I was sitting reading a book in a quiet and small bookstore. In the background a slow bossa nova music was playing. There weren’t too many people since it wasn’t the weekends and it was during office hours when most of people were likely to be working instead being in a bookstore in a mall. I picked a spot where I can read while stretching my legs comfortably. It was my perfect kind of ambience to read.
Sitting next to me, the man was wearing a black cotton jacket, one that usually wears when riding a motorbike. He was in his late forties, his short hair was all but completely gray and his face, decorated with big oval glasses, was a bit wrinkly yet it shows you a fresh kind of look. A look that if you put a few years more would give you a perfect idea how all happy grandfathers should have looked like.
He then showed me an article in the newspaper he was just reading about
Instead of the news, I was very intrigued in how often the man used the word “great” in his sentences. I counted at least 20 “greats” in just a minute. Oddly as it seems it brought the curiosity out of me to think how many things that use the word “great”, The Great Wall of China, Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, The Great White Shark, Great Gatsby, Alexander the Great, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Depression.
“Where do you think all that money comes from? For those missiles, to rebuild
“First, probably because they are generally smart. A lot of Nobel laureates are Jews”, I replied to him, trying to give an answer that sounds reasonable enough and less ridiculous.
Before I could continue with another sentence, he took over the conversation by telling his opinion furthermore. About Hamas, Fatah, the Six-Day war, from Yasser Arafat to Ehud Olmert, everything he could think of in related with Jews, Israel and Palestine. Still, none of those interest me deeply. When he saw my straight-faced expression, he soon realized my lack of interest thus changing the subject.
He had been to
I noticed an instrumental Jazz music was playing replacing the bossa nova. I looked at my watch. It was 3.30 pm. The man also checked time and suddenly stood up. He said thank you for the chat, asked for my name and introduce his name before leaving. A very brief and sudden goodbye. I then looked at my half-finished book, took a glance at the remaining pages and decided to finish it another day. I simply lost my mood to read.
I met a friend later on that day. We went together to watch a play in Taman Ismail Marzuki. The play lasted for three long hours. Paying $3 for the ticket was worth every penny, not just because it was long, but it was also entertaining. Midnight was approaching when we stepped out of the theatre.
Driving back home, my friend switched on the radio. Changing the FM channels several times, she finally settled with a news program. The program was reporting on the situation in
Hearing the news from
I then realized all the news about the
I remember what Milan Kundera, the Czech-born writer, once wrote, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”.
Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough to remember the man’s name as the world, we, didn’t try hard enough about
Oh well, I will try to remember it again tomorrow.
Rony Zakaria, January 2009