“Where do we wanna go now?” He asked me.
“Hmmm, there’s a small library near Jatos*. People said the place is nice,” I said.
“Is that so? Okay, let’s go there. I want to find a book to read.”
So, that was the conversation which brought me and him went to the library near the mall—Batu Api.
After through the white gate, he parked the motorcycle inside, near the terrace. It was a house. The appearance of the library wasn’t give us that amazed feeling because its good-looking or another. It gave us homey feeling, yet new at the same time. I, myself, felt like I had been there before, although it was the first time I go there. It all looked fair. Two doors opened, allowed us to choose which door we were gonna use to enter—it seemed like there was no front door or back door, they were just doors. A table surrounded with chairs was set near the door near the right gate, a terrace for people to read, chat, wait, etc.
We entered that door, and looked around. It was an L-shaped room, quite small and humid, and as we breathed in, the familiar scent of books came through our nose. The books were not-so-neatly arranged in the high bookshelf—almost touched the ceiling, which stood in front of almost every wall there. On the right corner, there was a desk and a chair for the librarian. There was Teh Arum sat there and gave her smile to us. We looked at the bookshelf in front of the right wall, started finding an interesting book there. Some books reminded me of my childhood, books like Roald Dahl’s and Jacqueline Wilson’s. There were also imported books published by Penguin Book. A little bit to the right and you’ll find translated novels, and more to the right, there were books about feminism, philosophy, and religion. At the left side, there were so many Indonesian novels. Take a bow a little, and you’ll find various comics—DC, Marvel, Tin-tin, etc. We turned to the left side of that L-shaped library, there was a warning sign written ‘Awas kepala!’**, for the edge of the wall was low. Not so much amount of books, but as I looked around the library, I could see books about politics, religion, history, sex, culture—almost every kind of book you are looking for. Put an exception to manga.
Hey, I found The Picture of Dorian Grey, I like Wilde’s short stories; The Rose and the Nightingale, this book may be interesting, too. I chatted with him about the book, and how the place was so nice with the music played. There were some place to sit and read; a chair near the shelf, two chairs in front of the librarian’s desk, the set of table on the terrace, and a wooden level on a corner near the door. There were not much, but the spots were somehow enough and familiarizing. We sat on a wooden level as we chatted. Ernest Hemingway’s interested him, and he decided the book he wanted to borrow. So, we went to the librarian’s desk.
“Excuse me, teh. I’d like to borrow this book,” I said.
“Oh, it’s your first time, right? You have to be a member, first. It’s Rp15.000 for the registration fee,” she said.
“Okay, then. How much does it cost for a week loaning?”
“It’s Rp3000 a week, and the penalty is Rp1000 each day,” she answered, and asked us to fill the registration form.
“Ah, you both are from English Department,” she said as she read the form and wrote our name in the loaning notes. “I’ve met several students from English Department,” she added, and we started chatting as she explained to us about the placement of the books in the library. She introduced herself, and told us that she is not alone running this library. There is Bang Anton, too. Bang Anton, who was formerly a student of History in Universitas Padjadjaran, have a hobby, which is collecting book. So, at 1999 he started to open this library called Batu Api. The books were about 9000 copies, and there were also films, music, and clippings.
“You just bring flash disk and I’ll give you films or music. I collect so many musics all around the world,” Bang Anton said in the middle of our conversation.
They were so friendly, and we talked about the library and about campus as well.
“Do you know our lecturer, Mr. (…), in English Department? He mentioned you once in a class,” he, the one who came with me to Batu Api, asked to Bang Anton.
“I know him. He focuses on (…), right? Yes, I know him.”
“I heard you’re quite close to him.”
“No. Not really. He haven’t came here, even,” Bang Anton answered.
“Really? But he once recommended us to come here,” he said.
“That’s one of those phenomena. Many lecturers recommend their students to come here, yet most of them never come here. That’s quite funny,” Bang Anton poured his thought.
As the conversation went on, we then talked about how the library has ‘fictional street’ as the address, which is Jl. Pramoedya Ananta Toer 142 A Jatinangor. Bang Anton once attempted to change the names of the streets in Jatinangor become names of writers, but it couldn’t be realized due to the licensing matters with the local government.
The time was 05.00 PM, an hour before the time they will close the library every Monday to Saturday, so we excused ourselves. On the motorcycle we talked about how nice it was that we could spend our afternoon there by searching interesting books, and chatting with Teh Arum and Bang Anton. To me, it would be very nice to hear again the pouring thoughts from the books, of Teh Arum’s, of Bang Anton’s, and of his.
*Jatos: ‘Jatinangor Town Square’: The one and only mall in Jatinangor, Sumedang.
**’Awas kepala’: ‘Watch out, your head!’
–“Has Travel Become Another Exercise in Narcissism?” by Henry Wismayer
-“A Slacker of Jakarta” by Eka Kurniawan
-My first experience in Batu Api
-Conversations and unarranged interviews with Teh Arum and Bang Anton
Word count: 985 words