Memory of Jassin remains

JAKARTA (JP): HB Jassin has gone, but the memory of this respected figure and his valuable works remains alive in Indonesian literary.

Sapardi Djoko Damono, a professor of literature at University of Indonesia, said, ""He was a great man. For 60 years he had dedicated his life entirely to this work. No one is like him.""

Sapardi was referring to Jassin's persistent efforts to collect literary documents from the 1940s, that were later put in the H.B. Jassin Literary Documentation Center at the Taman Ismail Marzuki Arts Center, Central Jakarta, in 1976.

The center has developed well also because people trust him, so they do not hesitate to provide him not only with their works, but also their documents and other files that are important for documentation.

""We have many people who are smart, bright and brilliant. But no one is like him. He was so persistent in his work,"" said Sapardi, who worked in the center in the 1970s.

""Every piece of work that he read was full of his scratches. And he was so meticulous in the documentation, he would keep not only the works of authors, but even their laundry bills,"" he told The Jakarta Post. ""We all miss him.""

For actor and playwright Ratna Sarumpaet, Jassin was a great teacher who would patiently listen to her, motivate and encourage her in pursuing her dreams in the arts and literary world.

""In the 1980s, there were times when I would go to his office every day, telling him how much I wanted to become a writer, which I could realize only seven years later,"" Ratna said.

And when she at last finished her script on murdered labor activist Marsinah and staged it, Jassin was there, sitting in a front-row seat.

Ratna, a prodemocracy activist who was once jailed and whose works had been banned, also admired Jassin's courage in his efforts to develop the literary world.

Jassin, as editor of Sastra literary magazine, published a controversial story Langit Makin Mendung (The Sky Becomes More Cloudy), which later endedup the cause of his probation sentence for ""blasphemy"". Jassin had refused to reveal the identity Ki Pandji Kusmin, the pen name of the writer.

In the development of literary, Jassin always ""encouraged the ideas that humanize humans,"" Ratna said.

Jassin's work has also greatly affected Ratna's spiritual life. ""I reallylike his translation of the Koran,"" said the 50-year-old woman. She explained that she became a Muslim at the age of 21, but it was not until she read a translation several years later of the original Arabic that she was able to really understand the Koran.

Commenting on the burial of Jassin in a heroes' cemetery, Ratna said thatJassin was, in fact, very deserved of the title of hero of literature. ""A hero should not always be somebody from the military.""

Goenawan Mohamad, a writer and journalist of Tempo magazine, was quoted by Antara as saying that no other writer loved literature more than Jassin. ""HB Jassin's love for Indonesian literature was incomparable, especially in the persistent and impressive way he collected literary works,"" he said. He praised Jassin for his success in documenting most Indonesian literaryworks, which supports the development of the literary world. Besides, no one could be compared to Jassin as a translator of foreign works.

Social and cultural observer Dr. Salim Said told Antara that those who want to study and carry out research on Indonesian literature do not have to go to the Netherlands or other countries, thanks to Jassin's hard work.

Now that Jassin is died, there is growing concern about the development of his documentation center, especially the funding.

""He had financed the center himself. It surely needs contribution from donors,"" Sapardi said. (sim)

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