Running with the Seasons (Lari Bersama Musim)
The water in the sea is poison, while on land the floods leave behind mud that becomes poison and kills the growing paddy. A struggle, and no one can really halt the coming of the seasons. And so, where can life truly be anchored?
Muslim Burmat's first novel, Lari bersama musim, is a testament to the human spirit. When a toxic "red tide" in Brunei Bay prevents the Bruneis of Kampung Ayer (Water Village) from pursuing their traditional occupation, fishing, Adam and his wife decide to try their luck at rice farming in remote rural Paya Kuanji in Kiarong. Adam is handicapped by poverty, the frailty of his body, his wife's poor health, and the needs of his young children. As the years pass, Adam grows old; he has more children to support; his wife dies; and his rice crop is attacked by pests. The onslaught of nature culminates in a flood that buries Adam's field under eroded yellow earth. The destructive soil is carried down from the site of a newly built college. The pride of the nation, the college offers Adam's son, Hasan, a level of education not previously available; but it also gives him aspirations that cannot be fulfilled and destroys his family. Adam dies near the end of the novel; the implication is that the never-ending struggle has caused his death. There is a price to be paid for development, and those who pay are often those who can least afford it. In spite of its pessimistic tone and somber ending, the novel was well received. It took its place alongside the works of established Indonesian and Malaysian writers to become the first homegrown set text in the Malay literature section of the national school-leaving examination.