IT WAS SUNDAY night when I saw someone’s text on my phone. An unsolicited text it really was but I almost dropped my jaw. It was from a person I look up to. A man of significance. Such a figure to me and many other aspiring writers.
He is of Chinese descendant but other than the genetic factor, he is more Javanese than I am. He opened his text with Islamic salutation I even only seldom use in very limited circles. But he liberally uses it as if it were normality, part of daily conversation at home. He managed to abbreaviate the salutation into “Ass.Wr.Wb” and concluded the text with “Wass”. Very considerate about me, knowing I’m a Javanese and moslem.
“How are you? Sometime ago I wrote this short story with your hometown Kudus as the setting. Your birth place surely possesses a great deal of potential. Go explore it!” he advised me.
I sighed and frowned. Really? Why can’t I see that? I must have been so short-sighted.
I could not return his text immediately that night as it took me a while or a whole night to be exact as to how I had to select the most appropriate words to respond to this hugely humble literary giant’s message.
I tried to please him, saying I was more than flattered to know he still remembers this unknown literary enthusiast who keeps wanting to get published but has to drag himself so hard to the finish line.
Three hours after that, he returned my text and showed me in what newspaper the short story about my tiny hometown was published. I guess he has kept a neat filing system and record containing all his academic and literary works.
“Kudus is a unique town, mas Akhlis. Please explore it.” His words sank down in my silence for a moment or two, leaving me empty-headed, not knowing what to do next.
But it is true that we humans need people like him to remind us of how far we have gone from our home and now that we long for more adventures, more novelty, more experience, more meaning and values and the list goes on and on, we almost always take the potential of our own cradle for granted. (*)