Wednesday, April 17, 2013

12. A Pang of Conscience


Oland Benz Sitorus is one of my many Facebook friends. I have never met him and we have been “friends” for only two days. Today, in a brief message, he posted his feelings. They were a pang of conscience, a pang that I am familiar with because his words echo the feelings that many Batak people have shared with me over the years. I was terribly moved by his words, as though I was hearing this sentiment for the first time, and so I asked for (and received) his permission to share them (in translation) in my blog.

“When I heard a little bit about Sandra Niessen’s travels in Tanah Batak, I got goose bumps. Something between pride and sadness melted into one.

Pride because a Dutch person was willing to come to Indonesia from so far away to study Batak culture and ulos, ever since she was a young woman.

Sadness because I, someone of Batak blood, no less, and born in Java, had never given any thought to perpetuating the culture of my ancestors.

My brief acquaintance with my sister, Sandra Niessen, inspires in me the awareness that I must perpetuate the culture of my own ancestors, wherever I may be. I might migrate somewhere far away, but I must not forget that at some point I will have to go back home, back to Tanah Batak.”




Ketika aku mendengar sedikit kisah jejak ito Sandra Niessen di Tanah Batak aku jadi merinding. Antara bangga dan sedih melebur menjadi satu.

Bangga, karena ada seorang Belanda yang mau jauh-jauh datang ke Indonesia mempelajari Budaya Batak dengan ulos-nya sejak beliau masih gadis.

Sedih, karena aku yang notabene berdarah Batak dan kelahiran Tanah Jawa tidak pernah berpikir untuk melestarikan budaya nenek moyang ku.

Perkenalan singkat ku dengan ito Sandra Niessen memberikan ku sebuah inspirasi tersendiri, bahwasanya aku harus melestarikan budaya nenek moyang ku sendiri, dimana pun aku berada. Aku boleh merantau jauh, akan tetapi aku tidak boleh lupa, bahwa suatu saat aku harus Pulang Kampung, kembali ke Tanah Batak.

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