Okay, okay, okay, I goofed big time; there IS life after death... or so it would appear. While lying here like a broken clock, the sun and moon have played tag for a day a night and a day. I know because I’ve been watching... initially from inside my corpse—which has begun to stink. Yes, for some unfathomable reason, my sense of smell has suddenly returned, as keenly as my sense of sight. I still can’t hear, taste, or, thank God, feel anything—'Thank God' being only an expression; omnipotent beings, singular or plural, have yet to put in an appearance. So I can tell that it's raining somewhere, despite the blue sky overhead. There's a trace of dampened dust giving rise to that Mother Earth scent—rich, fecund, full of promise, the aroma of renewal... in stark contrast to my gaseous carcass leaching its foul humors yonder. I’m once-removed—if not at liberty to stray too far afield. Which strikes me as peculiar. I mean, why, if I’ve given up the ghost, is my ghost required to loiter near its former host? There's nothing going on with my body of particular interest. Other than its predictable decomposition. Frankly, I haven’t shifted down wind for a crime-scene peek, not since the first red ant beat its pitter-patter path across my fixed stare. The first of swarms, no doubt—making short-order of irises, corneas, and pupils. Why the buzzards haven’t joined in remains a puzzle. They’re up there; every now and then a winged shadow makes its run over the rough terrain. No circlers, though. No coyotes. Only the insects, thus far. And whatever microorganisms are consuming me from the inside out. I’m ordinarily not squeamish about such things, but when it's your own anatomy that's puffing up, discoloring, festering under the skin, disfiguring once-familiar features into gargoyle-like proportions, I must admit I'm more than tempted to barf. Add to this the stench—which could render the most putrid fart fragrant by comparison—and it's little wonder nausea has driven me to a safer distance.
    And speaking of farts, I’m reminded of an argument Ms. Kertanegara and I had about the propriety of divulging gastrointestinal matters in print. Were Yayuk here now as she was there then, looking over my shoulder while I chronicled our journey, correcting those parts she deemed inaccurate, expanding by way of expounding on each characterizing passage, I’m sure my reference to gas would be promptly expunged.
    “Continue as you like,” I can hear her saying, dismissively, revoking both her blessing and her grudging cooperation, condemning me to the creation of yet another “impolite” novel, hinting that my chronic misrepresentations betrayed a dearth of overall sensitivity—not to mention a lack of respect for personal privacy—dooming me to the vain accommodation of merely myself. To which I plead, with overdue humility, guilty as charged.


Much to the surprise...