This week 3 Japanese books that I translated had been published, and the editor asked me to translate 2 more. He also asked me whether I was interested in publishing a Japanese conversation book (아싸!) so yesterday, I went to a bookstore to see what kind of books that were already published.
So I was browsing around at the Japanese book section when a man standing next to me suddenly started a conversation with me. He looked 20-something.
“Can you recommend which book is the best one to learn Japanese? Because I completely have no knowledge of Japanese.”
I wondered whether he had mistaken me for the shop attendant, or he was just being friendly. Because you know, most Indonesians like to chat with strangers (except me).
“Err… I don’t know. Maybe you should pick the one with the word ‘basic’ or ‘easy Japanese’ in the title.” I pointed to a book. “But I think you should just pick the one you really like.” That’s how I pick my Korean textbooks.
“This one seems interesting,” he said, pointing to a book. It was “Master Japanese with Manga” (something like that). “But it’s plastic wrapped and I feel bad about asking the shop attendant to unwrap it for me. I might end up not buying it.”
He said, “I often got beginners’ books that suddenly got really hard in the middle. It’s like they skip an explanation or something. I really hate that when it happens.”
“You’re right. There are books like that. Well, then just get another book,” I told him. “Or get the books for a complete Japanese course, start from level 1.”
“But then I will have to spend a lot of money only to master a language.” He objected.
I thought, Mister, you can’t possibly expect fluency in Japanese just by reading one book?
But I didn’t say it to him. Instead, I told him not to worry about asking the shop attendant to open the plastic cover. “Just put the book back in the shelf if you decide not to buy it. They wouldn’t mind. Really.”
He took my advice and left.
Then came a teenage boy with his mother. His mother said to him, “Go pick the one you want. I’ll wait.”
“I already read every book here. This store only has textbooks for beginners.” That boy complained. But he reached for a book anyway.
I thought, 진짜 귀엽네. A mother who was supportive of his son’s effort in learning Japanese. And there was a teenager who actually wanted to learn Japanese in this country. I though they were fictional creatures. ;P 좋은 만남이었다.
I will think about them when I write my book. ###