Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reader profile: Zela

I met Zela at the Eskola Cina in Bidau-Lecidere where I play basketball a couple of times a week. She's there most afternoons playing and/or watching her boyfriend score on me again and again... Zela is 21 years old and, until recently, was studying IT at a local university. She felt she couldn't keep up with the classes as they were all held in Portuguese, a language she only really has a passing knowledge of. Her plan now is to follow her two older brothers to study in Indonesia next year, perhaps in Jogjakarta.

I lent her and a bunch of others a few novels including: Lovasket - a teen novel about a basketball, corruption, love and traditional values, Istoria da Paz - a novel about a young woman finding her way in the world by working with East Timorese refugees in West Timor (quite the find, really), I'm not Bitch - a novel about a girl whose circumstances push her towards a life bordering on prostitution, and a few others. Zela read I'm not Bitch and Lovasket and enjoyed them a lot.

In general she likes to read comedies and light drama in Indonesian. Normally she borrows them from friends and once or twice a year when her brothers come back from Indonesia they bring her a few. There are a few Portuguese books around but she hasn't ever read them, she struggles with normal Portuguese, let alone the poetic stuff...

Interestingly she actually told me that there are a few Tetum books, but only on pretty dry topics: law, history, textbooks and so on. She actually owns a few on the history of the independence movement and the lives of Jose Ramos-Horta and Xanana Gusmao.

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