A Bereavement – Suzanne Rangkuti R.I.P.
'Er Indoors and I were woken up at 6 this morning with the shocking news that Susan had died. What made it extra shocking is that we didn't know that she had arrived in our house at 3 am, along with her husband and three young children aged between 4 months and 5 years.
Susan had been feeling weak following an emergency caesarian operation, yet in her frequent visits here, she always seemed cheerful. Appearances are obviously deceiving even though she treated Jakartass Towers as her 'home'.
When 'Er Indoors and I decided to live together twenty years ago, Susan came too. She was then 14 and we became her surrogate parents as her mother, who died earlier this year, was unable to be responsible. I paid for Susan's senior high schooling, and when she became a young adult she started to explore life through a series of short-term jobs and boyfriends. She, and by association we, have had problems with her choice of husband, mainly because he doesn't have regular employment, as so many in Jakarta, and is/was misogynist.
This morning he was unable to cope with Susan's condition and was wailing loudly as their young baby sought sustenance from her mother. .Although she certainly appeared to have passed on, I detected a faint pulse and she very briefly fluttered her eyes. We fanned out in a mad scrambling rush in search of a doctor, but there were none to be found, or known of, in our area. We managed to wake up a dentist in our street who was able to contact the local puskesmas (community health centre) who sent an ambulance with a doctor.
It was too late and he pronounced Susan dead and went back to his office to sort out the paperwork. Other paperwork was handled by our RT (street leader), and the RW (area co-ordinator) with whom we've recently had problems. But not this time.
He handled nearly everything from then on: the special ambulance for the deceased, the prayer service in the local mosque, the burial place, the transport taking us there and back, including the ojek (motorcycle taxi) outriders as weaved our way through a horrendous traffic jam.. All I had to do was pay for it all, which later made me to remark to him that I wondered how the poor managed.
Two elderly ladies came and organised the wake in our rearranged sitting room and supervised the washing of the body and its wrapping in a white shroud.Our local imam lead prayers,
All the while, visitors came, several from Susan's new Betawi family, some old school friends, many more from the Batak 'tribe' of 'Er Indoors, and more kind neighbours, many of whom I should have but did not recognise.
I suppose it was all very efficient. Susan was laid to rest in Pancoran cemetery at 1.30pm and now a number of folk linger in Jakartass Towers, talking in small groups.
There are young children, including Susan's five year old daughter, running around squealing happily. They don't understand what the day has been about.
I do, but don't understand why our 'daughter' has gone before us.
Forlorn hope I know, but if the taxi driver who left the family here but drove off with their belongings including the children's changes of clothes, 'finds' them – they were on the back seat – please return them. Our address is on Susan's I.D. card which was in her handbag.