By Taniya Dutta
An Indonesian Hijabi woman is a major attraction in local fairs as she zooms around her modified motorbike in a ‘well of death’-barefoot and without a helmet.
She even does a daring bike stand all while precariously balancing herself for a staggering 43 seconds.
Febrika Fitiria, 20, from Parit Lapis village in Sei Sembilan district, is part of Pasar Malam, a group of stunt performers for a year.
The young woman is the only female stunt performer of the 15-member-group who does ‘unconventional’ stunts, locally known as Tong Stand, that draws a huge crowd every evening at the fair.
Febrika said: “Mostly the stunts are performed by men because of its risky nature, there is always a chance of an accident. But I do it to support my family.
“If we start thinking of an accident, we will not be able to perform and provide for the family.”
Febrika has been risking her life every evening to supplement her farmer father’s income and help her brother’s studies.
The first child of Agus Trianto, 45 and Vi Yulviani 41, Febrika had to drop out of secondary school and leave her family at the tender age of 19 to find work so she could help her family’s income.
She makes anywhere between £25-50 ( Rp. 500,000 – Rp. 1,000,000) per week and gives everything to her parents, who were unaware of her occupation until a few months ago.
She said: “I thought it would be best to not tell them otherwise they would be worried.
“I am there first child and a daughter, they would have never allowed me to perform stunts but I was desperate for work and I wanted to help my family.
“I had quit my studies and left home to be able to find work in the city.
“I wanted to be a useful child.”
After leaving her home, Febrika found a job as a waitress but the salary wasn’t sufficient enough. A friend introduced her to the group and she picked up the work of selling tickets and washing utensils for the members.
But soon she started showing interest in the stunts and got herself trained. Within a month she jumped into the well with her motorbike and has since been performing every evening for about five minutes.
“I didn’t find this job weird or different. I chose to do this because I needed money.
“This all needs courage. I had accidents twice while learning the tricks, once I was even unconscious but luckily there was no injury in my limbs.
“I have learnt to be brave for my parents.
Febrika travels with her group from one place to another and lives in a 1.5x2x3 meter wooden cabin meant to sell tickets.
“Normally we move to a new place after every one month but we have been staying at MNTC Pancing for eight months now.
“We all live in wooden ticket boxes. Throughout the day we try to sell tickets for the shows and once the show is over, we double up the ticket selling counter as our bedroom.”
The young performer says she gets an adrenaline rush when she sees people gathered around the well just to see her and her friends perform the daredevil stunts.
“Every night people come to the fair. There are a variety of games and shows for entraining the audience but everyone waits patiently for our performance.
“People wait to see us perform the Tong Stand. There is a different kind of tension around.”
The young woman, however, understands the dangers of her work but says she is not educated enough to get a more comfortable job.
Febrika said: “I wanted to complete my studies but our finical condition was too weak. I had no option but to quit studies and find a decent paying job.
“I don’t know if I can do anything other than these stunts but if the payment is more, I will pick a new job.”