Monday, September 02, 2013

A Seed in the Governor's Garden

The governor of North Sumatra, Gatot Pudjo Nugrohoimpressed me immediately when he bounded to the stage. He literally sprang out of his seat when he was called and leapt forward, taking the stairs to the podium like an athlete.

He was just as agile with words. He had come at the last moment not expecting that he would be able to attend our event. He had missed his dinner and had no prepared speech, but he spoke with fluid authority. I could see why somebody like that would be chosen as governor.

I gave him the second copy of our Rangsa ni Tonun cassette and he mentioned, off the cuff, that the Batak had their own script. I was allowed to respond to his words and took  the microphone.

“I live in Holland,” I said. I have access to Batak texts while the Batak people no longer have access to their own literature. The Van der Tuuk collection in Leiden is the most complete in the world. If Pak Governor would like to commence a large project, in this digital age the texts in Holland could all be scanned and made available to everybody who is interested. This project would not require a building with storage facilities. A computer is all that is needed.”

The audience liked what I said and applauded my words. There is nothing that I enjoy more than planting a seed, and it was even fun, spontaneously like that, on stage. I was able to get my idea across to several government people at one time. The governor did not commit himself, of course. I don’t expect that anything will come of it, directly, but I hope that I generated some awareness and may have started a bit of a conversation. With time this seed is bound to germinate.

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