I have always held firm to the belief that we must have some balance in our lives; some sort of yin and yang in equal measure. To do some bad and to do some good, because to see the worst in human nature will make us appreciate the nicer parts of humanity. And I don't mean women's bodies...
I'm sure many of you will disagree but that's just me; seeing bad in good and good in bad. And I'm always grateful to be able to tell one from the other.
Because... how else would I find myself in what once was the largest prostitution area in the whole of South East Asia last Sunday afternoon?
I said, was. Remember the tense, please, was.
It's in north Jakarta, past Tanjung Priok, at a place called Kramat Tunggak.
What once housed close to 4000 rooms in 277 buildings employing hundreds of germos (pimps) is now the Jakarta Islamic Center. I dare not even speculate how many PSK's (Pekerja Seks Komersial) this bustling area once had. Ten, twenty thousand? More?
Anyway, all that was demolished in 1999 and early in the millennium the Jakarta Islamic Center had replaced all that had once brought misery and ecstasy in equal doses.
But don't take my word for it. Go here to Mualaf Center Online for a background on Kramat Tunggak.
So you ask, what the hell was I doing there?
I went there on a self-induced mission to visit a friend who once worked as a radio operator on my rig in Kalimantan.
Pak Aa Gym, fiftyish and obese, suffered a stroke about a year ago in his kost (rented room) in Balikpapan. Workers like Pak Aa Gym don't get to go home during time off like I do because their point-of-hire is in Balikpapan. They see their families perhaps once or twice a year, usually over Lebaran Idul Fitri, and of course, paying out of their own kantong celana. They just don't make enough. Their schedules are usually "two-one" - two weeks on and one off, and it was on one of those "offs" that his neighbor noticed that he had not emerged from his kost for two days running.
So he had suffered a stroke, alone in his kost, with no one giving a damn.
He was hospitalized for a while and when he was able to walk, his kin came to take him home to Jakarta. He had, by then, lost his faculties to speak.
So I promised myself that if I ever spend a day or two in Jakarta, I would hunt him down and pay my dues to a fellow comrade.
But finding him was no easy feat. I had to ask around until I found another offshore worker called Sugeng who could get me his address. So I kept that battered piece of paper with some crude references to Bekas Tempat Prostituisi Terbesar and finally, there I was.
I kept the meter running on the taxi (no need to expound on my getting lost in the maze of Tanjung Priok - the taxi driver had never been there either) which eventually made me poorer by almost RM 150.00 (yes, it's that far). After asking around I found the "Ibu RT" (some sort of neighborhood leader) who finally led me to Pak Aa Gym.
There was no one home except Pak Aa Gym, dressed in a white T-shirt and sarong with a metal cane by his side. He had lost perhaps fifty pounds. He registered surprised, and a pitying 'huummm, huummm' escaped his throat. He grabbed my waist and cried. And so did I.
And so I had come to fulfill my vow.
What struck me was what "Ibu RT" said to me as she left me outside his gate, "Pak, you're the only friend from his workplace that visited".
In reply, I said, "Alah...but my house is just on the way, Bu...", shrugging it off.
She had no idea that my house is in another country.
Cara Mencegah Penyakit TBC
2 years ago