the whole “wanting to be a writer” thing for me started at around thirteen
wikipedia was still young then and like any self-respecting nerdboy i spent a lot of hours on it clicking the “random article” button and reading whichever one interested me the most. through this i came across the article about this writer, with whom i share a name.
he was an indonesian man who gained international recognition for being a grand storyteller and an important dissident in the country post-colonization, when her first “presidents” were more like autocrats. the fact that we were both “ananta”s was huge for me because i had a deep-seated insecurity about my name, bouncing around international schools it was either “too girly” or “too weird” for some of my classmates.
those tiny, tiny bastards.
i didn’t think i’d meet another “ananta” and i sure as hell didn’t think anyone of particular importance would share my name. but to discover this writer, who spent a huge chunk of his life in a prison colony or under house arrest because of his beliefs, man, that felt important.
this was a point in my life when i’d get routinely praised by english teachers for my poetry, when i’d post long-winded rambles on xanga that nobody would read. i knew i wanted to write, and i wanted to do so by the example of another “ananta”. i could never find any of his books at the local barnes & noble and i didn’t want to be a bother and ask my mother to buy a copy from the internet. so the desire passed.
when pramoedya ananta toer was jailed he was denied any sort of writing utensil so he “wrote” this novel orally, fellow inmates would gather around him for daily installments of the work in progress. eventually, it was written down and smuggled out of the prison, passed and published back and forth until it spread outside of indonesia.
strange then, that i find it after nine years of knowing about it, staring me in the face at the clearance section of the half price books. i bought it for a dollar.
let’s see if it was worth the wait.
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