Fire on Mountains
by: Paul Nation
Chapter 1: Sugeng Loses his Home
Indonesia is a beautiful country. It has many islands. It is a hot country.
Most people live on the island of Java. Java is a rich island. But too many people live there and life is not easy.
His name was Sugeng. `Sugeng’ means ‘happy’ or ‘safe’, but Sugeng’s life was not always happy or safe.
There were many people in Sugeng’s family. He had five brothers and four sisters. But one of his sisters died when she was only two months old. One of his brothers died when he fell from a tree.
Sugeng was happy on the farm. He had, a lot of work to do, but he liked his work. Because he was small and strong he climbed coconut trees to get the coconuts. He took the cows to the river to wash them. Sugeng liked the river very much. He rode on the back of one of his cows and swam in the river with them.
One night, just after the family went to bed, Sugeng heard a loud noise. It was like the noise of thunder before the rain comes. But there was no wind. The noise came again. This time it was louder. Then his father cried, ‘It’s the mountain. Quick. Run to the river.’
Sugeng ran outside. In the dark he could see the mountain. A river of fire was moving down the side of the mountain. Sugeng could hear the rolling sound of the rocks when they came down the mountain. He could hear the noise of the trees as the fire burnt them.
All his family were watching. Sugeng’s father said, ‘Get some things from the house. We can’t stay here. The fire will be here soon.’ Sugeng ran to the house again. He put on his clothes.
There was a lot of noise outside by now. People ran about and called to each other.. It was very dark. Sugeng felt afraid. He looked for his mother and father, but there was no one in the house. He went outside and called, ‘Father! Mother!’ But no one heard him.
Sugeng started to run. Many people ran down the side of the mountain, away from the river of fire. Sugeng became more afraid. He could not see the road. He just ran. Several times he fell. When he was tired, he stopped. He could run no more. He lay down near a banana tree and he went to sleep.