The Hill Is Alive! (Bukit Gembala)

Last night–with nothing triggering my mind say a song or a conversation not even upon seeing a hill–I remembered about one of my favorite sanctuaries. Perhaps I was being melancholic. My mind took me to Bukit Gembala (Shepherd’s Hill), technically not a hill. It is situated on a slope of Mt. Arjuna about 6 km from my old house at Lawang.

Charisma, Gideon, etc and I frequented the place, owned by the L B T C. We often took the shorter route via a steep ravine in which flows a spring where we used to wash ourselves and saw farmers bathed their cows. It is a ‘civilised’ ravine, not a jungle no more. Coffee bushes occupy it so do bamboos and we love the sounds of birds, gareng aka tonggeret (cicadas), and sometimes we spotted macaques, birds, and kites (alap-alap or elang).

Whenever we arrived there, we’d be greeted by the dogs–friendly ones–at the gates. And when it was the time to reap corns, we would go up and spend the night there, singing, grilling corns in a campfire, drinking coffee, joking around and eating a lot shamelessly.

Its real name is Gebug (literally ‘to hit’). What’s in the name anyway?

Locals and the guards often said that the entire place is haunted with haunting sound of wailing and crying, but thankfully we heard nothing but sweet sounds of dogs (their barks in the night soothed every frightened child), birds singing, wind singing etc. It is a lovely place both at night and in daylight.

So i guess people ‘baptized’ the place and christened it Shepherd’s Hill. Now I can tell how that transformation brought nice results. It sounds romantic and pastoral and it reminds me of the tales of Famous Five :)

When faced with a problem (like this place whose real name was Gebug), all I need to do is change its name, I guess!

For whomever changed the name from Gebug to Bukit Gembala, i thank you!

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