Kingdom of Monkeys: the book
Photograph taken off Rubia Island, off Pulau We, Sumatra, July 1997.  Pulau We, an island just off Aceh province at the northern tip of Sumatra, is the setting for 'Pak Arafim the Pharmacist'.  Pak Amin, the story's protagonist, was brought up to be a fisherman and worries throughout the story about his head cloth.  The man  in the picture is similar to Pak Amin, inasmuch as he leads boat tours for tourists and has a T-shirt wrapped around his head.

In "Pak Arafim the Pharmacist," old Amin starts out from his hut in the jungle to make one last trip to town, to see his friend Pak Arafim for the last time and to fill a final prescription of green pills. But the world outside the jungle is not the one he remembers: families are at war for the coconut market, the town dogs live as rebels in the forest, and, most troubling of all, everyone remembers Amin as a horrible man.

Author's Note:
“Pak Arafim the Pharmacist” came from watching an old man in the back of truck take a green pill out of his shirt pocket, swallow it, then lay down to sleep using a plastic bottle as a pillow.

“Pak Arafim the Pharmacist” appeared previously in The Malahat Review, 2000.


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© Adam Lewis Schroeder 2001.