Friday, November 12, 2010

Kukuh Raharjo: An Obituary

Kukuh Raharjo. Born on ............. . Died on .................... he was .... years old.

Kukuh Raharjo was a senior in STAN English Club. He was the Minister of HRD for the year 2008/2009. The members said he was a visionary person, a person who brought new ideas, new programs that were a big contribution towards the club. He was a great leader, caring towards his fellow members.

Kukuh Raharjo was also a member of BEM, IMAN, and who knows what else. He was active. He saw his college life not as the routine of classes, assignments, and exams. He liked doing many things at once, as long as they were worthwhile.

Kukuh Raharjo was a friend – to many people. Some called their relationship with him as a brotherly friendship. He gave great advice and was a great person to confide to. Others would call it “colleagues - type” because he was a friend who you could have a civilized discussion with a high standard of intellect. He was also considered a teacher – friend; someone who could inspire and urge you to explore various types of knowledge.


Sigh. That’s rather dull.


My friends, it is quite frustrating to write about someone, who has touched many people’s lives individually, in a holistic and objective manner. I have collected testimonials, both verbal and written, but I still don’t have a clue about how to write about him.

Mind you, it’s “how” to write, not what to write.

As I have said, I have lots of material. There’s a lot to say about Kukuh from myself and from his friends. But how are you supposed to write about someone’s death, a kind of obituary, when it seems... he’s not gone at all?

I know very well that if Kukuh were here beside me, he’d laugh at me, shocked at how I couldn’t write. I remember the time when he asked me to help manage The Writing Club, a new program he formulated in STANEC’s HRD. He liked writing structured articles and wanted to teach that to the students in the program. I preferred “free-style”. After some discussion, he decided to include both in the program. Yeah, even though it was his idea and he had already constructed a curriculum, he was open to ideas. Even from an amateur junior such as myself. After that, I couldn’t believe that he asked ME to give suggestions on his writing.

That wasn’t the only time Kukuh gave in to his juniors. He always knew, or rather realized, when he had to put aside his pride and show humility. I guess it was his way of making us feel welcome. He always believed that fresh new ideas existed and those ideas were everyone’s privilege, for anyone to voice out.

I also cringe to imagine what Kukuh would say if he knew I put off writing for too long just because I didn’t have any idea of how to write it. He would probably get frustrated because I procrastinated – something he despises. He really valued time. He was almost always the first one present in the meetings I happened to attend. Not because he was unreasonably early, but because everyone else tended to be late. He usually made the most of time at those meetings. He didn’t like babbling too long about technicalities, for example. He liked to thoroughly address the main issues and made sure everyone understood. Other than that, he didn’t like rushing through time blindly without plans. He could plan to the greatest details. He was organized and consistent. I guess those are some of the traits that made him a great leader.

Oops, do the points above make him sound too serious? I knew I’d have trouble describing him in words. Hmm...

Kukuh loved to laugh. I remember that in his weird-happy-mood times he could laugh about anything slightly comic; things I, or the others, didn’t find funny. His giggle would erupt in a hearty laugh, and the serious business-like demeanor he usually wore at meetings would vanish. Sometimes he would look like a young boy, his eyes full of pure merriment.

Kukuh also loved to eat. He’d sometimes meet us in the middle of the road, say hi, and asked if we had eaten. If I hadn’t, he’d ask if I wanted to eat together with him. He usually made it his treat because I was his junior. He’d talk about food in such a hearty manner. He also confided about his passion for cooking. I remember a funny incident when he recommended me to read a great book. To my utter bewilderment, it turned out to be a recipe book with detailed and full-color pictures of the dishes. Actually, he turned out to be a pretty good cook. He once made a special treat for some of the Eduplus STANEC members at a meeting. He made chocolate pudding, which was quite delicious.

He used to tease me and some of the other girls about how we couldn’t cook. He told us we had to try and learn. It was a valuable skill and quite useful. I guess it was his idea of a good wife. We’d always argue that we had time ahead to learn. If not, there was always catering these days, so we shouldn’t have to bother too much. He’d always respond with a laugh.

I know that Kukuh has taught me lot of things. I don’t have the brilliance to conclude all of them.

I do know that he was the one who showed me that there is so much that we, as students, can do for other people. He made a program for unprivileged children, which continues to this day.

He taught me and my friends how to speak up. The STANEC Conversation Club was his idea. I know that we were blessed with many lasting friendships through that club.

He taught me that fun could be derived from any activity. He used to ask me and some of our friends for a jog early in the morning. I never knew that exercise could be enjoyable.

He taught me how to care for others in a way that didn’t always have to be so obvious. Sometimes he got angry at us for mistakes I thought were too trivial. But then I realized that it was his way of protecting us. In the end, he decided to tackle the burden for us by himself.

He taught me about being passionate about anything you believed in or enjoyed doing, whether or not others would laugh at you. What’s important is that you believe in yourself.

He showed me how life was so valuable by valuing his own and manifesting his gratitude for life by helping others.

For me, Kukuh was a great person. I believe many others would agree.

That’s why I didn’t write about the events of his death and what happened afterwards. I have no intention of making this writing a depressing obituary. I think some of us have shed enough tears.

So even though I didn’t know how to express the collection of thoughts about Kukuh, I knew this short essay would not be about how he died. This is about how he lived.

* * *

I still have trouble comprehending the fact that he really is gone. To me, he was a person who was really “alive”.

A wise senior told me that the least we could do for him is help his continue his work and fulfill his dream in helping others. That way he’ll always live.

His spirit will never die.

May Allah always bless you, my dear friend.


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