Days Go By Unless You Put A Meaning To It

Last week was actually my birthday. We celebrated in a somewhat muted way. There was this weird self-discernment that once one is with a child, everything about one self does not matter anymore. Anyways, of course there was the midnight cake+candle blowing family ritual with my mom, sis, iko and navis (who for some weird reason was up crying 5 minutes to midnight). Also me and iko went to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert in the evening. It was not really birthday-related, the concert coincided with my birthday and we both love YYYs. The concert itself was nothing short of awesome. Karen O rocks!


Image courtesy of majalahouch.com

Five days before my birthday we received a visit from a relative, a man whom we called mang Engkus. Actually I am not sure that I have seen him before. I remembered receiving a call from mom, who was away with dad and my other siblings, that mang Engkus was coming to see navis and mom and dad would be home soon.

I asked her who was he exactly and she said he was dad’s relative from West Java, I said okay (and, ‘meh..unknown relative’, I thought.)

He arrived with dad’s older sister, was very very quiet. Refused my invitation to come inside, but answered that he’d like to have black tea when I asked him what to drink (typical Sundanese).

I brought him his tea and a slice of pandan sponge cake, iko was with him trying to make conversation. Mang Engkus had mistaken me for some other relatives (maybe), he thought I went to Australia to study (no i didn’t go there, maybe you mistaken me with somebody else) said he last saw me in Batam when I was little (oh dear god i didn’t even remember I’d been to Batam).. yes, it was a painful conversation so I tried to keep it short.

Mom and dad arrived a few moments later but dad had to leave again. And then I didn’t see him again because I was busy with navis until they were about to leave.

Fast forward to last week Friday we received a surprising news: mang Engkus had committed suicide. We were shocked.

He was found hanged in a hotel room near Bandung, West Java. Police suspected suicide because they found his will, everything seemed to be prepared so deliberately and there were no signs of theft. He left his marriage certificate so they could quickly locate his widow, he also left his hotel room unlocked. That was how the room service people found him.

That was also when I “finally” found out that he was dad’s cousin. Not just some faraway relative. Mom admitted that I never heard, or rarely heard, about him and his family because they were rarely mentioned.

What makes it more sad was that there was a possibility that his suicidal motive was partially financial. Dad said in his will mang Engkus claimed that he had felt that his life burdens were too much to bear. I know that me and my cousins are not like BFF-close but I know that they can count on me and vice versa during difficult times.


Suicides, like other deaths, is devastating especially to those who are left behind. There were questions that would forever go unanswered like what could have been done? Did we miss the cue for help the last time he visited us? Had dad stayed a bit longer would he open up?

I know the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’ is debatable. Aside from a self-promise to be nicer to strangers and ‘relatives’ his death also reminds me of the low days of my life and how the thought of suicide had crossed my mind. It stuck on me for days, I felt I was on a dead-end, helpless, there is no point to continue living, I prepared the how and when before at some point I gathered all my strength and decided to be braver.

Of course I have God to thank for the people I’ve met, the family I have if I had ever decided to take my life back then there would be no navis, I would not be married to iko, which i think was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far,..

So yeah, I was saddened by mang Engkus’ death. I wish he had not have seen his life that way, I wish he had believed that with enough courage and support things would eventually work out in the end.

2 komentar:

elvin priyadi mengatakan...

I love your title *nod nod*, how very deep.

ulma haryanto mengatakan...

thanks. It was the only thing that came to mind :)) not sure if it fits the post