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    07 July 2011

    Return to the past: visiting Multatuli on truck

    Children at Ciseel make a trip to Rangkasbitung. They visit Multatuli Hall and Multatuli Drug Store
    • Hervin Saputra/Arwani
    • 1 Juli 2011 - 16:37 WIB
    • http://www.vhrmedia.com/2010/detail.php?.e=3242

    The day was about to start when a truck was forcedly stopped on a road between Cangketeug and Ciseel. The road was closed because the asphalt was still wet. The project to repair it had not been finished yet.
    The truck intended to pick up tens of children at Ciseel who planned to make a trip to Rangkasbitung. They would cover 50 kilometers distance by the truck. But Cangketeug is located one kilometer from the village. Those children, as well as adults who accompanied them, had to walk on foot to get the truck.
    Another problem came out after they were ready to go by the truck. The truck was overloaded. After one hour, the group stop and search for an addition vehicle.
    Even though the trip was split into two groups, it was still uncomfortable. Some children were looked pale and tried not to vomit.
    Ubaidilah Muchtar stood on the truck, among his students. Once in a while he explained about a building or a place that they passed by.
    I imagined that the truck was a time machine, and Ubaidilah took his students to return to the past, to the era when Max Haveelar lived in Lebak. This trip had been prepared to be the closing ceremony after Ubaidilah and his students finished reciting Max Havelaar, written by Multatuli or Eduard Douwes Dekker.
    These children had recited the novel for 11 months. They read four pages of the book every week. And on that day, 14 May 2011, they made a pilgrimage to places that were mentioned on the book.
    One policeman stopped the truck when we almost got Rangkasbitung. “Truck is not allowed to bring human,” said the policeman. In the end, he allowed us to go after we explained that the trip would be written on a book.
    Finally the truck arrived at the trip destination: the office of Lebak Regent. My eyes were attracted by the main hall at the office, where “AULA MULTATULI” (Multatuli Hall) is written above its entrance door. It seemed that the regency would to honor Multatuli for his contribution to Lebak.
    Ubaidilah told me that Multatuli, as a person, does not always get good impression to Lebak people. The hall’s name, for example, had invited protest from ex Lebak Regent Raden Kartanata Nagara, or known as Regen Sepoeh. The Regent was a figure on the novel that Multatuli wrote. “I heard that the family would hire an author to write a rebuttal novel,” Ubaidilah explained.
    After lunch, Ubaidilah took his students to a porch of an old building. It was the office of Adipati Kartanata Nagara, the Lebak Regent. This is the place where Max Havelaar revealed how the Lebak Regent had mistreated his people very badly.
    “This building is still the same as it had been just built in more than 100 years ago. The four poles have not been changed. There is a bedroom inside this building,” Ubaidilah told his students, who diligently made notes.
    Names of Lebak Regent are written on the left wall of the building. I read Raden Kartanata Nagara is written on the second row.
    Large porch stands at the front of the building. A complicated-design chandelier is hanging in the middle of the porch. “I assume that Max Havelaar was inaugurated as regent assistant in Lebak at this porch,” Ubaidilah said.
    We moved to the square of Rangkasbitung, than continued our direction to Adjidarmo Public Hospital. There is a house where Multatuli lived behind the hospital.
    Ubaidilah’s students were disappointed here. The house has been neglected for very long time. The front door was not locked, so we could come into the house. We found documents and books were put recklessly inside there.
    “This house was used as the hospital kitchen once. But when the hospital was renovated, they used this house to store building materials, including cements and sand,” said. Ubaidilah.
    We continued the trip by walking through Jalan Multatuli. The street ends at a river, the Ciujung River, with a bridge spread above the river.
    “Multatuli wrote that yellow was the color of Ciujung River. Now we see that its color is still yellow,” Ubaidilah explained.
    In this river, according to Ubaidilah, people found dead bodies frequently. They were murdered by Adipati Kartanata Nagara’s soldiers because of asking for justice. “Residents of Lebak, who made report to Multatuli that their cows were stolen, were found dead in this river.”
    Jalan Multatuli is one kilometer long. We can imagine that how large Multatuli’s how was, because he wrote on Max Havelaar that his yard was ended at the river.
    We continued our trip to Rangkasbitung Market, where a drug store, entitled “Apotek Multatuli”, is located. It does not mean that the drug store is related to the history of Dekker. Ubaidilah took his students there to show them that how residents of Lebak, including owner of a drug store, have appreciated Multatuli.
    The day was cloudy when we arrived at Yayasan Saija and Adinda Library. It was our last pit stop where the truck had been waited to take us back to Ciseel.
    Rain welcomed us at Ciseel. But rain did not prevent F Rahardi, a poem, and Ragil Nugroho, an author to perform on a stage that evening. Both of them led us to discuss about Multatuli, along with residents of Ciseel.
    Art performance had been represented at since the first evening of my visit, Friday (13/5), at the village. I watched gagenteuh, Ciseel’s folk music that are played by six women at the evening. These women beat a mortar together to perform one rhythm of music.
    After gagenteuh¸ residents of Ciseel presented ngagondang. Six couples, of young, adult and elderly men and women, played the music by using the same mortar.
    Ngagondangis a kind of folk theater. The dialogues are presented between every couple who are dancing around the mortar.
    I sadly skipped discussion with F Rahardi and Ragil Nugroho. I was very tired that evening, after join the trip with Ubaidilah’s students to Rangkasbitung. I needed to save my energy to join another trip to Cikeusik on the next day. (to be continued).
    Photos: Multatuli Library and VHRmedia/ Hervin Saputra
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    Item Reviewed: Return to the past: visiting Multatuli on truck Rating: 5 Reviewed By: mh ubaidilah
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