Herman Willem Daendels, Gouverneur Generaal van Nederlands Indië yang layak dianugerahi bintang lima sebagai Bapak Pembangunan Hindia Belanda. Buah kerjanya di tanah jajahan (selain pembantaian tentu saja) adalah membentang jalan 1000 kilometer dari Anyer ke Panarukan. Sarjana Hukum Belanda ini cuma butuh satu tahun–satu tahun yang penuh darah.

Tepat 200 tahun De Grote Postweg atau Jalan Raya Pos pada 2008 silam, pemerintah mencetak perangko Wonderful Indonesia sebagai wujud berdamai dengan masa lalu yang suram kah(?). Itu sudah tidak penting. Lebih dari dua abad setelah jalan raya pos, masyarakat negeri terjajah yang kini telah merdeka itu tentu tidak mengenal lagi Daendels. Paling, satu dua intelektual-intelektual kota yang masih akut membaca. Daendels sudah tidak penting, walau negara ini didera kemerosotan ekonomi, dan ekonom-ekonomnya bicara tentang barang-barang impor, beras-beras impor. Itu juga lebih tidak penting.

100 kilometer Anyer melintasi pesisir utara Jawa, kota di pedalaman Tanah Pasundan, hingga berujung di Panarukan, di timur pulau Jawa; pulau dengan penduduk terpadat di muka bumi, apa yang terjadi setelah kepergian Daendels? pertanyaan itu sama tidak pentingnya dengan perbincangan barang-barang impor.

Foto: Rony Zakaria

Atas banyaknya pertanyaan tak penting tersebut, Rony Zakaria dan saya mencoba merumuskan hal-hal yang menurut kami penting untuk diurai kembali, hal-hal yang kadang tidak bisa dirumuskan, disederhanakan.

Pantai utara Jawa, Pantura, adalah wilayah yang susah dijelaskan dengan kalimat sederhana, terlebih ketika tol yang bebas hambatan selesai dan Jalan Raya Daendels akan kehilangan pamornya. Pantura yang ada dalam kepala saya tidak semata gemulai pinggang para biduan yang dikelilingi aroma tuak oplosan. Pantura adalah juga kantong-kantong peziarah, pondok-pondok pesantren, pemukiman Tionghoa dan sisa perdagangan candu di masa lalu. Pantura adalah nelayan yang kehilangan laut, petani yang menggarap sawah koorporasi. Pantura adalah wajah Indonesia; kontradiktif dan terus dipelihara.

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