From Notes on Patchouli to A Message From Alur Keujruen Village

written by Rizka 



It has been a month since I was stationed in Alur Keujruen Village, the village upstream from the Kluet River in South Aceh. This is the second time I came across this place. This placement made me more aware of the condition of the local community than before.

The main economic source of local villagers is agriculture. In the morning, the community has gathered at the pier waiting for a “stempel” (the name for a canoe in this place) to be delivered to their garden. There are also people who go directly to their gardens because of the proximity of the gardens to the village. They grow chilies, peanuts, corn, ginger and other types of plants. But what touched my curiosity was the patchouli plant.

Farmers in Alur Keujruen plant patchouli which are then processed into expensive oil, which costs IDR 700,000 per kilogram. Based on short interviews with local residents, patchouli is planted through the stalks. The shorter the time (usually 2-3 days) it takes to clean the grass, the better the patchouli will be. After the patchouli leaves grow, the leaves will be harvested and dried in the sun until they are black. After turning black, the patchouli will be taken to the kettle (patchouli oil refinery). The residents distilled patchouli independently, but some also hired others to distill their property. If there are 20 large sacks, the distillation may take up to a week. Because they may feel bored waiting for the distillation, people often entertain themselves by karaoke.

Apart from gardening, the community’s economy also comes from selling fish. Fish are usually netted using”Lunta”-type nets. This net has small irons under it. When thrown into the river, the iron will combine to form a circle like an ordinary fishing net, the fishermen will pull up not long after throwing. That is, they will throw several times until the fish they find is considered a lot. The types of fish obtained are very diverse. However, the fish that has become the icon of Alur Keujruen Village is the “kerling” fish.

There is an interesting story from one of the fishermen who said that he once caught a large snake while fishing at night. The python got onto the boat which they had to painstakingly remove. “The snake is as big as the wooden crossbar,” said the fisherman, pointing at the bar.






The people of this village also often hunt. Usually, the game will be brought home to eat or sell at the market. After talking a little with a hunting handler, it seems that hunting also has certain laws, procedures, and conditions. These laws use the Qur’an and Hadith as their main sources. “Surrender yourself to Allah when hunting, that is the most important, if you don’t trust, then don’t expect you to get your game,” said the handler. Their prey types are also determined from the hardest to the easiest level. Level one is rhino (before rhino becomes protected animal), second level is deer, third level is deer, fourth level is mouse deer, and lowest level is hedgehog. Hunts are usually divided equally among hunting members, including those who did not participate in the hunt that day. The results of the game were also distributed to the dogs who had helped hunt. The dogs will usually help by tracking the deer and chasing the deer until exhaustion. When tired, the deer has just been slaughtered by the hunter.

Apart from the unique way of life, the language here is also very unique. The people are multilingual (users of many languages). They often switch from Kluet to Jame, then to Aceh. These three regional languages ​​are the language used everyday. So, I who speak Acehnese can be closer to them because of the influence of the local language.

The people here are very communal. So, as a newcomer, I don’t feel isolated at all because I’ve found the “landlady.” I got this term from “father”, a community leader who gave us advice on good migration procedures. My father started his advice with the proverb ““hiu bali, balawak bali, jangan lupa cai ikan panjang, umak cai ayah cai, jangan lupa cai induk semang.” The main point of this proverb is that if we are overseas, don’t forget to build a good network with the local community so that we are saved from distress.




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