Old Man on the Sidewalk

It was after “the dogs” circling Asia-Afrika road, made it impossible for adrenaline-seeker to lower blood pressure to their head. I was alone, as usual, with half pack of red Dunhill and an Eiger knife, just for the fun of it. Of course, with my half street race spec Civic SR3.

I went down from Sudirman rd. and ended at the front of Ar-Rahman elementary school, just in front of The Four Seasons. It was dark, with minimum lights that usually not this level of brightness they gave. He was sitting there, on the sidewalk, smoking, chilling, the world is his. He was an old man, with a wooden cart he carried along, always, I noticed this old man quite few times. Often in the morning as I walked my way to Trans Jakarta Station.

I stopped my car just before his wooden cart. Got out and intentionally went his way. He knew I was going his way, but, cocky enough, he did see me from the corner of his eyes. Soundless, he was. So was I.

I instantly sat just beside him. I gave him the best silent treatment I could give. Five minutes passed by. For God sake, this old man is strong, at least strong enough to service his silent back at me.

“Lagi ngapain pak…?” I said it for chit-chat sake.
“…” Silent, he was.
“Lagi nungguin orang ya, pak…?”
“…” None has spoken from his mouth.

I bet this old man was deaf, or mute, or worse, ignorant! I solemnly swore that I stopped by just to make my Dunhill accompanied, that’s all. Or, he was done chit-chatting for years now, judging by the color of his hair.

“Hidup ini ngga adil ya pak.” I started the conversation another five minutes after my opening words. It was not a question, premature judgment that is.

His head turned direction toward me, only 5 degree of 360. Yeah, at least I made him interested with the topic.

It was on my problems, I usually went out at night, alone, expecting someone to talk to.

“Ndak lah, hidup ini adil kok…” He suddenly answered.
“Ngga adil pak, kadang-kadang yang lemah malah yang dites, tes-nya berat pula…” I complained.
“Coba bapak liat, yang kaya dan jarang sholat, hidupnya baik-baik aja. Saya sujud-rukuk berulang-ulang tapi malah dites seperti ini…rasanya ngga kuat pak.” I can swear that I almost dropped a tear.
“Yaaa… kalo dia pinter kerjanya, usahanya, ya pasti dikasih rezeki sama Allah, muslim atau engga, sholat atau engga. Walaupun dia ngga nyembah Allah, tapi Allah tetap ngasih rezeki-Nya. Adil toh?” He answered with flat tone, indicating that he already gave that answer many times before.

I stunned for a while. It is fair. I said it to my self, “but what about me?”

This test is incapacitorially out of my league. I pray for what I can, for when I can, truly seek for solution for my personal problem, additionally with my family. This couldn’t be true. Those rich and un-prayed people were fine with their life, fine with their family.

I described this to the old man, hoping I could fine another well-answered question that I gave him.

“Yaaa…darimana kamu tau mereka baik-baik saja?” He answered deliberately.
“Ya kalopun baik-baik saja, kamu yakin mereka bakal baik-baik saja di akhirat nanti. Paling engga dengan sholat-nya kamu itu, dengan doa-nya kamu itu, kamu sedikit terjamin di akhirat nanti.”

“Tapi pak, bukan-nya Allah ngga bakal ngetes makhluk-nya melebihi kemampuan-nya ya? Saat ini saya merasa sudah ngga sanggup, sudah melewati batas kemampuan saya!” I complained again, like a ten years old child complaining to his father of not buying him a bike.

“Lah, kamu itu ngga tau batasan kamu di mana. Memangnya kamu tau? Ndak toh?” Confidently he answered.
“Kalo gitu, orang yang mati bunuh diri gimana pak, mereka sudah merasa melebihi batas kemampuan mereka kan?” I followed my question with another one. All of this mystery should reveal now, this morning.

“Yang mati ya mati, memang sudah takdir-nya, sudah jalan Allah. Allah sudah manggil mereka. Tapi bukan berarti mereka sudah ndak kuat.”

I said to my self, this old man is smart, but half stubborn, judging by how he confronted my questions.

As stubborn as he is, I asked him back, “Bapak sendirian di sini ngapain?”

He quieted himself for one minute, then he answered, “Lagi nungguin..”
“Nungguin siapa pak?” My passion knowing the truth of him beat my problem, temporarily.
“…cucu ama keluarga saya.” He answered exactly one minute later, again.
“emang cucu ama keluarganya ke mana?” the question continued as I smoked
“bapak ndak tau, nak…” Shoot, this guy was crazy.

We quieted again as we enjoy our cigarettes. Him was red-labeled kretek, unknown brand. Dying for this man’s craziness, I started the conversation again.

“kok ngga tau ke mana pak, memangnya mereka kabur?”
He sighed.
“Dulu bapak ikut perang, terus pulang-pulang mereka udah ngga ada. Rumah bapak udah ngga ada juga, jadi gedung-gedung ini.” He answered, his hand pointed at buildings around Setia Budi. I felt bad.

“Sudah coba mencari mereka pak?” I urged him to try finding him family.
“Sudah bapak coba, tapi ngga ketemu.” He answered, in sad tone.

Of course he already tried to find them, you Ferdy idiotas! It was not his attempt to find out his family that bothers me most, it was his reluctant to stop waiting for his family to go back to Setia Budi, to meet him.

I sighed myself as I burned my last Dunhill. This sir, somehow I was sure that he felt this world is unfair to him for couple of years back. But look at him now, he stood still, he waited, he believed. He believed in faith, faith that Allah gave to him. He stopped complaining, and started to pray.

I murmured myself, I complained but relieved. This old man, faced problem bigger than mine, but yet he didn’t give up. He lived and hoped, hoped for something good will comes to him. He still believed in Allah. He even gave me an advice!

Oh Allah the almighty. This is the world You have created. So much mystery, so much illogical to limited human thought. This is funny, this is cruel, and this is beauty. Who are we to judge You, You that have made rules, conditions, run smoothly for entire universe?

You with your thought of suicide, think again, thousand times if you must. Yes, I thought you might! There’s so much life awaits you. More beautiful, more fair. Your prayers soon paid off. The only gift from Allah that more valuable than anything was the gift of life! Earn it!

As I finished my cigarettes, it was the time I stood with full capacity. The capacity of Ferdy F. Rahman. I promised myself, as long as my blood is red, my heart pumping, and my brain thinking, I will not give up, I will not surrender.

Calmly I heard athan was coming. It was about 4.30 in the morning. I started up my ZC engine, it roared, broke the calm and silent morning. I stood up, no tear dropped.

From this night, my friend, even if I have to dine in hell, I will!


  1. parah keren..

    1. I don’t know exactly what you mean with this comment, but I consider that as a compliment. thank you 🙂

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