TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – “Loyalty is knowing your friend stands for you until he died.” He sighs and stumbles on his words. Forty-five years ago a child is born in a city of Sulawesi Selatan, Makassar. He is not a state officials or a soldier, he simply is just a kid from a middle class ordinary family, who has small grocery store to fulfill the needs of his big family of eight.
Ruly Widjaja was an independent young boy, knowing that he also has two older and three younger siblings living under the same roof of his tiny house. Born in a large family that did not honor education as much, he then forced into a street life where he befriended gangsters and thugs, roaming the street every night, to find his purpose of life.
Graduated high school at the age of 18, he then moved to Java, after his best friend, Johnny died after a drug overdosed. Losing a dear friend in the young age changes the way he think about the world. “This world is cruel, you know.” he recalls, trying to distant himself from the memories of pain. He does realize that.
Having a lot of friends that comes from the gangster group made him familiar with police and jail. Not that he ever went to jail, but being asked by the police, being threatened, and being used as a messenger is what he had basically were on his teenage time. Alcohol and drugs became significant due to his social life.
It is a good thing that he decided to move, to leave everything dark behind, for a hope of a better future in the land of Java. Working day and night as construction workers does not bring him a good life, knowing that his addiction of alcohol is still very much prominent, he decided to move to Bali, the land of Gods, they say, a paradise on earth. The life of this young man changed when he had his little family. His world is shifting apart when he began to fulfill his passion on working on the seafood field. It is not easy, he stumbled day and night to make it work. The spirit of a forty-year-old man had driven him to a success, a path for a better future. Under a lot of stress, adding pressure to his work without holidays to complement his hard work. It is not a one-night change for it does take him years to complete his transformation.
With pride he closed our short conversation with a sentence. “The most important thing is all of my girls can go to university, after that, my job is done.” Before hanging up, I can picture a smile on his face. I can clearly imagine him now, sitting at his table office. One hand is holding a cigarette; I can picture him on his sleeveless shirt that shows his tattoos, a testament to his teenage years. One canned bear is sitting in front of him, waiting to be sipped, a habit that is hard to erased.
Again, he is not a hero that saves a nation, or even a state officials working for the government whose job is supposed to serve the nation and all its contents. He is just and ordinary man working hard for his family. He may not be able to change the world, but he creates a world for the people he loves. He is no superhuman, but definitely a hero for his daughters. A hero to me.
He might be standing next to you right now, or is waiting for you to come home. He might be standing next to the creator and take care of you from above. No matter where he stands, we will always be the subjects of his prayers. To all Papa around the world, we wish you an eternity.
Audrey Julia (Student of Journalism, Binus International University)
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