“Beth, have you read it?” Cak Ar asked. He showed me a 3cm-thick book. It was dark inside the car so I could just catch Langit Kresna Hariadi (Elkaha) – the author’s name. I didn’t know about this writer before. Cak Ar said that Elkaha personally produced Candi Murca’s series: “Air Terjun Seribu Angsa”, “Ken Arok, Hantu Padang Karautan”, and “Murka Sri Kertajaya”. Elkaha did research to write the books with Ken Arok and Kertajaya’s settings. So, if you want to catch up or learn about Indonesia’s history you can read these books. *smile*
Candi Murca’s series are also best sellers although they’re overshadowed by “Laskar Pelangi”. Both Elkaha and Andrea Hirata are not technical writers but narrative and expressionist writers. They make different genre of books – easy to read and very close to majority reality – unlike the teen lit or chick lit genres. OK, I think I’ll buy and read the books.
When Andy Noya asked Elkaha in one of Kick Andy’s episode whether people can make money from writing nowadays, Elkaha responded that it’s not only possible but definitely possible. He said the most important thing is that as writer you must have self-discipline (isn’t it required by all professions?) Elkaha claimed that he set the target to write 30 pages a day. This way, a 900-page book can be finished in a month. Well, you can do the calculation how much money you can get if the books are best sellers – with 500,000 copies sold you can get about 5 billion or more!
Then our discussion shifted to “Laskar Pelangi”. Suddenly he said, “I felt so sensitive lately. I cried when I read the first chapter of “Laskar Pelangi”. I also cried when I watched “Naga Bonar Jadi 2”, especially when Naga Bonar (played by Deddy Mizwar) stood in front of General Soedirman statue and saluted it. I don’t know why. How about you?”
I nodded. I cried about everything related to Lintang’s spirit and misfortune especially when Bu Mus read Lintang’s letter telling her that his father died. It means a genius could not go to school anymore because he didn’t have money and had to work to feed his whole family. The book and movie depict the hard-bitten reality in Indonesia. They also portray that the multi-faith, multi-ethnic communities had lived in harmony in the past but our political elites have used the difference to widen the segregation gap in the society/community.
Why we cried? I guess because we’re frustrated with the current country’s condition and if we do anything at all we don’t see the changes that we’ve dreamt so long fast enough.
Jika engkau Jendral Soedirman, apakah engkau tidak akan menangis melihat keadaan Indonesia seperti ini? Jika engkau Bung Hatta, apakah engkau tak akan menangis melihat negara yang kaya sumber alam ini rakyatnya terpuruk dalam kemiskinan? Jika engkau Bung Karno, apakah engkau tak akan menangis melihat banyak pemimpin hanya pandai dan banyak bicara tapi miskin dalam kerja keras dan tindakan nyata – bahwa negara yang dulu dikagumi di seantero Asia Afrika sekarang dianggap lebih buruk daripada Pakistan?
“But, Beth, try asking the young people in their twenties about whether they cry or feel saddened when they read or watch the movie. Most of them don’t share our level of concern. Kenapa ya?” he continued.
Well, of course lah… they’re born in an era where we have more prosperous urban and sub-urban middle class, where they’re raised in a homogenous community so they don’t learn about living with more heterogeneous community, when access to information is readily available almost 24-hour a day from all corners of the world, when one of their values is getting the most with the least effort, etc. I heard China is also facing the same concern… how you can teach that the success you have now is the fruit of hard work when your children witness that it’s not so because we can bend the rules to our advantage? Jokingly I answered, “Anggap aja ini faktor U… he, he, he, faktor usia.”
“Beth, who are you going to vote for the election next year?” he asked again. I smiled but didn’t answer it. A number of friends with integrity are with PDI-P but who can guarantee that men of integrity will not be influenced by power and deep-seated corruption.
“People are looking for young leaders. How’s Pram chance to run for vice presidency with Mega?” I asked him. “He’ll have more chance in 2014,” he answered. I nodded when he said that SBY may have his second term and probably we’ll have more golput. (Note: Golput is the acronym for Golongan Putih. It literally means “white group” – was set up prior to 1971 elections by former student leader Arief Budiman and others in protest against government’s use of the military and bureaucracy to ensure a Golkar victory. It’s not an organization but an identity for those who are not satisfied with the present situation because the rules of democracy have been trampled upon. So, nowadays people claim to be golput as their personal political act: blank balloting, abstention, protest – a genuine expression of non-cooperation.)
“How about Fadjroel?” I asked again. He didn’t answer but asked, “Do you believe in such system?” Not really. Anyway, it’s good for the political education of general public though.