E.  I found him as a very smart and good teacher. He explained things very detail and clear. He was a good story-teller.



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