For a day, Linda and I were together again. We sat in the back of my comfortable rental vehicle, the photographer and chauffeur in the front. Linda quietly and calmly gave directions: Left! Right! In this village!
We looked at each other and laughed. “We used to go everywhere on foot,” Linda said, “Or we took a local bus crowded with pigs, chickens and everything else.” In 1986, getting around was hot, time-consuming and arduous. “Look at us now! Middle-aged women!”
Linda is married, has five children, a restaurant and a clothing business; I am going grey and am just not as agile as I used to be. The vicinity of Tarutung has also changed: there are better roads going everywhere. We covered a lot of ground in just a few hours, visiting twiners in Sait ni Huta, three weavers in Hutagalung, descendants of Ompu Si Tohap in Parbubu and a stall proprietor in the market to deliver copies of Legacy. Linda knew all the places and the people; she had guided me there before.
Many of the recipients were members of Linda’s immediate or extended family. Just as she made our travels today efficient, focused and smooth, her influence is inscribed indirectly but profoundly on the pages of Legacy.
But Linda has changed. When she assisted me in 1986, she was young and inexperienced; her world was small and close by. Our travels together introduced her to new regions and provided her with new insights into how the world works. After I left, she set up her own business, “Linda Ulos” and built extensive contacts throughout the Valley and in Medan, the capital city. One of them became her life’s partner and together they have built a strong wholesale business. Today, Linda was quiet, self-confident, poised and in possession of an enviable store of knowledge about Batak weaving.
It gave me such a delicious feeling. Doing the rounds with her today, I rediscovered how it was, 24 years ago, to be able to rely on her. The feeling has become so much richer through our friendship which has grown through the past decades.
See Back to the Villages - the map!