While the ruling elite in Jakarta is paying their respect to the dying ex-dictator, in a far away provincial city in North West Europe, a kind, intelligent, friendly, industrious and modest Indonesian man passed away. He was only in his early sixties.
He was a good man and a victim. He will not be in the history books. His mighty compatriot will. Although that man was a tyrant and the culprit. Reading the papers, one can only conclude that he will be forgiven for his wrongdoings and be remembered for the political stability and economic boom for which he will get the credits. Yeah, â€œhe was a honourable manâ€.
The kind man and the dictator had a confrontation long ago. A long distance confrontation to be precise, because they did not actually meet. At that time the dictator was a middle aged general and the kind man was a promising student. When the dictator was seizing power from the founder of the nation, the kind man was in his early twenties studying to be a civil engineer. But he was doing so in a historically wrong place.
These kind of things happen all the time. You can do nothing about it. Itâ€™s fate. Or maybe geopolitics and ideologies. Whatever. Never mind how kind and brilliant the young man was, Moscow meant trouble for him. Going home however meant perilous danger. So, the kind man went into exile.
Thatâ€™s what happened.. And thatâ€™s why we met. Only fifteen years ago. Not in Moscow, but in the provincial town in North West Europe.
The young man had aged of course when we met. And the dreams of his youth had not come true. He was not a civil engineer, but a kind of manager inf a Indonesian take away restaurant. He did his job with charm and wit. With great charm and great wit.
It was not because of the food we often went there. Later on our Indonesian daughters in law made us clear the quality was only so so. But the kind manâ€™s calm presence and his philosophical conversation always were a bonus. We were happy with him and for him when he could visit his family in Indonesia. We loved to chat about his and our children. And about our experiences down there.
The ex dictator, who has ruined his and lots of other lives, still lives and gets respect.
The kind man has quietly passed away and will be forgotten. The victim looses again apparently.
That is: a small number of people will remind the kind man as a really good man. In that sense possibly the victim is the winner.
Update: Very sensible, very civilized and recently publicized opinions on the dictator and the aftermath, by two outstanding Indonesian intellectuals, can be found here www.perspektif.net (that is the Wimar Witoelar – part) and here www.overseasthinktankforindonesia.com (Dr Beni Bevli).