Written by Melissa Sunjaya
Illustrated by Melissa Sunjaya

‘Joy’ is a small fragment of a new epistolary graphic novel that I intend to publish in 2024. Java entered a dark era after the war (1825-1830), where our culture underwent euphemism. Women spent less time outdoors and did more household activities. Books became sparse and education was accessible only to a few exceptional ladies from the Priyayi class. In the likes of Kartini and her sisters, these noble women were confined in their restricted residence. This endured during their blooming adolescence until their betrothed marriage. Many healed their wounded hearts through occupying their days in artisanal labours such as mending broken pieces and patchwork restoration. Sewing, cooking, and cleaning were few out of many unnoticed-yet-crucial chores that shaped our civilisation. While women continued to do these homely duties without being appreciated, they understood that joy was not a reflection of their reality but their sole response to the situation. Joy is always a choice of the heart.

This illustration is available in Giclée – a digital reproduction on matte canvas with museum-quality of archival standards, stretched over a wooden frame.