Love Letter of Roro Mendut
Written & Illustrated by Melissa Sunjaya
Once upon a fallen star, there lived a princess with a rebellious heart by the name of Mendut. In the palace, she was always referred to by her royal title, Roro Mendut, but among her friends, she was simply, Petite Mendut. Rumors of her ethereal beauty and siren-like voice traveled to many places, but those who knew her best-loved the girl for her vibrant spirit and virtue.
She lived in a time when arranged marriages between aristocrats were carried out in order to maintain peace and order during the territorial expansion of the Mataram Kingdom (the strongest in the Eastern Archipelago). It was a time when men ruthlessly bled for power and women were looked upon as commodities. Due to her family’s revered social status, this young princess was betrothed to the most powerful maritime commander in the land.
Listen carefully, for there was a side to this delicate princess that very few were privy to. Petite Mendut was a kind and sensitive soul who could communicate with animals and plants. She grew a hanging garden on her balcony where she nurtured a curly chilly plant and an assortment of spellbinding aromatic cloves. Every morning, she would sing to her darling plants songs of being free and traveling to distant lands.
Her closest companion of all was Luca, a white homing pigeon. Luca was the keeper of her deepest secrets and the courier of her private letters. He was the creature who delivered the news of her betrothal. Upon learning of her fate, her body trembled in grief for she had already fallen deeply in love with the handsome young man who worked at the palace stables. To refuse a royal engagement would incur an outrageous political tariff on her province. Such an action would be detrimental to the well-being of her countrymen whom she cared for greatly. Tears ran down her soft cheeks as she wrote a letter to her beloved informing him of her dismal circumstances.
Beneath every earnest wish, I find a tower of perseverance and the courage to step forward.
Between the people’s trust and my deepest desires, I yearn for a journey that jeopardises no sides.
Above lush soil which serves no master, I dream of a dance that screams for liberty.
Through this narrow path of hope, I long for your warm embrace and tender touch.
Faithfully yours, M.