I walked over there, took a momentary look at it, and turned around. Some people were glancing at me and, realizing that I caught their glances, quickly looked away and resumed their conversations. It occurred to me that they looked a lot like hippies. They oozed the same kind of energy. So hippies exist in this place, I thought.
I cast my gaze to sea. The most beautiful sea I had ever seen in my entire life. I was considering whether to leave and stroll along the shore or try to find out why everybody had been treating me coldly.
I chose the latter. I swept my surroundings with my eyes and approached a group consisting of two guys and three girls. They stopped talking and cautiously stared at me. I smiled and hunkered down beside one of the guys.
“Would you guys mind if I took one of you for a little talk?” I asked.
They looked at each other, then the guy next to me said, “How long?”
“Just a while.”
He signalled one of the girls to come with me. She gazed at me for a few seconds to gauge my intention. I gazed back gently to assure her I meant no harm.
She rose to her feet. I chose a spot near the driftwoods pile, took her there, and plunked down on the sand. With apparent reluctance, she sat not too close to me.
I looked her in the face. She watched the sea afar. There was a buzz of conversation from people around. Seagulls were flying across the deep blue sky. A dog passed before us and came to its master. The wind breezed over the beach and the sand shot up.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
Still watching the sea, she answered, “Cassandra.”
“What do you want to talk about with us?”
“Is there a difference between me and your people?”
She turned to me, frowning. “Don’t make fun of us.”
“I really don’t know the answer.”
“Listen. I don’t have time for this joke. Be direct. Say what you have to say.”
“That’s part of what I have to say. I do not see what separates me and you and your people. I have no idea why all of you seem unpleased of my presence.”
“Go away, Wisnu. Nobody likes to be mocked.”
“Why don’t you just answer the question?”
She stared at me fiercely, stood up, and left.
I met Inka. Don’t ask me why I visited University of Indonesia again. Perhaps after two weeks of writing intensely, followed by that ominous dream, I felt like going out and Jelita’s campus was the only destination that crossed my mind. Or perhaps I found staying in my room thinking about the old days suffocating. I didn’t know.
I saw that iceberg girl at the library. She was sitting in the far corner, deep in a book, secluding herself from everybody. She wore a plain gray T-shirt, her bag in the chair on her left.
At first I was not certain it was her, but as I walked over to where she was, all uncertainty vanished. How could I have completely forgotten her? She was Jelita’s best friend. She might know the real reason she had dumped me, where she was now, and everything I had not understood.
Sensing that someone was approaching, Inka raised her face a bit, looked at me, and went reading again. She did not seem to recognize me. I moved closer and took a seat beside her anyway. If she asked who I was, I would just remind her. It was impossible that she had no memory at all about me.
She did not ask anything, though. She remained silent and expressionless as if she did not notice my presence. Her eyes stayed fixed on the page of the book, her concentration undistracted. I glanced at the book she was reading. Something about brain.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” I said, trying to open a conversation.
For a while she did not give any response, but then she nodded. So slightly you would miss it if you did not look intently. This meant she recognized me. Otherwise, she would not have nodded.
“You like that kind of book?”
She ignored it. Maybe she was not in the mood for small talk.
“Sorry if I’m interrupting what you are doing, Inka. I just need to ask a few questions. About Jelita. May I?”
I thought she was ignoring me again, but then she nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Did you see her lately?”
She shook her head.
“Do you know where she’s been?”
Another shake of the head.
“Are you worried about how she’s been doing?”
I sighed and momentarily fell silent. “You probably have known this, Inka, but we are no longer together. She left me without a trace. I called her many times, but she seemed to have changed her number. She said she wouldn’t return to Jakarta and I have no idea where she went to. I am worried about her.”
She kept silent, her eyes glued to the book.
“Do you know why she left me?”
“Does your silence mean you don’t know?”
A deeper stage of silence.
I gazed at her face for a moment, but she was utterly unaffected. She was not an iceberg now; she was the earth during the ice age. I decided to give her time. She might be searching for the right words to say. Or she might not. Either way, I would just wait patiently.
I rose to my feet, took a book randomly from a shelf, and sat again. I opened it, leafed through it, and pretended to read. It turned out to be a comedy book. Something that, in this particular situation, would hardly catch your interest.
A few minutes viewing the pages, I raised my face and swept the entire room with my eyes. As always, the chairs outnumbered the visitors. But the visitors appeared to be serious readers. They were intently reading their books as though nothing else in the world mattered. There were artsy-looking people, geeky-glasses boys, and also pretty girls.