EF #X: When Will This Friendship Be Over?

This is an other version of EF #7: Snap and Tell a Story. As in my official entry, I’ve told you that actually there are two posts regarding the theme. One is the official one, the love story, and the other one, this one, the friendship story.

Before I forgot, special thanks to Miss Mikan who had nominated me in the award. Woo hoo. I don’t know what to say except thank you, thank you, and thank you :)).

The photo which I’m going to show you was taken in a same location as my official one. Yep, ‘s Lands Plantentuin, or its official name, Bogor Botanical Garden. But not at the same place, one should walk for approx. 300m ahead from Lady Raffles’ Memorial to reach this place, a place used to be so famous, despite the fact that the place is quietly situated under a small bamboo forest. But now, not everyone wants to go here, as all of them feel that this place is kind of spooky. It’s so quiet that one could even hear the sound of fallen needle, and it’s kind of dark, too. Even when this place is actually so near from the palace.

The Dutch Cemetery.

Got the idea? A cemetery shaded by the bamboos. A lot of bamboos, as this place is exactly located at the center of the garden’s bamboo collections. I don’t think that everyone would gladly visit the cemetery since rumor has it that ghosts and spirits tend to live in a dark place, like bamboo clusters.

This is my favorite place in the garden so far. Despite the mosquitoes, it’s quiet, and the bamboo leaves are kind of making music in my ears. And on top of all that, this place holds memories, stories, and traces, a lot of which, from the past. Stories that maybe were never heard by people who passed by this cemetery.

For starting the story, without more formalities, here is the photo.

EF #X (1)

All of us have heard a lot of love story. About Romeo and Juliet. Sam Pek and Eng Tay. Or, if you’re counting love stories from this botanical garden, that will be Sir Thomas and Lady Olivia, or the story of Princess Astrid and King Leopold. But instead of those stories, there is a friendship story buried deep under shades of bamboo trees. A story that kept dear by two bodies inside one tomb, two friends that will still be friends even until the world is over.

They are inseparable, even with the death itself.

When I asked, quite harshly, “Sorry for asking, but when will your friendship be over?”, they smiled and answered, “That wouldn’t happen, Gar.”

His name is Heinrich Kuhl. The other one, Johan Coenraad van Hasselt. They shared the same almamater, University of Groningen, and they shared same interests in zoology and botanical studies, things that brought them here, to the land of biodiversity, Indonesia. Even though Johan was originally a physician, but his passion on history of Java’s flora and fauna had driven him here, to the very place where all of this story would be ended.

Hasselt was slightly older than Kuhl. He was born in June 24, 1797, as Kuhl was born in September 17, 1797. They first met in the university somewhere in 1816, as they were students of Prof. Theodorus van Swinderen. Maybe because they shared similar interests, they formed a very deep friendship bond. They traveled together everywhere in Europe to expand their knowledge, including a three-month-journey on foot to Berlin Museum at 1818.

At July 10, 1820, they said farewell to Europe, as this was their first… and last journey. They traveled to Java by boarding a ship, and landed in Batavia after a half-year-journey in December 1820. The Governor General, Baron van der Capellen, agreed with their coming and gave them a property for their house in Buitenzorg, West Java, a place where they began their research together, once and for all.

They went everywhere together. Researching, working, writing, collecting samples, interpreting animals and plants’ samples, nearly everything. I could infer that this two researchers are extreme workaholics. Well, I think that’s true because their works, if combined, consist of a lot of manuscripts and also huge collections of animals and plants. Thousands of animal and plant paintings, too.

Another thing that I like from these two is that they were keen travelers and adventurers. Well, no doubt, at age 23 they were already traveled from Netherlands to Indonesia, not by plane but by boarding a ship that took six months to Batavia. Here, they transformed from sea-traveler into mountaineers, hiking into Mount Salak, and in climax, became the first people to climb Mount Pangrango, in the early months of 1821. They were doing research there, too.

But alas, Pangrango was their last mountain. Shortly after the climbing, in the middle of 1821, Kuhl fallen sick, he was very ill from liver infection because of exhaustion and intolerable climate. They were caught by a heavy storm when descending from Pangrango, a condition that made them return wet and chilly. In West Java, there was also a diarrhea outbreak, making them struggling for their health. Kuhl and Hasseld were no different–they suffered from this disease, too.

Unfortunately, very soon after that, God had His different plan for this friends. One and a half months after that, after agonizing and painful sickness, precisely at September 14, 1821, Kuhl passed away. Just three days before his 24th birthday. He was buried at the botanical garden, became one of the first resident of the cemetery.

That was a great deal of loss for Hasselt. He mourned. A lot. Just imagine when your best friend taken from you–a friend with whom you did almost everything together. The director of the garden had made the best tomb he could for Johan’s friend–but the sadness wasn’t gone less. He had lost his friend. He had lost his partner. His smart, quick-witted partner. And their research wasn’t even end!

But Hasselt had promised Kuhl to finish their research. That was his last promise. What was started should be ended.

He continued the research. Alone. He was suffered from same diseases, actually, but God maybe had given him one more chance. One more chance to travel, one more chance to explore the beautiful Java. He and his team explored Bantam (Banten), the region where the diarrhea outbreak had begun, as well as islands in Sunda Straits to explore sea animals.

He worked as fast as he could. As hard as he could. There was no time to mourn anymore–not a second. He should fill his mind with anything work and research-related. Not one second did he think about his old friend…

Until his falling down at the end of August 1823 because of exhaustion.

He suffered from diarrhea for the second time. That time, it was Amoebiasis. The disease was so hard that he couldn’t even walk. Yet, he insisted to continue the research, whatever it took. It was so hard to transport him back to the city since the terrain there was very difficult. But despite of those difficulties, Hasselt survived, they reached Buitenzorg in September 6, 1823.

But it wouldn’t help much, because two days later, September 8, 1823, at the age of 26, Hasselt passed away, quietly in his sleep, after telling his team about what his last request if he died would be.

Do you know what it is?

To be buried in the very same grave as his friend, Heinrich Kuhl.

EF #X (2)


Further reading:
1. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Kuhl
2. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Coenraad_van_Hasselt
3. Klaver, Charles. 2007. Inseparable Friends in Life and Death: The life and work of Heinrich Kuhl (1797-1821) and Johan Conrad van Hasselt (1797-1823), students of Prof. Theodorus van Swinderen. Groningen: Barkhuis.

33 thoughts on “EF #X: When Will This Friendship Be Over?

  1. This post is really awesome! I wish you could re-tell some parts of history subject that I had learned at school with this style. It’s like reading a folktale.

    I can feel the bond which Kuhl and Hasselt had shared as if I traveled back to the past and silently observed them. Now, my heart’s trembling. Perhaps you want to take responsibility for causing this effect? 😀

          1. Iya gar mana manager yg ini pendiem orangnya. Atasanku mau melahirkan itu yg jd pikiran kerjaan semuanya d limpahkan ke aku. Iya baru smpt hari ini bwnya. Ini aja udh ketinggalan banyak cerita.

          1. Gak tahu juga sih…kayaknya org Belanda deh..waktu itu kere banget, makan di restauran Indonesia biasanya mahal 😀 jadi nyobain sekali abis gitu kapok karena harganya mahal dan gak yummy

  2. my goodness, ini aku kok merinding disko ya bacanya? disko bok, diskooooo… maaf ya sini anak lama :’D
    trus pengen deh makan soto kuning di surken bogor. eh salah. maksudnya pgn jalan2 ke kebun raya bogor. yuk? 😀

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